I love, love, love movies that are beautifully written, with monologues that go on for minutes, acted out by thespians who are at the top of their craft, with a cast that is as good as they are.
Sitting in a movie theater while a screen legend brings the fire, the pain, the heart, and the love, using words that were written by master craftsmen, just inspires me so much.
I felt that way when I sat mesmerized in a theater last week by “Fences,” the new movie Denzel Washington and Viola Davis burned through the screen in. Based on a Pulitzer-Prize winning play by August Wilson, “Fences” tells us a simple story of a married couple in 1950s Pittsburgh, with Denzel’s Troy character the hero of his own world as a garbageman still bitter about not getting the chance to play baseball in the major leagues. He’s a flawed man raging at slights, real and imagined, but he’s trying to do his best by his family and his son.
Denzel is phenomenal in this role, especially in the scenes where he’s just riffing to his buddies and his wife. Oh yeah, that wife is played by the fantastic Viola Davis, who more than holds her own as Rose, Troy’s long-suffering wife who indulges his crazy talk because she knows he’s, deep down, a good man.
Until we learn, maybe he isn’t. Davis lights up when she finally gets a chance at a few good monologues of her own, tearing into Troy as she asserts herself for the strong, independent woman she is.
The supporting cast is great, too, especially Mykelti Williamson as Troy’s brother, who suffered a serious head injury in World War II and has been radically altered in more ways than one.
“Fences” is terrific filmmaking, which is why I’m thrilled it got nominated for Best Picture on Tuesday, with Davis and Washington deservedly getting acting nods as well.
Oh yeah, the Oscars nominations came out Tuesday! And some non-white people got picked in the big categories, whoo-hoo! After two years of the Oscar picks being paler than a Trump rally, we got some welcome change.
All kinds of people of color are up this year, including Washington, Davis, Dev Patel for “Lion” and director Barry Jenkins for “Moonlight.”
We’ll see if any of these people actually win, but hey, at least you gotta give the Academy credit for finally realizing that non-white people occasionally do good stuff.
**Next up, I wrote here last year about my newfound appreciation for Aziz Ansari, who created and starred in the Netflix show “Masters of None,” which ought to be coming back for Season 2 soon.
Ansari is also a fabulous stand-up comic, and over the weekend he did a really strong opening monologue (apparently that’s the word of the day here at Wide World of Stuff) on “Saturday Night Live.”
Stay through to the end, that’s the best part.
**And finally today, it’s feeling an awful lot like 2006 at the Australian Open, and it’s so great.
Venus Williams, age 36, making one hell of a resurgent run and reaching the semifinals, where she’s one win away from probably playing her sister Serena in the finals (wouldn’t that be something?)
And my man Roger Federer, given up for dead in terms of him ever winning another major, just two wins away from Slam title No. 18 in his first major tournament since missing six months with a knee injury last year.
Federer is playing out-of-his-mind right now, hitting winners and moving about the court like a guy who’s 25, not 35. He has to play Stan Wawrinka in the semis, which will be no cakewalk, and then maybe, could it be… Rafa Nadal in the finals?
The tennis Gods have been so good to us the last 10 years or so. Is it too much to ask for one final Williams-Williams championship match, followed a day later by one more Federer-Nadal match? I mean, come ON tennis Gods, we’re stuck with President Trump, can’t we at least get this?
Jason Gay at the Wall Street Journal has a fabulous article up on the Federer resurgence, and what so many of us tennis fans are feeling right now.