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Can Netflix’s ‘The Meyerowitz Stories’ win Adam Sandler an Oscar?



Noah Baumbach has successfully usurped Woody Allen’s title as the greatest living director of New York comedies. He builds upon Allen’s legacy of neurotic, witty character studies set in that most cinematic of cities.

Baumbach’s latest love letter to New York comes in the form of The Merowitz Stories (New and Selected), about an artist patriarch played by Dustin Hoffman and his children. Hoffman’s Harold Meyerowitz is an aging sculptor, largely overlooked in his time. His children, played respectively by Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler, and Elizabeth Marvel, are all semi-dysfunctional thanks to Harold’s over- or under-involved parenting. The film forces them to reconnect over a potentially devastating illness and parse out their feelings toward a father whom they all have complicated relationships with.

Let’s get this part out of the way, since it’s the element of the film that most people have been talking about and which they will likely continue talking about over the course of the next few months. Sandler stuns in this movie. It’s unclear why he doesn’t pursue this type of role more often.

Photo via Atsushi Nishijima/Netflix

Whether it’s because he’s mad at the public for failing to recognize his intermittent attempts at serious acting, or because he has more fun shooting on location with his friends than challenging himself, or simply because he likes getting paid a lot of money, it continues to be hard to understand why Sandler forfeits opportunities to be great. For a long time, the story has been that he’s trying to convince everybody he’s a serious actor, waylaid by the long list of terrible films he’s forced to act in to maintain his stardom. But if you compare the work he’s doing in The Meyerowitz Stories to any one of his Netflix exclusives, another narrative emerges. Perhaps Sandler has always been a great actor, who’s determined to prove that he can still be funny, despite the fact that he shines far brighter when given dramatic roles.

As Danny Meyerowitz, a failed musician who’s never held a real job in his life, he wears a kind of sadness that only people whose true talent never got a chance to blossom exude. And he’s funny too! It’s not that Sandler can no longer be funny, it seems, but rather that he can no longer be funny in the sophomoric comedies he built his brand on. Which makes sense, given that he’s 51 years old. Sandler’s career choices haven’t made it easy to like or appreciate him, but remember this: If he doesn’t get a best supporting actor nomination this year, then the Academy will have made a serious oversight. (When the film played at Cannes, the Oscar buzz began in earnest.)

Not for nothing, but Stiller is good here too. As Matthew, he received all the attention growing up that Danny so desperately craved from his father, and yet he resents Harold all the more for it. Stiller’s a funny guy, but he’s most convincing on-screen playing cynical hotheads who can’t seem to be content in life.

Hoffman also does some of his finest work in years, in a role which he fits like a glove. Harold Meyerowitz feels like a part which only he could play, and in a movie with a weaker supporting cast, his is the performance people would be talking about.

Photo via Netflix

As daughter Jean, Elizabeth Marvel gets short shrift among the cast, although she’s still terrific. Baumbach has done a great job writing women in films like Frances Ha and Mistress America. One wishes Marvel had a little bit more to do here. In the few scenes she does have, Marvel is lovable as a withdrawn loner who doesn’t know how to speak up for herself. A clumsy abuse storyline is trotted out later in the movie to give Jean more work, but it becomes an afterthought.

Grace Van Patten, who also appeared in the critically acclaimed but underseen Netflix film Tramps earlier this year, is a surprising delight as Danny’s daughter, Eliza. Their relationship is sweet and believable, and Pattern imbues Eliza with a strong mix of youthful intelligence and naivete.  

Emma Thompson gets lost in the shuffle as Harold’s wife, Maureen. Plenty other actors pop up in fun cameos throughout The Meyerowitz Stories.

Baumbach’s always been great with dialog, writing lines which are effortlessly droll and subtly heartbreaking. Yet his screenplay is more stilted than his usual work. As a filmmaker, however, he’s come of age.

Baumbach shot on digital to great effect with Frances Ha (still his best-looking work, and best film overall), but has moved back to film since, and while The Meyerowitz Stories is unlikely to earn Irish cinematographer Robbie Ryan any awards, it looks great. The movie falls somewhere in between the freewheeling camera of Frances Ha and the more restrained work Baumbach did on something like While We’re Young. Toward the end, his stylistic choices get the best of him. He trolls the audience with fadeouts: There’s one particularly aggressive zoom at the end which seemingly has to be the end of the movie… and then it goes on for several more minutes.

The Meyerowitz Stories (forget about that pretentious subtitle) is still effective. He’s stepped into the ranks of the best filmmakers of the era. Netflix bet big on two auteurs at Cannes, and both of its gambits paid off with great films.

As The Meyerowitz Stories takes a dark turn in its second half, Baumbach gives us a thoughtful meditation on the challenge of letting the pain caused by a parent go, even when that parent is still alive. As a comedy, it certainly isn’t a laugh riot, but damned if it doesn’t leave an impression.

Still not sure what to watch on Netflix? Here are our guides for the absolute best movies on Netflix, must-see Netflix original series and movies, and the comedy specials guaranteed to make you laugh.

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Peter Dinklage gets yet another Emmy for his role as Tyrion Lannister

Charmaine Blake



Peter Dinklage wins yet another Emmy for his role in ‘Game of Thrones.’

Image: hbo

Peter Dinklage won his third Emmy for most outstanding supporting actor in a drama series at the Emmys on Monday.

Dinklage, who plays the iconic Tyrion Lannister in HBO’s Game of Thrones, was nominated alongside fellow Game of Thrones actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who plays his brother Jaime Lannister.

For his work as Tyrion, Dinklage has been nominated in the category seven times, winning in 2011, 2015, and now 2018.

In his acceptance speech, Dinklage thanked Coster-Waldau, who earned his first Emmy nomination for his work on Game of Thrones this year.

Hopefully both actors survive the final season of Game of Thrones coming in 2019, or at least get one more nomination next year if they do meet their demise.

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‘Green Book’ Wins Toronto Film Festival’s People’s Choice Award



Peter Farrelly’s “Green Book” has won the Grolsch People’s Choice Award at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival, TIFF announced at an awards ceremony on Sunday.

The film, which tells the true story of an Italian-American nightclub bouncer (Viggo Mortensen) who serves as the chauffeur for a black pianist (Mahershala Ali) on a tour through the Deep South in the early 1960s, opened at the festival on Tuesday and was an instant hit with audiences and critics, although Bradley Cooper’s “A Star Is Born” had been considered the likely winner of the People’s Choice Award.

Runners-up for the award were Barry Jenkins’ lyrical James Baldwin adaptation “If Beale Street Could Talk” and Alfonso Cuaron’s moving memory piece “Roma.”

In the past, Toronto audience members voted by depositing their ticket stubs in a box at the theater, or by using the TIFF app — festival organizers took into account the size of the theaters in which each film screened — with the films that received votes from the largest percentage of their audience winning the prizes…………………”

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Henry Cavill Out As Superman!



Image: VCG via Getty Images

“It’s not Kryptonite that will end Henry Cavill’s run as Warner Bros.’ grimdark Superman; it’s a studio pivot.

Cavill is reportedly finished as the Man of Steel, with unnamed studio insiders telling The Hollywood Reporter that he won’t be donning the signature DC Comics superhero’s cape and tights again. It’s said to be part of a larger move aimed at fixing WB’s flagging DC Extended Universe (DCEU).

The rumored exit apparently started with a much smaller disagreement: The studio wanted Cavill for a cameo in the upcoming Shazam!, out April 5, 2019. But talks between WB and the actor’s reps didn’t go anywhere.

Beyond that, the studio also understands that bigger changes are needed. To date, the only universally successful DC-pegged release was 2017’s Wonder Woman, which landed both with critics and at the box office.

As one insider said, “There’s a recognition that some parts of the previous movies didn’t work.” (LOL at that understatement.) So now, WB is trying to hit “reset” (per another source) on the whole endeavor.

That reset reportedly includes a shift in focus from Superman to Supergirl. That movie would serve as an origin story, starring a teenage hero………………….”

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