Looking ahead to the Academy Awards and remembering the late, great Mary Tyler Moore

The Oscars background (MGN Online 1/24/2017)


Score: B

Rated R (Language) -- 118 minutes

PATERSON is more of an art film and unfortunately may search hard for an audience. Adam Driver, however, gives yet another outstanding 2016 performance to add to his growing filmography. Driver plays a bus driver. His name is Paterson, and he lives in Paterson, New Jersey. Paterson, the driver – looks out his large front bus windows just as he looks back in his rear mirror. He sees, he watches and he listens. Away from driving, Paterson writes short poetry. He has a quiet, respectful, and loving relationship with his girlfriend, Laura, played by actress Golshifteh Farahani.

The prose in that little brown notebook becomes the heart and soul of this beautiful film. He is comfortable in his daily routine, from where he walks and who he walks – to his morning ritual in the morning and where he drinks in the evening.

Credit director Jim Jarmusch for this beautiful story which seems to have the same pacing as its protagonist. The story unfolds over seven consecutive days in Paterson's life.

I want to acknowledge the subtle performances of another bus driver, Rizwan Manji, and the bar owner, Barry Shabaka Henley. The poems were written for the movie by Ron Padgett. And the wonderful musical score was composed by Jarmusch and Carter Logan.

If you are open to a sweet film about the self-expression of seeing, watching, and listening – you should not be disappointed.

GOLD (2016)

Score: B

Rated R (Language, Sexuality, and Nudity) -- 121 minutes

The producers of GOLD must feel that their film has a chance to make some money. A lot of promotional advertising dollars are now being spent as the producers realize that they have a pretty darn good movie on their hands. Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey gives yet another career-high performance.

And the twists and turns of this film will leave you asking a lot of post-movie questions. And for that reason alone, I will not offer any "spoilers" nor go into any depth of the storyline written by Patrick Massett and John Zinman. The film is directed by Stephen Gaghan, who helmed the great 2005 film SYRIANA.

I was first attracted to this film because the story opens in Reno, Nev. If you look for familiar places you will be disappointed. "Brief establishing shots and driving shots were filmed in Reno." McConaughey plays Kenny Wells – a third-generation Reno mining prospector. I suspect that the Washoe Mining Company portrayed in the film, in reality, is actually the world's largest gold mining company, Barrick Gold Corporation.

The good news: McConaughey put on a lot of weight to play a sweaty, balding, cigarette-chomping and pot-bellied gold prospector with ugly teeth, who inherits the Nevada mining company from his father. If you like McConaughey, you will love this role. He carries the film from start to finish. However, he has strong support coming from Edgar Ramirez, who plays geologist Michael Acosta, and Bryce Dallas Howard, who plays Kay – his girlfriend back home. If only the movie itself was as good as its cast.

The bad news: GOLD plays with and manipulates your mind. You get so engrossed in the story that you will find yourself going home and getting online to do some research. How much of the story is factual, and how much is not. Again, "no spoilers" here.

A lot of the Las Vegas film critics who attended the screening could not help but compare GOLD to a combination of Martin Scorsese's THE WOLF OF WALL STREET and John Huston's THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE.

In addition to Reno, GOLD was filmed in Albuquerque and New York City, as well as Indonesia and Thailand. And yes, Matthew McConaughey really touched a live tiger as seen in the TV commercials! "He has been fed, Matthew – you should be okay!"


I was extremely excited when four out of my five favorite movies of 2016 were all nominated for Best Picture of the Year: Hacksaw Ridge, Hidden Figures, La La Land, and Lion. My only disappointment was the lack of recognition for Martin Scorsese's brilliant film SILENCE.

I wrote throughout the past year that the acting performances would be the toughest categories to accurately predict. And that indeed was the case. Missing from the nomination lists were outstanding performances from actresses Amy Adams, Annette Bening, Meryl Streep, and Taraji P. Henson, and actors Tom Hanks and Hugh Grant.

The biggest surprise was the validation and acknowledgment of the Black actors and actresses, whose performances for years have been snubbed. This marks the first time in Oscar history that Black actors and actresses were nominated in all four acting categories.


A Personal Remembrance

I was born and grew up in the Twin Cities. I spent half my life living there. My first full-time job after college was actually in walking distance to one of the most popular tourist sites in the city of Minneapolis. It was the "Mary Tyler Moore House," located just off of Lake of the Isles – whose image opened her TV show each week.

Equally popular to locals and tourists was the statue of Mary Richards "throwing her hat up in the air." The statue is located right in the heart of Downtown Minneapolis on the Nicollet Mall.

The tributes honoring the passing of Mary Tyler Moore continue to be published and covered on television and radio. Those of us who love television and the movies know that she was one-of-a-kind and a "discontinued pattern." As a person who lives with Diabetes, Mary's commitment and dedicated work on behalf of Juvenile Diabetes will always be towering inspiration. May she rest in peace.