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Entries in Viola Davis (62)

Monday
Jan192015

Review: Blackhat

Michael Cusumano here to take a break from Oscar chatter to discuss a film that was once predicted to be a big year end Oscar contender, but which has just been unceremoniously dumped into theaters in the January wasteland.

I’m not going to pretend I can speak with any authority about the accuracy of Blackhat’s portrayal of cutting edge computer hacking. As a technological moron tapping out this review on an iPad that may as well be powered by pixie dust for all I understand its inner workings, it is not my place to say.

Michael Mann’s new film certainly carries itself as if it’s nailing the technical details at every turn. When Chris Hemsworth’s super-hacker replies “one month” after he is asked how long it will take to break an encryption, you can feel the movie high-fiving itself for going with an accurate answer rather than taking the opportunity to let its lead character show off. The same goes for Mann’s decision to show screen after screen of ugly code, rather than sleek, audience-friendly graphics.

So I'm not equipped to say if Blackhat is dead-on in the details. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jan122015

Which Golden Globe Reaction Best Describes Your Feelings About Prince? 

 

 

As stated last night at first I thought the Prince Golden Globe reveal was an elaborate joke when he walked out in longshot with afro and cane. There seemed to be a delayed reaction from the crowd too who exploded with glee after a beat. I love Prince (the 80s were my formative years what can I say) so I know which of the following reactions was mine. But which was yours? Please do share your three favorite Prince songs in the comments and vote on the poll! 

 

Thursday
Jan082015

Interview: Chadwick Boseman Gets On Up to a Big Movie Career

With the Get On Up DVD just out this week, let's take a look at the fast rise of Chadwick Boseman. He'd already headlined one surprise hit (42) when he delivered his first huge performance as Godfather of Soul James Brown. Critics casually and regularly mentioned "Oscar" in their reviews but the precursor awards didn't bite (the Golden Globes forcing that film into Drama when films of its kind usually compete in Musical surely didn't help). But individual honors aside, there's no arguing that Boseman is at the beginning of a big career.

When I sat down with him last year (though less long ago than that sounds) he was unusually cagey about future career plans. Chalked it up to caution, I did, at the time. But cut to a very short time after the interview: News broke that he'd spend at least a couple of years in a form fitting black lycra (?) costume as T'Challa, The Black Panther (2017). That surely accounts for some of the shifting in his seat and long pauses when I grilled him about his future plans and what kinds of roles he's looking to play post-Brown over coffee. He must've already known and been sworn to secrecy since these multi-year multi-film deals don't happen overnight.

Here are highlights from our conversation about both his James Brown work, his relationship with those flamboyant costumes and Alex Proyas' forthcoming Gods of Egypt (2016) which arrives before he dons the T'Challa costume. 

NATHANIEL R: Let’s start with something crazy. Could you do the splits before Get On Up? [more...]

Click to read more ...

Friday
Dec262014

Entertainers of the Year, An Alternate Take

Year in Review. Two yummy lists each day. Here's Matthew Eng on "Entertainers of the Year"

Let’s face it: Jimmy Fallon is an okay if utterly predictable choice for Entertainment Weekly’s annual “Entertainer of the Year” title, which can occasionally become more of an honor for being widely-known and well-liked than, you know, being consistently entertaining. (Have they made a truly interesting choice since that three-year, Oscar-certified run of Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman, and Denzel Washington from 2000-02?)

Rather than continue to pat the backs of those like Ben Affleck, Taylor Swift, Robert Downey, Jr., and J.K. Rowling – i.e. prominent pop culture presences and former “Entertainers of the Year” whose dominance over their respective industries is already deep and durable – let’s take a moment to honor some of our favorite hard-working actors and actresses who zig-zagged across mediums this year, making crucial contributions to the entertainment landscape, but who likely won’t be collecting any golden statues for their unique and indispensable achievements in 2014.

 

Alan Cumming, who lent his impish, adventurous energy to two wildly disparate roles this year, reprising his bawdily iconic take as the Emcee in Roundabout’s Cabaretrevival, while continuing to play his most unusual role as the sardonic and perpetually stressed-out campaign manager Eli Gold on The Good Wife, which is still the best thing on television. It’s a testament to Cumming’s versatility that he seems equally at home warbling in an evening gown and defiling chorus boys, as he does striding around an office and barking into a cellphone. In between suiting-up on screen and dressing down on stage, Cumming also penned a moving and well-reviewed memoir about his troubled childhood in Scotland entitled Not My Father’s Son.


Viola Davis, who continues to be better than any of the material she’s given, but still acts the hell out of everything she appears in, all the same. I’ve already written about how gorgeously she improves the standard mother-son arc of Get On Up, but let’s also give Davis her due for surpassing such esteemed company as Jessica Chastain and Isabelle Huppert to present the only credible human being in that weirdly noncommittal triptych The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, in which she plays Chastain’s professor and newfound confidante to weary, seen-it-all perfection. And finally, I still have my fingers crossed that How to Get Away with Murder will work some Scandal-like magic and pick up as it goes, but Davis is unqualifiedly great and effortlessly magnetic even amid mediocrity. We can never stop beating the drum for this gloriously gifted woman.

Lindsay Duncan, who, yes, played an indelible cobra as Birdman’s venomous voice of theatrical critique, but who also single-handedly dispels the lazy claims that 2014 was a weak year for lead actressing. I wish enough “pundits” would take it upon themselves to journey past their Wilds and Gone Girls and take a well-deserved look at Roger Michell’s marital dramedy Le Week-end, in which Duncan and a never-better Jim Broadbent work through the poignantly personal travails of ripened couplehood while celebrating their anniversary in Paris. Proudly reckless, boldly tetchy, and gleefully tongue-in-cheek, Week-end’s Meg is a marvel of deliciously detailed characterization and one of the acting achievements of the year, thanks to Duncan’s slyly sublime sorcery. (I mean, that voice alone!) Duncan’s also currently on the boards as Glenn Close’s acerbic, alcoholic sister in the revival of Albee’s A Delicate Balance and she’s still a staple on British television, having made appearances this year on SherlockBlack Mirror’s jaw-dropper of a first episode “The National Anthem” (only recently made available on Netflix), and The Honorable Woman, providing the latter with a quietly memorable take on the exasperated ex-wife, which leads us to…


Maggie Gyllenhaal, who never really reached the summits of critic-stamped screen stardom that surely seemed attainable during the Secretary and Sherrybaby days, but who has nonetheless continued to offer terrific and thoughtful work across a variety of mediums. New Yorkers have a little more than a week to catch her in the current revival of Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing (closing January 4th), in which Gyllenhaal pairs her usual flair for emphatic (if often unstable) eroticism with an intriguingly assured intelligence as an impassioned actress who throws herself heart-first into a relationship with a married playwright. She’s hilariously and cuttingly unhinged as the only reason worth watching Frank, playing the bitter, Bening-ish bandmate/protector of Michael Fassbender’s bobble-headed lead singer. Gyllenhaal’s great in both projects, but she’s downright fantastic in The Honorable Woman, the BBC miniseries that is equal parts timely political thriller and trenchant character study, and which has given Gyllenhaal her juiciest role in years as an unraveling Anglo-Israeli arms heiress urgently trying to bring peace to the Middle East. Gyllenhaal’s elegant and emotionally daring performance is just another compelling reason to keep this weirdly underappreciated actress in play.

Gaby Hoffmann, who is a national treasure. Besides providing such selfless, straight-shooting support to Obvious Child, ensuring that the film remain a warm and witty sketch of a circle of intimates rather than a lopsided vanity project, and giving Girls’ third season a welcome dose of droll derangement as Adam Driver’s loopy sister, Hoffmann is fully deserving of the praise and prizes that Jeffrey Tambor has received for Jill Soloway’s miraculous series Transparent. The entire familial ensemble (to include Jay Duplass, Amy Landecker, and Judith Light) clicks like crazy, with each performer projecting a whole host of complex and authentically-layered affinities, histories, and antipathies around one another, but it’s Hoffmann’s work as impetuous, indecisive baby sister Ali that has somehow lingered the most in my mind. It’s one thing to take the role of the caustic, cash-strapped family fuck-up and make her funny, charming, and inappropriate. It’s another thing entirely to invest so much extra ruefulness, wistfulness, selfishness, self-righteousness, sexiness, continually shifting sensibleness, and totally committed weirdness into a single character that she becomes someone we not only know, but someone we are unable to remember not knowing.

John Lithgow, who has had quite an enviable hot streak this year, the crowning achievement of which is his beautifully loose and lived-in performance as one half of 2014’s most believable onscreen couple, gay or otherwise, in Ira Sachs’ Love is Strange. In addition to his affecting and attentive leading man work, Lithgow also made his mark in two other noteworthy releases, imbuing bit parts in both The Homesman and Interstellar with muted, offhanded conviction. And that’s just on screen! Lithgow also gave good Lear in the Public’s August Shakespeare in the Park production, nailing the punchy imperiousness while adding an ungainliness to the declining King that in its plaintive way was just as tragic as any of the Bard’s plot turns. He’s also currently co-starring with Duncan in that same production of A Delicate Balance, closing out a banner year with yet another reminder that our most abiding and admired talents have endless shades to show us.

Elisabeth Moss, who, on the basis of her sterling work on the Sundance circuit, proves once again that she will be just fine when Don Draper lights up for the last time. She earned raves this year as Jason Schwartzman’s straying, sympathetic girlfriend in Listen Up Philip and rejuvenated some run-of-the-mill themes about marital devotion inThe One I Love with such a persuasive mix of pep and precision that I hardly noticed their familiarity. I’m excited by the prospect of Moss becoming a full-time film presence, but I hope she gets handed at least half as dynamic a role as Peggy Olson, whose professional rise and personal stalling-out Moss continued to chart with instinctive emotionality and endless empathy on the first half of Mad Men’s final season, which began with Peggy collapsing in tears on her apartment floor and ended with her officially taking the reigns from her former boss-turned-humbled colleague. Even if Emmy, SAG, and Golden Globe voters failed to appreciate the magnificence of Moss’ work this year, those of us still watching can take pride in seeing this superbly skillful actress finish off her work as one of TV’s most beloved heroines before heading off into the promising future that awaits her.

Friday
Dec192014

Bag O' Links: Pitt, Cruella, Annie, Viola, Lisi, Potter, Etc...

We haven't done a link roundup in so long this one is super-duper-quadrupled size. Please to enjoy these articles or catch up with this news...

FAREWELL
NYT, BBCVariety remembers the great Italian actress Virna Lisi who has died at 78 years of age. Best known stateside for the Jack Lemmon comedy How To Murder Your Wife (1965), and maybe that iconic Esquire cover by George Lois (left) which has been homaged ever since, this baby cinephile right here writing to you first fell for her in the French film Queen Margot (1994). She was brilliant as the most ruthless of royals. She won the Cannes prize for Best Actress for her supporting role which probably didn't make Margot herself Isabelle Adjani too happy but they were at odds in the film, too. 

RANDOMNESS
Guardian doesn't like the new Annie but what makes that little orphan so durable in pop culture? 
Comics Alliance a fresh way to illustrate "superhero fatigue" -- by spending a day with fatigued Joss Whedon on the set of Age of Ultron
Coming Soon walks you through Jon Favreau walking fans through the making of The Jungle Book. All I'm here for is the cute photo of ScarJo recording the voice of Kaa.  
Grantland has a piece people like a lot on The Babadook. People aren't done talking about that
Playbill The Exorcist (1973) will be moving to the stage. Not a musicalized version.  Well, it does all take place in one house so you don't have to worry about that part of stage transitions.
Pride Source adorably frank interview with Russell Tovey from Looking (and other shows) on his sex scenes with Jonathan Groff and what he wants for the show's drama


Playbill Audra McDonald will recreate her Tony winning "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill" for HBO. Here comes her Emmy!
Comics Alliance Viola Davis rumored to be joining the cast of the supervillain film Suicide Squad as Amanda Waller. FWIW this is the role that Angela Bassett was utterly wasted in in that piece of poo Green Lantern movie
Grantland Ugh. I can't believe i missed this oral history of Boogie Nights when it was first published 

STAR WARS: THE INTERNET AWAKENS (THOUGH IT NEVER WENT TO SLEEP)
/Film Andy Serkis responds to speculation about his Star Wars: The Force Awakens role. 
CHUD wonders what Star Wars fans will have to left to complain about when the original trilogy is released without all the fussy changes that messed with its purity on Blu-Ray 
Nathaniel R and I sneak-peaked on Twitter that when I interviewed Oscar Isaac (coming soon) he assumed that's what I wanted to talk about. Haha 
Pajiba believe it or not, the Star Wars trailer is NOT the most viewed trailer of 2014
The Film Stage the character names from the new film 

OUTRAGE, CONT'D
Remember yesterday how I said I couldn't feel that outraged about this week's topic o' outrage (The Interview) but here are two topics that usually push my button but good and often enrage me.

1. Towleroad has a piece on author J.K. Rowlings recent admission that there were gay students at Hogwarts in her Harry Potter books.

If Harry Potter taught us anything, it’s that no one should live in a closet.”

I know how Harry Potter fans are and they'll applaud their icon for this but real talk: Saying after the fact that characters were gay in your mammoth culture-dominating best-sellers in which you could have gotten away with virtually any storytelling flourish is cheap lip service. It's wanting the gays to worship you without actually having supported them in any way other than in easy 'nothing to lose now' sound bites.  It's also insulting to use the closet metaphor since that's where all of her supposed gay characters were!

2. Variety has an article on five things we learned about moviegoing this year. I agree with #2 about Women in Hollywood but I'm so sad that the writer ruins his point by again bringing up the foolish 'there aren't 5 worthy women for Best Actress' business. Dear reader, I don't know how to stop this internet wide self-perpetuating sexism epidemic. And, yes, I believe it's completely sexist to ignore the existing actual contributions of women in order to complain about sexism and the lack of contributions of women. The only thing I feel I can do is keep pointing at the lie and hopefully shaming a few writers here and there with "God, did you only see the marketed to teen boys movies this year or what?'

And if you're going to bitch that we need more female themed movies you're going to have to support the ones we have now by, you know, ADMITTING THAT THEY EXIST. 

 

TODAY'S MUST-READ
Ayn Rand, that hard right conservative icon, reviews children's movies! A hilarious article from the New Yorker's Mallory Ortberg. Since it's impossible to pick a favorite I'm just picking two random ones to share but you must read the whole thing!

“101 Dalmatians”
A wealthy woman attempts to do her impoverished school friend Anita a favor by purchasing some of her many dogs and putting them to sensible use. Her generosity is repulsed at every turn, and Anita foolishly and irresponsibly begins acquiring even more animals, none of which are used to make a practical winter coat. Altruism is pointless. So are dogs. A cat is a far more sensible pet. A cat is objectively valuable. —No stars.

“Toy Story”
At last, a full-length feature about the inherent value of possessions. —Four stars.


LIST-MANIA

Towleroad "80 Most Powerful Coming Outs of the Year" I love that they do this list annually and that the number of coming outs mentioned keeps growing. It used to be a big deal every time someone came out. it's like *yep, another one*.
Pajiba "10 Most Forgettable Movies of 2014" Ouch
Film School Rejects best movie music of year 
Out "10 best TV gay scenes of the year" 
Slate "10 best books of the year" 
The Atlantic "Best TV episodes of the year" from Joe Reid and team 
The Dissolve "Best Films of the year that made under $100,000" 

 

 

FINALLY
Our beloved Brad Pitt (he was so good in Fury, wasn't he?) was recently released from Jury Duty in Los Angeles because jurors and lawyers would find him too distracting! In related news look at this unintentionally awesome paparazzi shot (above) from an Unbroken premiere. "Unbro" teehee

 

Wednesday
Dec102014

‘Selma’ Wins Big at the AAFCA Awards & NAACP Image Award Nominations

Margaret here with a look at the nominees for the 2014 NAACP Image Awards, as well as the winners of the African American Film Critics Association year-end prizes.

It continues to be a good season for Selma, which racked up eight Image Award nominations-- especially impressive when you consider that there are only seven categories. (Six of its nominations are for acting.) Period drama Belle and James Brown biopic Get On Up both received five nominations each, and the music industry romantic drama Beyond the Lights earned three.

The AAFCA announced their awards, naming Selma best picture alongside nine other outstanding films. The AAFCA Top Ten Films of 2014 are as follows in order of distinction: 

  • SELMA
  • THE IMITATION GAME
  • THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING
  • BIRDMAN
  • BELLE
  • TOP FIVE
  • UNBROKEN
  • DEAR WHITE PEOPLE
  • GET ON UP
  • BLACK OR WHITE

A complete list of AAFCA winners, and Image nominees (some interesting stuff - now with double the Viola Davis!)  after the jump...

Click to read more ...