a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Willem Dafoe’

My Year’s Ten Best 2017!

1. CALL ME BY YOUR NAME ~ One of the Best Films Ever Made. Period. The Gay Movie, we, as gays, have been waiting for all our lives. Timothee Chalamet has won BOTH the New York Film Critics and the L.A. Film Critics Best Actor awards. Armie Hammer is his magnificent love interest and co-star.

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2. WONDER WHEEL ~ Woody Allen’s latest and Kate Winslet’s tear-stained performance is one of her best.

3. THE SHAPE OF WATER ~ Guillermo Del Toro’s Best Film. Sally Hawkins is flat-out amazing as a Spanish Deaf Mute Janitress, who falls in love with something akin to the Creature from the Black Lagoon. But it isn’t ridiculous. It’s beautiful, and moving beyond words. She won Best Actress from the L.A. Film Critics. This film will make you cry.

4. THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI– Irish Playwright Martin McDonagh’s magnificent morphing into a great American crime filmmaker. Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell burn up the screen, literally. This film will make you angry. For all the right reasons.

5.  THE FLORIDA PROJECT ~Unbelievably, an epic film set in the make-shift budget motels across the street from  DisneyWorld, which was first called “The Florida Project,” as it was being built. Willem Dafoe is the sympathetic, sad-sack motel manager and six-year-old mischief maker Brooklynn Prince rock each other’s, and our world. Public access legend Sandy Kane makes a cameo appearance. She told me, “If you blink, you’ll miss me. It’s Tats over tits.”

6.ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD ~ Director Ridley Scott is back Big Time, as he directs Michelle Williams and Christopher Plummer in a tense, spine-tingling thriller about the ’70s kidnapping of J. Paul Getty’s grandson, who, yes, gets his ear cut off and sent to his mother (Williams.) But you can’t turn away.

7.LADY BIRD ~ Genius Greta Gerwig channels her boring, restless teenage years in  middle-class Sacramento into a box office bonanza that Irish actress Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalfe as her befuddled, well-meaning mother from Hell, make herstory and could all win Oscars. Best Film of the Year from the New York Film Critics. Will it win the Oscar, too, for Best Picture? It might.

9. DUNKIRK ~ Christopher Nolan’s truly epic epic that makes all WWII war movies look like tiddly winks and utitlizes Oscar Winners  Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh and a cast of 100os to re-vitalize history in a seat-of-your-pants thriller diller. And rock star Harry Styles is in it, too. And he’s good!

10.  FROM THE LAND OF THE MOON ~ Marion Cotillard’s mesmeric performance once again lights up the skies in this unusual French love story.

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.

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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

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The Absolutely Grand “Grand Budapest Hotel”! A screwball comedy with real screwballs!

I am going to go on record right now and say that this new year’s Oscar race, yes, 2014’s, has already started in earnest because Fox Searchlight has just released what I think is for SURE going to be a major topic in the Oscar conversation all year-long, Wes Anderson’s absolutely grand “Grand Budapest Hotel.”

How often does a WITTY comedy open these blockbuster days and become a record-breaking box-office blockbuster itself? Unheard of! Astounding! When everything is a comic book or a sequel that makes me gag, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” towers above all others in laughs, style and brain-i-ness, and oh yes, all the good guys are inexplicably wearing moustaches and Tilda Swinton is an 84 (or is it 83?)-year-old love interest to Ralph Fiennes’ sublime comic creation M. Gustav H.

And as Gustav says himself “She’s dynamite in the sack.” He shrugs,”I’ve had older.”

The concierge M. Gustav is so grand himself, it’s like he’s the hotel manager, in this pink and red-hued fantasy that goes beyond camp into whimsy of the giddiest and most original kind. It’s the kind where you can say “Thank god, there are still films like this being made!”

A screwball comedy with really screwballs! Divine!

And Madame Tilda’s murder sets in motion a dense plot of A-listers-in-cameos all fighting over the dead woman’s money.

And of course, she’s left it all to M.Gustav, and of course, hilarity ensues.

The cast is a who’s who of International Hollywood starting with Ralph Fiennes himself giving the performance of his career, comically speaking. Who knew he had this kind of expert comic timing in him? Anderson’s lines are putting it mildly often tongue-twisters and that fine actor Fiennes is having a fine time getting them all out in that perfect British upper crust accent and hitting the ball out of the proverbial comic park every time.

And Swinton has never been better, or should I say, never been funnier. I always felt she had a penchant for British drawing-room comedy that has never been tapped. Until now. She’s hilarious!

And a new discovery as the perennial Anderson innocent Zero, Tony Revolori of Anaheim, California holds his own against Fiennes and Swinton and Jeff Goldblum and Willem Dafoe and Bill Murray, as he romances Agatha, a kitchen maid played beguilingly by Irish actress Soairse Ronan, who has a large disfiguring birth mark on one side of her face, in that shape of Mexico. This, in pure Anderson style, is never even referred to. It’s just THERE. One side of her face is perfectly classically beautiful and the other side is just well, beautiful, too, because she is.

The film for all of you dear readers, dear cineastes, is in three different aspect ratios, which are too complicated to explain here and spoil all the egg-headed fun as “Grand Budapest Hotel” keeps flash-ing backwards in time from the not-so-grand semi-now, Tom Wilkenson narrates, to F. Murray Abraham, who now is Mister Moustafa and OWNS the “Grand Budapest Hotel”. A journalistic Jude Law asks him how he got it, and as Abraham explicates, we jump back in time again, and it turns out he is Zero, the Lobby Boy, we’re going to be spending a lot of time with as does Ralph Fiennes’ M. Gustav.

For M.Gustav takes on the hapless Zero, who has to draw HIS moustache in with a dark pencil, as his protegee and partner in crime, as they try to well, you have to see the film.

All the villains in the film, like Dafoe, are strangely clean-shaven. Only good guys have moustaches.

I will spoil no further. But suffice it to say that it’s Anderson’s best film by far, and he’s now launched himself into the cinematic stratosphere of THIS year’s Oscar race, which will garner nominations across the board. The visuals being as sumptuous as the acting is delicious.

I can’t wait to see it again! Let the Oscar conversations begin! And the often nominated, but never awarded composer Alexander Desplat, may very well be getting his first Oscar here for his hilarious score keeps the hi-jinks high.

The number of A-list stars director Anderson has pulled into to flash by in the smallest of parts, like, as I said, Academy Award-winner Tilda Swinton, as the grand octogenarian Madame, who Gustav is romancing. Her every tremble is a delight, and who is suddenly found dead.

He says to her corpse, lying in state, “I don’t know what kind of facial cream they’ve used on you, darling, but I want it. You’ve never looked lovelier.”

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More “Grand Budapest Hotel” Hijinks wth WIllem Dafoe & Jeff Goldblum!

The absolutely grand “Grand Budapest Hotel” opened today and the hijinks couldn’t get much higher with co-stars Willem Dafoe(the bad guy) & Jeff Goldblum(one of the many good guys.) A genuine mad cap, screwball comedy with REAL madness and more than a few screwballs in it. It’s to die for.

These guys are more fun than a barrel of Marx Brothers!

Editing ~ Paolo Pellegrino

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