Oscars 2017

Posted on February 27, 2017 at 12:11 am

Nice work, Oscars!  Except for that weird fake-out at the very end.

Copyright 2016 Plan B Entertainment
Copyright 2016 Plan B Entertainment

The show started off with Justin Timberlake’s terrific performance of his nominated song, a burst of jubilant  celebration that set the tone.  Jimmy Kimmel was a fine host, with a self-deprecating reminder that this was his first-ever time at the Oscars and, given the way the awards ceremony runs through hosts, probably his last.  His opening remarks were just barbed enough, joking about the “overrated” Meryl Streep and touching lightly on the political controversies of the moment.  Supporting Actor award winner Mahersala Ali got the acceptance speeches off to a wonderful start with his gracious comments about being in service to the characters he plays.  His perspective on the event may have reflected the even more important event in his life this week, the birth of his new baby.

Best Supporting Actress winner Viola Davis gave a deeply emotional speech, reminding the crowd that their profession celebrates “what it means to live a life.” She became the first black woman to achieve the triple threat: Oscar, Tony, Emmy.  Kimmel joked that her speech was so powerful she was immediately nominated for an Emmy.  16-year-old Auli’i Cravalho was marvelous performing the song from “Moana,” and kept her cool even when she was bonked on the head by one of the huge blue flags representing the ocean, and continued like a pro.

Kevin O’Connell is not a household name, but he is the Susan Lucci of the Oscars, with a record-breaking 21 nominations. His first win last night for “Hacksaw Ridge” was very meaningful to the insiders and his acceptance speech was one of the highlights of the evening.

Not so good — the idea of delivering snacks to the audience never worked and repeatedly dropping candy from the ceiling was pointless and silly, as was the prank of bringing unsuspecting tourists into the building.

Oscar commercials are getting as important as the Super Bowl ads. The Walmart challenge to four directors to make short films based on the same shopping receipt made the commercial breaks a lot of fun.

The theme of inspiration was beautifully presented as today’s stars paid tribute to the movies that meant the most to them when they were young and then came out on stage with the stars they saluted. Kimmel went overboard with his spoof, unfortunately using it as another opportunity to push his mock feud with Matt Damon (later introduced as a presenter only as Ben Affleck’s “guest”). I like “We Bought a Zoo!”

It was great to see Damien Chazelle become the youngest person ever to win the Best Director award, for “La La Land,” a labor of love made almost entirely by young people, and a film that revitalized the musical genre and of course paid tribute to the making of movies itself.  Tied for the record of the most Oscar nominations, it went on to win Best Actress for Emma Stone and best score, production design, and song as well.

And then, after the biggest fumble in awards show history, it turned out that “Moonlight” was the Best Picture winner after all, a superb choice.  A small movie about people often overlooked or marginalized or stereotyped, made by a group of friends who had no other aim but to honor their own history, achieved the highest award in show business due solely to its powerful honesty and the poetry of its storytelling.  That’s a Hollywood ending.

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Awards

Spirit Awards 2017: Molly Shannon, Casey Affleck, and “Moonlight”

Posted on February 26, 2017 at 4:01 pm

Copyright A24 2016
Copyright A24 2016

I love the Spirit Awards (formerly Independent Spirit), given out the night before the Oscars for the best of the year’s independent films. These are movies made with more passion than money, and the award ceremony, on the beach, is always casual and a bit subversive, but always very sincere. I am proud to be a Spirit Awards voter, and very proud of our selections.

Best Feature:

Moonlight (A24)

Producers: Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Adele Romanski

Best Director:

Barry Jenkins, Moonlight (A24)

Best Screenplay:

Barry Jenkins, Tarell Alvin McCraney (Story By), Moonlight (A24)

Best First Feature:

The Witch (A24)

Director: Robert Eggers

Producers: Daniel Bekerman, Jay Van Hoy, Lars Knudsen, Jodi Redmond,

Rodrigo Teixeira

Best First Screenplay:

Robert Eggers, The Witch (A24)

John Cassavetes Award (For best feature made under $500,000):

Spa Night (Strand Releasing)

Writer/Director: Andrew Ahn

Producers: David Ariniello, Giulia Caruso, Ki Jin Kim, Kelly Thomas

Best Supporting Female:

Molly Shannon, Other People (Vertical Entertainment)

isabelle-huppert-in-elle-closing-her-shutters-in-storm-with-help-of-neighbor
Image via Sony Picture Classics
Best Supporting Male:

Ben Foster, Hell or High Water (CBS Films/Lionsgate)

Best Female Lead:

Isabelle Huppert, Elle (Sony Pictures Classics)

Best Male Lead:

Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea (Amazon Studios)

Robert Altman Award:

Moonlight (A24)

Director: Barry Jenkins

Casting Director: Yesi Ramirez

Ensemble Cast: Mahershala Ali, Patrick Decile, Naomie Harris, Alex Hibbert, André Holland, Jharrel Jerome, Janelle Monáe, Jaden Piner, Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders

Best Cinematography:

James Laxton, Moonlight (A24)

Best Editing:

Joi McMillon, Nat Sanders, Moonlight (A24)

Best International Film:

Toni Erdmann (Germany and Romania– Sony Pictures Classics)

Director: Maren Ade

Best Documentary:

O.J.: Made in America (ESPN Films)

Director/Producer: Ezra Edelman

Producers: Deirdre Fenton, Libby Geist, Nina Krstic, Erin Leyden, Tamara Rosenberg, Connor Schell, Caroline Waterlow

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Awards

The Razzies 2017: Batman v. Superman, Zoolander 2, and Hillary’s America

Posted on February 26, 2017 at 3:54 pm

Each year at Oscar time the Golden Raspberry Awards (the Razzies) pay “tribute” to the worst films of the year.

The big “winner” this year was “Hillary’s America,” an anti-Hillary Clinton “documentary” from Dinesh D’Souza, who was awarded Razzies for worst film, worst director, and worst actress for the woman who portrayed the former first lady, Secretary of State, Senator, and Presidential candidate. D’Souza deserves some sort of good sport award for showing up to accept the honors. Other awardees included “Batman v. Superman” and “Zoolander 2.” Mel Gibson’s comeback was recognized with a “Razzie Redeemer award” for “Hacksaw Ridge.”

Worst picture: “Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party.”

Worst actor: Dinesh D’Souza, for “Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party.”

Worst actress: Rebekah Turner, for “Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party.”

Worst director: Dinesh D’Souza, for “Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party.”

Worst supporting actor: Jesse Eisenberg, from “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”

Worst supporting actress: Kristen Wiig, from “Zoolander No. 2.”

Worst screenplay: “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.”

Worst ripoff or sequel: “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.”

Worst screen combo: “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”

The Razzie Redeemer Award: Mel Gibson, for “Hacksaw Ridge”

Barry L. Bumstead Award (for a movie that cost a lot and lost a lot): “Misconduct”

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Awards

When We Rise: Coming to ABC February 27, 2017

Posted on February 25, 2017 at 3:55 pm

“When We Rise” was written and created by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black. This mini-series event chronicles the real-life personal and political struggles, setbacks and triumphs of a diverse family of LGBT men and women who helped pioneer one of the last legs of the U.S. Civil Rights movement, from its turbulent infancy in the 20th century to the once unfathomable successes of today. Starring in the mini-series are Guy Pearce (“Memento,” “L.A. Confidential”) as LGBT activist Cleve Jones, Mary-Louise Parker (“Weeds,” “Angels in America”) as women’s rights leader Roma Guy, Rachel Griffiths (“Brothers and Sisters,” “Six Feet Under”) as her wife, social justice activist Diane, Michael K. Williams (“Boardwalk Empire,””The Wire”) as African-American community organizer Ken Jones and Ivory Aquino as transgender-activist Cecilia Chung.

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Based on a true story GLBTQ and Diversity Television

Critics’ Oscar Wishes

Posted on February 25, 2017 at 8:00 am

Copyright A24 2016
Copyright A24 2016
Many thanks to my friends at Rogerebert.com for including me in their round-up of tributes to the people we’re rooting tomorrow night at the Oscars. I was thrilled to get a chance to write about Mahershala Ali’s performance in “Moonlight,” and I hope the Academy will recognize his superb performance. The all-star line-up writing about all-star filmmakers includes:

Best Documentary: “I Am Not Your Negro” — Essay by Omer Mozaffar
Best Foreign Language Film: “Toni Erdmann” — Essay by Matt Fagerholm
Best Adapted Screenplay: “Moonlight” — Essay by Peter Sobczynski
Best Original Screenplay: “Manchester by the Sea” — Essay by Scout Tafoya
Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali for “Moonlight” — Essay by Nell Minow
Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis for “Fences” — Essay by Christy Lemire
Best Actor: Casey Affleck in “Manchester by the Sea” — Essay by Patrick McGavin
Best Actress: Isabelle Huppert in “Elle”— Essay by Susan Wloszczyna
Best Director: Barry Jenkins for “Moonlight” — Essay by Brian Tallerico
Best Picture: “Moonlight” — Essay by Matt Zoller Seitz

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Awards Critics
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