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‘Fighting With My Family’ Breaks Out of Sundance at Specialty Box Office 

As Oscar contenders transition to home viewing platforms, their box-office presence is on the wane. Next up on the specialized calendar: Sundance releases. Producer Dwayne (“The Rock”) Johnson’s wrestling biofilm “Fighting With My Family” (MGM) has scored the best limited opening gross so far this year.

Lower but also impressive is the Colombian Oscar submission “Birds of Passage” (The Orchard), which scored decent initial two city numbers. Continuing with Focus’ “Everybody Knows,” which expanded decently in its second week, foreign-language films are on the rebound.

Opening

Fighting With My Family (MGM) – Metacritic: 70; Festivals include: Sundance 2019

$131,625 in 4 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $32,906

The first hit out of Sundance delivered the best limited opening grosses since “If Beale Street Could Talk” two months ago. This retelling of the rise of WWE female superstar Paige features producer Johnson as himself. Despite its mid-American appeal, it opened as a platform run at four New York/Los Angeles theaters. Positive reviews helped, but even in these more sophisticated locations this found an initial strong response.

What comes next: This goes nationally as a wide release this weekend where it appears it will find considerable interest.

“Birds of Passage”

Birds of Passage (The Orchard) – Metacritic: 90; Festivals include: Cannes, Telluride, Toronto 2018, Sundance 2019

$24,249 in 2 theaters; PTA: $12,125; Cumulative: $33,807

Though not opening at the same level as Colombian director Ciro Guerra’s previous surprise success “Embrace of the Serpent” (he shares directing credit on “Birds of Passage” with his ex-wife Cristina Gallego), this multi-decade story of how drugs upended a remote indigenous community is the latest impressive subtitled opener. Its initial exclusive New York and Los Angeles dates showed strong initial interest along with high-end reviews in the same range as several of its fellow short-listed Foreign Language Oscar contenders.

What comes next: The rebound in interest in subtitled films is underscored by plans to expand the film to up to 250 theaters.

“Hotel by the River”

Hotel By the River (Cinema Guild) – Metacritic: 79; Festivals include: Locarno, Toronto 2018

$5,870 in 1 theater; PTA (per theater average): $5,870

Acclaimed South Korean director Hong Sang-soo’s most recent release is another black and white subtitled art house release on the heels of “Roma” and “Cold War.” With positive initial reviews in New York, though not overall quite at the level of Hong’s previous films, this story of a poet summoning his two adult sons as he feels he might be dying had a mild initial response.

What comes next:  This likely will see mainly niche limited showings in high-end locations ahead.

Ruben Brandt, Collector (Sony Pictures Classics) – Metacritic: 78; Festivals include: Locarno 2018

$6,394 in 2 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $3,197; Cumulative: $7,737

This stylized Hungarian animated film focusing on a series of unusual art museum thefts had a late year qualifying Los Angeles run. Though it didn’t land a nomination, it is now starting regular limited runs, with initial New York and returning Los Angeles dates not responding strongly initially to favorable reviews.

What comes next:  As typical with SPC releases, expect this to reach top specialized theaters across the country.

Catvideofest 2019 (Oscilloscope)

$11,100 in 1 theater; PTA: $11,100

The gross for this compilation of films about cats comes from only two shows at one Chicago location. This is an event presentation partnering with and benefiting cat shelters, with the initial reaction showing significant niche interest.

What comes next: New York and Los Angeles have similar limited showings on Monday, with over 150 theaters planning to add on similarly in the near future.

War and Peace (Janus) (reissue)

$22,000 in 1 theater; PTA (per theater average): $22,000

One of the best showings for a restored film in recent years in limited release, this seven hour long Soviet epic (an Oscar winner for Foreign Language Film for 1968 for its shortened, English-dubbed version) clicked at its exclusive Manhattan run.

What comes next: Other major cities will see limited showings for this massive film.

Week Two

2019 Oscar Nominated Short Film (Shorts TV/Magnolia)

$(est.) 450,000 in 270 theaters (no change); PTA: $(est.) 1,666; Cumulative: $(est.) 1,795,000

This year’s compilation of the three Oscar categories (now all restored to the broadcast) continues to perform a little above all past editions.

Everybody Knows

“Everybody Knows”

© Teresa Isasi

Everybody Knows (Focus)

$191,000 in 23 theaters (+19); PTA: $8,302; Cumulative: $284,000

The latest non-English specialized release to score interest, Asghar Farhadi’s tense Spanish-language family mystery drama showed significant interest outside any award-parallel boost. Husband-and-wife stars Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem are the key reason.

Lords of Chaos (Gunpowder & Sky)

$53,654 in 25 theaters (+17); PTA: $2,146; Cumulative: $101,391

In advance of its Video on Demand availability this week, this recreation of the 1990s Norwegian black metal music world added new cities with continued modest interest.

To Dust (Good Deed)

$29,140 in 15 theaters (+14); PTA: $1,940; Cumulative: $40,134

An Hasidic cantor’s unusual approach to mourning after his wife’s death is the center of this Matthew Broderick vehicle, which expanded beyond its initial exclusive date with signs of wider interest.

Ongoing/expanding (Grosses over $50,000)

Green Book (Universal) Week 14

$2,750,000 in 1,618 theaters (-541); Cumulative: $65,255,000

Another weekend with a strong hold (only down 20 percent) for Peter Farrelly’s surging awards contender.

They Shall Not Grow Old (Warner Bros.) Week 6

$985,000 in 626 theaters (-201); Cumulative: $15,256,000

The continued wide release for Peter Jackson’s World War I documentary after its strong special event dates continues. It’s the latest non-fiction film to pass the $15 million mark.

The Favourite (Fox Searchlight) Week 13

$570,000 in 324 theaters (-281); Cumulative: $31,113,000

Its ten Oscar nominations have propelled Yorgos Lanthimos’ period comedy/drama into a now three-month run and one of the strongest totals among the late year specialized releases.

Cold War (Amazon) Week 9

$404,350 in 247 theaters (-23); Cumulative: $3,551,000

This much talked about multi-category Oscar contender is catching up to the longer-running Netflix streaming title “Roma” (its box office is estimated). With access to more theaters, this Polish contender continues to perform far ahead of almost all the foreign-language art house titles in recent years.

Stan and Ollie (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 8

$260,170 in 210 theaters (-142); Cumulative: $4,749,000

The fairly wide showing of this Laurel and Hardy late career biofilm is in its later stages is heading to a $5 =-million response without stateside awards attention.

“Arctic”

Cannes

Arctic (Bleecker Street) Week 3

$256,510 in 63 theaters (+48); Cumulative: $445,094

More action-oriented than a typical specialized release, Mads Mikkelsen frozen survival epic  is gaining some traction as it expands.

On the Basis of Sex (Focus) Week 8

$241,000 in 186 theaters (-230); Cumulative: $23,243,000

This film of the early days of Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s career while the Supreme Court Justice remains major news has stuck around longer than many of the late-year releases (including awards contenders) as it adds to its impressive total.

Capernaum (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 10

$193,301 in 136 theaters (+73); Cumulative: $993,350

The Lebanese Foreign Language contender continues to expand, more than doubling its theaters. Though respectable among subtitled releases, it looks like it will not reach the $3 million-plus totals of three of its rivals.

“If Beale Street Could Talk”

Screenshot

If Beale Street Could Talk (Annapurna) Week 10

$210,006 in 165 theaters (-101); Cumulative: $14,124,000

Regina King’s frontrunning shot at a Best Supporting Actress is the main reason for the continued presence of Barry Jenkins’ acclaimed adaptation of James Baldwin’s novel.

Free Solo (Greenwich) Week 21; also on Video on Demand

$180,046 in 108 theaters (-45); Cumulative: $16,239,000

Entering its sixth month of release, National Geographic’s Oscar Documentary contender continues to add to its impressive totals.

Never Look Away (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 4

$135,654 in 31 theaters (+28); Cumulative: $259,955

The first expansion of the German Foreign Language nominees continues to get a respectable response, more impressive with its three hour length.

Roma (Netflix) Week 13; also streaming

$(est.) 100,000 in 85 theaters (-40); Cumulative: $(est.) 3,650,000

Nearing the end of three months in theaters, our estimate of its non-Netflix gross shows it should sell ultimately a half million tickets or more before it completes its play. That’s likely a tiny fraction of its total viewers in the many millions on the streaming site, but all of this remains (educated) speculation.

The Wife (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 27; also on Video on Demand

$69,657 in 67 theaters (-22); Cumulative: $9,211,000

With a possible win for Best Actress, this Glenn Close drama might still reach $10 million even with home viewing availability.

Shoplifters (Magnolia) Week 13; also on Video on Demand

$(est.) 63,000 in 55 theaters (-27); Cumulative: $(est.) 3,073,000

Late in its run, this acclaimed audience-pleasing Japanese Foreign Language nominee has passed the rarely achieved $3-million mark for subtitled films.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Fox Searchight); also on Video on Demand Week 18

$(est.) 62,000 in 55 theaters (-29); Cumulative: $(est.) 8,649,000

Continued late in run interest for this dual acting Oscar nominee.

Also noted:

The Invisibles (Greenwich) – $35,311 in 19 theaters; Cumulative: $171,772

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In Another Blow to Physical Media, Samsung Is Done Making Blu-ray Players 

In bad news for proponents of physical media, Samsung has announced that it is exiting the Blu-ray market. The company said it “will no longer introduce new Blu-ray or 4K Blu-ray player models in the US market” in a statement shared with CNET. Its newest model was released in 2017, and plans to produce a new high-end 4K player this year were scrapped. The move follows a similar decision by Oppo, which announced its own exit from the market last April.

In addition to the fact that streaming movies and TV shows has become the norm over the last several years, Blu-ray hasn’t managed to fully replace DVD as the go-to form of physical media in the way that DVD did to VHS — even after besting the short-lived HD DVD in a format war 11 years ago. Any number of high-profile and/or well received movies have yet to be released on Blu-ray as a result, from James Cameron’s “The Abyss” and “True Lies” to Martin Scorsese’s “Bringing Out the Dead” and William Wyler’s “Roman Holiday,” among many others.

According to The Numbers, “Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi” was the best-selling Blu-ray of 2018 with a little more than three million units sold. It was followed closely by “Black Panther,” with “Avengers: Infinity War,” “The Greatest Showman,” and “Thor: Ragnarok” rounding out the top five; “The Greatest Showman” was the year’s most successful DVD release, meanwhile, having sold nearly 1.9 million units.

French Priest Tries to Block François Ozon’s ‘By the Grace of God’ From Being Released 

By the Grace of God” was greeted warmly at the Berlin Film Festival, where it won the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize, but François Ozon’s film based on a Catholic sex scandal has had a more complicated reception in France. Priest Bernard Preynat, who has been accused of molesting more than 80 boys and denies all allegations against him, is attempting to block the film from receiving a theatrical release in France until after his trial later this year.

“When you try to break the silence, there is always resistance,” Ozon told Agence France-Presse of the situation.

“I don’t think this is happening by accident, because it is a film which is trying to break an omerta, and which deals with the silence,” he said. Even so, Ozon has tried to be “as even-handed and objective as possible. It is not a film of goodies and baddies, it is much more complex than that for the affected families and the institution itself, and I tried to show that.”

Much of that approach involves focusing on established facts, according to Ozon. “Ninety percent of the film concerns the victims. It is their story. The rest are established facts from court documents, the press, documentaries and a book on the affair,” he said.

In his positive Berlinale review of the film, IndieWire’s David Ehrlich compared “By the Grace of God” to “Spotlight” and wrote, “Without deviating from the mission at hand, or taking its focus away from Preynat and Cardinal Barbarin, “By the Grace of God” is nevertheless attuned to the many different ways in which sexual trauma can burrow into and hollow out those who have to live with it.”

“I don’t know if cinema can change the world,” Ozon said in his AFP interview, “but it can open debate.”

Alec Baldwin Declares a National Emergency on ‘SNL’: ‘Wall Works’ 

One day after Donald Trump admitted he “didn’t need to do this” moments after declaring a national emergency, Alec Baldwin returned to “Saturday Night Live” and did likewise. The actor once again led the show’s cold open, mocking Trump’s meandering Rose Garden address: “We need wall, okay? We have a tremendous amount of drugs flowing into this country from the southern border — or the ‘brown line,’ as many have asked me not to call it,” he said

“That’s why we need wall: because wall works. Wall makes safe. You don’t have to be smart to understand that; in fact, it’s even easier if you’re not,” Baldwin as Trump continued. “So you all see why I gotta fake this national emergency, right? I have to because I want to.”

“I’m going to sign these papers for the emergency then I’ll immediately be sued, then the court won’t rule in my favor, then it’ll go to the Supreme Court, then I’ll call my buddy Kavanaugh, then I’ll say it’s time to repay the Donny, then he’ll say ‘new phone, who dis?'” All of this, he claims, is to end his “personal hell of being president.”

Also being discussed: North Korea, China, Chuck Schumer, and whether Trump will stop reading Playboy in favor of Hustle. “In conclusion, this is a total emergency, a five-alarm blaze, which means I have to go to Mar-a-Lago and play some golf,” he added. Watch the full cold open below:

Jussie Smollett Denies Report That He Paid to Orchestrate Assault 

Chicago police now believe Jussie Smollett paid two men to orchestrate the alleged assault that took place against him late last month, according to CNN. The two men, who are brothers, were arrested on Wednesday and released two days later without being charged after authorities found “new evidence” in the case. CNN’s law-enforcement sources say those men are now “cooperating fully” with the investigation.

Read More: Jussie Smollett: 20th Century Fox and Chicago Police Deny Report of Staged Attack

The “Empire” actor said he was attacked in the early hours of January 29 by men who shouted homophobic and racial slurs at him, tied a rope around his neck, poured an unknown substance on him, and said they were in “MAGA Country,” short for Make America Great Again.

Via his attorneys, Smollett has released a statement in which he denies having staged the incident:

“As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with. He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.

“One of these purported suspects was Jussie’s personal trainer who he hired to ready him physically for a music video. It is impossible to believe that this person could have played a role in the crime against Jussie or would falsely claim Jussie’s complicity.

“Jussie and his attorneys anticipate being further updated by the Chicago Police Department on the status of the investigation and will continue to cooperate. At the present time, Jussie and his attorneys have no inclination to respond to ‘unnamed’ sources inside of the investigation, but will continue discussions through official channels.”

‘Umbrella Academy’ Season 2’s Roadmap Is Already In Place, Thanks to the Comics 

[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for “The Umbrella Academy” Season 1.]

The ending of “The Umbrella Academy” Season 1 is such a cliffhanger that all it’s missing is a person literally hanging off a cliff. Its dramatic conclusion involves the end of the world, though the show’s core ensemble — a group of struggling young people with superpowers — may have managed to escape the cataclysm through time travel.

What happens next to all of these characters is unclear, at least to those who haven’t read the comic book series created by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bà, upon which the show is based. This meant that when it came to constructing the end of the season, showrunner Steve Blackman knew there was a chance that those final moments could be the last of the show. However, he told IndieWire, “I hope we get a second and third and fourth season, but I knew that having a great ending is important for Netflix as a streamer. You really want people to say, ‘I’ve got to come back and watch what happens.’ That was ultimate in my mind.”

If Netflix does choose to greenlight a second season, there’s plenty of narrative to work with, thanks to Way. While only two volumes have been published to date, he and artist collaborator Bà have plans for a total of eight graphic novels; the third volume, “Hotel Oblivion,” will be published in total in August 2019.

“The goal for us is to stay ahead of the show,” Way said, “and since we’re on Series 3 [of the comics], we are now ahead of the show. So that’s a good thing. The idea with the comic is to go right from Series 3, take a three-to-four-month break, then go right into Series 4. That is kind of our schedule to keep us on track. So there is story there and it’s all planned out.”

There is a chance that the TV show, should it get more seasons, could catch up with the comic books. “It takes us 18 months to do a season,” Blackman told Way. “I’m sure you’ll be on Volume 5 or 6 by the time we get to the next one.”

Way disagreed, saying that “No, we’ll be halfway through 4.”

The Umbrella Academy

“The Umbrella Academy.”

Christos Kalohoridis/Netflix

In addition, Way said, there is an 18-page document that spells out the entire narrative of the comic book, which Blackman and his writers have. According to Blackman, “he’s given me a really good idea to springboard to say where things are going and how they’ll be.”

It’s a situation similar to another writer whose ongoing fiction series was adapted for television, even though he hadn’t finished writing it yet, and Way said that yes, he’s “prepared for the potential reality” that he and “Game of Thrones” author George R.R. Martin might soon have something in common.

That said, Way said that he had a great relationship with Blackman. “It’s cool because Steve is super respectful of the source material and asks me questions and sometimes, he’ll ask me to help solve problems. Then, at the same time, he’s going, and because there’s a mutual respect, he’s going and making changes and I’m supporting those changes,” Way said. “I want him to feel free to tell the story he wants.”

Blackman added that “the goal is not to diverge. Not everything translates from the graphic novel page to the screen, but there’s a legion of fans and I want to bring in a whole new legion of fans who’ve never read the graphic novel, so the goal is not to just go off in our own direction. I like Gerard and Gabriel’s ideas so much, the goal is keep on trucking behind them, beside them. Things will deviate, but the goal is to try to be true to the source material.”

Meanwhile, the ensemble cast, including Ellen Page, Robert Sheehan, Tom Hopper, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Aiden Gallagher, David Casteñeda, Cameron Britton, and Mary J. Blige, remains relatively in the dark — and was in a similar place during production, to the point where, when they were filming the finale, Gallagher said, “Steve pulled a George Lucas and wouldn’t give us the last two pages until, maybe, a few days before.”

Sheehan agreed. “Before we shot, yeah. He didn’t want it circulating around.”

Even though the cast has read the graphic novels, Page’s response to whether they know what’s coming in Season 2 was “Yeah, maybe.” Much has been discussed in vague terms, but only speculation was really possible — like Hopper knowing that his already massive character gets obese in the second graphic novel, which would require even more padding.

That said, they weren’t short on ideas. Castañeda, for example, said that “I’d just throw something out there — Steve, maybe some more disco, you know what I mean? A Saturday night disco kind of thing.”

THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY

Mary J. Blige and Cameron Britton in “The Umbrella Academy”

Courtesy of Netflix

“They might have Dave and Diego have like a ‘Saturday Night Fever’ style disco dance-off,” Hopper added.

Raver-Lampman thought it was likely: “Yeah, they love it when we dance, so — just like a whole story line about you becoming an underground dancer…”

Meanwhile, both Britton and Blige wonder about whether their characters make it out, in different ways. Given the cataclysmic events of the finale, Blige said that she was sad if her character didn’t survive. Things are more complicated when it comes to Britton’s character, since at the end of the season, Hazel was trying to escape his old life for a new and happy one with innocent donut shop waitress Agnes.

“What I hope for Hazel is that he is never bothered again and he gets to live a simple happy happily ever after life with Agnes?” he said. “I doubt that if Hazel returns for Season 2, that would be the case. Some sort of conflict or tragedy would have to happen. In a way, I don’t look forward to it, it could be great or bad, but I’m just really happy for Hazel to get out.”

For an actor, knowing that the show they’re in could continue for years to come can be daunting. As Raver-Lampman said, “I can’t wrap my brain around it.”

Hopper agreed, noting that “At this point, we just finished Season 1. And we’ve only just sort of figured out what this show is, really, because we are just watching it ourselves. You can get a grasp of what it’s going to be when you shoot it, but you never know until you actually see it in the final product.”

That said, Hopper added, “to be honest, if we were on a show like this for five, six, seven years, for me, I’d say that’s a gift, because so few shows are this unique, and you don’t know what’s going to happen that season, or that episode. You don’t know what you’re going to be doing, but you know your skills are tested constantly.”

“Shooting the first season — they made us as comfortable as possible. They trusted us and our choices,” Raver-Lampman said. “They asked our opinions, we were very much involved. If we felt like a scene didn’t make sense, we always were allowed to talk it through. And we were always valued as actors and valued for the decisions that we were making on behalf of these characters. So being a part of, for lack of a better word, family, like that, and to potentially go for six, seven, however many years, hopefully. That would be amazing.”

The emotional connection the cast feels for the show might be best summed up by Page, who has has a fair amount of experience with superhero narratives. But she got excited for “Umbrella Academy” because seeing genre storytelling mixed with something that has emotional depth for its characters “just makes me so much more excited. Because I want to go be thrilled and see fucking wacky shit, and like, some of the amazing visual sequences in this show, and also be like really moved emotionally, which I am in this show.”

As she continued, “for me, all the big, fantastic, beautiful sequences end up meaning so much more when there’s so much feeling behind it.”

“The Umbrella Academy” Season 1 is streaming now on Netflix.

‘Saturday Night Live’ Review: First Time Host Don Cheadle Gets Great Sketches 

Another new “Saturday Night Live,” another first-time host. That’s no problem at all: It’s always nice to see some fresh celebrities in the rotation, and even if the episode material itself hasn’t been the most stellar, the season has definitely on the right track with the guest host choices. That definitely continues with Don Cheadle, though, like Liev Schreiber before him, it’s surprising he’d never hosted before. Actually, even more surprising than the Schreiber thing, to be perfectly honest.

Host: Don Cheadle

How did Don Cheadle do as a first-time host? Well, not only does Cheadle give an actual comedic monologue — honestly, one who didn’t know him might think he’s a stand-up comedian — he reminds everyone he was in an episode of “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” while doing so. Cheadle is a man who commits when he’s in a project, whether it’s his “Cockney” accent in the Ocean’s movies, five seasons of “House of Lies,” or his first time hosting “Saturday Night Live.” From his first sketch (the recurring “Fresh Takes”) it’s clear Cheadle is going to go all-in with this episode, but unlike many of the recent first-time hosts, “SNL” actually provides him with good and substantial material at the same time.

Best Sketches of The Night: “Extreme Baking Championship” & “Bar Fight”

The unexpected nature of the baking sketch — from the terrible finished products to the impressive self-deprecation and shame that happens as a result of it — is all so funny. The “Sean” Cookie Monster cake is already funny as is (especially with the lead up of Cheadle’s character strangely introducing him in a roundabout way as “Tickle Me Elmo’s best friend” and the lack of reasoning behind “Sean”) even before Kenan comes in as the voice of Sean, begging for someone to “Kill me!”

As for the “Bar Fight” sketch, the Mika album that song “Lollipop” came from — “Life in Cartoon Motion”, a great album — actually came out almost exactly 12 years ago as of this sketch. (It was released back February 6, 2007.) Anyone who listed to this album back in 2007 and 2008 was caught between a flood of nostalgia and, honestly, awe that “SNL” was doing a sketch all about it in 2019. And the sketch, like the baking sketch, is so unexpected and delightful that even the final big choreography and then punch from Cheadle’s character are actually surprising. This episode has genuine surprises in its sketches, and that can’t always or often be said on a weekly basis.

Worst Sketch of The Night: “Family Feud: Oscar Nominees”

There have been a lot of “Family Feud” sketches on “SNL,” because it’s one of the easiest ways to get out a bunch of impressions, which is a big part of the show. This particular “Family Feud,” however, is pretty weak. Don Cheadle’s Spike Lee is only recognizable because they say it’s Spike Lee, and his height doesn’t help. (If possible — and this totally sounds like it’s saying certain people are interchangeable, but that’s not the point — Cheadle should’ve played Mahershala Ali and Chris Redd should’ve played Spike Lee.) Melissa Villasenor’s Lady Gaga doesn’t hit quite as hard the second week in a row, and Kyle Mooney’s Bradley Cooper… doesn’t seem like any version of Bradley Cooper that has ever existed. Pete Davidson’s Rami Malek should be a slam dunk because him playing Rami Malek is one of those things that always seems like it should be good, but just that assumption is really all the effort he puts into it. (And Pete’s not really an impressionist in general, so there’s not much of anything to work with there. Really, it’s surprising “SNL” doesn’t just say screw it and have him as Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury.)

But…

Best Impression: Cecily Strong as Olivia Colman (“Family Feud”)

What an unexpected delight — much like Olivia Colman herself. In a sketch where even the decent impressions aren’t much to write home about (like Melissa’s Lady Gaga and Beck Bennett’s Sam Elliott), Cecily’s Olivia Colman sticks out even more. Yes, the baseline is that she’s “pissed,” but every good impression has one specific baseline.

Worst Impression: Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump (“Trump Press Conference Cold Open”)

Well, as long as there’s Alec Baldwin’s Trump on an episode of “SNL,” it’s fairly obvious which impression is the worst. This cold open just might be the shortest of the seemingly never ending political cold opens this season, but it still feels like it lasts much longer than… less than seven minutes. Even the easy-to-placate live studio audience has never sounded more forced in their laughter than during this cold open, but that could be because there are no other celebrity guests to make them “woo” and distract them from the lack of jokes. But hey, Baldwin says “CHINA” that Trump-y way, so that’s… something he does every time.

Best Male Performers: Mikey Day & Beck Bennett

From now on, the host won’t be up for the “best performer” designation, but if he was, Don Cheadle would get it this time. In terms of the cast, though, this is definitely a great episode for both Mikey Day and Beck Bennett. Both men are skilled at playing the straight man, but they’re at their best when things get weird. For Mikey, that weird peak is in the Roach-Ex sketch. For Beck, it’s the “Lollipop” sketch.

Best Female Performer: Heidi Gardner

For her performance in the Roach-Ex sketch alone, she gets this distinction. But her reactions in the baking sketch are also great, as she’s the only competent (and possibly sane) one in the whole group.

Final Thoughts

This is honestly a surprisingly risky episode of the show; it goes full tilt on the weirdness (see: “Wedding Venue Ad”), only taking a reprieve during the disappointing Family Feud sketch. The true weakest parts of the episode are the cold open and Weekend Update, but the latter is not for the usual reasons, actually. This week’s Weekend Update drags particularly in the form of the features (especially Alex Moffat and Kate McKinnon’s Schumer and Pelosi, unfortunately), and the crowd’s really not biting when it comes to a lot of Colin Jost and Michael Che’s punchlines. But it actually starts off very well early on, with Michael Che showing actual frustration with having to keep talking about Donald Trump week in and week out. That right there works so much better than the aloofness (and “both sides are bad” rhetoric) he and Jost always show, although Jost trying to defend Amazon in New York City does its best to remove the good will Che creates.

But when it comes to the episode proper — including the musical guest, Gary Clark Jr. — it’s hard to deny how strong of an episode it is. It’s also hard to understand how Don Cheadle hasn’t hosted before now.

Grade: A-

‘Vice’ and ‘Mary Queen of Scots’ Win Big at Makeup and Hairstyling MUAHS Guild Awards 

Vice,” “Mary Queen of Scots,” “A Star Is Born,” and “Crazy Rich Asians” were the top makeup and hairstyling winners Saturday at the 6th annual MUAHS Guild Awards (at L.A. Live). “Vice,” the Oscar favorite for Christian Bale’s remarkable Dick Cheney transformation, took home period makeup and makeup effects; “Mary Queen of Scots,” another Oscar nominee, won for period hairstyling; “A Star Is Born” snagged contemporary makeup; and “Crazy Rich Asians” earned contemporary hairstyling.

On Friday, prior to the Academy reversing its decision to edit the cinematography, editing, makeup and hairstyling, and live action short Oscar award presentations, Julie Socash, president, Make-Up Artists & Hair Stylists Guild, delivered a statement of protest:

“We know from some of our members, as talented artists and professionals, that they are disappointed by the Academy’s decision to handle various awards in this fashion, even if on a rotational basis. As IATSE International President Matthew D. Loeb made clear in his statement, our members are ‘the core of any motion picture production.’ While we are looking forward to the Oscar telecast, our focus right now is on this Saturday night’s Make-up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards where our members artistic contributions will be honored with the dignity our craft deserves.”

Read More:“The Great Oscar Crafts Mutiny: The Inside Story of How the Academy Backed Down”

Margot Robbie,

“Mary Queen of Scots”

Focus Features

TV winners included “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (period makeup and hairstyling), “American Horror Story” (contemporary makeup, commercial/music video makeup and hairstyling), “Westworld” (special makeup effects), “A Series of Unfortunate Events” (children and teen makeup and hairstyling), and “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert” (TV special contemporary hairstyling).

Read More:Oscars 2019: Best Makeup and Hairstyling Predictions

As previously announced, Oscar-nominated actress Melissa McCarthy (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”) was honored with the Distinguished Artisan Award. Susan Cabral-Ebert, outgoing Local 706 president and Emmy-nominated makeup artist, and Robert Louis Stevenson, legendary Emmy-winning hairstylist, received Lifetime Achievement Awards.

Winners for outstanding make-up artists and stylists are listed below:

FEATURE-LENGTH MOTION PICTURE – BEST CONTEMPORARY MAKE-UP 

“A Star is Born”

Ve Neill, Debbie Zoller, Sarah Tanno

FEATURE-LENGTH MOTION PICTURE – BEST CONTEMPORARY HAIR STYLING

“Crazy Rich Asians”

Heike Merker, Sophia Knight

FEATURE-LENGTH MOTION PICTURE – BEST PERIOD AND/OR CHARACTER MAKE-UP

“Vice”

Kate Biscoe, Ann Pala Williams, Jamie Kelman

FEATURE-LENGTH MOTION PICTURE – BEST PERIOD AND/OR CHARACTER HAIR STYLING

“Mary Queen of Scots”

Jenny Shircore, Marc Pilcher

FEATURE-LENGTH MOTION PICTURE – BEST SPECIAL MAKE-UP EFFECTS

“Vice”

Greg Cannom, Christopher Gallaher

TELEVISION SERIES, TELEVISION MINI SERIES OR TELEVISION NEW MEDIA SERIES – BEST CONTEMPORARY MAKE-UP

“American Horror Story: Apocalypse”

Eryn Krueger Mekash, Kim Ayers, Silvina Knight

TELEVISION SERIES, TELEVISION MINI SERIES OR TELEVISION NEW MEDIA SERIES – BEST CONTEMPORARY HAIR STYLING

“Dancing with the Stars”

Gail Ryan, Brittany Spaulding, Jani Kleinbard

TELEVISION SERIES, TELEVISION MINI SERIES OR TELEVISION NEW MEDIA SERIES – BEST PERIOD AND/OR CHARACTER MAKE-UP

“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”

Patricia Regan, Claus Lulla, Joseph A. Campayno

TELEVISION SERIES, TELEVISION MINI SERIES OR TELEVISION NEW MEDIA SERIES – BEST PERIOD AND/OR CHARACTER HAIR STYLING

“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”

Jerry DeCarlo, John Jordan, Peg Schierholz

TELEVISION SERIES, TELEVISION MINI SERIES OR TELEVISION NEW MEDIA SERIES – BEST SPECIAL MAKE-UP EFFECTS

“Westworld”

Justin Raleigh, Kevin Kirkpatrick, Thomas Floutz

MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION OR SPECIAL – BEST CONTEMPORARY MAKE-UP

“King Lear”

Naomi Donne, Sara Kramer

MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION OR SPECIAL – BEST CONTEMPORARY HAIR STYLING

“Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert”

Charles Lapointe, Kevin Maybee

MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION OR SPECIAL – BEST SPECIAL MAKE-UP EFFECTS

“Cocaine Godmother”

Trefor Proud, Vicki Syskakis

DAYTIME TELEVISION – BEST MAKE-UP

“The Young and the Restless”

Patricia Denney, Marlene Mason, Kathy Jones

DAYTIME TELEVISION – BEST HAIR STYLING

“The Young and the Restless”

Regina Rodriguez, Adriana Lucio, Vanessa Bragdon

CHILDREN AND TEEN TELEVISION PROGRAMMING – BEST MAKE-UP

“A Series of Unfortunate Events”

Rita Ciccozzi, Krista Seller, Bill Terezakis

CHILDREN AND TEEN TELEVISION PROGRAMMING – BEST HAIR STYLING 

“A Series of Unfortunate Events”

Julie McHaffie, Dianne Holme

COMMERCIALS & MUSIC VIDEOS – BEST MAKE-UP

“American Horror Story: Apocalypse”: “Promo’”

Kerry Herta, Jason Collins, Cristina Waltz

COMMERCIALS & MUSIC VIDEOS – BEST HAIR STYLING

“American Horror Story: Apocalypse”: “Promo”

Joe Matke, Fernando Santaella-Navarro

THEATRICAL PRODUCTION – BEST MAKE-UP

“The Unauthorized Musical Parody of Rocky Horror”

Michael Johnston, Tyson Fontaine, Lauren Lillian

THEATRICAL PRODUCTION – BEST HAIR STYLING

“Aladdin”

Debra Parr, Michele Arvizo, Chanthy Tach

 

 

 

CAS Sound Mixing Awards: ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ Rocks On Toward Oscar 

Bohemian Rhapsody” (live action), “Free Solo” (documentary), and Wes Anderson’s stop-motion “Isle of Dogs” (upsetting the animated “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”) were the top sound-mixing winners at Saturday’s 55th annual CAS Awards (at the InterContinental Hotel).

In terms of the Oscar race, the popular Freddie Mercury biopic, starring Best Actor favorite Rami Malek, strengthened its frontrunning status. The emotional Live Aid concert footage, in particular, benefits from the thunderous IMAX presentation.

“Free Solo”

Nat Geo

Read More: Oscars 2019: Best Sound Mixing Predictions

But “Bohemian Rhapsody” faces tough Oscar competition from “First Man,” “A Star Is Born,” “Roma,” and “Black Panther.” The latter three showcase the continuing versatility of Dolby Atmos.

TV winners included “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”: Vote for Kennedy, Vote for Kennedy; “American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace” (Part 1) The Man Who Would Be Vogue; “Mozart in the Jungle”: Domo Arigato; and “Anthony Bourdain”: Parts Unknown (Bhutan)

Honorary awards were given to Steven Spielberg (Filmmaker Award), foley mixer Mary Jo Lang (President’s Award), and sound mixer Lee Orloff (Career Achievement Award).

“Isle of Dogs”

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Winners for the 55th CAS Awards:

MOTION PICTURE – LIVE ACTION

“Bohemian Rhapsody”
Production Mixer – John Casali
Re-recording Mixer – Paul Massey
Re-recording Mixer – Tim Cavagin
Re-recording Mixer – Niv Adiri, CAS

MOTION PICTURE – ANIMATED

“Isle of Dogs”
Original Dialogue Mixer – Darrin Moore
Re-recording Mixer – Christopher Scarabosio
Re-recording Mixer – Wayne Lemmer
Scoring Mixer – Xavier Forcioli
Scoring Mixer – Simon Rhodes
Foley Mixer – Peter Persaud, CAS

MOTION PICTURE – DOCUMENTARY

“Free Solo”
Production Mixer – Jim Hurst
Re-recording Mixer – Tom Fleischman, CAS
Re-recording Mixer – Ric Schnupp
Scoring Mixer – Tyson Lozensky
ADR Mixer – David Boulton
Foley Mixer – Joana Niza Braga

TELEVISION SERIES – ONE HOUR

“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”: Vote for Kennedy, Vote for Kennedy
Production Mixer – Mathew Price, CAS
Re-recording Mixer – Ron Bochar, CAS
Re-recording Mixer – Michael Miller, CAS
ADR Mixer – David Boulton
Foley Mixer – Steven Visscher

TELEVISION SERIES – HALF-HOUR

“Mozart in the Jungle”: Domo Arigato
Production Mixer – Ryotaro Harada
Re-recording Mixer – Andy D’Addario
Re-recording Mixer – Chris Jacobson, CAS
ADR Mixer – Patrick Christensen
Foley Mixer – Gary DeLeone

TELEVISION MOVIE or LIMITED SERIES

“American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace” (Part 1) The Man Who Would Be Vogue
Production Mixer – John Bauman, CAS
Re-recording Mixer – Joe Earle, CAS
Re-recording Mixer – Doug Andham, CAS
ADR Mixer – Judah Getz, CAS
Foley Mixer – Arno Stephanian

TELEVISION NON-FICTION, VARIETY or MUSIC SERIES or SPECIALS

“Anthony Bourdain”: Parts Unknown (Bhutan)
Re-Recording Mixer – Benny Mouthon, CAS

WINNER CAS STUDENT RECOGNITION AWARD

Anna Wozniewicz Chapman University – Orange, CA

WINNER CAS OUTSTANDING PRODUCT AWARD FOR POST PRODUCTION

RX 7 Manufacturer: iZotope, Inc.

WINNER CAS OUTSTANDING PRODUCT AWARD FOR PRODUCTION

Dugan Automixing in Sound Devices 633 Compact Mixer Manufacturer: Dan Dugan Sound Design

Yalitza Aparicio Says She’s ‘Proud’ of Her Roots in Response to Racist Slurs 

Yalitza Aparicio’s recent Oscar nomination has been met with praise and enthusiasm in most corners, but not everyone is happy for the “Roma” actress. Video surfaced yesterday of Mexican actor Sergio Goyri criticizing the Academy for honoring “a fucking Indian who says, ‘Yes, ma’am, no, ma’am.'”

Aparacio, 25, released a brief statement in response: “I am proud to be an Oaxacan indigenous woman and it saddens me that there are people who do not know the correct meaning of words,” she said.

Goyri has since apologized. “It was never my intent to offend anyone. I apologize to Yalitza, who deserves [the Oscar nomination] and much more,” he said in an Instagram video (translated by the Guardian). “For me, it is an honor to see a Mexican be nominated for an Oscar.“

It’s far from Aparicio’s first encounter with this, as she addressed last month.

“I’m not the face of Mexico,” she said in a New York Times interview conducted before her Oscar nod. “It shouldn’t matter what you’re into, how you look — you can achieve whatever you aspire to.” Aparicio added, “I’d be breaking the stereotype that because we’re Indigenous we can’t do certain things because of our skin color.”

“Receiving that nomination would be a break from so many ideas. It would open doors to other people — to everyone — and deepen our conviction that we can do these things now.”

“Roma” is up for a total of 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Director, with Aparicio’s co-star Marina de Tavira receiving a Best Supporting Actress nomination as well.

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