When Hollywood Stars Invade Broadway …

… they sometimes get snubbed.

Theater purists may have big grins on their faces today.

Why?

Because the majority of the film and TV stars who brought their Hollywood billing to Broadway this year — likely helping bottom lines all over the theater district — got snubbed by the Tonys. Instead, the lion’s share of the Tony nominations went to Great White Way regulars.

bette midlerWho didn’t get nominated? Alec Baldwin (“Orphans”), Bette Midler (“I’ll Eat You Last,” left), Al Pacino (“Glengarry Glen Ross”), Scarlett Johansson (“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”), Jessica Chastain (“The Heiress”), Cuba Gooding Jr. (“The Trip to Bountiful”), Alan Cumming (“Macbeth”).

Tom Hanks, one of Tinsel Town’s biggest stars, did, however get a nomination, for his work as a journalist in “Lucky Guy,” written by the late Nora Ephron. Cicely Tyson was also nominated, for her performance in “Bountiful.” And others known for their extensive film and TV work scored, too — David Hyde Pierce (“Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike”) and Nathan Lane (“The Nance”).

The full list of nominations is below. More here.

Best Play
The Assembled Parties by Richard Greenberg
Lucky Guy by Nora Ephron
The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike by Christopher Durang

Best Musical
Bring It On: The Musical
A Christmas Story, The Musical
Kinky Boots
Matilda The Musical

Best Revival of a Play
Golden Boy
Orphans 
The Trip to Bountiful
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 

Best Revival of a Musical
Annie
The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Pippin
Rogers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella

Best Direction of a Play
Pam MacKinnon, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Nicholas Martin, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Bartlett Sher, Golden Boy
George C. Wolfe, Lucky Guy

Best Direction of a Musical
Scott Ellis, The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Jerry Mitchell, Kinky Boots
Diane Paulus, Pippin
Matthew Warchus, Matilda

Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Laurie Metcalf, The Other Place
Amy Morton, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 
Kristine Nielsen, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Holland Taylor, Ann
Cicely Tyson, The Trip to Bountiful

Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Tom Hanks, Lucky Guy
Nathan Lane, The Nance
Tracy Letts, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf
David Hyde Pierce, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Tom Sturridge, Orphans

Best Featured Actress in a Play
Carrie Coon, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 
Shalita Grant, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Judith Ivey, The Heiress
Judith Light, The Assembled Parties
Condola Rashad, The Trip to Bountiful

Best Featured Actor in a Play
Danny Burstein, Golden Boy
Richard Kind, The Big Knife
Billy Magnussen, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Tony Shalhoub, Golden Boy
Courtney B. Vance, Lucky Guy

Best Actress in a Leading Role Musical
Stephanie J. Block, The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Carolee Carmello, Scandalous
Valisia LeKae, Motown: The Musical
Patina Miller, Pippin
Laura Osnes, Cinderella

Best Actor in a Leading Role Musical
Bertie Carvel, Matilda
Santino Fontana, Cinderella
Rob McClure, Chaplin
Billy Porter, Kinky Boots
Stark Sands, Kinky Boots

Best Featured Actress in a Musical
Annaleigh Ashford, Kinky Boots
Victoria Clark, Cinderella
Andrea Martin, Pippin
Keala Settle, Hands on a Hardbody
Lauren Ward, Matilda

Best Featured Actor in a Musical
Charl Brown, Motown: The Musical
Keith Carradine, Hands on a Hardbody
Will Chase, The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Gabriel Ebert, Matilda
Terrence Mann, Pippin

Best Book of a Musical 
Joseph Robinette, A Christmas Story
Harvey Fierstein, Kinky Boots
Dennis Kelly, Matilda
Douglas Carter Beane, Cinderella

Original Score
Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, A Christmas Story
Music: Trey Anastasio and Amanda Green, Lyrics: Amanda Green, Hands on a Hardbody
Cyndi Lauper, Kinky Boots
Tim Minchin, Matilda

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Dan Hudak Steps Down as Chair of Florida Film Critics Circle; Bill Gibron Takes Helm

FFCC LogoThe Florida Film Critics Circle, an organization comprising more than 20 active or retired movie writers based in Florida, has new leadership.

Dan Hudak, chairman of the group since March 2008, is stepping down from that unpaid post, he announced earlier this week. Hudak, who writes for Florida Weekly, Folio Weekly and his own Hudak on Hollywood site, is handing the reins to Bill Gibron, vice chair of the group and a writer for Pop Matters and FilmCritic.com. The vice chair position is open until filled.

The group, founded in 1996, annually honors excellence in film with awards in about 16 categories (varies depending on the releases in any given year). In the most recent FFCC awards, “Argo” won for best picture, best director (Ben Affleck) and best adapted screenplay (Chris Terrio), while Daniel Day-Lewis was honored as best actor for “Lincoln,” Jessica Chastain as best actress for “Zero Dark Thirty,” Philip Seymour Hoffman as best supporting actor for “The Master” and Anne Hathaway as best supporting actress for “Les Miserables.” The complete list of winners in all the categories, going back to 1996, is here.

The FFCC was created “to recognize outstanding work in film, further the cause of good movies, and maintain the highest level of professionalism among film critics in Florida.”

In other FFCC news: Rene Jordan, the Cuban-born longtime film critic for El Nuevo Herald (the Miami Herald’s Spanish-language counterpart), and a member of the FFCC and National Board of Review, passed away in early April. He was 85.

For more information, visit the FFCC’s home online. 

“Lawless”: Americana-Tinted, Bloody, Brooding — Not Your Average Moonshine-and-Shotguns Saga (review)


Stars Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Joseph Clarke, Guy Pearce, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska, Dane DeHaan, and Gary Oldman. Directed by John Hillcoat, from a script by Nick Cave, based on Matt Bondurant’s novel “The Wettest County in the World.” Rated R. 115 minutes. Critic’s grade: A-

“Lawless,” several cuts above the usual Hollywood moonshine-and-shotguns saga, benefits from being streaked with appealing shades of artfully rendered Americana. It’s there in the images of rural Virginia mountainsides, orange fires from myriad illicit whiskey stills popping through the nighttime mist, all beautifully captured by cinematographer Benoit Delhomme. His cameras also rest on lush sun-soaked greenery, along with the picturesque covered bridges and often ramshackle wooden structures that dot the landscape.

That Americana can be felt, too, in the laconic drawl and hushed mutters marking the speech of Forrest Bondurant (Tom Hardy), ringleader of a family-run moonshine operation; he’d just as soon baffle an enemy with backwoods-philosophy BS as he would take the guy out with the help of a swift right punch and brass knuckles. And it’s there in the rootsy bluegrass, country, and gospel music — the likes of Ralph Stanley, Willie Nelson, and Emmylou Harris — heard on the score, assembled and assisted by veteran Australian singer and songwriter Nick Cave.

Cave also wrote the screenplay, based on a book, “The Wettest County in the World,” written by a descendant of the Bondurant brothers. Australian-born Director John Hillcoat (“The Proposition,” also penned by Cave, and “The Road”), working with such rich material, has turned out a thriller that’s often grotesquely violent while never quite adequately exploring the dynamics holding together the rough-hewn siblings. Aside from greed and revenge, what makes the alternately taciturn and eloquent Forrest, the imbalanced, often drunk and enraged Howard (Jason Clarke) and excitable young Jack (Shia LaBeouf), called “the runt of the litter,” remain so loyal to one another?

Following a brief prologue, during which Jack proves unwilling to shoot a pig on the family farm near Franklin, Va., the story shifts to the early ’30s. Prohibition is in effect, and the Bondurants are riding high on the new family business, making hooch and selling to the locals, including whites at a bluegrass stomp, blacks at a raucous wake, and local police who get a special deal for turning a blind eye to the illegal goings-on.

That comfortable system is disrupted by Chicago gangsters wanting a piece of the profitable illicit-booze economy. One such interloper, Floyd Banner (Gary Oldman), makes his entrance wearing a pinstriped suit and black hat, lit cigar clenched between his teeth, shooting a Tommy gun into the car of an enemy. Banner is tough but reasonable, eventually amenable to a partnership with Jack; Oldman fires on all cylinders with a role that appears to have been trimmed back).

Special Deputy Charlie Rakes, brought in by the local district attorney, is anything but open to compromise. The foreign-accented Rakes, cunningly brought to life by another Australian, Guy Pearce (“The King’s Speech,” “The Proposition,” “Memento”), is a federal lawman whose corruption is exceeded only by his viciousness and his penchant for carrying out even the most brutal beatings while dressed to the nines, his jet black, slicked back hair not mussed in the slightest. After one such encounter, he carefully peels off his blood-stained leather gloves, viewing them with distaste but experiencing no remorse for his horrific attack. Rakes’ sexual interests come off as purely predatory and largely undiscriminating — he has a taste for prostitutes and the weak — and he revels in his position of power. The Rakes-ordered tarring and feathering of one character, and the aftermath, are particularly gruesome. Rakes is so fearsome, even to the point of outlandishness, that he sometimes appears to have walked onto the set from another movie.

Rakes is hardly the only character to use extreme violence in order to get what he wants. In the Bondurants’ world, that approach is sometimes, if regrettably, necessary, as Forrest explains to Jack. “It is not the violence that sets a man apart. It is the the distance that he is prepared to go.”

The film’s not all boys, booze, and guns. Along the way, Jack courts Bertha (Mia Wasikowska), the pretty daughter of a local religious leader; a feet-washing ritual during the church’s Sunday meeting, complete with a cappella singing and rhythms created by foot-stomped floorboards, makes for one of the film’s most intense moments, which then spills over into comic relief. Forrest, too, feels a growing attraction for the statuesque Maggie (Jessica Chastain), a troubled woman who fled from her life as a girlie dancer in the big city.

In addition to first-rate work from Pearce, Oldman, Chastain and Wasikowska, “Lawless” thrives on intriguing turns by Hardy (“The Warrior,” “Inception”) and Clarke (“Trust,” “Public Enemies”) and a career-best performance for LeBeouf (the “Transformers” trilogy, “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”).

And there will be blood, lots of it, during a final showdown that seals the fate of several major characters. The climactic shoot-out is to be expected, but the consequences aren’t necessarily predictable. Nor is the prologue, which seems to suggest that even good things happen to bad people, a message that might even count as subversive. “Lawless,” while not a classic of its genre, often comes darn close.