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Posts tagged ‘John Goodman’

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.

I See “Llewyn Davis” for the Second Time & LOVED it!!!

I don’t think I have been more wrong or had such a wildly different reaction to a film, than I did seeing “Inside Llewyn Davis” for the second time. The first time I wrote “I was bitterly disappointed.” But this time I laughed my way through it and was enchanted! I couldn’t believe it! I had a blast! I found it uplifting! I had a marvelous time this second time, because almost unlike any film I’ve ever seen I couldn’t stop thinking about it and went back to see it AGAIN! And I loved it!

The first time I saw it was at a jam-packed critics’ screening in a too-small Soho screening room. And no one laughed. Except at John Goodman. Critics don’t react. But this second, paying audience(including myself) roared with approval. It was a very transformative experience.

This time I just LOVED it, and I got what the Coen Bros. were trying to do with it, which is to depict grief in show business. with a small “b”.

It didn’t really register that Llewyn played brilliantly by Oscar Isaac, is still reeling from the death of his beloved singing partner, a guy, who threw himself off of the George Washington Bridge. John Goodman’s character reacts the most violently to that statement of fact. His drugged out jazz musician says “He jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge? Who does that? You jump off the Brooklyn Bridge.” And the audience roared.

And Llewyn cringed. He’s just full of unexpressed pain in the tragedy that has enveloped his life and him left so lonely. You get the impression this time that he depended on his late partner for everything. He brought harmony, more than just vocally into his life.

So Llewyn’s violent reaction when a friend, a woman(played perfectly by Robin Bartlett) starts harmonizing with him and he explodes at her and ruins a perfectly nice dinner party, we now see that it’s because it’s his late partners’ lines and harmonies that she’s filling in. Now wonder he exploded at her!

And this time, my heart just went out from the get-go to Llewyn. Oscar Isaac’s quiet power, the charisma of his pained dark eyes and his sad, sad solo singing…well, it’s heart-breaking.

The Coens have decided to explore failure and also grief in all its’ aspects, as it pertains to the Greenwich Village Folk scene of the early ’60s. And besides by blowing up at nearly every one he meets(he’s got a mean streak and a temper), his sadness is expressed in his singing. Like in the opening number “Hang Me, O Hang Me”. It really was about his lost partner’s death. And it immediately involved me. Now that I knew that that’s what this film is about.

He pours his heart out in a singing audition in an empty nightclub in Chicago that he has hitchhiked to in a snowstorm(with a cat). He sings an English ballad a very sad song indeed about “Queen Jane” to a stone-faced, cadaverous night club owner (F.Murray Abraham) who reacts by saying “There’s not much money in this.” And he advises him to “get back with your partner.” Llewyn looks like he’s about to tell him that his partner just committed suicide, but chooses not to and just says, “Yeah, right.”

And he has no winter coat, and his falling-apart shoes are soaked through to the socks. And it continues to snow in Chicago. Everything in Llewyn’s life is winter and snow. Bleak, bleak, bleak. The Coens are keeping it really real.

But I saw it this time as a joyous tribute to survival even if  EVERYthing isn’t going your way. NObody has it as bad as Llewyn does in this movie. It’s Schadenfreude for the audience in spades. I thought of the book of Job. And yes, the Coens are torturing him, their main character, as they often torture their protagonists.

In a normal movie about a singer, he would succeed through his music at the end. But that moment never comes.

Prepared for that, I braced myself for the unnerving ending, and this time it didn’t shock with its’ brevity or annoy me, it left me singing “Inside Llewyn Davis” praises for being startlingly original and as unique a piece of American film-making as I’ve ever seen

Bravos to all involved! It just is a film that you HAVE to see TWICE! At least! And I’m running out to get the sound track album! And all the singing and playing was done live by Oscar Isaac and co. under the expert tutelage of T-Bone Burnett. I bet T-Bone wins a Golden Globe in a couple of weeks for Best Music.

I wish the Best Actor race wasn’t so cruelly crowded with vets and heavyweights giving the performances of their careers. Oscar Isaac should be nominated for Best Actor for his indelible, unforgettable performance. I can’t wait til I see it again!

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Oscar Isaac ~ Golden Globe Nominee for Best Actor Comedy/Musical for “Inside Llewyn Davis”

Meet Oscar Isaac, the breakthrough performance of the year in the Coen Bros. unique, haunting “Inside Llewyn Davis” which is also nominated for Best Film Comedy or Musical and Best Music by T-Bone Burnett. A Juilliard Graduate, he’s had a considerable stage and film career before he got this Big Break  as Llewyn Davis, the loser folksinger who just can’t catch a break.

A.O.Scott of the New York Times named it “The Best Picture of the Year.”

Oscar was named Best Actor by the Toronto Film Critics and “Inside Llewyn Davis” was named Best Picture. Also the Village Voice and Film Comment magazine named “Llewyn” Best Picture. And it won Best Picture at the Gotham Awards and Oscar accepted the Award in a very thrilling acceptance speech on behalf of the Coens who weren’t there.

Re: Oscars ~ What Do the Independent Spirit Nominations mean? A lot if you’re the Coens.

In terms of Oscar, what do today’s announcements of the Independent Spirit Nominations mean? I think this year they may mean more than they’ve ever meant before, since Oscar is looking like it’s going Indie in a big way this year.

The only films that weren’t eligible were the mega-budget ones like “Gravity” and “Captain Phillips”, but also middle range budgeted films like “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” “August: Osage County” and “Saving Mr. Banks.”

So that showed some surprises, like the  Best Actor category nearly matching what have been predicted all along. And they even expanded this highly competitive category to six. Wish the Oscars were flexible enough to do something like that!

Robert Redford (All Is Lost), Bruce Dern(Nebraska), Matthew McConaghey(Dallas Buyers Club), Chiwetel Ejiafor(12 Years a Slave), all turned up. As did Michael B. Jordan(Fruitvale Station) As did Oscar Issac for “Inside Llewyn Davis”. He’s the one I can tell you for sure right now will NOT turn up on the Oscar shortlist of five. Nor will Jordan.

Someone who MIGHT surprise in Supporting is John Goodman, for his blown-out, slightly comatose, drugged-up jazz musician. It’s a small part, but he steals the film. And Goodman has NEVER EVEN BEEN NOMINATED! Not ever! For shame!

Apart from Goodman’s mega-bolt jolt, I was very disappointed with “Inside Llewyn Davis”. Shockingly so. I was really psyched to see this movie that has been heaped with critical praise since Cannes.

The ending is terrible and shocking and depressing. And it has one of those Coen Brothers  abrupt endings, like in “No Country for Old Men” or “A Serious Man.” BAM! And then suddenly when you least expect it, it’s over.

I’m up and down on the Coens. And so, shockingly were the Indie Spirits,  and while nominating “Inside Llewyn Davis” for Best Feature, and Oscar Issac for Best Actor, they did not even nominate them for either their directing or writing!

I felt cheated, bitter, by “Inside Llewyn Davis” and soooo disappointed.  I felt like a great opportunity had been missed. And all that hype that’s it had! For what?

But then that’s what Llewyn, their Welsh-descent, folk-singing failure is feeling. So maybe it’s right that I felt that way. That’s what was intended. I was feeling what Llewyn was feeling. Did I over-identify with something inside myself that I didn’t want to see?

It’s their attempt to examine failure in show business and self-destruction and what happens to the middle-of-the-road talented. They end up as road kill, this film is saying.

And a contemplation of the mediocre, ends up being, well, not that interesting, really.But it’s haunting…I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

Oh! But they want to identify with, to LOVE Llewyn, and by gosh, they try every cinematic trick in the book to engage you with this semi- likable, stumble-bum of a failure. He fails at EVERYthing!

Carrie Mulligan turns up almost unrecognizably as his some-time girl friend/folk singer, Jane, who simply yells at him “YOU’RE A LOSER!””You suck!” She repeats over and over.

But the film wants you to identify with his struggle, and you do, sort of, but then you get kicked in the teeth quite literally and  harshly by the quixotic conclusion. As Llewyn does.

Oscar Issac, who’s first major film role this is, has to carry nearly the whole damn thing. That and an orange-colored cat. He and the cat are the plot. The cat becomes the symbol of Llewyn’s career, and the love/hate relationship with this  cat, who isn’t even his, is meant to show us Llewyn’s best side, his humanity.

“Oh! You see he can’t be that much of a loser! He likes animals!”

But it’s not enough to hang a picture on.But that’s precisely what the Coens’ have done. They want us to examine, really examine failure.

Oscar Issac has beautiful, large, dark soulful eyes, which the Coens’ and their camera keep getting lost in. And I did too, except when you look inside Llewyn Davis, there’s not much there. He’s a middling singer. And a big-time clusterfuck. Or rather, HIS CHARACTER is. The Coens’ have set Issac an almost impossible task.

Try to play a middlingly talented, not very nice guy, bent on destroying everything around him that’s good. A great part. And a fine, dangerous line to walk for an actor. A tight tight rope balancing act between alienating everyone while not alienating the audience from yourself as a talent. Tough stuff. And you have to say that Issac gives it everything he’s got.

However, it’s nice to see Greenwich Village looking like it did in the early ’60s, when the film is set. And folk music to me is no big whoop. Never was.

And I never dug Bob Dylan, who is supposed to be lurking in the shadows, as the arbiter of change. What change? To me  there was none.

So I left this film feeling totally down on it, like Llewyn is on his whole life, not just his music. So this kind of non-traditional movie, is the sort of film that the Indies would shower nominations upon. But they seemed to feel the same way about it that I did. Mixed. Or mixed up.

And I bet the Academy does, too.  Although if, in a field of ten, the Coens’ “A Serious Man” can get a best picture nod out of AMPAS, then who knows? “Inside Llewyn Davis” could, too. The Coens have an ardent fan base of admirers in the Academy.

But like “A Serious Man”, it won’t win anything. MAYbe a “Best Original Screenplay” nod, and a Supporting Actor nom for John Goodman, too. And T-Bone Burnett was in the background taking care of all the musical numbers, which were many.

And like “Les Miserables” last year, all of the songs were sung live, and not pre-recorded, and in front of a live coffee-house audience. Who also seemed half-dead.

This is a very tricky high-wire act the Coens are trying to pull off. Making a full-blown Hollywood movie movie about an abject failure. A mediocrity, who no one loves. A singer who can sing well, but not THAT well. An unsympathetic sympathetic character is then what? Simply pathetic?

Why should we waste our time? And awards?

E.T.A. Tonight “Llewyn Davis” won Best Picture at the Gotham Awards! And Oscar Issac bounded on to the stage to accept for the Coens who were not there(They probably thought “12 Years A Slave” was going to win, and so did I, but it got NOTHING!) and Issac wowed the crowd by saying, he was so proud and happy to be accepting the award for the Coens. “It’s a movie made in New York about New Yorkers, filled with New Yorkers,” And everybody loved him.

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Early Oscar Predictions! Anthony Del Col & Stephen Holt

The latest Oscar news! Canadian Kulture Vulture of Rogers TV, the ultra-sharp Anthony Del Col, the co-creator of “Kill Shakespeare,” was in town for Comic Con ’12 and we got to talking about “Argo,” “The Master,””Les Misearbles,” the mysterious Snuggles4 at www.goldderby.com and many other Oscar dillys, dallys & doozies!! Enjoy!

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