a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Bryan Cranston’

Live-Blogging SAG(Screen Actors Guild) Awards tonite.

SAG 1The Screen Actors Guild Awards are tonight, and I’m going to be live-blogging them, dear readers, dear cineastes.  In NYC, they are on the TBS or TNT channels at 8pm EST. Check your local listings.

There should be MANY surprises tonight. We’ll see if the #Oscarssowhite controversy is going to impact the awards.

Black British Actor Idris Elba is the man of the hour tonight. He’s nominated for Best Supporting Actor on the film side for “Beasts of No Nation.” And on the TV side he’s nominated for “Luther”. He’s against Mark Rylance in both categories and I feel he is going to take home at least ONE “actor” as they call their awards. If “Beasts of No Nation” wins Best Ensemble, then Elba might be taking home three!

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Rylance, a stage legend in Britain and multiple Tony winner on Broadway, is his main competition tonight for “Bridge of Spies” for Best Supporting Actor Film, and for “Wolf Hall” TV series.

Unfortunately, Elba was NOT nominated for an Oscar. (He’s a magnificent actor. He should have been.) None of this awful Oscarssowhite scandal would’ve happened if he had been nomminated. It’s rumored that he may be the first Black James Bond.

Here’s an interview I did with Idris a few years back at the Toronto Film Festival.

As for Best Picture Film, it’s back and forth and forth and back between “Spotlight” and late riser “The Big Short.” Which is what it was like last year with “Birdman” and “Boyhood.” Up til the last second. And then “Birdman” won by a beak at the Oscars. I still can’t believe that happened.

Me? I’d vote for “Spotlight” if I was a voting member of SAG. But I’m not, so we’ll see. Unlike the Academy, SAG voters DO have a sense of humor. So “The Big Short”s cutting edge wit would not be held against it tonight. We’ll see.

And if Leonardo wins Best Actor here tonight, he’ll win the Oscar, too. Ditto Brie Larson.

But if it’s Bryan Cranston for “Trumbo” LOOK OUT! All bets are off. And Leo could kiss his Oscar good-bye. At least for “The Revenant”Revenant 3

And I think Alicia Vikander will triumph here in Supporting Actress for “The Danish Girl.”Alicia 6

 

 

 

 

 

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Oscar/SAG upset! Watch out for “Trumbo” and Bryan Cranston!

Trumbo 3I’m expecting a bombshell at the SAG awards. I think “Trumbo” is poised to upset many Oscar apple-carts. It’s got everything. A true Hollywood scandal with a real life hero Dalton Trumbo, and a magnificent career-best performance by the beloved-by-his-fellow-actors Bryan Cranston.

It’s a story that’s never been told. And there are many still alive today, like Kirk Douglas, who is depicted in the film, who were effected by the terrible Blacklist of a group of writers, who became known as the Hollywood Ten. Why? Because the admitted to being members of the Communist Party back in the days, the ’50s, when McCarthy witch-hunts were ruling the land.

And it has its own Cruella De Ville villainess that you can feel free to hiss, and boo, Dame Helen Mirren as the red-baiting, but powerful Hollywood gossip columnist Hedda Hopper. Mirren seems to slither through this movie like a silken snake. It’s a role that has garnered Mirren already a SAG nomination as well as a Golden Globe.Trumbo 1

And  Bryan Cranston is  just sensational! He gets to pull our heart-strings as one of the most courageous Hollywood screenwriters has ever seen,who kept on writing for the movies, even after the US govt. forbade him to. He was bankrupted. He was even sent to jail!

And then when he came out of jail, he was reduced to writing schlock screenplays for the schlockmeiester-to-end-all-schlockmeisters, played by John Goodman, who adds a JOLT to any film he’s in. He essayed a similar role in “The Artist” and THAT small, unexpected film won the Oscar, lest we forget, and after “Birdman”s win last year, it shows us that Hollywood will never get over its’ love affair with itself. “Trumbo” may find itself nominated for many things, besides Cranston and Mirren. It could  get nominated for Best Picture,too! Wouldn’t THAT be a surprise!”Spotlight” LOOK OUT!

“Trumbo”s got a star-studded cast who really deliver and who all have been nominated for Best Ensemble for the SAG award. To the great surprise of everyone in the blogosphere and out of it. They didn’t expect that, and they also didn’t expect Cranston and Mirren to land both Globe&SAG nods. It might even win Best Ensemble which is SAG’s equivalent of best picture. This award may be where “Trumbo” triumphs, too, and not the presumed front-runner “Spotlight.”

It’s a Hollywood story through and through with a genuine hero, who suffered and nearly died, at Hwood’s bad hands. I know of one man who killed himself due to this, and this tragic story has never fully been told, until now. But it’s an inspiring film too, because Trumbo triumphs in the end when “Spartacus” has his name on the title credits “Screenplay by Dalton Trumbo.” It’s a golden moment that’s a very satisfying climax to the appauling story of prejudice and discrimination that has gone before.

You love Cranston in this, as you loved him in “Breaking Bad” as the iconic Walter White. And we have to remember that AFTRA the TV actors union has now merged with SAG, making it no crime at all to succeed on the small screen as well as the big one..

Cranston is one of the great actors we have today and he totally aces the role of  the grumpy, mustachioed, eccentric-but-principled Dalton Trumbo. He is immensely respected as an actors’ actor and he gives one of the best performances of the year. And he’s in his 40’s when he starts and then he ages! Something that always catnip to the Academy. AND he gets strip searched nude in prison, and has to endure a shocking anal cavity search. But he never gives up or gives in.

And he has one hilarious scene with an Oscar on a table before him, an Oscar which he won writing “Roman Holiday” under one of his enforced aliases, and he keeps saying “I don’t want it” to the writer sitting across from him, played by Alan Tudkyk.

I think that Cranston had better clear a place on his already over-crowded mantle-piece. He won so many Emmys for “Breaking Bad” and a Tony, too, for his LBJ in “All the Way” on Broadway last year.

People just keep throwing awards at him, and awards magnet that he is, he’s going to get the SAG and then the Oscar, too.

Leo for doing stunt work in the odious, repellant “The Revenant” doesn’t stand a chance against America’s answer to Daniel Day-Lewis, Bryan Cranston.

Better Watch “Better Call Saul”! It’s So Great, It’s Bad! As in “Breaking Bad”!

Saul 1“Better Call Saul” has done the seemingly impossible. It’s just as good as its’ fabled predecessor “Breaking Bad,” and who knows? As it goes along its’ merry way, it could get better, and even better. For those of you out there who have been missing “Breaking Bad” on some kind of level of bereavement ( I know, because I have), “Better Call Saul” as unlikely as it first sounded, really does more than fill the bill.

It’s a prequel, of all things, six years back in time, and the most unlikeliest of central characters, Saul Goodman, the loudly dressed, strip-mall  lawyer, who winds up defending Walter White(Bryan Cranston) and Jesse Pinkman(Aaron Paul)played masterfully here by series regular Bob Odenkirk.

Odenkirk, a former stand-up comedian, here proves himself to be ridiculously adept as a three-demensional dramatic actor, giving us an Everyman, who reminded me of Willy Loman of “Death of a Salesman”, of all characters. He has a potato-like face that’s sometimes mashed and sometimes fried.

True, Walter White started out as wildly relatable, too. The meek chemistry professor who was dying of cancer and who kept getting the s__t kicked out of him on a daily basis, with part-time jobs he had to take because his teaching job just didn’t make him enough money to support his family. And he had a disabled teenaged son with cerebral palsy, and a new baby on the way.

So he began to think of other ways of making money…like, well, using his chemistry skills to make Crystal Meth at the behest of his wayward student Jesse Pinkman. And a Myth of Television, one of its’ greatest shows ever, was born.

We, as an audience, know where “Better Call Saul” is going. We are going to follow, this now incredibly sympathetic character of Saul, as he becomes a criminal.

But we have six years to delight in his descent. We know that’s coming. And we know where he ends up. He didn’t die at the end of “Breaking Bad” but ran off into the sunset prophesying that he’d “end up as a manager of a Cinnabon in a mall in Omaha” which is precisely where “Better Call Saul” starts.In Black and White!

So in grainy chirascuro, we see the now nearly unrecognizable Saul with a Deputy Dawg moustache, and ten-to-twenty-pounds heavier, laying on the cinnamon and sugar creme in a soul-less Cinnabon, a repetitive, drab, living hell. Product placement anyone? You’ll never be able to eat or look at a Cinnabon again without thinking of Saul’s fate worse than fat.

He then goes home to his drab, single dwelling to watch a VHS tape that he has hidden on his sink in a shoe-box, as the snow begins to fall on Nebraksa,and the winter wind is howling, and we see him enjoying, or trying to, TV commercial advertisements of his days in colorful, bygone Albuquerque. These commericals are only heard, but not shown, as the reaction on Saul’s mashed potato face says it all.

And yes, boom! We are now back in Saul’s Oz, and everything shifts into color and we see the still-worn down Saul, back when he was even a different person, Jimmy McGill. And oh what a delight it is to be back in Albuquerque, N.M.! I felt like I was coming home! I couldn’t believe how much I missed it!

Never has the plight of a Legal Aid Defense Lawyer, been painted, or even observed (EVAH?) in such heart-wrenching, soul-squashing clarity. Nothing seems to ever go right for Saul, or rather Jimmy. And as fate deals him, blow after humiliating blow, we are with him every step of the way on his road to lawyerly hell.

And also, because Odenkirk, is a superb comic actor, “Better Call Saul” is much funnier than the bleak “Breaking Bad.” So it’s humor quotient, as well, as the dramatic, is sky-high. God is In the Details. Like the fact, that Saul/Jimmy’s pathetic law “Office” is in the back room of a Korean nail parlor.(see above picture ^)

To reveal anymore, would be to spoil, and I don’t do that. I’ve said too much already. “Better Call Saul” is a Must Watch TV event. It’s third episode is coming next week, so DON’T MISS IT!

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Tony Predictions Part Four

Tony Predictions Part Four

And continuing on and hopefully concluding, my four-part Tony Predictions, we now come to another hotly contended category, Best Actor in a Musical.

I think although he tied in a surprise at the Drama Desk Awards, with Jefferson Mays, who does 8 or 9 different roles in “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” I think former host of the Tonys, Neil Patrick Harris is going to get the ultimate tribute and thank you from the Tony Voters here for his box-office busting drag turn as Hedwig in “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” which I also think is going to get Best Revival of a Musical.Neil Patrick Harris is everywhere on TV, too, talking, talking, talking. He’s campaigning. He wants it. He lost 20 pounds for this role. He’s got the momentum. He’ll get it.

“Beautiful” is going to garner its’ beautiful leading lady Jessie Mueller, who sings almost non-stop, and is hardly ever off-stage playing a marvelously understated Carole King, it’s going to garner Jessie her first Tony as Best Actress in a Musical as well it should. Subtlety and under-playing are not usually awards bait, but in this case, Jessie Mueller is the complete package.

Best Actor in a Play is going to be the its-his-time-to-shine Bryan Cranston, almost as much for his unforgettable Walter White in “Breaking Bad.” And “All the Way” the three-hour political play about LBJ will win Best Play. It also won both these awards at the Drama Desks. This is the year when everybody just wants to THROW as many awards willy nilly at Bryan Cranston as they possibly can. Lucky duck.

Best Actress in a Play will be Audra McDonald for her impeccable “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grille” in which though she sings a dozen or more of Billie Holiday’s greatest hits, although she is in the Best Actress in a PLAY category. It’s more than a little unfair to the dramatic actresses who are nominated in this category who just got there by their acting chops. Tyne Daly it’s a shame that you’re up against the unstoppable Awards magnet Audra McD. who will break all kinds of records by winning her SIXTH Tony award tomorrow night.

Audra was nominated in the CORRECT category for the Outer Critics Circle, Best Actress in a Musical, and she won that, too! Like Cranston, there’s no stopping her.

In the Supporting Actors, or Featured as they are called by the Tonys, only James Munroe Inglehart, as the larger-than-life Genie in “Aladdin”, is the only sure thing here in all four categories.

It’s really tricky predicting the other awards here. For Best Featured Actress in a Play it COULD be Celia Keenan-Bolger, for the long-closed revival of “A Glass Menagerie.” Celia has been nominated for a Tony three times and she’s beloved, but she’s up against first time nominee British actress Sophie Okenado making her Broadway debut for “A Raisin in the Sun.”

Sophie’s main problem is her competition is not just Celia Keenan-Bolger, but also her cast-mate Anika Noni Rose as her sister-in-law in “Raisin.” One of these two, probably Sophie, could take this and be the only award that “Raisin” is apt to win. The Tony voters notoriously snubbed Denzel Washington, who let’s face it, is why this great play is being revived so soon after it was just on the Great White Way with P. Diddy. And Felecia Rashad, who won in the Best Actress Category.

Also, in contention, is Mare Winningham for “Casa Valentina” as the real-woman house-mother to a hotel-full of straight transvestites in the Catskills in the 1960s. Any of these women are worthy. And could win. But there’s no clear front-runner here. If “degree of difficulty” comes into play as it often does at the Oscars, the crippled Laura of Celia Keenan-Bolger “Glass Menagerie” might take it. It’s really hard to call this one. But it also should be noted that Mare Winningham WON in this category for the Outer Critics Circle Awards. She tied with Andrea Martin for “Act One” who is not nominated for a Tony. And Celia Keenan-Bolger was not nominated for the OCC. And Celia has picked up some other precursor awards, too, it must be noted, which gives her the edge.

And Sophie Okenado and Anika Noni Rose might cancel each other out, being from the same show, “Raisin”, and “Raisin” wasn’t as acclaimed as “A Glass Menagerie” was.

It’s also hard to call the other Featured Actress in a Musical category winner. It was so close at the Drama Desk it was ANOTHER tie between Lauren Worsham and Anika Larsen for “Gentleman’s Guide…” and “Beautiful” respectively. It could either of these two, who were also profiled together in the New York Times. I’m going to do a coin toss and say it’s Anika.

She plays Carole King’s wise-cracking best friend and co-composer and rival song-writer. It’s a more substantial, and layered role. So I think Ms. Larsen takes this one.This most competitive category is rounded out by Linda Emond in “Cabaret” playing the Lotte Lenya role. And Lena Hall, playing a transgender MAN (who turns back into a woman!) in “Hedwig:And the Angry Inch.” And the stealth candidate is Adriane Lenox, who sings two sizzling songs in “After Midnight” and just steals the whole show. Full disclosure, she was my vote for the Drama Desk in this category.ANYbody could win and surprise in both these Featured Actress categories, really.

And then there’s Best Featured Actor in a Play, where we have the irresistible (to Tony Voters) Mark Rylance as Lady Olivia in the unforgettably delightful Elizabethan mounting of “Twelfth Night.” Even though this show is long closed and Rylance already has already won Tonys aplenty, I think he’s going to win again, against Reed Birney’s terrific, but evil transvestite Charlotte in “Casa Valentina.”

Rylance, who will inevitably recite an obscure poem when he wins, even if he’s there to accept(he may be in London), and bore the audience to death, also has the added bonus of being nominated in the Best Actor in a Play category for his “Richard III” which was performed in rep, with the glittering “Twelfth Night.”

In conclusion, I’d like to point out that though “A Gentleman’s Guide…” seems poised to win the most Tonys, its’ creative team are the ones that are going to carry the day, but none of its’ supremely talented performers look like they are going to win. The competition is THAT tough this year.

Jefferson Mays won the Outer Critics Circle and tied with Neil Patrick Harris for Best Actor in a Musical. And the terrific Bryce Pinkham as Monte Navarro, our hero,or anti-hero, as the most lovable serial killer ever is going to split the “A Gentleman’s Guide..” votes with Mays and they are both going to get steam-rolled by the Neil Patrick Harris juggernaut. Lauren Worsham, in the all-over-the-place, Best Featured Actress in a Musical category,tied with Anika Larsen in this category. Is her adorable, innocent, coloratura ingenue going to surprise and trounce Larsen. She might. She is cuteness and purity and good girl personified.

So don’t miss the Tonys tonight on CBS at 8pm. Hosted by the always watchable Hugh Jackman it will feature production numbers from all the the nominated musicals and a few more extra-special bits, too.

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Bryce Pinkham, the Gentleman of ” A Gentleman’s Guide…”

The super-hot new leading man/matinee idol on Broadway this season is Bryce Pinkham, the titular gentleman of “A Gentleman Guide to Love and Murder”, which just won 7 Drama Desk Awards drops by “The Stephen Holt Show” at the Drama Desk Awards themselves. Bryce is nice. No really, he is not anything like the villainous characters he has played on Broadway in “Ghost” and now the kinder, gentler semi-villain, semi-hero of “A Gentleman’s Guide…” which has earned him a Tony nomination for Best Actor in a Musical. He talks about this and his background as a graduate of the Yale School of Drama.

Videography ~ Jack Siberine

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Drama Desk Award Predictions

Drama Desk Award Predicitons

Yes, the Drama Desk Awards are coming up fast! They are handed out on June 1 next Sunday at Town Hall.

And here are my intrepid predictions! I think critic’s fave “A Gentlemen’s Guide to Love and Valor” (pictured above ^) Will sweep and get the Best Musical Award and all the others in that musical category. Best Music, Best Lyrics, Best Book, Best Orchestrations(the great Jonathan Tunick, natch.)

And in the hardest fought battle Best Actor in a Musical, I think the Drama Desk-ers being all critics are going to also choose actor’s actor Jefferson Mays for his eight(or nine) roles in “A Gentlemen’s Guide…” over the much more famous Neil Patrick Harris in “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.” Though when the Tonys come up the following week, we could see this reversed.

“Hedwig” will get Best Revival of a Musical. And I think “All the Way” though I LOATHED it myself will get Best Play. THREE HOURS OF HAM! I mean, I like ham. But THREE HOURS!?!?

However, I think the Drama Desk-ers will vote for it. Though something less known might surprise here. It could be anything, if it’s not the obvious Tony front-runner.

Best Actor in a Play will PROBABLY be Bryan Cranston in “All the Way” as LBJ. Another Tony front-runner. Chris O’Dowd in “Of Mice and Men” could be the surprise upset here. And this would REALLY be a surprise.

Best Actress in a Play may very well go to Tyne Daly for “Mothers and Sons”. Though with Audra McDonald in this category, too, it could be Audra. Though the Drama Desk-ers, being all critics through and through. and sticklers for detail, may balk at the Five-Time Tony Winner being put in this category though she sings an endless amount of memorable period songs. Audra won the Outer Critics Circle but she was in Best Actress in A Musical there, not Best Actress in a Play.

Best Actress in a Musical will also be Tony front-runner Jessie Mueller for “Beautiful:The Carole King Musical” where she’s amazingly effective as the ugly ducking who becomes a swan/superstar.

Best Revival of a Play will be “Twelfth Night.” It’s no longer running, but that won’t bother the Drama Desk-ers, who don’t take that into consideration, the way the Tony voters do.

Best Revue will be “After Midnight.”

The Drama Desk Awards are the only awards in all of theater, let it be said, that honor Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway equally, on an even playing field.

And the prestige of these awards has increased since the press are no long allowed to vote for the Tony Awards!

“Breaking Bad” just won Best Actor & Best Series on Golden Globes!

Well, I’m glad I stayed for this. Bryan Cranston, one of the greatest actors to ever grace a TV screen in American just won Best Actor for his historic Walter White in “Breaking Bad” and then “Breaking Bad” won Best TV series and I stay tuned long enough to hear Aaron Paul, yell at the assembled Golden masses “Yeah, bitch!” THAT was worth it…I thought from now until 10pm it was all going to be just boring TV show awards, until the 10:00 mark when they start giving out all the film awards.

Amy Poehler seemed OK but Tina Fay seemed off her game as the co-hosts. Er…

Steve Coogan, a recent guest on “The Stephen Holt Show,” introduced his film “Philomena” with the REAL Philomena Lee on his arm. Nice. Touching. Classy.

Now All is REALLY Lost, Alex Ebert just won “Best Score” for his unmemorable music for “All Is Lost”…Does this mean Robert Redford is going to win Best Actor Drama??? Hans Zimmer’s score for “12 Years” and T-Bone Burnett’s great work on “Inside Llewyn Davis.”

Bono and the Edge just won Best Song….For “Mandela”, “Ordinary Love” I liked the film but don’t remember the song AT ALL.

The Golden Globes stay true to their star-f**ker reputation. Why am I surprised?

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