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Green Book – One of the Best Films of the Year and a Career High for the Shape Shifter that is Viggo Mortensen

Source: AwardsDaily

Seems Sasha Stone has changed her mind about Viggo since she trashed him a couple of years ago for being an actor with political opinions.


"Just like it’s satisfying nonetheless to watch Gene Hackman kick ignorant cracker ass in Mississippi Burning, it is equally satisfying to watch uneducated but tough guy Tony threaten the hillbillies in Green Book."

© Universal.
by Sasha Stone

Peter Farrelly's Green Book, which surprised everyone when it won in Toronto, is the kind of movie the gives back more than it takes. It's the kind of thing you didn't know you were missing until the credits roll. I've been covering the Oscars from the end of the Bill Clinton era and into the George W. Bush era, through the Obama era, and now into the Trump era. We're living through some dark days, so much so that many of us feel too tender to the touch, as though just waking up to live through another day is a challenge. Going all the way back to its inception, cinema has often been a salve for people in the most desperate of times. Fantasy and superhero franchise films have indeed come to dominate the movie theaters — after all, who can justify spending that kind of money if you don't walk out feeling like you got your money's worth. But there have been times when movies you pay to see give you your money's worth just by telling good stories, stories that can make you feel good.

The plot for Green Book is based loosely on a true story of a Bronx native, raised on racial epithets and segregated cultures of the immigrant working class outside Manhattan (also nicely explored in Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing, only in Brooklyn, but the same basic idea), who is hired to drive around a highly cultured academic who lives in a ritzy apartment above Carnegie Hall. The white guy is Viggo Mortensen as Tony Lip, and the black guy is Mahershala Ali as pianist Don Shirley.

It goes without saying that I'm a white writer writing about watching a film that is, first and foremost, about friendship, but also one about race. I'm only half the story here, and my reaction can only count for half. I can't possibly know what it feels like to watch the film as a non-white person. I can't pretend to. White-guilt culture has a history of movies that make white people look good in films about race, like Mississippi Burning, like Driving Miss Daisy, like The Help. There is always that one good white person to illustrate that not everyone is racist. Green Book might have a little of that, sure, but it also just gives us two beautifully drawn, brilliantly acted portraits of two people who lived and died in real life.

Green Book is drawn from the memory of Nick Vallelonga (also one of the screenwriters), whose father, Tony Vallelonga ("Tony Lip"), once drove Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) through the Deep South. He was his driver and bodyguard of sorts, keeping the racist jackholes off of him while he went to the places he was invited to play. Playing for rich folks in segregated, still-racist-to-this-day states like Alabama and Mississippi was historically important to Shirley, who knows that just playing there makes a difference, even if they don't allow you to use their restrooms or eat in their dining rooms.

Mortensen is unrecognizable as Tony Lip. As impressed as I've been with his ability to disappear into roles, he's never delivered such a fully realized character as this. There isn't a moment in the entire film where you remember it's an actor playing a part. He IS Tony Lip. Every throwaway glance, every wipe of his mouth, every cigarette smoked, every look, every laugh — all of it readable on his face. For all of Mortensen's gifts in shapeshifting, he has never quite been able to create such an intimate dialogue with the viewer as he does here. If he judged Tony too harshly, he could never have played him with so much innate humanity. Tony means well. He hasn't been taught well, but he means well and where I come from that counts for a lot.

And for everyone who thought Mahershala Ali was "playing himself" in Moonlight can at last see that he too is a versatile shape-shifter who is also unrecognizable as Don Shirley. Where in Moonlight he exuded confidence and sure-handed focus, here Ali is full of self-doubt, despite the careful pretenses he's adopted. His vulnerability peeks through his veneer. The real Don Shirley was raised in Jamaica and thus carried with him a snobbery against classless Americans (I was raised by a Jamaican, so I can attest to this). Ali's Shirley is playing a guy who mostly lives alone, gay in a time when you could not be (even worse, you could be killed for it). And if the movie glides a little too conveniently over Tony Lip's acceptance of Don's sexuality, remember: he worked at the Copacabana — he was used to variety in the sex department.

We're living through the kind of times where you are either good or bad, racist or not racist, homophobic or not, where people dig up decades old tweets as if to uncover, at last, that you really are one of those unforgivables we must purge from our ranks. But there are gray areas, particularly where generational shifts are concerned. We grow up where we grow up. We learn what we learn. But a genuinely good person can learn to open their hearts and their minds. Tony figures out pretty quickly that he really likes Don and Don figures out, a little less quickly, that he really likes Tony. They start there. Through their relationship they grow to be better people by letting the other one in.
Sure, this movie might be a harder sell if these actors weren't so utterly brilliant in their roles. But they are brilliant. They are so good that you end up wishing the movie would never end. From start to finish, Green Book is pleasure to sit through. You can sit almost anyone down in front of it and they will get it if not love it, and you Oscar watchers know what that means. There is always the one movie that comes out in a given year that you can pretty much recommend to just about anyone — and this year, Green Book is that movie. And you know what? We could use a lot more of these films in the film industry and in American culture.

Just like it's satisfying nonetheless to watch Gene Hackman kick ignorant cracker ass in Mississippi Burning, it is equally satisfying to watch uneducated but tough guy Tony threaten the hillbillies in Green Book. Unlike Mississippi Burning, however, the one scolding Tony isn't another white guy — it's Don Shirley, who believes dignity always wins out. Ali's role as Don Shirley is very nearly equal to Mortensen's. Both really are leads. I understand that Ali will "go supporting" because that's the best way to round the bases, Oscar wise, but indeed it's a film about both men: their limitations, their strengths, and how they teach each other a thing a two about a think or two. It is their warmth towards each other, their nimble acting chops, and finally, their ability to reveal the subtle shifts happening internally that makes Green Book such a riveting, moving, and entertaining couple of hours.

It isn't that the job of cinema is to make us feel good. The best films I've seen so far this year do what cinema is meant to do: take you places you've never been, take you into the minds and hearts of good people who do bad things — or make you uncomfortable, weird you out, shift your perspective on the ugly underside of humanity. And they can do the one thing that can sometimes be the difference between living and dying: send you out the door with a smile on your face and a little bit of hope for a better kind of life. That's what Green Book does, not because it's the job of cinema but because it's one thing cinema CAN do.

© AwardsDaily. Images © Universal.

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TIFF People's Choice Award launches Green Book into the Oscar race

Source: EW

More good news!!


With the People’s Choice Award in hand, Green Book now occupies pole position ...

© Universal.
Peter Farrelly's 1960s-set biographical drama Green Book has cleared a major hurdle in this year's awards race, emerging from the Toronto International Film Festival with the prestigious People's Choice Award — an accolade that often precedes placement among the Academy Awards' Best Picture nominees.

The film, which follows classical pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) and his New York City-born driver Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen) as they tour the American South, beat out competition for the otherwise non-competitive festival's attendee-driven prize from critically lauded titles including Alfonso Cuarón's Roma, Bradley Cooper's A Star Is Born, and Barry Jenkins' If Beale Street Could Talk.

2018 marks the first year in TIFF history that voting for the the People's Choice Award took place entirely online, with the festival also opening the contest to everyone with access to its website — including non-patrons. This could have skewed voting totals in favor of celebrity-driven projects like the Lady Gaga-starring A Star Is Born (which is also seen as a major Oscar contender thanks to enthusiastic reception on the festival circuit thus far), though Green Book's victory speaks to its crowd-pleasing potential ahead of what's shaping up to be a contentious awards battle.

With the People's Choice Award in hand, Green Book now occupies pole position as the three-pronged, Oscar-priming arm of the fall festival circuit — Telluride, Venice, and Toronto — concludes. Since 2008, nine of the last 10 People's Choice Award winners, including 12 Years a Slave and Slumdog Millionaire, have gone on to win or be nominated for the Academy's Best Picture statuette, the only exception being Nadine Labaki's 2011's drama Where Do We Go Now?

Last year, Martin McDonagh's Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri began its Oscar bid with a TIFF People's Choice Award victory before scoring seven total Academy Award nominations. It would go on to win two: for lead actress Frances McDormand and supporting actor Sam Rockwell. Reigning Best Picture The Shape of Water did not place among the top three finalists for the People's Choice Award.

For now, Green Book will have to translate its support out of Toronto into further precursor affection as it faces the next round of nationwide critics in anticipation of its Nov. 21 theatrical bow. With near-universal acclaim from festival press, it's likely that year-end critics' groups and guilds already have their eyes on the project for their upcoming awards ceremonies. Mortensen and Ali received particular praise from film journalists following Green Book's Sept. 11 world premiere at TIFF, meaning acting nominations could be on the horizon for the onscreen pair.

In addition to Green Book, A Star Is Born, Beale Street, and Roma, titles that made significant strides on the Oscar circuit at TIFF include the gay conversion drama Boy Erased, Melissa McCarthy's Marielle Heller-directed Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Viola Davis' Widows, Timothée Chalamet's drug addiction drama Beautiful Boy, Nicole Kidman's transformative slow-burn crime story Destroyer, and Ryan Gosling's Neil Armstrong biopic First Man

© EW. Images © Universal.

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Viggo Mortensen Becomes Best Actor Frontrunner as Green Book Wins People’s Choice Award in Toronto

Source: Awards Daily



One thing that is definitely possible is that Viggo Mortensen could finally win an Oscar he’s a bit overdue for now.

© Universal.
Green Book, as predicted by Kris Tapley, has taken the People's Choice Audience Award at Toronto. Runners up were If Beale Street Could Talk and Roma. One thing that is definitely possible is that Viggo Mortensen could finally win an Oscar he's a bit overdue for now. The history of this kind of award often does lead to acting wins – like Three Billboards, La La Land, Room, Silver Linings, King's Speech, 12 Years a Slave, etc. In almost every case, the winner or even runner up of these awards wins an acting prize. So this could be Viggo's year at last.

As you all know, this puts Green Book in line for a Best Picture nomination (not necessarily a win, but maybe). The history for either winners or runners-up is spotty but not entirely unreliable. Is Green Book Slumdog Millionaire? Is it Silver Linings Playbook? Is it Argo? Is it the King's Speech? It is too soon to know. Just as many films have won Best Picture and not showed up as a winner or a nominee. Two out of the three seems to be the norm.

The acting, however, is a little more reliable. Precious: Supporting Actress, Screenplay, King's Speech: Picture, Actor, Screenplay, Director, Silver Linings: Actress, 12 Years: Picture, Supporting Actress, Screenplay, Imitation Game: Screenplay, Room: Actress, La La Land: Actress, Director, etc., Three Billboards: Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor.

Mahershala Ali could also win a second Oscar in supporting, and very well might — but I'd think Viggo gets the bump because he's never won before.

Free Solo won documentary.

© Awards Daily. Images © Universal.

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Green Book, starring Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen, wins TIFF People's Choice prize!

Source: CBC

WOW! Congratulations to everyone involved with this movie! What an honor!! What a response by the audiences!!


Peter Farrelly's Green Book is the big winner of the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival.

© Universal.
The road-trip comedy-drama starring Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen snapped up the top audience-selected People's Choice Award on the final day of the film festival.

The movie is based on a true story of musician Don Shirley's 1962 tour of the American South, with the celebrated black pianist hiring a white driver, Tony Vallelonga, because he is unable to travel safely alone.

Green Book earned kudos from critics at TIFF for the crowd-pleasing, odd-couple interplay between Ali and Mortensen, beating out two of the most buzzworthy titles of the festival: Barry Jenkins's If Beale Street Could Talk and Alfonso Cuaron's Roma.

Farrelly, best known for co-directing outrageous comedies like Shallow Hal, There's Something About Mary and Dumb and Dumber, was not on hand to accept the award Sunday, but sent a statement read by TIFF artistic director Cameron Bailey.

"I'm still reeling over the response to the film, so this is just incredible. Thanks so much to the festival: I was truly honoured just to be accepted into it, but to actually win is beyond my wildest dreams," he wrote.
"Now I see why everyone says the audiences in Toronto are the best in the world."

TIFF's People's Choice Award is considered an early barometer for further kudos and consideration during the upcoming film awards season this winter.

Past winners in recent years have included Room, 12 Years a Slave, La La Land and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, which subsequently went on to earn recognition at the Oscars.

© CBC. Images © Universal.

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Iolanthe's Quotable Viggo

Found By: Iolanthe

This week has seen a hugely positive reaction in the Press to Farrelly'’s Green Book after its premier at the Toronto Film Festival. In case you might have missed any goodies, here is a little round-up of the best reviews and comments! Enjoy...

The Elgin theatre audience exploded in cheers and whoo-whoo applause when a showing of Peter Farrelly'’s Green Book ended late Tuesday night. I’m not talking about expressions of warmth and respect — I’m talking about instant kapow, instant “yes!” No other Toronto Film Festival screening I’'ve attended has generated this kind of love, alpha vibes and excitement.

Hollywood Elsewhere
11 September 2018

The 130-minute running time of the film flashes by in heartbeat, and as the final moments arrive, you wish for the film never to end.

Paul Heath
The Hollywood News
14 September 2018

“I don’t know if there are two better actors in the same movie this year,” said Farrelly. “Viggo and Mahershala are at the top of their game. You can’t believe how lucky you are.

Director Peter Farrelly
TIFF: 'Green Book' stars have amazing chemistry
By Jane Stevenson
12 September 2018

Now this is a wonderful film. So wonderful… Mortensen transforms entirely, and Ali matches him with his wit, and grace, and humility.

Alex Billington
12 September 2018

Green Book is a road movie, a buddy comedy and a prestige studio release all at once. You will know every beat as it happens; you will almost be able to mouth the dialogue along with the characters. But none of that matters because you get to watch Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali exist together, from one moment to the next, giving performances so textured and alive that they knock Peter Farrelly’s movie from “pretty good” to “goddamn transcendent."

Norman Wilmer
Now Magazine
13 September 2018

… packing on 30 pounds to play a good old boy from the Bronx, Viggo gets a laugh every time he opens his mouth — always for one of two purposes: either to hustle whoever’s listening into giving him what he wants (hence his nickname, “Tony Lip”) or else to stuff food inside it (he seems to spend half the movie eating, whether it’s engaging in hot dog-eating contests at the local diner or alone in his hotel room, folding a pizza in half for a late-night snack). We seldom get to see Mortensen in comic roles, but his goofy, sideways smile seems perfectly suited to this one, making it hard — even when he’s saying things that are nowhere near politically correct — to dislike the guy for long.

Peter Debruge
11 September 2018

…it charmingly evokes laughs and tears in all the right places, thanks in no small part to the original screenplay by Tony Lip's son Nick Vallelonga, Brian Hayes Currie and Farrelly, but more than anything to the winning performances by Mortensen and Ali, two of the most versatile and likable actors in the biz, who are perfectly cast in this film.

Scott Feinberg
The Hollywood Reporter
12 September 2018

Proving that he can blend in with virtually any material at his disposal, Viggo Mortensen adds another notch to his chameloenesque abilities as the streetwise Frank Anthony Vallelonga, who prefers the casual monicker Tony Lip… Mortensen inhabits the character with a kind of authenticity that endows some of the more heavy-handed showdowns with surprising depth (particularly in a monologue where he tells Ali, “I’m blacker than you are”)

Eric Kohn
11 September 2018

Mortensen has the flamboyant role and makes the most of it, turning Tony into a gruff, gluttonous bonehead with a big heart and a thick accent. It’s a deliciously oversized performance, though Mortensen also nails unexpectedly quiet moments, notably one where he learns something new and potentially shocking about his boss and simply mutters, “I’ve been working nightclubs in New York City my whole life. I know it’s a … complicated world.”

Steve Pond
The Wrap
11 September 2018

Mortensen’s role may be the showier of the two, but Ali is a marvel to watch in his musical performances. The actor suggests Eddie Murphy in “Coming to America” crossed with the composure Adrien Brody brought to “The Pianist,” where performing serves as a way to communicate across cultural differences, and also to redirect the frustration of all the ways he has been mistreated.

Peter Debruge
11 September 2018

Farrelly puts his actors in front of the camera armed with a tight script, but this picture sinks or swims based on the chemistry between its two leads. And fortunately for viewers, Mortensen and Ali couldn’t turn in better work. They’re two supremely talented dramatic actors, and their performances here scream out, “Oh we got jokes too!”

Victor Stiff
The Playlist
12 September 2018

The entire film relies heavily on the relationship and chemistry between Dr. Shirley and Tony. Mahershala and Viggo have spectacular chemistry with one another. The combination of Mahershala’s seriousness and Viggo’s rude humor and mannerisms make for some hilarious moments throughout the film. Coming from director Peter Farrelly, who is best known for movies such as Dumb and Dumber, There’s Something About Mary, and Shallow Hal, the humor in the film is perfectly executed.

Ashley Menzel
12 September 2018

Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortenson both deserve Best Actor nominations; Viggo brings real depth to the role of an Italian-American that could have easily delved into caricature; Ditto Mahershala Ali who seems to be, at least on-screen, maybe in real-life as well, a piano virtuoso -- his character is filled with restraint and the inner fight to sustain his dignity amidst the racial intolerance at hand.

Jordan Ruimy
12 September 2018

It’s fun to see Mortensen go all in with what could have gone disastrously: a full-blooded comic character, complete with a gut and a thick Italian-American accent. He’s better than the trailer suggests, the performance feeling less like an impression and more like the lived-in portrayal of a larger-than-life man.

Benjamin Lee
The Guardian
12 September 2018

Lip is a terrific character for Mortensen to sink his teeth into. Rarely has he seemed to be having more fun, displaying a flair for comedy as the streetwise Lip finds himself plunged into Shirley’s arty-world, which includes an apartment above Carnegie Hall decorated in African art.

Chris Bumbray
12 September 2018

Suffice to say, I am unabashedly recommending Green Book to anyone who has wants to see one of the best films of the year. It checks all the boxes. Mortensen and Ali are terrific, so, don't be stunned if both get nominations come award season. Make no mistake: This is a big crowd-pleaser. Imagine, if you will, the best elements of, say, Driving Miss Daisy and Hidden Figures, with some well-placed laughs and unexpected tears added for a bit of much-needed spice.

George Prentice
Boise Weekly
14 September 2018

Expect a groundswell of awards support for Mortensen in the lead actor category and Ali in the supporting actor category that he won just two seasons ago for Moonlight — and maybe even for best picture, too.

Scott Feinberg
The Hollywood Reporter
12 September 2018

Green Book is another ace in the hole that should prove to be a major audience favourite, boding well for its mainstream release via Universal…

… One final note - I saw this movie at a TIFF press screening halfway through the fest. At this point, journalists are cranky and tend to be harder on the movies they’re watching as they’re going on very little sleep and have already seen so many good movies that by this point it’s hard for anything to stand out. Not so with GREEN BOOK. The audience roared with laughter throughout and gave it the strongest round of applause I’ve heard outside of A STAR IS BORN. To me, this is a sure sign that the movie works for even the most cynical audiences, and I predict it’ll be a major sleeper hit in the months ahead. It’s a charmer.

Chris Bumbray
12 September 2018

You will find all previous Quotables here.

© Viggo-Works/Iolanthe. Images © Universal.

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Last edited: 25 May 2019 15:34:07