Friday, December 1, 2017

The Coming Awards Season

I'm thinking of 2018 as eel soup. Cold eel soup!
The Coming Awards Season — BEST EEL SOUP Goes to ...  Also: Holland Taylor's "Good Behavior" ... In Praise of Morgan Freeman. 
by Denis Ferrara

“IT was December, I had never felt so cold, the eel soup lay heavy on my stomach, I was afraid I'd die, I turned aside to vomit ...” wrote Samuel Barclay Beckett.
WITH today being the first of December, I’d thought to begin here with a lighthearted Dr. Seuss quote about this month.  You know the one:  “How did it get late so soon,” etc.

But frankly I’m more in the heavy eel soup frame of mind. 

As the year shudders to a close, I am not relieved it is almost over and bravely looking forward to better things in 2018.   When December 2016 rolled around, I felt I didn’t care to imagine what 2017 would look like.

There had been, it seemed, an unusual amount of celebrity deaths, and then, well — the election.  Some optimistic friends of mine (I know fewer and fewer optimists — they annoy me!) insisted I buck up.  All would be well.  Certain people couldn’t possibly last in their shiny new job; it was darkest before the dawn, blah, blah, blah.  I came back with considerable frustrated snark that “dawn” was not gonna be seen for a long time, and to get real already.

I was so right. 2017 has been mind-bending. January had not even concluded when Mary Tyler Moore passed.  That was enough of an omen for me.  I have had my own personal loss, and we are now embroiled in a grim game of who’ll-be-ruined-today, as sexual harassment allegations pour out hourly.  Once upon a time, the theme song for somebody in my position might have been “Let Me Entertain You” — dropped shoulder strap and all.  Now?  I’d say the mournful bugle call, “Taps” pretty much sums up the mood.  2018, don’t hurry.

Which brings me to — awards season!  It is upon us already, and will intensify as the lead-up to Golden Globes and Oscar and SAG, etc.  The bad news on the Globes and Oscar front are the hosts of these shows, Seth Meyers and Jimmy Kimmel, respectively.  Don’t get me wrong, I like both these guys, but right now, I don’t want to imagine  their opening monologues. 

What to poke fun at?  Sexual harassment?  Hilarious.  The president?  Stop, you’re killing me.  The concept of a lot “we’re sorry” and atonements and the rending  of designer duds doesn’t appeal to me either.

For years I’ve wondered why these shows need official hosts at all.  Isn’t it enough to have great looking glamorous stars — all laser resurfaced, fasted, cleansed, Spanxed and Botoxed to the max — waft onstage, read off the list of nominees, announce the winner and waft offstage?  Then, leave said winner to ramble emotionally about family, friends and darling Miss Brown, their first acting teacher? 

Given the events of this year, I’m sure many winners will feel compelled to say something about our 45th commander-in-chief and/or address the harassment epidemic gutting the media. (I hope some of this commentary will include shout-outs to ordinary women, dealing with “ordinary” predators, working nine to five jobs in restaurants, factories, small business offices; women who really have no place to go, no redress. But those stories won’t get New York Times, Hollywood Reporter and Variety writers on the cable news shows.) 

Eleanor Tomlinson as Demelza Poldark.
So who needs hosts to make their own case for world and industry matters?  Meyers and Kimmel do it every night anyway.  Why not give them — and us — a rest?

I’m all for a plethora of vintage movie clips and over-the-top musical numbers (I’m looking at you, Rob Lowe and Snow White.)  Have Sofia Vergara host the Globes, wearing a new gown after every commercial break. That’s entertainment! 

The Oscars?  They could take tips from the recent American Music Awards.  I somehow managed to watch almost the entire show. I switched to PBS a few times to peek in on the season finale of “Poldark” — I mean, who didn’t want to see what Demelza was going to do about her soon-to-be-blind admirer? 

Now, it’s true I was tuned to the AMAs just to see Diana Ross accept her long-overdue Icon Award — and as expected, nobody accepts an award like Miss Ross!  And despite not being familiar with some of the artists, I knew enough of them not to get lost, or bored, and I was curious about the Korean boy band BTS. (No longer curious — they are a Korean boy band.)
Like most everyone else, I was impressed and amused by Pink’s actual acrobatics and Christina Aguilera’s extreme vocal exercises during her tribute to Whitney Houston.  But the show itself seemed to have a certain spirit and vibe that acknowledged our real life issues, but didn’t bludgeon us with them. 

Please, awards shows, give me a break. I’m tired of all that eel soup, served cold, too.

... “EVERYONE has a heart.  But I know mine. It’s just like yours.  It’s only so big.  And it wears you out.  And it wears other people out.”  That was the great actress Holland Taylor, guest starring on TNT’s “Good Behavior” two weeks ago, giving Michelle Dockery (aka Letty) some good advice. 
Taylor, who was playing Letty’s con-woman grandmother — while looking nothing like anybody’s idea of a granny! — was superb.  The director of this episode, Coky Giedroyc, and the writer Dana Baratta — both women — gave Taylor one juicy, potent  scene after another, and she and Michelle Dockery played beautifully together.  When the time comes for those Best Guest Appearance in a Series Emmy nominations, Holland Taylor’s name ought to be there.  And Ms. Dockery, who has utterly erased the privileged essence of “Downton Abbey’s” Lady Mary from the soles of Letty’s (stolen) Christian Louboutins, deserves awards recognition as well.
... BIG shout-out to the Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy’s career tribute to Morgan Freeman, in anticipation of Freeman’s upcoming lifetime achievement honor at the SAG Awards on January 21st.  This is such a beautiful, accurate and precise examination of Freeman’s work and his presence.  I like this, particularly:  “Morgan Freeman always has embodied a sense of connate gravitas that he carries with him from role to role. Almost invariably, he centers any film in which he appears and positions the other characters in relation to his own.  At the same time, he has never been a showoff, and aggressive screen-stealer, the guy who compulsively needs to be the center of attention.  He acts by stealth, steadiness, the slow accretion of detail.” You said it, Todd.  And congratulations, Mr. Morgan Freeman.
Courtesy of Photofest
... I’VE gotta have it!  I do mean a “Vertigo” movie poster evening bag by Olympia Le-Tan.  Yes, it’s an evening clutch that recreates the vivid orange poster for Alfred Hitchcock’s dazzling thriller, starring James Stewart and Kim Novak.  (Ms. Le-Tan has also designed a “Psycho” bag.)  It’s a bargain at $1, 385.

Stop rolling your eyes.  I already carry a “man-clutch” in rough leather — I hate stuffing my pants and jacket pockets with phone and wallet and Chap-Stick and emergency concealer.  But manly or not, when I carry the thing it somehow still comes off like a poor relation of Judith Leiber.  And I seem rather fey. So why not go all out? 
Oh, and if you’ve got the money and an interest in old movies — or evening bags — Neiman Marcus is offering the opportunity for somebody to commission six bespoke movie-poster bags, as well as an opportunity to meet the designer for a sketch session in Paris.  Go to  for more on this. 

Come to think of it, I wouldn’t mind carrying my stuff around in a Dietrich “Blonde Venus” bag (the French poster) or even better, Sweden’s vintage “Scarlett Empress” poster. 

Hmmm ... maybe I can find some fun in 2018 after all!
Contact Denis here.