‘Spotlight,’ ‘Mad Max’ big winners at the Oscars

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Abuse took center stage at the 88th Academy Awards last night. Spotlight, which won the DFW Film Critics Association’s top honor (and was my No. 2 film of 2015) — and was about the Catholic priest sex abuse scandal — won best picture and original screenplay, while Brie Larson won best actress for Room, playing a teenager kidnapped and raped for seven years. And the big winner of the night was Mad Max: Fury Road, a feminist futuristic action film the dealt powerfully with women held as sex slaves. It won six of its ten nominations (film editing, sound editing, sound mixing, production design, costume design, makeup).

The Revenant took three Oscars, all historic in their way. Alejandro Inarritu repeated as best director (he won for Birdman last year), becoming only the third director to win consecutive awards, and the third consecutive Mexican-born winner. His cinematographer, Emmanuel Lubezki, won his third consecutive Oscar (a first) and Leonardo DiCaprio won his first Oscar after six failed nominations in the past.

Alicia Vikander won best supporting actress as the wife of a transgender pioneer in The Danish Girl. The Big Short won for best adapted screenplay. Ennio Morricone won his first-ever competitive Oscar for his score to The Hateful Eight.

The huge upset of the evening was in supporting actor, which went to Mark Rylance as a pawn in international intrigue in Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies. Sylvester Stallone was hotly expected to win his first Oscar for his heartbreaking performance as Rocky Balboa in Creed.

But there were other upsets as well, including best song to “Writing’s On the Wall” from Spectre, composed by out gay man Sam Smith. (Smith incorrectly said he was the first openly gay Oscar winner, but the sentiment was genuine). And Ex Machina, the contemplative sci-fi drama, beat out tough competition to take best visual effects.

Other winners: Inside Out (animated feature), Bear Story (animated short), Son of Saul (foreign language film), Stutterer (live action short), Amy (documentary feature) and A Girl in the River (documentary short).

Chris Rock, a former Oscar host, masterfully addressed the #OscarsSoWhite issue in his monologue and bits.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Oscar nominations are out, and there are some surprises

MadMaxThe Oscar nominations are out, and there are of course some surprises, although the whole year has been full of surprises without a whole lot of consistency among the preliminary group nominations. So, for instance, the amazing Lily Tomlin was overlooked for best actress in Grandma, while her contemporary, Charlotte Rampling, received her first nomination ever for 45 Years.

The big winner, though, was Mad Max: Fury Road, with 10 nominations, though The Revenant — also with Tom Hardy — has the most with 12. In the song category, Lady Gaga (The Hunting Ground) is up against Sam Smith (Spectre), though I suspect both will lose to “Simple Song No. 3″ from Youth.

I was disappointed that Carol was overlooked for picture and director, but did get six noms, including actress, supporting actress and screenplay. Both Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander from The Danish Girl are nominated, but the film didn’t score big otherwise.

Here’s the full list.

bgs-01810r2PictureThe Big ShortBridge of Spies; Brooklyn; Mad Max: Fury Road; The Martian; The RevenantRoom; Spotlight.

Director: Adam McKay, The Big Short; Alejandro G. Inarritu, The Revenant; George MillerMad Max: Fury Road; Lenny Abrahamson, Room; Thomas McCarthy, Spotlight.

Actor: Bryan Cranston, Trumbo; Matt Damon, The Martian; Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant; Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs; Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl.

Actress: Cate Blanchett, Carol; Brie Larson, Room; Jennifer Lawrence, Joy; Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years; Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn.

Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, The Big Short; Tom Hardy, The Revenant; Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight; Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies; Sylvester Stallone, Creed.

Supporting Actress: Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight;  Rooney Mara, Carol; Rachel McAdams, Spotlight; Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl; Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs.

Original ScreenplayBridge of Spies; Ex Machina; Inside Out; Spotlight; Straight Outta Compton.

Adapted ScreenplayThe Big Short; Brooklyn; Carol; The Martian; Room.

CinematographyCarol; The Hateful 8; Mad Max: Fury Road; The Revenant; Sicario.

Film Editing:  The Big Short; Mad Max: Fury Road; The Revenant; Spotlight; Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Score: Bridge of Spies; Carol; The Hateful 8; Sicario; Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Song: ”Earned It,” 50 Shades of Grey; “Manta Ray,” Racing Extinction; “Simple Song No. 3,” Youth; “Til It Happens to You,” The Hunting Ground; “Writing’s on the Wall,” Spectre.

Sound MixingBridge of Spies; Mad Max: Fury Road; The Martian; The Revenant; Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Sound EditingMad Max: Fury Road; The Martian; The Revenant; Sicario; Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Production DesignBridge of Spies; The Danish Girl; Mad Max: Fury Road; The Martian; The Revenant.

CostumesCarol; Cinderella; The Danish Girl; Mad Max: Fury Road; The Revenant.

Visual EffectsEx Machina; The Martian; Mad Max: Fury Road; The Revenant; Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Makeup: Mad Max: Fury Road; The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed out a Window and Disappeared; The Revenant

Foreign Language FilmEmbrace of the Serpent (Colombia); Mustang (France); Son of Saul (Hungary); Theeb (Jordan); A War (Denmark).

Animated FeatureAnomalisa; Boy and the World; Inside Out; Shaun the Sheep Movie; When Marnie Was There.

Documentary FeatureAmy; Cartel Land; The Look of Silence; What Happened, Miss Simone; Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom.

Live Action ShortAve Maria: Day One; Everything Will Be Okay; Shok; Stutterer.

Animated ShortBear Story; Prologue; Sanjay’s Super Team; We Can’t Live without Cosmos; World of Tomorrow.

Documentary ShortBody Team 12; Chau, Beyond the Lines; Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah; A Girl in the River: The Price of Foregiveness; Last Day of Freedom.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Golden Globe Awards: All the winners!

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‘The Revenant’

The Golden Globes aren’t so much a bellwether for the Oscars as they are a kind of checklist that tells us what we maybe should put on our radar. (Nominating for the Oscars ends Monday, and the nominees will be announced Thursday morning.) And there ceremony is often a trainwreck of bad pacing, stale jokes (host Ricky Gervais touched on Caitlyn Jenner and gender pay inequality, but also resurrected old saws about Schindler’s List and Roman Polanski — jokes from the millennium work too, Ricky). And the way the voters in the Hollywood Foreign Press Association cozy up to nominees means there are often unusual (though not necessary wrong) choices … but best comedy to The Martian?! The unexpected win for Lady Gaga, star of American Horror Story: Hotel, seemed to be a genuine surprise, even though the competition wasn’t insignificant; the same was true of Sly Stallone’s sentimental victory for Creed.

Here, then, the winners:

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Best Picture (Drama): The Revenant

Best Actress (Drama): Brie Larson. Room

Best Actor (Drama): Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

Best Picture (Comedy): The Martian

Best Actress (Comedy): Jennifer Lawrence, Joy

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Best supporting actor winner Sylvester Stallone, right, in ‘Creed’

Best Actor (Comedy): Matt Damon, The Martian

Best Supporting Actress: Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

Best Supporting Actor: Sylvester Stallone, Creed

Best Director: Alejandro G. Inarritu, The Revenant

Best Animated Film: Inside Out

Best Foreign Language Film: Soul of Saul (Hungary)

Best Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin, Steve Jobs

Best Score: Ennio Morricone, The Hateful Eight

Best Song: “Writing’s on the Wall,” Spectre

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Best Series (Comedy): Mozart in the Jungle

Best Actress (Comedy): Rachel Bloom, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Best Actor  (Comedy): Gael Garcia Bernal, Mozart in the Jungle

Best Series (Drama): Mr. Robot

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Winner Taraji P. Henson, left, from ‘Empire’

Best Actress (Drama): Taraji P. Henson, Empire

Best Actor (Drama): Jon Hamm, Mad Men

Best Miniseries or Special: Wolf Hall

Best Actress (Miniseries): Lady Gaga, American Horror Story: Hotel

Best Actor (Miniseries): Oscar Isaac, Show Me a Hero

Best Supporting Actress: Maura Tierney, The Affair

Best Supporting Actor: Christian Slater, Mr. Robot

Cecil B. DeMille Award: Denzel Washington

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

DFW Film Critics declare ‘Spotlight’ the best picture of the year

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‘Spotlight’ won best picture

The Golden Globes, Independent Spirit Awards and Screen Actors Guild have all already weighed in on their votes for the best in film in 2015, and not it’s the Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association‘s turn, a group of 31 print, broadcast and online critics (including me) across the region. This morning, the group named Spotlight — about the Catholic priest sex abuse scandal uncovered by the Boston Globe — best picture of 2015, and also won for its screenplay, but The Revenant took the most awards — four.

Unlike many critics’ groups, DFW actually lists runners-up in order, making the top 10 films: 2.The Revenant, 3. Carol, 4. Sicario, 5. Mad Max: Fury Road6. The Big Short, 7. The Martian, 8. Room, 9. The Danish Girl and 10. Brooklyn.

Oak-Cliff-Film-FestivalThe Russell Smith Award, named in honor of the late gay Dallas Morning News film critic, who succumbed to AIDS nearly 20 years ago, recognized cutting edge independent films, for which Russell was a tireless champion. This year’s recipient was Tangerine, the guerrilla-made comedy about two transgender prostitutes on the streets of L.A. one Christmas.

Best actor was awarded to Leonardo DiCaprio, for his nearly wordless performance as a man who swears revenge after a bear attack in The Revenant. The film also won Alejandro G. Inarritu best director honors; Inarritu won last year as well for Birdman, which also won the best picture Oscar. Runners-up for best actor were Michael Fassbender for Steve Jobs; Eddie Redmayne as a transgender woman in The Danish Girl; Matt Damon for The Martian; and Johnny Depp for Black Mass.

Runners-up for best director were Thomas McCarthy, who helmed Spotlight; George Miller for Mad Max: Fury Road; Todd Haynes for Carol; and Dennis Villeneuve for Sicario.

Best actress went to Brie Larson as a fierce mother in Room; she was followed by Cate Blanchett as a lesbian in the 1950s for Carol; Saoirse Ronan as an Irish immigrant in Brooklyn; Charlotte Rampling as a wife discovering her husband’s past in 45 Years; and Carey Mulligan playing a Suffragette.

Supporting winners are actress Rooney Mara, as a young shopgirl discovering she is gay in Carol and Paul Dano as a young Brian Wilson in Love and Mercy. Runners-up for supporting actress were Alicia Vikander (for Ex Machina and The Danish Girl) , Kate Winslet for Steve Jobs; and Jennifer Jason Leigh for The Hateful Eight; for supporting actor: Mark Rylance for Bridge of Spies; Tom Hardy for The Revenant; Idris Elba for Beasts of No Nation; and Benicio del Toro for Sicario.

Other winners include best foreign language film, Son of Saul; best animated feature, Inside Out; best documentary, Amy; and best cinematography and best score, both to The Revenant.

Association president Todd Jorgensen announced that this year’s awards were being dedicated to former DMN film critic Phillip Wuntch, who died in October.

The Academy Award nominations will be announced in late mid-January. My own top 10 list will come out on Christmas Day. Until then, Friday — our annual Hollywood Edition — will profile some likely nominees, and review more than half a dozen films being released for awards consideration in the coming weeks, including Carol, The Danish Girl, The Big Short and, of course, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. We also have an interview with the gay director of Charlotte Rampling in 45 Years.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

“Head Figure Head” more about journalism than about Gov. Rick Perry’s sex life

Head Figure Head, the new e-book from Glen Maxey, details the author’s arduous and frustrating six-month effort to investigate rumors of Gov. Rick Perry’s gay sex life. Maxey served as executive director of the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas (now Equality Texas) during Perry’s tenure as a state representative, later serving for 12 years as a state representative, spanning Perry’s time as agricultural commissioner, lieutenant governor and governor. Of all the people who’ve attempted to look into the rumors of Perry’s trysts with men, Maxey is perhaps best positioned to get to the truth, and takes great pains to ensure we are aware of that fact.

The book is the narrative of Maxey’s research, assisted by a journalist from a national media outlet. Like almost every character in the book other than Maxey and Perry himself, “the Journalist” is referred to only as a pseudonym. Maxey and the Journalist begin their search for proof in June 2011 as rumors of Perry’s impending presidential bid are widely circulating. Immediately the pair find that almost every gay man in Austin has a friend who has a friend who claims to have slept with Perry. For the next three months they track those leads and come excruciatingly close to breaking the story.

—  admin

Navigating our Top 10 News Stories of 2010

In this week’s Dallas Voice, which will be available on newsstands by Friday, we take a look at our Top 10 LGBT News Stories of 2010. Because the list was designed for the print edition, it may seem a little difficult to navigate here, so we thought we’d go ahead and provide this quick reference. As always, you can also download the print edition as a PDF by clicking here.

1. Teen suicides put spotlight on bullying

2. DADT repeal capped 17-year fight

3. Dallas Dems narrowly survived GOP tidal wave

4. As Prop 8, DOMA cases proceeded, Texas made its own marriage news

5. Bus driver’s plight led to trans protections at DART

6. Controversy brewed success for ‘TOTWK’

7. Perry, Dewhurst were tied to cancellation of gay-themed play at Tarleton

8. FW changes continued in wake of Rainbow Lounge

9. Dallasites helped fuel GetEQUAL

10. Rare bathhouse raid sparked controversy

—  John Wright