Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Force Dimmed This Week / The FAC Updates Best Picture and Director / Scene Work from Manchester by the Sea

It's Thursday...the last one of 2016...aren't you glad?


Carrie Fisher at this year's Telluride Film Festival

I'm not sure I can add anything new or worthy to the outpouring of grief and remembrances at the Tuesday passing of Carrie Fisher.  I tweeted Tuesday my appreciation to the Telluride Film Festival because they had made it possible for an old Star Wars fan to be in the same room with Carrie with the inclusion of Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds.  The documentary was excellent and it was a once-in-a-lifetime treat to get to hear Carrie and her brother Todd talk about the film and their lives.

I also wanted to thank directors Fisher Stevens and Alexis Bloom (as I did in person in T-ride) for bringing this story to us.  Bright Lights is set to screen on HBO sometime early in 2017.

Carrie was 60 when she died Tuesday.  I'm a 59 year old man.  That kind of sudden reminder of mortality will jolt a guy.  2016 seems to have been full of more than its share of greatness leaving us.  Ali, Bowie, many others.

I have talked with a couple of friends about the notion that we're experiencing what seems like more deaths of more culturally significant people than is normal.  I have a theory about why it seems that way.

I am at the tail end of the baby boomer generation and my theory suggests that my generation, and the generations that have come after, are more susceptible to mass grief in these moments as we are generations for whom being immersed in popular culture is so much easier and, largely expected, as a part of of our normal daily routines and discourse.

The rise of television in the 60's and then the computer revolution seems to have created more pop culture icons and have made them all far more accessible.  The rise of music videos in the 80's and the freedom to download popular music from your desktop is another component of this. As a result, those pop icons are much a more integral part of our lives than they have been for previous generations. Thus, we feel that crushing sense of loss more frequently for more figures than was possible for those that preceded us.

I think the addition of video, the fact that we can see the people that we admire and that enthrall us, has made it all the more dramatic.  The expansion in my lifetime from a television that gave someone three channels to the multiplicity of delivery mechanisms for pop culture that we have now has magnified this.

And there are just more of us.  It's a matter of sheer numbers.  The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that there are now 319 million of us.  The 1960 census had our population at 181 million.  Add those demographics to the explosion of access and it becomes another factor in this theory.

So my theory goes.  The hell of it is that we'd better get used to years like 2016 because, if my theory is anywhere close to right... all of our years to come will feel like 2016...grim, I know.

Or maybe that's all just baby boomer self-centeredness.  Or maybe I'm talking out of my ass.

Nevertheless, as a final exhibit, your honors, look at the flood of grief and outpouring of love that has happened over and over again in 2016 and, what seems to me, a loud and constant collective plea that this year limp to a conclusion.  It overwhelms.

In closing, thanks to Carrie for being a giant part of endless hours of fascination and diversion and for proving this past September that she was every bit the bright, fierce and funny woman that I had thought she was.  And, again, thanks to the TFF #43 programmers for making those moments happen.

The force dimmed this week.

I have selected a few posts that went up this week memorializing Ms. Fisher.  They are linked here:

From Telluride regular Leonard Maltin

From the Staff at

From Liz Shannon Miller of Indiewire

And an unpublished interview from October with Greg Ellwood from The Playlist

Finally, the IMDb page for Bright Lights

ADDENDUM:  As I'm sure you heard last night, Carrie's mother and entertainment legend Debbie Reynolds died yesterday.  It's just heart breaking and adds another layer of poignancy to what we were a part of this past Labor Day weekend.


We're three weeks passed the last BP and BD FAC update (it was Dec. 8) so I thought that a current feel for where the Oscar experts think those two races are would be a good idea before we turn the calendar over to 2017.

I have used the publicly available Oscar predictions from the following pundits:

Erik Anderson/Awards Watch
Clayton Davis/Awards Circuit
Greg Ellwood/The Playlist-Awards Campaign
Scott Feinberg/The Hollywood Reporter
Joey Magidson/Hollywood News
Nathaniel Rogers/Film Experience
Sasha Stone/Awards Daily
Kristopher Tapley/Variety-InContention
Anne Thompson/Indiewire

TFF #43 films are in Bold.  The person's previous position follows its title in parentheses.


1) La La Land (1)
2) Moonlight (2)
3) Manchester by the Sea (3)
4) Hell or High Water (5)
5) Fences (4)
6) Arrival (8)
7) Lion (6)
8) Hidden Figures (NR)

9) Hacksaw Ridge (12)
10) Silence (7)
11) Jackie (11)
12) Sully (9)

Hot: Arrival, Hidden Figures, Hacksaw Ridge
Not: Silence, Sully, Loving
On the Cusp: Loving
Comment:  I think Silence may be in a stronger position than some because of where Scorsese ranks on the Best Directing chart (see below).  There does seem to have been a flutter in support for La La Land at the top spot due to its lack of a Best Ensemble nomination from the SAG Awards but not enough to remove it from a still solid hold on that position.  Moonlight and Manchester are bunched very tightly and the distance between the top three and the next film (Hell or High Water...a great story in its rise as awards season has progressed) is substantial.


1) Damien Chazelle/La La Land (1)
2) Barry Jenkins/Moonlight (2)
3) Kenneth Lonergan/Manchester by the Sea (3)
4) Martin Scorsese/Silence (4)
5) Denis Villenueve/Arrival (6)

6) Denzel Washington/Fences (5)
7) Mel Gibson/Hacksaw Ridge (NR)
8) David Mackenzie/Hell or High Water (10)
9) Garth Davis/Lion (8)
10) Pablo Larrain/Jackie (7)

Hot: Gibson and Mackenzie
Not: Larrain and Jeff Nichols/Loving
On the Cusp: Nichols and Clint Eastwood/Sully
Comment"  The top four stay the same over the last three weeks.  Villenueve and Washington swap spots,  Chazelle, Jenkins and Lonergan are very tightly bunched.


Michelle Williams and Casey Affleck in a clip from Kenneth Lonergan's Manchester by the Sea (from YouTube)

The Wrap recently talked to actress Michelle Williams about her role in Kenneth Lonergan's Manchester by the Sea.  Williams is a likely Oscar nominee next month for her work in the film and she should be.  She and acting partner Casey Affleck provide one of the most emotionally honest and effective scenes in any film of this year as a part of the film.  The Wrap talked to Williams about the film and about that scene in particular in this story posted yesterday.

Admittedly, I haven't seen Viola Davis who is everyone's front runner for Best Supporting Actress this year in Fences but she's got a high bar to get over in Williams' performance.  

Manchester by the Sea is in theaters now.


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