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"The Shape of Water"
Just as the Waterford ball drops, so does the anticipation for the 75th annual Golden Globes — the first major awards show of 2018. Being broadcast live, the show can be seen on NBC, Sunday, January 7th, starting at 8pm EST.
And since the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s 90 or so critics divide their cinematic choices into two oddly skewed categories — “Best Motion Picture - Drama” and “Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy” — there’s 10 films to consider as the possiblebestsof the year.
Which of course begs the question of how to assess these choices they’ve made into nominees. Can one at least take advantage of their odd splitting of categories which allows for more nominees to be assessed and under slightly different terms?
First, here’s the films in the running for the Globes Best Of Movies categories. Up for the “Best Motion Picture - Drama” is “Call Me by Your Name,” ”Dunkirk,” "The Post,” “The Shape of Water" and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”
As for the HFPA’s choices of “Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy,” there’s these films: “The Disaster Artist,” "Get Out,” “I, Tonya" “Lady Bird” and "The Greatest Showman.” None of these films are out-and-out comedies but at least “Showman” is a genuine song-and-dance original musical. I’ll bypass commenting on it since I haven’t yet seen it.
With the other pictures, they could easily land on any indie “best of” list. They’re all essentially small productions with either breakout talent or leads who have performed well before but provide nearly tour de force performances in these films. In both “I, Tonya" and “Lady Bird” their respective female leads manage career-defining performances. "Get Out” seems like a horror film but is really a well-crafted genre bender. And James Franco really imbues “The Disaster Artist” with the idiosyncrasy it merits.
But the Best Director category really reflects how different these choices for this year’s nominees are. Guillermo del Toro (“The Shape of Water”) and Martin McDonagh (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”) represent films where the creators push the envelope. The former is a love fable built on the platform of a horror film and the latter is a darkly comic thriller cum protest film.
Ridley Scott (“All The Money in the World”) and Steven Spielberg (“The Post”) reflect those who use a mainstream, tried-and-true approach to polished directing. And both of their films have a sense of importance and offer relevant social criticism. The first tackles the role that traditional media has in illuminating the wrongs committed by government; the second addresses the wrongs a man can commit when he has too much money and power — in this case those wronged are his own family.
Christopher Nolan (“Dunkirk”) really causes us to re-evaluate the traditional war drama by focusing on a moment of history — when 300,000 British troops were trapped by Nazi invaders on Dunkirk’s beach in 1940 — to throw audiences into the experience of being there.
None of the choices for “Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama” can be faulted, yet this set offers few surprises. In picking tried-and-true veterans Jessica Chastain (“Molly's Game”) Frances McDormand (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”) and Michelle Williams (“All the Money in the World”) the HFPA relies on actors who offer consistent quality performances but not necessarily ones that are career-defining. And Meryl Streep (“The Post”) so often lands on the list, its almosttooexpected that this choice for nominee is not to be trusted to be the best since she lands on the list every time. She does a fine job in this film but her effort is that of a craft person and is not her best work.
Only with Sally Hawkins (“The Shape of Water”) did these arbiters anoint a performer with a nomination which is so deserved because the actress did something pretty off-base in playing a character who never speaks and who falls in love with an aquatic creature.
With the “Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama” category, there’s at least two candidates — Daniel Day-Lewis (“Phantom Thread”) and Gary Oldman (“Darkest Hour”) — who provide some surprises. Of the two, Oldman is my choice for the award. The performances of Tom Hanks (“The Post”) and Denzel Washington (“Roman J. Israel, Esq.”) are top flight but that’s expected with these consummate professionals. But it’s in Timothée Chalamet (“Call Me by Your Name”) that a new talent gets the exposure he deserves for his performance as a confused teenager who engages in a life-defining affair with an older man.
In the “Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy,” several films deserving attention got highlighted thanks to the skillfully drawn characterizations of historical figures by Judi Dench (“Victoria & Abdul”), Margot Robbie ("I, Tonya”), and Emma Stone (“Battle of the Sexes”). Saoirse Ronan (“Lady Bird”) deftly played an idiosyncratic young woman who is coming of age. But as to Helen Mirren’s work in "The Leisure Seeker," I know little since I haven’t seen the film.
As for Best Performance by an “Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy,” Steve Carell (“Battle of the Sexes”) and Daniel Kaluuya (“Get Out”) certainly define the pictures they are in. I am less sure of the work by Ansel Elgort (“Baby Driver") James Franco (“The Disaster Artist”) and Hugh Jackman (“The Greatest Showman”). I haven’t seen these films, but these actors have been awarded enough accolades by cinematic cognoscenti that I trust they are worthy of the nomination.
In the “Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture” category, the nominated actors veer outside the expected. Octavia Spencer (“The Shape of Water”) has been a film award nominee previously; everyone else here in this category do their films proud enough to equally qualify for the award. I couldn’t say whether Mary J. Blige (“Mudbound”), Hong Chau (”Downsizing”), Allison Janney (“I, Tonya”), Laurie Metcalf (“Lady Bird”) deserve the award because all of these performances were excellent. But I admit to favoring Hong Chau since the film and her performance is so quirky. As for “Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture,” candidates Willem Dafoe (”The Florida Project”), Armie Hammer (“Call Me by Your Name”), Richard Jenkins (“The Shape of Water”), Christopher Plummer (“All the Money in the World”) and Sam Rockwell (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”) are all meritorious choices. But the one that was unexpected or least less predictable has to be Willem Dafoe’s in a uniquely unvarnished film. The one actor not on the list who is really deserving a nomination is Doug Jones as the creature in “The Shape of Water” — he gave it an emotionally rich life even though hidden by costuming.
For the sake of brevity and focus, I will bypass commenting on the other categories of “Best Screenplay in a Motion Picture” and “Best Original Score in a Motion Picture.” I will add though, if for nothing else, I want "Loving Vincent" to win in the “Best Animated Film” category because of its amazing originality -- it's the first animated film to be made entirely of images based on Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings and style. As for “Best Motion Picture - Foreign Language,” everyone one of the nominees — "A Fantastic Woman.” “First They Killed My Father,” “In the Fade,” "Loveless" and "The Square" — are powerful examples of cinematic story-telling. Nonetheless, I admire Angelina Jolie for making “First They Killed My Father,” a painful narrative about the atrocities committed by Cambodia’s genocidal Khymer Rouge. And check out “The Square” which is a searing critique of the art world.
With betting odds too close to call in the Picture and Acting categories, Sunday’s 2018/75th Anniversary Golden Globes, presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and telecast live on NBC at 8 Eastern from the Beverly Hilton International Ballroom, should be one of the most exciting in years.
The party atmosphere – with free-flowing bottles of wine and cocktails, will be enhanced by the Twin Peaks style of SNL alum Seth Myers, in his first hosting gig since the 2014 Emmys. He says: “Hollywood, we have a lot to talk about!” and it’s not all good.
Myers follows in the recent footsteps of SNL alum Amy Poehler and Tina Faye. Myers is quite adept working an audience. It will either be a walk-on-egg-shells evening with the sexual harassment issues of the last few months – or a no-holds-barred fest of witty repartee.
The GGs will air in more than 210 countries and is one of the few award ceremonies to include movies and TV achievement.
With too-close-to-call [the closest in years] nominees in several categories and the Oscars almost two months away (March 4), hardly anything is a done deal in the wild ride to victory. That bodes well for suspense and surprise at the first-out-the-gate GGs.
Drama frontrunners are Guillermo del Toro's fantasy romance The Shape of Water, which racked up seven nods including Best and Supporting Actress honors for Sally Hawkins and Oscar-winner Olivia Spencer’s performances; romantic sexual-coming-of-age drama Call Me By Your Name; and vengeful black comedy Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Then, there's Steven Spielberg’s All the President’s Men-type expose drama of the publication of the Pentagon Papers, The Post; and Christopher Nolan’s WWII “can we get our boys home alive” drama Dunkirk, which shows all too-vividly the horror of war [but with too much CGI].
The Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical field, which this year has little of both, seems to be in the service of improving wins or giving exposure to deserving films, Greta Gerwig's directorial debut Lady Bird leads the pack with four nominations including a Best Actress nod for Saoirse Ronan. I, Tonya follows with three.
Oprah Winfrey will receive the prestigious Cecil B. DeMille Award, which Golden Globes’ board of directors bestows “on a person who has made an incredible impact on the world of entertainment.” It seems years too late, but certainly couldn’t be more well-deserved for the impact Ms. Winfrey has made and continues to make.
Motion Picture, Drama
All five nominees have reaped acclaim as have the actors in four of the films. Cold War fantasy romance The Shape of Water leads the field with seven nominations, closely followed by six for Steven Spielberg’s The Post, which has a daunting pair of beloved GG darlings, Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. But in this year of top-grossing indies, Call Me By Your Name and Three Billboards… may cause an upset.
Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical
The Greatest Showman mixes history, often turning it upside down with lots of contemporary and hip twists – and is too reminiscent of the style of Moulin Rouge. Director Craig Gillespie and writer Steven Rogers achieve the impossible: meld true-life incidents, stupidity, and violence into a well-crafted satire on winning at all costs. Hilarious, sometimes sad, and devastatingly well-written Lady Bird tackles mother/daughter tensions. Get Out offers the unique combination of biting social satire and a metaphor on racism. In the indiest indie of the year, The Disaster Artist, James Franco takes a cow’s ear and spins gold and, once and for all, proves he’s a triple threat: actor, director, and [co-] producer [along with Seth Rogen and 20 others].
Motion Picture, Actress, Drama
Even with strong contenders Hawkins, Streep, and Williams, could a GG finally go to McDormand, with six GG nominations, for her poignant portrayal of a mother out for revenge?
Motion Picture, Actor, Drama
Can the expertly-played performances of three powerhouse artists prevent a win, in the heated competition between Chalamet in a stirring sexual coming-of-age tale and longtime favorite Oldman, who is transformed into British statesman Winston Churchill. While Oldman, with his jowls, paunch, and cadence, gives audiences a living, breathing Churchill, it’s hard to top Chalament’s final silent, tearful moments in stark close-up in front of that roaring fireplace.
Motion Picture, Actress, Comedy or Musical
Not long after Greta Gerwig came on the scene as Hollywood’s new darling, Ronan came calling. The two acclaimed up-and-comers have bonded for Lady Bird with Gerwig not only in her directorial debut but also directing Ronan. One also has to admire Robbie’s ability to make ice-skating-world’s talented but not well respected Harding a sympathetic character.
Motion Picture, Actor, Comedy or Musical
Jack-of-all-trades and master of most Franco brilliantly captures the absurdist and I-Can-Do-That spirit of indie jack-of-all-trades and master of none Tommy Wiseau. He has stiff completion from Kaluuya as Get Out’s young black terrorized by his white girlfriend’s family; and Elgort (The Fault in Our Stars) as the partially hearing-impaired getaway driver caught up in the comedy camper Baby Driver‘s crime maelstrom.
Motion Picture, Supporting Actress
It’s even odds between 2017’s overbearing, shoot-from-the-hip and damn-the-consequences mothers: the always magnificent Metcalf of Lady Bird and I, Tonya’s equally magnificent Janney.
Sadly, and most puzzling, the nominators didn’t recognize Oscar winner Melissa Leo’s Jeykll and Hyde benevolent/monster-from-hell Mother Superior in Novitiate.
Motion Picture, Supporting Actor
Plummer excels in director Ridley Scott’s brave reshoot of over 20 sequences for All the Money in the World, but, after waiting years for him to find the role that will place him back in the big leagues, in Three Billboards… Rockwell delivers one of the most memorable performances ever – akin to Cagney, grapefruit in hand, in Public Enemy.
Motion Picture, Director
In the what-were-the-nominators-thinking shocker that you can bet the Oscars won’t repeat, they forgot this was the year of female empowerment and racial diversity in the industry. Not one woman made it into the category. Oscar winner Kathryn Bigelow (Detroit), Oscar-winner Sofia Coppola (Beguiled), Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird), Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman), and Dee Rees (Mudbound) made films that were, in most cases, acclaimed and box office champs.
TV Series, Drama
TV Series, Comedy
TV Movie or Limited-Series
For more information, a complete list of motion picture and TV nominations, clips, and photos visit www.nbc.com/the-golden-globe-awards.
Want to ring in the New Year with a buck instead of a bang? Then the place to be is with the international Professional Bull Riders (PBR) January 5 – 7 at MSqG -- but, unless you are brave and wear chaps, the safest bet are seats on the sidelines. In addition to the winter chill, NYC will be getting a dust-up of brawn and bravado for three intense, action-packed performances, as champions and want-to-be-champions mount and try to stay on monster bulls for a mere eight seconds. Sounds easy, you say! Not on your life!The Monster Energy Buck Off lightweight vs. heavyweight edge-of-your-seat action is at 7:45 P.M. Friday, 7:45 P.M Saturday, and the New York finals at 1:45 P.M. Sunday.
The world’s Top 35 bull riders – including World Champion Cooper Davis, two-time champ J.B. Mauney, 2016 runner up Kaique Pacheco, and the youngest PBR World Champion and winner of the 2017 NYC Buck Off, five-foot-five, 130-pound cowboy, 20-year-old Jess Lockwood – battle foes 10 times their weight with only a rope wrapped around one hand.
Rookie Lockwood has had top-prize dollars and horrendous setbacks – but back he comes. In 2016, he soared to world No.1, holding that rank six weeks until suffering serious injuries, including broken ribs and being knocked unconscious in September [by world champion bull SweetPro’s Bruiser]. Each day, the riders face one bull each. Following the final round, 15 riders with the highest cumulative scores will advance to the Built Ford Tough Championship Round.Going into MSqG at 499 rides, Mauney will be only the third PBR rider in 25 years to reach 500 qualified rides – if – and there’s always an “if” when dealing with raging mad 2,000 “beasts” – he completes a ride. The three days are a punishing competition in which one in 15 rides ends in injury. This is a brutal sport where lives can change in an instant. Mauney has has every imaginable injury, including shattered eye socket, bruised kidney and spleen, lacerated liver, and muscle, tendons, and ligaments ripped clear off bones [which required the rebuilding of a shoulder]. He and Lockwood live by the motto: “If you can’t take the pain, get out of the game.”
In each city, riders strive to win their share of the $140,000 event purse. The PBR has paid out more than $150-million, with 27 riders earning more than $1 million. In New York, more than $1.2-million has been awarded in the last decade.The PBR, “America’s fastest growing sport” (according to Forbes), features the Durabull Fighters [similar to daredevil rodeo clowns], who jump into action to deflect the bulls as soon as riders are bucked off. It goes on until only one man’s left standing.This is the 12th consecutive year in NYC for what’s called “the toughest sport on dirt.” The 18-state tour culminates with Las Vegas finals in October when the 2018 champion — the bull rider amassing the most season points, receives the World Championship belt buckle, gigantic trophy, and $1-million purse.
The PBR is a massive undertaking, traveling in 18-wheel rigs which contain the bulls’ luxury accommodations, the steel set, stalls, and, get this, 750 tons of dirt spread 8 inches deep. The Garden event opens a fierce 26-stop tour hitting Anaheim, Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, Memphis, St. Louis, and Sacramento. The series, produced by Emmy and Peabody Award winning David Neal Productions, is a weekly high-rated TV series on CBS, CBS Sports, and networks worldwide.
For more information, go to www.pbr.com.
Production photos are by Matthew MurphyAfter a problem-plagued delay, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Pulitzer Prize and Tony-winning phenomenon Hamilton, opens December 21 on London’s West End at the historic Victoria Palace Theatre (Victoria Street, London SW1E 5EA) in Westminster in the shadow of the newly-renovated Victoria Station. Lead producer is Broadway’s Tony-winning Jeffrey Seller, with original director Thomas Kail helming. The musical has been in previews since December 6, a slight rescheduling because of ongoing exterior construction. Performances have been met with pandemonium response from audiences. The musical is shaping up to be a bloody triumph, no doubt with a Royal Command Performance in its future.The excitement of a London Hamilton has been building since the opening on Broadway in August, 2015. The box office is booking through June 2018. When you might expect the new block of tickets to be a bit more expensive. Starring in the acclaimed musical is Jamael Westman as Hamilton [with Ash Hunter in the role at certain performances]. Co-starring are Allado (Peggy Schuyler/Maria Reynolds), Rachelle Ann Go (Eliza Hamilton), Tarinn Callender (Hercules Mulligan/James Madison), Michael Jibson (King George), Rachel John (Angelica Schuyler), Jason Pennycooke (Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson), Cleve September (John Laurens/Philip Hamilton), Giles Terera (Aaron Burr), and Obioma Ugoala (George Washington). Featured is an ensemble of 19.Andy Blankenbuehler returns to choreograph. Musical supervision and orchestrations are by Alex Lacamoire. The musical is based on Alexander Hamilton by history biographer Ron Chernow.
Previews were delayed two weeks, 16 performances, because of construction delays – including roof reconstruction, concerns over an ancient underground tunnel the theatre is built over, and city licenses and ordiances.
Some 16,000 ticket holders were affected. Seller and Sir Cameron issued apologies for the inconvenience, which did little to assuage anger and disappointment and, in some cases, money down the drain for those with discounted preview tickets, and the lot flying in to be at the first performance and the announced opening. Not to mention, some who paid £2,800 [over $3,700] or more on the ticket resale market in spite of some safeguards the producers and Tickemaster put into place.“We are extremely sorry to disappoint patrons who we know expended time, effort and valuable resources to purchase tickets for our first performances,” said Seller. “But they will be given priority so that they can be reseated as early as possible.” Regarding compensation for out-of-pocket travel and hotel costs, a spokesman for Delfont Mackintosh promised that “patrons would be contacted by Ticketmaster to discuss specific circumstances.”Miranda also expressed regrets, “I share the frustration of everyone who has to get re-seated. This was an unprecedented renovation of the Victoria Palace. I’m anxious to see it and get to know the British cast.” On a lighter note, he told the Telegraph, “I’m anxious to see how the comedic portrayal of King George III [the monarch who lost the American colonies] is received – especially since the theatre is in close by Buckingham Palace. He’s a favorite with every actor, every rapper. There’s something about the character that has him become an audience surrogate.” He added he didn’t think the fact that detailing another country’s history would be an impediment to enjoying the musical.
Lest anyone doesn’t know, Miranda’s musical with its score of hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap, R&B, and traditional theatre, tells of America’s “Founding Father,” born out of wedlock in Nevis, in the West Indies. After the death of his mother and being abandoned by his father, he was sponsored to travel her for his education at King’s College [Columbia University]. When his study was interrupted by the British occupation, he joined a militia and was soon promoted captain. He came to the attention of Revolutionary War commander George Washington, to whom he became senior aide. After the War, he shaped many of the foundations of the United States – including our Constitution and Treasury. He was often at odds with Jefferson and Burr. Ultimately, that latter conflict led to a duel in which Hamilton was mortally wounded.
Hamilton captured 11 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album.
The musical is still running strong at Broadway’s Richard Rogers, as well as in Chicago, and on tour.The last show to play the Victoria Palace was Lee Hall and Elton John’s Billy Elliot (2005), which ran 11 years. The venue, part of Delfont Mackintosh Theatres, has a capacity of 1,500. Last month, it turned 106. It was designed by renowned theatre architect Frank Matcham. Sir Cameron undertook an estimated £40-50-million [$50-60-million] top-to-bottom renovation and reconstruction. “I wanted it to be glamorous and contemporary,” he told media, “to be compatible with 21st-century production needs.”The overhaul includes the restoration of the ornate marble lobby, murals, ornate plaster molding, boxes [with additional boxes, with private facilities], and the opulent Tudor Room; the “Lynne Promenade” [honoring famed Brit prima ballerina and Olivier and Tony-winning choreographer, and director Dame Gillian Lynne (Cats, Phantom of the Opera, The Roar of Greasepaint…; the 2014 U.K. premiere of Jerry Herman’s Dear World]. There’s plush news seating, a state-of-the-art sound system, and numerous additional loos [restrooms]. Backstage hasn’t been overlooked. There’s an artist’s green room for receptions and new dressing rooms with showers.The producers [which include Sander Jacobs, Jill Furman, the Public Theater and Sir Cameron] and Delfont Mackintosh are working to combat unauthorised profiteering of third party resellers and agencies. They have “pioneered” a paperless ticket system, powered by Ticketmaster. It appears to have had little effect.
Official box office prices are £37.50, £57.50 and £89.50, with premium seating at £137.50 and £200. Performances are Monday – Saturday at 7:30 P.M. and Thursday and Saturday at 2:30 P.M.
For more information, visit www.hamiltonthemusical.co.uk, where there are details of the daily Hamilton West End £10 lottery via the official Hamilton app which can be downloaded from http://hamiltonmusical.com/lottery
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