Tag Archives: Viggo Mortensen

An Oscars with no host? No problem. My many thoughts on a pretty good Academy Awards show, with a great diversity of winners

One of my favorite nights of the year came around Sunday night, and for once nobody complained about the host of the Oscars.

That’s because, of course, there was no host. And you know what? The show was fine without one. Sure, some of the skits the host does every year are funny, but mostly they’re a waste of time.

I have to say, even though I saw so few of the movies nominated (life with two small kids doesn’t allow much time for adult flick theater-going), I enjoyed this year’s Oscars. No one movie dominated, the show didn’t drag, and I actually saw and liked the movie that won.

Now a lot of people on social media Sunday night were hating on “Green Book,” because of its historical inaccuracies (the friendship between Dr. Shirley and Tony Vallelonga was nowhere near as close as the movie made it, and the family of Dr. Shirley is very unhappy with the portrayal, and there is a bit of a “white hero saves the day” theme of the film), but I have to say, I enjoyed it a lot. Is it a perfect movie? No. But I thought the acting and writing was terrific. I’m happy it won.

— Other things I was super-happy about: Mahershala Ali winning for “Green Book,” Spike Lee finally getting a long-overdue Oscar (you knew his speech would be something epic in scope, and it was), and Lady Gaga winning for best song for “Shallow.”

— Speaking of which… Gaga. Cooper. “Shallow.” Freaking mesmerizing performance. One of the two highlights of the night for me. And Gaga gave a terrific speech, too. I’m rapidly becoming more and more of a fan of hers.

— Haven’t seen it yet but I hear “Bohemian Rhapsody” was fantastic, and it was very, very cool having the “Wayne’s World” stars Mike Myers and Dana Carvey introduce the film. If only we could’ve gotten a “schwwwinnnggg!” out of them.

–It was a night without too many great speeches, but Olivia Colman winning for best actress had the speech of the night. She was adorable, charming, thanking everyone, telling her kids “This won’t happen again” and practically apologizing to Glenn Close for winning, telling her “You’ve been my idol for so long, this is not how I wanted this to be.”

Really sweet, special stuff.

— The other speech I found awesome was from Melissa Berton, co-director of the Best Documentary Short winner, “Period. End of Sentence,” who opened her remarks with “I’m not crying because I’m on my period. I can’t believe a film about menstruation won an Oscar!”

Truer words may never have been spoken from that stage.

— Just a general question: Is there no end to the movies that are made about queens, kings, monarchs, and royals? I mean, haven’t they been exhausted as a subject matter? Please can they be exhausted as a subject matter?

— So there was no host, but Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Mya Rudolph did the closest thing to an opening monologue, being funny and charming and I once again please, why can’t Tina and Amy host every awards show, ever? Please???

–OK, most importantly, the best and worst dressed categories, as judged in the Lewis house, as always, by my wife. On the women’s side, to the good we loved Angela Bassett’s gorgeous dress (above), Julia Roberts is 51 years old and looks amazing, and wow wow wow, again, on Jennifer Lopez, who fulfilled my No. 1 rule for women: You can never, ever be too sparkly. Big points also for Gaga’s dress. The men who dressed great were Chadwick Boseman, Daniel Craig (hey, he’s 007), and Mahershala Ali, who always looks good.

On the bad side, oof, Stephan James and that red tuxedo, my wife was really not a fan. And Kacey Musgraves looked like the cotton candy display at the county fair.

— Enjoyed the Death Montage as always, really thought Penny Marshall should’ve been the Hammer at the end, but hey, Albert Finney was fabulous too, so no beef.

— So Alfonso Cuaron won for Best Director, the 5th time the last six years a Mexican-born filmmaker has taken that prize.

So the beautiful people from the New York Times Twitter feed made this to celebrate, and of course mock the idiot in Chief:

— Can we get a buddy road trip movie starring Spike Lee and Barbra Streisand, please? Like you WOULDN’T go see that? Two kids from Brooklyn who made it big, driving from New York to L.A., and having adventures along the way. I’ll buy my ticket for that now.

— This is hilarious: Apparently Trevor Noah, while discussing “Black Panther,” mentioned a phrase in the Xhosa language, “‘Abelungu abazi ubu ndiyaxoka’- which means, ‘In times like these, we are stronger when we fight together than when we try to fight apart.”

But in reality, many Africans on Twitter pointed out, that phrase he spoke actually translates to “White people don’t know I’m lying.”

Brilliant. Maybe Trevor should host the show next year.

“Green Book” a hugely entertaining, cracklingly good movie. The hockey save of the year (from Russia). And an obscene law in Texas gets a school employed fired, for not pledging loyalty to Israel

It’s good to have a wife, for many, many reasons. One of those reasons is that when she sees a promo for a new movie coming out in a few months that she positively KNOWS I’ll want to see, and probably like, she files that away and tells me about it at the appropriate time.

Which was a few weeks ago, when we planned to have a rare date night away from our beloved boys. She said we should definitely go see “Green Book,” the based-on-a-true-story tale of a white nightclub bouncer from New York City named Tony Vallelonga driving an African-American musician/piano player named Don Shirley through the deep South on a concert tour, and all the adventures they get into along the way.

“Green Book” stars Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali, and it’s truly a fabulous film. The acting is superb (even the sadly-underused Linda Cardellini, as Tony’s wife, is great), the script is cracklingly good and funny (my favorite line has to be, when spotting a KFC near Louisville, Tony cracks “Come on! We can eat Kentucky Fried Chicken in Kentucky! How many times are you gonna get that chance!”), and the plot points, while certainly easy to see coming, still make you care about what happens.

In one sense “Green Book” is a typical mismatched buddy road-trip movie; Tony is all Bronx accented, tough-guy, never use a napkin and never stop smoking 1960s Italian stereotype, while Dr. Shirley is so refined and debonair he’s puzzled by so much of what Tony says and does.

But the movie goes deeper in exploring the racial problems of the time, and showing us the human sides (finally!) of Dr. Shirley, as he slowly lets his guard down and communicates with Tony. Mortensen is great but I think he has the easier role; Shirley is complicated with skeletons in his past we don’t know about, and Ali, as he did in “Moonlight” is superb in acting without saying much.

By the end, when we see a major stumbling block at the duo’s last concert, you really feel like the two men have bonded over something real.

“Green Book” isn’t a perfect movie, but it’s filled with joy and humor, and don’t we need as much of that as we can get this holiday season?

Highly, highly recommend this movie. As usual, my wife was right: It’s great.

Next up today, been too long since I’ve had some hockey on this blog, and I saw a goalie save over the weekend that I could not believe.

It didn’t come from the NHL but the KHL in Russia, where New York Islanders prospect Ilya Sorokin made the save of the year, or maybe of the decade, in a game.
Watch it above, and then watch it again and try to figure out how the heck he did this. The best angle is at the :20 mark; how the hell did he reach back with his arm that far?

Amazing, amazing save.

 

**Finally today, I am steaming mad about this story. I’ve ranted before in this space about the increasing intolerance American politicians/legislators are showing toward anyone not pledging 100 percent fealty toward Israel, and denouncing and even criminalizing dissent to our “favorite ally.”

But some of this behavior has gone so, so far out of bounds it boggles my mind that it continues. Just the mere idea of supporting any cause or group that opposes Israel is so disgusting to these legislators, they need to make all kinds of unconstitutional laws against it.

Let me introduce to you the Pflugerville, Tex. school district, and one of their district elementary school speech pathologists, Mrs. Bahia Amawi.

Amawi, is a U.S. citizen who received a master’s degree in speech pathology in 1999 and, since then, has specialized in evaluations for young children with language difficulties. Amawi was born in Austria and has lived in the U.S. for the last 30 years, fluently speaks three languages (English, German, and Arabic), and has four U.S.-born American children of her own.

So, clearly, she’s an American. But Amawi, despite having no blemishes to her work record, is no longer employed by the district.

According to this story in The Intercept and other media reports, Amawi has been told that she can no longer work with the public school district, after she refused to sign an oath vowing that she “does not” and “will not” engage in a boycott of Israel or “otherwise tak[e] any action that is intended to inflict economic harm” on that foreign nation. A lawsuit on her behalf was filed early Monday morning in a federal court in the Western District of Texas, alleging a violation of her First Amendment right of free speech.

That’s right, in the standard contract Amawi has signed every year since 2009, there’s now a clause in the school contract requiring Amawi to refrain from buying any goods or services, or doing any business with (on her own personal time, of course) any organization or company that advocates boycotting Israel.

According to The Intercept, “that language would bar Amawi not only from refraining from buying goods from companies located within Israel, but also from any Israeli companies operating in the occupied West Bank (“an Israeli-controlled territory”). The oath given to Amawi would also likely prohibit her even from advocating such a boycott given that such speech could be seen as “intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on, or limit commercial relations with Israel.”

“They decide to protect another country’s economy versus protecting our constitutional rights,” Amawi said.

This is OBSCENE. Amawi can choose to boycott companies who oppose America, but not Israel.

These kinds of laws, I’m horrified to report, now exist in more than 20 U.S. states. Absolutely, positively offensive that the rush to embrace Israel by American politicians has led to a complete stifling of Americans’ individual rights and freedoms to support or encourage any kind of protest movement they want.

Seriously, read this story and explain to me how this law can be justified. I hope Amawi wins her lawsuit.