Melissa McCarthy’s portrayal of the late celebrity biographer and literary forger Leonore ‘Lee’ Israel in the dark-comedy drama biopic CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? has been recognised by all the major awards this year, including the Screen Actors Guild, the Golden Globes, BAFTA and Academy Award Best Actress nominations. The film is based on Lee’s 2008 confessional autobiography with the same title.
In desperate need of money in the early 1990’s, with her career flatlining, writers block, rent in arrears, alcoholism and a sick twelve-year-old cat with large vet bills, she turns to forging the letters of deceased celebrated writers like Noel Coward and Ernest Hemingway to earn an income. ‘CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?’ is a line which Lee adds to one of her forged letters by celebrated satirist and critic Dorothy Parker after a monumental hangover. “I’m a better Dorothy Parker than Dorothy Parker,” she says in one of the film’s memorable lines.
This is Melissa’s second Oscar, BAFTA and SAG combo nominations, having earned a Best Supporting Actress nod for her performance as Megan in the 2011 comedy BRIDESMAIDS. She is no stranger to winning either, having collected two Emmys for MIKE & MOLLY and SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, where her 2017 impersonation of White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was a highlight. Her role as the sad-sack anti-heroine Lee has also collected a clutch of critics awards from New York, Boston, San Francisco,Vancouver to name a few and the Palm Springs International Film Festival.
Melissa attended the Gala Screening of CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? at Cineworld’s Empire Cinema in Leicester Square for the BFI London Film Festival last October. She loved this sketch and was more than happy to sign it… with her real name, so it’s not a forgery!
After his critically acclaimed debut feature MEDICINE FOR THE MELANCHOLY in 2008, American director and writer Barry Jenkins took an eight year hiatus from feature filmmaking, working as a carpenter and co-founding an advertising agency ‘Strike Anywhere’. The 39-year-old’s return to the feature film fold was meteoric with the LGBT coming-of-age triptych MOONLIGHT, described by Vanity Fair as “an aching drama of identity that captivated film lovers in 2016.” The script was written by Barry and Tarell Alvin McCraney, based on Tarell’s unpublished play.
Both won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay and it eventually won Best Picture at the 89th Academy Awards after a dramatic few minutes when LA LA LAND was initially announced. Barry was also nominated for Best Director and is only the second black person to direct a Best Picture winner, after Steve McQueen won for 12 YEARS A SLAVE three years earlier. MOONLIGHT also won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – DRAMA.
Barry is once again in the awards spotlight as we head into the season’s final month. His latest film IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK, based on James Baldwin’s novel of the same name is included in both the BAFTA and Oscar nom list with Barry once again being honoured for his writing. He has already collected the National Board of Review and Critics’ Choice awards and was nominated for a Golden Globe.
I was lucky enough to meet Barry after a Gala Screening of IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK at the BFI London Film Festival’s Embankment Cinema last October. When I asked him to sign my drawing, he warned me that his handwriting was the worst in the world and didn’t want to ruin my artwork, so he used the space under the sketch. I think you’ll agree he was a tad modest. His hand and screen writing skills are just right.
London-based Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón stands on the brink of award-winning history. His Spanish language homage to his childhood, ROMA garnered 10 Academy Award nominations last week, having already collected seven BAFTA nods. It has been recognised as the year’s best by multiple critics groups and TIME magazine.
The semi-autobiographical take on Alfonso’s upbringing in Mexico City follows an emotional year in the life of a middle-class family’s live-in maid set against the domestic and political turmoil in 1970’s Mexico. The title refers to Colonia Roma a neighbourhood in the city. Alfonso’s personal haul of four Oscar nominations – Best Picture (Producer), Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Cinematography is two short of Walt Disney who holds the record for individual nominations in the same year with six in 1954. Walt won four, but Alfonso could collect five, because the Best Foreign Language Award is given to the film’s director and their name is inscribed on the famous golden statue.
Six of ROMA’s seven BAFTA nods have gone to the Alfonso, a British Academy record. He is nominated in the same Oscar categories with the edition of editing. The film’s impressive black and white cinematography is the director’s lens work after his regular DP, old high school buddy and three-time Oscar winner Emmanuel ‘Chivo’ Lubezki was unavailable due to a scheduling clash. The last film they collaborated on was GRAVITY in 2013. Both won Academy Awards, Alfonso for Direction and Editing and Chivo for his photography.
Alfonso attended a Gala Screening of ROMA at the BFI London Film Festival last October at the pop-up Embankment Cinema. I was there hoping to get my sketch signed. After a delayed arrival, he did press and was rushed in for the film’s intro. As he quickly passed me, he saw the drawing and promised to sign it on the way out. True to his word, he came over especially, before leaving.
Considered one of Britain’s national treasures; comedian, actress, writer and now pantomime Queen, Dawn French at the age of ‘oh-never-mind’ has finally become part of that other British phenomenon, the Christmas Pantomime, making her debut over the festive season in SNOW WHITE at the London Palladium. Dawn played the wicked Queen Dragonella, a hiss-boo baddie. All agreed, The VICAR OF DIBLEY star’s natural, impish comic persona lends itself perfectly to the madcap genre.
Writing about Dawn’s performance in his Telegraph review, Dominic Cavendish said, “She amazes with a fiendish tongue-twister, she bumps and grinds in an inappropriate cougar fashion, lip-synching to pop hits as she tries to hit on the young prince, and she delivers a wonderfully Dibley denouement.”
Dawn signed off after the final show last weekend on Twitter,”It’s been a blast. OH YES IT HAS!” She also signed my sketch at the stage door.
British actress Olivia Colman is one of the early favourites to win the Best Actress Oscar at the pinnacle of the awards season early next year for her ‘royally bonkers’ portrayal of Queen Anne in the restoration black comedy THE FAVOURITE. She has started well, winning the best actress categories at the British Independent Film Award (her fourth) on Sunday, and at the Venice International Film Festival in August.
Directed by Greek auteur Yorgos Lanthimos, the film centres on the close relationship between Queen Anne, the last Stuart to occupy the British throne and her friend Lady Sarah Churchill, (Rachel Weisz) which comes under threat with the arrival of Sarah’s cousin Abigail Hill, (Emma Stone) resulting in a bitter rivalry to become the Queen’s favourite. In his five- star review for Rolling Stone, Peter Travers writes, “Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz and the mighty Olivia Colman turn a period piece into a caustic comeuppance comedy with fangs and claws… THE FAVOURITE belongs to its three fierce, profanely funny female trio.”
They collected a Special Jury Prize for their ‘kinky palace triangle’ ensemble performance at the recent Gotham Independent Film Awards in New York. Olivia is no stranger to winning awards, nor for that matter, playing British queens. She is currently Queen Elizabeth II in Netflix’s historical drama web television series THE CROWN and during her career has won three BAFTAs, a Golden Globe and received two Emmy nominations, accolades which are likely to be added to over the coming months.
Olivia signed my ‘Queen Anne’ sketch at the Gala Screening of THE FAVOURITE at the BFI London Film Festival at the pop-up Embankment Cinema in October.
When Italian screen icon Sophia Loren was presented with an Honorary Academy Award in 1991 she was described as ‘one of the world cinema’s treasures’. She is the only living person on the American Film Institute’s list of the top 25 Female American Screen Legends.
Beginning her acting career in 1950 at the age of 16, Sophia has become a ‘true goddess of the silver screen.’ She won the Best Actress Oscar in 1961 for her role as Cesira in Vittorio De Sica’s TWO WOMEN, the first in that category for a foreign language performance. She also received the BAFTA and Best Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival for the same role and was nominated for her second Oscar three years later in MARRIAGE ITALIAN STYLE. Sophia has also won a record six Donatellos from the Academy of Italian Cinema, a Grammy and a handful of Golden Globes, including the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995.
Rarely giving interviews or making public appearances these days, Sophia visited London last month to make her West End debut at the Aldwych Theatre in AN INTIMATE EVENING WITH SOPHIA LOREN with Jonathan Ross for one night only. I left this quick portrait sketch at the stage door and was very pleased when it was returned via International courier last week, signed and dedicated.
A ‘rendering on the run’… a literal two-minute sketch of actress Ukranian-born actress Olga Kurylenko. I found out she was attending the special screening of Rowan Atkinson’s latest installment of the spy comedy JOHNNY ENGLISH STRIKES AGAIN at the Curzon Mayfair last month so did this quick line drawing for her to graph at the event, which she did.
Olga has kindly signed a couple of my previous sketches while she was filming her international breakthrough role as Bolivian secret service agent Camille Montes in the 22nd James Bond film QUANTUM OF SOLACE in 2008. Olga, a trained ballerina, was discovered as a model in Moscow at the age of 13 and moved to Paris to pursue that career path three years later, eventually swaping the catwalk for the screen. Fluent in Russian, French and English, she is now a French citizen who has resided in London since 2009.
Anglo-Irish playwright, screenwriter and director Martin McDonagh’s latest stage play A VERY VERY VERY DARK MATTER opened last week at London’s Bridge Theatre. Set in Copenhagen, it delves behind the dark sources of the beloved fairytales of Danish children’s author Hans Christian Anderson.
Martin is a person I admire greatly. With no formal training he wrote a stack of plays in 1990s that made him one of the most celebrated new English-language dramatists of his generation. The first six, separated into two trilogies, are located in and around County Galway on Ireland’s western seaboard, where he spent most of his childhood holidays. His first non-Irish play, THE PILLOWMAN was staged at the National Theatre in 2003, winning the Olivier Award for Best New Play and was also Tony nominated in 2005. He had previously won the Olivier for THE LIEUTENANT OF INISMORE and collected his third for HANGMEN in 2016. He is yet to win a Tony after four nominations.
Martin has stated that it’s the screen, not the stage that is his favourite medium. In that realm, he is very very very much in demand after his third feature, THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI, which he wrote and directed, featured heavily during the latest awards season with seven Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Original Screenplay. It won five BAFTAs from nine nominations, winning Best Film and Best British Film and Best Original Screenplay for Martin who also claimed the producing, writing and directing Golden Globes. He’s no stranger to film awards. His screenplay for his first feature, IN BRUGES (2008) won the BAFTA and he received his fourth nomination for an Oscar, which he won on his first attempt in 2005 for SIX SHOOTER in the Best Live Action Short category.
I was very very very pleased to meet Martin at the World Premiere of A VERY VERY VERY DARK MATTER at the Bridge Theatre last week where he signed my sketch.
Although Sir David Hare is best known for his multi-award winning stage work, the distinguished English writer and director has also had great success with his screen career. He won the BAFTA for writing and directing LICKING HITLER in 1978, a television play about the black propaganda unit operating in England during WWII, and has been nominated for two Academy Awards and two Golden Globes for his THE HOURS (2003) and THE READER (2009) adapted screenplays. He won the Writers Guild of America award for the former.
Sir David signed my quick portrait sketch at the recent BFI London Film Festival’s Gala screening of THE WHITE CROW, which he wrote about Soviet ballet legend Rudolph Nureyev’s defection to the West, directed by Ralph Fiennes.
Celebrated South Korean film director and writer Lee Chang-dong was one of the guests at this year’s BFI London Film Festival, which has just concluded. His latest film BURNING was chosen for a Gala Screening and he also delivered a screen talk.
Fresh from success at the Cannes Film Festival where the mystery drama was in competition for the Palm d’Or, Lee won the Federation Internationale de la Presse Cinematographique – the International Critics prize. He had previously collected the Best Screenplay award in 2010 for his film POETRY. Lee was also South Korea’s Minister of Culture and Tourism in 2003/2004 which was part of President Roh Moo-hyun’s election promise to fill the position from the field of culture rather than a professional politician.
He signed my sketch at the BFI on London’s Southbank before his screen talk on Saturday.