‘Assistance’: young New Yorkers working for a boss from hell

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Leslye Headland scored a hit at Second Stage two years ago with her viciously funny comedy, “Bachelorette,” and now she is back at a different Manhattan venue — Playwrights Horizons — with another strong black comedy, “Assistance.” The new show is about a group of young New Yorkers who work in the office of a […] [Read More]

‘February House’: when artists try to live together

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A fresh new musical “February House” opened at Long Wharf Theatre last week, where it is set to run through March 18, before moving on to The Public Theater in Manhattan. In an age when Broadway musical producers too often recycle old material or shop around for a movie that can be turned into a […] [Read More]

Surprises will be in short supply at the Oscars Sunday night

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The Super Bowl of the entertainment industry, the Oscar Awards telecast has been sagging in the ratings in recent years because even hard-core movie fans have come to see it as the tail-end of months of speculation, campaigning and countless preliminary awards. When I was a kid back in the Jurassic age — pre-cable, pre-VCR/DVD, […] [Read More]

Best picture: “The Artist”

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Although there has been a sizeable backlash against this charming French-produced homage to the last days of the silent movie, you can place a very safe bet on the final award to be handed out Sunday night. “The Artist” has won best picture honors in a wide variety of preliminary events — from the New York […] [Read More]

Best directing: Michel Hazavanicius for “The Artist”

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A few weeks ago, the Directors Guild of America gave its top prize to the French filmmaker and if a long-standing tradition holds, that means he will win the directing Oscar. In most years, the directing and best picture Oscars go to the same film, another indicator that “The Artist” will be this yeer’s big […] [Read More]

Best actor: Jean Dujardin for “The Artist”

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As the terrific Oscar handicapper and historian Mark Harris has pointed out on his “Oscarmetrics” blog (the best and most informed writing to be found on the subject) George Clooney was the frontrunner in this race (for “The Descendants”) as 2011 wound down. Then, the momentum of “The Artist” began to pick up and the […] [Read More]

Best actress: Viola Davis for “The Help”

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Although Viola Davis is considered the front-runner for best actress, most forecasters see Meryl Streep as a very possible winner for “The Iron Lady.” Streep is the most respected actress in Hollywood for the peerless high quality of the work she has been doing in film since 1978 (when she received her first nomination for “The […] [Read More]

Best supporting actor: Christopher Plummer for ‘Beginners’

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If Mr. Plummer’s name is not announced Sunday night, you will hear the loudest gasp since another veteran front-runner — Lauren Bacall — lost to upstart Juliette Binoche in the 1996 race. Plummer has even more momentum than Bacall did 16 years ago because she did not sweep the preliminary awards ceremonies that year. I […] [Read More]

Best supporting actress: Octavia Spencer for “The Help”

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Forgive me for being repetitious, but Spencer goes into Sunday night’s ceremony with the huge advantage of having won several preliminary awards and giving remarkably gracious and appealing acceptance speeches. She was wonderful in the movie, too. Some handicappers — Mark Harris among them — have pointed out that this category has seen many surprise […] [Read More]

What is so terrible about Reese W. and ‘This Means War’?

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Most big-budget studio movies are so glossy and unreal these days that it always fascinates me when the critical community zeroes in on a particular piece of escapism as an example of all that is rotten in contemporary Hollywood. At the moment, the film critics are loving to hate is “This Means War,” the romantic […] [Read More]