Lisa Marie’s Oscar Predictions For September


Horrorthon, my favorite time of year, starts tomorrow!  However, before we get lost in the scary season, I want to take one last look at awards season!  It’s time for me to update my Oscar nominations.  Fortunately, thanks to all of the recent festival premieres, the Oscar picture is finally starting to look a little bit clearer.  There’s still a lot of question marks out there and, as always, anything can happen.  But, finally, I can say that there’s more to my predictions that just lucky guesses and wishful thinking.

Below, you’ll find my predictions for September!  In order to see how my thinking has evolved over the course of the year, be sure to check out my predictions for February, March, April, May, June, July, and August.

Best Picture

Babylon

The Banshees of Inisherin

Elvis

Everything Everywhere All At Once

The Fabelmans

The Menu

TAR

Till

Top Gun: Maverick

Women Talking

A few thoughts on the (potential) nominees:

Babylon, I will admit, I’m including because of the trailer and the fact that it’s a Damien Chazelle film about Hollywood.  The Academy likes films about itself and one can argue that after what happened when La La Land was nominated, Chazelle is owed at least a little bit of recognition.  Then again, that same argument could have been made for First Man and we know how that turned out.

As for The Menu, I’ve got that in my surprise nominee slot.  There’s almost always at least one potential nominee that’s considered to be a long shot until the nominations are announced.  Now that we have a set number of ten nominees, the chances that one nominee will be a surprise seems even more certain than before.

Top Gun: Maverick, Elvis, and Everything Everywhere All At Once all came out early in the year but they’ve all achieved the box office success necessary to be remembered.

Till seems like the type of film that the Academy will want to acknowledge, especially with the presidential election right around the corner.

The Banshees of Inisherin, The Fabelmans, TAR, and Women Talking were all acclaimed when they made their festival debuts.  Banshees, in particular, went from being a probable also-ran to a surefire contender based on the length of the standing ovation that it received.

Best Director

Chinonye Chukwu for Till

Todd Field for TAR

Martin McDonagh for The Banshees of Insherin

Sarah Polley for Women Talking

Steven Spielberg for The Fabelmans

Best Actor

Austin Butler in Elvis

Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick

Colin Farrell in The Banshees of Insherin

Ralph Fiennes in The Menu

Brendan Fraser in The Whale

Best Actress

Naomi Ackie in I Wanna Dance With Somebody

Cate Blanchett in TAR

Olivia Colman in Empire of Light

Danielle Deadwyler in Till

Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Best Supporting Actor

Brendan Gleeson in The Banshees of Insherin

Tom Hanks in Elvis

Woody Harrelson in Triangle of Sadness

Judd Hirsch in The Fabelmans

Ke Huy Quan in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Best Supporting Actress

Jessie Buckley in Women Talking

Jamie Lee Curtis in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Sally Field in Spoiler Alert

Frances McDormand in Women Talking

Janelle Monae in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Lisa Marie’s Early Oscar Predictions For August


It’s that time of the month again!

Here are my Oscar predictions for August.  By the end of September, the picture should be a bit clearer.  Until then, most of the predictions listed below continue to be guesses.

Be sure to check out my predictions for February, March, April, May, June, and July!

Best Picture

Babylon

Elvis

Empire of Light

Everything Everywhere All At Once

The Fabelmans

The Inspection

The Son

TAR

Till

Top Gun: Maverick

Best Director

The Daniels for Everything Everywhere All At Once

Todd Field for TAR

Baz Luhrmann for Elvis

Steven Speilberg for The Fabelmans

Florian Zeller for The Son

Best Actor

Austin Butler in Elvis

Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick

Brendan Fraser in The Whale

Hugh Jackman in The Son

Harry Styles in My Policeman

Best Actress

Cate Blanchett in TAR

Olivia Colman in Empire of Light

Viola Davis in The Woman King

Danielle Deadwyler in Till

Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Best Supporting Actor

Tom Hanks in Elvis

Anthony Hopkins in The Son

David Lynch in The Fabelmans

Tobey Maguire in Babylon

Ke Huy Quan in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Best Supporting Actress

Jamie Lee Curtis in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Laura Dern in The Son

Sally Field in Spoiler Alert

Stephanie Hsu in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Michelle Williams in The Fabelmans

Lisa Marie’s Early Oscar Predictions For July


Little by little, the Oscar race is starting to become just a little bit clearer.  It’s still early, of course.  Really, it’s way too early to say anything for sure.  But it’s also hard to deny that certain films are now much more in the conversation than others.

The biggest development this month was the announcement that Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon will not be released until 2023.  That takes it out of Oscar contention …. for now.  (For those who may have forgotten, it was originally announced, halfway through 2013, that The Wolf of Wall Street would not be ready until sometimes in 2014.  Everyone dutifully updated their Oscar predictions, striking The Wolf of Wall Street from their lists of likely best picture nominees.  Then, at the last minute, Scorsese announced that the film actually would be ready for 2013.  If something similar happens this year, Killers of the Flower Moon will go right back to being a huge contender because it’s Scorsese and he’s one of the best, regardless of what certain Marvel fans would have you believe.)  With Scorsese apparently out, it would now appear that Steven Spielberg is going to be the only member of the old guard with a film in the Oscar race.  Considering that many people believe that Spielberg’s West Side Story was snubbed last year when it only took home one Oscar (out of a total of sever nominations), The Fabelmans seems like it will be a major contender.  Admittedly, my hope that David Lynch will earn an acting nomination for playing John Ford in The Fabelmans may be a longshot but it can not be denied that it would be a cool development.

As for the other contenders, Top Gun: Maverick, Elvis, and Everything Everywhere All At Once all seem poised to ride a combination of critical acclaim and box office success into the Oscar race.  Todd Field has finally returned with TarThe Whale has the potential to be a comeback vehicle for the always likable Brendan Fraser.  She Said, Till, and Women Talking all stand to take advantage of the current political climate.  And Babylon will presumably give Hollywood a chance to celebrate itself.

The Oscar picture is still a bit cloudy but, with so many major festival on the horizon, those clouds should be parting soon.

Be sure to check out my predictions for February, March, April, May, and June!

Best Picture

Babylon

Elvis

Everything Everywhere All At Once

The Fabelmans

She Said

Tar

Till

Top Gun: Maverick

The Whale

Women Talking

Best Director

Damien Chazelle for Babylon

Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (The Daniels) for Everything Everywhere All At Once

Todd Field for Tar

Sarah Polley for Women Talking

Steven Spielberg for The Fabelmans

Best Actor

Austin Butler in Elvis

Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick

Adam Driver in White Noise

Brendan Fraser in The Whale

Harry Styles in My Policeman

Best Actress

Cate Blanchett in Tar

Viola Davis in The Woman King

Ana de Arms in Blonde

Danielle Deadwyler in Till

Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Best Supporting Actor

Tom Hanks in Elvis

Woody Harrelson in Triangle of Sadness

David Lynch in The Fabelmans

Tobey Maguire in Babylon

Ke Huy Quan in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Best Supporting Actress

Jessie Buckley in Women Talking

Patricia Clarkson in She Said

Jamie Lee Curtis in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Sally Field in Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies

Michelle Williams in The Fabelmans

Lisa Marie’s Way Too Early Oscar Predictions For March


Now that the awards for last year’s films have been given out and everyone has already started to forget who won, we can start to concentrate on the next batch of Oscar contenders….

Oh, stop yelling.  It’s not that early!

Well, actually, it is way too early.  I mean, we’re still not really sure what is even going to be released this year.  Due to all the COVID delays, we went into 2021 knowing which films we could look forward to, mostly because all of those films were originally supposed to be released in 2020.  Compared to 2021, we’re going into 2022 blind.  The majority of the films that we do know about don’t really sound like Oscar contenders, either.

So, really, the only solution to how to predict the Oscar nominees when you know nothing is to guess.  The films and actors listed below are not there because I have any inside information.  Instead, they are there as a result of some wishful thinking and some educated guesses.  Killers of the Flower Moon was directed by Martin Scorsese, so of course it’s there.  The Fabelmans is there because a lot of people feel that the Academy didn’t show Spielberg and West Side Story enough love this year and I think the fact that the film is autobiographical will make it irresistible to same voters who nominated BelfastNapoleon is there because there might be some lingering guilt over how both Ridley Scott and The Last Duel were utterly ignored this year.  Rustin is there because it’s an Obama production and Hollywood loves the Obamas.  Chris Rock is listed as a supporting actor nominee because it would be the perfect conclusion to the saga of the Oscar Slap.  David Lynch is listed because …. well, I like David Lynch.  Personally, it’s doubtful that Tom Hanks will be able to pull off two nominations in one year but if anyone could do it, it’s Tom!

In other words, don’t take any of these predictions too seriously.  As of now, there are no definite contenders.  These are just some guesses.

Be sure to check out my even more random predictions for February as well!

Best Picture

Babylon

The Fabelmans

Killers of the Flower Moon

Napoleon

Rustin

She Said

TAR

Thirteen Lives

Till

The Woman King

Best Director

Damien Chazelle for Babylon

Chinonye Chukwu for Till

Martin Scorsese for Killers of the Flower Moon

Ridley Scott for Napoleon

Steven Spielberg for The Fabelmans

Best Actor

Colman Domingo in Rustin

Brendan Fraser in The Whale

Tom Hanks in A Man Called Otto

Joaquin Phoenix in The Whale

Brad Pitt in Babylon

Best Actress

Naomi Ackie for I Wanna Dance With Somebody

Cate Blanchett in TAR

Viola Davis in The Woman King

Danielle Deadwyler in Till

Michelle Williams in The Fabelmans

Best Supporting Actor

John Boyega in The Woman King

Leonardo DiCaprio in Killers of the Flower Moon

Tom Hanks in Elvis

David Lynch in The Fabelmans

Chris Rock in Rustin

Best Supporting Actress

Laura Dern in The Son

Sally Field in Spoiler Alert

Greta Gerwig in White Noise

Lily Gladstone in Killers of the Flower Moon

Li Jun Li in Babylon

Film Review: The End (1978, directed by Burt Reynolds)


What if you were dying and no one cared?

That is the theme of The End, which is probably the darkest film that Burt Reynolds ever starred in, let alone directed. Burt plays Sonny Lawson, a shallow real estate developer who is told that he has a fatal blood disease and that, over the next six months, he is going to die a slow and painful death. After seeking and failing to find comfort with both religion and sex, Sonny decides to kill himself. The only problem is that every time he tries, he fails. He can’t even successfully end things. When he meets an mental patient named Marlon Borunki (Dom DeLuise), he hires the man to murder him. Marlon is determined to get the job done, even if Sonny himself later changes his mind.

Yes, it’s a comedy.

The script for The End was written by Jerry Belson in 1971. Though Belson also worked on the scripts for Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Always, he was best-known for his work on sitcoms. (Belson was an early collaborator of Garry Marshall’s.) The End was originally written with Woody Allen in mind but when Allen passed on it to concentrate on directing his own movies about death, the script spent five years in limbo. Reynolds later said that, when he eventually came across The End, he knew he had to do it because it was the only script that reflected “my strange sense of comedy.” United Artists was uncertain whether there was much box office potential in a film about a self-centered man dying and they required Reynolds to first make the commercially successful Hooper before they would produce The End.

The End was made for 3 million dollars and it went on to gross 40 million. That the film was a box office success is a testament to the late 70s starpower of Burt Reynolds because it’s hard to think of any other mainstream comedy that goes as much out of its way to alienate the audience as The End does. While watching The End for the first time, most viewers will probably expect two things to happen. First off, Sonny will learn to appreciate life and be a better person. Secondly, it will turn out that his fatal diagnosis was incorrect. Instead, neither of those happen. Sonny is going to die no matter what and he never becomes a better person. What’s more is that he never even shows any real interest in becoming a better person. The film’s signature scene comes when Sonny prays to God and offers to give up all of his money if he survives, just to immediately start backtracking on the amount. It’s funny but it’s also a sign that if you’re looking for traditional Hollywood sentiment, you’re not going to find it here.

Burt not only stared in The End but he also directed it and, as was usually the case whenever he directed a film, the cast is a mix of friends and Hollywood veterans. Sally Field plays Sonny’s flakey, hippie girlfriend while Robby Benson is cast as a young priest who fails to provide Sonny with any spiritual comfort. Joanne Woodward plays his estranged wife and Kristy McNichol plays his daughter. Myrna Loy and Pat O’Brien play his parents. Norman Fell, Carl Reiner, and Strother Martin play various doctors. The movie is stolen by Dom DeLuise, playing the only person who seems to care that Sonny’s dying, if just because it offers him an excuse to kill Sonny before the disease does. DeLuise was a brilliant comedic actor whose talents were often underused in films. The End sets DeLuise free and he gives a totally uninhibited performance.

Despite DeLuise’s performance, The End doesn’t always work as well as it seems like it should. Though Reynolds always said that this film perfectly captured his sense of humor, his direction often seems to be struggling to strike the right balance between comedy and tragedy and, until DeLuise shows up, the movie frequently drags. As a character, the only interesting thing about Sonny is that he’s being played by Burt Reynolds. That is both the film’s main flaw and the film’s biggest strength. Sonny may not be interesting but, because we’re not used to seeing Burt cast as such a self-loathing, self-pitying character, it is interesting to watch a major star so thoroughly reveal all of his fears and insecurities.

If you’re a Burt Reynolds fan, The End is an interesting film, despite all of its flaws. Burt often described this as being one of his favorite and most personal films. It’s a side of Burt Reynolds that few of his other films had the courage to show.

The Further Adventures of Smokey and the Bandit


The first Smokey and the Bandit is a classic.  What about the sequels?

Smokey and the Bandit II (1980, directed by Hal Needham)

The gang’s all back in this sequel to Smokey and the Bandit!  Burt Reynolds is the Bandit!  Jackie Gleason is Sheriff Buford T. Justice and his two brothers, Reginald and Gaylord!  Jerry Reed is Snowman!  Sally Field is Carrie!  Pat McCormick and Paul Williams are Big and Little Enos!  Mike Henry is Junior!  Dom DeLuise is an Italian doctor!  Terry Bradshaw and Mean Joe Greene play themselves!  There’s an elephant!

You get the idea.  Smokey and the Bandit II promises more of the same.  In some ways, it delivers.  There are some entertaining stunts.  The finale features what was, at the time, the biggest car chase ever filmed.  But Smokey and the Bandit II fails at the most important part.  It fails to recreate the fun of the first film.  Everyone is just going through the motions.  Burt Reynolds later said that he only made the film as a favor to Hal Needham while Sally Field said that she agreed to appear in the film as a favor to Burt Reynolds.  Jackie Gleason did the movie because he needed the money but, because he was also in poor health, he requested that his scenes be filmed first and that they be filmed quickly.  That the three stars didn’t have much enthusiasm for the project is obvious while watching the movie.

This time, Big Enos wants the Bandit to transport an elephant to the Republican National Convention in Dallas.  The Bandit, however, has been an alcoholic wreck ever since Carrie left him to, for some reason, get back with Junior.  Snowman manages to sober up the Bandit and, after they help Carrie run out on her wedding for a second time, it’s time to transport an elephant.

In hot pursuit, Sheriff Justice gets help from his brothers, all of whom are also played by Gleason.  Reginald Justice is a Canadian Mountie who speaks with a posh accent that is in no way Canadian.  Gaylord Justice is a flamboyant state patrolman.  Whenever the brothers talk to each other, doubles are used.  There are a few split screen shots that are so ineptly handled that it ends up looking like a page from a comic book with each Gleason standing in a separate panel.  The end credits list Gaylord as having been played by “Ms. Jackie Gleason,” just in case you’re wondering the level of this film’s humor.

Dom DeLuise gets some laughs as an Italian doctor who is recruited to take care of the elephant but otherwise, this is a depressing movie.  Burt Reynolds and Sally Field were on the verge of breaking up when this film was made and neither one of them acts their scenes with much enthusiasm.  Watching the movie, it’s impossible not to compare their strong chemistry in the first movie to their total lack of it in the second movie.  There’s a subplot about the Bandit trying to prove that, even though he’s getting older, he’s still a legend and, for those who know anything about Burt Reynolds’s career, it hits too close to home.  Combining that with the sight of an obviously unwell Jackie Gleason and you’ve got a surprisingly depressing comedy.

There is one cool thing about Smokey and the Bandit II.  After the critics thoroughly roasted the film, Hal Needham took out a one-page ad in Variety.  The ad was a picture of Needham sitting in a wheel barrow full of money.  That’s one way to answer your critics!

Smokey and the Bandit 3 (1983, directed by Dick Lowry)

Smokey and the Bandit 3 is even more depressing than the second film.  Not surprisingly, Sally Field is nowhere to be found.  She had broken up with Burt after the second film and was busy pursuing a career as the type of actress who didn’t appear in car chase films.  Burt does appear in the film but he only makes a cameo appearance, showing up for a few minutes at the end with a resigned look on his face as if he realized that he was never going to escape being typecast as an aging good ol’ boy.  Also not returning was Hal Needham.  Needham was busy directing Stroker Ace so he was replaced by Dick Lowry.  What type of director was Dick Lowry?  Other than Smokey and the Bandit 3, Lowry’s best known credit is for Project Alf.

Jackie Gleason, Jerry Reed, Pat McCormick, Mike Henry, and Paul Williams all return but none of them look happy to be there.  The plot is that Sheriff Buford T. Justice has retired to Florida but he just can’t turn down a challenge from Big Enos and Little Enos to drive a stuffed shark from Miami to Dallas.  Smokey is the Bandit!  (That was originally the title of this film.)  When it looks like Buford is doing too good of a job of transporting the shark, the Enoses hire Snowman to chase Buford and slow him down.  It doesn’t make any sense and Jerry Reed and Jackie Gleason don’t share any scenes together despite co-starring in the film.  Supposedly, Gleason was originally cast as two characters — Buford and the man hired to slow Buford down — but when preview audiences were confused by the film, the studio demanded reshoots.  Jerry Reed was brought back and all of the scenes featuring Gleason as the new Bandit were reshot with Reed.  Reed even grew a mustache, wore a red shirt, and broke the fourth wall just like Burt did in the first film.

Not surprisingly, Smokey and the Bandit 3 is a disjointed mess that doesn’t even have any spectacular car crashes to justify its existence.  Jerry Reed is as amiable as he was in the first two films but Jackie Gleason’s Buford Justice was never meant to be a lead character.  In small doses, he was funny but Buford was too one-dimensional of a character to build an entire film around.

Smokey and the Bandit 3 was a failure with critics and at the box office so the Bandit’s adventures came to a temporary end.  Years later, Hal Needham produced four made-for-TV prequels the starred Brian Bloom as a young Bandit.  I haven’t seen them.  If I ever do, I’ll review them.

Hooper (1978, directed by Hal Needham)


Reuniting the Smokey and the Bandit team of director Hal Needham and stars Burt Reynolds and Sally Field, Hooper is a film that pays tribute to stuntmen.

Hooper (Burt Reynolds) is a respected but aging stunt coordinator who is currently working on an overblown action film called The Spy Who Laughed At Danger.  (The spy is played by Adam West, who appears as himself.)  Hooper knows that he’s getting too old to keep putting his life at risk but he’s addicted to thrill of doing what he calls “gags.”  Every morning, Hooper wakes up, pops pills, has a beer, and then falls off a building or crashes a car.  When he’s not doing movies, he’s getting into bar brawls.  As demonstrated during a visit to Dodge City, Hooper and his friends are modern day cowboys  but time is catching up to them.  Hooper’s girlfriend, Gwen (Sally Field), wants Hooper to settle down and retire from the business before he ends up a physical wreck like her father (Brian Keith).  Hooper feels that he has to do one last, record-setting stunt before he passes the torch over to younger stuntmen like Ski Shidski (Jan-Michael Vincent).

Hooper is a classic Burt Reynolds film, with everything that you expect from late 70s Burt.  As always, Burt is deceptively laid back.  Sally Field is cute as a button.  Old hands like Brian Keith and James Best provide strong support while Robert Klein plays the type of pompous Hollywood director who is just begging to get slugged at the end of the movie.  (He does.)  The plot of Hooper is even simpler than the plot of Smokey and the Bandit but Hooper is a more heartfelt film.  Hal Needham was a stuntman before he became a director and this film was his tribute to the underappreciated people who risked their physical well-being to make movie magic.  Needham knew men like Hooper and his friends.  They were his people.  Needham’s love for the stunt players comes through in every scene.

As for the stunts, they’re real and they’re spectacular.

 

Hal Needham, of course, will always be associated with Burt Reynolds.  Before moving into directing, Needham frequently served as Reynolds’s stunt double and the two were such close friends that Needham spent 12 years living in Reynolds’s guest house.  Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood was partially inspired by the friendship of Burt Reynolds and Hal Needham, with Leonardo Di Caprio and Brad Pitt playing characters who were based on the two men.  (Reynolds was even originally cast in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood as George Spahn but he died before he could shoot his scenes. The role was taken over by Bruce Dern.)  Needham was responsible for directing some of Burt’s best films (Cannonball Run, Smokey and the Bandit and this one) and some of his worst (Stroker Ace and Cannonball Run II).  Needham also directed Megaforce, which didn’t feature Burt but which is still, in its own way, unforgettable.

Hal Needham (1931 — 2013)

The critics may not have loved the movies that Hal and Burt made together but audiences did.  Needham’s best films are just as entertaining today as they were when they were originally released.  They don’t demand much but they deliver everything you could possibly want.  Whenever the real world is getting to be overwhelming, I’m thankful that I can turn on a Hal Needham film and return to a world where the only thing that matters is driving fast, loving hard, and having a good laugh while you’re doing it.  Today, more than ever, the legacy of Hal Needham is just what we need.

Smokey and the Bandit (1977, directed by Hal Needham)


 

Smokey and the Bandit is a simple film. Burt Reynolds is the Bandit. He’s hired by two bored brothers to smuggle beer from Texas to Georgia. Working with the Snowman (Jerry Reed), Bandit is easily able to pick up the beer but it’s while driving back that the two of them run afoul Smokey, a.k.a. Sheriff Buford T. Justice (Jackie Gleason, who reportedly improvised most of his profane lines). Bandit also picks up a hitchhiker and runaway bride (Sally Field) who he calls Frog.

There’s not much to Smokey and the Bandit. The Bandit has an incredibly cool car and he drives really fast. Snowman is funny and has a dog. Smokey has a dumb son and is constantly threatening to hit people.   It’s a dumb movie but it works.   The cars are fast, the crashes are spectacular, and the entire film is the perfect daydream for when you’re sitting in your office at work and wondering whether there’s something more rewarding you could be doing with your life.

Who hasn’t wanted to the Bandit at some point in their life?

Who hasn’t wanted to get behind the wheel of black trans am and just take off, driving down country roads while giving the slip to old Smoky and joking with Snowman on your CB radio and maybe picking up a young Sally Field while smuggling beer and winning a bet?

(There’s been a lot of terrible moments on The Family Guy but, for me, one of the absolute worst was when Brian Griffin went into the past and asked 70s Burt Reynolds, “So, you’re going to go get some of that hot Sally Field action, huh?” Anyone who has seen Smokey and the Bandit knows that Sally Field was smoking hot back in 1977!)

Smokey and the Bandit comes to us from a different time. No one worries about what speeding halfway across the country in a little over 24 hours is doing to the environment. No one apologizes for who they are or where they’re from. The Bandit lives by a simple rule: Treat him with respect and he’ll treat you with respect. Talk down to him or try to tell him what to do and the Bandit’s just going to jump in his car and leave you standing in a cloud of dust.

During the latter part of his career, Burt Reynolds would often lament that appearing in financially successful but critically lambasted films like Smokey and the Bandit made him a huge star but also kept him from getting the type of roles that he felt he deserved. Reynolds was right but there are worse things than being known as The Bandit.   For many, Burt Reynolds will always be the Bandit because he was so perfectly cast for the role. Not many actors could pull off the scene where, after fooling a cop, the Bandit looks straight at the camera and grins. Burt Reynolds could. Playing the Bandit may have never won Burt Reynolds an Academy Award but it did make him an American icon.

If you’re feeling down, watch Smokey and the Bandit. If you need an escape, watch Smokey and the Bandit. It demands so little and gives so much.

Mongo’s Back In Town (1971, directed by Marvin J. Chomsky)


During the Christmas season, Mongo (Joe Don Baker) returns home.  However, Mongo hasn’t just come back for the holidays.  Mongo is professional killer, one of the best in the business.  His older brother, mob boss Mike Nash (Charles Cioffi), has a job for him.  He wants Mongo to wipe out a rival gangster.  Mongo’s willing to do it but he expects to be properly compensated for his trouble.  Family is family but Mongo’s a professional and a professional has to get paid.  Lt. Pete Tolsted (Telly Savalas) and his partner, Gordon (Martin Sheen), are the two cops who know that Mongo is bad news and who are determined to discover why Mongo is back in town.  Meanwhile, Mongo is falling in love with the naive Vicki (a very young Sally Field), a young woman who has fled West Virginia and is looking to restart her life in the big city.

This made-for-TV movie may not contain any huge surprises but it’s worth tracking down just for the cast.  Joe Don Baker, Telly Savalas, Martin Sheen, and Sally Field, all in the same movie and all at the top of their considerable game?  That’s more than worth the effort.  Joe Don Baker, in particular, is good.  Unfortunately, Baker doesn’t always get the respect that he deserves an actor.  It’s true that he’s appeared in his share of bad films and his range is limited.  But whenever he was cast in the right role — like in this movie or the first Walking Tall — he was a force of nature.  What’s most interesting about Mongo is that he doesn’t really like his work and he resents that it’s something that he’s been trapped into doing but, at the same time, he’s so good at it that it’s hard not to wonder what other career he could have possibly found as much success in.

Mongo’s Back In Town was released theatrically overseas under the title Steel Wreath.  (Maybe someone realized that Mongo’s Back In Town makes the movie sound like a screwball comedy.)  It can be viewed, under its original title, on YouTube.

 

What If Lisa Had All The Power: 2019 Emmy Nominations Edition


In a few hours, the 2019 Emmy nominations will be announced!

Since I love awards and I love making lists, it’s an annual tradition that I list who and what would be nominated if I had all the power.  Keep in mind that what you’re seeing below are not necessarily my predictions of what or who will actually be nominated.  Many of the shows listed below will probably be ignored tomorrow morning.  Instead, this is a list of the nominees and winners if I was the one who was solely responsible for picking them.

Because I got off to a late start this year, I’m only listing the major categories below.  I may go back and do a full, 100-category list sometime tomorrow.  Who knows?  I do love making lists.

Anyway, here’s what would be nominated and what would win if I had all the power!  (Winners are listed in bold.)

(Want to see who and what was nominated for Emmy consideration this year?  Click here!)

(Want to see my picks for last year?  Click here!)

(Want to see my picks for 2012?  I know, that’s kinda random.  Anyway, click here!)

Programming

Outstanding Comedy Series

Barry

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

GLOW

It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

One Day At A Time

Veep

Vida

Outstanding Drama Series

Better Call Saul

Dynasty

Flack

Game of Thrones

The Magicians

My Brilliant Friend

Ozark

You

Outstanding Limited Series

Chernobyl

Fosse/Verdon

The Haunting of Hill House

I Am The Night

Maniac

Sharp Objects

True Detective

A Very English Scandal

Outstanding Television Movie

The Bad Seed

Bandersnatch (Black Mirror)

Brexit

Deadwood

King Lear

Native Son

No One Would Tell

O.G.

Performer

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Iain Armitage in Young Sheldon

Ted Danson in The Good Place

Bill Hader in Barry

Pete Holmes in Crashing

Glenn Howerton in A.P. Bio

Andy Samberg in Brooklyn Nine Nine

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Penn Badgley in You

Jason Bateman in Ozark

James Franco in The Deuce

John Krasinski in Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan

Bob Odenkirk in Better Call Saul

Dominic West in The Affair

Outstanding Lead Actor In a Limited Series

Hugh Grant in A Very English Scandal

Jared Harris in Chernobyl

Jonah Hill in Maniac

Chris Pine in I Am The Night

Sam Rockwell in Fosse/Verdon

Henry Thomas in The Haunting of Hill House

Outstanding Lead Actor In An Original Movie

Benedict Cumberbatch in Brexit

Anthony Hopkins in King Lear

Rob Lowe in The Bad Seed

Ian McShane in Deadwood

Timothy Olyphant in Deadwood

Jeffrey Wright in O.G.

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy Series

Melissa Barrera in Vida

Kristen Bell in The Good Place

Alison Brie in GLOW

Rachel Brosnahan in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Julia Louis-Dreyfus in Veep

Zoe Perry in Young Sheldon

Outstanding Lead Actress in A Drama Series

Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones

Gaia Girace in My Brilliant Friend

Maggie Gyllenhaal in The Deuce

Laura Linney in Ozark

Margherita Mazzucco in My Brilliant Friend

Anna Paquin in Flack

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series

Amy Adams in Sharp Objects

India Eisley in I Am The Night

Carla Gugino in The Haunting of Hill House

Charlotte Hope in The Spanish Princess

Emma Stone in Maniac

Michelle Williams in Fosse/Verdon

Outstanding Lead Actress in an Original Movie

Shannen Doherty in No One Would Tell

Chelsea Frei in Victoria Gotti: My Father’s Daughter

McKenna Grace in The Bad Seed

Paula Malcolmson in Deadwood

Molly Parker in Deadwood

Christina Ricci in Escaping The Madhouse: The Nellie Bly Story

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series

Fred Armisen in Documentary Now!

Andre Braugher in Brooklyn Nine Nine

Anthony Carrigan in Barry

Tony Hale in Veep

Sam Richardson in Veep

Stephen Root in Barry

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series

Jonathan Banks in Better Call Saul

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in Game of Thrones

Peter Dinklage in Game of Thrones

Giancarlo Esposito in Better Call Saul

Peter Mullan in Ozark

Luca Padovan in You

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Limited Series

Stephen Dorff in True Detective

Timothy Hutton in The Haunting of Hill House

Chris Messina in Sharp Objects

Stellan Skarsgard in Chernobyl

Justin Thereoux in Maniac

Ben Whishaw in A Very English Scandal

Outstanding Supporting Actor In An Original Movie

Jim Broadbent in King Lear

Bill Camp in Native Son

Theothus Carter in O.G.

Rory Kinnear in Brexit

Gerald McRaney in Deadwood

Will Poulter in Bandersnatch (Black Mirror)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in A Comedy Series

Caroline Aaron in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Alex Borstein in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Anna Chlumsky in Veep

Sarah Goldberg in Barry

Rita Moreno in One Day At A Time

Sarah Sutherland in Veep

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Drama Series

Summer Bishil in The Magicians

Elisa Del Genio in My Brilliant Friend

Julia Garner in Ozark

Lena Headey in Game of Thrones

Elizabeth Lail in You

Shay Mitchell in You

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Limited Series

Jessie Buckley in Chernobyl

Patricia Clarkson in Sharp Objects

Sally Field in Maniac

Patricia Hodge in A Very English Scandal

Connie Nielsen in I Am The Night

Emily Watson in Chernobyl

Outstanding Supporting Actress In An Original Movie

Kim Dickens in Deadwood

Florence Pugh in King Lear

Margaret Qualley in Favorite Son

Emma Thompson in King Lear

Emily Watson in King Lear

Robin Weigert in Deadwood