Broadway star Audra Mcdonald made history at the Tony Awards on Sunday night (08Jun14) when she became the most decorated actress on the New York stage. McDonald picked up her sixth Tony for portraying jazz and blues legend Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill, putting her ahead of five-time winners Angela Lansbury and the late Julie Harris for the most competitive wins by a Broadway star.
The Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play win also gave McDonald the first Tony Awards grand slam - she has previously won gold as a best featured actress in a play (A Raisin in the Sun and Master Class), a best lead actress in a musical (The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess) and a best featured actress in a musical (Ragtime and Carousel).
Meanwhile, Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston was at the beginning of his Tonys journey - he scored Sunday night's Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play for his New York stage debut as President Lyndon B. Johnson in All The Way, which also picked up the Best Play Tony.
Former Tonys host Neil Patrick Harris was also a first-time winner - he walked away with the Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical for his role as a gender-bending rocker in Hedwig & the Angry Inch.
Accepting his award, the gay star paid tribute to his partner David Burtka, stating, "I love you so much and I am so happy that we got to do this. Thank you for your sacrifices," and his kids Harper and Gideon, adding, "I'm so sorry that I haven't been able to spend as much time with you as I wish I could... I promise that as soon as this is done I'll be able to read books to you and put you to sleep."
The award marked a very special date in his family's history - Harris' parents were celebrating their wedding anniversary.
The actor's Broadway hit was the night's big winner, picking up a total of four awards. Hedwig also claimed the Best Revival of a Musical, Best Lighting and Lena Hall was honoured with the prize for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical.
A Raisin in the Sun and A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder were triple winners.
A Raisin in the Sun claimed Best Revival of a Play, while Brit Sofie Okonedo and Kenny Leon claimed Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play and Best Direction titles, respectively, and Gentleman's Guide landed awards for Best Musical, Best Costume Design and Best Direction of a Musical (Darko Tresnjak).
The full list of 2014 Tony Awards winners is:
All the Way
A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder
Best Revival of a Play
A Raisin in the Sun
Best Revival of a Musical
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Best Book of a Musical
A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder - Robert L. Freedman
Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
The Bridges of Madison County- Music & Lyrics: Jason Robert Brown
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Bryan Cranston, All The Way
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Audra McDonald, Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Neil Patrick Harris, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Jessie Mueller, Beautiful - The Carole King Musical
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Mark Rylance (Twelfth Night)
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Sophie Okonedo, A Raisin in the Sun
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
James Monroe Iglehart, Aladdin
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Lena Hall, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Best Scenic Design of a Play
Beowulf Boritt, Act One
Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Christopher Barreca, Rocky
Best Costume Design of a Play
Jenny Tiramani, Twelfth Night
Best Costume Design of a Musical
Linda Cho, A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder
Best Lighting Design of a Play
Natasha Katz, The Glass Menagerie
Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Kevin Adams, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Best Sound Design of a Play
Steve Canyon Kennedy, Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill
Best Sound Design of a Musical
Brian Ronan, Beautiful - The Carole King Musical
Best Direction of a Play
Kenny Leon, A Raisin in the Sun
Best Direction of a Musical
Darko Tresnjak, A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder
Warren Carlyle, After Midnight
Jason Robert Brown, The Bridges of Madison County
Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre - Jane Greenwood (casting designer)
Isabelle Stevenson Award for Humanitarian Efforts - Rosie O'Donnell
Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre - Joseph P. Benincasa, Joan Marcus & Charlotte Wilcox
Robert Zemeckis is a blockbuster director at heart. Action has never been an issue for the man behind Back to the Future. When he puts aside the high concept adventures for emotional human stories — think Forrest Gump or Cast Away — he still goes big. His latest Flight continues the trend revolving the story of one man's fight with alcoholism around a terrifying plane crash. Zemeckis expertly crafts his roaring centerpiece and while he finds an agile performer in Denzel Washington the hour-and-a-half of Flight after the shocking moment can't sustain the power. The "big" works. The intimate drowns.
Washington stars as Whip Whitaker a reckless airline pilot who balances his days flying jumbo jets with picking up women snorting lines of cocaine and drinking himself to sleep. Although drunk for the flight that will change his life forever that's not the reason the plane goes down — in fact it may be the reason he thinks up his savvy landing solution in the first place. Writer John Gatins follows Whitaker into the aftermath madness: an investigation of what really happened during the flight Whitaker's battle to cap his addictions and budding relationships that if nurtured could save his life.
Zemeckis tops his own plane crash in Cast Away with the heart-pounding tailspin sequence (if you've ever been scared of flying before Flight will push into phobia territory). In the few scenes after the literal destruction Washington is able to convey an equal amount of power in the moments of mental destruction. Whitaker is obviously crushed by the events the bottle silently calling for him in every down moment. Flight strives for that level of introspection throughout eventually pairing Washington with equally distraught junkie Nicole (Kelly Reilly). Their relationship is barely fleshed out with the script time and time again resorting to obvious over-the-top depictions of substance abuse (a la Nic Cage's Leaving Las Vegas) and the bickering that follows. Washington's Whitaker hits is lowest point early sitting there until the climax of the film.
Sharing screentime with the intimate tale is the surprisingly comical attempt by the pilot's airline union buddy (Bruce Greenwood) and the company lawyer (Don Cheadle) to get Whitaker into shape. Prepping him for inquisitions looking into evidence from the wreckage and calling upon Whitaker's dealer Harling (John Goodman) to jump start their "hero" when the time is right the two men do everything they can to keep any blame being placed upon Whitaker by the National Transportation Safety Board investigators. The thread doesn't feel relevant to Whitaker's plight and in turn feels like unnecessary baggage that pads the runtime.
Everything in Fight shoots for the skies — and on purpose. The music is constantly swelling the photography glossy and unnatural and rarely do we breach Washington's wild exterior for a sense of what Whitaker's really grappling with. For Zemeckis Flight is still a spectacle film with Washington's ability to emote as the magical special effect. Instead of using it sparingly he once again goes big. Too big.
Theatrics slapstick and cheer are cinematic qualities you rarely find outside the realm of animation. Disney perfected it with their pantheon of cartoon classics mixing music humor spectacle and light-hearted drama that swept up children while still capturing the imaginations and hearts of their parents. But these days even reinterpretations of fairy tales get the gritty make-over leaving little room for silliness and unfiltered glee. Emerging through that dark cloud is Mirror Mirror a film that achieves every bit of imagination crafted by its two-dimensional predecessors and then some. Under the eye of master visualist Tarsem Singh (The Fall Immortals) Mirror Mirror's heightened realism imbues it with the power to pull off anything — and the movie never skimps on the anything.
Like its animated counterparts Mirror Mirror stays faithful to its source material but twists it just enough to feel unique. When Snow White (Lily Collins) was a little girl her father the King ventured into a nearby dark forest to do battle with an evil creature and was never seen or heard from again. The kingdom was inherited by The Queen (Julia Roberts) Snow's evil stepmother and the fair-skinned beauty lived locked up in the castle until her 18th birthday. Grown up and tired of her wicked parental substitute White sneaks out of the castle to the village for the first time. There she witnesses the economic horrors The Queen has imposed upon the people of her land all to fuel her expensive beautification. Along the way Snow also meets Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) who is suffering from his own money troubles — mainly being robbed by a band of stilt-wearing dwarves. When the Queen catches wind of the secret excursion she casts Snow out of the castle to be murdered by her assistant Brighton (Nathan Lane).
Fairy tales take flack for rejecting the idea of women being capable but even with its flighty presentation and dedication to the old school Disney method Mirror Mirror empowers its Snow White in a genuine way thanks to Collins' snappy charming performance. After being set free by Brighton Snow crosses paths with the thieving dwarves and quickly takes a role on their pilfering team (which she helps turn in to a Robin Hooding business). Tarsem wisely mines a spectrum of personalities out of the seven dwarves instead of simply playing them for one note comedy. Sure there's plenty of slapstick and pun humor (purposefully and wonderfully corny) but each member of the septet stands out as a warm compassionate companion to Snow even in the fantasy world.
Mirror Mirror is richly designed and executed in true Tarsem-fashion with breathtaking costumes (everything from ball gowns to the dwarf expando-stilts to ridiculous pirate ship hats with working canons) whimsical sets and a pitch-perfect score by Disney-mainstay Alan Menken. The world is a storybook and even its monsters look like illustrations rather than photo-real creations. But what makes it all click is the actors. Collins holds her own against the legendary Julia Roberts who relishes in the fun she's having playing someone despicable. She delivers every word with playful bite and her rapport with Lane is off-the-wall fun. Armie Hammer riffs on his own Prince Charming physique as Alcott. The only real misgiving of the film is the undercooked relationship between him and Snow. We know they'll get together but the journey's half the fun and Mirror Mirror serves that portion undercooked.
Children will swoon for Mirror Mirror but there's plenty here for adults — dialogue peppered with sharp wisecracks and a visual style ripped from an elegant tapestry. The movie wears its heart on its sleeve and rarely do we get a picture where both the heart and the sleeve feel truly magical.