“True Detective” is back on the case. HBO’s limited series will officially return for a third season, this time starring Oscar winner Mahershala Ali. Showrunner and creator Nic Pizzolatto is set to direct, along with Jeremy Saulnier (“Green Room,” “Blue Ruin”). The next installment tells the story of a macabre crime in the heart of the Ozarks, and a mystery that deepens over decades and plays out in three separate time periods.
Ali will play the lead role of Wayne Hays, a state police detective from Northwest Arkansas. It does not currently have an air date, nor is there a set date for the start of production.“Nic has written truly remarkable scripts,” said Casey Bloys, HBO’s president of programming. “With his ambitious vision and Mahershala Ali and Jeremy Saulnier aboard, we are excited to embark on the next installment of ‘True Detective.’”
Moonlight topped off its amazing awards-season run by earning the Best Picture Oscar at the 89th Academy Awards. Moonlight director/writer/producer Barry Jenkins accepted the award at the end of the night after a shocking turn of events where La La Land was mistakenly called to stage to receive the Academy’s highest honor. Jenkins also won with co-writer Tarell Alvin McCraney for Best Adapted Screenplay, and Mahershala Ali became the first Muslim actor in Oscar history to win the Best Supporting Actor Award.
The star-studded evening also saw an energizing opening performance of “Can’t Stop The Feeling” by Original Song nominee Justin Timberlake, a medley of two songs from “La La Land” by its co-star John Legend (“City of Stars” went on to win the Original Song award) and a standing ovation for Best Feature Documentary presenter, Presidential Medal of Freedom honoree and NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, who was introduced by “Hidden Figures” stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae (and wheeled out on stage by current NASA astronaut Yvonne Cagle).
There were also Oscar presentations from Samuel L. Jackson, Halle Berry and Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, but one of the biggest highlights of the evening was the speech delivered by three-time nominee and Best Supporting Actress winner Viola Davis:
People ask me all the time, what kind of stories do you want to tell, Viola? And I say, exhume those bodies, exhume those stories, the stories of the people who dreamed. I became an artist, and thank God I did, because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life. So here’s to August Wilson, who exhumed and exalted the ordinary people.
Davis went on to thank her co-stars and Best Director/Best Actor nominee Denzel Washington, her family and her parents.
In celebration of Black History Month, Barry Jenkins’ Oscar-nominated film “Moonlight” is partnering with My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, a mentoring program initiated by President Barack Obama’s Administration. The organization focuses on empowering young men of color with the resources and support they need in order to achieve their full potential, regardless of circumstance.
The series kicked off Monday night with a screening in Los Angeles, attended by dozens of young men from local schools. Following the screening, Mike Muse of My Brother’s Keeper moderated a talk-back session with the students and the film’s Oscar-nominated talent: Jenkins, stars Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris, and writer Tarell Alvin McCraney. Another screening is set for New York next week.
The 2017 SAG Awards took place on Sunday night at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, and among the winners were favorites Viola Davis for Best Supporting Female Actor in a Motion Picture (“Fences”) and Mahershala Ali for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture (“Moonlight”), as well as surprise victors Denzel Washington for Lead Actor in a Motion Picture (“Fences”) and “Hidden Figures” for Best Cast Ensemble in a Motion Picture.
“Hidden Figures” also added $14 million to its box office numbers this weekend to cross the $100 million mark and bring its current total gross to $104 million.
Other notable wins were “Orange Is the New Black” for Best Cast in a Comedy Series and “Stranger Things” for Best Ensemble in a Drama Series.
The complete list of winners is below:
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role Denzel Washington, “Fences” (WINNER)
Casey Affleck, “Manchester by the Sea”
Andrew Garfield, “Hacksaw Ridge”
Ryan Gosling, “La La Land”
Viggo Mortensen, “Captain Fantastic”
Reversing course from last year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored “Moonlight,” “Fences,” “Hidden Figures” and other people of color-centered works with Oscar nominations today (January 24).
The three films, each of which features a predominantly Black cast, compete in the “Best Picture” and “Writing (Adapted Screenplay)” categories. Actresses Viola Davis (“Fences”), Naomie Harris (“Moonlight”) and Octavia Spencer (“Hidden Figures”) also square off for best “Actress in a Supporting Role.”
“Moonlight”‘s eight nominations are the most of any film this year besides the musical “La La Land.” They include “Best Director” and “Writing (Adapted Screenplay)” for Barry Jenkins, and “Actor in a Supporting Role” for Mahershala Ali.
“Fences” star and director Denzel Washington received a best “Actor in a Leading Role” nomination. Playwright August Wilson‘s script, based on his original 1983 play, earned him a posthumous “Writing (Adapted Screenplay)” nod.
Other acting nominees of color include Ruth Negga (“Loving”) for “Actress in a Leading Role” and Dev Patel (“Lion”) for “Actor in a Supporting Role.” Patel is the first performer of South Asian descent to receive an acting Oscar nomination since Ben Kingsley for 2000’s “Sexy Beast.”
Ava DuVernay‘s “13th,” Raoul Peck‘s “I Am Not Your Negro” and Ezra Edelman‘s “O.J.: Made in America” each received Documentary (Feature) nominations. The category also includes another Black director’s work: Roger Ross Williams‘ “Life, Animated,” and Joi McMillon became the first black female to be nominated in the Editing category for “Moonlight.”
This year’s nominations are far more diverse overall than last year’s, and NBC News reports that this year’s acting nominee pool is the most diverse in Oscar history.
With the always present caveat that “rank doesn’t matter,” it turns out that Hidden Figures was the top movie of the weekend, not Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. As you probably know, the weekend box office that everyone reports on Sunday is comprised of estimates and when the rankings are close the order can sometimes shift when the final numbers drop. So yeah, Hidden Figures earned a terrific $22.8 million, about $1m more than estimated, which is a sign that the film is building on its buzz and word-of-mouth.
Meanwhile, Rogue One had to settle for a $22m fourth weekend, bringing its domestic total to $477.3m. The story though, isn’t necessarily that Hidden Figures, which stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, Mahershala Ali, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons and Kevin Costner, bested the fourth weekend of Star Wars (or the third weekend of Sing) in its wide release debut. No, it’s that Hidden Figures, a historical drama about female African-American NASA mathematicians whose skills were essential to putting Americans into space, earned $22.8 million on its opening weekend, bringing the domestic total for the $25m Fox 2000/Chermin release to $24.7m.
At the risk of stating the painfully obvious, the triumph of said Allison Schroeder/Ted Melfi-written studio programmer, based on Margot Lee Shetterly’s book, is a huge win for the notion that movies about women, women of color no less, can be not just critically acclaimed and award-worthy but also multiplex-friendly box office hits. This shouldn’t be a surprise. We should know this by now. The Help earned $169 million domestic in 2011, more than X-Men: First Class ($146m), and earned about as much worldwide ($216m) as the 3D/$200m+ Green Lantern ($219m).
Back in 1995, Waiting to Exhale made about as much domestically ($67.4m) as Bad Boys, Outbreak and Heat. The entire Tyler Perry media empire is built on audiences (black women and otherwise) going to movie theaters to see mainstream melodramas about African-American women. Hell, we forget about it now, but Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple earned $94.1 million domestic in 1985 ($216m in 2017 dollars). That doesn’t mean every Baggage Claim is going to break out, but if you treat movies like Hidden Figures like an event, the audience will show up.
It seems as if last year’s #OscarsSoWhite backlash has had a marked effect on this year’s pool of projects and talent considered and honored as the 2017 awards season gets underway.
The 2017 Golden Globe nominations were announced this morning, and nominees of color were found in the majority of film and television categories. Indie film sensation “Moonlight”not only garnered a nod for Best Motion Picture, Drama, but also for directing and screenwriting by Barry Jenkins, in the Best Actress category for Naomie Harris, and Mahershala Ali was recognized in the supporting actor category.
Denzel Washington and Viola Davis were honored for their performances in “Fences”, Ruth Negga was nominated for her leading role in “Loving,” and Oscar winner Octavia Spencer grabbed a nomination for her supporting role in the upcoming space race drama “Hidden Figures.” Additionally, Pharrell Williams is in the running for Best Original Score — Motion Picture, for his work on the music for “Hidden Figures.”
On the television side, Donald Glover‘s “Atlanta” received nods in two categories; Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy and Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy. Anthony Anderson provides some competition for Glover in the acting category, and “Black-ish” is nominated for Best Comedy Television Series as well. Tracee Ellis Ross gained a nod in the Lead Comedy Actress category, as did “Insecure” star Issa Rae.
In limited series, actress Thandie Newton was nominated for Westworld, and Kerry Washington‘s portrayal of Anita Hill in “Confirmation” was also acknowledged. Emmy winner Courtney B. Vance gained a nod for his work as Johnny Cochran in “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”and the series was nominated in the Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television category alongside Academy Award-winning writer John Ridley’s “American Crime.”
“Moonlight” is a film without any big stars. It’s a drama about a shy, gay kid growing up in the inner city, made by a director (Barry Jenkins) whose last credit (“Medicine for Melancholy”)was so long ago many cinephiles feared he’d hung up the camera and retired. It’s the kind of challenging, deeply personal, fiercely urgent look at black life in America that would be lucky to score a video-on-demand berth, let alone a major theatrical release.
And yet, the no-budget film isn’t just a hit with critics, it is poised to be the breakout indie film of the year. This weekend, “Moonlight” scored the highest per-screen average of 2016, debuting to a sizzling $414,740 in just four New York and Los Angeles theaters. There were sellouts and standing ovations, just as there had been when the film announced itself as a serious awards contender at festivals in Toronto and Telluride.
“This puts it on the Oscar map, big time,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore. “They’ve got something really special here.”
The film’s per-screen average of $103,685 is one of the strongest of the decade. “Moonlight” marks Jenkins’ return behind the camera after an eight-year absence. His previous effort, “Medicine for Melancholy,” earned Independent Spirit Award nominations and was a hit with reviewers when it came out in 2008, but in the ensuing years, Jenkins struggled to find the right vehicle for his talents. A film about Stevie Wonderfailed to get off the ground, and Jenkins dabbled in advertising, carpentry, and had an artistically frustrating stint as a writer on HBO’s “The Leftovers.” His years in the Hollywood wilderness appeared to have come to an end.”
In “Moonlight,” an adaptation of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s play, “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue,” Jenkins appears to have found the perfect material for his humanistic approach to filmmaking. The picture unfolds in three acts, as it examines Chiron’s troubled childhood in a drug-addled section of Miami, and uses his coming-of-age to illuminate issues of addiction and urban violence. It’s a movie that is of the moment. Jenkins’ film hits theaters as the #BlackLivesMatter movement continues to gain momentum, fueled by a series of shootings of people of color by law enforcement officials. Continue reading “Barry Jenkins’ Film “Moonlight”, an Adaptation of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s Play, Could Be This Year’s Indie Box Office Breakout”→
Pharrell Williams will produce Taraji P. Henson’s mathematics drama “Hidden Figures” and write original songs for the soundtrack.
Donna Gigliotti, Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping and Ted Melfi are also producing, and Melfi is directing. Williams will oversee all musical elements for the motion picture and its soundtrack.
Henson stars along with Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe as a trio of brilliant African-American women working at NASA, who served as the brains behind the 1962 launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit — a key milestone in the space race against the Soviet Union to land a man on the moon before the end of the decade.
“After my producing partner Mimi Valdés and I heard about this project, we basically begged the producers and studio to allow us to participate,” Williams said. “This is an extraordinary story about black women with genius mathematical minds who contributed to American history. It takes place in Virginia, my home state, and at NASA, a place I’ve been obsessed with since childhood.”
Fox will release “Hidden Figures” on Jan. 13. Also starring are Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali, Aldis Hodge and Kevin Costner. The screenplay is by Alison Schroeder, Melfi and Lori Lakin Hutcherson.
Williams has won 10 Grammy Awards. He’s also known for his musical contributions to the “Despicable Me” films as well as his judging stint on NBC’s “The Voice.”
*(GBN disclosure from Editor-in-Chief Lori Lakin Hutcherson: the above is an article in which I am mentioned, as I am primarily a writer in television and film, and was fortunate enough to work on “Hidden Figures.” It may be a conflict of interest to have published this, but so be it – it’s an awesome film and Good Black News regardless!)