Two of the best movies of 2007 (starring local celebs) are out on DVD today.
For my money, I still say “American Gangster” was as good (and enjoyable) as just about any other Best Picture nominee that isn’t named “Juno.” It’s bizarre that New Rochelle resident Rube Dee is the only person to get nominated from the film, especially considering that Mount Vernon native son Denzel Washington was at the top of his game. Anyway, if you didn’t see it in the video, be sure to add it to your Netflix queue.
And the other movie is “Lust Caution,” directed by Larchmont’s Ang Lee. This too was snubbed by the Academy in the best foreign language category. Bunch of prudes, I say.
Thanks to F.O.S. Amy Vernon for the tip.
Nothing was more surprising — and gratifying — than New Rochelle resident Ruby Dee’s win for Best Support Actress at the SAG awards last night. I so wish I’d taped to transcribed her speech, but the win caught me as off guard as it did Cate Blanchett and just about everyone else in the audience.
In retrospect, maybe it shouldn’t have. Despite Dee’s role in “American Gangster” consisting of only a handful of screen time, it seemed clear that last night’s ceremony was all about recognizing and rewarding the sentimental favorites — “The Sopranos” sweeping Actor, Actress, and Cast; Julie Christi winning for Best Actress; the half hour spent on celebrating Charles Durning.
That said, Dee’s speech was totally captivating. From the opening (Will she remember Russell Crowe’s name?) to the ending (during which she rambled happily about audiobooks and memoirs and other projects), it was a little less coherent than my aunt’s speech at her 100th birthday, but every bit as moving. Especially the nod to her husband Ossie Davis, who died in 2005. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I accept it also for my husband Ossie, because heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s working on things up there.Ã¢â‚¬?
If anyone has video of the speech, or knows where it’s posted online, please give us a holler.
(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Last minute addition here. I can’t explain why the Mount Vernon native didn’t figure into our pre-countdown planning, given that he’s had easily the best year of his career — his Oscar-worthy performance as real-life heroin kingpin Frank Lucas in “American Gangster”; starring in, directing, producing, and filling just about every other production credit in “The Great Debaters” (which I haven’t seen yet, but, given its Golden Globe Best Picture nod, I’m figuring is pretty decent).
Sure, Denzel doesn’t live in Westchester any more, but when you factor in all the times he returned to the area (to film “Gangster,” to stump for mayor candidates in Mount Vernon) — well, the omission would be inexcusable.
Fortunately, I happened to read that today is the man’s 53rd birthday. What better time to right that wrong and celebrate This Year in Denzel?
For a full list of the TV nominees, check out our sister blog, Remote Access, or for film nominees, go to the SAG site. But here, in short, are the locals you’ll be rooting for:
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
ANGELINA JOLIE / Mariane Pearl Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Ã¢â‚¬Å“A Mighty HeartÃ¢â‚¬? (Paramount Vantage): Jolie grew up in Sneden’s Landing
Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
AMERICAN GANGSTER (Universal Pictures): Denzel Washington is a Mount Vernon native and Russell Crowe lived in Nyack while filming the movie.
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
Kevin Kline / Jacques Ã¢â‚¬â€œ As You Like It (HBO): Kline lives (or at least used to live) in Garrison with Phoebe Cates.
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
Ellen Burstyn / Posey Benetto Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Mitch AlbomÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s For One More Day (ABC): Burstyn lives in Nyack
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series
Glenn Close / Patty Hewes Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Damages (FX): Lives in Bedford
Edie Falco / Carmela Soprano Ã¢â‚¬â€œ The Sopranos (HBO): Attended SUNY Purchase
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series
Alec Baldwin / Jack Donaghy Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 30 Rock (NBC): Brother of Bedford’s Billy Baldwin and Upper Grandview’s Stephen
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series
Vanessa Williams / Wilhelmina Slater Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Ugly Betty (ABC): Grew up in Millwood, currently lives in Chappaqua
(Nominations ceremony photo with President Alan Rosenberg, left, and actors Jeanne Tripplehorn, center, and Terrence Howard on Thurs., Dec 20 — AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
Palisades native and “Heroes” hottie Hayden Panettiere was Ms. Golden Globe today, given the honors of doling out the nominations alongside “Smokin’ Aces” star Ryan Reynolds and director Quentin Tarantino. Sadly, her show was totally shut out of every category. Ouch!
Fortunately, plenty of other LoHudders fared better.
Here’s a quick scorecard of which of the nominations have strong ties to the Lower Hudson Valley. In other words, all things being equal, these are the guys and gals to root for:
BEST MOTION PICTURE Ã¢â‚¬â€œ DRAMA
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ AMERICAN GANGSTER: Stars Mount Vernon native Denzel Washington and filmed while Russell Crowe was living in Nyack
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ THE GREAT DEBATERS: Directed by and starring Denzel
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ MICHAEL CLAYTON: Stars Mamaroneck native (and former Winged Foot caddy) Michael O’Keefe, aka Noonan from “Caddyshack,” in a supporting role; features an early scene with George Clooney in Westchester, trying to put out a legal fire for an executive who has just gotten into a car accident.
ACTRESS IN A MOTION PICTURE Ã¢â‚¬â€œ DRAMA
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ ANGELINA JOLIE Ã¢â‚¬â€œ A MIGHTY HEART: Raised in Sneden’s Landing
The rest of the nominations are after the break …
Just because Mount Vernon native Denzel Washington always plays such phenomenal villains in the movies doesn’t mean he’s a baddie in real life. In fact, quite the opposite. One example: For the premiere of his upcoming crime drama “American Gangster” on October 19, AllHipHop reports that he arranged for all the proceeds to be donated to the Boys & Girls Club of America.
You may remember that Washington is a huge advocate for the B&G Clubs — in particular the Mount Vernon chapter, which he grew up with — and has been the group’s national spokesperson for the past 15 years.
If you haven’t seen the movie’s trailer yet, be sure to check it out (YouTube link). It appears to be Washington’s best bad-guy part yet, with him playing a 1970’s crime lord who smuggles heroin in the coffins of American soldiers returning from Vietnam. And Russell Crowe plays the detective trying to take him down. The movie goes wide on November 2.
Fun fact: Russell Crowe lived over in Nyack, at the Pretty Penny estate, while the movie was filming locally.