Golden Globe Predictions 2017

golden globes, awards, awards shows, predictions, S. A. Young

I’m blowing the dust off of this blog with a quickie Golden Globes prediction post.

Here are my (semi-eductated) guesses, which will probably change by the time the Academy Awards roll around, especially since nominations haven’t even been announced yet, and the Golden Globes are not necessarily Oscar harbingers. The one thing that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association does oh so right, is divide the Best Picture and Best Actor/Actress categories into Drama and Musical/Comedy. This just makes sense to me. Why wouldn’t you compare apples to apples, oranges to oranges, etc?

But then, quizzically, they lump all of the directors, writers and supporting actors/actresses in their respective fields together. So essentially that’s just as head scratching as the Oscars. There are ten “Best Picture” nominees with only five nominated directors and five nominated writers. If there is logic to this, I have not been able to find any evidence of it. The internet, so chock full of experts and theorists, has let me down on the subject. If I live to be a thousand, I may, someday, be able to puzzle it out.

Oh well, as usual, I digress. I did say this was to be a “quickie” post, after all. Here are my picks, with categories in no particular order:

manchester by the sea, casey affleck, michelle williams, golden globes, S. A. Young

Best Picture-Drama

Manchester By the Sea

La La Land, Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, Golden Globes, predictions, S. A. Young

Best Picture – Comedy or Musical

La La Land

Best Actor – Drama

Casey Affleck – Manchester By the Sea

Best Actor – Miusical or Comedy

Ryan Reynolds – Deadpool ( It’s the battle of the Ryans. I’m going with Reynolds by hair. call me crazy but Deadpool did HUGE money overseas)

Best Actress – Drama

Natalie Portman – Jackie (because Natalie Portman)

Best Actress – Musical or Comedy

Emma Stone – La La Land

Moonlight, golden globes, mahershala ali, predictions, S. A. Young

Best Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali – Moonlight

Best Supporting Actress

Viola Davis – Fences

Best Director

Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester By the Sea (this is a race between Lonergan and Damian Chazelle and I think HFPA will want to reward an older, first time {directing} nominee. It’s a tough category and any one of the nominees – Lonergan, Chazelle, Gibson, Jenkins, or Ford could pull off a win)

Best Screenplay – Motion Picture

Barry Jenkins – Moonlight (This will be the category where the amazing Moonlight is rewarded)

Zootopia, golden globes, predictions, S. A. Young

Best Animated Feature

Zootopia (though I adored Sing)

Best Foreign Language Film

Elle (Isabelle Huppert won’t win for her performance so I think the HFPA will reward her film)

Best Original Score – Motion Picture

La La Land

Best Original Song – Motion Picture

“City of Stars” from La La Land (Everyone I saw this movie with left the theater either humming or singing this catchy tune – although this is tricky. Justin Timberlake could steal for “Can’t Stop the Feeling” from Trolls. It was a radio hit worldwide.)

The Crown, golden globes, predictions, S. A. Young

Best Television Series – Drama

“The Crown”

atlanta, donald glover, predictions, S. A. Young

Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy

“Atlanta”

Best Actor – Television – Drama

Billy Bob Thornton – “Goliath”

Best Actress – Television – Drama

Caitriona Balfe – “Outlander” (if anyone beats her it will be Claire Foy for “The Crown”, but I live in hope)

the people vs oj simpson, american crime story, golden globes, predictions, S. A. Young

Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

“The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television

Sarah Paulson – “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”

Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television

Courtney B. Vance – “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” (another tough category but I think the OJ:Crime Juggernaut will win out)

insecure, issa rae, golden globes, predictions, S. A. young

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy

Issa Rae – “Insecure”

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy

Donald Glover – “Atlanta”

Westworld, Thandie newton, golden globes, awards, awards shows, predictions, S. A. Young

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Thandie Newton – “Westworld”

Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture MBest ade for Television

John Lithgow – “The Crown”

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Jane Got A Gun and (FINALLY) a Release Date

Jane Got A Gun, Natalie Portman, movie, photo, Gavin O'Connor, Joel Edgerton

A film whose troubled beginnings will almost certainly overshadow its box-office, Jane Got A Gun, has finally been taken off the shelf and is set to be dusted off and released to US audiences in September (which could mean a festival bow at TIFF or Telluride).

In case you’re unfamiliar with “the saga of the making of Jane Got A Gun”, I’ll recap:

The screenplay was plucked from The Blacklist* back in 2011 and when production began it was originally set to star Natalie Portman as Jane Hammond and Michael Fassbender as her ex-lover Dan Frost and Joel Edgerton as villain John Bishop, with Lynne Ramsay (We Need to Talk About Kevin) at the helm. By what was to have been the first day of filming, Fassbender had already left, supposedly because delays had resulted in “scheduling conflicts”, Edgerton had taken Fassbender’s role with Jude Law as the bad guy. Then came reports that Ramsay had walked on that first day. It was weeks before anyone had a clue why and to this day, all anyone will say is “difficulties with producers” (one of whom, it’s worth mentioning, is Natalie Portman).

By the time cameras did eventually roll, the production had lost Law, because he only signed on to work with Ramsay,  who was replaced by Gavin O’Connor (Warrior). Law was replaced by Ewan McGregor.

Got it?

Anyway, to celebrate the fact that this potential cluster-fuck will finally see the light of day, Relativity (oh dear) has dropped these first-look images, which you can see below.

Young and pretty with a soul of pure steel, Jane Hammond (Natalie Portman) is a good girl married to one of the worst baddies in town. When her husband Bill (Noah Emmerich) turns against his own gang, the vicious Bishop Boys, and returns home barely alive with eight bullets in his back, Jane knows it’s time to ditch the dress for a pair of pants and strap on her own gun. As the relentless leader John Bishop (Ewan McGregor) gears up for revenge, Jane’s best hope for her family’s survival rests with her old love Dan Frost (Joel Edgerton) – a gunslinger whose hatred for Bill is only slightly overshadowed by his love for Jane. Together Jane and Dan spring clever traps, luring Bishop’s men to certain death just as their old feelings for each other resurface amidst the flying bullets.

So, what do you think? Will you see it? Does the back story make you any more or less curious about the end result?  For my part, I’m a fan of Gavin O’Connor’s work and he did have a talented cast to work with, regardless of how it was cobbled together. And at least he got to start at the beginning. It’s not like he had to step in mid-stream and finish another director’s work (regardless of how seamlessly he might have accomplished it because he’d probably be lambasted or it anyway *coughMichael Apted**cough*) It’s entirely possible that more films than we know go through similar machinations before they reach the finish line, just less publicly. I suppose I should wait for a trailer, but I’m in.

*The Blacklist is a database of the year’s best unproduced scripts. The list that included Jane Got A Gun also included The Imitation Game, Grace of Monaco, Django Unchained, St. Vincent de Van Nuys, Saving Mr. Banks and Sex Tape.  A lot can happen between the page and the screen.

 

**Chasing Mavericks

More Hemsworth! More Hiddleston! More Hopkins! More THOR!

…oh yes and more Elba!

Chris Hemsworth, Thor, movie

courtesy Marvel via imdb

I know we just talked about it last week, but  this new trailer for Thor: The Dark World has a good deal more of everything we’re looking for than that teaser we were given a few months ago.

At the top of the list is gravitas. Perhaps it is because the comic book Thor is based on long cherished Norse mythology, but he is both more serious and taken more seriously than a lot of the denizens of the Marvel canon. They’ve got Sir Anthony Hopkins playing Odin for Asgard’s sake!  Of course, the somber tone was set when this sequel was titled Thor: The Dark World.

The new trailer also does a better job of reminding us how visually stunning Thor’s world is, plus it gives us a better look at the key players, including Natalie Portman’s Jane, making it clear that her relationship with Thor is  at the heart (pun intended) of this story. We get more of  Ray Stevenson’s Vollstagg (who appears, thankfully, to have lost some of the curl in his hair), and Jaimie Alexander’s Sif.  Idris Elba’s profile has increased a hundred-fold since the first film and so naturally we get a better look at Heimdall, Also of note, is the trailer time given to Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. It was recently confirmed that Loki will not be a part of the upcoming sequel to The Avengers (which, despite the fact that it makes sense in terms of the character, is a still a bummer), so enjoy him while you can.

Watch this:

First, I have to say that I am always surprised by how deep Chris Hemsworth’s voice is.  Second, I love the way they tied this to last summer’s The Avengers. Five words (and a slap) lets us know where this movie falls in the timeline and that the characters are aware of the events from that film.

Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World” continues the big-screen adventures of Thor, the Mighty Avenger, as he battles to save Earth and all the Nine Realms from a shadowy enemy that predates the universe itself.  In the aftermath of Marvel’s “Thor” and “Marvel’s The Avengers,” Thor fights to restore order across the cosmos…but an ancient race led by the vengeful Malekith returns to plunge the universe back into darkness. Faced with an enemy that even Odin and Asgard cannot withstand, Thor must embark on his most perilous and personal journey yet, one that will reunite him with Jane Foster and force him to sacrifice everything to save us all.

Thor: The Dark World also stars Stellan Skarsgård, Christopher Eccleston, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kat Dennings, Zachary Levi, Tadanobu Asano, and Rene Russo and will be in UK theaters on 30th October and in the US on November 8, in glorious 2D!

edited to add pics! D’oh!

Blue Light on Asgard: New Poster for Thor: The Dark World

Thor, The Dark World, movie, Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, poster

Marvel via imdb

Marvel has just issued that brand new poster above for Thor: The Dark World. This one features most of the principal players bathed in an ethereal blue light  with Natalie Portman’s Jane front and center, in the protective embrace of Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, her hair beautifully lifted by the chilly winds of Asgard. (It also has the UK release date of October 30.) The Dark World is Hemsworth’s other high profile film due out this fall (the first being Rush that I talked about here).

If ever an actor has benefited from a super hero movie, it’s Chris Hemsworth.

Christian Bale and Robert Downey, Jr were already stars when they climbed into the suits and masks of  the Dark Knight and Iron Man, respectively. Even Henry Cavill was a known commodity when he donned Superman’s red cape (even if this still came as a surprise).  But remember back in the spring of 2011 just before the first Thor movie was released? It wasn’t uncommon for anyone to ask, “Who is this guy?” when the star of Marvel’s flick was named.

Since then, Hemsworth has reprised the role in The Avengers, of course, but he’s also played the titular Huntsman in Rupert Sanders’ Snow White and the Huntsman, beating out other notable names like Johnny Depp, Tom Hardy and Michael Fassbender for the role. (Well, Viggo Mortensen and Hugh Jackman had to pass first, but let’s not quibble). He’ll appear in the sequel to that movie, as well as the sequel to The Avengers: Age of Ultron (which will make his fourth time wielding Thor’s mighty hammer.) Aside from fairy tales and comic books though, there’s not only Rush, but Ron Howard has signed him up for his followup film as well. In the Heart of the Sea, costarring Cillian Murphy, Brendan Gleeson, Ben Whishaw and Benjamin Walker, goes into production next month. In the meantime, we’ll be able to see Michael Mann’s (Manhunter, Heat, Last of the Mohicans, Ali etc etc) latest effort, Cyber, about American and Chinese computer hackers costarring Viola Davis, due out sometime in 2014.

He’s also made modest hits of two movies filmed pre-Thor, Joss Whedon’s Cabin in the Woods and the execrable remake of 80’s cult favorite, Red Dawn, on the strength of his name alone. (Although to be fair, Hemsworth may have been the draw, but CITW is actually pretty clever.)

Not bad. From obscurity to A-list faster than Thor can conk a Frost Giant with Mjolnir.

Seems like  this would be a good time to show you the first trailer, just in case you’ve managed to miss it for the past couple of months:

This is a pretty good first look, basically giving us an overview of the finished product, without lighting in any one place very long or providing a lot of detail. Considering that the production was fraught with problems, I guess we’re lucky we have anything to look at at all.  Jamie Alexander, who plays Sif, was out for a month after having slipped a disc and chipping 11 vertebrae. Patty Jenkins (Monster) was originally hired to direct, but left due to that old bugaboo, “creative differences”, with Marvel. Whatever those were, they almost cost them Natalie Portman as well. When Jenkins left, she wanted to bail, but her contract forced her to continue. Alan Taylor, best known for having directed six episodes of “Game of Thrones”, was eventually brought on. Composer Carter Burwell had a few of those C.D.s as well and was replaced by Brian Tyler (Law Abiding Citizen, Iron Man 3).

Still and all, this sequel features most of the cast from the original including Portman as Jane, Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Anthony Hopkins as Odin, Stellen Skarsgård as Dr. Selvig,  Rene Russo as Frigga, Ray Stevenson as Volstagg (he of the Cowardly Lion locks), Kat Dennings as Darcy and Idris Elba as Heimdall. In addition, Zachary “Chuck” Levi comes in to replace Josh Dallas as Fandral, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Algrim/Kurse, and the great Christopher Eccleston plays Malekith. (Eccleston replaced Mads Mikkelsen, who had to drop out because of “Hannibal”. I’m not sure how I feel about this. No matter how good Eccleston’s Malekith is, I won’t be able to stop wondering what Mads would have done with it.)

Synopsis:
Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World” continues the big-screen adventures of Thor, the Mighty Avenger, as he battles to save Earth and all the Nine Realms from a shadowy enemy that predates the universe itself. In the aftermath of Marvel’s “Thor” and “Marvel’s The Avengers,” Thor fights to restore order across the cosmos…but an ancient race led by the vengeful Malekith returns to plunge the universe back into darkness. Faced with an enemy that even Odin and Asgard cannot withstand, Thor must embark on his most perilous and personal journey yet, one that will reunite him with Jane Foster and force him to sacrifice everything to save us all.

Thor: The Dark World opens in the UK on 30th October and November 8 in the US.

My Daily Moment of Zen–with Muscles

Guess what I saw this weekend…



I admit, I’m late to the party on this Chris Hemsworth guy…
One of my besties has been on the 6’3"* Nordic blonde, Icelandic blue-eyed bandwagon for awhile now. This is for her:

…and this one is for me, it looks kinda badass:

As for the movie itself, Thor really was pretty much as I expected it to be. Perhaps, a little less "dumb". I had previously questioned what would draw Natalie Portman to a project like this and apparently the answer is that she had a thought similar to mine: the idea of Kenneth Branagh doing a comic book movie was "too weird", so she had to say yes. I do have to give director Branagh credit; everyone involved seemed to be having a great time, including Anthony Hopkins and Stellan Skarsgaard and especially Thor himself.

I loved hearing Idris Elba’s voice coming from Heimdall, although I would have liked it more if he’d looked a little more like Idris.

Ray Stevenson, you need a separate post. (Was "Rome" a fluke?) I get the Falstaff-ian overtones but, a fat suit? Hair that looked like he’d just come out of the beauty parlor in The Emerald City? Who do I blame for this? Branagh? Costume designer Alexandra Byrne? Stan Lee? Larry Lieber? I’m shaking my head at all of you.

In any case, for all of my post-trailer, pre-viewing misgivings, Thor is fun; a really good Saturday matinee, in the spirit of matinees of yore, like Flash Gordon etc and a perfectly legitimate excuse to sit in the dark, eat popcorn and stare at Chris Hemsworth’s pecs. JMHO

*or 6’5" depending on your source hee hee

Part Deux: Dance of the Demented Poodle

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…or “Popcorn for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner”

When I started the post about four films worth seeing that were all opening on the same weekend, I really hadn’t intended to see them all on that same weekend.  The project sort of took shape of its own volition and I felt compelled to see it through.

One of my very good friends and I used to do movie marathons on occasion and I think our record was six. In one day. We’d study the logistics and map out the theaters and show times as well as timing our travels around the city with the precision of a general leading an invading army into battle.  I also know that there are bigger, more well-traveled, more extensively-read bloggers than I who regularly attend something called the annual “Butt-Numb-a-Thon”, where they watch movies for 24 hours straight. My point is, it was certainly no hardship to see four films in a weekend. I don’t regret spending my weekend at the movies.  I just didn’t get much else accomplished that’s all. Oh well.

First up, on Friday night, was Limitless.

It is an entertaining film as long as the viewer is able to check the 20% of their own brain currently in use at the door. There are some serious plot holes and some threads that are just left flapping in the breeze, however, it’s also a lot of fun if you can just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Bradley Cooper must have been sleeping with Director of Photography, Jo Willems.  He looks fantastic in this movie. The camera certainly makes good use of the actor’s amazing eyes.  There are lots of closeups. It’s also worth noting how much better looking he gets, the smarter he gets. As if it’s not enough that with the drug there are no limits (Limitless, get it?) to what he can do and achieve with his brain, we have to add sex into the mix or else it’s all for naught. (Apparently the filmmakers are unclear on the concept that smart and talented is sexy.)

Willems certainly wasn’t sleeping with Anna Friel. In her first scenes (which are flashbacks) I thought I was looking at Evangeline Lilly before I remembered Friel was in the movie. By the time she shows up again, she is truly unrecognizable. I know it was makeup, but sheesh. (Either that or the dissolution of her long-time relationship with David Thewlis has REALLY taken its toll!)

I don’t think I’m spoiling anything to say that Johnny Whitworth gets the Mark Strong Award for “Good Actors Cast in Tiny Parts in Big Movies”. And in this film, Friel shares it with him. I’ve been waiting for Whitworth to break out since The Rainmaker. Still waiting.  I’m hoping this will also lead to bigger things for Friel. “Pushing Daisies” was terrific, but it ended over two years ago. She’s also in the much anticipated (by me) London Boulevard. Hopefully that will see the light of day soon.

I loved Andrew Howard’s Russian gangster. A lot of the reviews I’ve read seem to be saying that an old school villain like Gennedy has no place in a movie like this, with such a modern premise.  I disagree.  Considering how he became involved with Morra, I think what came next is entirely plausible (within the unplausible context of this story.) Granted, I do have to agree that more could have been done with the character and his relationship to Cooper’s, but this wasn’t his story. And if you’re going on the ride at all, you have to be prepared to endure the bumps.

I have to say DeNiro is more DeNiro than we’ve seen in a long time, but he’s still not as DeNiro as he could have been. This was the DeNiro of Righteous Kill not Heat (to contrast two films with both DeNiro and Pacino).  Regardless, he’s always a joy to watch.

Abbie Cornish was underutilized. JMHO, but anyone could have played Lindy. Maybe you disagree.

I really enjoyed the trippy techno soundtrack music. I think I’ll have to see the movie again before I decide whether or not to add it to my collection.

I have to say, Roger Ebert summed up Limitless perfectly: “{It} only uses 15, maybe 20 percent of its brain. Still, that’s more than a lot of movies do.” I recommend it, although it will lose nothing in the translation from big screen to home viewing.

On Saturday morning, me and a handful of geeks bounced into the theater to see Paul. I’m quite sure some of them had already seen it at least once. The excitement in the air was tangible. The movie did not disappoint. It was, in a word, hilarious. The script, co-written by its two stars, must have contained a reference to every sci-fi movie made in the last 30+ years. (I’m sure I missed some of the references and will have to see it again if I hope to catch them all.) Filming part of the movie at Comic Con (and indeed using it as the jumping off point for the plot) was inspired. It was obviously a labor of love and a valentine of sorts to comic book geeks and sci-fi nerds.

Seth Rogan as the voice of Paul, is pitch perfect. I honestly can’t remember when, since "Freaks and Geeks", that I’ve enjoyed a performance of his more.  It’s also evident in his voice that he was enjoying himself as well. Indeed, it looked to me like everyone involved was having a great time. Perhaps that’s because I was following Simon Pegg’s Tweets while they were making the film, but I don’t think so.  I suspect there will be one hell of a blooper reel on the dvd (or at least I hope so.)

I’m trying to remember a comedy team with which to compare Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Their timing can be compared to Abbot and Costello or Martin and Lewis, and Nick Frost certainly has the sweet charm of a Lou Costello or 50’s era Jerry Lewis, but Simon Pegg is nowhere near as arch as Bud Abbott or as suave as Dean Martin. Over the course of three films and a television series, their chemistry has not been diluted at all, probably owing to the fact that they are close friends. Some of the best laughs in Paul come from just a look or a tilt of the head between them. Indeed, the bromance is at the heart of the film. Not only is it laugh out loud funny, it is also very sweet, in an ET kind of way, as well as a ‘we all have to grow up sometime and realize our true potential’ kind of way.

While I don’t remember most of the soundtrack, I will say it was nice to hear some ELO again.

I recommend this one as well and again, I don’t think it will lose much in the translation to home viewing.

After the credits rolled on Paul, I went immediately in to see The Lincoln Lawyer.

The opening credits of a film should be used to set the tone for the movie, but rarely are they to such good effect as for this film.  We get our first taste of the incredible 70’s flavored R & B soundtrack that is to come and the bold graphics reminded me of countless movies from the 70’s from Shaft to Death Wish to Prime Cut. I even got a bit of an Across 110th Street vibe, although that one is set in New York and this is totally an LA movie.

I’ve read a couple of references in reviews of this movie to both The Long Goodbye with Elliot Gould and Twilight (Not the one with the vampire angst, the one with Paul Newman, Gene Hackman and James Garner.)

The former is an updated (at the time) take on Raymond Chandler from the 70’s in which Gould played Philip Marlowe and the latter is about an aging ex-cop turned PI. It was made in the late 90’s, but they share a "feel" with this movie. It was definitely this particular flavor of LA that the director was going for.

I knew nothing of Brad Furman before this film and judging from his CV on imdb, there’s not much to know. I’m not sure what anyone saw in him to make them think he was capable of making a multi-million dollar movie, let alone one with any nuance, but, JMHO, I think their faith was justified. I really like what he did with this. 

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The story itself was one you’d think would be more at home on the mean streets of New York, but instead they used LA (because the writer of the books did, I realize) and made it almost another character.

The color palette was very muted, almost washed out. This was the LA where ordinary people live and work. As McConaughey’s character Mick Haller rolled down the streets in his late model Lincoln, he did so past railroad tracks and cement gulleys (like in To Live and Die in LA) or small houses.  It was all very sun bleached, not quite seedy, but by no means glamorous. (I actually think the house in the hills in which Haller lived was used in Twilight, although I won’t swear that was the film.) They seemed to be using natural lighting.  Everyone, with the exception of the preternaturally cool Ryan Phillippe’s character, had a sheen of sweat that would come from existing in the heat of Southern California.

I can never get enough of William H. Macy. He’s one of the most talented actors alive and when he shows up looking like he could be Easy Rider-era Dennis Hopper’s younger brother, you know you’re in for a treat. He’s not on screen for nearly long enough. The same can be said of Michael Pena and John Leguizamo, who tones down the crazy in this one. Speaking of toning down the crazy, Frances Fisher finally dimmed her hair color so she looks less frightening. Ironic.

Uber-Douche played an Uber-Douche (although to be fair he was also a sociopath. Not sure if he is in real life or not.) I suppose I ought not to continue to refer to Ryan Phillippe in this manner, but I thought I should carry it through from my last post. I just don’t get his appeal. What was “pretty” in his 20s is now just “soft” in his 30s, and it’s just too much and yet not enough for me to take seriously.

I do have to say, that Marisa Tomei looks incredible. Better than she did at 25. As an actress, she’s light years from where she was at 25 or even 29 (when she won an Oscar.)

That funky soundtrack is worth coming back to. There are some original classics, some remixes and some that were complete modern remakes and they all completely jibe with the film; a soundtrack in the truest sense. In any case, I will be adding it to my collection.

Finally, Matthew McConaughey went a long way toward redemption in my eyes with this one. Speaking of eyes, one of the things he’s always done really well is to let his emotions play through his and he uses that talent to good effect here. Even before this movie was finished, I was thinking about how I wanted more of this character.  This felt like it was somewhere in the middle of the series and I know that there are many more books featuring Mickey Haller. I want to know how he got where he was and where he’s going next. I wouldn’t mind seeing this become a franchise, as long as they continue to do them right.

The Lincoln Lawyer was not a perfect movie, but I really enjoyed it.

Finally, on Sunday morning, came the film that I was undoubtedly looking forward to the most: Jane Eyre.

Oh, Focus Features, I forgive you for so shamelessly toying with me. Your film was well worth the enhanced anticipation you created by making me wait an additional week and in fact, you had me at the title card.

Cary Fukunaga, with all of two major films on his resume has positioned himself to be a cinematic force to be reckoned with. It’s staggering, considering how young he is, to think of the career that is ahead of him. Back-handing away any notion of a sophomore slump, he followed up the beautiful Sin Nombre with the equally beautiful and haunting Jane Eyre. On the surface, these two films could not be more different, but at their core they are both about the fragility and resilience of the human spirit. Fukunaga has created a film as beautifully and deftly as any old world master would put paint to canvas.

I’ve seen many versions of this story and they all have something to recommend them. This one is my new favorite.  Screenwriter Moira Buffini’s choice to land us in the middle of the story and use flashback to fill in the gaps helped to make it seem fresh. It was the most atmospheric and gothic production, although two recent BBC versions came close, that I can recall. It was again augmented by the use of natural light, which in those days meant a few candles and a hearth.  When Jane creeps through the dark hallways of Thornefield Hall holding a single candle, we only see as much as she sees, all of us waiting for something to jump out of the darkness. There is an instance where the entire audience did jump and it happens in broad daylight (well, as broad as it gets in the north of England,) but I won’t spoil it here.

The chemistry between the two leads was palpable from their first exchange. When they are onscreen together, everything and everyone else falls away. This scene that I showed you a few weeks ago, encapsulates all of that (and would have shown again if my post weren’t "too big".)

What I said at the time,This is the hottest piece of celluloid that I have seen in a LOOOOOONG time. I can’t stop watching it. And every time I do, I sit here with my mouth agape and my chest heaving with the effort to resume the breath caught in my throat, a hot tickle in my stomach…

TMI? Or the ultimate compliment to the palpable sexual allure of Michael Fassbender, an allure that has heretofore not so much remained hidden, but severely underutilized.”

I thought I was prepared. I thought I’d seen it so often that the magic had worn off, that I couldn’t possibly “feel it” the way I did the first time I saw it. I was wrong. Think about the frame of that scene a thousand times larger, with that voice booming out in Dolby THX (or whatever the hell the sound system at your local theater is)…imagine that and you’ll begin to get an inkling. It not only still took my breath away, but it rocked me to my toes. It was quite simply…erotic. Considering that the participants were both fully clothed and only their hands touched, that’s saying something.

Beyond all of that, (and frankly because of all that, Fassbender and Wasikowska could have been acting on a bare stage,) the English country side was used to spectacular effect. Just as LA became another character in The Lincoln Lawyer, so did the moors of northern England in Jane Eyre. It is easy to forget that England is geographically such a small country when there seem to be so many vast areas that appear to remain untouched, natural and wild and mostly uninhabited. In the film, as in the novel, the harsh landscape is a reflection of Jane’s life. We see it flower and bloom very briefly when Jane does, but for the most part it is harsh and unyielding.

The supporting cast, led by Dame Judi Dench as the housekeeper Mrs. Fairfax and Jamie Bell as St.John Rivers, is all marvelous, as is befitting a movie made in a country where it appears every one of its citizens lives to act.

I must also mention the score by Oscar winner Dario Marianelli. (He won in ’07 for Atonement and was nominated for 2005’s Pride and Prejudice.) Gorgeous, just gorgeous. Actually, lush is a better word.  It’s not too early for me to predict another nomination.

JMHO, but the entire thing was utterly swoon-worthy and I can’t wait to see it again. It goes without saying that I highly recommend this one and I’d go so far as to say, see it, if at all possible, on the big screen. It will no doubt play well at home, but the sight and sound of 10 ft. tall Fassbender is worth the price of the ticket.

May I also just reiterate what a joy it is to see a movie at an art-house where only adults go to see movies? Not only were there people waiting for the doors to open for the first showing of the day (and not just for Jane Eyre, but obscure films like Poetry,) but inside the theater you could have heard a pin drop throughout the entire movie. (Unlike Limitless where I had to endure the five kids from the nearby technical high school that acted like they were on a field trip and came in 15 min. in, parked themselves next to me in the front row and proceeded to talk to the screen and to each other the entire time. Between them and the transient loudly SNORING at the end of the row, you people are lucky you didn’t see me on the news.)

Thus endeth my weekend at the movies.

As always, thanks for reading. Next up, Win Win on Wednesday night!

SAG Awards Predictions Post

Tonight is the 17th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards ceremony, essentially a big, televised dinner party for actors to congratulate themselves. While I love watching and wouldn’t miss it except in the case of famine, flood, biblical plague or nuclear disaster, ( This show is only 17 years old. I haven’t missed one yet) I do wish the other Guilds got equal face time.

The best part of the SAG telecast, for me, is the opening where the camera pans around the room and stops on seemingly random actors who tell us how and when they got their SAG card and then proclaim proudly,  "I…am an actor!"  (Bit of trivia: This tradition was started when Tom Hanks came onstage and took his worn and battered SAG card from his pocket and told the story of how he’d gotten it, and that the card in his hand was the original. The following year, he told the story of how his wife, Rita Wilson, had gotten hers for an episode of "The Brady Bunch.")

At this awards show, the "winners" take home an attractive bronze statue called "The Actor" and since it is peer recognition, the recipients can get very emotional. Makes for great tv. One thing this guild does right is the category called "Best Ensemble Cast."  It is wonderful that a handful of actors are singled out for what should be singular performances, but all actors deliver their dialogue not to blank walls or in a vacuum, but to other flesh and blood actors (unless they’re working with Muppets, animals, green screens or Megan Fox) whose reactions affect the performance. In other words, they need to work together and as a whole in order for the movie, television show etc etc to be considered a success. JMHO, but this is the most important award of the night since it is the only one of its kind.

They also recently added an award for ensemble STUNT acting which is very, very cool.

The nominees for

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture:

The Black Swan
The Fighter*
The King’s Speech*
The Social Network
The Kid’s Are Alright

I’ve been rooting for The Fighter to win this award since I saw it, simply because I want to see the actresses who played the seven Ward/Eklund sisters on that stage. And while only the principals are named in the nomination,

  • Amy Adams – Charlene Fleming
  • Christian Bale  – Dicky Eklund
  • Melissa Leo –  Alice Ward
  • Jack McGee –  George Ward
  • Mark Wahlberg – Micky Ward

if "the sisters" were invited to come out to support the film, they will make it up onto that stage.  Failing that, I’m rooting for The King’s Speech, because just like The Fighter, the Best Supporting and Best Actor nominees could not have existed one without the other. This award would be a way to show that “they” get that.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role:

Jeff Bridges – Rooster Cogburn, True Grit
Robert Duvall – Felix Bush, Get Low
Jesse Eisenberg – Mark Zuckerberg, The Social Network
Colin Firth – King George VI, The King’s Speech*
James Franco – Aron Ralston, 127 Hours

Robert Duvall was a surprise, although if more people had seen the film, Get Low, it might not have been. The film was a quirky little hidden gem about a cantankerous, curmudgeonly hermit who plans his own funeral party, while he’s still alive and Duvall IS the movie.  I don’t however, think Colin Firth will be beaten.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role:

Annette Bening – Nic, The Kids Are Alright
Nicole Kidman – Becca, The Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence – Ree Dolly, Winter’s Bone
Natalie Portman – Nina Sayers, The Black Swan*
Hilary Swank – Betty Ann Waters, Conviction

I fear Annette Bening will go home a bridesmaid yet again since Natalie Portman seems to have this one sewn up. (Both won a Golden Globe, but since the HFPA is the only award giving body that differentiates between Comedy and Drama, Drama almost always trumps Comedy.) 

On the other hand, Bening could spoil the pregnant ballerina’s night. The Santa Barbara Int’l Film Festival honored her this past week with the American Riviera Award. Last year they honored Sandra Bullock with the same award and the year before that, Kate Winslet. Do you see the pattern? Both of those women went on to win SAGs and then Oscars for their respective years. It could be complete coincidence…could be…. (JMHO) (2008 they honored Julie Christie who won the SAG for Away From Her, but lost the Oscar to Marion Cotillard for La Vie en Rose so maybe it’s only the SAGs they’re in league with.)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role:

Christian Bale – Dicky Eklund, The Fighter*
John Hawkes – Teardrop, Winter’s Bone
Jeremy Renner – James Coughlan, The Town
Mark Ruffalo – Paul, The Kid’s Are Alright
Geoffrey Rush – Lionel Logue, The King’s Speech

Geoffrey Rush is a SAG favorite; an Actor’s Actor. I wish he and Christian Bale could share this award, but then they’d have to give a leg to Jeremy Renner.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role:

Amy Adams – Charlene Fleming, The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter – Queen Elizabeth, The King’s Speech
Mila Kunis – Lily, The Black Swan
Melissa Leo – Alice Ward, The Fighter*
Hailee Steinfeld – Mattie Ross, True Grit

Just as the tide seems to have turned for The Social Network, the awards buzz seems to have cooled for Melissa Leo and is now circling Hailee Steinfeld. I’m sticking with my original choice.

Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture:

Green Zone
Inception*
Robin Hood

Okay, I’ve seen all three of these films and I can certainly see why the stunt actors division of the Screen Actors Guild would nominate them. Just watch the credits and you’ll see there are seemingly hundreds of names listed for each.  Think about the climactic battle on the beach in Robin Hood, any number of scenes in Inception. Green Zone was a war zone. Incredible stunts in all three. I’m going with Inception. Again, I have to cite the fight in the hallway that was done without CGI , but with a room that turned and the hotel scenes in zero gravity.

I’m not talking about television here, although since this is actors honoring actors, if Edgar Ramirez does not win for Carlos…well, I don’t know what I’ll do…but I’ll do something! *shakes fist* (Seriously, we all know Al Pacino is a great actor. He’s an All-Star. If they had an Actors Hall of Fame, he’d definitely be in on the first ballot.  In the immortal words of Marty Feldman, "What are you doin’ in there! Give someone else a chance!")

Thanks for reading.

My daily moment of Zen…

old school…for my homies…