Wrap it Up. DFW Has Spoken!


Reunion Tower (picture by Erin Nicole)

Awards season is fun and all but today is the really the only day that matters.  Today is the day that the film critics of my home town — the Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association — announce their picks for the best of 2017!

And who got the love down here in DFW?

The Shape of Water!

Check out all the winners below:

Best Picture
The Shape Of Water

Best Actor
Gary Oldman – Darkest Hour

Best Actress
Sally Hawkins – The Shape Of Water

Best Supporting Actor
Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

Best Supporting Actress
Allison Janney – I, Tonya

Best Director
Guillermo del Toro – The Shape Of Water

Best Foreign Language Film
The Square

Best Documentary
City Of Ghosts

Best Animated Film
Coco

Best Screenplay
Greta Gerwig – Lady Bird

Best Cinematography
Dan Laustsen – The Shape Of Water

Best Musical Score
Alexandre Desplat – The Shape Of Water

The Russell Smith Award (Independent Film)
The Florida Project

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Here Are The SAG Nominations for 2017!


Mudbound

As far as Oscar precursors are concerned, all of the critic groups are fun to follow but the guilds are what you really need to pay attention to.  The reason is simple enough.  Critics may have influence but they’re not members of the Academy.

The Guilds, on the other hand, do include members who are voting members of the Academy.  And the biggest branch of the Academy is the Actors Branch.  That’s why the Screen Actors Guild nominations are traditionally viewed as being one of the most important of the precursors.

Of course, getting a SAG nomination does not always translate into an Oscar nomination.  It’s rare that the SAG noms and the Oscar noms line up 100%.  I can still remember, back in 2015, when we were all briefly excited when Beasts of No Nation and Straight Outta Compton picks up Best Ensemble nominations.  Of course, when the Oscar noms came out, Compton got one nomination and Beasts was totally shut out.

Another thing to keep in mind is that, according to Clayton Davis on Awards Circuit, the screeners for The Post and Phantom Thread weren’t sent out in time for either of those movies to be a factor in the voting.  Believe me, I was really excited when it seemed as if The Post had been totally snubbed.  The last thing I want to do next year is have to sit through another one of Meryl Streep’s speeches about how she’s just an average, middle class person from New Jersey who went to public school.  (Meryl always comes across like the type who would brag about being on a first name basis with her maid.)  But, it would appear that there is a perfectly understandable reason for The Post‘s lack of a nomination.

Anyway, here’s my main takeaways:

  1. Get Out‘s Daniel Kaluuya is emerging as a pretty strong contender for best actor.  I’d be surprised if he actually won over Timothee Chalamet and Gary Oldman but it does more and more likely that he will at least receive a nomination.
  2. Denzel Washington for Roman Israel, Esq?  Did anyone actually see that movie?  I didn’t so I don’t know if Denzel’s nomination was deserved or not.  Washington got a Golden Globe nomination as well.
  3. The biggest surprises in Best Supporting Actor?  Not only did Armie Hammer and Michael Stuhlbarg not get nominated but Steve Carell did.
  4. My favorite nomination is The Big Sick for Best Ensemble.
  5. Mudbound keeps its Oscar hopes alive, with its nomination here.
  6. I don’t have a sixth reason but I don’t do odd numbers.

Here are the film nominations:

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
THE BIG SICK
GET OUT
LADY BIRD
MUDBOUND
THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Timothée Chalamet, CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
James Franco, THE DISASTER ARTIST
Daniel Kaluuya, GET OUT
Gary Oldman, DARKEST HOUR
Denzel Washington, ROMAN J. ISRAEL, ESQ.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
Judi Dench, VICTORIA AND ABDUL
Sally Hawkins, THE SHAPE OF WATER
Frances McDormand, THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI
Margot Robbie, I, TONYA
Saoirse Ronan, LADY BIRD

Outstanding Performance by Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Steve Carell, BATTLE OF THE SEXES
Willem Dafoe, THE FLORIDA PROJECT
Woody Harrelson, THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI
Richard Jenkins, THE SHAPE OF WATER
Sam Rockwell, THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
Mary J. Blige, MUDBOUND
Hong Chau, DOWNSIZING
Holly Hunter, THE BIG SICK
Allison Janney, I, TONYA
Laurie Metcalf, LADY BIRD

Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture
BABY DRIVER
DUNKIRK
LOGAN
WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES
WONDER WOMAN

The Big Sick

A Movie A Day #338: Raid on Entebbe (1977, directed by Irvin Kershner)


On June 27th, 1976, four terrorists hijacked an Air France flight and diverted it to Entebbe Airport in Uganda.  With the blessing of dictator Idi Amin and with the help of a deployment of Ugandan soldiers, the terrorists held all of the Israeli passengers hostage while allowing the non-Jewish passengers to leave.  The terrorists issued the usual set of demands.  The Israelis responded with Operation Thunderbolt, a daring July 4th raid on the airport that led to death of all the terrorists and the rescue of the hostages.  Three hostages were killed in the firefight and a fourth — Dora Bloch — was subsequently murdered in a Ugandan hospital by Idi Amin’s secret police.  Only one commando — Yonatan Netanyahu — was lost during the raid.  His younger brother, Benjamin, would later become Prime Minister of Israel.

Raid on Entebbe, a docudrama about the operation, was originally produced for NBC though it subsequently received an overseas theatrical release as well.  It’s an exciting tribute to the bravery of both the hostages and the commandos who rescued them.  Director Irvin Kershner directs in a documentary fashion and gets good performances from a cast full of familiar faces.  Charles Bronson, James Woods, Peter Finch, Martin Balsam, Stephen Macht, Horst Buchholz, Sylvia Sidney, Allan Arbus, Jack Warden, John Saxon, and Robert Loggia show up as politicians, commandos, terrorists, and hostages and all of them bring a sense of reality and humanity to their roles.

The film’s best performance comes from Yaphet Kotto, who plays Idi Amin as a strutting buffoon, quick to smile but always watching out for himself.  In the film, Amin often pays unannounced visits to the airport, where he lies and tells the hostages that he is doing his best to broker an agreement between the terrorists and Israel.  The hostages are forced to applaud Amin’s empty promises and Amin soaks it all up with a huge grin on his face.  Forest Whitaker may have won the Oscar for Last King of Scotland but, for me, Yaphet Kotto will always be the definitive Idi Amin.

Confessions of a TV Addict #5: Aaron Ruben, Man Behind the Laughter


cracked rear viewer

So what could a Jewish kid from Chicago possibly know about life among rural Southerners or the black experience in Watts? Probably not a whole heck of a lot, but if that kid’s name is Aaron Ruben, there’s one thing he  does know – funny! For Aaron Ruben was the producer/writer behind such classic sitcoms as THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW and SANFORD AND SON, who used his comedic talents behind the scenes keep America laughing while glued to the boob tube for over forty years!

Milton Berle in his radio days

Ruben was born on Chicago’s West Side in 1914, and after service in WWII began his show biz career writing for comic Wally Brown on Dinah Shore’s radio show. He was soon hired by Burns & Allen for their program, and then wrote for Milton Berle alongside Nat Hiken, who would play an important role in Ruben’s later career…

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Here’s What Won In Chicago!


 

The Chicago Film Critics Association has spoken!  Check out their nominees here and the winners below!

THE 2017 CHICAGO FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION AWARDS

Best Picture- “Lady Bird”

Best Director- Christopher Nolan, “Dunkirk”

Best Actor- Timothée Chalamet, “Call Me By Your Name”

Best Actress- Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”

Best Supporting Actor- Willem Dafoe, “The Florida Project”

Best Supporting Actress- Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird”

Best Original Screenplay- Jordan Peele, “Get Out”

Best Adapted Screenplay- James Ivory, “Call Me By Your Name”

Best Foreign Language Film- “The Square”

Best Documentary- “Jane”

Best Animated Feature- “Coco”

Best Cinematography- Roger Deakins, “Blade Runner 2049

Best Editing- Jonathan Amos and Paul Machliss, “Baby Driver

Best Art Direction- “Blade Runner 2049

Best Original Score- Jonny Greenwood, “Phantom Thread”

Most Promising Performer- Timothee Chalamet, “Call Me By Your Name”

Most Promising Filmmaker- Greta Gerwig, “Lady Bird”

Music Video of the Day: Life on Mars? by David Bowie (1973, dir by Mick Rock)


This video was filmed backstage at Earl’s Court in London.  It was directed by Mick Rock, who is credited with directing four videos for David Bowie.

When asked, Bowie described this song as being “a sensitive young girl’s reaction to the media.  I think she finds herself disappointed with reality… that although she’s living in the doldrums of reality, she’s being told that there’s a far greater life somewhere, and she’s bitterly disappointed that she doesn’t have access to it.”  I imagine most people have felt that way at some point during their life.  Admittedly, I haven’t but then again, who knows what the future might hold?

Is there Life on Mars?  I think Santa would definitely say that there is.  Not to mention…

That said, it’s an interesting question.  On the one hand, I’m a natural-born skeptic when it comes to aliens and UFOs.  On the other hand, the universe is really, really big.  Is it possible that we’re all alone?  For the sake of ennui, I want to say yes.  But realistically, it seems like there has to be something out there.  I guess what disappoints me is that, whenever we do find signs of life in space, it’s always little pieces of fungus or a one-celled amoeba.  What’s the use of discovering extraterrestrial life if it’s just going to be the type of stuff that usually ends up on the bottom of someone’s shoe?

Then again, I guess that’s preferable to the alternative:

Enjoy!