Posts by Carmen Croghan

British Actors You Should Know: Jamie Dornan

Jamie Dornan may not be a household name but I contend that, in the coming months at least, his name will be bandied about quite a bit. If you have heard of him it’s likely due to the fact that he’s been cast as Christian Grey in the film adaptation of E.L. James erotic best seller, Fifty Shades of Grey.

Set for release this coming Valentine’s Day, fans of the book have been vocal about the choice of this relatively unknown actor. However, as is the case with most performers who seem to pop up overnight, this Northern Irish actor has actually been slowly been building a career for almost a decade. Without having read the Fifty Shades trilogy, I argue he’s got all the necessary attributes necessary to play the male lead.

Before They Were Oscar Nominees: British Stars Up for Academy Awards in 2015

This year five talented Brits have been nominated for an Academy Award. Most of these names are quite familiar to UK film fans; however, before they were delivering inspiring performances and their names appeared on movie theater marquees, they had to pay their dues with small guest appearances in television series and made-for-TV movies.

Let’s take a brief look at their careers before they were Oscar hopefuls…

BAFTA 2015: Which is the Best British Film?

If the holidays are wrapping up and the cold, dark winter is truly setting in, it can mean only one thing. It’s awards season! For the UK film industry, the greatest accolade that can be bestowed is from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, BAFTA for short, which also happens to the name of the statuette presented to the winners.

On this past Friday, the nominees for the 2015 BAFTAs were announced at the Picadilly headquarters of the Academy itself by perennial host Stephen Fry and his cohort Sam Claflin. While there might have been a few snubs, most of the expected names were announced. Of interest to British movie fans, The Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game received multiple nods for acting, screenplay, director and best overall film. Ralph Fiennes, Rosamund Pike and Imelda Staunton also earned nominations for their impressive work in The Grand Budapest Hotel, Gone Girl and Pride respectively. A complete list of nominees can be found here.

Though a British organization, most of BAFTA’s awards are not limited to UK produced movies except for one – the Outstanding British Film category. Last year some of the nominees for this award had a tenuous claim to this distinction. In fact it was Gravity starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney that won this honor in 2014.

This year’s batch of outstanding movies are much more identifiably British and a good representation of UK filmmaking overall. Two are biopics of famous scholars, two are based on historical events set in the fairly recent past, one is a Scottish sci-fi thriller and the last is a CGI depiction of a beloved British children’s character. I’ve actually seen four out of the six films on the list and, despite a few disagreements based on my own personal tastes, would concur with a majority of its candidates.

Let’s take a look at the nominees, shall we?

A Winter Delight: ‘Grantchester’ Comes to ‘Masterpiece Mystery’

While I wouldn’t consider myself a mystery genre aficionado, I do enjoy a good whodunit from time to time. My view is that without interesting characters and the corresponding relationships between them, one detective series is pretty much like another. So when I first heard about Grantchester, I thought we were in for another cozy mystery show in the manner of Miss Marple or Midsomer Murders. After all, the lead character is a rural vicar who for whom crime solving becomes something of an avocation.

But this seems to be something a bit different.

In Memoriam 2014

Another year has rushed by and alas some talented and beloved performers have left us in that time. The following is a list of British entertainers who passed away in 2014. While their departures were, in many cases, far too soon, we will always have the memories of magical screen moments to keep their legacies alive.

Christmas Telly: A British Holiday Tradition

In America we get plenty of holiday TV programming. There’s usually one musical variety effort each year be it Michael Buble, Kelly Clarkson or the hottest country artist at the moment. ABC Family broadcasts the 25 Days of Christmas, the Hallmark Channel features heartwarming Christmas fare (non-stop for weeks) and of course no one should forget the 24 hour A Christmas Story marathon. Say it with me, “You’ll shoot your eye out!”

In my youth you had three networks and one chance to see A Charlie Brown Christmas. Miss it and you were out of luck; there was certainly no DVR, let alone VHS! They were called “specials” for a reason. Am I starting to sound like a cantankerous old lady because I’m really not? I’m on Twitter and everything.

Let’s meander back to the subject at hand - Christmas telly. Despite the volume of shows out there intended to keep our spirits merry and bright (or perhaps because of that very fact) Americans might get nostalgic, but they don’t seem to get too excited about the Christmas TV schedules. In the UK, however, it’s a whole different animal – a tradition in and of itself.

British Actors You Should Know: Timothy Spall

If you’re the type of person who pays attention to film award season, you probably will have heard about the recent accolades for our spotlighted actor, Timothy Spall. A hardworking and versatile performer since the late 70’s, Spall seems to be finally getting the attention he deserves for a career defining achievement.

He won best actor honors at this year’s Cannes Film Festival for his title role in the biopic Mr. Turner. Spall embodies eccentric English Romantic landscape painter J.M.W. Turner. Director Mike Leigh (with whom Spall has worked four times perviously) is known for his formidable demands on his actors. For this period piece, Leigh insisted Spall not only research the artist he was setting out to play but also to spend two years learning his distinctive painting technique. What resulted was this Oscar buzz-worthy bit of acting.

Mr. Turner will be out in limited release beginning December 19, presumably to qualify for the Academy Awards race. Here’s hoping it won’t be much longer after that that those of us not living in major metropolitan cities will be able to witness the magic as well.

While all the kudos and glowing reviews are surely very nice indeed, Spall has been putting in memorable, entertaining performances for years. From notable roles in TV series such as Auf Wiedersehen, Pet and The Street to a cameo in The King’s Speech as Winston Churchill, his talent has consistently been on display. If you’d like a reminder of his range or just want to explore his body of work for the first time, here are a handful of film and TV roles you might want to try. Believe me, Peter Pettigrew from the Harry Potter films is just the tip of the iceberg.

British Celebrity Memoirs to Read This Winter

In case I’ve never mentioned it, I work at a public library. That’s why in some of the pieces I write for Telly Visions I suggest borrowing DVDs from the library when on-line streaming is not an option. At my job when patrons stump my co-workers with a movie or TV series request, I’m often called upon to step in and solve the mystery. It’s a role I enjoy and I spend a lot of time and effort building up my knowledge to share with others.

But wait, you say. Isn’t a library about books? Indeed it is and all the employees on our staff are expected to read widely in order to help people find an enjoyable or informative book to read. Therefore when I find the time, I’m sure you can hazard a guess at what I read. You‘ve got it, British authors. I’ve just finished the most recent Ian McEwan novel, The Children Act, and I have several more on my bedside table waiting for my attention including one entitled Us by David Nicholls, the author of books such as Starter for Ten and One Day, both of which have been adapted for the big screen.

However, at this point, I must admit my favorite combination is a book written by a British celebrity. It can be a memoir about hitting bottom and finding a home like Craig Ferguson’s American on Purpose or the humorous life lessons of Miranda Hart’s Is It Just Me?

Whenever I see a British actor or comedian announcing a book signing on Twitter, I immediately go to the library’s catalog to see if I can get my hands on the newest star-studded literary offering. Sadly, there are many times my search is unsuccessful. The celebrity has to be famous enough in the US for it to be worth releasing here. Case in point, when James Corden released his autobiography May I Have Your Attention, Please? in 2012, I asked our collection resources librarian if she could order this book for our system. She placed a request to purchase and after a few months informed me it fell through even though the title was available on Amazon. I’m curious to see if once Corden’s latest film Into the Woods is released at Christmas and he begins his run on the Late, Late Show in January, his story might have grown a bigger readership.

Here are a number of memoirs and celebrity musings by British personalities that have been published this fall. If you check with your local library you’re likely to find them there and here are some of the reasons why.

British Actors You Should Know: Eddie Redmayne

The major film festivals have taken place and now Hollywood is releasing the trailers for its 2015 Oscar contenders. If you pay attention to that sort of thing, you may well have heard the buzz around our latest featured actor – Eddie Redmayne.

He’s receiving accolades for his performance as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. The film follows the life of the world famous scientist from his days as a student at Oxford through his devastating ALS diagnosis and out the other side to the triumph of his career and his determination to outlive the dire predictions of his doctors. He does all this with the love and full support of his fiancé, and later, wife, Jane (Felicity Jones) by his side.

(Curious about The Theory of Everything? Watch the trailer.)

Long before this breakout lead role, however, young Mr. Redmayne had been getting noticed for his acting skills on both sides of the pond. He’s won the Olivier and the Tony for his supporting role in the play Red as well as other theatre and film award nominations. So if you’re not familiar with this talented performer, here are just a few examples of Eddie’s past television and film work which you can view, in most cases, tonight if the mood strikes you.

Pages