Earlier today Deadline‘s Pete Hammond offered a standout comment about the “crazy” BAFTAs and particularly their Best Film nominees. He reminded that this is a category not juried but voted on by the larger Academy, and “the contenders for the biggest award of the night are solidly white. The Father is about white people dealing with dementia; The Mauritanian is about white lawyers defending a suspected 9/11 terrorist; Nomadland is about white Americans dropping out of society and taking to the road; Promising Young Woman is about white thirtysomethings dealing with issues going back to school days; and The Trial of the Chicago 7 is about white lawyers defending and prosecuting six white (and one Black) males for causing a riot at the 1968 Democratic Convention.”
When I first saw James L. Brooks‘ Broadcast News I had this thought about Jack Nicholson‘s performance as Bill Rorash, a network news anchor in the classic tradition. My thought was that Nicholson was fine, but that if Brooks wanted to be nervy and outside-the-box he could’ve gotten Roger Mudd to play the part. Mudd, who was 58 or 59 when the film was made, really was “that guy” — a certain steady and settled vibe, an Eastern establishment, Ivy League bearing. good-looking. Plus an authentic, real-deal reporter. He could have also played an ad agency or baseball team owner.
Charlton Heston passed on 4.5.08 at age 84. The poor guy had been grappling with Alzheimer’s Disease for the previous six years or so. In such a condition, departure for realms beyond isn’t the worst option. I posted the following when I heard the news:
(1) I saw Heston speak at a black-tie dinner at the Beverly Wilshire maybe nine or ten years ago. He didn’t carry a cane but he could barely walk — just shuffling along. I considered him a kind of enemy at that point because of his support of the NRA but my heart went out when I saw what lousy shape his legs were in. That brawny muscular guy in the loincloth who played oar-rower #41 in Ben-Hur had become a frail old coot in a toupee. What a rotten thing it is to suffer the infirmities of age.
(2) His best screen moment happened in the last act of The Big Country, when his ranch-hand character in The Big Country decides to abandon a short-lived ethical mutiny against his ruthless employer, played by Charles Bickford, and follow him into Blanco Canyon and an almost-certain gun battle to the death. When the rest of the hands who had briefly sided with Heston catch up and join them, Heston looks at Bickford with utter revulsion, in part because he knows he can’t defeat him but also because he knows that he’s emotionally trapped.
(3) The best story Heston ever told was when Ben-Hur director William Wyler spoke to him in his dressing room after the first or second day of shooting and said, “Chuck, I’ve thought about your performance over the last couple of days and you’re going to have to be better.” Sure, Willie, said Heston — just tell me what you want, what to do. “I can’t say exactly because I don’t know,” said Wyler. “I just know you have to be better.” And then Wyler said “see ya” and left the room. Heston said something about pouring himself one or two stiff ones and taking a long walk.
(4) Heston should have shown more humanity about gun laws in the wake of the Colombine shootings. He and the NRA should have thought more carefully about gun users being tested for a license, and about the proliferation of automatic weapons. If there was such a thing as answering for your sins at the gates of paradise, right about now St. Peter would definitely be asking Heston to join him on a nearby park bench and explain the gun thing.
In all my decades of movie-obsessing, only one film has given me pause in the matter of male anatomy. Pause and a slight feeling of discomfort.
I must have been 14 or 15 years old as I watched this scene from Mr. Roberts in our family TV room, and I distinctly remember saying to myself, “Jesus, you can see Jack Lemmon‘s twin gonads right through his Navy khaki pants.” I found it distracting and distasteful.
If I’d been directing (not sure if it was John Ford, Mervyn LeRoy or Joshua Logan shouting “action” and “cut” when this scene was shot), I would have pulled Lemmon aside and told him to duck into wardrobe and put on one of those metal jockstraps that baseball catchers wear. That or stuff his underwear with a big wad of toilet paper, Mick Jagger-style.
HE’s all-time favorite Lemmon performances: Operation Mad Ball, Some Like It Hot, The Apartment, Days of Wine and Roses, The Fortune Cookie, Save the Tiger, The China Syndrome, Missing, Long Day’s Journey Into Night, JFK, Glengarry Glen Ross, Short Cuts, Off the Menu: The Last Days of Chasen’s (13).
I don’t know what to say about the just-announced DGA nominees for Best Direction of a Feature. I know what I can say…congratulations to the nominees! And special golden congrats to Nomadland‘s Chloe Zhao — obviously the designated winner barring a devastating meteor bombardment or a 8.0 earthquake on the day of the DGA ceremony — Saturday, April 10. Congrats also to The Trial of the Chicago 7‘s Aaron Sorkin (deserves the honor, probably won’t prevail), Mank‘s David Fincher (ditto), Minari‘s Lee Isaac Chung (not a chance) and Promising Young Woman‘s Emerald Fennell.
Why wasn’t Fennell nominated for Best First Feature? She would have been a likely winner if she had been, no? As it stands, the BFF nominees are One Night in Miami‘s Regina King, The Father‘s Florian Zeller, The 40-Year Old Version‘s Radha Blank, Sound of Metal‘s Darius Marder and — whut? — I’m No Longer Here‘s Fernando Frías de la Parra.
Hollywood Elsewhere agrees with the DGA’s decision not to nominate Max Barbakow, director of the deeply loathed Palm Springs — not for Best First Feature or Best Best Direction of a Feature. Movies like Palm Springs make he want to jump off tall buildings.
Good Morning Britain‘s Piers Morgan went off yesterday morning on Megan Markle, whom he apparently regards as something of a shifty personality who manipulates and cuts people off at random. (Morgan is one of those she’s cut off, he admitted.) He ranted too strongly as thousands of Twitter complaints were posted in response. Two days ago Harry told Oprah Winfrey that someone in the royal family had voiced a concern about the potential skin shade of their unborn Archie. This struck Morgan as incomplete and incendiary.
This morning Morgan and GMB weatherman Alex Beresford got into a long argument about the merits, and you can just feel the vibe — Beresford believes Morgan is some kind of unconscious toxic racist and Morgan feels this right back, and their argument was as fascinating as the one between Lester Maddox, Jim Brown and Dick Cavett on on 12.18.70.
Beresford: “I understand that you don’t like Meghan Markle. You’ve made it so clear a number of times on this program, and I understand that you had a personal relationship with Meghan Markle and she cut you off,” Beresford said. “Has she said anything about you after she cut you off? She’s entitled to cut you off if she wants to. And yet you continue to trash her.” In response Morgan lost his temper and walked off the set.
Hollywood Elsewhere apologizes for posting about the 2021 BAFTA noms three hours later than I should have:
All hail Sarah Gavron‘s Rocks, which has matched Chloe Zhao‘s Nomadland with seven (7) BAFTA noms — the top two nom-getters. For a reason.
If nothing else, the 2021 Woke BAFTA noms have inspired me to finally see Gavron’s well-reviewed film, which premiered at the 2019 Toronto Film Festival, and received some sort of theatrical and/or streaming play in England last year.
The only problem is that when you do an Amazon search for Rocks, you get links for 30 Rock, School of Rock, Rock of Ages, Rock Dog and so on. Search the Criterion Channel and up comes Rocky VI, Rock ‘n’ Roll High School and The Rocking Horse Winner.
Congrats also to BAFTA Best Actress nominees Bukky Bakray, the star of Rocks, and Wunmi Mosaku, the Nigerian-born star of a 2020 British horror film, His House, which is playing on Netflix. Other Best Actress BAFTA nominees are Radha Blank (The Forty-Year-Old Version) and Alfre Woodard (Clemency) plus Pieces of a Woman‘s Vanessa Kirby and Nomadland‘s Frances McDormand.
Does this roster strike anyone as a little…uhm, wokester-mandated? Maybe a little bit? As pointed out in the People’s Central Committee “conscious voter training” manual?
I’ll tell you what’s happening here, and what it is ain’t exactly unclear. Following last September’s BAFTA diversity review, which was prompted by the BAFTAS-so-white hashtag, the BAFTAs have become a People’s Central Diversity Committee thing, and if you don’t go along with it or think it’s a bit skewed….well, you need to get with the program.
The Lead Actor nominees are HE’s own Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal), the late Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Adarsh Gourav (The White Tiger), Anthony Hopkins (The Father), Mads Mikkelsen (Another Round) and Tahar Rahim (The Mauritanian).
I wasn’t exactly riveted by Gourav’s performance (too many blank smiles, didn’t care for the outdoor-pooping scene) and I thought Rahim’s performance was….well, okay but oddly passive. No issues with these guys being nominated, of course, but we all know what’s going on here. As HE’s friendo #1 says, “It’s the mandated woke thing, the obsessive ritual embrace of POCs, the shunning of white male actors. Ordinary people can spot this from a mile away.”
In fact let’s turn the show over entirely to friendo #1 and friendo #2…..take it away!
Friendo #2: “The BAFTAs went full equity. They did not trust their own members to choose the nominees for Best Director or the acting categories, which were selected by a jury, and the jury wasn’t even entirely composed of BAFTA members. They did this because they were called racists last year. It is just so self-serving. The idea is it’s supposed to be a competition where voters pick what they like best. But they removed that part of it and simply inserted the most diverse nominees in those categories. That is a perfect description of equity. It is simply not right to pretend to have a competition where you micro-manage or ‘cheat’ your way into good headlines. Why would anyone want that to be their achievement? Selected to make BAFTA look good? They want a pat on the back, fine, give it to them. But let’s not pretend these are competitive in any way. Why would anyone want that?”
Friendo #1: “They are trivializing the awards season right out of existence.”
Friendo #2: “And if you look at Film Twitter right now you will see the typical virtue signalers are out in force. I’m sure Mark Harris is going to pretend these are legit, white saviors on the loose.”
Friendo #1: “[They seem to be saying] it was only ‘racial bias’ that was preventing a micro-movie that no one cares about and that would never in a million years have been an awards contender like The Forty-Year-Old Version from getting the recognition it deserved!! Mark Harris is all in on this stuff. He’s become a black-armband-wearing cultural Gestapo agent, who mocked the canceling of those Dr. Seuss books by saying they were books ‘no one wanted any more.’ No one! Absolutely no one! And he gets to decide!”
Friendo #2: “Seriously this assumes that everyone is wrong about worth and that notions of ‘quality’ themselves are driven by white supremacy. That changes the whole definition of what is ‘good’ because white people can’t be trusted to judge quality. It’s completely insane. The BAFTAs should say ‘because we’re racists we’re going to stop having film awards and now we’re going to select by a woke jury the right contenders.’”
Friendo #1: “That’s exactly what they’re saying. With one rather luscious irony built in. The people who are making this judgement (about the cosmic racial historical fallacy of the judgment of white people)…are white people! What’s going on now with the BAFTAS, the Oscars and even the Globes…what’s going on is that the film world has stopped having film awards. They’ve swapped in something else…the Woke Feel Good If You’re a Person of Color Awards!