The Tony Awards are the biggest night in theater, but they've often struggled to attract viewers who are more interested in TV or movies as their primary source of entertainment. This year, though, they shouldn't have any trouble attracting an audience full of binge-watchers and moviegoers, as the 2014 nominations are filled with familiar faces. Whether you're going through Breaking Bad withdrawal or you haven't been stopped singing the score to Frozen in months or you're just sick of waiting for the final installment of The Hobbit franchise to hit theaters, this year's Tony Awards should cater to all of your interests.
However, it's not all good news for the Hollywood stars who decided to tread the boards this year. Plenty of big name actors were left off the list of nominees, resulting in reactions of shock (Are the Tony voters just not big Harry Potter fans?) and disbelief (No, McKellan and Stewart have to be here somewhere. I'll check again). We've gathered up all of the Tony nominations and snubs for our favorite Hollywood stars into one handy guide, so you'll be ready to place your bets by the time the awards roll around June 8th.
Bryan Cranston We Know Him For: His award winning turn as science teacher turned meth kingpin Walter White on Breaking Bad. He is the one who knocks. Nominated For: Best Leading Actor in a Play for his role as President Lyndon B. Johnson in All the Way Previous Nominations: None This Makes Up For: Being shot full of holes at the end of Breaking Bad; the threat of losing an Emmy to the McConaissance
Chris O'Dowd We Know Him For: Romancing Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids; providing the world's worst tech support in The I.T. Crowd Nominated For: Best Leading Actor in a Play as the gentle giant Lennie in Of Mice and Men Previous Nominations: None This Makes Up For: That time he had to pretend to be disabled during a disastrous night at the theater
Tony Shalhoub We Know Him For: Playing the obsessive-compulsive detective Adrian Monk on Monk Nominated For: Best Leading Actor in a Play for playing theater icon Moss Hart in Act One Previous Nominations: Two Best Featured Actor in a Play nods: in 1992 for Conversations with My Father and 2013 for Golden Boy This Makes Up For: Years of having to clean up after people in the middle of murder investigations
Tyne Daly We Know Her For: Being one half of the most famous female cop duo on television, Mary Beth Lacey on Cagney and Lacey Nominated For: Best Leading Actress in a Play for her turn as the grieving mother of an AIDS victim in Mothers and Sons Previous Nominations/Wins: One Best Leading Actress in a Musical win for 1989's Gypsy and one 2006 Best Featured Actress in a Play nomination for Rabbit Hole This Makes Up For: Not immediately being offered a guest star stint on Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Come on, one of Terry's twins is named after her!
Neil Patrick Harris We Know Him For: Playing the legen - wait for it! - dary Barney Stinson on How I Met Your MotherNominated For: Best Leading Actor in a Musical for his in-your-face performance in Hedwig and the Angry Inch Previous Nominations: None, but he did host the awards four times. This Makes Up For: That disaster of a How I Met Your Mother series finale. Kind of.
Sutton Foster We Know Her For: Starring in the cult ABC Family hit show Bunheads, playing Brett’s sign-flipping girlfriend Coco on Flight of the Concords Nominated For: Best Leading Actress in a Musical for her role as Violet, a Southern girl travelling to get televangelist to heal her terrible scars in Violet Previous Nominations/Wins: Three nominations and two wins, both for Best Leading Actress in a Musical for 2002's Throughly Modern Millie and 2011's Anything Goes This Makes Up For: The fact that Bunheads was cancelled far too soon. They will never take Khaleesi's dragons!
Idina Menzel We Know Her For: Voicing Elsa in Frozen, playing Rachel Berry's birth mother, Shelby Corcoran on Glee, her alter ego, Adele Dazeem Nominated For: Best Leading Actress in a Musical for playing Elizabeth, a woman struggling with the different paths her life could take in If/Then Previous Nominations/Wins: One nomination in 1996 for Rent and one win for playing Elphaba in 2004's Wicked This Makes Up For: John Travolta's Oscars flub; everyone having "Let It Go" stuck in our heads for the past six, long months
Stephen Fry We Know Him For: Making up one half of Fry and Laurie, starring in Jeeves and Wooster and Blackadder, being an international treasure Nominated For: Best Featured Actor in a Play for his turn as the pompous, scheming servant Malvolio in Twelfth Night Previous Nominations: Best Book of a Musical in 1987 for Me and My Girl This Makes Up For: Playing the least intimidating villain in The Hobbit films. At least Smaug can breathe fire!
Anika Noni Rose We Know Her For: Voicing Tiana, the first black Disney princess in The Princess and the Frog, holding her own opposite Beyoncé and Jennifer Hudson in Dreamgirls Nominated For: Best Featured Actress in a Play for her performance as Beneatha, the activist sister of Walter Younger in A Raisin in the Sun Previous Nominations/Wins: A Best Featured Actress in a Musical win for Caroline, or Change in 2004 This Makes Up For: Having her two most famous characters overshadowed by Beyonce and Adele Dazeem
Daniel Radcliffe We Know Him For: Playing the most famous and most beloved boy wizard of all time, Harry Potter Snubbed For: Best Leading Actor in a Play for his hilarious and heartbreaking performance as Billy, a crippled Irish boy in The Cripple of Inishmaan At Least He's Got: An encyclopedic knowledge of spells and hexes with which to enact revenge
Denzel WashingtonWe Know Him For: His Oscar winning performances in Glory and Training Day, being one of the biggest movie stars in the world Snubbed For: Best Leading Actor in a Play for his take on the iconic role of Walter Younger in A Raisin in the Sun At Least He's Got: His devastating looks to fall back on.
James Franco We Know Him For: His Oscar-nominated performance in 127 Hours, his lackluster Oscar hosting gig, the dreads and grills he rocked in Spring Breakers, being the older brother of Dave Franco Snubbed For: Best Leading Actor in a Play for his role as George in Of Mice and Men At Least He's Got: About 50 other slightly pretentious artistic endeavors he can distract himself with
Zach Braff We Know Him For: Playing the goofy daydreamer JD on Scrubs, making Garden State, the movie everyone loves to hate Snubbed For: Best Leading Actor in a Musical for playing playwright David Shayne in Woody Allen's Bullets Over Broadway At Least He's Got: One of the cutest celebrity friendships ever with Donald Faison to comfort him in his time of need
Zachary Quinto We Know Him As: Murderous Sylar on Heroes, the rebooted version of Spock in Star Trek Snubbed For: Best Leading Actor in a Play for his interpretation of Tom Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie At Least He's Got: A new Star Trek movie coming up to keep him busy
Ian McKellan We Know Him For: Playing two of the most iconic and nerdy characters of all time: Magneto and Gandalf Snubbed For: Best Leading Actor in a Play for both No Man's Land and Waiting For Godot, which ran in rep at the Cort Theater At Least He's Got: Many more exciting New York adventures with Patrick Stewart to cheer him up
Patrick Stewart We Know Him For: Playing two of the most iconic and nerdy characters of all time: Professor X and Captain Jean Luc Picard Snubbed For: Best Leading Actor in a Play for both No Man's Land and Waiting for Godot, which he starred in opposite McKellan At Least He's Got: Many more adorable New York adventures with Ian McKellan to cheer him up
Michelle Williams We Know Her For: Her Oscar nominated performances in Brokeback Mountain, Blue Valentine and My Week With Marilyn, playing bad girl with a heart of gold, Jen Lindley, on Dawson's Creek Snubbed For: Best Leading Actress in a Musical for her Broadway debut as Sally Bowles in Cabaret At Least She's Got: Those Dawson's Creek residual checks to make up for it.
Lions Gate via Everett Collection
When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields.
But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend.
Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy.
In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel.
Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt.
But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.
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In a post-Harry Potter Avatar and Lord of the Rings world the descriptors "sci-fi" and "fantasy" conjure up particular imagery and ideas. The Hunger Games abolishes those expectations rooting its alternate universe in a familiar reality filled with human characters tangible environments and terrifying consequences. Computer graphics are a rarity in writer/director Gary Ross' slow-burn thriller wisely setting aside effects and big action to focus on star Jennifer Lawrence's character's emotional struggle as she embarks on the unthinkable: a 24-person death match on display for the entire nation's viewing pleasure. The final product is a gut-wrenching mature young adult fiction adaptation diffused by occasional meandering but with enough unexpected choices to keep audiences on their toes.
Panem a reconfigured post-apocalyptic America is sectioned off into 12 unique districts and ruled under an iron thumb by the oppressive leaders of The Capitol. To keep the districts producing their specific resources and prevent them from rebelling The Capitol created The Hunger Games an annual competition pitting two 18-or-under "tributes" from each district in a battle to the death. During the ritual tribute "Reaping " teenage Katniss (Lawrence) watches as her 12-year-old sister Primrose is chosen for battle—and quickly jumps to her aid becoming the first District 12 citizen to volunteer for the games. Joined by Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) a meek baker's son and the second tribute Effie the resident designer and Haymitch a former Hunger Games winner-turned-alcoholic-turned-mentor Katniss rides off to The Capitol to train and compete in the 74th Annual Hunger Games.
The greatest triumph of The Hunger Games is Ross' rich realization of the book's many worlds: District 12 is painted as a reminiscent Southern mining town haunting and vibrant; The Capitol is a utopian metropolis obsessed with design and flair; and The Hunger Games battleground is a sprawling forest peppered with Truman Show-esque additions that remind you it's all being controlled by overseers. The small-scale production value adds to the character-first approach and even when the story segues to larger arenas like a tickertape parade in The Capitol's grand Avenue of Tributes hall it's all about Katniss.
For fans the script hits every beat a nearly note-for-note interpretation of author Suzanne Collins' original novel—but those unfamiliar shouldn't worry about missing anything. Ross knows his way around a sharp screenplay (he's the writer of Big Pleasantville and Seabiscuit) and he's comfortable dropping us right into the action. His characters are equally as colorful as Panem Harrelson sticking out as the former tribute enlivened by the chance to coach winners. He's funny he's discreet he's shaded—a quality all the cast members share. As a director Ross employs a distinct often-grating perspective. His shaky cam style emphasizes the reality of the story but in fight scenarios—and even simple establishing shots of District 12's goings-on—the details are lost in motion blur.
But the dread of the scenario is enough to make Hunger Games an engrossing blockbuster. The lead-up to the actual competition is an uncomfortable and biting satire of reality television sports and everything that commands an audience in modern society. Katniss' brooding friend Gale tells her before she departs "What if nobody watched?" speculating that carnage might end if people could turn away. Unfortunately they can't—forcing Katniss and Peeta to become "stars" of the Hunger Games. The duo are pushed to gussy themselves up put on a show and play up their romance for better ratings. Lawrence channels her reserved Academy Award-nominated Winter's Bone character to inhabit Katniss' frustration with the system. She's great at hunting but she doesn't want to kill. She's compassionate and considerate but has no interest in bowing down to the system. She's a leader but she knows full well she's playing The Capitol's game. Even with 23 other contestants vying for the top spot—like American Idol with machetes complete with Ryan Seacrest stand-in Caesar Flickerman (the dazzling Stanley Tucci)—Katniss' greatest hurdle is internal. A brave move for a movie aimed at a young audience.
By the time the actual Games roll around (the movie clocks in at two and a half hours) there's a need to amp up the pace that never comes and The Hunger Games loses footing. Katniss' goal is to avoid the action hiding in trees and caves waiting patiently for the other tributes to off themselves—but the tactic isn't all that thrilling for those watching. Luckily Lawrence Hutcherson and the ensemble of young actors still deliver when they cross paths and particular beats pack all the punch an all-out deathwatch should. PG-13 be damned the film doesn't skimp on the bloodshed even when it comes to killing off children. The Hunger Games bites off a lot for the first film of a franchise and does so bravely and boldly. It may not make it to the end alive but it doesn't go down without a fight.
The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.