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Posts tagged ‘British’

Luminous, Lucent, Transcendant Kate Winslet Could Win Her 2nd Oscar for “Wonder Wheel”

Wonder Wheel 3

Lustrous, luminous, transcendent Kate Winslet is the wonder of Woody Allen’s new “Wonder Wheel.”
Is there any American filmmaker alive today who writes  such great roles for women? No. There simply isn’t. And as photographed by cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, Kate Winslet seems to be a cinematic miracle of color and light, majesty and emotion,

You simply can’t take your eyes off her. Storaro and Allen have combined to give her a cinematic beauty that makes you gasp, in a multi-faceted role that makes you applaud. She is playing Ginny, a Brooklyn waitress, who works in a Coney Island Clam House. I have known SOOOO many Ginnys in my lifetime, and British though she is, Winslet absolutely nails her Ginny to the Coney Island boardwalk. And it’s  stirring performance in the grand tradition. She’s every woman. And every woman I’ve known, from Brooklyn, trying to make a better life for herself and her family. And trying to find love at the same time, having given up her dreams of being an actress earlier in her life.

Winslet’s Ginny seems the simplest of creatures.. But Allen’s writing and her bravura performance proves that every woman is as complex as a whirlwind. Or a rollercoaster. Or a Wonder Wheel at  Coney Island, to use this film’s great metaphor. Winslet has never seemed so bedeviled and so bewitching at the same time. She’s a housewife in waitress’ outfit that she wears like a queen, as she goes about her frantic daily work of cooking and cleaning for the whole of Brooklyn it seems.

Allen and Storaro capture the ordinary woman’s extraordinariness. She is married to a lout (James Belushi) and having a torrid affair with Justin Timberlake, the local lifeguard. Timberlake’s string-bean-ness seems out of place as a life guard, but he, too, has movie star charisma in buckets instead of muscles, that make all the women in the film falling for him make sense.Justin Timberlake Wonder Wheel He and Belushi have both never been better.Kate Winslet 1

She is playing Ginny, a common-as-they-come Brooklyn waitress, who is as uncommon, as she is earth-bound. Winslet’s a fiery red-head this time. And in Storaro’s use of orange and amber light, she seems so on fire, she is burning up the screen. It is no surprise then that her red-headed son is an arsonist, setting  a fire every time he’s left alone. The fires remind him of his mother.

And Juno Temple is Belushi’s neglected daughter, who turns up as a “Marked” woman, being chased by the mob, because she married a gansta, and became a “canary” who sang on her husband, making her a woman on the run for her life. She hides  out in Winslet’s and Belushi’s  humble household underneath the ever-present Wonder Wheel. Young, blonde Temple has the role of her career here, too, and is doomed from the first seconds we see her taking her first tentative steps under the Wonder Wheel.

In a simple car ride in a romantic rain storm with Timberlake, she becomes, as he says “as beautiful as the rain light.”Storaro has lit her in golds and blues to emphasize her beauty as well as her melancholy. She, too, is magnificent in this film.

Storaro  and set designer Santo Loquasto make more magic by making Coney Island in the ’50s look like the Riviera.

Winslet’s performance is so heart-breaking and towering it immediately recalls the great screen performances of screen queens past. Joan Crawford in particular. The shop girl who was not a shop girl.  The waitress who was not a waitress. And reminds you that not since the ’40s have actresses consistently seen parts like this. Winslet’s Ginny is the  working class version of Cate Blanchett’s Jasmine in Allen’s recent Oscar winner “Blue Jasmine.” “Wonder Wheel” is his best film since “Midnight in Paris” and is now one of my favorite Woody Allen movies. It’s right up there with the best. It reminds me why I love Brooklyn. And New York City.

“Wonder Wheel” is a movie movie about romance and melodrama and great actresses playing great roles. And it ends this year’s superlative NYFF with a BANG!

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“Dunkirk” Lives Up to It’s Oscar Hype! Mark Rylance Will Get His 2nd Oscar nom!

I just LOVED “Dunkirk”! Not a fan of war movies as a rule, the cinemaster Christopher Nolan has re-written the book on this genre as well as re-inventing it with this spectacular achievement . It’s a heart-pounding, edge-of-your-seat, white knuckle thriller as well as an eye-popping, frightening and ultimately triumphant Best Picture of the Year. Well, so far, anyway.

It’s hard to imagine anything that will top it in terms of its’ size and scope, and story, too. Christopher Nolan is the screen-writer as well as director, and also, a producer.

I found myself moved from the first frames of “Dunkirk,” with its’ magnificent Hans Zimmer score thumping and pounding and shaking the earth, which in the first shots are a picturesque rendering of the French seaside town of Dunkirk as it was then, in June of 1940 .  Nazi leaflets are dropping like autumn leaves on the young British soldiers below, who all are about to be slaughtered outright by the unseen enemies machine gun bullets.

The most unlikely, scrawny, leading young man is newcomer Fionn Whitehead, (See above and at top of page) who we are going to follow through his epic journey of struggling to survive the evacuation of 400,000 British and allied troops, who are stranded on the beaches of Dunkirk.

Bullets are ripping, searing and whizzing everywhere as Nazi planes pound the helpless soldiers, exposed, vulnerable and innumerable on the Dunkirk beach. They are just sitting ducks. “It’s like shooting fish in a barrel” one officer proclaims.

How will they EVER get out of there? And that is the drama that director Nolan is portraying so incredibly accurately, and in such a breath-taking and wholly cinematic detail. Nolan’s exacting directorial eye gives verisimilitude a new meaning.Mark Rylance with Oscar 1

Oscar winner Mark Rylance (for Best Supporting Actor for “Bridge of Spies”)  is the truly heroic, mild-mannered, stiff-upper-lipped British captain. owner of his own medium-sized,  pleasure yacht, hardly a warship. It is one of the many civilian small craft that are commandeered by Churchill to set sail across the churning English Channel and rescue all those stranded soldiers. Rylance’s no-nonsense, utterly focused, amateur seaman/citizen is a masterpiece of restraint, understatement and terse John Bull heroism.

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And he’s symbolic of one of hundreds of small boats that turned the tide of this terrible war, WWII. They did the impossible, because they had to. How they were called upon and how all they just stepped up to this incredible, daunting challenge  and how in doing so  served their country and saved the free world. Churchill’s thrilling call to arms “We will fight on the beaches!” echoes throughout the film, and as a first generation Brit myself, I was immensely proud of all of them. magnificently depicted here in this their finest John Bull hour of courage.

It’s a David v. Goliath feat, and it’s all true. This really did happen. And Nolan re-creates it down to the smallest, scarifying detail. Not even pop star Harry Styles,who acquits himself quite admirably as the gnarliest of the small group of British soldiers, teenagers, really,  can fall out of line. If you weren’t looking for him, he would blend in totally with the other young, struggling, dirty, frightened, brave soldiers.

“Dunkirk” explodes with many, many understated and marvelously compelling performances. Irish actor Cillian Murphy(below)is totally unrecognizable as a survivor of a downed plane that Rylance and his crew of two lads rescue from the sea. Is he a German? Is he a deserter?

Rylance’s scenes of struggle between him and Murphy will. I’m pretty sure,  net the Oscar winner another nomination. He’s got the biggest part. The Academy likes to nominate those they’ve awarded and nominated before. But Murphy, Whitehead, Styles and Sir Kenneth Branagh (as the British troop leader,who has the most moving single line in the film, which I won’t reveal here) are all  exemplary.


That Harry Styles in his film debut holds his own with these Knights of the Realm is as much a tribute to Nolan’s laconic, terse direction of the actors as well as the many, many ships at sea and the planes in the air. And to shoot this all on water! How did he get those incredible, aquatic shots?

Hoyte Van Hoytena, the superb cinematographer of the awe-inspiring, acrobatic camera work is surely on his way to an Oscar for his astounding work here of filming the unfilmable on land and on sea .There’s not a lot of blood in “Dunkirk” but there is an awful lot of water!  Lee Smith’s phenomenal, fast-paced film editing is going to be acknowledged, too, at awards-time, I’m so sure. “Dunkirk” is incredibly only 90 minutes! And it’s shot on film. Nothing is digital.Tom Hardy Dunkirk 1

A special note most also be taken of previous Oscar nominee Tom Hardy (for Best Supporting Actor for “The Revenant”)’s ability to act throughout the film almost entirely in a pilot’s gas mask, with only his eyes and his voice for expression.(See above) He’s got to carry nearly a third of the film in tight close-up in his fighter pilot’s cockpit. He’s as moving and as effective of those fighting to survive below, who we see in full.Dunkirk 4

This picture was made for Oscar, and it will get nominated all over the place, and deservedly so. It’s a great movie. And a great movie movie. And Number One at the box-office for the past two weeks to boot. Don’t miss “Dunkirk”!

#Dunkirk, #Mark Rylance, #Christopher Nolan, #Harry Styles, #WWII #Tom Hardy, #War Movie, #Oscars, #Best Supporting Actor, #Best Picture

Justin Timberlake Starts the Oscars Off with a Great Number & a Standing O! Mahershala Wins!

justin-timberlake-1Justin Timberlake starts off the Oscars just right with a rompin’, stompin’ raise-the-roof  with his own Oscar nominated song And it was great! From “Trolls.” He got a standing, dancing ovation! Great start! Then of course, Jimmy Kimmel  comes on and gets as he puts it, “Oh great, a sitting ovation”….

He then makes the audience give Meryl Streep a standing O.

And now, Best Supporting Actor! And here comes the lovely Alicia Vikander. She’s got a VERY deep tan.  Trying to look as un-Swedish as possible.

Mahershala Ali wins! I was wrong about Dev Patel…Another standing ovation…

A nice moving speech. His wife just had a baby and firstly he thanks his teachers, whom I know/knew the late Zelda Fischhandler and Ron Van Lieu from NYU Grad Acting. They were the first ones he thanked which was very classy of him. I saw him in many plays there and he was always as good as he was in mahershala-ali“Moonlight.” Lots of warmth in the room for “Moonlight” as Sasha Stone predicted at http://www.awardsdaily.com. And I didn’t…

His part in “Moonlight” was very small, but truly supporting. But he didn’t mention that he was a Muslim, which I wish he would’ve done.

 

 

 

Oscar Nominee, 20 yr. old, Lucas Hedges Rocks Off Broadway in”Yen”

yen-2It’s so rare to see an Off-Broadway play explode on every artistic level, as the strangely titled “Yen” does at the Lucille Lortel on Christopher St. Meant as a vehicle for rising star and Oscar nominee ( in Supp. Actor) Lucas Hedges of “Manchester by the Sea,” he surprises and surpasses on every level possible. Main among them the revelatory fact that young ( 20 yr.old ) Lucas Hedges is no flash in the pan. He fulfills every expectation and surpasses them. He is simply on his way to being one of the greatest young actors of his generation.casey-lucasHe’s shaved his mop top of solid red hair and goes completely bald as British skin-head, Hench, in Anna Jordan’s electric new play “Yen.” It is being given a superb American debut production by director Trip Cullman, whose career I have admired and followed for many years now. Cullman has a way of getting career performances out of his actors and he’s done that here with Ari Graynor, Stefania LaVie Owen and Justice Smith.

Yen which is a nick-name of Owen’s character Jen, is no walk in the park, and is not for the faint of heart. It’s a total gut punch. I felt, too, like Hedges’ character does in the play’s bloody climax, as if I was banging my head into a wall over and over and over again. The sense of the characters’ frustrations are contagious, palpable. But in the best sense of the word. It was exhilarating. And enlightening. It was like it was as dangerous as being caught in a lightning storm at sea with columns of lightning bolts shooting all around you. You see them blazing everywhere . At any moment , you might be hit.yen-1 yen-3

It starts with Hedges nude to the waist and barefoot picking his nose and watching pornography with a dead-eyed expression, while his younger brother Bobbie, also shirtless and barefoot, is jumping around the dirty bed-sit stage like a Mexican jumping bean on speed. Or meth. He’s on something. Because he doesn’t stop imitating the sound of their German Shepherd Taliban who is cooped up off-stage (we hear him, but we never see him) growling and snarling and roaring through this play, like a bat or a German Shepherd out of hell.

Juvenile delinquents – to – be, they rob stores in order to eat, and they only own one dirty T- shirt between them. And seem to have had no parenting whatsoever.yen7

Taliban is caged and so are these two teenaged boys. And we soon find out why as they drag their comatose, drug-addicted, passed-out-drunk mother in through the doorway of their rancid council flat. Ari Graynor is magnificence personified as this young actress tackles these multiple addictions and her two equally addicted, pubescent teenage sons, executing just how twisted her under-class life has made her, in a Cockney accent that is totally spot on. As is Hedges’ and is Justice Smith’s. Smith performs the disturbed Bobbie at a decibel and enery-level that is superhuman. You don’t know what dangerous thing he and/or Hench might do that prefigures the violence that occurs as the play progresses.yen-4

But the violence is not telegraphed. It’s just THERE. A part of these lower-class have-nots’ lives.  I’d say this play was a continuation of John Osborne’s Angry Young Man, working class anti-hero from the ’50s. It’s a kitchen sink drama, except these people are so poor they don’t even HAVE a kitchen sink.

As the play spirals downward, the only glimmer of hope is represented by the entrance of Jennifer or Jen. “Yen” to her family. A sweet Welsh girl, who has just moved into the neighborhood, and is clearly attracted to the hunky Hench ( Hedges )who spends most of the play in his underpants. yen-5Stefania LaVie Owen totally nails this difficult accent, too. As well embodying Yen’s warmth and gritty/slutty attraction. She is astonishingly making her stage debut in this difficult role in this difficult play. But they are all orbiting around Lucas Hedges’ miraculous sun. His talent is out-size and blazing, and he more than fulfills the high expectations his complex Oscar-nominated performance as the troubled, recalcitrant nephew in “Manchester by the Sea,” has set. And “Manchester” has set that bar HIGH.

Hench is a much more difficult role. He has to carry the entire, angry play, barefoot and half-naked, and make you hate him, but love him, and fear him and fear FOR him at the same time. It’s astonishing. HE’S astonishing.

Yen” is closing in March, so you better move fast and see it before it vanishes into theatrical lore as Lucas Hedges’ blazing theatrical debut.

#Yen

#Lucas Hedges

#Trip Cullman

#Off Broadway

#Oscar Nominee Best Supporting Actor

#Manchester by the Sea

What the BAFTAs MAY do to Oscar 2016?

Sad BaftaBAFTAS 2016 1What will be the BAFTAS effect on Oscar this year? It may be more than ever. The nominations for BAFTA(the British Academy Awards equivalent) are fewer, only five, in the Best Picture race. And though the British themselves are trying to align their awards with ours, more and more each year, the EFFECT they have on wavering Oscar voters stateside is monumental….Sometimes…And sometimes it’s the undecided votes  that determine the winner, especially in a close year like this in the acting categories.

Of COURSE, “La La Land” is going to win Best Picture. It’s as popular there as here. So let’s table that discussion right now, shall we? The other nominees are the British film “I, Daniel Blake”(no), and the American films “Manchester by the Sea”, “Arrival” and “Moonlight” and I don’t see any of those upsetting LLL, as it’s known on the Interwebs.

oscars-2017-3There IS a overlap from BAFTAs membership to AMPAS, estimated at a voting block of about 600. This becomes a crucial indicator when there is a close-as-close-can-be race. Like this year’s Best Actor. Casey Affleck will win this. And what you say? Denzel Washington isn’t even nominated! Yes, that’s right. And so isn’t “Fences” whose sole nominee is Viola Davis in Supporting. And you heard it here first folks, remember that. VIOLA MAY NOT WIN HERE!naomie-harris-1

It may be Brit star Naomi Harris, who was so strong and touching as the drug-addicted mother in “Moonlight.” Brits win here. It’s their awards after all. And the same goes for “Moonlight”s Mahershala Ali, who is most definitely going to win the Oscar in the Supporting Category, but also, not necessarily in Britian. It may very well be British Indian actor Dev Patel who is nominated for the Weinstein Co.’s “Lion.”lion-2I still think that USA favorites Ali and Davis will prevail in Supporting states-side. But just watch what happens if wins for Naomi Harris and Dev Patel occur in London on Sunday. And Casey Affleck wins Best Actor there. As will Emma Stone in Best Actress(They love “La La”).

The complete absence of “Fences” at the BAFTAs (esp. if Viola Davis Loses!) may mess with the perceived momentum of that movie.

So with POTENTIALLY DIFFERENT-than-the-SAG winners, Harris and Patel and no Viola, and Denzel not even nominated, it just MAY, I say, MAY insure that the brilliant portrayal of Casey Affleck in “Manchester by the Sea” continues on to win his BIG ONE as pre-ordained by the NYFCC, the National Board of Review, The Critics Choice Awards and the Golden Globes and every other critics’ group awards across the country.

Denzel was brilliant on Broadway, but in the screen version, he directed himself, and that was his big mistake. The movie seemed LONNGGGER than the stage version. Why? Because he kept pausing and dragging out EVERY SINGLE SYLLABLE til yes, indeed Viola Davis’ Rose DID seem like a Supporting performance. Every line was had an exclamation point at the end of it. A nd every close-up of himself was just held too long. That’s what makes a picture extend itself in time and wears out its’ welcome.

So enjoy your trip to the London stage, Casey. You gave the better performance, the Best Performance of the year. BY A MILE. As a lonely alcoholic janitor, who is tortured by his tragic past, his Lee Chandler is indelible, unforgettable.

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And once upon a time, he appeared in a Kenneth Lonergan play in London to great acclaim, so they love him already in Blighty.

And most important of all, after the BAFTAS occur on Sunday, on Monday, (at last!) the Oscar voting OPENS! And most people send in their ballots IMMEDIATELY, especially now that they can do it electronically.

#Casey Affleck, #BAFTA, #Manchester by the Sea, #Predictions # Denzel Washington # Fences # Viola Davis # Oscars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FINAL SAG Predictions! Each Film Will Win ONE Award

manchester-by-the-sea-92-emma-stonesI have to get this out as soon as possible. It’s SUCH a cut and dried year that it’s almost like typing blindfold. OF COURSE, Casey Affleck is going to win Best Actor tomorrow night at the SAG Awards. He’s won everything else. And it IS a great affecting performance that stays with you. It is also the most courageous depiction of grief I’ve ever seen in a major motion picture. He’ll win here because I think the SAG ensemble prize is going elsewhere. No, it’s not the 14 time Oscar nominee “La La Land”. It wasn’t even nominated!

But I think it’s leading lady, Emma Stone will win Best Actress. If they like “La La Land” and evidently they do, Emma in Best Actress is the only place they can vote for LLL. The same with “Manchester”. Casey Affleck will win big, because it’s not possible to vote for him or “Manchester by the Sea” anywhere else in this group of Awards.

Also, remember it’s a VERY American voting body. It’s the Actor’s of America voting so foreigners need not apply.

Viola Davis is the most mortal of locks for Best Supporting Actress for “Fences.” She’ll repeat her Broadway triumph here.

It’s a little trickier as we go on. So far we have one for “Manchester by the Sea”, Casey Affleck and one for “La La Land” Emma Stone, We have one for “Fences” which will be Viola Davis.

Then we run into the problem so who will win Best Supporting Actor. Will it be Mahershala Ali for “Moonlight” or Patel for “Lion”? Given that I think SAG is in a -spread-the-wealth mood. If Mahershala wins for his compassionate drug dealer then “Moonlight” won’t also win Best Ensemble. They might want to give “Moonlight” Best Ensemble(and it truly IS an ensemble). Then another actor of color would win Supporting which would be Dev Patel. If they liked “Lion” and the Weinsteins, this is the only category where they can vote for him.

So, if early in the evening, Patel wins in Supporting, then you can be sure that “Moonlight” will walk away with ensemble

But if it’s Mahershala Ali, who wins then the top award, their version of Best Picture, will go to another racially themed film, the box-office blockbuster “Hidden Figures” which has been surging during the voting period.

So therefore SAG will feel they’ve been fair to all. “Everyone has won and all  shall have prizes” cried the Dodo in “Alice Through the Looking Glass.

#SAG Awards #Final Predictions, #Casey Affleck, #Best Actor, # La La Land

 

 

 

 

BAFTA noms out! La La Land Leads with 11. Aaron Taylor-Johnson nominated AGAIN!

aaron-taylor-johnson-winning-golden-globeWell, the nominations for the BAFTAs, the British equivalent of the Academy Awards, were announced in the middle of the night(EST) last night and it’s no surprise to anyone that “La La Land” leads the pack once again, dancing off with 11 nominations, more than any other film and also being nominated in every single category it possibly could be.la-la-land-7A REAL surprise that it was followed in the nominations with “Nocturnal Animals” at nine. The divisive Tom Ford thriller is going to sound familiar from the Golden Globes because it was Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s upset win in Best Supporting Actor was the first bombshell of the night in a night of bombshells. Taylor-Johnson is playing a serial killer in this dark film, which I’m now predicting will do better with the Academy later this month than people, or pundits, heretofore expected.

In Supporting Actor, he’s once again up against Hugh Grant for “Florence Foster Jenkins”, Dev Patel(who is really the lead) for “Lion. All these three gentlemen are Brits btw. Mahershala Ali, who WAS the front-runner and good ole boy Jeff Bridges playing a tired and retiring Texas detective in “Hell or High Water.”aaron-taylor-johnson-4Also in play is the very young Lucas Hedges who dazzles in my fave, “Manchester by the Sea” which racked up six noms. Best picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, Casey Affleck(who I think will win this, once again, for his haunting, haunted performance as Lee Chandler[he’s won everything else])Best Supporting Actress Michelle Phillips and Best Newcomer, Lucas Hedges. Best Newcomer is a category that the Academy doesn’t have, so to get a nomination for his incredible, funny heart-breaking lost teenager, he’d have to be nominated as Supporting by the Academy. Perhaps he will. I hope he does.

manchwarwe-by-the-sea-6michelle-willilams-manchester-1Strange to note, but there was ONCE AGAIN a big snub of Denzel Washington’s performance in “Fences.” He’s NEVER been nominated for any BAFTA award in his long, long career, though his magnificent co-star Viola Davis was nominated for Best Supporting Actress. But she’s the sole nomination that “Fences” got another shocker (but not to me.)

She and Michelle Williams will go toe-to-toe in this category. And Williams has a better shot here than she does back in American against Viola. Because the Brits just don’t have a history of honoring Black performers, believe it or not.viola-davis-fences-1

They even snubbed Barry Jenkins for director for “Moonlight”! Though they did nominate Black British Actress the brilliant Naomie Harris and of course Mahershala Ali in the Supporting categories for “Moonlight.”

I would say that these nominations slow down whatever momentum “Moonlight” which won Best Picture the night before last at the Globes, even though it did make the cut, unbelievably, for Best Picture. “Moonlight” got four nominations, BP, Best Original Screenplay(though the Oscars are considering it as “Adapted Screenplay) and the two Supporting nods I just mentioned.

manchester-by-the-sea-8But Casey Affleck seems to be conquering all before him. And his complex, difficult performance of a man burdened by an overwhelming grief still haunts me to this day. But you love him for all his suffering. And he’s funny, too. I can’t wait to see “Manchester by the Sea” again.

The big question with the BAFTAS is will they honor something light and musical like “La La Land” or will the heavy weight dramatic films and performances carry the day?

And they also tend to vote for their own, which means Aaron Taylor-Johnson may just win, again. They really loved “Nocturnal Animals.” They even nominated Jake Gyllenhaal who wasn’t turning up anywhere, for Best Actor!

jake-gyllenhaal-nocturnal-animalsI’ll discuss Best Actress at the BAFTAs in a subsequent post and for a complete list of the MANY nominees and categories, go, of course, to http://www.awardsdaily.com

#BAFTAS

#Nocturnal Animals

#Aaron Taylor-Johnson

#Casey Affleck

#Manchester by the Sea

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