a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Laurence Fishburne’

Oscar Nominees Begin to Arise at NYFF


Oscar Nominees, potential Oscar Nominees, Begin to Emerge as the New York Film Festival reaches its’ much touted half-way point.

Last Flaf Flying 1
The biggest winner so far seems to me to be Steve Carell, who has two strong possibilities in two films, one in the Festival, one outside it. The hilarious “Battle of the Sexes” and the somber “Last Flag Flying”.Steve Carell

I would say that his hysterical turn as blow-hard Tennis Pro Bobby Riggs is almost sure to be nominated in the Supporting category for Carell. I would’ve said that his MUCH more serious turn as the grieving father in “Last Flag Flying” was also a Supporting performance, but some are saying he’s lead.

It would be just like the mercurial Carell to end up in both categories. He’s well-liked and clearly at a career high, so it’s entirely possible.

I’m SURE they are going to nominate Emma Stone, last year’s winner for “Battle of the Sexes.” That would be in the Best Actress category for her portryal of closeted lesbian Tennis Pro Billy Jean King. Best Actress is now more jammed than ever with potential nominees clamoring to get in. Saoirse Ronan is pitch perfect at the rebellious teen in “Lady Bird.” She’s definitely an “In”. As is Laurie Metcalfe, also on a roll, after winning the Tony this year for “Doll’s House, Part 2.” Her put-upon hard-working mom to Ronan’s rambunctious teen daughter is as maddening as she is sympathetic. She’s “In” in Supporting, never having even been nominated for an Oscar before.

Another surefire “in” is Willem Dafoe in the magnificently original “Florida Project.” He could win in this category, Supporting Actor, but he’ll be up against Carell, or even Bryan Cranston AND Laurence Fishburne for “Last Flag Flying”. Though I would say Cranston and Fishburne are BOTH leading roles.”Florida Project” also has a secret weapon in six-year-old Brooklynn Kimberly Prince. Florida Project 1They nominated another six-year-old and quite recently, too. Quevezhane Wallis in “Beasts of the Southern WIld.” Hey, even in a crowded year for Best Actress , like this one, powerhouse charmer Brooklynn( that’s with two “n”s thank you very much.)could surprise.

A complete unknown still is Kate  Winslet’s performance  in the still unseen “Wonder Wheel” of Woody Allen. It closes the Festival and absolutely no one has seen it yet. But the buzz is deafening and the production photos look awesome.

Someone who is NOT getting in to the crowded Best Actress race is octogenarian Dame Judi Dench, who I’ve admired and loved all my life. But “Victoria and Abdul” is the worst thing she’s ever done. Sad to say. Long, slow, and although she’s her usual great self in the funny first half, in the second more serious half, she had sooooo many death scenes, I couldn’t WAIT for her to die. Which is an awful feeling for a potential Best Actress nominee. She’s been to the Queen Victoria well one too many times now. She’s been there, done that, and quite frankly her failure to carry this film through to the end, just sickened me. Yes, even Judi Dench is human. She just doesn’t know when to stop.

Can’t wait for “Wonder Wheel” this Friday and for “Wonder Struck” by Todd Haynes tonight at the NYFF. Their Opening Night film was “Last Flag Flying” and “Wonder Struck” is their Centerpiece and “Wonder Wheel” closes it.

A superb film that is none of those things but “Call Me By Your Name” is Luca Guadagnino’s masterpiece and a gay love story to end all gay love stories. Timothee Chalament, is the teen in THIS coming of age story. He’s also playing a bad boy rock musician in “Lady Bird. ”

Army Hammer is the other half of this lovely gay love duo, and BOTH performances are so powerful, they could BOTH get nominated. Chalamet in lead and Hammer in Supporting.

As bizarre as it sounds all these films could get nominated for Best Picture. That’s how good the New York Film Festival has been this year.Call Me By your Name 1

Magnificent August Wilson Doc on PBS tonite at 9!

August WilsonDon’t miss the superb American Masters doc on the late playwright August Wilson tonight on PBS at 9pm! It’s one of their best ever, and they are always good, and usually better than good. But this one really lives up to the Masters title.

And I knew August. And saw him constantly in my days up at the Yale Rep when I was filming my TV show “The Stephen Holt Show” which in those days had the sub-heading “Onstage, America!” because we traveled at the time to Regional Theaters all over the country. And still do.

I always ran into August backstage in the Green Room of the Yale Repertory Theater, and he was always smiling. The happiest, widest smiles, with dark eyes that danced. He seemed in those moments one of the happiest men I’ve ever met.

And why shouldn’t he have been? His plays were being done, one right after the other under the direction of the legendary director Lloyd Williams, who was also the artistic director of the Yale Rep and Dean of the Yale School of Drama at that time.

I never saw him in less than an upbeat moment. And when he was first pointed out to me, that THAT indeed was the great African-American playwright, I couldn’t believe it, because he didn’t look black at all, and also he looked like a journalist or a producer.

This great documentary American Masters — August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand — is premiering nationwide tonight, this Friday, February 20 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings) in honor of the 70th anniversary of Wilson’s birth, 10th anniversary of his death and Black History Month, and available on DVD February 24 from PBS Distribution.

Directed by Emmy and Peabody-winner Sam Pollard (When the Levees Broke; Slavery by Another Name), the first documentary about the Tony- and Pulitzer-winning playwright who chronicled the 20th-century black experience explores his life and legacy. James Earl Jones, Phylicia Rashad, Laurence Fishburne, Viola Davis, Charles Dutton, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, new dramatic readings and rare footage tell the story of “America’s Shakespeare.”

The scenes from Wilson’s 100 year cycle of American plays, one for each decade are marvelously well represented here by all parties. I’d seen most of them, eight of the ten to be exact either on Broadway or at the Yale Rep when they were on their way to Broadway.

And I was very, very fortunate to have the late Lloyd Richards as my acting teacher one summer at the Univeristy of Rhode Island, so I felt particularly effected seeing him live again through his work and discovery of August, his great protegee, and this doc reveals for the first time, I think, just why this great creative team ruptured.

And director Sam Pollard doesn’t flinch with the hard-hitting details. I was riveted from start to finish, and particularly was moved by Phylicia Rashad’s portrayal of the 300-hundred-year old African-America woman who symbolized slavery in a monologue of “Gem of the Ocean.”

This high school drop out wrote many, many great plays in a life that was ended by cancer, just like my friend David Carr, in his 50’s and too soon, too soon.

DON’T MISS IT!

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