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Cinema Chat: Golden Globes Recap, 'The Post,' 'The Commuter,' And More

Jan 12, 2018

Michigan Theater Lobby
Credit Wikipedia Media Commons / wikipedia.org

A lot is going on the movie world, including the results of the 2018 Golden Globes!  In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's David Fair talks to Michigan Theater executive director Russ Collins about the latest movie news and all of the new films coming to the big screen this weekend.


What Golden Globe Winners Mean for the Oscar Race

On this Golden Globes night, it was all about the women.

With the Golden Globes, it’s less about who wins than what the winners say, especially during today’s politically charged #timesup climate.  It’s also a chance for winners to practice their acceptance speeches and spin some Oscar campaign memes. Only last year, Meryl Streep rode her incendiary Golden Globes Cecil B. DeMille achievement award speech to an Oscar nomination for not-in-the-bag “Florence Foster Jenkins.”  This year, Oprah Winfrey’s rousing call to arms could yield a run for president.  “I want all the girls watching tonight to know that a new day is on the horizon,” she said. 

“Take us to a time when nobody has to ever say #metoo again!”

When it comes to Golden Globe predictions, it’s always a good idea not to be too cocky, as this idiosyncratic group of 90 Hollywood foreign press always throws a few curves. 2018 was no exception.  While the HFPA didn’t go with “All the Money in the World” star Christopher Plummer for Supporting Actor or Ridley Scott for Director, they did reward “The Greatest Showman” with Best Song — as the second-year-in-a-row winning songwriters Justin Paul and Ben Pasek hugged presenter and “La La Land” star Emma Stone as they left the stage.   After last year’s “La La Land” seven-win sweep, this year the Hollywood Foreign Press spread the love.  Fox Searchlight’s “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” lead the drama field with four wins, for Best Drama, Actress Frances McDormand, Supporting Actor Sam Rockwell and Screenplay Martin McDonagh.  This gives “Three Billboards” a boost going forward, as frontrunners McDormand, Rockwell and McDonagh compete for Oscars with a strong wind in their sails.

“It was great to be in this room tonight,” said Frances McDormand as she accepted her Best Actress award, “and be part of the tectonic shift in the industry’s power structure.  Trust me, the women in this room are not here for the food, we are here for the work!”  Backstage, she added, “there’s no going back.”  Notably, McDormand did little campaigning for this win, nor did her rival, “The Shape of Water” star Sally Hawkins.   Supporting Actor Sam Rockwell beat out “The Florida Project” star Willem Dafoe with his role as a bigoted cop in “Three Billboards.”  “Yeah, baby wow,” said the indie character veteran, thanking Searchlight (with a total of six awards for the night) for releasing a movie people actually wanted to see, and writer-director McDonagh for “not being a dick.  Frances McDormand, you are a badass, a force of nature,” he continued.  “It was really fun to be your sparring partner.  Thanks for making me a better actor.”

It was a good day for Mexico, too, as Disney/Pixar’s “Coco” won Best Animated Feature on its inevitable road to an Oscar win.  Searchlight’s “The Shape of Water,” which led the 2018 Globe nominations with seven nominations, took home Best Director for Guillermo del Toro (his second nomination and first win) and Composer Alexandre Desplat.  “Somewhere Lon Chaney is smiling upon all of us,” said monster-lover Del Toro, who gains momentum for a Best Director Oscar nod.  Not getting a boost was Steven Spielberg’s “The Post,” with six nominations, which went home with nothing, along with such popular Oscar contenders as Luca Guadagnino’s “Call Me By Your Name,” Jordan Peele’s “Get Out,” Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk,” and Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Phantom Thread,” which has been a notable no-show in recent guild nominations.

Gaining ground in the Oscar race is Greta Gerwig’s comedy frontrunner “Lady Bird” (A24), which wound up with two Golden Globes, Best Comedy and Comedy Actress Saoirse (Sur-shah) Ronan for her role as a rambunctious teenager eager to escape Sacramento.  Backstage, Gerwig reminded that her title character was not like her at all, in fact, but closer to who she would have liked to be. 

Supporting Actress went to Neon’s “I, Tonya” star Allison Janney, who had scored six Globe nominations and no wins on the TV side, and was delighted to win for a film.  On the red carpet, she called beleaguered skater Tonya Harding’s mother “a loving, nurturing mom.”  Janney will continue to duke it out at SAG and the Oscars with another actress playing a formidable mom, theater star Laurie Metcalf, in “Lady Bird.”

Inevitably, Gary Oldman’s Winston Churchill took home Best Actor Drama for World War II drama “Darkest Hour,” his first Globe nomination and win.  “I’ll be learning about the man for many years to come,” said Oldman.  “Words and actions can change the world, and boy does it need to change.”  The British star is still the frontrunner for Best Actor at the Oscars.

Auteur James Franco won Best Comedy Actor for A24’s true show business story “The Disaster Artist,” which pushes him into position for a Best Actor Oscar nod — along with his graceful speeches on and backstage, thanking collaborators Tommy Wiseau, Seth Rogen, and brother Dave.

German filmmaker Fatih Akin’s “In the Fade” beat out shortlisted Oscar contenders “The Square,” “Loveless,” and “A Fantastic Woman” for Best Foreign Film, partly because it was his most personal film to date, he said.  Cannes Best Actress winner Diane Kruger returned to her native Germany to star as the woman who fights back against terrorists.  Will it make the final Oscar five?  Only the foreign language committee knows for sure.

Many women took advantage of the Globes stage to make pointed comments, from movie star Nicole Kidman, who followed up her Emmy win with an drama acting award for Globe-winner “Big Little Lies” (along with fellow repeaters Laura Dern and Alexander Skarsgard), thanking her mother Jenelle for fighting so hard for women’s rights, to #timesup leader Reese Witherspoon, who told women who are harassed and abused: “We will tell your stories.”

“Here are all the male nominees,” declared Best Director presenter Natalie Portman, and Best Drama presenter Barbra Streisand made the point that it’s been 34 years since a woman (Streisand, for “Yentl,” in 1983) won a Best Director Golden Globe. “Folks, time’s up,” she said.  “We need we more women directors and more women to be nominated for best director!”

Film and TV star Elisabeth Moss (“The Square”) also nabbed a second award for “Handmaid’s Tale,” which won again for Best TV drama. “We want to tell stories that reflect our lives back to us,” said Moss. “We want to see those stories, we want to see ourselves.  We also believe in having as many women behind the scenes as possible.  It’s also what people want to see.”

Laura Dern added: “Many of us were taught not to tattle, it was a culture of silence.  Let’s support restorative justice.  May we teach our children that speaking out without the threat of retribution is our culture’s new north star.”

The shift in the industry, Oldman said backstage, “is an evolution, a wheel is turning, a notch in the evolutionary wheel.  We’re still coming out of the mists of time.  What we do, what we say and how we do it and say it and who we do it to, are very important, and if that is exposed it’s a good thing.  I’m wearing black, I was in solidarity with this #timesup movement.  The film illustrates what can come from standing up and saying ‘no more, we’re not going to take it anymore.'”

OPENING DOWNTOWN

"The Post"

From Director Steven Spielberg, this film stars Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks in the true story of the country’s first female newspaper publisher and a hard-driving editor who join an unprecedented battle between journalism and the government, which led to the publication of the Pentagon Papers in 1971.  The consensus on Rotten Tomatoes reads “The Post's period setting belies its bitingly timely themes, brought compellingly to life by director Steven Spielberg and an outstanding ensemble cast.” "The Post" is now playing at the Michigan Theater.

"Phantom Thread"

And Daniel Day-Lewis and Director Paul Thomas Anderson have reunited for this filmopening early next Thursday, January 18th.  In the film, Day-Lewis plays Reynolds Woodcock, a renowned dressmaker whose fastidious life is disrupted by a young, strong-willed woman, Alma, who becomes his muse and lover.  The film has been described similarly to Anderson and Day-Lewis’ previous collaboration, "There Will Be Blood," and Anderson has cited Hitchcock’s "Rebecca" as a strong influence.  It also reported to be Daniel Day-Lewis’ last onscreen role before retirement.

SPECIAL SCREENINGS DOWNTOWN

"I Drink Your Milkshake!" 

In celebration of the career of Daniel Day-Lewis, a new film series is arriving at the State Theatre, our first film retrospective of 2018: I Drink Your Milkshake!  The series will run Tuesday, January 16th through Thursday, January 18th and include 6 of best Day-Lewis’ best known roles including "My Left Foot," "The Last of the Mohicans," "In The Name of the Father," "Gangs of New York," "Lincoln," and "There Will Be Blood."

"A Taxi Driver"

The Korean Cinema Now film series will begin at the Michigan Theater this Saturday, January 13th at 1:00 PM presented by the Nam Center for Korean Studies at the University of Michigan.  Premiering the series is "A Taxi Driver:" In 1980, a foreign journalist hires a down-on-his-luck taxi driver to take him to Gwangju, South Korea.  They soon arrive to find a city under siege by student protesters and the military.  This series is free and open for all to attend!

"Me, The 'Other'” 

And on Monday, January 15th, the Michigan will premiere this film at 7:00 PM.  The film is a documentary about 12 students at 3 Washtenaw County Campuses who set out to tell stories of differences due to prejudice, ignorance, and discrimination and found “otherness” is never one thing.

CONTINUING DOWNTOWN

It was a terrific weekend at the Golden Globes for films continuing to play at the Michigan and State Theatre!

"Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"

The biggest winner of the night was this filmwhich is now playing at the State Theatre and took home 4 awards: Best Dramatic Motion Picture, Best Actress in a Drama for Frances McDormand, Best Screenplay for Martin McDonagh, and Best Supporting Actor for Sam Rockwell.  In the film, Frances McDormand plays a grieving mother who paints three signs leading into her town with a controversial message directed at the town's revered chief of police.

"Lady Bird"

Also playing at the State: this film took home 2 awards for Best Comedic Motion Picture and Best Actress in a Comedy for Saoirse Ronan, who plays an artistically-inclined seventeen year-old coming of age in Sacramento, California in the early 2000s.

"I, Tonya"

Allison Janney won the award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as LaVona Fay Golden, Tonya Harding’s mother in this film, which tells the incredible true story of the controversial competitive figure skater in the early 1990s.

"The Disaster Artist"

And James Franco took home the Best Actor in a Drama award for his role as Tommy Wiseau in the film about the making of The Room, considered by many to be the “Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made.”

"Star Wars: The Last Jedi"

Although it was not nominated for any Golden Globe awards, it also continues to play at the State Theatre and was the 3rd highest grossing film in the country last weekend.

"The Shape of Water"

At the Michigan Theater, this film continues to play following a Best Director win for Guillermo del Toro and Best Original Score for Alexandre Desplat.  In the film, Sally Hawkins plays a mute custodian working in an isolated government laboratory where she develops a friendly relationship with a scaled creature living in a water tank.

"Darkest Hour"

Starring Best Dramatic Actor winner Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill at the dawn of World War II, who was faced with the decision to either make peace with the spreading Nazi empire or drag his country through war and fight to the end.

OPENING AT THE MULTIPLEX

"Paddington 2"

Paddington the Bear is back and has now settled with the Brown Family where he has become a popular member of the community, spreading joy and marmalade wherever he goes.  But one fine day, Paddington spots a pop-up book in an antique shop – the perfect present for his aunt’s 100th birthday - until it is stolen and Paddington must embark on an epic quest to unmask the culprit before the big celebration.

"Proud Mary"

This film stars Taraji P. Henson as Mary, a hit woman working for an organized crime family in Boston, whose life is completely turned around when she meets a young boy whose path she crosses when a profession hit goes bad.

"The Commuter"

Liam Neeson returns to the role of action star. This time he plays Michael, an insurance salesman on his daily commute home which quickly becomes anything but routine.  After being contacted by a mysterious stranger, Michael is forced to uncover the identity of a hidden passenger on the train before the last stop.  As he works against the clock to solve the puzzle, he realizes a deadly plan is unfolding, and he is unwittingly caught up in a criminal conspiracy that carries life and death stakes for everyone on the train. 

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at 734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at dfair@emich.edu