Idris Elba returns to the dark side in Luther

10 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Trumbo,’ Idris Elba emerge: 5 takeaways from the SAG Awards nominations.

Idris Elba is on a high. Awards season officially kicked off Wednesday with nominations for the Screen Actors Guild Awards, whose winners will be revealed Jan. 30 at the 22nd annual show (TNT and TBS, 8 p.m.Mirren’s “Trumbo” costars Bryan Cranston and Louis C.K. were on her heels with two nominations apiece, while Leonardo DiCaprio slipped into the best actor running for his role on “The Revenant.” Anna Faris and Anthony Mackie revealed the nominees on Wednesday at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, including five motion picture categories and eight television categories.

Conflicted cops have been a mainstay of the small screen for almost as long as television itself has been around, with last-name-only-please guys like Mannix, Columbo, Kojak, Hunter, Crockett, and Tubbs delivering their own brands of justice to the streets of their respective cities. The Golden Globe-winning actor, who DJs on the side, took to the decks as the opening act for Madonna at her Berlin and London shows recently, gleefully sharing a photo of them together on stage afterwards on Twitter. “I’m standing by the curtain before I went on, and made the mistake of peeking to see who’s there and saw 17,000 people looking back,” the 43-year-old recalls. “I just entertained and played music. The modestly budgeted “Trumbo,” starring Cranston as the blacklisted Hollywood writer Dalton Trumbo, made a surprisingly strong showing, outpacing awards-season front-runners including the lesbian romance “Carol,” the journalism drama “Spotlight” and the transgender biopic “The Danish Girl.” With its nomination for outstanding ensemble — an award sometimes cited as a predictor of the best picture Oscar — “Trumbo” appears to have improved its chances in the Academy Award race. The nominees for best ensemble (the equivalent of a Best Picture award) are “Beasts of No Nation,” “The Big Short,” “Spotlight,” “Straight Outta Compton” and “Trumbo.” [The Wrap] • The first teaser-trailer for “The BFG,” Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of the Roald Dahl story, is out — and looks quite magical. [Entertainment Weekly]

And while Hollywood has produced an impressive slate of critically acclaimed crime shows over the years, it has only been in more recent years (and/or thanks to HBO) that American television has dared to delve into the more gritty aspects of police procedurals (sorry, Cop Rock). It’s such a buzz to perform.” However, the key agenda is promoting his return to BBC One crime thriller, Luther, in which he reprises his role as the titular genius murder-solver, DCI John Luther. Five lessons learned from the early spotlight: No pundits anticipated that the indie film starring Bryan Cranston as blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo would dominate the SAG proceedings.

The movie’s cast includes Helen Mirren, a double nominee for supporting actress in “Trumbo” and lead actress in “Woman in Gold.” Among the other surprise nods: Lead actress Sarah Silverman in the indie drama “I Smile Back,” and the ensemble cast of “Straight Outta Compton,” a biopic about the members of the rap group N.W.A. The upcoming fourth series — a two-parter, once again written by the show’s New Zealand creator Neil Cross — comes more than two years after the third series, which aired in 2013. But Cranston was nominated for best actor, Helen Mirren for best supporting actress (one of three nominations for Mirren) and the cast was put forward as best film ensemble. The opening episode sees Luther hiding out in a cottage by the sea, away from the gritty East London, before a “monstrous” cannibalistic serial killer calls him back to his job.

Spotlight, with its heralded cast, was expected to rule, especially in the best supporting actor category (Mark Ruffalo and Michael Keaton), where it was surprisingly denied. One only needs to watch a few minutes of Gracepoint, the American redux of Broadchurch, to see the difference. (If you’re wondering what Gracepoint is, you can save yourself the trouble of watching it at all.) When an American series does manage to cross over into a more cinematic threshold and stand apart from the whitewashed likes of Criminal Minds and CSI—as Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal did—well, you can be pretty sure that either not a lot of people are watching it and/or that it’s headed for early cancellation.

While he admits playing Luther is “not easy”, the father-of-two — who has also created an album to accompany the series — says it’s also quite “cathartic” portraying the grumpy detective, especially when it comes to unleashing emotions around his father’s death from cancer in September 2013. “Luther is very hard to play, and hard to be in. The film centering on The Boston Globe’s investigation into the Catholic Church’s child abuse coverup still garnered two nominations, best ensemble and an unexpected supporting actress nod for Rachel McAdams. In 2010—nearly a decade after playing the smoothest drug dealer Baltimore has ever seen as Stringer Bell on The Wire—Idris Elba landed on the right side of the law (at least officially speaking) in Luther. As a DCI with London’s Metropolitan Police Service, Elba’s John Luther has built quite a reputation for himself among his colleagues and higher-ups. Like any other crime show, Luther comes up against a series of very bad men (and women) who drive the storylines of each individual episode, but those are more of a side note to the ups and downs of Luther’s own life.

It is definitely therapy for me.” In this series, Luther is joined by some newcomers — Theo Bloom (Darren Boyd), DS Emma Lane (Game Of Thrones’ Rose Leslie) and the mysterious Megan Cantor (Laura Haddock). “I do want to keep playing John in some way or form, because I’m really attached to it. But I would call it a year of progress.” The drama I Smile Back has grossed a minuscule $59,000 since opening in October to stark reviews (at aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes, 55% of critics liked it, while just 48% of audiences did). Time Requirements: Given the UK’s penchant for quality over quantity, three seasons may sound like a bigger time commitment than it really is in the case of Luther.

Both films are from the same company, Broad Green Pictures. “They have done an excellent job of grass-roots campaigning and voters clearly responded,” says Scott Feinberg, awards columnist for The Hollywood Reporter. For those who prefer their binges in smaller doses, it’s best to watch two episodes at a time, particularly in the latter two seasons, as the series switches from a one-crime-per-hour format to a more leisurely two-episode arc for each criminal storyline to play out. Jennifer Lawrence in Joy and Quentin Tarantino’s Hateful Eight cast, both SAG no-shows, could be explained by the films’ late release (both in theaters Christmas Day) and limited screenings.

Other surprise snubs: Carey Mulligan for Suffragette, Charlotte Rampling for 45 Years and the seemingly rising support for Sylvester Stallone returning to his Rocky roots in the hit Creed. With questions about Bond off-limits, Elba is happy to comment on his Jungle Book role: “It’s a massive honour to be asked to play that character in a classic like that. Certain favorites are standing out from the acting pack with SAG nominations: the stars of Carol (Cate Blanchett as lead actress and Rooney Mara as supporting actress), Brie Larson in Room and Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant. Luther is a man who sees beauty and goodness in the world, yet spends his days going head-to-head with the very kind of people who are a constant reminder that evil and anarchy are everywhere.

That said, throughout the course of the series, many of Luther’s finest moments happen opposite Alice Morgan (The Affair’s Ruth Wilson), a brilliant and charming psychopath who we meet in the pilot episode, when she brazenly flaunts the fact that she murdered her parents but left no evidence that would allow her to be convicted of the crime. Seasons/Episodes You Can Skip: Given that it’s only 14 episodes, and that each one adds a new layer to the complex man at the center of it all, it would be advisable to watch them all. But each episode offers another piece of the puzzle that is necessary for a satisfying conclusion. (If one can call the final episode that.) Season 1: Episode 1, “Episode #1.1” If you’re going to invest even just an hour in a series, it only makes sense to start with the pilot. And this is particularly true of Luther, as the first few minutes (which are a flashback) establish the basis for the DCI’s sometimes off-kilter behavior.

Yet he still wants her to know that he knows the truth about what she did to her parents, which prompts Alice to turn the tables and investigate Luther, which includes paying a couple of visits to his estranged wife, Zoe (Indira Varma). Whoever takes life steals everything … But I think if he had read a different book by a different writer at another time in his life he’d be a different man. The Season 2 premiere also ramps up the creepiness factor with its crime story, where a serial killer in a Punch mask pushes a main conceit of the show: that violence can happen anywhere and doesn’t necessarily need a motive.

Elba’s flawless performance is what is most likely to draw viewers in, but he’s supported by an equally talented group of actors who understand how to complement his nuances. Best described as an intellectual pissing contest, it’s two minutes of back-and-forth in which Luther proves his smarts, Alice proves she’s smarter, and Luther eventually realizes he has to live with that.

It says even more that Fox hit the pause button on its planned American revamp essentially because we haven’t got a cool enough actor to fill Elba’s shoes.

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