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!

Tag: Being the Ricardos

Best Actress Nominees: Who Will Win?

Now that the nominees are ‘set’ for the March 27th Oscars, let’s take a closer look at who is up for what, (and who should have been up for what):

In the Best Actress category, the nominees are Jessica Chastain (“The Eyes of Tammy Faye”); Olivia Colman (“The Lost Daughter”); Penelope Cruz (“Parallel Mothers”); Nicole Kidman (“Being the Ricardos”);  and Kristen Stewart (“Spencer”).

I recently published an entire piece on this blog about Jessica Chastain having a banner year, and mentioned her appearance opposite Michael Shannon in “Take Shelter,” back in 2011. (Shannon told me it was his “favorite film” in Chicago at the premiere of “The Shape of Water.”) Jessica was also the guiding light behind the disappointing female action thriller “355,” one of 16 producing credits; she has not been previously nominated for her body of acting work. I  met Ms. Chastain at the Press Red Carpet for Liv Ullman’s directorial debut, directing Jessica and Colin Farrell in “Miss Julie” in 2014.

Considering that her body of work includes such films as “The Tree of Life” (2011), “Zero Dark Thirty” (2012), “Molly’s Game” (2017) and this year’s “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” she is certainly an accomplished actress who has gone somewhat unrecognized for her previous appearances. “Take Shelter,” where she played the unhinged Michael Shannon’s long-suffering wife, was eleven years ago, so we are talking about a body of good work that has existed for over 10 years, without previous nominations. She has 57 acting credits, but has moved into producing, with 16 credits, including this year’s “355” foray into the area of female empowerment action films, (which quickly has become a genre of its own with films like Charlize Theron’s “Atomic Blonde” and 2019’s “The Kitchen” with Melissa McCarthy and Tiffany Haddish). So, the relatively slight recognition given to Jessica Chastain over the years mitigates for her to win in this category, over the much-more heralded Nicole Kidman, who has been nominated 5 times in the past 20 years and won in 2003 for “The Hours.”

On the other hand, anticipating that the Academy will want to give it to the most-heralded film gives the nod to “Being the Ricardos,” which has more overall nominations, including Javier Bardem for Best Actor in a Leading Role and Best Supporting Actor for J.K. Simmons. If the Academy really wanted to reward the least-recognized of the lot after years of good work, probably Penelope Cruz for “Parallel Mothers” would merit that distinction, but it will be the least-seen of the films. Those that have seen “The Lost Daughter” with Olivia Colman are pretty well split about the film, itself, while recognizing that Olivia, as always, was good in it. And let’s not forget that Ms. Colman came out of nowhere to win the Best Actress award in 2018 for “The Favourite.”

So, if I were a betting woman, I’d put my money on Jessica Chastain or Nicole Kidman to win the Best Actress award this year. The “Spencer” film may have had an acceptable performance from Kristen Stewart, but, overall, it was a dreadfully dull film, and one without many facts on which to base the drama (such as it is). Kristen Stewart is the female equivalent of Keanu Reeves. She looked great in the Diana wear, and she held up her end of the action in a film where the Most Exciting Thing that Happens is Diana retrieving her sons from a fox hunt that they were about to participate in and getting weighed in a chair. (No explanation for that latter bit; you’ll have to suffer through the film if you want to know more.) MANY shots of food being prepared in the mansion kitchen (Yawn). I  don’t think that Olivia Colman, Penelope Cruz or Kristen Stewart have a real shot this year, but, if I’m wrong, I’d point to Penelope Cruz in a year when ethnicity matters.

If you want to know who should have been nominated, you can check out the gripers on IMDB.com, but the list could start with Ana Taylor-Joy in “Last Night in Soho,” move on to Lady Gaga in “House of Gucci,” and continue through “Cruella’s” Emmas (Stone and Thompson).

“Being the Ricardos” on Amazon Explores Lucille Ball’s Storied Career

“Being the Ricardos” was scripted and directed by wunderkind Aaron Sorkin. It won screenplay awards and acting kudos from SAG for its leads: Nicole Kidman as Lucille Ball and Javier Bardem as Desi Arnaz. Beyond those top-notch talents, you have J.K. Simmons as William Frawley, Tony Hale as Jess Oppenheimer, and Nina Arianda as Vivian Vance. The Screen Actor Guild awards are considered a good indicator of Oscar nominations and have achieved even more prominence since the demise of the Golden Globes.

Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz, Jr., are listed as Executive Producers and Lucie Arnaz’s reaction to the film was as follows:

Lucie Arnaz released a video on her YouTube Channel on 17 October 2021, in which she called the movie “freaking amazing.” She complimented Aaron Sorkin for making a great movie that really captured the time period and had wonderful casting. She also said that Nicole Kidman “became my mother’s soul.” Little Lucie said that Javier Bardem didn’t look like her dad but, “he has everything that dad had. He has Dad’s wit, his charm, his dimples, his musicality.”

Besides A Few Good Men (1992), Sorkin wrote The American President (1995) and Malice (1993), as well as cooperating on Enemy of the State (1998), The Rock (1996) and Excess Baggage (1997). He was invited by Steven Spielberg to “polish” the script of Schindler’s List (1993). Sorkin’s TV credits include the Golden Globe-nominated The West Wing (1999) and Sports Night (1998).As of 2021, has written three films that were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar: A Few Good Men (1992), The Social Network (2010), Moneyball (2011), and The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020). His screenplays are often noted for the long speeches the actors must master, and he has done uncredited rewrites on some other major Hollywood pictures.

Despite his list of acclaimed scripts, Sorkin has only directed three films: 2017’s “Molly’s Game;” 2020’s “The Trial of the Chicago Seven;” and 2021’s “Being the Ricardos.” It looks like he is finally coming into his own with this behind-the-scenes look at the tumultuous marriage/love story/career of Lucille Ball. I had read much of the source material, which explored her desire for a home and family, which was in conflict with the womanizing reputation of Desi Arnaz, whom she met when he was only 22. A Cuban singer and bandleader, the chemistry between them was undeniable but Desi’s free-spirited high-rolling life proved to be too much for the woman who was the first actress to portray a pregnant woman on television, as she gave birth to Desi while also filming the popular television series “I Love Lucy,” watched by as many as 60 million viewers weekly.

It is while they are dating that Desi—whose father was once Mayor of Cuba’s second-largest city—tells her that she “has a way with kinetic comedy,” meaning that Lucy—like Chevy Chase later on “Saturday Night Live”—had a genius for pratfalls and physical comedy. The script explores Lucille Ball’s journey through the studio system, ultimately being cut  by studios even though she had just had a successful appearance opposite Henry Fonda in 1942’s “The Big Street.” Lucy’s path through radio (“My Favorite Husband” radio show in 1948), which was ultimately turned into the TV show “I Love Lucy” in 1953, showcases the redhead (who was not a redhead for her entire career) as a smart, savvy woman who understood physical comedy and went to the wall to insist that her on-air television husband would be played by her real-life husband, Desi Arnaz.

Desi, at the time, was leading a band that played at Ciro’s night club and singing such songs as “Babaloo” and  “Cuban Pete.” His free-wheeling lifestyle was out-of-synch with what Lucy wanted for her children. At the end of her life, Lucille Ball was married to Gary Morton. Her tumultuous marriage to Desi lasted for 20 years (with a nearly-filed divorce affidavit only 2 years in), while her marriage to Morton lasted for 28 years, until her death in 1989 at the age of 77 from a ruptured aneurysm.  On March 3, 1960, a day after Desi’s 43rd birthday (and one day after the filming the final episode of The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour), Ball filed papers in Santa Monica Superior Court, claiming married life with Desi was “a nightmare” and nothing at all as it appeared on I Love Lucy. On May 4, 1960, the couple divorced; however, until his death in 1986, Arnaz and Ball remained friends and often spoke very fondly of each other.

Much of the drama of this version of Lucille Ball’s life hinges on how Arnaz skillfully defused accusations against Ball that she was a Communist. One interesting bit of trivia: Ball was being considered for the lead female role as the mother in “The Manchurian Candidate,” but director John Frankenheimer insisted on Angela Lansbury for the pivotal role of Laurence Harvey’s scheming power-mad mother.

The film treatment by Sorkin, with music by Daniel Pemberton and music supervisor Mary Ramos features Javier Bardem doing his own singing and conga drum playing as Arnaz. The film is playing on Amazon Prime.


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