a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Best Actress’

Golden Globes Got Good! Classy, Even! Shocked! Hooray for Glenn Close, Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody”!


Who Woulda Thunk It? Broadway’s Glorious Norma Desmond FINALLY coming in to her own after HOW MANY Golden Globe nominations! I mean, what were the odds up against Lady Gaga? For. as I said, a few posts back, “A Bore is Starred?”

Glenn, who I famously interviewed for the New York Times, a while back,was always supposed to be an also ran. A rather withheld patrician typ has always had trouble getting her emotions out from within. She was brought up reserved.

And there was upsetting the Golden Globe apple cart AND all the Oscarologists (me among them) who wrote her off as having no chance. Against the on-slaught of the youth condition. Lady Gagagagagagme among them. And winning of a simple domestic drama no less! “The Wife” There’s no stopping her now. She’ll win the Oscar too,

And that EGREGRIOIUS piece of dreck, “Shallow” won for Best Song and she was lucky to get that.

Watch one of
“Mary Poppins Returns” win there. Leaving “A Star is Born” with ZERO. It COULD happen.

Emily Blunt Looking at Two Oscar Nominations and/or Wins


Could 2019 be beginning with the ambrosial prospect of the brilliant British actress Emily Blunt up for TWO Oscar Nominations? One for Leading Actress for “Mary Poppins Returns” and the other for the nerve-shattering pregnant wife Evelyn in her real life husband John Grasinski’s horror film “The Quiet Place”?

Well, it’s happened already from a no-less than august awards body the SAGs, which nominated her twice in both categories. It’s almost unheard of. And she could win both.

The roles couldn’t be more diverse and more than show Blunt’s huge range as an actor. This certainly seems to be her moment. Awards-ignored for years, despite her superlative work in over 30 films, and every kind of character imaginable, 2019 finally seems to be her time to shine.

“The Quiet Place,” for those who may have missed it, is the early-in-the year 90 minute horror film that drew raves from critics as well as a boffo turn at the box-office.

incredibly taut and electrifingly directed and co-written by her real life husband John Grasinky, it stuns by the use of all things, silence. Blunt even has a deaf daughter played marvelously by the real life deaf actress Millicent Simmonds.

All are in jeopardy in a remote farm-house from a more or less traditional horror film monster (again astonishingly played by Krasinsky Himself) and if all this seems to much for the normal Awards-voting film=goer, don’t forget, they LOVE silent films(which “The Quiet Place” more or less is) and this is Emily Blunt’s year, there’s no denying itl And “The Quiet Place”s overwhelming and unexpected audience acceptance. only ads to Blunt’s momentum with Poppins. Disney had mounted a jmajor campaign for “Mary Poppins Returns” in all categories and Paramount has now done the same with “The Quiet Place.” So she was TWO major studios pushing for her.

Blunt even has a sure-fire “Oscar clip” scene where she has to give birth SILENTLY in an old-fashioned stand-alone bathtub. They all have to keep silent at all costs or the monster will incinerate them. It’s an edge-of-your-seater and in the same year as Blunt’s courageously/outrageous musical turn as  Mary Poppins, rivaling predecessor Julie Andrews, who also won an Oscar for Poppins.

It’s an awards-magnet role and Emily Blunt is the newly minted Awards magnet herself. And she’s nominated for a Golden Globe award for Best Actress in a Musical/Comedy, too.

The Golden Globes are this coming Sunday. Don’t miss them! If Blunt wins there against high-brow fellow Brit Olivia Coleman for “The Favourite”, she could very well begin her march to the Oscars! You heard it here first!

Emily Blunt Becomes Legend in “Mary Poppins Returns”! Give That Girl an Oscar!


I have long admired the acting force that is British Actress Emily Blunt. She’s been on my TV show twice, once for “The Jane Austen Book Club.”where I interview her by satellite. She was in London where she said, “It was pissing down with rain.” Now that’s not something Mary Poppins would never EVER say. This is without a doubt the iconic role that is going to make her very, very famous and will define her career for the rest of her days. And maybe even win her a Best Actress Oscar.

She was just nominated for her”practically perfect in every way” British nanny that descends from the lovely, fog-covered London skies  to save the Banks children once again. But this time they are all grown up and played remarkably sympathetically by the brilliant Ben Whishaw and the divinely demure Emily Mortimer. It is 1930 and they still live in the charming house on Cherry Tree Lane, but here’s where director Rob Marshall had a master stoke of genius. They are on the verge of being evicted.

So beneath the flaming Technicolor flim-flammery, there is a great core of sadness underlying “Mary Poppins Returns.” Emily Blunt’s Mary Poppins senses that there is  real trouble brewing here and that only she can fix it. This gives the always startlingly original actress a role that she can really sink her teeth into, and probably will play for ever. If she wanted to. There is a real sense of pain and a core of sadness that is motivating her Poppins to do what she does best – Cheer every one up. She’s like a supernatural social worker.

Blunt plays her with a tinge of something akin to regret. She knows in her heart of hearts that she really CAN’T help the Banks’ in any practical way. Her magic only goes so far. Or does it? And Nannys DO have to leave, eventually. That’s where her sadness comes from. As much as she loves the Banks’, she inevitably knows there will be a moment to go to say “It’s time.”

Lin-Manuel Miranda is on hand, too, in the Dick Van Dyke role, as  twere,  as Mary’s comical side-kick. Here transmorgrofied in into a lamplighter. He seems wildly miscast here, but his British accent is better than Van Dyke’s (who is in THIS movie, too!)so I’ll give him a pass for bounce-ability.


Also on hand is a new character, Mary’s Blatvian cousin Topsy who tells them all she is “Turning Turtle” a show-stopper number that allows Streep to out-camp her Florence Foster Jenkins role .That’s camp for you. The greatest of all addictions. Once you touch even your little left toe into it, you can never get out of it.

If you can imagine such a thing. She does more bumps and grinds per minute than any one in film history. And if it was anyone but Meryl Streep doing it you would say “STOP!” “Too much!” With Meryl you say, “You just keep twerking it, girl..”

The charming composer/lyricists are straight from Broadway. Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman are so endlessly tuneful and prolific, it’s simply amazing. My favorite has to be “Trip a Little Light Fantastic” and “There’s No Where to Go But Up!” sung by Angela Lansbury. Yes, she’s in it, too. Even the background music is quite enchanting. And every now and then they slip a little touch of the original Sherman brothers classic score. Just a few notes, mind you, but it is enough to send one flying up and down memory lane, in the best possible way.

It’s a delight. It’s an epic and I think it’s going to be nominated for Best Picture and many, many below the line categories. Sandy Duncan’s costumes are heaven-on-earth, right down to Mary’s red shoe laces. And of course, the extraordinary Emily Blunt will be nominated for Best Actress. And she could win, too! This is a film that will melt the hearts of every hardened cynic in Hollywood. And you’ll end concluding that we all need a Mary Poppins in our lives.

“Mary Poppins” is not just a sequel. It’s a classic.

Golden Globes Nominations Out! “Boy, Erased” Gets Two! Lucas Hedges Best Actor. Drama!


This year’s Golden Globes Nominations have just been announced. And they seem to be earlier than ever. The LA Film Critics haven’t even announced yet! So here they are. And for a complete list go to http://www.awardsdaily.com. I’m just over the moon that my #1 film of the year was remembered twice. The incredible Lucas Hedges got nominated in Best Actor, Drama for “Boy, Erased.” It also got nommed for Best Song.

This is what Lucas had to say about this,

“I honestly didn’t expect this and am completely thrilled. Thank you to the Hollywood Foreign Press for this incredible nomination. I loved playing Marlo, so this is a real honor.”

The 21-year-old phenom is currently on Broadway in Kenneth Lonergan’s “The Waverly Gallery” and so he can’t do the usual glad-handing and campaigning that has become an inevitable, and necessary, component of this Awards’ race.

No stranger to the Golden Globes and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, who give them out, Lucas was up two years ago in Supporting for “Manchester by the Sea,” also by the superb author/director Kenneth Lonergan.

It should also be noted that the HFPA nominated both gay characters in “Can You Ever Forgive Me” played by Melissa McCarthy (Lead actress) and Richard E. Grant (Supporting). as well as all three lesbian characters in “The Favourite” played by Olivia Coleman(Lead) and Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz(supporting.)

The Golden Globes become more and more important every year and this year they seem more on point than ever. And they certainly are a hoot and half to watch. And they very often are extremely predictive of the Oscars. Academy voters use the Golden Globe lists as a cheat sheet. Their inclusion on this list will mean the films will be watched and discussed. And in the case of “Boy, Erased,” which is about the heinous practice of gay conversion therapy, which is still legal in over thirty states, it is IMPORTANT and timely.

Post-script: the other Masterpiece that’s out there this year, “Roma” was nominated for Best Foreign Film, because it’s in Spanish. Alfonso Cuaron was nominated as Best Director and  Best Screenplay. And if there was an award for Best Cinematography, he’d be nominated for that, too,  for the stunning Black and White footage that he shot entirely himself!

“Roma” Wins Big at New York Film Critics; Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography

Alfonso Cauron’s masterpiece just won Best Picture and Best Director at the New York Film Critics this afternoon. His scintillating Black and White cinematography won that award, too. Ethan Hawke won Best Actor for “First Reformed” and Paul Schrader won for his screenplay. “First Reformed” also scored in these categories at the Gotham Awards.

For  a full list of the winners go to

http://www.awardsdaily.com

“Roma” One the Best Films You’ll Ever See

This year I saw one of the best films I’ll ever see, bar none, and it was the NYFF centerpiece film “Roma.” Mexican Oscar-winning(director for “Gravity)Alfonso Cuaron has done the seemingly impossible follow-up to that intergalactic magisterial feature. He has turned the camera inward and backward. To his childhood in Mexico City. And he’s done it in Black and White! And it is without a doubt one of the best films of the year and one of the best films I’ll ever see. Ever.
The most unlikely of subjects, the inner(and outer) life of a maid, the brilliant Yalitza Aparicio. She has never acted before and she just takes your breath away as Cleo. The put-upon, multliple-dutied nanny, housekeeper, laundress and mother of the earth. She really is the glue that is holding this upper-middle class doctor’s family together as they seem to be falling apart. 
Her story is galvanic, epic and heart-breaking and Aparicio embodies everything that is noble and good in 1970 Mexico, which is a scene of almost constant class conflict and wars. You know Cleo is more than capable of the humble, quotidian of chores she is tasked to do, but where else can she go? She clings to her menial job as if it were a pair of well-worn rosary beads. She prays for her hired family and we pray for her to transcend their problems, as they treat her and mistreat her, as all servants are treated. You know if she loses this job, with this her adopted family, she will lose her life.

Yalitza Aparicio could and should get nominated for Best Actress, as Cuaron certainly will be for Best Director. He also wrote the screenplay. He also shot it. He also co-produced it and co-edited it. And every gorgeous black and white shot should be framed as a work of art, even though he is photographing the most ordinary things.

Cuaron had a nanny Lebo, and that’s who Cleo is based on. And when he showed the completed film to her, she burst into tears, as I did watching it. This film is a love poem to her. And to all mothers and unselfish care-givers. To tell you any more of the plot, of what happens to Cleo, as it all rings so true, it hurts. It would spoil it.  It will break your heart. “Roma,” the name of the area of Mexico City the film is set in, in simply the best film he’s ever done, and a masterpiece.

I See “Three Billboards” for the 2nd Time! A Modern Masterpiece!

Even though today’s Oscar Nominations are carrying the elegiac headline “Martin McDonagh Snubbed for Directing Three Billboards,” I saw it again before all this happened, and had such an rapturous experience I had just had to write about it. AGAIN.You really DO have to see this film twice, at least,to get what is really going on in this incredibly rich, dense screenplay that McDonagh has graced us with. I found it soooo moving all over again. And perhaps this time, it was because I was looking at it from the perspective, that yes, this is a gay story. Or is it?

Finally, there was confirmation in the voice over that today’s Oscar Nominee for Best Supporting Actor, Woody Harrelson, writes in a letter to  Officer Dixon, at a very dramatic point in the story, which I won’t spoil here, except to say that Harrelson, as Officer Willoughby is saying that he knows that the angry, violent Dixon has spent time in jail, in his past and that the other prisoners are going to think at first that he’s “homophobic and will they be surprised!”

So McDonagh slips this rather crucial piece of information into the plot in a VERY understated way,  stealth to the max, and if you’ve missed it, you’ve missed it, and missed perhaps the most important point of the story. That this is not the story of a simple bigot. It’s the story of most of the red-neck south, and particulary of a confused, violent young man, who lives at home with his ancient alcoholic mother, who’s almost embalmed in gin, and he doesn’t like it one bit. He flirts with her in a jarring, but again, understated way, tousling her hair like he would another teenagers,

He’s totally confused and his youthful energy and rage knows no outlets, except beating up his prisoners, and he seems so randomly violent, at times you think that HE’s the killer of McDormand’s teenage daughter. You think that about Harrelson, too. Everyone is under suspicion in “Three Billboards.” And I didn’t notice the resemblance between McDormand and his mother’s character, with the close-cropped, dyed, blonde hair (pictured below). The actress who plays his mother so well is Riya May Atwood.

I found that last scene so incredibly moving. And it’s so, so simple. How can I explain it without spoiling the main dynamic of the film? Except to say that everything takes another amazing twist. And you really have to be ready for it. Dixon needs to find SOMEone to talk to, someone who understands his violent rages. And she does.

Seeing it twice, I was captivated. Are they villains? Are they murderers? Or could they be? And the acting by McDormand and Rockwell is mesmerizing and fine in the extreme. It’s a master class of understatement. They hypnotize you, as each hypnotize each other. Their acting is very, very rare indeed. It is off the charts.

She’s so bereft cannot cry. Her grief is ineffable. And her rage! Which fuels the movie with explosions literally and figuratively, that take the same form as Rockwell’s incomparable, terrifying outbursts, and I can’t wait to see it again!

May they all continue to be showered with Oscars!

Could “Lady Bird” Get Shut Out at SAGS as it did at Critics Choice?

One of the strangest things of the ongoing awards season 2018, to me, anyway, was how on Wednesday last at the Critics Choice Awards front-running favorite “Lady Bird” was completely shut out of the many, many categories it was nominated for. Like Best Comedy, Best Actress in a Comedy. Both those awards at the beginning of the evening went to, of all things, dark horse, last-minute entry “I, Tonya.” Yep. It won both those awards.Australian actress and reigning blonde sex-pot (“The Big Short”, “The Suicide Squad”, “The Wolf of Wall Street”) got Best Actress in a Comedy for Margot Robbie. And Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird herself, was snubbed, and so was the supposed front-running movie, Greta Gerwig’s first film.”Lady Bird.” which everybody thought had it in the bag.

Yes, Gerwig did not win Best Director, nor did Laurie Metcalf as Lady Bird’s put-upon-Mom, who was thought to be a shoo-in for Best Supporting Actress all season. At the last minute beloved TV vet Allison Janney swept in on a golden broom-stick and won both the Golden Globe Award in that category. 

La Vona, Tonya Harding’s rather over-the-top. horror show of a Mom, won the gold for the much-liked Janney’s villain of a Mom, who slaps and actually stabs her own daughter in the course of trying to get her ungrateful daughter into the Olympics.

It seemed like some kind of improbable nightmare that the cartoonish, horrifying Janney would win AGAIN at the Critics Choice Awards later in the week, Trouncing Metcalf AGAIN. And leaving supposedly beloved front-runner “Lady Bird” completely out in the cold with no wins at all.

Could that happen AGAIN at the SAG awards tomorrow night? If Frances McDormand wins Best Actress for “Three Billboards Outside Redding Missouri” as she’s expected to and Janney pulls her LaVona hat-trick again, and some other film wins Best Ensemble(“Get Out,” or the surging “Three Billboards”), pretty Lady Bird just might get shut out AGAIN just like at the Critic’s Choice. It’s a possibility, and would mean that McDormand and Janney have the actress roles at the Oscars all sewn up.

“Lady Bird” would then HAVE to win Best Picture. The evil tabloid mess of “I, Tonya” may have been though by some voters to be their cup of poison rather than Greta Gerwig’s sweet child-hood autobiography. We’ll soon see.

My SAG 2018 Predictions

After much consideration, and I’m trying to be as simple as I can be, I think the key to this year’s SAG Awards predictions is as plain as the nose on my face. Or as plain as the nose on anyone’s face in Ebbing,Missouri. “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” is going to sweep and win all four of the categories it’s nominated for. The overwhelming performance of an angry, but not tear-stained, grieving mother Mildred will win Frances McDormand her second SAG award. The fierceness of her unforgiving fury will translate into universal acclaim  as she has already received., at 60, the Golden Globe for Best Actress Drama and the same at the Critics’ Choice Awards.And her co-star Sam Rockwell, as the confused small-town policeman, Deputy Dixon, who tries to help her solve the  seemingly unsolvable mystery of her daughter’s violent rape and death, will precede McDormand to the podium and win Best Supporting Actor. Both of them bumping into each other on their way to the Oscars.

And two of the a-fore-seen winners of the other two awards,  Gary Oldman as the definitive Winston Churchill in “The Darkest Hour” (Best Actor) and Allison Janney as Tonya Harding’s frightening mother in the surging “I, Tonya.” (Best Supporting Actress), both will win again.

The SAGS only give out few awards to film. Mostly, it’s television that is being awarded. And usually at the start of the show BANG! They announce one of the two  Supporting Awards. So tune in on time at 8pm tomorrow night at TNT and TBS (Check your local listings.) Or you might miss Sam winning! Hopefully, I’ll survive the suspense until Sunday night when once again, I will be live-blogging.

Their fourth nomination being the supposedly predictive Best Ensemble award. That’s the only one of “Three Billboards” four nominations that I’m a little bit shaky about. But I think it’s their night. They might not win the Oscar, but they’ll win this. It’s an actor’s actor movie. And the SAGs, lest me forget, are actors voting on actors. “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing” is co–starring some of the greatest actors of our time. Woody Harrleson, Peter Dinklage, John Hawkes, Lucas Hedges are among the long list of its’ sterling ensemble.

“The Shape of Water” can’t win because it wasn’t nominated.

It could easily go to one of the other films. I would automatically say “Lady Bird,” but that got shut out surprisingly at the Critics last week! What? What? But I’ll put my pen down for the night, and just wish all of them good luck on Sunday!

“I, Tonya” Margot Robbie & Allison Janney Are Wonderful. The Film is a Crock

“I, Tonya” is Australian actress Margot Robbie’s attempt at going for the gold, and trying to win an Oscar. She may have succeeded in getting herself a nomination the week after this on January 23. But who she’s more seriously pulled into Awards contention and the quite possibly the win, is her co-star Allison Janney, everyone’s favorite go-to actress, as her hateful mother LaVona.

And Janney has just astoundingly won TWO major awards, the Golden Globe and also the Critics’ Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress for her horrifying turn as the Wicked Witch of the Ice Rink with a parakeet on her shoulder.

Up until this past week, Laurie Metcalf had been predicted to be winning those awards, and suddenly the Golden Globes just turned this particular race, Best Supporting Actress upside-down. Just as Sam Rockwell did with Best Supporting Actor.

I found “I, Tonya” such a distasteful croc of lies, that I’ll concentrate on Ms. Janney’s chances, shall I?

Remembering all too vividly the events this loathsome episode that will forever cloud the history of figure skating, I just was not ready to listen to Tonya Harding’s side of the story. She had some foul person attack champion Nancy Kerrigan by hitting her in the shin with a mettle rod, thus effectively side-lining her and allowing the rabbity Harding to shine abd get onto the Olympic ice skating team. It was a horrifying incident and you just hated Harding for it.

Well, there’s more to the story, as it turns out. Or sort of turns out. If Harding is to be believed, which I for one, can’t. Seems that her husband/ ex-husband/ boyfriend/ whatever executed this hateful scheme .Sebastian Stan as Jeff Gilhooley is wonderfully scummy, but I didn’t believe a word out of his mouth. Both he and Robbie play the untruths they have to spout believably, which must be considered a great feat of acting on both their parts. But Robbie will be the one who wins  a nomination for producing this nauseating sea of lies. Which brings me to Allison Janney and why she keeps winning Best Supporting Actress Awards this season.

She’s got her own TV series, which she stars in every week on CBS, “Mom”. She won many, many Emmys for her yeoman multi-season run on “West Wing.” And so she is extremely familiar to viewers, and voters, who know she is NOTHING like LaVona , the very worst mother ever seen depicted as a character, reel or unreal on screen.

Laurie Metcalf’s compassionate, though beleaguered Mom on “Lady Bird” is VERY believable. She does not physically abuse her wayward daughter. But Lavona constantly smacks Tonya around and even throws a knife at her, which penetrates Tonya’s upper arm. So LoVona’ s bad behavior, makes “I, Tonya” believable and sympathetic, but only somewhat. This is a sports movie about child abuse. It’s going to seem very timely with the winter Olympics coming up.

Janney’s physical transformation is key here. She uglies up to the nth degree, and many think that’s acting, but  I don’t. However, Janney is so skilled an actress, you buy it. She’s also a comic, though horrible, relief from the incessant whining and bitch-slapping of her irritating daughter.

And I think voters are going to feel that Janney is the one to vote for, and surprisingly they say “I, Tonya” is surging right now. She’s a comfortable way in. It’s clearly a performance of someone we don’t like, by someone we do like.

And there is ONE scene in a diner, where else? Where LaVona tries to plead HER case as a mother to her destructive daughter, who hates her. And still does to this day. Janney as LaVona says that she went out and worked and gave everything to her daughter. “I didn’t stay home as bake brown betties all day.” Janney had me at that moment. And clearly she had the voters , too. So far.

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