Here is a ballot for tonight's Oscar ceremony featuring all the categories.
Sunday, February 24, 2019
Best FeatureEIGHTH GRADE
IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK (WINNER)
LEAVE NO TRACE
YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE
Debra Granik, LEAVE NO TRACE
Barry Jenkins, IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK (WINNER)
Tamara Jenkins, PRIVATE LIFE
Lynne Ramsay, YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE
Paul Schrader, FIRST REFORMED
Best First Feature
SORRY TO BOTHER YOU (WINNER)
WE THE ANIMALS
Best Male Lead
John Cho, SEARCHING
Daveed Diggs, BLINDSPOTTING
Ethan Hawke, FIRST REFORMED (WINNER)
Christian Malheiros, SÓCRATES
Joaquin Phoenix, YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE
Glenn Close, THE WIFE (WINNER)
Toni Collette, HEREDITARY
Elsie Fisher, EIGHTH GRADE
Regina Hall, SUPPORT THE GIRLS
Helena Howard, MADELINE’S MADELINE
Carey Mulligan, WILDLIFE
Best Supporting Female ActorKayli Carter, PRIVATE LIFE
Tyne Daly, A BREAD FACTORY
Regina King, IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK (WINNER)
Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie, LEAVE NO TRACE
J. Smith-Cameron, NANCY
Best Supporting Male ActorRaúl Castillo, WE THE ANIMALS
Adam Driver, BLACKKKLANSMAN
Richard E. Grant, CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? (WINNER)
Josh Hamilton, EIGHTH GRADE
John David Washington, MONSTERS AND MEN
Ashley Connor, MADELINE’S MADELINE
Diego Garcia, WILDLIFE
Benjamin Loeb, MANDY
Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, SUSPIRIA (WINNER)
Zak Mulligan, WE THE ANIMALS
Best Screenplay(Writer/Story By)
Rebecca Lenkiewicz & Wash Westmoreland, COLETTE
Nicole Holofcener & Jeff Whitty, CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? (WINNER)
Tamara Jenkins, PRIVATE LIFE
Boots Riley, SORRY TO BOTHER YOU
Paul Schrader FIRST REFORMED
Best First Screenplay
Bo Burnham, EIGHTH GRADE (WINNER)
Christina Choe, NANCY
Cory Finley, THOROUGHBREDS
Jennifer Fox, THE TALE
Quinn Shephard (Writer/Story By) and Laurie Shephard (Story By), BLAME
Joe Bini, YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE (WINNER)
Keiko Deguchi, Brian A. Kates & Jeremiah Zagar, WE THE ANIMALS
Luke Dunkley, Nick Fenton, Chris Gill & Julian Hart, AMERICAN ANIMALS
Anne Fabini, Alex Hall and Gary Levy, THE TALE
Nick Houy, MID90S
Best DocumentaryHALE COUNTY THIS MORNING, THIS EVENING
MINDING THE GAP
OF FATHERS AND SONS
ON HER SHOULDERS
WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? (WINNER)
Best International FilmBURNING (South Korea)
THE FAVOURITE (United Kingdom)
HAPPY AS LAZZARO (Italy)
ROMA (Mexico) (WINNER)
The Robert Altman Award, whose previous winners included Spotlight (2015) and Moonlight (2016), interestingly went to SUSPIRIA, a film by Luca Guadagnino, a remake of Dario Argento's 1977 horror film. I was very surprised by this honor. Although there were some unforgettable scenes in this film, Guadagnino's take ended up being an overblown and over-long rumination on Argento's classic.
Robert Altman Award
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Casting Directors: Avy Kaufman, Stella Savino
Ensemble Cast: Malgosia Bela, Ingrid Caven, Lutz Ebersdorf, Elena Fokina, Mia Goth, Jessica Harper, Dakota Johnson, Gala Moody, Chloë Grace Moretz, Renée Soutendijk, Tilda Swinton, Sylvie Testud, Angela Winkler
Saturday, February 23, 2019
Last night the MET revived the Robert Carsen production of Verdi's last opera. The production updates the work to the post World War II era, or as the program indicates "during the reign of Elizabeth II," a decision that works most of the time. Utilizing a unit set, the Garter Inn morphs into the kind of stuffy 1950s gentleman's club where no women are allowed, so needless to say the appearance of Mistress Quickly (Marie-Nicole Lemieux) sends the club members running out the door. When Ford (Juan Jesús Rodríguez) disguises himself as Mr. "Fontana" he comes in looking like a Texas oil baron, and Alice's kitchen, where a mini-riot hurls Falstaff out the window and into the Thames River, looks like a technicolor colorization of I Love Lucy. On the other hand, Herne's Oak was minimalist with only a starry sky to denote the outdoors.
But what would this production be without Ambrogio Maestri? The man owns the role of Falstaff hands down, and he has sung it around the world, along with so many other roles, including Baron Scarpia in Tosca at Las Palmas, Michele in Il Tabarro at the Bavarian State Opera, and Germont in La Traviata in Tokyo. Earlier this season at the MET he was heartbreaking as Michonnet in Adriana Lecouvreur. He is one of our most gifted character singers, and his resonant, ample baritone fills the house. It's very exciting to watch a singer so invested in a role.
The MET has surrounded him with a variety of talented singing actors for this revival, stand-outs include Golda Schultz, a sweet Nannetta, and the aforementioned Mr. Rodríguez who was excellent as Ford. Ms. Lemieux's deep contralto made an excellent Quickly, but her acting was a bit schticky and over the top, "more matter with less art," as the Bard himself would say. The orchestra under the baton of debuting conductor Richard Farnes was its usual excellent ensemble. All in all, it's a revival not to be missed, and if this opera is a new venture for you, this ensemble will surely make it memorable.
Friday, February 22, 2019
Still, Oscar night is Oscar night, no matter who hosts, and the awarding of this fabled statuette still matters in Tinsel Town. So, here are my predictions in the main categories.
BEST PICTURE: Whatever you might think of this art film, hands down, Roma will take the big prize, and it just might be a Mexican fiesta, with Alfonso Cuarón's film taking multiple prizes.
BEST ACTOR: After winning just about every award prior to Oscar night, including the Golden Globes and the SAG, 37 year old Rami Malek will become one of the youngest Oscar recipients for his impersonation of Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody.
BEST ACTRESS: This is a tough one. Will Oscar award Olivia Colman for her beautiful performance in The Favourite, or will they give it to Glenn Close for a lifetime of great achievement? Oscar has a track record of doing this again and again? I think this just might be Ms. Close's year!
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Another tough category! Mahershala Ali already won this category for Moonlight, but his performance in Green Book was praised by critics and audiences alike. It's also a feel good movie, and the character he plays is very likeable; so I predict Mr. Ali will follow Denzel Washington to become the second African American actor to win two Oscars.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: The ladies from The Favourite (Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone) despite their fine performances, will cancel each other out. Marina de Tavira's role in Roma was small. This category is between Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk) and Amy Adams (Vice). Being a huge Adams fan, I'm going with her this year.
BEST DIRECTOR: Here's what we have: Yorgos Lanthimos, an arthouse Greek filmmaker whose third English language film The Favourite is probably his most accessible work. Paweł Pawlikowski, who already won an Oscar for his masterful Ida, and whose Cold War is an artistic followup to that film, is a strong contender. Adam McKay, whose Vice was popular and well distributed is a long shot; and Spike Lee and his hip socio-political "joint" BlacKkKlansman has brought the Brooklyn filmmaker back to the forefront. Oh, Oscar, you make it difficult! Oh yeah! I forgot! The winner will be Alfonso Cuarón!
And here are the rest of my predictions:
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: I'm hoping that the Oscar goes to the most beautifully shot film this year: the black-and-white, Academy Ratio Cold War. However, Roma, another black-and-white beauty, might just take this prize as well.
ANIMATED FEATURE: No contest! It's going to be Spider-Man into the Spider-Verse.
BEST DOCUMENTARY: In this political climate RBG is sure to win.
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: Could it be that Roma will get both Best Film as well as this award? It's possible, but I will be happy if either Japan's Shoplifters or Poland's Cold War take the prize.
BEST SCREENPLAY: What a category this year! All great scripts, although Roma will defeat them all. However, it could happen that either The Favourite or Green Book can spoil the Roma juggernaut.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Here is where one of our great auteurs, Spike Lee finally gets his well-deserved Oscar for a lifetime of making movies his way.
The Oscar ceremony will be broadcast on ABC, Sunday February 24 at 8:00pm ET.
Wednesday, February 20, 2019
It’s satisfying to watch Bryan Cranston give what might just be the performance of a lifetime as Howard Beale, the veteran news anchor at the end of his rope, thinking of ending it all live on the air. A performance that has been finely crafted after a sold out run at London's National Theatre, and honored with the Olivier award. For me, the real satisfaction in Mr. Cranston's performance involves watching his 1080p image on a giant screen. And why not: it's how many of us got to know this talented actor, especially in his monumental performance in AMC's Breaking Bad, where he played Walter White, a chemistry teacher turned drug dealer. Van Hove’s staging celebrates our pixelized actor/audience relationship with him through the use of his brilliant technology.
Despite the 21st century staging, Lee Hal's adaptation of the film is set in 1976, where the fictional UBS is a distant fourth network, years before CNN made viewers dependent on 24 hour broadcasts and constant announcements of breaking news. Howard Beale’s rants maintain an air of prophecy reminding us that television is a show-business marketplace. And even though the character's monologues closely describe the current state of the medium, Chayefsky's main goal at the time was not to play the soothsayer, but to skewer the medium, and remind us why we called it the Boob Tube.
The supporting roles are a little bit more problematic in this production. It's very hard to forget or even come close to William Holden's Max Schumacher, being one of the actor's great performances of his later years. Tony Goldwyn is not the right age for the part, and although he gives a creditable performance, it is hard to believe him as a contemporary of the much older Mr. Cranston, especially when the two characters talk about how they both started together as young men at CBS with Edward R. Murrow. Maybe a little more old age makeup might have helped, or maybe van Hove is asking us to suspend our disbelief big time. Tatiana Maslany is believable as Diana Christensen, but again this actress is up against the indelible, celluloid memory of Faye Dunaway's Oscar winning performance.
Not to worry: with Mr. Cranston you will not be missing Jon Finch's titanic Academy award winning performance as Howard Beale. That's why the winner of this year's Tony award for best actor in a play is onstage at the Belasco Theatre. Don't miss him!
Sunday, February 03, 2019
Shoplifters is a very special film in a year filled with incredible titles from all over the world. As New York Times critic Manohla Dargis concluded in her insightful review of this film "In their grubby imperfections, Kore-eda finds a perfect story about being human." And this is what elevates this tale into a universal examination of the human heart. Don't miss it. It truly is one of the best films of the year.