Oscar Predictions

oscarsHere’s another appearance on the KARE11 Saturday Morning Show on the day before the Academy Awards Show. Check it out and see how I did. http://tinyurl.com/o73ymgj .

Tim Russell’s 2014 Oscar Predictions

Oscar StatueIt was a great year for movies, stories based on mostly true stories, historical dramas, spectacular technical achievements, some of the best performances in all categories, and no shoe-in any of those categories. Here are my picks for the 2014 Academy Awards.


The front runner and early award winner here has been Jennifer Lawrence but I’m glad to see Lupita Nyong’o come to the forefront with a startlingly good first film performance in “12 Years a Slave”. This category loves newcomers.

The nominees:

Sally Hawkins in “Blue Jasmine”

Jennifer Lawrence in “American Hustle”

Lupita Nyong’o in “12 Years a Slave”

Julia Roberts in “August: Osage County”

June Squibb in “Nebraska”


Should and Will win: Lupita Nyong’o in “12 Years a Slave”

Could win: Jennifer Lawrence in “American Hustle”


This is tough category, there will be some sentimental votes for the first time actor, limousine driver, Barkhad Abdi, and a magnificent performance by Michael Fassbender, but Jared Leto was unparalleled in “Dallas Buyers Club”. I wish the academy had nominated Daniel Bruhl had been nominated for  his performance in “Rush” instead of the underwhelming Jonah Hill.

The nominees:

Barkhad Abdi in “Captain Phillips”

Bradley Cooper in “American Hustle”

Michael Fassbender in “12 Years a Slave”

Jonah Hill in “The Wolf of Wall Street”

Jared Leto in “Dallas Buyers Club”


Should and Will win: Jared Leto in “Dallas Buyers Club”

Could win: Michael Fassbender in “12 Years a Slave”


Cate Blanchett has been the frontrunner here but there is some drama about whether or not the recent Woody Allen controversy will affect voters. I don’t think it will. The other obstacle to an Oscar for Cate is the fact that 4 time nominee Amy Adams has never won, so that might be in Amy’s favor here, but I’m sticking with Cate for the best performance.

The nominees:

Amy Adams in “American Hustle”

Cate Blanchett in “Blue Jasmine”

Sandra Bullock in “Gravity”

Judi Dench in “Philomena”

Meryl Streep in “August: Osage County”


Should and Will win: Cate Blanchett in “Blue Jasmine”

Could win: Amy Adams in “American Hustle”


This is the toughest category. Chiwetel Ejiofor was wonderful as Solomon Northrup, the free black man kidnaped and kept in brutal slavery for 12 years, and there’s a lot of love for Bruce Dern in “Nebraska” for a lifetime of fine performances, but Matthew McCounaughey caps of a series of terrific movie characters (he could have been nominated for the terrific “Mud”) with the best performance of the year in “Dallas Buyers Club”. I wish there had been room for Robert Redford in “All is Lost”, in perhaps the best performance of his career.

The nominees:

Christian Bale in “American Hustle”

Bruce Dern in “Nebraska”

Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Wolf of Wall Street”

Chiwetel Ejiofor in “12 Years a Slave”

Matthew McConaughey in “Dallas Buyers Club”


Should and Will win: Matthew McConaughey in “Dallas Buyers Club”

Could win: Chiwetel Ejiofor in “12 Years a Slave”


This is a weird category, David O. Russell showed of his prowess with getting the most out of his actors, the same for Steve McQueen and Alexander Payne, but Alfonso Cuarón created things never seen on the screen before so I think he’ll be honored with the Oscar here.

The nominees:

“American Hustle” David O. Russell

“Gravity” Alfonso Cuarón

“Nebraska” Alexander Payne

“12 Years a Slave” Steve McQueen

“The Wolf of Wall Street” Martin Scorsese


Should and Will win: “Gravity” Alfonso Cuarón

Could win: “12 Years a Slave” Steve McQueen


These are all fine nominees: “12 Years a Slave” created a conversation about an important historical moment, and “Philomena” entertained with a great mixture of humor and pathos, “Gravity” dazzled us with it magnificent visuals with the best use of 3D in memory, but I’m going with “American Hustle” for the combination of all of these factors.

The nominees:

“American Hustle”

“Captain Phillips”




“12 Years a Slave”

“The Wolf of Wall Street”


Will win: “American Hustle”

Could win:  “12 Years a Slave”

A Reminder of How Great Robert Altman’s Last Film Was

Writer Joshua Brunsting recently wrote an article about why Famed director Robert Altman’s last film, “A Prairie Home Companion”, written by Garrison Keillor, should get the Blueray treatment:

“Over any given span of time, the popularity of a given director can go through ebbs and flows. Take director Robert Altman for example. Always considered one of the greatest filmmakers of his generation, his name has now, with recent releases of films like Nashville on Criterion dual format, been as talked about as any of the youngsters taking to the festival circuit or veteran names finding a home in megaplexes around the globe. Since his death in 2006, the director’s career has been feted over and over again by those looking at his pictures for the first time or those looking at them for the tenth, and yet, one film seems to constantly be overlooked.

Entitled A Prairie Home Companion, the film is the final film Altman made before his death, and it’s one of his best. A big screen adaptation of sorts of the beloved NPR radio series of the same name, the film is everything one would home to get out of a Robert Altman picture, ranging from its gigantic cast chock full of A-listers down to the oddly ever present sense of death that presides over the picture.

Amongst the aforementioned heavy-hitter-filled cast is Kevin Kline, our guide of sorts through this world found seemingly entirely in the back stage area of a legendary theater, and the stage where each of these characters comes to life. Kline plays a man named Guy Noir, a private detective/doorman of sorts for this troupe of performers led by one Garrison Keillor, the show’s host. A much loved show, the show has seen better days, and, as the main dramatic hook, we discover that tonight’s proceedings are the final time the show will ever be aired. With the show on its final legs, a mysterious trenchcoat wearing woman who may or may not be an angel of some sort and even a young teen pre-disposed to write some rather bleak poetry, A Prairie Home Companion is a breathless comedy that is also a death-ridden picture that is as fitting a final film as director Altman could have ever hoped to have as his final credit.

At first glance, the film’s cast is absolutely incomparable. Kline is absolutely great here as Noir, a perfectly dry detective whose prosaic style of speaking is perfectly dry, fitting Kline’s delivery like a glove. Opposite him is Keillor, the real life host of the radio show and the one who informs us about the goings on over at Lake Wobegon. Joining Keillor on stage are the country music singing sister duo Yolanda and Rhonda Johnson (Meryl Streep and Lilly Tomlin respectively) and even a pair of bad joke telling ranch hands played perfectly by the pair of Woody Harrelson and John C. Reilly.  Toss in a never better Lindsay Lohan as Yolanda’s daughter Lola and even welcome faces like Maya Rudolph, and you have an ensemble cast that is more than fitting for the final film from one of the greatest ensemble cast directors to ever get behind a camera.

The entire cast gives superb performances. Lohan is of particular note, who not only fits this character perfectly, but her performance is toned perfectly. Slightly a caricature of a wannabe teen artist, there is a humor behind her performance that is sadly missing from much of her recent work, and in the film’s final moments you realize just how much of a magnetic presence she truly can be. Harrelson and Reilly are superb opposite one another, and their “Bad Jokes” sequence is one of the best and most inviting musical sequences to grace the big screen in quite some time. Streep is understated for once and it proves to be a superbly melancholic performance, taking on the role of a woman disconnected from her daughter and dealing with a relationship that may be over, but itself still sitting heavy on her mind.

Now, however great the cast truly is (and trust me, the performances here are bewilderingly great), Altman is the film’s biggest star. Aesthetically, the film is beautifully thoughtful, never allowing itself to draw away from a performance too soon, or linger on it for too long. With gorgeous photography, the film is at its very core a back room drama with a focus on character instead of directorial flourishes. With director Paul Thomas Anderson hired as a “backup” director in case Altman weren’t healthy enough to work on any given day, this is a telling example of just the type of influence Altman had over Anderson’s earlier work. Very much a typical aesthetic work from Altman, this is a gorgeous and stayed character study.

However, if there is one thing that this film seems bizarrely interested in, it’s death. Be it actual death in characters (presumably) like the one played by Virginia Madsen and Lohan’s poetry-writing Lola, or conceptually in the form of the actual radio show, the film’s predisposition to death sets a cloud of melancholy over every passing second of the film. An idea that weighed heavy on Altman’s mind throughout his career, the film has been described by critics following its release as some sort of “wake,” itself a rather fitting descriptor for this picture. Melancholy and yet overflowing with a lively sense of humor, the film is neither bleak nor slight, instead seeing death as something itself inevitable, making this a vital comedy from one of film’s greatest directors. Charming and placid, the film is easily one of the most rewarding and inviting films that has seemingly been forgotten since its debut back in 2006.

And with the film being truly overlooked, comes the fact that it has yet to be seen on Blu-ray. Criterion should, in their great wisdom, help change that. There is a solid DVD release of the film, but with a new transfer, the film itself could look better than it ever has. That said DVD release has a good commentary with Altman which would be a welcome port over, and knowing that Criterion has sourced things from director Paul Thomas Anderson, a conversation with him would be a welcome addition. Toss in a big retrospective of Altman’s career from the legendary collection of actors his work touched and you could have a release that would be more than fitting of this superb final film from the brilliant Robert Altman.”

My participation s “”Al, the stage manager” was, one of the great thrills of my life. The Same is true, I’m sure for Sue Scott as “Donna, the make up lady”. Thank you Garrison Keillor.

Tim’s Movie Choices for the Holidays 2013

The Golden Globe nominations are out, sometimes a precursor for the Oscars, and some of the most nominated films will be showing in your favorite mega-plex over the holidays. “American Hustle” from David O. Russell (no relation) leads the pack with 7 nominations ( along with “12 Years a Slave”), and would be a fine choice for the adults in the family. It’s full of great performances from Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradly Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Jeremy Renner. Set in the 70′s, it’s based on the Abscam scandal that rocked the nation, though the interplay between the characters is the real story here. my GPA 3.8, Rated R.

“Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” is not likely to get any Award Ceremony love, but lovers of the original “Anchorman”, with Will Ferrell as Ron Burgundy, along with his dimwitted anchor team, will find some gems in the many callback moments in the sequel. This one left me cold for the most part. Sure the intentional stupidity of the gags and the opportunity to poke fun at the downside of the 24 hour news cycle, and it’s propensity for mindless filler stories, will pay off a few times but I thought the many improvisational moments to be more lazy than funny humor. They say that the DVD will have a new cut included with more than 300 additional gags inserted, maybe that will be funnier. My PGA 2.0, Rated PG 13.

“Inside Llewyn Davis” is the latest from the Coen Brothers, and it takes us back to the folk music coffeehouse scene of the West Village in New York, circa 1960. As usual the Coen’s visual style is superb, and the performances are terrific. Llewyn is played by Oscar Isaac, a fine actor who can sing and play with total authenticity. Not much happens here except to follow a few days in the life of this constantly self destructive character. However we keep our focus because there is a glimmer of hope for this misanthrope.

Serious Man PicAs in “A Serious Man” ( with a brilliant 40 second performance by “Detective 1″ , see picture), we are left to ponder the fate of Llewyn at the dawn of the Dylan era, but the skill of the Coen Brothers makes this a worthwhile experience for cinephiles. My GPA: 3.0. Rated R.

What to do with the kids that won’t put the adults in a coma? If you haven’t already done so, take them to Disney’s “Frozen”, a brilliant  animation musical in 3D that tells the story of two princess sisters, one who is cursed  with the ability to freeze what ever she touches, forcing her to isolate herself , and the plucky other sister who helps her break the curse. There are some good plot twists here and the Disney animators have outdone themselves with a great use of 3D technology. The short Micky Mouse cartoon, in 2D and 3D preceeding the film is almost worth the price of admission by itself. My PGA: 4.0. Rated PG.

Still to come in the new year, the always inventive Spike Jonze’s “Her” a look at the future  with Joaquin Phoenix, desperate for connection and Scarlett Johansson as the voice of his iOS, and Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts leading a great cast in “August: Osage County”, a movie that definitely takes the “fun” out of family disfunction, but with amazing performances.

New CD: “Tim Russell-Man of a Thousand Voices”

Fans of A Prairie Home Companion know him as Garrison Keillor’s grumbling sidekick Dusty “The Lives of the Cowboys,” an array of wise-cracking wise-guys from the mean streets of “Guy Noir, Private Eye,” or Jim, the beleaguered husband from A Prairie Home Companion’s famously catchup-deprived midlife couple. One minute he’s George Bush or Julia Child, Barack Obama or Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Tim Russell-Man of a Thousand VoicesSo here’s the fearless Tim Russell in 19 hilarious performances from A Prairie Home Companion, embracing every hairpin turn, crazy curve, or unexpected plot twist a live radio show heard by millions each week can possibly throw at the man of a thousand voices.

It’s available now from Pretty Good Goods: http://tinyurl.com/l57z4ls


Heavenly Celebrities

Who’s on the Show

The Lives of the Cowboys


Conversation With F. Scott


Fritz Electronics



Earl’s School of Language

Fred Farrell

Song of the Vampire

Guy Noir, Private Eye

Paul Bunyan

Bud’s Coffee



Guy’s Shoes

Celebrity Valentines

Tim Russell Voices Pope Benedict XVI on Jimmy Kimmel Live


Here’s Tim Russell voicing Pope Benedict XVI in a bit from the “Jimmy Kimmel Live” monologue as the former Pope meets Pope Francis in a “Pope Reunion Special: After the Final Pope”.



Tim Russell Gives His Oscar Picks on KARE 11 TV

Tim Russell’s 2013 Oscar Picks

Here we are, another year of fine film making about to be honored at the 85th Academy Award Show. The year started out with a couple of movies that really stuck with me: “Beasts of the Southern Wild” was a revelation, and I’m glad it received some Oscar love, though I’m surprised “Moonrise Kingdom” didn’t get more attention. Denzel was terrific in “Flight” and “Silver Linings Playbook”, with it’s wonderful cast, was  my frontrunner in a number of Oscar categories for a good while. I saw “Lincoln” twice and the second viewing sold me on it’s Best Picture chances, it has the best original script and Daniel Day-Lewis deserves the Best Actor honors in a tough race to call, but I’m thinking “Argo” is now a lock as this year’s winner.

The Best Actor will go to Daniel Day-Lewis for “Lincoln”, with Bradley Cooper a possiblity. If Denzel had played a more sympathetic character in “Flight” he’d have a fighting chance, and you have to acknowledge Hugh Jackman’s commitment as Jean Valjean in “Les Miserables”.

The Best Actress nominees were all wonderful this year. Emanuelle Riva was amazing in “Amour” as a stroke victim dealing with her final days, and Naomi Watts left us all wondering how she survived the grueling tsunami production, “The Impossible”, but Jennifer Lawrence will win for playing the flawed and fascinating cop widow in “Silver Linings Playbook”.

The Supporting Categories offer some of the best performances of the year. The Best Supporting Actor nominees are all potential winners, but I’m inclined to go with Robert DeNiro’s obsessive sports fan father in “Silver Linings Playbook” mainly because it’s been awhile since his last win, although I loved the work of Christoph Waltz and Tommy Lee Jones this year.

It appears that nothing will derail the coronation of Anne Hathaway as the Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner in “Les Miserables”, although Sally Field  in “Lincoln” and Helen Hunt  in “The Sessions” are close behind in my estimation.

The Best Director award should be Stephen Spielberg’s if “Lincoln” does win Best Picture. Although if “Argo” wins best picture, and many recent signals indicate that it is now the frontrunner with one win after another this award season, I would be happy if Ang Lee won for “Life of Pi” the most amazing visual treat of the year.


The nominees:
Bradley Cooper in “Silver Linings Playbook”
Daniel Day-Lewis in “Lincoln”
Hugh Jackman in “Les Misérables”
Joaquin Phoenix in “The Master”
Denzel Washington in “Flight”

Will win: Daniel Day-Lewis
Could win: Bradley Cooper
Should win: Daniel Day-Lewis 

Best Actress

The nominees:
Jessica Chastain in “Zero Dark Thirty”
Jennifer Lawrence in “Silver Linings Playbook”
Emmanuelle Riva in “Amour”
Quvenzhané Wallis in “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
Naomi Watts in “The Impossible”

Will win: Jennifer Lawrence
Could win: Naomi Watts
Should win: Emmanuelle Riva

Best Supporting Actor

The nominees:
Alan Arkin in “Argo”
Robert De Niro in “Silver Linings Playbook”
Philip Seymour Hoffman in “The Master”
Tommy Lee Jones in “Lincoln”
Christoph Waltz in “Django Unchained”

Will win: Robert DeNiro
Could win: Cristoph Waltz
Should win:Tommy Lee Jones  

Best Supporting Actress

The nominees:
Amy Adams in “The Master”
Sally Field in “Lincoln”
Anne Hathaway in “Les Misérables”
Helen Hunt in “The Sessions”
Jacki Weaver in “Silver Linings Playbook”

Will win: Anne Hathaway
Could win: Sally Field
Should win: Anne Hathaway

Best Picture 

The nominees:
“Amour” Nominees to be determined
“Argo” Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck and George Clooney, Producers
“Beasts of the Southern Wild” Dan Janvey, Josh Penn and Michael Gottwald, Producers
“Django Unchained” Stacey Sher, Reginald Hudlin and Pilar Savone, Producers
“Les Misérables” Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward and Cameron Mackintosh, Producers
“Life of Pi” Gil Netter, Ang Lee and David Womark, Producers
“Lincoln” Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers
“Silver Linings Playbook” Donna Gigliotti, Bruce Cohen and Jonathan Gordon, Producers
“Zero Dark Thirty” Mark Boal, Kathryn Bigelow and Megan Ellison, Producers

Will win: “Argo”
Could win: “Lincoln”
Should win: “Zero Dark Thirty”


Best Director

“Amour” Michael Haneke
“Beasts of the Southern Wild” Benh Zeitlin
“Life of Pi” Ang Lee
“Lincoln” Steven Spielberg
“Silver Linings Playbook” David O. Russell

Will win: Steven Spielberg
Could win: Ang Lee
Should win: Spielberg

Best Original Screenplay

The nominees:
“Amour” Written by Michael Haneke
“Django Unchained” Written by Quentin Tarantino
“Flight” Written by John Gatins
“Moonrise Kingdom” Written by Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola
“Zero Dark Thirty” Written by Mark Boal

Will win: “Django Unchained”
Could win: “Amour”
Should win: Anything but “Flight” would make me happy.

Best Adapted Screenplay

The nominees:
“Argo” Screenplay by Chris Terrio
“Beasts of the Southern Wild” Screenplay by Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin
“Life of Pi” Screenplay by David Magee
“Lincoln” Screenplay by Tony Kushner
“Silver Linings Playbook” Screenplay by David O. Russell

Will win: “Lincoln”
Could win: “Silver Linings Playbook” or “Argo”
Should win: “Lincoln”

Best Animated Feature

The nominees:
“Brave” Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman
“Frankenweenie” Tim Burton
“ParaNorman” Sam Fell and Chris Butler
“The Pirates! Band of Misfits” Peter Lord
“Wreck-It Ralph” Rich Moore

Will win: “Frankenweenie”
Could win: “Wreck-It-Ralph”
Should win: “ParaNorman”, I thought this was  a much better stop-action story than”Frankenweenie”

Best Foreign language Film 

The nominees:
“Amour” Austria
“Kon-Tiki” Norway
“No” Chile
“A Royal Affair” Denmark
“War Witch” Canada

Will win: “Amour”
Could win: “A Royal Affair” Denmark
Should win: “Amour”

Downton Abbey, Minnesota Style

Here’s Garrison Keillor’s take on the latest PBS “Masterpiece Theater” phenomenon, Minnesota style.


“Sue Scott, Seriously Silly”… A New CD!

A special new release from A Prairie Home Companion!

The Royal Academy of Radio Actors presents Sue Scott, Seriously Silly. This CD collection highlights the best of Sue Scott so far, from live broadcasts of A Prairie Home Companion. A vocal talent without compare, at any moment Sue can be garrulous, gracious, sassy, sinful, prim and proper, worldly and wise. Here’s Sue as Mom calling her son Duane. As Ruth Harrison, Reference Librarian, with her black belt in biblio-kwon-do. As devastatingly beautiful supermodel Cynthia Maxwell. As private eye Guy Noir’s faithful ex-girlfriend, Sugar. As a blond. A bird. Berniece. Radio starlet Lulu Lane, and more. Here’s Sue Scott with the rest of the cast in 14 sketches, bits, and send-ups.

Tim Russell wrote the liner notes for the CD:

How can one trim body, and flexible larynx, deliver the broad range of human (and sometimes animal), female (and sometimes male) experience? Look no further than Sue Scott for the answer. She literally does it all: adenoidal little girls, teenage brats, breathy femme fatales, 2 pack a day crones, ancient Grammas, birds, flies, cockney urchins, French chanteuses, stern taskmasters, Public Radio correspondents, Southern Belles, overly friendly waitpersons, marble mouthed medical experts, well you get the idea: whatever challenge Garrison Keillor throws her way, Sue Scott is up to the task. If asked to be Steve, the fitness trainer, Sue ignores any gender issue and conjures up the requisite huskiness. If the script calls for a quivering 78 rpm recording of “La Vie en Rose”, Sue’s all over it.


But, you might ask, what is her greatest gift? Timing: comic timing, honed from a background of a theater career full of character types and a natural ear for what’s funny. When armed with a great Keillor script, Sue has a heyday. It has been said that many of the cast members of “A Prairie Home Companion” have faces for radio, but Sue is the exception, putting her stage experience to work for the live theater audience, to animate her characters with great physical exuberance.


Over the years Sue has created a memorable cast of personalities that have become APHC regulars: there’s the overly protective yet somewhat self-absorbed “Mom” and her phone calls to “Dwayne”; “The Story of Bob, a Young Artist” will find her playing Bernice, the cheerful ‘50’s sitcom family cheerleader; you can almost sense the pent up passion and “hair bun yearning to be free” of Sue’s “Ruth Harrison, Reference Librarian”; the bubbly, flapper spirit of Guy Noir’s ex-girlfriend, Sugar; and, of course any number of sturdy Midwestern women.


So, pop in those ear buds and enjoy a few examples of Sue Scott at work as she gives “Sybil” a run for her money.

All seriously silly.

One CD containing more than one hour of highlights.

Track Listing: (from 1996 – 2008)

Special Report – Linda Wertheimer
Our Neighbors – The Birds
Old Folks
Ruth Harrison
Duct Tape
Guy Noir
Communication in Minnesota
Overactors Theater

Sue talks about her new CD and working on “A Prairie Home Companion” in an updated interview from the Prairiehome.org website, check it out