New York, Nov 28 (AP/UNB) — The feel-good road-trip drama "Green Book" was named the best film of the year, and its star, Viggo Mortensen, best actor, by the National Board of Review in one of the first in a parade of awards season honors.
The NBR awards, announced Tuesday, gave the Oscar hopes of Universal's "Green Book" a jolt. The film, directed by Peter Farrelly (who typically makes broader comedies like "There's Something About Mary" with his brother, Bobby) was declared an Oscar favorite after taking the audience award at the Toronto International Film Festival.
But in two weeks of release, it has struggled to latch on at the box office, and some critics have called its portrayal of race relations old-fashioned and criticized it for relying on "white savior" tropes. It stars Mahershala Ali as classical pianist Don Shirley, who tours the Deep South in 1962 with a racist Italian-American driver played by Mortensen.
Bradley Cooper's lauded remake "A Star Is Born" also took several top awards, including best director for Cooper, best actress for Lady Gaga and best supporting actor for Sam Elliott.
Barry Jenkins' James Baldwin adaptation "If Beale Street Could Talk" took prizes for Jenkins' screenplay and for Regina King's supporting performance.
Though sometimes called an Oscar harbinger, the National Board of Review, a 109-year-old organization of film enthusiasts, academics and professionals, has typically deviated from eventual best picture winners. It last year chose Steven Spielberg's "The Post." Before that, its top winners were "Manchester By the Sea," ''Mad Max: Fury Road" and "A Most Violent Year."
On Monday night, the Gotham Awards , which honor independent film, selected Chloe Zhao's "The Rider" as its best feature film of the year. Critics groups will soon start weighing in with their picks, starting with the New York Film Critics Circle on Thursday.
Other prizes from the National Board of Review included best ensemble for the cast of the romantic-comedy hit "Crazy Rich Asians"; best documentary to the popular Ruth Bader Ginsberg chronicle "RBG"; best screenplay to Paul Schrader's "First Reformed"; best animated feature to "Incredibles 2"; best foreign language film to "Cold War."
The awards will be handed out in on January 8 in New York at a gala hosted by Willie Geist.
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."
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 24 (AP/UNB) — The family of Kim Porter released a statement honoring her life a day after Thanksgiving, saying "although we've lost our best friend, God has gained a special angel and we know she is watching over us."
Porter, a former model and actress who was also the longtime former girlfriend of Sean "Diddy" Combs, died unexpectedly last week at age 47. Authorities haven't given a cause.
"God broke the mold when he made Kim, there was truly no other woman like her. Although her time here on earth was far too short, she lived a life full of purpose and meaning. She was a loving mother and devoted friend. She was the epitome of kindness and grace. There wasn't a person she met who's soul she did not touch. Kim was the type of woman who changed lives for the better," the Porter, Goodwin and Combs families say in a statement Friday to The Associated Press. "She will be forever remembered and missed by so many. As her family, we promise to honor her every day of our lives. We love you always."
Porter was the mother of three of Combs' children. Porter also has a son, actor-singer Quincy Brown, from a previous relationship with R&B singer Al B. Sure!
Her funeral will be held Saturday at Cascade Hills Church in Columbus, Georgia. Paramedics rushed to Porter's house last week after calls saying she was unresponsive. She was declared dead soon after they arrived.