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Ten months into the year, it’s hard out here for an Oscar contender. Being worthy of remembering, or being watched by Academy members, demands a warm film-festival reception, rave reviews, effective marketing and distribution, strong theater attendance, and word of mouth. Check out this curated (alphabetical) selection of long-shot performers who are worthy of Oscar consideration, but may see their movies get lost in the intense competitive awards shuffle.
Category: Best Actor
Awards: Nominated for Best Actor by SAG and the Oscars for “Trumbo,” Cranston won three Best Actor in a Drama Emmys for playing Walter White in “Breaking Bad” and won SAG Best Actor in TV movie as LBJ in “All the Way.”
Last Hit: “Why Him?” ($60 million domestic)
Title: “Last Flag Flying” (Amazon Studios)
Bottom Line: This layered New York Film Festival opener stars Cranston in one of his signature large, colorful, entertaining performances as Sal, a hard-drinking bar owner who hasn’t changed much since he was a Marine 35 years ago. In Richard Linklater’s comedy-drama (that he roughly adapted with novelist Daryl Ponicsan, from his sequel to “The Last Detail”), Sal meets up with two ex-Marine buddies played by Steve Carell and Laurence Fishburne. The movie earned positive notices from critics, but mixed reaction from the NYFF opening-night industry crowd. Amazon will take it out November 3, where it could find a warm reception from military-friendly audiences around the country. The Academy actors loved Cranston in “Trumbo,” and could respond to this showy role as well.
Quotes: “It’s a male-bonding road movie,” said Cranston. “What I felt when I read it was an emotional reaction to these men; I feel for them. They have a shared history in the Marine Corps; Sal needs to be the center of attention, to have the upper hand. He’s stuck in the past, with the same personality and aggression and testosterone drive as he had when he was 18-19-20. He never matured. All three men bring innately different energies with that history; it’s a cacophony, a symphony.”
Photo by Jack Dempsey/Invision for Chase Sapphire/AP Images
2. Sam Elliott
Category: Best Actor
Awards: Won the 2015 Critics Choice Television Award for Best Guest Performer in a Drama Series for “Justified” (2010), the 1990 Golden Boot Award, and shared five Bronze Wrangler awards.
Last Hit: “I’ll See You in My Dreams” ($7.4 million domestic)
Movie: “The Hero” (The Orchard)
Bottom Line: This Sundance entry yielded upbeat reviews and box office ($4 million domestic). Actors will relate to this poignant story of an aging actor with cancer who is lauded for his hit westerns but carries regrets for a personal life unfulfilled. The film reunites Elliott with Brett Haley, his director in “I’ll See You In My Dreams,” which saw a Gotham Award nomination for Blythe Danner. With Best Actor a slim field, the respected veteran is a dark-horse candidate.
Quotes: “Brett and I spent a ton of time traveling together on the press tour for ‘I’ll See You in my Dreams.’ We had a lot of conversations, and got to love and respect each other. When he got back, he wrote a script for me. It’s borne out of the dialogue I had with him, so there’s a creepy amount of truth even while it’s a complete departure from any fact: I’m still married to Katharine [Ross] after 33 years, I love my daughter more than anyone in the world, and I was always there as she was growing up. I don’t smoke dope. I don’t have cancer. Apart from that, it’s pretty recognizable.”
Category: Best Actor
Awards: Nominated for Best Ensemble for SAG for “The Social Network,” and for Best Actor for “Hacksaw Ridge” for the BAFTAs, Golden Globes, Critics Choice Awards, SAG and the Oscars.
Last Hit: Mel Gibson’s “Hacksaw Ridge” ($67 million domestic)
Movie: “Breathe” (Bleecker Street)
Bottom Line: Garfield earned raves for portraying polio-ridden quadriplegic Robin Cavendish, but mixed reviews and treacly marketing for this Andy Serkis true drama took their toll with a weak opening weekend (and a low-attendance official Academy screening). But Garfield is on a roll: He earned raves for his recent roles as a starving missionary in Japan in Martin Scorsese’s “The Silence” and Prior Walter in the National Theatre’s “Angels in America.”
Quotes: “Robin was unconventional, eccentric, awake to absurdity and the cosmic joke. It was a remarkable thing to experience for a short time, to find it as you go. After the choice to live, Robin finds, with the help and love of Diana and those around him, that his life force slowly starts to come back. l found that because my body was inert, all that energy, life force, and chi has to find somewhere to go and was expressed in the face. There was something liberating about that. Usually with film acting, you fear finding that something is too much, but there was no such thing as being too much for Robin. His only vehicle was his face and eyes and that struggle to express himself with his voice. He got good at using his ventilator like an instrument.”
4. Sebastian Junger and Nick Quested
Category: Best Documentary Feature
Awards: Junger and his directing partner, the late photojournalist Tim Hetherington, won the Sundance grand jury documentary prize for Afghan war film “Restrepo,” which was also nominated by the DGA and the Oscars.
Last Hit: HBO’s “The Last Patrol”
Movie: “Hell on Earth: The Fall of Syria and the Rise of ISIS,” (NatGeo)
Bottom Line: While there’s a slew of Syria documentaries this year, Junger and his producer-turned-director Nick Quested create a comprehensible timeline for the ongoing human disaster in Syria with help from go-to documentary writer Mark Monroe (“The Beatles: Eight Days a Week — The Touring Years”). As Junger finished his 2016 book “Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging,” Quested dug into extensive archived and on-site research in Syria and linked up with a Syrian family who were trying to escape from war-torn Aleppo. He gave them a video camera and instructions how to use it. The father was a natural, capturing amazing footage of the family cowering from bombings, escaping to refugee camps and later, to Europe by boat. Junger, who gave up frontline reporting after Hetherington died in Libya (tributed in “Which Way is the Front Line From Here?”), fashions a compelling narration.
Quote: “Isn’t that the point of journalism?” Junger asked me. “To make everything make sense?”
Category: Best Supporting Actress
Awards: Won two Critics Choice and one Emmy Best Actress Drama Award for her multiple roles in BBC America’s “Orphan Black.”
Last hit: “Orphan Black” just wound up its final season.
Movie: “Stronger” (Roadside Attractions)
Bottom line: David Gordon Green brings humor and finesse to the true story of Jeff Baumer, a regular guy whose legs were blown off at the Boston marathon finish line. He survives thanks to his girlfriend Erin (Maslany). She shines in intimate scenes where she lovingly ministers to him and eventually demands that he stand up and become a man. While “Stronger” is not taking off at the box office, reviews for both Gyllenhaal and Maslany have been effusive. Actors will recognize the degree of difficulty in portraying the film’s raw emotions.
Quotes: “[That first intimate scene] is a microcosm of the film, the cell of what the movie is about. Oddly, it was a last-minute addition, part of an early draft that was thrown away. David and Jake needed a scene where you feel the pain Jeff goes through. We pulled off the bandages with little dialogue. It was amazing that Erin was going to be there for him in this difficult time and see the pain he’s in. Sean Bobbit shot it, feeling so deeply what that moment meant. And the editor let it sit for that long, trusting it could live—it’s all one shot, which cuts wide near the end when he’s sick into the basin because of the pain. David does make unusual choices, to make the process human and unexpected and interesting. It was never going to be the idea in my head, but something more off-kilter, expressive and alive.”
6. Jeff Orlowski
Category: Best Documentary Feature
Awards: “Chasing Ice” won the cinematography as well as the documentary audience award at Sundance 2013, the audience documentary award at SXSW, the Cinema Eye Honors Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography, and the News and Documentary Emmy for Outstanding Nature Programming.
Last Hit: “Chasing Ice” ($612K domestic)
Movie: “Chasing Coral” (Netflix)
Bottom Line: After using technology and time-lapse cameras on “Chasing Ice” to show the ravages of climate change on polar ice caps, Orlowski turned his attention to the oceans’ vanishing coral reefs. Over 3 1/2 years, Orlowski took on the task of making accessible and translating decades of scientific research for an uninformed public. The filmmakers welcomed Netflix’s outreach to more than 100 million subscribers in 190 countries. The movie played well at Sundance and is positioned to gain traction in the documentary feature race; it was shortlisted at DOC NYC.
Quotes: “We wanted the film to be an engaging and compelling behind-the-scenes adventure. The hope was the audience might not care about coral reefs, but would see how someone like Zack cares, see his pain and suffering over the loss of ecosystem he loves. Zack undergoes a huge transformation as he watches the dream of his entire life die. It’s like he got to go to Disneyland for the first time to see all the rides fall apart. It’s heartbreaking.”
7. Jeremy Renner
Category: Best Actor
Awards: In “The Hurt Locker,” Renner made us understand the extraordinary toll of the war in Iraq on American soldiers, as well its allure. He earned his second Oscar for Ben Affleck’s well-reviewed heist thriller “The Town,” stealing the movie as a crooked Boston bank robber who doesn’t want his best chum (Affleck) to leave him in the rear view for a straight woman (Rebecca Hall).
Last Hit: “Arrival” ($100.4 million domestic)
Movie: “Wind River” (The Weinstein Co.)
Bottom Line: Renner put his movie stardom to smart advantage, ranging from archer Hawkeye in “The Avengers” to throwing banter with Simon Pegg in “Mission: Impossible.” Those movies make it possible for him to be a magician in love with a Frenchwoman (Marion Cotillard) in James Gray’s “The Immigrant,” or the pompadoured Camden, New Jersey mayor Carmen Polito in David O. Russell’s “American Hustle.” He’s an athletic everyman from Modesto, Calif. who can carry an action film and woo the girl. But those big blue eyes draw us into his deeper feelings; he can be smart and dangerous, but also vulnerable and emotional. He avoided reading the “Wind River” script for a year until he finally read the first 10 pages and was hooked. When he met “Hell or High Water” writer-director Taylor Sheridan, he was up for playing this wily but damaged tracker of predators who investigates an ugly murder of a Native American girl in a remote wintry rural location, aided by an FBI rookie (Elizabeth Olsen). Weinstein Co. launched the film well at Sundance, took it to Cannes where it won best director at Un Certain Regard, and pushed it to $33 million domestic summer success. It would be a pity if the company’s current crisis prevents Renner from getting the attention he deserves for this role.
Quotes: “A movie like ‘Wind River’ lets me flex a bit and go deep, use all six gears… I wanted to explore the loss, the character themes. He’s carrying the weight and the burden of being a father, the righteousness, the humility… he has strength and fortitude, but there’s an emotionally sensitive awareness. There’s a sense of his being fallible and broken and far from perfect. You can judge him by his actions, but he’s compassionate and thoughtful.”
8. John Ridley
Category: Best Documentary Feature
Awards: Won the Independent Spirit Award and the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for “12 Years a Slave.”
Last Hit: ABC series “American Crime.”
Movie: “Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982 – 1992” (ABC)
Ridley knows what he is doing as he builds up to revelations of random acts of heroism. One policewoman and her male partner insisted on returning to the fray to save someone who was being attacked, knowing they would be in extreme danger. When the man asked his partner to contact his wife if anything happened to him, she came out to him by asking him to contact her girlfriend.
The 145-minute cut of Ridley’s “Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982 – 1992” played theaters while an 88-minute version aired on ABC on April 28.
9. Michael Showalter
Category: Best Director
Awards: Both “Hello, My Name is Doris” and “The Big Sick” won the audience award at SXSW.
Last Hit: “Hello, My Name Is Doris” ($14.4 million domestic)
Movie: “The Big Sick” (Amazon Studios/Lionsgate)
Bottom Line: Producers Judd Apatow and Barry Mendel brought Showalter into the development process two or three years in, when he read a long draft of Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon’s true romance. Zoe Kazan, Ray Romano, and Holly Hunter joined Nanjiani in the cast. The movie played well at Sundance, and Amazon acquired it in a bidding war for $12 million; the film went into release over the summer to great acclaim and box office ($42 million). Showalter is a bit of an unsung hero in this narrative, overshadowed by producer Judd Apatow.
Quotes: “[The script] was very long, overflowing with great scenes and ideas. I was very inspired by this big-hearted draft, but it felt like it was not yet in the shape of a movie. I was thinking in terms of seeing what the blueprint structurally is underneath it all. What’s going to make this into a movie? When Ray, Holly, Billy, and other actors were cast, we did 10 more rewrites….This wasn’t a Michael Showalter film per se. I felt like Judd [Apatow] was supportive of every person’s ability to be creative and give all of themselves to the project, knowing when it comes to it, that he would be the person to make a final difficult casting decision. By luck, we worked well together. There is no element that I am secretly handwringing about, that I would have done differently. My director’s cut was my last chance to show every version of what I wanted it to be. Then it became everybody’s movie collectively. We all had a similar vision of what movie we were trying to make.”
10. Lois Smith
Category: Best Supporting Actress
Awards: She won the National Society of Film Critics award for her supporting role opposite Jack Nicholson in “Five Easy Pieces” and shared the Robert Altman ensemble award with the cast of Nicole Holofcener’s “Please Give.”
Last hit: “The Nice Guys” ($36 million domestic)
Movie: “Marjorie Prime” (FilmRise)
Bottom Line: “Marjorie Prime” is a well-regarded arthouse flower co-starring John Hamm as the A.I. version of Marjorie’s late husband, who is eager to learn more about himself and his family. Geena Davis and Tim Robbins play Marjorie’s daughter and her husband, respectively. Now 86, Smith’s performance is huge and heartbreaking, as we look into the future and see the end of life through a new lens. She also cameos in Greta Gerwig’s festival hit “Lady Bird,” but actors will appreciate this performance — if they see it.
Quotes: “I’ve been living with the [Jordan Harrison] play; the Mark Taper Forum’s first production was more than a couple of years ago. Michael Almereyda saw that production and wanted to make a movie of it. And he and Jordan got together and wrote the adapted script. We were faithful to the play, which was different in tone. Michael’s film is more somber, slower in pace, less funny, sadder. It was very interesting for me to go through these various lives with different directors. What a journey.”
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On October 8, when Gillian Anderson and other stars of “The X-Files” took part in interviews before the show’s New York Comic-Con panel, the actress told Screenrant she likely wouldn’t continue after Season 11.
“I think this will be it for me,” Anderson said.
If that’s true, then this should be it for “The X-Files,” too.
There are many reasons that Scully is integral to the long-running “X-Files” franchise, ranging from narrative relevance to the thespian’s off-screen impact. Here are just a few of the most obvious factors:
- “The X-Files” thrives on the yin and yang relationship between Mulder and Scully. He’s a believer, and she’s a skeptic. He pushes her to new heights, and she keeps him from drifting into space. They balance each other out, and the show needs that balance.
- Series creator Chris Carter has emphasized his personal connection to Scully and her necessity to the story multiple times.
- “The X-Files” has tried to shift from a tandem to a unicycle before, and that didn’t go too well.
- Similarly, the series has maintained the same format for its entire run: episodic monster-of-the-week stories and a serialized conspiracy plot. It does not adapt well when change has been forced upon it.
- When “The X-Files” Season 11 was called out for its lack of female representation behind-the-scenes, Anderson helped push for change.
Now, whether or not this really is the end for Scully is still up for debate. Actors change their minds all the time, and it’s unclear whether or not an exit for Scully has been written into Season 11. Also, considering it’s already been announced that the new season will end in another cliffhanger, it seems like Scully will be a part of whatever’s moving forward anyway.
Sustainability needs to be factored in, as well. While “The X-Files” was a ratings hit last year, there’s little reason to believe interest exists in seeing the story continue without its two stars. The new characters introduced in Season 10 did little to stimulate demand for a spinoff, while Anderson and David Duchovny remain powerful icons within “The X-Files” universe and outside it. Nostalgia may have played a factor in viewers revisiting the revival, as well, and a lot of that allure goes away when an original star drops out.
For more on the debate — including reasons for why it will and won’t happen — check out this week’s episode of the Very Good Television Podcast above. IndieWire TV Editor Liz Shannon Miller and TV Critic Ben Travers break down the arguments and throw in a few personal angles to boot.
Don’t forget to subscribe to the Very Good Television Podcast via Soundcloud or iTunes, and follow IndieWire on Twitter and Facebook for all your pertinent TV news. Check out Liz and Ben’s Twitter feeds for lots more. Plus, don’t forget to listen to IndieWire’s other podcasts: Screen Talk with Eric Kohn and Anne Thompson, as well as Michael Schneider’s new podcast, Turn It On, which spotlights the most important TV of each week.
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[Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers about “The Good Doctor” Episode 4 titled “Pipes.”]
Although autistic characters have been seen plenty of times on the big screen, their portrayals on TV have been fewer and far between. Maintaining stories about autistic characters is a challenge that can go very wrong if done without the proper understanding, but the benefits are hopefully worth it if done correctly. “The Good Doctor” is taking its time addressing some of the misconceptions about those on the autism spectrum, and in doing so have made headway in trying to foster greater understanding of how autistic people may not process the world around them as neurotypical people might.
The usual caveats should apply though in discussing autistic surgeon Dr. Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore) though. No two people are a like much less two autistic people, and he also happens to have savant syndrome as well, which adds another layer to his portrayal. Nevertheless, he does exhibit some of the typical behaviors consistent with autism. Below are a few of the ways that “The Good Doctor” has addressed or upended certain misconceptions about those on the spectrum:
Sexual Feelings and Drive Exist
On Monday’s episode titled “Pipes,” it’s revealed that Shaun has watched pornography when he comments that “some” porn have stories and plots. Later, it’s clear that he’s aware of some of the scantily clad women in the advertising around him and that he’s in such a haze while recalling his first experiences viewing porn that he even misses his bus stop. Shaun appears to be aware of his attractive neighbor Lea (Paige Spara), so it will be interesting to see if he will attempt to learn how to have a non-platonic relationship with her or perhaps another woman. Netflix’s “Atypical” also tackles this subject head-on but with a teenage boy.
Feelings Can Be Hurt
Shaun knows when he’s being mocked, and even if he won’t necessarily show it, that doesn’t mean he lacks emotion. The prank that was played on him in childhood by a girl who tried to get him to expose himself clearly has his wary of the opposite sex today. But his feelings are hurt because human connections are important to him, as much as he may seem like a loner.
Atypical Behaviors Can Improve
Autistic people are not doomed to have the same exact behaviors they’ve had since childhood. The more input and interactions are involved, the more that person can learn to navigate the world. Shaun’s savant syndrome gives him a leg up in the knowledge department, but he needs other people to give him cues and clues so that he understands behavior that’s not straightforward. Thus far, he’s been shown to acquire new understanding of sarcasm. No doubt he’s also been learning to grasp the finer points of other humor as well.
On the flip side, Dr. Browne (Antonia Thomas) is also learning how to see things from his point of view and to communicate with him. Their interactions have improved because she’s had more interactions with him.
While it’s true that Shaun has had moments where he cannot understand someone, and therefore either acts inappropriately or has to ask what something means, that does not make him without empathy. In the first episode it’s shown that he’s inspired to be a doctor because of losing a beloved pet and then later his brother. He knows that saving lives doesn’t bring his brother back, but he wants to stop others from dying and suffering in the same way. He has a generosity of spirit that drives him in his calling.
Not All Senses Are as Troubling
It’s been shown in most portrayals of autistic people that the use of headphones can help to cut down on the auditory overload in the environment around them. That is also why many may also put their hands over their ears when headphones aren’t available. While Shaun is seen doing this while approaching a helicopter, he’s only does it when he’s directly under its rotor blades. Beforehand, he informs his colleague Dr. Browne (Antonia Thomas) that he doesn’t actually mind the noise. In fact, he seems to welcome it because he’s fascinated with how helicopters work. His interest in the machinery makes the accompanying noise just part of the package.
Some Behaviors Can Be Managed
In flashbacks Shaun is seen rocking when he’s under great distress. We haven’t seen him do this in adulthood, but sometimes he fiddles with his hands or the toy scalpel he had as a boy when he’s anxious. Other times he sits absolutely still. No behaviors are pervasive but are situational. Even when he fixates on trying to find his screwdriver to the point that he wakes up his mentor to help him look, he’s able to stop the frenzied search cold when told to take a break. If anything, this inconsistency shows that obsessive, blinkered behavior isn’t an absolute. Nothing is.
These are just a few conclusions that can be drawn from watching “The Good Doctor,” which by no means is a perfect show,. Hopefully those who have more neurotypical brains can also learn new behaviors and ways of thinking about people who have autism. So far, it’s been doing well in the ratings, and therefore it’s appealing to many out there. Check back with IndieWire to see how someone in the autism community assesses the show.
“The Good Doctor” airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.
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Wilma King, “Mad” Enough to Kill: Enslaved Women, Murder, and Southern Courts, The Journal of African American History, Vol. 92, No. 1, Women, Slavery, and Historical Research (Winter, 2007), pp. 37-56
“More than two hundred Missourians petitioned Governor John C. Edwards to pardon Nelly, an enslaved teenager indicted for an 1846 murder in Warren County, while twelve jurors voted to execute Celia, a young enslaved woman charged with an 1855 homicide in Callaway County.The reasons compelling white citizens to save one African American and to condemn another are as poignant as the motives that drove the young women to take another’s life. By probing into the rationales for the defendants’ actions and of the men who decided their fates, this essay illuminates similarities and differences in two capital cases linking the enslaved women together through age, legal status, and “madness.” This examination reveals much about sexual exploitation, community standards, color, class, and the judicial process in antebellum Missouri. The study also raises questions about the extent to which the circumstances surrounding Nelly and Celia and their responses were or were not like those of their enslaved
probing in the antebellum era…”
Filed under: Wilma King Tagged: #adphd, african american, article, legal, slavery, united states, violence
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