a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Best Picture’

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.

“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

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!

Critics Choice Give “Lady Bird” NOTHING!?!? “Shape of Water” wins Best Picture

I guess the members of the Broadcast Film Critics did NOT like Anything about supposed Oscar front-runner “Lady Bird .” It got NOTHING from their award show which went out tonight on the CW. It only took two hours. They didn’t announce many of their silly, superfluous categories on air. But they still were there. As you can see by the list below. Thanks to http://www.awardsdaily.com

Next up, the SAG Awards on Sunday night. I’ll be Live-Blogging those awards, too, which are considered more seriously as they actually voted on by members of a for-real industry guild, the Screen Actors Guild.

WINNERS OF THE 23RD ANNUAL CRITICS’ CHOICE AWARDS

FILM:
BEST PICTURE – “The Shape of Water”

BEST ACTOR – Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour”

BEST ACTRESS – Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – Allison Janney, “I, Tonya”

BEST YOUNG ACTOR/ACTRESS – Brooklynn Prince, “The Florida Project”

BEST ACTING ENSEMBLE – “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

BEST DIRECTOR – Guillermo del Toro, “The Shape of Water”

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY – Jordan Peele, “Get Out”

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY – James Ivory, “Call Me By Your Name”

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY – Roger Deakins, “Blade Runner 2049”

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN – Paul Denham Austerberry, Shane Vieau, Jeff Melvin, “The Shape of Water”

BEST EDITING (TIE) – Paul Machliss, Jonathan Amos, “Baby Driver”

BEST EDITING (TIE) – Lee Smith, “Dunkirk”

BEST COSTUME DESIGN – Mark Bridges, “Phantom Thread”

BEST HAIR AND MAKEUP – “Darkest Hour”

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS – “War for the Planet of the Apes”

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE – “Coco”

BEST ACTION MOVIE – “Wonder Woman”

BEST COMEDY – “The Big Sick”

BEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY – James Franco, “The Disaster Artist”

BEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY – Margot Robbie, “I, Tonya”

BEST SCI-FI OR HORROR MOVIE – “Get Out”

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM – “In The Fade”

BEST SONG – “Remember Me” from “Coco”

BEST SCORE – Alexandre Desplat, “The Shape of Water”WINNERS OF THE 23RD ANNUAL CRITICS’ CHOICE AWARDS

FILM:
BEST PICTURE – “The Shape of Water”

BEST ACTOR – Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour”

BEST ACTRESS – Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – Allison Janney, “I, Tonya”

BEST YOUNG ACTOR/ACTRESS – Brooklynn Prince, “The Florida Project”

BEST ACTING ENSEMBLE – “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

BEST DIRECTOR – Guillermo del Toro, “The Shape of Water”

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY – Jordan Peele, “Get Out”

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY – James Ivory, “Call Me By Your Name”

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY – Roger Deakins, “Blade Runner 2049”

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN – Paul Denham Austerberry, Shane Vieau, Jeff Melvin, “The Shape of Water”

BEST EDITING (TIE) – Paul Machliss, Jonathan Amos, “Baby Driver”

BEST EDITING (TIE) – Lee Smith, “Dunkirk”

BEST COSTUME DESIGN – Mark Bridges, “Phantom Thread”

BEST HAIR AND MAKEUP – “Darkest Hour”

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS – “War for the Planet of the Apes”

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE – “Coco”

BEST ACTION MOVIE – “Wonder Woman”

BEST COMEDY – “The Big Sick”

BEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY – James Franco, “The Disaster Artist”

BEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY – Margot Robbie, “I, Tonya”

BEST SCI-FI OR HORROR MOVIE – “Get Out”

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM – “In The Fade”

BEST SONG – “Remember Me” from “Coco”

BEST SCORE – Alexandre Desplat, “The Shape of Water”

What Does Producers Guild List of 11 Mean?

Three Bill Boards 10Harry Styles Dunkirk 3Call Me Upside DownLady Bird 12What does the odd, never before seen, ELEVEN choices of the Producers Guild mean? Well, to the films seen above jockeying for position to get Oscar nominations it means a lot. The  five pictured above  means that they are all in like flint. They are, counting down, “The Shape of Water”, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri”, “Dunkirk”, “Call Me By Your Name” and “Lady Bird.” They all can relax and take it easy for at least 48 hours, til the Golden Globes are announced Sunday.

Not that anyone campaigning for the Oscars EVER gets to take it easy at this time of year. Impossible! The mode now is almost always PANIC. But especially if you’ve been left out, like “Darkest Hour” and most importantly, “The Florida Project”.

All Academy Members, especially the Actor’s Branch, at this crucial point, are looking at this list. This means that poor little, brilliant, tear-jerker “Florida” may get left off the Academy’s list which always averages to something like nine. It has to duke it out with the films above and also “Wonder Woman”(can’t believe it’ll be nominated for Best Picture”), “Get Out”((ditto)) and “I, Tonya”(((Triple Ditto))) and “The Post”(yes, probably.)

“The Florida Project”s Oscar chances was mainly riding on the coattails of its Best Supporting Actor hopeful Willem Dafoe, who plays the patient, likable, motel manager. He has VERY strong competition from Sam Rockwell in “Three Billboards” and the inclusion of “Billboards” pretty much knocks Dafoe’s chances down a peg or two. Or three. Proves that people like Hollywood Producers Guild members don’t like films about people on welfare that star people on welfare. (Except for Willem Dafoe, of course.)

Rockwell’s star continues to rise and rise, and he’s even hosting SNL tomorrow night! If you compare the two, as I’m sure the Actor’s Branch members are doing right now, as they begin to vote for their nominations, Rockwell, though I can’t spoil exactly how, where and why, has the truly transformational character. He has to go through many, many amazing permutations, and his film “Three BillBoards…” is a Big Indie, almost a full-on feature film. And “The Florida Project” is not. It’s as small as small can be, and isn’t liked as much as the much admired “Billboards.”

The leaving off “The Darkest Hour” is also not good news for Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill. 19 year old(when he shot it) Timothee Chalamat (“Call Me By Your Own Name”) is really giving the veteran British character actor a run for his money, too. He’s 23 now, but would they really shaft the veteran? Timothee’s low-key charisma is charm without end…but…same with Saoirse Ronan’s lost-in-high-school Lady Bird. Two coming of age stories…Are they going to award BOTH teenagers-in-question?

I would say that those four men, Oldman, Chalamet, Dafoe and Rockwell  are the ones in serious awards contention here. They’ll all be nominated, but who will win?

“I, Tonya”s emergence out of the mire that was Tonya Harding’s life and the inclusion of it on this List of Lists really means that it has to be taken much more seriously than anyone had expected. And that not only the respected vet Allison Janney, but the emergent Australian actress Margot Robbie, is no longer merely a sex-bomb, but also quite possibly a Best Actress nominee. As unbelievable as that may have sounded even last week.

I don’t think this helps or hurts Allison Janney, as her mother-from-hell, because if “Lady Bird” is going to win anything, it’s Laurie Metcalf as Lady Bird’s mother from Purgatory in Best Supporting Actress.

So what will “Lady Bird,” which seems to be leading  the momentum. Wwhat will that mean for its lovely Irish star Saoirse Ronan and its brilliant writer-director Greta Gerwig? I’d say the jury is still out on that one, and that it’s going to be a battle to the end or a fight to the finish either way for both of them.

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