Weekly Wilson - Blog of Author Connie C. Wilson

Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books—-her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!

Category: Movies Page 1 of 29

What You Might Stream or Screen While Maintaining Social Isolation

Ted Hicks (worked in film in NYC.) His degree from Iowa was as a filmmaker. He was in charge of awarding the Christopher Award in New York City for years, post military service. He was a college friend at the University of Iowa. Ted has put together a list of good things to stream, and I have added my own favorites and added some specifics to his list.

This explanation from Ted:

A few days ago, Gary Davis, who I’ve known since 1st grade in Nemaha, Iowa, asked for some TV/cable/streaming recommendations. I put together a bunch of titles and sent it to him.. I know many of you will already know a lot of these shows, but there might be some you haven’t seen.”

I have made some additions to Ted’s original list, adding some old favorites and some new, and including  names of the actors/actresses involved, when relevant (and not a chore to research.) Therefore, it is now a composite list from two dedicated film-goers.  I have been reviewing film uninterruptedly since 1970 and review film for www.TheMovieBlog.com, www.WeeklyWilson.com and, sometimes, www.QuadCity.com. I’m also the author of “It Came from the 70s: From The Godfather to Apocalypse Now,” which has not only a look at the sci-fi and horror flicks and major films of that time period, but 10 trivia questions per film with the answers upside-down, to pique your curiosity.

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A Million Little Things – Ron Livingston (“Sex & the City”), David Giuntoli (“Grimm”), James Roday (“Psych”), Josh Ritter, and others are a close-knit group of friends who are affected by the suicide of one of the group. (rentable on Amazon Prime) 2 seasons.

Better Call Saul – prequel to Breaking Bad, 1st four seasons on Amazon Prime, 5th season currently on AMC.

Bosch – 5 seasons (Amazone Prime) – great series about an LAPD homicide cop, based on a long-running series of novels by Michael Connelly. The 6th season debuts sometime next month, I think.

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee – terrific Jerry Seinfeld series, all seasons are now on Netflix. We’ve seen most of them. The episode with Eddie Murphy is one of my favorites.

Country Music – Ken Burns series on PBS. Not sure if this can be streamed yet..

Criminal: UK, French, German, Spanish – Gripping series on Amazon, four separate “seasons” all taking place inside police interrogation rooms in the respective countries.

The Crown – 3 seasons on Netflix.

Curb Your Enthusiasm – Larry David and Jeff Garland in a show largely about their lives.

Gentleman Jack –  new show from last year, on HBO.

Giri/Haji (Netflix) – Japanese cops & gangsters, British cops & gangsters in a storyline that combines them all. Very violent but also very well made. I liked it.

Glow – 3 seasons (Netflix) Marc Maron organizes the Glorious Ladies of Wrestling.

Goliath – 3 seasons (Amazon Prime) – Billy Bob Thornton as an unorthodox lawyer in Los Angeles. Excellent. Was not renewed.

Good Girls – 2 seasons, AMC Christina Hendricks from “MadMen” involved in a variety of criminal enterprises with her sister and a friend.

Grantchester – 4 seasons on PBS Masterpiece Theater.

Hinterland – 3 seasons on Netflix, cop show set in Wales. Dark, tragic storylines. It’s excellent.

Killing Eve – First 2 seasons on Amazon Prime (3rd season coming up on BBC America).

Life in Pieces – ensemble cast with James Brolin, Dianne Weist, Colin Hanks, Betsy Brandt (“Breaking Bad”) and Thomas Sadowski and others. Canceled for next year. On Amazon Prime from 2015-2019.

Nurse Jackie – Edie Falco (‘The Sopranos”) is a drug-addicted nurse. (Showtime)

My Brilliant Friend – 2nd season started this past Monday on HBO.

The Plot Against America – David Simon series based on Philip Roth novel, also began on Monday. Elements of “what if” Lucky Lindy, the aviator, were to have been presented as a presidential candidate.

Secret City – 2 seasons on Netflix – political thriller set in Australia.

Schitt’s Creek – broad gay-friendly comedy from Eugene Levy and his son Dan, with SCTV’s Catherine O’Hara and Chris Elliott. Going off the air soon. On since 2015.

The Sinner – seasons 1 & 2 on Netflix, 3rd season now airing on USA. We just started this series this year and burned through first 2 seasons, loved it. (Bill Pullman)

The Stranger (Netflix) – very good thriller.

Trapped – 2 seasons on Amazon Prime –  cop show set in Iceland.

Unbelievable – Netflix mini-series. This is excellent! Young rape victim’s story isn’t believed, then two female detectives in Colorado get involved. Kaitlyn Dever (“Them That Follow”) who was just inducted into the Texas Film Hall of Fame is the protagonist and Merritt Weaver (“Nurse Jackie”) is one of the investigators

Unforgotten – 3 seasons on PBS (available on Amazon Prime). Cop unit in the UK finds old cases thought to have been solved, but new evidence reveals truth yet to come out. The great Nicola Walker (Last Tango in Halifax) is head of the unit.

The Valhalla Murders (Netflix) – more cops in Iceland.

Vera – 10 seasons on Amazon Prime/BritBox. Another cop show, with Brenda Blethyn as the prickly head of a team in Halifax (UK).  Each season is 4 episodes approximately 90 minutes each.

Westworld – elaborate theme park setting initially. Futuristic. HBO.

What We Do in the Shadows – FX series, 1st season on Amazon Prime, 2nd season starts on FX in April.  A small group of vampires share a house on Staten Island. Very black, dead-pan comedy. This premiered at SXSW last year (2019).

Film Star Eric Roberts Speaks to “Weekly Wilson”

The interview with Eric Roberts (up as podcast #3) saw me prepare an Introduction and some questions for the actor. It ended up being me talking “All About Eric” and speaking with the Executive Producer Ed Dezevallos about the film “Lone Star Deception,” but the actual interview was bumped.

Plans were to do the interview this week (3/19). Then, the Bold Brave Media Global network announced it was shutting down for an indefinite period of time….probably a week to two weeks.

Therefore, the answers to the questions were answered by film star Eric Roberts below. Hopefully, viewers stuck at home will check out “Lone Star Deception” on Amazon and—at some future point—perhaps we can make the Weekly Wilson podcast work out on audio

In the meantime, here are Eric Roberts’ answers to (some of) the questions I had planned to ask:

[From Eric Roberts:  THE INTRODUCTION IS BEAUTIFUL! ]

ERIC ROBERTS – INTRO

“Lone Star Deception,” Eric Roberts, Anthony Parker.

Back in 1986, in an interview with Roger Ebert following his screen debut performance in “King of the Gypsies,”  his break-through role, Ebert wrote: “Right from the beginning, Eric Roberts has had about him the promise of eventual greatness.  The movie industry does not know how he will turn out, but he holds the potential to be mentioned with Brando and DeNiro and the others who come surrounded with the aura of a special talent.”

That feeling hit me like a ton of bricks as I watched “King of the Gypsies” back in 1978 as a twenty-something film critic,— one who had been on the job for 7 years.

I fully agree with Roger Ebert’s assessment of Eric Roberts’ talent. I echo Academy-Award winning actress Sandy Dennis, who said of Eric after they appeared together onstage, “Oh, my God, this actor! I think he is the next big thing,— if he can get the material.”

Eric’s performance in “King of the Gypsies earned him a Golden Globe nomination for the Best Acting Debut by an Actor (1979). Eric would go on to earn another Golden Globe nomination in 1984 for “Star 80” and a third Golden Globe nomination, plus an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor (in support of Jon Voight) for  “Runaway Train.” 1984 gave us “The Pope of Greenwich Village,” with Eric paired with Mickey Rourke. He was awarded the Theater World Award in 1987 for the Best Broadway debut for his work in “Burn This.” Eric has been quoted as saying, “The joy is in the doing.”

Every one of these films is indicative of the power and creativity that Eric Roberts brings to his work. He has another 29 wins and 17 nominations for a variety of film awards. Eliza Roberts—herself an actress and Eric’s wife of 28 years—said of her husband’s work, “Sit tight, because, even when you’re shit, you’re fucking awesome, Eric.”

Sometimes called “the hardest-working actor in America,” Eric now has an absolutely stunning 569 credits on the International Movie Data Base, making him the hardest-working actor in Hollywood.

Eric Roberts & Anthony Ray Parker.

Eric’s schedule, as Eliza will attest, is crazy. It sometimes has him moving between 3 sets at once. He has close to 70 projects in development in 2020 or 2021. To give you a sense of how absolutely amazing that number of credits is, (outside of Bollywood), Leonardo DiCaprio, who has only 55 IMDB credits to his name, has said of Eric “Eric is a god. He’s THE MAN.” By comparison, Brad Pitt has 56. Susan Sarandon, who co-starred with Eric in 1978’s “King of the Gypsies”— and is known to work quite frequently, herself,— has 160 credits

One of Eric’s most recent films, “Lone Star Deception” is the story of a race for Governor in Texas, with Anthony Ray Parker as a black candidate for Governor. Eric is central to the plot, playing Bill Sagle, a King-maker who was originally backing his nephew, until his nephew is compromised by a sex-tape that surfaces, complete with a demand for hush money. The nephew is forced (by Eric’s Bill Sagle character) to step down and a black candidate with combat credentials is drafted to run in his place. The co-star is Anthony Ray Parker who appeared in both “The Matrix” and “The Marine” and has 54 IMDB credits to his name, himself. The log-line says, “Fear, Greed and Texas Politics,” which seemed like a good topic right about now, nationwide.

I am very grateful to have such a busy couple able to call in for some talk about both this film, which is about to release on Amazon (as well as FixFling, InDemand, Vudu, Fandango and to overseas markets —(which could be rough with the recent news that all of China’s 60 to 70,000 cinemas are closed due to the Corona virus.)

I’m hoping that Eric and Eliza can tell us a bit more about “Lone Star Deception” and talk about his storied career and their work together.

Welcome to you both and thank you for being with me.

************

ERIC/ELIZA ROBERTS Questions

“Lone Star Deception” (available on Amazon) with Eric Roberts and Anthony Ray Parker.

1_ You have close to 70 projects scheduled for 2020/2021. How do you manage to  work in that many films at once?

E.R.:  IT’S ALL ABOUT CREATIVE AND PRECISE, YET FLEXIBLE SCHEDULING. YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.

2) How difficult is it to memorize that much dialogue and remember it all, when you’re working with so many different films at once?

E.R.:  IT’S GREAT MENTAL EXERCISE, SO I APPROACH IT LIKE WORKING OUT.

3)       You were offered “9 and ½ Weeks” but turned it down. Are there any other roles you were offered, but ended up not taking? Did you ever wish you had taken those roles?

E.R.:  AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN, AMERICAN GIGOLO…BASICALLY MOST OF WHAT RICHARD GERE AND JOHN TRAVOLTA DID IN THEIR EARLY YEARS.

ALSO CLIFFHANGER, WHICH ENDED UP GOING TO JOHN LITHGOW. I HOPE I’VE MADE UP FOR UNFORTUNATE TURN-DOWNS NOW.

4)      Eliza:  your father, I read, wrote the scripts for “Three Days of the Condor” and “The Firm” (David Rayfiel).  You also knew John Landis, who offered you your part of Brunella in “Animal House.” Did you grow up in Hollywood? If so, has your insider knowledge of the industry helped?

E.R.:  I DID SCHLOCK AND ANIMAL HOUSE WITH JOHN LANDIS, AND HE’S REMAINED A FRIEND ALWAYS. I THINK GROWING UP IN THE INDUSTRY AND HAVING AN INTIMATE KNOWLEDGE OF THIS WORLD HAS HELPED IMMENSELY.

“Lone Star Deception”

5)      Eliza, you met Eric on a plane with your dad’s script for “Intersection” in your lap. Have there been any projects, past, present or future, where you’ve been involved in writing a script just for Eric ? (Secondary mention of cats, since Eric, you said, had a cat, Tender, on his lap at the time).

E.R.:  YES, I HAD A SCRIPT ON MY LAP AND ERIC HAD BOTH A SCRIPT AND A CAT ON HIS LAP.

I HAVE DONE A LOT OF SCRIPT POLISHING FOR ERIC. I HAD A SENSE OF WHAT WORKS FOR HIM, AND MOST PRODUCTIONS ARE OPEN TO IT.

6)       Eric, How did you come to be involved in “Lone Star Deception?” (I  talked to Executive Producer Ed DeZavellos on 3/12 and hope to again in the future.)

E.R.:  I CAN’T REMEMBER FULLY, BUT I KNOW SOME VERY NICE, PASSIONATE PEOPLE MADE US BOTH AN OFFER. ELIZA IS IN LONE STAR DECEPTION, TOO. WE WERE INTRIGUED AND SAID YES.

“Lone Star Deception”

7)      “In my estimation, Eric is a great actor…an extremely unique presence trapped in this beautiful exterior.”  “The way that Mickey Rourke was re-discovered as a great actor, I think Eric is due for that, for sure. So much of the business is luck and timing.” (David Duchovny)

Given those glowing words from a fellow actor, and Mickey Rourke’s film “The Wrestler” (which should have won him the Oscar in 2008), what directors now working would you like to work with? Any potential star vehicles in the pipeline?

E.R.:  I VERY MUCH WISH AND LONG FOR SUCH A VEHICLE. HOW PRECIOUS THAT WOULD BE.

I CAN’T TELL YOU HOW MUCH THE COMMENTS OF THESE FELLOW ACTORS MEAN.

8)_  Nowadays, it seems that even extremely good actors like Robert Downey, Jr., want to play a Super Hero to cash in on the Marvel Universe films or to have a series built around them. It is as though there is the series comic book Hollywood and  indie film Hollywood. You’ve watched the industry as an insider for a long time. What are your thoughts on the films you see coming out of Hollywood now, versus when you were starting out (1978)?

E.R. : TRENDS IN ART AND IN EVERYTHING, ARCHITECTURE, FASHION, EVERYTHING, TEND TO CHANGE. MOVIES MADE PEOPLE HAPPY IN 1978, AND THEY MAKE PEOPLE HAPPY TODAY.

SOME OF THE MARVEL MOVIES ARE VERY CLEVERLY WRITTEN AND GO WAY BEYOND THEIR GENRE.

I DON’T HAVE A PARTICULAR LOVE FOR THE SUPER HERO FILMS, BUT MANY PEOPLE DO, AND BECAUSE OF THAT, I’D LOVE TO BE A PART OF IT.

10)  Throwing out some names that I know mean something to you, can you share with us a little bit about what it was like working with Sterling Hayden…..Mickey Rourke…..Jon Voight…Bob Fosse…and, of course, Anthony Ray Parker. (Take your pick and add any others you wish).

I LEARNED SO MUCH FROM STERLING. WHAT A CHARACTER! I ADORE MICKEY, AND HE AMAZES ME. IT WAS FANTASTIC WORKING WITH JON. BOB FOSSEE WAS ARGUABLY THE BEST DIRECTOR I WAS EVER DIRECTED BY.

Anthony Ray Parker.

WE HAD AN INCREDIBLE TIME WORKING WITH ANTHONY RAY PARKER. HE’S A GREAT ACTOR AND HE’S A GREAT MAN.

11)  “Lone Star Deception” Credits: “We would like to thank our pyro technicians for not blowing up the entire city. (Houston) [Comments?]

HILARIOUS! AND TRUE.

12)  You were in a bad car accident in 1981. Please tell the listeners about that and its after-effects at the time?

E.R.:  WELL, IT WAS A LOT LIKE THE FILM “REGARDING HENRY”.

I CRASHED IN MY JEEP AND WAS IN A COMA FOR 72 HOURS AND, EVEN THOUGH I WAS PHYSICALLY ALIVE, IT MADE ME FEEL FOREVER DIFFERENT IN MYRIAD WAYS.

13)  Don Okolo, the credited director for “Lone Star Deception” is Don Okolo. (“Blood ‘n Destiny” – 2009, $500,000; “The Land” – 2011, $200,000; “Gem of the Rainforest” – 2013 – $200,000).  Have you ever wanted to direct?

ELIZA IS A SUPER GIFTED DIRECTOR AND I LOVE BEING DIRECTED BY HER AND WOULD CO-DIRECT WITH HER.

14)  Lines from the film: “So little nieces, so little time.” “Politicians tell the voters what they want to hear.” Why was the main character (Tim Bayh, the black candidate for Governor) put in charge of personally paying off the various wrongdoers, such as those who kidnap his daughter Carol. Aren’t there less visible henchmen who could have been hired to carry the $50,000 to pay off “Sloane?” (That puzzled me)

E.R.:  TIM HAD MORE AT STAKE. BUT THAT’S A GOOD QUESTION AND REALLY A QUESTION FOR ED.

“It was always about the money, Charlie.” (Any thoughts on the politics of today IRL?)

“Lone Star Deception”

E.R.:  IT SEEMS WHEN YOU BOIL IT DOWN, EVERYTHING IS ABOUT THE MONEY.

15)  “I’ll be taking a break when I die.”

E.R.:  YES, SOUNDS LIKE ME!

16)  “The hardest person to protect yourself from is yourself.”

E.R.:  I BELIEVE THAT.

17)  Daughter, Emma; Morgan and Keaton (musician). Currently working in the industry, or…?

E.R.:  ALL IN THE INDUSTRY.

18)  “Why me, of all the guys, of all the has-beens, of all the good actors who are over—why me?” (1/31/2018 to Sam Kashner for Vanity Fair.)

E.R.:  WHY ME? IS NOT A RHETORICAL QUESTION. IT’S ABOUT UNDERSTANDING OUR PART IN OUR LIVES. THE MOST IMPORTANT PART WE PLAY.

19)   Your favorite Batman?

E.R.:  MICHAEL KEATON.

20)  Your favorite Joker actor in the “Batman” films?

E.R.:  JACK NICHOLSON

21)  Anything you’d like to talk about that I haven’t asked you about?

YOU ASKED GREAT QUESTIONS.

WE ALWAYS LIKE TO DIRECT LISTENERS/READERS TO

WWW.NATURALCHILD.ORG

AND TO KEATON SIMONS

AND TO WWW.PIBAKESHOP.COM

THANKS, CONNIE!

Bold Brave Media Postpones all Podcasts, Including “Weekly Wilson” Podcast of 3/19

I received a memo from Bold Brave Media Global Network, originators of my podcast “Weekly Wilson” today, stating: “Due to the current situation that is facing our country and our world today, BBM will not be broadcasting live shows this week.  All shows will air a rerun of a previous show.

We are monitoring the situation and will be in touch as we move forward to resume our broadcasts. Please stay safe.”

I had been in touch with Eliza Roberts by phone and this week’s show was to feature Ed Dezevallos, who, thankfully, called in last week (3/12) when I was set to interview Eric and Eliza Roberts “live.” [The SNAFU last week had to do with obsolete e-mail addresses, both the one that Eliza had for me and the ones I had for her.]

Although Ed Dezevallos, Executive Producer of “Lone Star Deception” stood ready to be with me again this week (3/19) to talk more about his project soyouwanttobe.com (films to aid students in selecting a career), and we had hoped to have Eliza and Eric join us on 3/19, the announcement (above) has changed that.  I’ll be watching and waiting like the rest of the populace, and staying inside in Austin, Texas.

I will be writing my review regarding previously seen films for a posting in the next day or so, but, for those of you who received my bulletin about the great good fortune of getting to listen to one of the field’s truly gifted actors (and one of the hardest-working indie actors), stay tuned until later.

I hope we all remain safe from the virus and will be able to meet to talk again.

March 19th “Weekly Wilson” Podcast to Feature Eric & Eliza Roberts, Ed DeZevallos

“Lone Star Deception,” Eric Roberts, Anthony Parker.

Due to circumstances beyond our control, the podcast of March 12th turned into a one-hour stroll down memory lane and into the storied career of film star Eric Roberts, with a call-in from “Lone Star Deception” Executive Producer Ed Dezevallos.

Ed not only co-wrote “Lone Star Deception” and had a small part as Dwight Jones, but contributed several family members to its cast. On Thursday, March 19th, Ed is scheduled to talk about “Lone Star Deception” with Eric and Eliza and also to discuss another passion project he is producing, a series of videos for young people to help them decide what they want to be when they grow up called soyouwanttobe.com.

Film star Eric Roberts, the star of “Lone Star Deception” and his wife Eliza are to join Ed and I in talking movies, (God willing and the river don’t rise.) If you are stuck at home worrying about the Corona Virus (as most of us are), tune in to Bold Brave Bold Media Global Network and distract yourself from your quarantine for an hour at 7 p.m. Thursday (CDT) or 5 p.m. (PT). The call-in number is 866-451-1451. The program is Weekly Wilson, just like this blog, and we talk movies, politics, and other timely topics every week.

Listen to Weekly Wilson’s Podcast

Eric Roberts to Be Interviewed on “Weekly Wilson”

Film star Eric Roberts (“King of the Gypsies,” “RunAway Train,” “The Pope of Greenwich Village,” “Star 80”) will be a guest on Thursday, March 12th, 7 p.m., on the podcast “Weekly Wilson.” His newest film, “Lone Star Deception,” will be one of the topics under discussion (*Film soon available on Amazon).

Tune in to Bold Brave Media Global Network at 7 p.m. (CDT)  on Thursday, March 12th, to hear Eric Roberts and wife Eliza (who plays his wife in the film) talk about this Texas thriller about an African American candidate for Governor of Texas. (www.boldbravemedia.com) With 561 other film credits, I’m sure we’ll be hearing more from this gifted actor about his career. The podcast, like this blog, is Weekly Wilson on Channel 100, with archived shows available later.

“Lone Star Deception,” Eric Roberts, Anthony Parker.

 

My very first podcast kicked off the final Thursday in February. I had two guests, Ava and Elise Wilson, my 5th grade granddaughters and collaborators on “The Christmas Cats in Silly Hats” series (6 books).

This week (March 5) at 7 p.m., the guest will be Texas author Michael Serrapica, author of “Conned Conservatives and Led-On Liberals.” Michael will fill us in on the various techniques that political campaigns (and others) can use to make their propaganda effective. I have no doubt that we’ll be talking politics with Michael again, after tonight’s show.

“Lone Star Deception” (available on Amazon) with Eric Roberts and Anthony Ray Parker.

Others slated to join me to talk about movies, politics, the Corona virus, and other topics of the day include Executive Producer Ed DeZevallos on March 19th, who not only co-wrote the screenplay for “Lone Star Deception” and played the part of Dwight Jones, but contributed 5 family members to the cast and crew. Mr. DeZevallos, of Houston and Santa Fe, will be talking about this and another project on March 19th—a series of informational videos for youngsters to help them determine what they want to be when they grow up. The website for that second passion (7 and 1/2 hours of video) is www.soyouwanttobe.org.

Oscar Night Predictions on February 9, 2020

“1917” film’s cast and director Sam Mendes in Chicago at the AMC Theater on December 10, 2019.

My favorite picture of the year, if anyone cares, for sheer enjoyment, was “Ford v. Ferrari.” It doesn’t have a chance for anything but the sound editing and potentially some visual effects.

So, here are my picks, based on having seen almost all of the films. (I do admit that I have not seen “Little Women” or Antonio Banderas’ nominated role in “Power and Glory.”
Let’s see how these come out:
Supporting Actor – Brad Pitt
MakeUp and Hairstyling: Bombshell
Costume Design: Little Women
Documentary Feature: For Sama (the favorite is said to be “American Factory,” which I saw last night. I think that the life-and-death nature of “For Sama,” filmed behind ennemy lines in Syria, was so riveting that, despite its technical issues, I voted for it.
Sound Editing: Ford v. Ferrari.
Here are my current picks: Brad Pitt for Actor in a Supporting Role
Maeup and Hairstyling; Bombshell (for transforming Charlize Theron into Megyn Kelly)
Costume Design: Little Women
Documentary Feature: For Sama (I know that American Factory is the favorite, but For Sama was so powerful in its depiction of medicine in Syria behind enemy lines.)
Sound Editing: Ford v. Ferrari
Sound Mixing: Ford v. Ferrari
Production Design: 1917
International Feature: Parasite (could be the Best Picture for a big upset)
Actress in a Supporting Role: Laura Dern
Amimated Short Film: Hair Love
Animated Feature Film: Toy Story 4
Visual Effects: 1917
Film Editing: Ford v. Ferrari
Documentary Short Subject: Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If you’re a girl)
Live Action Short Film: The Neighbors’ Window
Adapted Screenplay: Little Women
Original Screenplay: Marriage Story
Cinematography: 1917
Original Score: 1917
Original Song: “I’m Gonna Love Me Again”
Director: Sam Mendes
Actor in a Leading Role: Joaquin Phoemix
Actress in a Leading Role: Renee Zellweger
Best Picture: 1917 (* Well aware that “Parasite” may knock it off)

Who Will Be Nominated for the Oscars on January 13th?

“1917” film’s cast and director Sam Mendes in Chicago at the AMC Theater on December 10, 2019.

First, let’s mention the potential Best Actor nominees to be awarded in 2020 for the films of 2019.

BEST ACTOR:
Joaquin Phoenix, who will probably win, if nominated, for “The Joker.”
Christian Bale for “Ford v. Ferrari”
Taron Egerton as Elton John in “Rocketman”
Either or both of Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt for “Once Upon A Time in Hollywood”
Any of the principal actors from “The Irishman,” which includes Al Pacino (most likely), Robert DeNiro and/or Joe Pesci.
Adam Driver for “Marriage Story.”
Possibly Jonathan Pryce or Anthony Hopkins from “The Two Popes.”
These are the actors who have been getting the most buzz to date.
The actual nominees will be named tomorrow.

Noah Jupe appears in Honeyboy by Alma Har’el, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Natasha Braier

BEST PICTURE:

My expectation(s) for Best Picture are:
“The Irishman,” “Once Upon A Time in Hollywood,” “Marriage Story,” “1917,” “Parasite,” and, after that, to make up the field of 10 that the Academy has nominated in recent years, the best bets are: “Us,” “Portrait of a Woman on Fire,” “Honeyboy,” “Joker,” “JoJo Rabbit,” and possibly “Judy” or “The Two Popes.” I would also love to see “Ford v Ferrari” earn a nomination.

BEST ACTRESS:

Renee Zelwegger in “Judy” is going to be hard to beat for Best Actress. Others who might be nominated (for Best Actress) include Scarlett Johansson in “Marriage Story” (she was also in “JoJo Rabbit”); Charlize Theron for “Bombshell;” possibly either of the other two stars of “Bombshell” (Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie).

Those that aren’t nominated for Best Actress or Best Actor might well be nominated for Best Supporting performances. For example, if DiCaprio gets the nod for Best Actor, then Brad Pitt would get the nod for Best Support, and vice versa. This is also true for the women of “Bombshell.” although Charlize Theron’s performance as Megyn Kelly seems the most outstanding, due to her uncanny resemblance to the real Megyn Kelly and her ability to mimic her vocal patterns.

These are all thoughts for Sunday, January 12th, with the answer(s) to WHO WILL BE NOMINATED FOR THIS YEAR’S OSCARS to be announced tomorrow.

Best Movies of 2000-2019?

Cover Photo, Image may contain: 3 people, including Connie Corcoran Wilson

With Oscar Isaac at the premiere of “Inside Llewyn Davis” at the Chicago International Film Festival in 2013.

Two writers (Jake Coyle and Lindsey Bahr) from the Associated Press recently penned an article entitled “A Look at the Decade’s Best Big-Screen Releases.” The list, according to these two, was as follows:

  • “Tree of Life”
  • “Phantom Thread”
  • “Margaret”
  • “Lady Bird”
  • “Moonlight”
  • “Somewhere”
  • “Cold War”
  • “Certified Copy”
  • “Inside Llewyn Davis”
  • “The Grand Budapest Hotel

I would like to comment on their list.

First of all, yes, “Lady Bird” was a great coming-of-age film, especially since it was a directorial debut for actress Greta Gerwig, but the rest of the films on this list lacked audience appeal Big Time. This is a horrible list of the “best” of the decade.  I question whether anyone except these two even saw half the films on it, most notably “Somewhere,” “Phantom Thread” (did not cross the million-dollar threshold in tickets bought), “Cold War” and “Certified Copy.”

I nearly walked out of “Tree of Life” and watched as many others did exactly that. Ultimately, I chose to write a review that you can read here: https://weeklywilson.com/terrence-malicks-new-film-the-tree-of-life-wins-at-cannes-but-will-they-get-it-in-the-heartland/ It was not a film that I enjoyed, nor did most of the audience. It was a Terence Malick film. He’s made some wonderful films. This wasn’t one of them. He’s been off his game for the past few years, and I’ve been reviewing non-stop since 1970. Opening night of the 2017 SXSW Film Festival in Austin was a semi-disaster, to hear the audience coming out of Malick’s film, muttering and shaking their heads. Despite a star-studded cast, wonderful cinematography alone cannot “save” a film. “Tree of Life” falls into that category.

The same incredulity about the entertainment factor applies to “Phantom Thread,” despite its Oscar nominations. Daniel Day-Lewis as a dressmaker in post 1950s London. Poison. Fetishes. Not a crowd pleaser. One of the reviews at the time referenced a pervading sense of melancholy.

“Moonlight” was well done and beat “La La Land” as Best Picture in the infamous mis-read Oscar telecast ballot screw-up. The best thing to come out of “Moonlight,” however, was a higher profile for Mahershala Ali, who went on to star in “The Green Book,” which would have been a better film to include on this list. The films selected by Coyle and Bahr were well done, yes. But enjoyable? Check out what the audiences had to say on Rotten Tomatoes.

While I loved meeting Oscar Isaac in Chicago at the premiere of “Inside Llewyn Davis” back in 2013 at the Chicago International Film Festival, the film was not that entertaining.

“The Grand Budapest Hotel,” Wes Anderson’s entry on the list, did get more Oscar nominations than his much more enjoyable film “Moonlight Kingdom,” but it was not nearly as enjoyable by the audience.

As for “Margaret,” “Certified Copy,” “Somewhere” and “Cold War”: what? The list above is horrible and, furthermore, reducing all of the great movies from 2000 through 2019 to 10 is ludicrous. I narrowed my list down to this:

American Hustle (2013)

Amy (2015, Amy Wineberg documentary)

Argo (2012)

The Babadook (2014)

The Big Sick (2017)

Blackklansman (2015)

Bridesmaids (2011)

Bridge of Spies (2015)

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)

Captain Phillips (2013)

Dallas Buyers’ Club (2013)

Ford v. Ferrari (2019)

Get Out (2018)

I, Tonya (2018)

Inception (2010)

The Irishman (2019)

The King’s Speech (2010)

Twelve Years A Slave (2003)

Manchester by the Sea (2016)

Marriage Story (2019)

Mud (2012)

Nightcrawler (2014)

Once Upon A Time in Hollywood (2019)

The Post (2018)

A Quiet Place (2018)

Room (2015)

The Shape of Water (2017)

Skyfall (2012)

Snowpiercer (2014)

The Green Book (2018)

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

The Social Network (2010)

Director Sam Mendes Appears with “1917” in Chicago December 10 at the AMC Theater

Sam Mendes, director of such classic films as “American Beauty,” “Road to Perdition.” “Skyfall” (one-time husband of actress Kate Winslet—7 years, ending in 2010) visited Chicago with the two leads from “1917.” His co-writer on the film, Krysty Wilson-Caerns and stars George McKay and Dean-Charles Chapman were also in attendance.

“1917, plotwise, is a bit like “Saving Private Ryan.” Two young British soldiers must go behind enemy lines to reach Benedict Cumberbatch, the Commander of 1600 men poised to attack at dawn. New intelligence shows that they will be walking into a trap the morning of April 6, 1917.

Director Sam Mendes, flanked by screenwriter Krysty Wilson-Caerns, Dean-Charles Chapman and George McKay.

Mendes is one of only six people to win a Best Director Oscar for his first film, 1999’s “American Beauty.” He has spent most of his career directing theater productions and told the audience in Chicago, following the showing of his Golden Globe-nominated film “1917” that, because of his heavy-duty theater background, he is used to “judging the audience.”

“I couldn’t take out anything.  It is not ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’ It’s an instinct. To me, it’s part of my theater judging of ‘Yeah, that’s what I want.’” He added, “I was encouraging them (the actors) to live it as much as act it.”

In the Q&A following the showing of the film Mendes told the audience that the film was an homage to his grandfather, who, at the age of seventeen, served in World War I as a messenger. “It’s not about my grandfather because of my grandfather. It was the spirit that I really remembered from his stories. The two leads are two of two million, but representative of those who fought in the war.  The sense of a collection of individuals was very special…It’s 110 minutes in someone else’s life.”

Director of “1917” Sam Mendes (“American Beauty,” “Skyfall,” “Road to Perdition”) and screenwriter Krysty Wilson-Caerns in Chicago at the AMC Theater on December 10, 2019.

The actors were rehearsed for a period of six months. The sets were built to support scenes that sometimes ran, uninterruptedly, for eight or nine minutes. The cinematography is gorgeous. In many cases, the scene had to be achieved in one take. Reciting those principles that good writers have often cited (Show, don’t tell.) Mendes said, “For me, exposition is the death of storytelling,”

Mendes pointed out that the audience is not told the lead’s name or about Lance Corporal Schofield’s family until the end of the film. “You need a good actor is what you need,” said Mendes. He added, “You want the happy accidents that occur.” One such “happy accident” was a scene where George McKay is knocked over (twice) by cast members whom Mendes described as “over-eager extras.” “The crew and I, 92 people watching, were muttering, ‘Get up, George. Get up, George.”

Of the journey of the two soldiers behind enemy lines Mendes said, “The ways the characters react to the space is not unlike the way the audience reacts.” George’s character of Lance Corporal Schofield, the more seasoned soldier of the two, has seen more combat, and tries not to look at the corpses and dead horses along the way, but Dean-Charles’ character, Blake, a novice, (like the audience), looks at everything. “Blake looks at it. He sees a generation gone.”

“1917” film’s cast and director Sam Mendes in Chicago at the AMC Theater on December 10, 2019.

This European attitude towards the ravages of both World Wars is distinctly European and British.  The wars were fought on the continent; the blitzkrieg targeted England. There is, as Mendes said, “a sense of time passing and bodies piling up.”

When “Road to Perdition” was mentioned (another superb Mendes film, which was shot in Chicago), Mendes—who is listed as having only 10 director credits on IMDB (but many producing and TV credits), said, “I loved being here, absolutely loved it.” He went on to relate an anecdote that occurred during shooting in Geneva, Illinois.

“I was walking down the street in Geneva with Tom Hanks on one side of me and Paul Newman on the other. A local woman was coming toward us, walking down the road carrying a Starbucks coffee. As she got closer and could make out the famous faces coming towards her, she passed out. Imagine when she woke up and who was looking her in the eyes but Paul Newman with those blue eyes saying, ‘How you doin’? You okay?”

“1917,” which is garnering awards nominations in many “best of” categories, opens in select theaters on Christmas Day and will be playing wide on January 19th.

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