Sunday, February 25, 2024

SAG and BAFTA Aftermath

The SAG (Feb. 24) and BAFTA Awards (Feb. 18) were pretty much in agreement in almost every major category--except Best Actress. Both prizes honored Oppenheimer, Cillian Murphy, Robert Downey, Jr. and Da'Vine Joy Randolph. But the SAG went to Lily Gladstone of Killers of the Flower Moon and the BAFTA was delivered to Emma Stone of Poor Things. Stone was playing a British character so that may have earned her Brit votes for the BAFTA, plus Lily wasn't even nominated for the BAFTA. I think Gladstone is still the favorite for the Oscar since she will be the first Native American to win one. 

BTW, the People's Choice Awards were on the same day as the BAFTAs and Oppenheimer actually won both at the BAFTAs and in the Drama Film category at the People's Choice, which otherwise went big for Barbie. The People Choice Award has changed shapes over the years and now looks like a giant lipstick cylinder.


The SAG and
People's Choice Awards


SAG and BAFTA winners list follows:


Friday, February 23, 2024

Lortel, Bistro, MAC Award Dates Announced

Ruben Santiago-Hudson
will receive a Lifetime Achievement
Award at the Lortels
The 39th Annual Lucille Lortel Awards – honoring excellence in the Off-Broadway theater – will be handed out in the annual ceremony on Sunday, May 5, 2024, at 7PM at NYU Skirball. Special Award recipients for 2024 have also been announced. The Lortel Awards are produced by the Off-Broadway League and the Lucille Lortel Theatre, with additional support provided by TDF.

Special Award honorees include actor-director Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Lackawanna Blues, Jitney) for Lifetime Achievement; Dominique Morriseau (Skeleton Crew, Sunset Baby) will receive the Playwrights Sidewalk Honor outside the Lucille Lortel Theater; and Ars Nova for Outstanding Body of Work. 

Nominees for the Lortels will be announced on April 4 and there will be a Nominees Breakfast on April 17. The Lortels are presented for Off-Broadway work from April 1, 2023 to March 31, 2024. . Representatives of the Off-Broadway League, Actors’ Equity Association, Stage Directors & Choreographers Society, United Scenic Artists, the Lucille Lortel Theatre, in addition to theatre journalists, academics and other Off-Broadway professionals, serve on the Voting Committee (though no members' names are listed in the press release or on the Lortels' website.)

The event will, as always, be open to the public, with tickets available for purchase beginning April 4 at tickets.nyu.edu or at the NYU Skirball box office Tuesday – Saturday 12pm–6pm. As always, the Lortel Awards is a benefit for the Entertainment Community Fund and fans are encouraged to make donations at LortelAwards.org.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Animation Feature Oscar: Spider Vs. Heron

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
Credit: Sony Animation
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature for 2018. Its sequel Across the Spider-Verse is a front-runner for the same award this year. The race is between Spider-Verse and Hayao Miyazaki's masterpiece The Boy and the Heron. Miyazaki has won in this category for Spirited Away (2001) and is regarded as a master in the field, so he may be primed for a second Golden Guy. 

It's a tough choice. I watched Spider-Verse on Netflix and was totally stunned. There was so much happening in every frame, it was overwhelming. I did not see the 2018 film, so at first the plot was kinda confusing. But gradually we can figure out that we're in an alternate universe where Spider-Man is not Peter Parker, but Miles Morales, the son of an African-American father and a Puerto Rican mother. In this world, there is also a spider-powered version of Gwen Stacy--or is she from yet another world? Evidently, there are an infinite number of universes, each with their own Spider-Man or Woman. For reasons not immediately clear, Miles is taken to a Spider- World where EVERYBODY has Spider powers. The plot is not as important as the action which is jam-packed and the multiple Spider heroes are fun. There's even a Spider-kitty and a Spider-dinosaur.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Oscar-Nominated Animated Short Films

On a whim, I decided to jump on the subway and catch the Oscar nominated shorts at the IFC Center. I have seen all the live action and documentary shorts, but only two of the animated ones (those were the only ones on YouTube). Every year, the IFC screens the nominated shorts, giving a leg up to Award show fans in their party betting pools. As I have related before, I've actually been at Oscar viewing parties where people objected to allowing me to bet in the pool because I had the unfair advantage of seeing all the films in these categories, even though they were open to the public and playing only a few blocks away. This year's animated shorts are high-caliber and it's difficult to pick a favorite, but here are some thoughts:

Our Uniform
Our Uniform (Iran)
: Yegane Moghanddam cleverly uses clothes as a backdrop for her ruminations on attending an all-girls school in Iran where the students had to wear the hijab, even though there were no males present. "Who were we covering up from," she asks in her voice-over narration. She says she learned to be a female in Iran, but nothing else, not a doctor or soccer player, just a female. She examines attitudes about the dress codes women must adhere to as figures move along dresses, slacks, jeans, and the hijab itself.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Super Bowl Commercials

Does Scarlett Johansson need money?
I reverse-DVRed the Super Bowl, meaning I fast-forwarded past the game so I could watch only the commercials and the half-time show which were very telling about the state of the country. Not only were they selling beer, cars, travel services and websites, but also ideas and religions. There was more than one ad selling Jesus and another promoting Scientology as something you should check out. Never mind all those horror stories about it being a cult and mind-control, drop in and be greeted by a smiling young person. The Christian ads were advising viewers to wash the feet of someone you disagree with. There was even a campaign ad for Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. In a bizarre twist, they used footage of a commercial for RFK Jr's uncle's 1960 Presidential campaign and imposed his photo over JFK. (RFK Jr. later apologized for the ad's bad taste, explaining he had nothing to do with it. It was paid for by a Super PAC supporting his third party candidacy.) Film and TV stars like Christopher Walken, Tina Fey, Glenn Close, Anthony Hopkins, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, Patrick Stewart and Arnold Schwarzenegger must need money for new wings of their houses since they appeared in spots. Also the Wicked movie looks cool. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

B'way Update: Appropriate Moves, Etc.

Michael Esper, Corey Stoll and Sarah Paulsen
in Appropriate.
Credit: Joan Marcus
As predicted in a previous post, the Second Stage revival of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' Appropriate will be moving from the Hayes Theater (to make room for Paula Vogel's Mother Play) to a limited run at the now-vacant Belasco Theater (after How to Dance in Ohio closed) from March 25 to June 23. The entire company will repeating their roles, except for Elle Fanning who has a scheduling conflict. Her replacement for the role of River will be announced in the coming weeks. The transfer will increase the play's chances at the Tony Awards. There still has not been a ruling if the production is a revival or a new play since the work was previously seen Off-Broadway at the Signature Theater in 2014 where it won an Obie Award. The Tonys only consider Broadway shows.

This means all the theaters on Broadway will be occupied at the end of the season--expect one. The Lyceum has no prospective tenant since My Son's a Queer (But What Can You Do?), Rob Madge's autobiographical solo show from the West End, has postponed its Broadway run there. The piece is expected to open during the 2024-25 season. 

Kristin Chenoweth
Queen of Versailles Musical: Tony and Emmy winner Kristin Chenoweth will reunite with her Wicked composer-lyricist Stephen Schwartz in the new Broadway-bound musical, Queen of Versailles, based on Lauren Greenfield's 2012 documentary on socialite Jacqueline "Jackie" Siegel and her quest to build the largest private home in America. Queen of Versailles begins performances at Boston's Emerson Colonial Theater on July 16 to play through Aug. 18. Oscar winner F. Murray Abraham (Amadeus, The White Lotus) will play Jackie's husband, "Timeshare" king David Siegel. 

Featuring a book by Lindsey Ferrentino (Ugly Lies the BoneAmy and the Orphans) and direction by Tony nominee Michael Arden (Parade, Once on This Island)The Queen of Versailles will explore the cost of fame, fortune, and family.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

10 Reasons to Watch Voyage of the Damned on Pluto

Here's a list of reasons you should watch Voyage of the Damned (1976) on Pluto: 

Oskar Werner and Faye Dunaway in
Voyage of the Damned.

1. It's free.

2. it's stuffed with stars.

3) Lee Grant copped an Oscar nomination for her hair-snipping scene.

4) it features one of Orson Welles' I-need-cash-to-finance-my-next big-unfinished-movie performances. Welles plays a Cuban financier who haggles with Ben Gazzara over the amount of bribery money it will take to allow the Jewish refugees into Havana. In one of the few spontaneous and off-the-cuff moments of the film, Welles is sitting in a horse-drawn carriage with a slim, attractive young woman (obviously a paid mistress). Victor Spinetti is pleading with Welles for the lives of his two little daughters, stuck on the ship. The mistress is reading a magazine. In the middle of this emotional scene, Welles turns to her and says, "Why don't you wear your glasses?"

5) Oskar Werner in an obvious toupee and Faye Dunaway wearing a monocle.

6) Julie Harris weeping. She's probably thinking, "I have four Tony Awards and I have to do this crap?" (She hadn't won the fifth one yet. It was for The Belle of Amherst in 1977).

7) Wendy Hiller suffering nobly after her husband Luther Adler dies.

8) James Mason threatening Jose Ferrer

9) Katharine Ross as a prostitute. Also the extremely tacky red walls in the Havana brothel. The whole milieu is a riot with someone looking like Hermione Gingold as the madame.

10) A very young Jonathan Pryce as a former inmate at a concentration camp.

The picture was good for a sloshy, late 70s dish of TV-movie-level melodrama but be ready to tolerate countless commercial interruptions for Alfa Romeos.