New York, Nov 27 (AP/UNB) — In the first major soiree of Hollywood's awards season, Chloe Zhao's elegiac, lyrical Western "The Rider" took best feature film at the 28th annual Gotham Awards.
It was a surprising, but far from baffling conclusion to the Gothams, the New York-based gala for independent film, held Monday night at Cipriani's Wall Street in downtown Manhattan. The awards were generally spread around, including a pair of prizes for Bo Burnham's coming-of-age directing debut "Eighth Grade" and Paul Schrader's impassioned Catholic drama "First Reformed."
But the night's final honor went to "The Rider," the second feature by the Chinese-born Zhao, despite no previous awards on the night and only one other nomination: an audience award nod alongside 14 other films. Some may have forgotten it was eligible. Having first premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2017, "The Rider" was nominated by the Gotham's West Coast corollary, the Independent Film Spirit Awards, in February as one of last year's best.
Zhao, too, wasn't in attendance (she is prepping her next film). And few looked more surprised than the producers — Bert Hamelinck and Mollye Asher — who accepted the award. "This is going to be the worst acceptance speech," stuttered Hamelinck.
Yet "The Rider," filmed with Lakota cowboys on South Dakota's Pine Ridge Reservation, persevered over a few Oscar favorites, including Yorgos Lanthimos' period romp "The Favourite" and Barry Jenkins' James Baldwin adaptation "If Beale Street Could Talk."
"The Favourite" still went home with two honorary awards: an award for its acting ensemble, led by Olivia Colman, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz; and a tribute to Weisz. Jenkins applauded the choice of "The Rider" with a standing ovation and a retweet of his earlier praise of the film, in which he called it "ravishing, sublime imagery paired with deeply earnest storytelling."
Unpredictability pervaded the ceremony, especially for the winners, themselves. When the Fred Rogers documentary "Won't You Be My Neighbor" won the Gothams' audience award (not typically a category for documentaries but "Won't You Be My Neighbor" proved a modest summer blockbuster), its director Morgan Neville was stunned, partially since he had already lost best documentary to RaMell Ross' "Hale County This Morning, This Evening."
"To say this was a surprise would be an extreme understatement," Neville said. "Since I didn't know we were nominated."
As an Oscar bellwether, the Gothams, presented by the not-for-profit Independent Film Project , are of little value. Their nominees are chosen by small juries of filmmakers and film critics before some of the fall's films have been seen.
But in the early going, any momentum helps an underdog Oscar campaign, and that seemed especially true of "First Reformed" and "Eighth Grade" — both releases from A24, the indie distributor of "Moonlight" and "Lady Bird."
"First Reformed" star Ethan Hawke took best actor and its 72-year-old writer-director Schrader ("Taxi Driver," ''Raging Bull") won best screenplay.
"Fourteen years. Best attendance. Sunday school," said Schrader, who chose filmmaking over the seminary but remained gripped by his Calvinist upbringing. "I earned this award."
Burnham's "Eighth Grade," starring 15-year-old Elsie Fisher, won for both breakthrough director and breakthrough actor.
"I'm pretty sure this was a glitch in the system or something," began Fisher, who said she had been considering giving up on acting before Burnham cast her. "Me from two years ago would be really proud of me right now."
Tributes were also paid to "At Eternity's Gate" star Willem Dafoe, "22 July" director Paul Greengrass and RadicalMedia founder Jon Kamen. But one of the night's abiding themes was who wasn't there. Toni Collette, star of the horror film "Hereditary," wasn't on hand to collect her best actress award. And Weisz was the only star of "The Favourite" there for the film's ensemble award.
Weisz held up cardboard paddles of Colman and Stone's faces and read statements from each claiming that they were the real standout in Lanthimos' triangular tale of a power struggle in Queen Anne's 18th century court.
"Considering that I'm the only one to turn up," Weisz concluded, "I think I might be the favorite."
Rome, Nov 26 (AP/UNB) — Filmmaker Bernardo Bertolucci, who won Oscars with "The Last Emperor" and whose erotic drama "Last Tango in Paris" enthralled and shocked the world, has died. He was 77.
Bertolucci's press office, Punto e Virgola, confirmed the death Monday in an email to The Associated Press. Italy's state-run RAI said Bertolucci died at his home in Rome, surrounded by family.
Bertolucci's movies often explored the sexual relations among characters stuck in a psychological crisis, as in "Last Tango." The self-professed Marxist also did not shy away from politics and ideology, as in "The Conformist," which some critics consider Bertolucci's masterpiece.
Despite working with A-list American and international stars, Bertolucci always defended his own filmmaking style against what he said was the pressure of the U.S. film industry.
New York, Nov 26 (AP/UNB) — Ricky Jay, a magician, historian of oddball entertainers and actor who appeared in "Boogie Nights" and other films, has died. He was 72.
Jay died of natural causes at his home in Los Angeles, according to his manager Winston Simone. Jay died Saturday.
Jay appeared in several films and television series, including as a cameraman in "Boogie Nights"; in "Magnolia" and "Tomorrow Never Dies"; and in HBO's "Deadwood." He consulted on "Ocean's Thirteen" and "Forrest Gump" and collected rare books on unusual entertainers and performers dating back hundreds of years.
His one-man shows played to packed audiences, where his sleight-of-hand artistry impressed even fellow magicians. In one famous trick, he would pierce a watermelon with a card flung through the air.
He also wrote several books on games, magic and magicians, including "Dice: Deception, Fate and Rotten Luck."
Jay was fond of stories of oddball characters, gamblers and con men in history, and wrote a book celebrating the artistry of Matthias Buchinger, an 18th-century German magician born without legs and hands.
Buchinger artifacts collected by Jay were featured in a 2015 exhibit at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.
"The breadth of his knowledge and appreciation for magic and the allied arts was truly remarkable," fellow actor and magician Neil Patrick Harris tweeted. "Such sad news, such a profound loss."
Jay frequently worked with the playwright David Mamet, who produced his one-man show "Ricky Jay & His 52 Assistants." That sold out all its New York City performances and won an Obie Award for off-Broadway theater productions.
A later Mamet-produced off-Broadway show, "Ricky Jay: On the Stem," played to packed houses for six months. The Associated Press called it a "whirlwind, rollicking journey through forgotten New York history — with specific attention paid to the oddball characters who thrived decades ago on Broadway."
Jay also appeared in Mamet films such as "House of Games," ''State and Main" and "Heist."
Survivors include Jay's wife, Chrisann Verges.
Dhaka, Nov 25 (UNB) - Special attention as well as adequate measures have been taken for the security of Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan as a regional outfit, Kalinga Sena, has issued threats to throw ink on him.
The Kalinga Sena, a fringe outfit in Odisha, has threatened to throw ink on the actor's face for distorting history in his film Ashoka that was released 17 years ago, reports NDTV.
It also threatened to show him black flags on his arrival during the inauguration of the Men's Hockey World cup scheduled to be held at Kalinga Stadium in the city on November 27.
“We will take adequate security measures for the visit of Shah Rukh Khan during hockey world cup. However, the schedule of the actor is yet to be reached,” said Bhubaneswar DCP Anup Sahu.
Hemant Rath, the chief of the outfit, demanded an apology from Shah Rukh for allegedly hurting the sentiments of the Odisha people in “Asoka”.
The outfit alleged that the film dishonoured the state's culture and its people by portraying the Kalinga war in a wrong manner.
New York, Nov 25 (AP/UNB) — Placido Domingo's eyes watered and his voice quavered. After portraying dozens of characters over a half-century on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House, he got emotional being himself.
"For us, the opera singers, it is just like Frank Sinatra said: New York, New York, if you made it, you made it everywhere," the 77-year-old singer from Spain said Friday night when he was honored on stage for the 50th anniversary of his Met debut.
Domingo's career with the Met started a few days ahead of schedule on Sept. 28, 1968, when he replaced an indisposed Franco Corelli as Maurizio in Cilea's "Adriana Lecouvreur" with Renata Tebaldi in the title role and Fausto Cleva conducting. Domingo's performance Friday in the title role of "Gianni Schicchi," the third opera of Puccini's "Il Trittico," was his 52nd role and 695th appearance at the Met as a singer and conductor.
During a ceremony after the opening opera, "Il Tabarro," Met general manager Peter Gelb gave Domingo a pair of gifts.
"Since you have owned this stage for your entire career, we thought we'd give you a piece of it. So this was removed from the stage earlier this week," Gelb said before bestowing a chunk of flooring.
Then he presented Domingo his leather jacket from a 1990s performance of Verdi's "Otello," which had been dipped in gold to mark the golden anniversary.
"This puts you and Elvis in the same class," Gelb said.
Domingo's wife Marta, son Alvaro and two grandchildren looked on as a montage of Domingo's career was shown, including a scene from "Sesame Street" with Miss Piggy.
"The generations go, go, go. I'm very happy to be surviving," Domingo said.
A few bouquets of flowers were thrown from the audience.
"There are some of you that you were at my debut," he said. "You are the judges. You are the ones that make an artist. So thanks to you I have been coming for a half-century."
A tenor for most of his life, Domingo switched to baritone parts about a decade ago. He has sung 150 roles, by his count.
"The last 20 years, it seems to me like that they are five," he said after the ceremony, "Time passes so quickly. One wishes that the time, maybe we can do it in a slow motion now the next years."
Domingo received a standing ovation of about 2 minutes when introduced. Four famous colleagues were recognized from the audience: Martina Arroyo, Sherrill Milnes, Teresa Stratas and James Morris.
"I think Placido's a miracle, and one of the most amazing parts of it is Marta," Stratas said.
Milnes first worked with Domingo in Guadalajara, Mexico, during Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor" and Rossini's "Il Barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville).
"I knew there was a special musicality because he was a tenor who could count. So if you said let's hold it two beats or four beats or three beats or whatever — boom! You got it," Milnes said. "No other tenor did that. And just multiply that a thousand times. It's crescendi, the decrescendi, all the lovely musical things. He's just sharp that way, probably the best."
Domingo is known for indefatigable energy. Morris remembered making his Iago role debut at the Met opposite Domingo's Otello in 1995.
"If he had two days off or three days off, he was going here, going down to Acapulco or whatever," Morris said. "I said, Placi, you're like a shark, if you stop swimming, you'll drown."