Take 2

Tamara Dunn is a card-carrying cinephile and the assistant city editor at the Standard-Speaker. Her writings here have earned her a Pennsylvania Women’s Press Association award in 2017. Her favorite films are “Bringing Up Baby” and “Moonlight.”

Rebecca Kivak considers herself a representative of the average filmgoer. She is also a copy editor for The Times-Tribune. Her favorite films are “The Illusionist” and “The Avengers.”

Road to Gold: Up Close and Personal

Road to Gold: Up Close and Personal

Now until the Feb. 24 Oscar telecast, Take 2 will run a series of posts focusing on issues and subjects involving the Academy Awards.

Glenn Close had spent a decade ruling the New York stage in the mid-1970s before she made her film debut in 1982’s “The World According to Garp,” starring alongside Robin Williams. This role would lay out her cinematic career spanning nearly four decades applauded across theater, film and television. Close would also earn her first of seven Academy Award nominations. Yet, the winner of three Tonys and three Emmys has yet to add an Oscar to her collection.

Glenn Close at her first Academy Awards ceremony in 1983. (ABC News)

This Sunday, she is up for best actress for her role in “The Wife.” This week’s Road to Gold looks at Close’s previous and current nominations as she is the frontrunner in this category. She holds the record for a living actor to have a large number of nominations without a win.’

“The World According to Garp”

“The World According to Garp”

Close was nominated for best supporting actress as Jenny Fields, whose published manifesto makes her a feminist icon and is the mother of a young writer, Garp (Robin Williams). Close lost in 1983 to Jessica Lange for “Tootsie.”

“The Big Chill”

“The Big Chill”

The following year, Close was nominated in the same category for her role as Sarah in the all-star cast that featured Kevin Kline, Jeff Goldblum and William Hurt. In 1984, she lost to Linda Hunt in “The Year of Living Dangerously.”

“The Natural”

“The Natural”

Close received her third straight supporting actress nomination for her roe starring opposite Robert Redford in the baseball drama. She lost to Peggy Ashcroft for her role in “A Passage to India” in 1985.

“Fatal Attraction”

“Fatal Attraction”

After three supporting role nominations, Close ascended to the lead in a career-defying role as the psychopath Alex Forrest in the thriller “Fatal Attraction” opposite Michael Douglas. In 1988, she lost to Cher for “Moonstruck.” (Question: If Close loses to Olivia Colman for “The Favourite,” whose Queen Anne keeps 17 rabbits as companions, would it be a form of “bunny karma” some 30-plus years after the iconic “Fatal Attraction” scene?)

“Dangerous Liaisons”

“Dangerous Liaisons”

Close makes being an evil, meddling woman of society seem some much fun as Marquise de Merteuil in Stephen Frears-directed costume drama. It won three Oscars, except a best actress statuette for Close. She lost to Jodie Foster in “The Accused.”

“Albert Nobbs”

“Albert Nobbs”

In the 1990s and 2000s, Close scored more film roles, like “The Paper,” “101 Dalmatians” and “In & Out,” but she won acclaimed for her television work in “The Shield” and “Damages.” In other words, Close was doing peak TV before it was trendy. In 2011, she starred in the film version of “Albert Nobbs,” based of the play in which she starred in 1982. In the title role, Close played an Irish woman who poses as a man after enduring a sexual assault and wanting to find work. Close also co-wrote the screenplay and wrote its theme song, “Lay Your Head Down.” She lost the best actress Oscar in 2012 to Meryl Streep for “The Iron Lady.”

“The Wife”

“The Wife”

Seven years after her last loss, Close is back with her seventh nomination (her fourth for best actress) in the drama “The Wife.” Close portrays the supportive spouse for a world-famous writer who just won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Compared to her other nominated, leading performances, Close is toned down but still delivers a powerful performance in a film that certainly needed one. Close’s real-life daughter, Annie Starke, plays a younger version of the actress in flashbacks, and Max Irons, who plays her son, is the son of Close’s “Reversal of Fortune” co-star Jeremy Irons.

Watch: We preview the 2019 Oscars

Watch: We preview the 2019 Oscars

With no host and no clear front-runners, what can we expect from Sunday’s Oscars broadcast? Watch here as our movie critics Tamara Dunn, Rebecca Kivak and Joe Baress preview the 91st Academy Awards.


Stay tuned for Tamara’s Oscar picks here on Take 2 Blog on Friday, and published in The Hazleton Standard-Speaker on Sunday, the day of the awards ceremony. Rebecca and Joe will team up to present their Oscar picks in Life&Times, the Scranton Times-Tribune’s Features section, on Sunday.

The 91st Academy Awards will be broadcast live at 8 p.m. Sunday on ABC. Be sure to follow along on Twitter as our critics provide live updates during the ceremony. Follow Tamara at @SSTamaraDunn, Rebecca at @CVRebeccaKivak, and Joe at @TTFeatures.

Also, be sure to join all three of us Monday for a wrap-up of the Oscars’ winners and losers on the Scranton Times-Tribune’s YouTube channel and the Hazleton Standard Speaker’s YouTube channel.

Let’s talk Oscars: Join us live Monday as we preview the awards

The 91st Academy Awards are inching closer, and there’s a lot to talk about before the Feb. 24 ceremony.

What do you think will win Best Picture? Will Christian Bale (“Vice”) and Rami Malek (“Bohemian Rhapsody”) duke it out for Best Actor? Who got snubbed? How will a host-less ceremony go? And just how long will the awards ceremony last?!

Join our movie critics Tamara Dunn, Rebecca Kivak and Joe Baress as we preview the Oscars during a live telecast at 1:30 p.m. Monday on the Scranton Times-Tribune’s YouTube channel and the Hazleton Standard Speaker’s YouTube channel. We’ll answer your questions and sound off on the top categories and pressing issues.

Also join us the day after the Oscars, Feb 25, for a live wrapup on YouTube of the ceremony’s winners and losers.


Road to Gold: You’ve won an Oscar — now what?

Road to Gold: You’ve won an Oscar — now what?

Now until the Feb. 24 Oscar telecast, Take 2 will run a series of posts focusing on issues and subjects involving the Academy Awards.

Winning an Oscar is the top prize in cinema, and new doors open once someone grabs hold of the golden statuette. Since 2010, Academy Award winners have enjoyed the easy road to riches with more roles and opportunities, some great and some not-so-great. Where the road to gold ends (somewhere past Elton John’s Oscar after-party), winners can navigate their careers with new hardware. After this year’s winners are announced, they have a future to shape. So, now what?

Host “Saturday Night Live”

Brie Larson, Christoph Waltz*, Octavia Spencer and Matthew McConaughey used their Oscars as their tickets to host the long-running sketch comedy show.

Star in a prestige TV series

Winning for “Dallas Buyers Club” was the start of the so-called McConnaissance, McConaughey starred in the first season of the HBO limited series, “True Detective.” Mahershala Ali, who won an Oscar for “Moonlight” and is nominated again for “Green Book,” is following the same blueprint with a starring role in the crime thriller’s third season.

After dancing her way to a best actress Oscar for “La La Land,” Emma Stone starred in the Netflix limited series “Maniac.” Patricia Arquette’s win for “Boyhood” did not translate to a multitude of movie roles, but she has added to her award hardware with her transformation into real-life prison worker Tilly Mitchell in Showtime’s “Escape at Dannemora.” This summer, Meryl Streep, a name long associated with the Academy Awards, will join the cast of HBO’s “Big Little Lies.”

Sam Rockwell continues with voice work for “F Is For Family” and will star in FX Series “Fosse/Verdon” with Michelle Williams as acclaimed director/choreographer Bob Fosse.

Star on a regular TV series

Allison Janney was starring on “Mom” on CBS before she won a best supporting actress Oscar for “I, Tonya” and continues on the comedy series. She also appeared on “F Is For Family,” “DuckTales” and “Break a Hip.” Viola Davis continues to teach law students “How to Get Away with Murder” after winning for “Fences.” J.K. Simmons may have won for his supporting work as the aggressive music professor in “Whiplash,” but he is a TV veterans who continues to collect small-screen credits and voice work for “Phineas and Ferb,” “Robot Chicken,” “The Simpsons” and “American Dad!” Simmons also stars in the Starz series “Counterpart.”

Before winning for “The Fighter,” Melissa Leo was no stranger to television, having appeared on “All My Children,” “Law & Order” and “Homicide: Life on the Streets.” Leo currently stars in the drama about 1970s stand-up comedy scene in Los Angeles in “I’m Dying Up Here” on Showtime. Spencer starred in the short-lived hospital drama, “Red Band Society,” for Fox, but she is slated to star in a Netflix limited series, “Madam C.J. Walker,” currently in pre-production.

Join a Marvel/DC Comics/Star Wars franchise

In the best picture winner “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance),” Michael Keaton pokes fun of the need for serious actors to star in a superhero movie. He would later be nominated for this role, but not win. These days, Oscar winners are running toward these role with the award still in their hand.

After winning her second Academy Award with her role in “Blue Jasmine,” Cate Blanchett starred as bad sister Hela in Disney Marvel’s “Thor: Ragnarok.” Jared Leto won an Academy Award for his supporting role in “Dallas Buyers Club,” and he followed up with a different take on The Joker in “Suicide Squad.”

Lupita Nygong’o went from newcomer to instant stardom with her award-winning turn in “12 Years a Slave.” In the years since her win, Nygong’o has starred in large blockbusters, including best picture nominee “Black Panther” and the latest “Star Wars” trilogy.

Larson make her Marvel debut next month as “Captain Marvel.”

Star in an ad campaign

For many actresses, once they leave the Vanity Fair party or the Governor’s Ball, they sign a major beauty or fashion contract. This is true for Jennifer Lawrence, Natalie Portman, Alicia Vikander, Stone and Nyong’o.

However, the ad campaign that has had a lasting impression is McConaughey’s Lincoln deal. The other-worldly commercials have been parodied by many, but McConaughey keeps collecting the checks.

Christopher Plummer in “All the Money in the World.”

Go for another Oscar

Out of the 32 actors who have won an Oscar since 2010, 12 have been repeat nominees. Streep leads the field with four more nominations, followed by Christian Bale, three; Spencer and Lawrence, two; and Daniel Day-Lewis, Eddie Redmayne, Christopher Plummer, Ali, Blanchett, Portman, Rockwell and Stone with one. However, no one has earned an additional Oscar (although Streep, Waltz, Day-Lewis and Blanchett have previous wins prior to 2010). Bale, Ali and Rockwell have a chance to break that this year as they are nominees.


Road to Gold: All roads lead to Spike

Road to Gold: All roads lead to Spike

Now until the Feb. 24 Oscar telecast, Take 2 will run a series of posts focusing on issues and subjects involving the Academy Awards.

This is the first time that Shelton Jackson Lee, better known as Spike Lee, has been nominated from a best director Oscar. In his 30-plus years of filmmaking, he has only been nominated for best original screenplay for “Do the Right Thing” and best documentary feature for “4 Little Girls.” In 2016, he was awarded an honorary Oscar for his cinematic achievements.

This year, Lee is also up for best adapted screenplay and best picture for “BlacKkKlansman.”

Director Spike Lee drapes himself in an upside-down, black-and-white American flag in New York, July 20, 2018. In “BlacKkKlansman,” Lee uses the true story of a black police officer infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan in Colorado in the 1970s to once again grapple with American racial terrorism. “We’re living in pure, undiluted insanity,” he said. (Heather Sten/The New York Times)

Lee has touched nearly all aspects of film, even as a professor at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. This year’s Academy Awards’ field is no different. Several of the major nominees share a past with Lee. Here are a few examples:

Ruth Carter in the West Village neighborhood of New York, Feb. 12, 2018. For her extraordinarily detailed costumes in “Black Panther,” Carter studied the garments of the Maasai, the Lesotho and other African tribes. (Clement Pascal/The New York Times)

Ruth E. Carter

Carter is nominated for best costume design for her Afrofuturistic work in “Black Panther.” Carter was previously nominated in 1993 for Lee’s “Malcolm X” and Steven Spielberg’s “Amistad.” Carter and Lee’s partnership dates back to 1988’s “School Daze” and includes “Do the Right Thing,” “Mo’ Better Blues,” “Jungle Fever,” “Crooklyn,” “Clockers,” “Summer of Sam,” “Oldboy,” Da Sweet Blood of Jesus” and “Chi-Raq.”

Rami Malek arrives at the 76th Annual Golden Globes at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019. (Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Rami Malek

Malek is a first-time nominee for his role as Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Malek previously appeared in two Lee-directed movies that were remakes, “Oldboy” and “Da Sweet Blood of Jesus,” Lee’s reimagination of “Ganja and Hess.”

Willem Dafoe in “At Eternity’s Gate”

Willem Dafoe

Dafoe earned his fourth nominee with his portrayal of painter Vincent van Gogh in “At Eternity’s Gate.” Dafoe had a supporting role in Lee’s bank caper “Inside Man.”

Angela Bassett poses for a picture during the U.S. Premiere of “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” at the National Air and Space Museum on July 22, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

Angela Bassett

The Oscar-nominated actress is T’Challa’s mother, Ramonda, in best picture nominee “Black Panther.” Bassett played Dr. Betty Shabazz in Lee’s “Malcolm X.”  

Josh Brolin and Pom Klementieff

Brolin, a previous nominee, and Klementieff appear in “Avengers: Infinity War,” which is nominated for best visual effects. Both also star in Lee’s remake of “Oldboy.”

Bradley Cooper, who is making his directorial debut with “A Star Is Born,” in New York, Sept. 15, 2018. In his movie, Cooper wrangles with the celebrity industrial complex. (Ryan Pfluger/The New York Times)

Bradley Cooper

During a morning forum before the Directors Guild of America Awards on Saturday, Cooper shared a little antidote involving Lee. Cooper auditioned for a part in either a film or show, but he didn’t get the part.

Trailer Talk: Super Bowl LIII edition

Trailer Talk: Super Bowl LIII edition

Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) in “Avengers: Endgame’

Many movies debut new trailers or spots during the Super Bowl, one of the most-watched sporting events of the year. Trailer Talk takes a look at all the teasers that debuted during Sunday’s big game.

“Avengers: End Game”

“Some people move on, but not us,” Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) says at the beginning of the teaser for “Avengers: Endgame,” Marvel Studios’ highly anticipated superhero teamup and followup to “Avengers: Infinity War.” While the teaser is only 30 seconds long, there’s a lot we can take away from it.

After sweeping shots showing the devastating effects of Thanos’ “Snap,” Rogers is attending a support group like the kind his fallen friend Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie) ran in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” The remaining Avengers are working to save the half of the universe killed in Thanos’ decimation, including their own fellow heroes. We see shots of Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), James Rhodes/War Machine (Don Cheadle), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Cliff Barnes/Hawkeye turned Ronin (Jeremy Renner), Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper), who appear to be regrouping at the Avengers facility. This is the first time in the “Endgame” marketing that we’ve seen Rocket, the last remaining member of the Guardians of the Galaxy, with the Avengers.

Meanwhile, the spot also confirms that Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) are both on the Guardians’ ship in space, working together to return to Earth. And it’s hard not to get the feels as we see Cap ready to take back his iconic shield.

The marketing for “Avengers: Endgame” will only include the first 15 minutes of the film, so a lot of the movie is still under wraps as we count down the months until its premiere.

“Avengers: Endgame” invades theaters April 26.

“Captain Marvel”

“Higher, further, faster.” It’s only a little more than a month until the premiere of “Captain Marvel,” Marvel Studios’ first superhero film featuring a female lead: Air Force pilot turned Kree-powered superhero Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel (Brie Larson). This stunning TV spot only serves to further amp up the expectations regarding Marvel’s newest film and brings home the message of girl power.

“Captain Marvel” brings the incredibly powerful superhero from the comic books into the Marvel Cinematic Universe as she finds herself in the middle of a war between two alien races: the Kree and the villainous, shape-shifting Skrulls. The 1990s-set film also serves as a sort-of origin story for the character, who promises to play an important part in “Avengers: Endgame” more than two decades later.

The spot shows Carol Danvers talking with Maria Rambeau, her best friend and fellow Air Force pilot, about showing the boys “how we do it.” With the repeating mantra of “higher, further, faster,” we see Carol stand up and rise to the occasion in her training clothes, Air Force dress blues, and green and black Starforce suit. We also see Jude Law as Mar-Vell, Carol’s mentor and the leader of the Kree military unit Starforce; a de-aged Samuel L. Jackson as S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Nick Fury, and Ben Mendelsohn as Talos, the Skrulls leader working undercover as a S.H.I.E.L.D. boss.

As the teaser draws to a close, we see Carol in her magnificent blue and red Captain Marvel suit – with a fiery mohawk to boot – blasting off into the space, telling everyone to “try and keep up.”

“Captain Marvel” blasts off March 8.

“Toy Story 4”

The new trailer for “Toy Story 4” sheds more light on the latest film in the beloved Disney-Pixar franchise.

At a carnival, Woody the cowboy (voiced by Tom Hanks) is reunited with Bo Peep (voiced by Annie Potts). The character briefly appeared in 2010’s “Toy Story 3” but hasn’t had an adventure with the gang since 1990’s “Toy Story 2.” In the time since we’ve last seen her, Bo Peep has undergone a makeover, leaving her pink and white dress behind for blue trousers and a cape. Disney-Pixar introduced the character’s new, updated look in a teaser trailer last week.

But Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Tim Allen) faces a more dire situation. The spaceman toy has been strapped into a game booth, being offered as a potential prize. He’s also bullied by two stuffed animals who are jealous of his new status.

“Toy Story 4” takes to the road June 21 in theaters.

“Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw”

The spinoff of the wildly successful “Fast & Furious” franchise takes what was the best part of 2017’s “The Fate of the Furious” – Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s law enforcement agent Luke Hobbs and Jason Statham’s complicated criminal Deckard Shaw – and puts them together in a new adventure that embraces the over-the-top action and physics-defying stunts that fans love about the series.

As the characters in the long-running franchise have been described as superheroes, “Hobbs and Shaw” goes meta by making its villain, Brixton (Idris Elba), a genetically enhanced human. Elba announces himself as the “bad guy” in the trailer’s opening seconds. Who do you call to take on this threat to humanity? Hobbs and Shaw, of course – if you can get them to work together. To the perfectly picked tune of “Why Can’t We Friends?” the trailer showcases car chases, fist fights, crazy driving, flying vehicles and scaling tall buildings – basically, everything you’d want from a “Fast & Furious” movie. The comedy and chemistry between Johnson and Statham is a blast to watch, and to say I’m excited about this film is an understatement.

The talented and charismatic Vanessa Kirby (“The Crown,” “Mission: Impossible – Fallout”) joins the cast as Shaw’s sister, Hattie. David Leitch (“John Wick,” “Atomic Blonde” and “Deadpool 2”) directs his first entry for the franchise.

“Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw” races into theaters Aug 2.

“Alita: Battle Angel”

Based on a popular manga, producer James Cameron’s passion project hits the big screen next week after being pushed back from opening in the overcrowded month of December. The cyber-punk adventure follows a young woman/cyborg (Rose Salazar) who learns she is much more than she seems.

The TV spot highlights the gorgeous special effects and technological advances that have been garnering the film a lot of buzz. The film is directed by Robert Rodriguez and also star Christophe Waltz, Mahershala Ali and Jennifer Connelly.

“Alita: Battle Angel” takes flight Feb. 14 in theaters.

“Wonder Park”

The animated film from Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies follows June, an imaginative young girl who constructs an amusement park called Wonderland filled with fun rides and talking animals.

After the death of her mother (voiced by Jennifer Garner), June discovers that the park is real – and she must work with its creatures to save it from destruction. The cartoon features the voices of Matthew Broderick, Kenan Thompson, Mila Kunis, Ken Jeong, John Oliver and more.

“Wonder Park” takes moviegoers for a wild ride March 15.


Director Jordan Peele dropped a new trailer for his second feature film before the Super Bowl on Twitter. The “Get Out” director’s new horror movie focuses on a family, led by Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke, as they battle their doppelgangers during a beach vacation.

The voiceover features Nyong’o wondering about the various coincidences the family has encountered, and what they may be adding up to. “It’s like there’s this black cloud hanging over us,” she says fearfully.

“Us” will infiltrate theaters March 21.

“Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark”

The horror film from Guillermo del Toro brings the children’s book series by Alvin Schwartz and its terrifying illustrations to life.

The film debuted not one, but four mini-trailers during the Super Bowl. The trailers focus on some of the iconic stories from the books, including “The Big Toe,” Jangly Man, the Pale Lady and the “red spot.”

The above video compiles all four trailers for easier – and perhaps scarier! – viewing.

“Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” prepares to frighten moviegoers Aug. 9.


Road to Gold: The ghost of ‘Norbit’

Road to Gold: The ghost of ‘Norbit’

Now until the Feb. 24 Oscar telecast, Take 2 will run a series of posts focusing on issues and subjects involving the Academy Awards.

Eddie Murphy in “Dreamgirls”

Back in 2007, Eddie Murphy was flying high during awards season because he was winning title after title for his supporting work in the musical “Dreamgirls.” Murphy, who had made his fame from raunchy stand-up work to big-time comedies and action movies to family-friendly remakes, was getting Hollywood’s top accolades for his portrayal of James “Thunder” Early. Playing a singer adjusting to music’s changing times, Murphy got some of the best reviews he had not seen in decades. By late January and early February, Murphy ran the board, collecting Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and Critics’ Choice statuettes. He was a shoe-in for earning his first Oscar.

That was until he donned a fat suit again.

Eddie Murphy, left, and Eddie Murphy in “Norbit.”

In the middle of his Oscar campaign was the release of the forever-marked-as-bad movie, “Norbit.” Co-written with his brother, Charlie, Murphy played a nerdy man, an overweight and heavily oversexualized girlfriend and an Asian stereotype. The trailers were too painful to watch, but here it is to jog your memory (get ready to be traumatized all over again).

Murphy lost the Academy Award to Alan Arkin for his role in “Little Miss Sunshine,” and experts and I theorized that “Norbit” had something to do with it. The comedy had the markings of his other disasters like “The Adventures of Pluto Nash” and “Daddy Day Care.” In a strange twist, “Norbit” would be nominated for an Oscar for best makeup in 2008. It lost to “La Vie en Rose.”

In “honor” of Murphy’s quick Oscar descent, this week’s Road to Gold looks at some of this year’s nominees and rates their chances of falling as fast as Murphy did. Each will be rated according to a 1 to 4 Norbit scale, with one Norbit being a small chance and four Norbits being a downright downfall.

Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper star in “A Star Is Born.”

“A Star is Born”

Norbit factor: Las Vegas residency; four tellings of “A Star is Born”

Lady Gaga wowed critics and audiences with her first leading role in “A Star is Born.” And while her stripped-down performance contrasts her flamboyant persona as a pop singer, many may not see a separation between Gaga the vocalist and Gaga the actress. She recently started a two-show residency, “Engima” and “Jazz & Piano,” at Park MGM in Las Vegas, and while this is the last week of performances until Sunday, Gaga is balancing both careers during a time when some actors are working the party circuit.

Also, Gaga is credited for influencing the Academy to abandon a plan for only two best song nominees to perform at the ceremony. Now all five will take the stage.

One Norbit

Mahershala Ali poses with the award for outstanding performance by a male actor in a supporting role for “Green Book” in the press room at the 25th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

“Green Book”

Norbit factor: Press circuit, the Shirley family, director’s past, “Alita, Battle Angel”

In September, “Green Book” got the feel-good seal of approval when it won the audience award at the Toronto International Film Festival. The movie about the unlikely friendship between a black pianist and his white driver during a tour of the 1960s South was a favorite with theatergoers, but controversy accompanied the film’s slow rollout in November. It started when Viggo Mortensen said the N-word during a film panel followed by a harsh rebuttal against the Shirley family, who criticized the pianist’s depiction of family relations and his so-called disconnect with other African Americans.

Nick Vallelonga, real-life son of character Tony Lip and co-writer of the film’s script, defended the film despite only consulting Dr. Shirley near the time of his death in 2013. A resurfaced 1998 Newsweek profile on director Peter Farrelly featuring how he flashed his stars as a joke and a tweet in which Vallelonga supported the debunked claim of Muslims in New Jersey celebrating the Sept. 11 attacks have brought more trouble to the film.

Nevertheless, “Green Book” won best picture (drama) at the Golden Globes, but Mortensen has yet to win a major award for his acting. Mahershala Ali has collected a Golden Globe and SAG Award for his performance. During his acceptance speeches and news conference appearances, Ali has remained the constant professional in a tough place. If there is something to stop him, it may be the sci-fi teen actioner “Alita: Battle Angel.” He is in a supporting role in the futuristic film set for release 10 days before the Oscars. It has a similar feel to the “Hunger Games” saga, in which Ali also had a supporting role, and those films didn’t stop him from getting an Oscar for his role in “Moonlight.” Plus, he is getting positive reviews for his turn in the third season of “True Detective.” He may escape the movie’s shadow and triumph on Oscar night.

Three Norbits

This image released by Twentieth Century Fox shows Rami Malek in a scene from “Bohemian Rhapsody.” On Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019, Malek was nominated for an Oscar for best actor for his role in the film. The 91st Academy Awards will be held on Feb. 24. (Alex Bailey/Twentieth Century Fox via AP)

“Bohemian Rhapsody”

Norbit factor: Lukewarm reviews, Bryan Singer

From its troubled production to its mixed reviews, “Bohemian Rhapsody” seemed like it would not get past its first two weeks at the box office. However, Queen fans and moviegoers helped propel this move into awards season, led by a sensational performance by Rami Malek as Queen frontman Freddie Mercury. Despite being available on digital, “Bohemian Rhapsody” is still in theaters and has made more than $200 million at the box office, becoming the highest-grossing music biopic of all time.

The lingering controversy has to do with its credited director Bryan Singer. He was fired with two weeks left of shooting after a string of absences. Singer said that he was attending to an ill parent, but some insiders suggested that Singer and Malek clashed on set and some cast members quit because of his behavior. Singer has been accused of sexually assaulting multiple people over a 20-year period. Despite the biopic’s run through the season, Singer has not been nominated for best director nor has he been present for any of the award shows. Yet, on social media, he manages to worm his way into the acclaim. The resurfaced allegations, however, cost the film a GLAAD Media Awards nomination.

“Bohemian Rhapsody” may earn some technical awards and perhaps a best actor Oscar for Malek, but Singer’s presence brings it all down.

Three Norbits

This file image released by Disney shows Lupita Nyong’o, from left, Chadwick Boseman and Letitia Wright in a scene from “Black Panther.” (Disney via AP, File)

“Black Panther”

Norbit factor: February release, Marvel, way too popular, no nominations in acting, writing or directing

The movie calendar has 365 days, but the Oscar calendar is usually 90 days, from October to December. Marvel took a risk and released “Black Panther” in the middle of February. It became 2018’s top grossing film, earning more than $700 million. For Black History Month (and extra Oscar campaigning), the superhero movie is screening for free for one week at AMC theaters. A sequel is a sure bet, there are multiple toys and cartoon series, and it’s the first comic book movie to be named best picture. All of these things scream “not for the Academy.” It’s very unfortunate that an audience and critical favorite, especially since it won best ensemble at the SAG Awards, would be a very unlikely best picture winner. “Black Panther” may also be seen as a cog to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s gear. Then again, it was said that the omission of “The Dark Knight” as best picture in 2009 forced the Academy to expand the field. Will “Black Panther” make up for Batman’s loss?

Four Norbits.



Norbit factor: Netflix

The love-hate relationship between the streaming giant and traditional cinema may be the touching black-and-white film’s undoing. But the Academy sees that Netflix is trying to be a big player in the system, even joining the Motion Picture Association of America. That’s something Amazon Studios has yet to do, and it has already a few big Oscar gains. It may be that older Academy members may not like what Netflix is doing and feel that the film doesn’t qualify since it was quickly accessed on streaming. Its past behavior doesn’t help, either. However, Netflix seems willing to be the new child genius than an enfant terrible.

Can you predict Oscar gold? Enter The Times-Tribune’s Oscars contest

Can you predict Oscar gold? Enter The Times-Tribune’s Oscars contest

Photo by Matt Sayles / Invision / AP, File

Think you know who will win Best Actor or Actress at this year’s Academy Awards? Or are you certain which film will take home the top prize, Best Picture?

Put your guessing skills to the test by entering The Scranton Times-Tribune’s You Pick the Oscars! contest. Click here to choose who you think will win in each of the six categories listed. Besides Best Actor and Actress in a Leading Role and Best Picture, you can also vote for Best Actor and Actress in a Supporting Role and Best Director.

The winner will be selected after the 91st annual Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday, Feb. 24. The lucky winner will receive four tickets to see the Broadway Theatre League’s performance of “The King and I” in March at the Scranton Cultural Center at the Masonic Temple.

One entry is allowed per person. Entries must be received by Friday, Feb. 22.

Our resident movie critics will offer their own Oscar predictions leading up to the awards show. Look out for Tamara Dunn‘s Oscar picks here on Take 2 Blog on Friday, Feb. 22, and published in The Hazleton Standard-Speaker on Feb. 24, the day of the ceremony. Rebecca Kivak and Joe Baress will team up to present their Oscar picks in Life&Times, the Times-Tribune’s Features section, on Feb. 24.

Good luck in your predictions! And enjoy the awards show!

Road to Gold: Watching the field

Road to Gold: Watching the field

Now until the Feb. 24 Oscar telecast, Take 2 will run a series of posts focusing on issues and subjects involving the Academy Awards.

With the nominations out, you may want to know how you can see this year’s celebrated films and performances. With movies released year-round, you may have missed a few and are waiting to discover them. Below is a list of options for ways to catch up.

This image released by Annapurna Pictures shows Stephan James, left, and Brian Tyree Henry in a scene from “If Beale Street Could Talk.” (Tatum Mangus/Annapurna Pictures via AP)

In theaters

At Hazleton Regal Stadium 10 : “Mary Poppins Returns,” “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”

At Wilkes-Barre Movies 14: “If Beale Street Could Talk,” “Vice,” “Mary Queen of Scots,” “Mary Poppins Returns,” “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” “Green Book”

This image released by Disney shows Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins in “Mary Poppins Returns.” Blunt failed to receive an Oscar nomination for best actress for her role in the film. (Disney via AP)

At Cinemark 20 and XD (Moosic): “If Beale Street Could Talk,” “Vice,” “Mary Queen of Scots,” “Mary Poppins Returns,” “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” “The Favourite,” “Bohemian Rhapsody”

At Regal Dickson City Stadium 14 & IMAX: “Vice,” “Mary Poppins Returns,” “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”

Coming Friday, “The Favourite” expands to Regal Dickson City and Movies 14.

This image released by Fox Searchlight shows director Yorgos Lanthimos, left, with actors James Smith and Rachel Weisz on the set of “The Favourite.” On Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019, Lanthimos was nominated for an Oscar for best director for his work on the film. The 91st Academy Awards will be held on Feb. 24. (Atsushi Nishijima/Fox Searchlight via AP)

During the week of Feb. 18-24, Cinemark 20 will hold its annual Oscar Movie Week with seven of the best picture nominees: “Black Panther,” “BlacKkKlansman,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “The Favourite,” “Green Book,” “A Star Is Born” and “Vice.” Overall, major theater chains, including Regal and Cinemark, are not screening “Roma” on the big screen due to its association with Netflix.

“Free Solo” (National Geographic)

In festivals

From Feb. 15 through March 7, the Dietrich Theater in Tunkhannock will celebrate its annual winter film festival with best picture nominee “Green Book” as one of its two opening night features. Other nominated films in its lineup are “The Wife,” “Free Solo,” “Shoplifters” “Mary Queen of Scots” and “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

This image released by Fox Searchlight Pictures shows characters, from left, Chief, voiced by Bryan Cranston, King, voiced by Bob Balaban, Atari Kobayashi, voiced Koyu Rankin, Boss, voiced by Bill Murray, Rex, voiced by Edward Norton, And Duke, voiced by Jeff Goldblum, in a scene from “Isle of Dogs.” On Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019, the film was nominated for an Oscar for best animated feature. The 91st Academy Awards will be held on Feb. 24. (Fox Searchlight via AP)

Digital download

Available on outlets such as iTunes, Amazon and Google Play include “First Man,” “BlacKkKlansman,” “A Star is Born,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “A Quiet Place,” “Isle of Dogs,” “Incredibles 2” and “The Wife.”

This image released by Netflix shows Marina de Tavira, center, in a scene from the film “Roma,” by filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron. On Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019, De Tavira was nominated for an Oscar for best supporting actress for her role in the film. The 91st Academy Awards will be held on Feb. 24. (Carlos Somonte/Netflix via AP)


Netflix made history for itself with “Roma” collecting 10 nominations, including best picture and other above-the-line categories, and “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” with three nominations. Both are streaming on the online platform. “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Infinity War” also streaming on Netflix.

This image released by Magnolia Pictures shows U.S. Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg in a scene from “RBG.” On Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019, the film was nominated for an Oscar for best documentary. The 91st Academy Awards will be held on Feb. 24. (Magnolia Pictures via AP)

On Amazon’s Prime Video, you can watch “First Reformed.” On Hulu, catch up on documentary features “RBG” and “Minding the Gap.” Vimeo and YouTube are home to “One Small Step,” an animated short (embedded below).

And the nominees are

And the nominees are

If you were up this morning glued to the television set, YouTube or Twitter, you may have caught Kumail Nanjiani and Tracee Ellis Ross announce this year’s Academy Award nominations. With light banter of waking up early and pronouncing names correctly, the duo quickly made some movie studios’ day or disappointed others. We at Take 2 were up this morning with them, although Rebecca Kivak and I are second-shift editors, and live-tweeting along other Oscar pundits and movie fans.

This image released by Fox Searchlight Films shows Olivia Colman in a scene from the film “The Favourite.” On Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019, Colman was nominated for an Oscar for best actress for her role in the film. The 91st Academy Awards will be held on Feb. 24. (Atsushi Nishijima/Fox Searchlight Films via AP)

Leading the class of nominees were “The Favourite” and “Roma” ties with 10 nominations, including best picture for both. As always, there were a few surprises and snubs this year, with many critic and audience favorites being short-changed or others riding the wave of the film’s popularity among Academy members. Here is my breakdown of today’s announcement:

This image released by Disney shows a scene from Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther.” On Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019, the film was nominated for an Oscar for best picture. The 91st Academy Awards will be held on Feb. 24, 2019. (Matt Kennedy/Marvel Studios-Disney via AP)

A big day for Netflix, Marvel

Ten years ago, Netflix was best known for delivering DVDs and some streaming titles to everyday households. Marvel was only beginning its Phase 1 of its newly created cinematic universe with “The Incredible Hulk” and the success of “Iron Man.” This morning, both studios achieved feats they hadn’t made before and seemed impossible in 2009. They both have best picture nominees – “Roma” for Netflix and “Black Panther” for Marvel. After years of earning nominations for documentaries, shorts, and one feature film, “Mudbound,” the entertainment studio grabbed several above-the-line mentions. These include best actress for Yalitza Aparicio, supporting actress for Marina de Tavira, and director, screenplay and cinematography for Alfonso Cuarón. Aparicio is only the second woman to be nominated for best actress for a debut performance.

“Black Panther” is the first superhero movie to be nominated for best picture. It received six other nominations, including best costume design for Ruth E. Carter and production design for Hannah Beachler, the first black woman to be nominated in this category. However, it did not receive any acting, directing or writing recognition.

This image released by Twentieth Century Fox shows Rami Malek in a scene from “Bohemian Rhapsody.” On Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019, Malek was nominated for an Oscar for best actor for his role in the film. The 91st Academy Awards will be held on Feb. 24. (Alex Bailey/Twentieth Century Fox via AP)

It’s for the moviegoers

Three best picture nominees earned more than $200 million at the domestic box office: “Black Panther” at $700.1 million, “A Star is Born” at $204.8 million and “Bohemian Rhapsody” at $202.4 million as of today, according to Box Office Mojo. That’s a total of $1.3 billion. To put this in perspective, last year’s field of nominees had only two movie to make over $200 million, but that would be their global totals by the time of the Oscars: “Dunkirk” at $525.6 million and “Get Out” at $255 million, according to Forbes. And only three films – “Roma,” “Green Book” and “The Favourite” – had limited releases and later expanded (in the case of “Roma,” released on a streaming platform). This is one of the few years in which audiences have access to all the movies up for the top honor.

“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”

And it’s also not

However, in a weird turn of events, the document feature category had more surprises than any other. The Fred Rogers feature, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”, and the adoption documentary “Three Identical Strangers,” were box-office gems for the medium, but neither were nominated. “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” had won a slew of awards across the season, but not getting a nomination draws comparisons to the “Hoop Dreams” snub in this category in 1995.

This image released by Warner Bros. shows Bradley Cooper in a scene from the latest reboot of the film, “A Star is Born.” On Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019, Cooper was nominated for an Oscar for best actor for his role in the film. The 91st Academy Awards will be held on Feb. 24. (Clay Enos/Warner Bros. via AP)

Bradley Cooper, who is nominated for producer, writer and actor for “A Star is Born,” is not nominated for directing.

This image released by Annapurna Pictures shows Sam Rockwell as George W. Bush in a scene from “Vice.” On Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019, Rockwell was nominated for an Oscar for best supporting actor for his role in the film. The 91st Academy Awards will be held on Feb. 24. (Matt Kennedy/Annapurna Pictures via AP)

Other surprises and snubs

Willem Dafoe, Sam Rockwell and the women of “Roma” received nominations after many organizations and shows forgot about their performances. The supporting actor category is notorious for having actors that ride on the coattails of a contender, with Rockwell being this year’s example for his George W. Bush role in “Vice.” Dafoe, who won the best actor award at the Venice Film Festival in September, returns to the Oscars with his role as artist Vincent Van Gogh.

Emily Blunt is once again snubbed in the best actress and supporting actress categories for “Mary Poppins Returns” and “A Quiet Place,” respectively. “A Quiet Place” had good chances of scoring nods for best picture, writing and directing for her husband and former star of “The Office” John Krasinki, but it only scored for sound editing.

Ethan Hawke and Amanda Seyfried in “First Reformed.” (A24)

Ethan Hawke, a critic favorite (including this one) for his role in “First Reformed,” and Timothée Chalamet, whose role in “Beautiful Boy” was up for several awards, did not make the cut. Also snubbed were John David Washington for “BlacKkKlansman,” Toni Collette for “Hereditary,” Regina Hall for “Support the Girls” and Margot Robbie for “Mary Queen of Scots.”

Mission Impossible: Fallout” was probably my favorite for sound mixing and sound editing, but it was not nominated in either category. “Avengers: Infinity War” was limited to visual effects, but it is not competing against any fellow Marvel titles.

This image released by Amazon Studios shows Joanna Kulig in a scene from “Cold War.” On Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019, the film was nominated for an Oscar for best foreign language film. The 91st Academy Awards will be held on Feb. 24. (Amazon Studios via AP)

Cold War,” a Polish romance film, received two nominations beyond best foreign language fim: cinematography (which was previously detailed during the Award Chase) and director for Pawel Pawlikowski.

This image released by Focus Features shows director Spike Lee, left, with actors Topher Grace, center, and Adam Driver on the set of Lee’s film “BlacKkKlansman.” On Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019, Lee was nominated for an Oscar for best director for his work on the film. The 91st Academy Awards will be held on Feb. 24. (David Lee/Focus Features via AP)

In fact, only two of the best director nominees are American: Adam McKay for “Vice” and Spike Lee for “BlacKkKlansman.” In fact, it’s hard to believe that this is Lee’s first (!) Oscar nomination for best director, and this comes after receiving an honorary Oscar three years ago. If he wins, Lee will join Paul Newman, Laurence Olivier, Charlie Chaplin and composer Ennio Morricone for winning a competitive Oscar after receiving an honorary statuette.

This image released by Sony Pictures Animations shows a scene from “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” On Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019, the film was nominated for an Oscar for best animated feature. The 91st Academy Awards will be held on Feb. 24. (Sony Pictures Animation via AP)

What’s next

On Sunday, the Screen Actors Guild Awards will be held, and that may shape up the acting race. Other guilds will follow in the coming weeks.

As for Take 2, Wednesday is the start of Road to Gold with a look at how you can see some of this year’s nominees either through the theaters, streaming or other means.

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Viggo Mortensen, left, and Mahershala Ali in a scene from “Green Book.” On Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019, the film was nominated for an Oscar for best picture. The 91st Academy Awards will be held on Feb. 24, 2019. (Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Annapurna Pictures shows Regina King in a scene from “If Beale Street Could Talk.” On Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019, King was nominated for an Oscar for best supporting actress for her role in the film. The 91st Academy Awards will be held on Feb. 24. (Tatum Mangus/Annapurna Pictures via AP)