On My DVR: HBO Movies

HBO has long been at the forefront of quality TV movies. Among this year’s offerings are three based on real people, two of which are based on Tony-winning plays. Each is primed for Emmy consideration.

All the Way

Following up his Oscar-nominated performance in Trumbo and four Emmy wins for portraying Walter White on Breaking Bad, Bryan Cranston reprises his Tony-winning role of LBJ in this TV adaptation of the 2014 Tony-winning Best Play. I caught this Robert Schenkkan-penned play on Broadway—liked it, but didn’t love it. Schenkkan adapted his own work for HBO, so I’m curious to see how he interpreted this story for a different medium.

Logline (courtesy of IMDb)Lyndon B. Johnson becomes the President of the United States in the chaotic aftermath of JFK’s assassination and spends his first year in office fighting to pass the Civil Rights Act.

Director: Jay Roach
Screenwriter: Robert Schenkkan
Cast: Bryan Cranston, Anthony Mackie, Melissa Leo, Bradley Whitford, Frank Langella
Runtime: 132 min.



Kerry Washington executive produced this film, for which her portrayal of Anita Hill will surely be considered for an acting nom come Emmy season. Following two nominations for Scandal but no wins, a potential third time could be a charm.

Logline (courtesy of IMDb): Judge Clarence Thomas’s nomination to the United States’ Supreme Court is called into question when former colleague, Anita Hill, testifies that he had sexually harassed her.

Director: Rick Famuyiwa
Screenwriter: Susannah Grant
Cast: Kerry Washington, Wendell Pierce, Greg Kinnear, Jeffrey Wright, Eric Stonestreet
Runtime: 110 min.


Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill

Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill.jpg

Reprising the role that won her an unprecedented sixth Tony Award for acting, Audra McDonald is primed to add a second Emmy to her mantle (following a win last year for Outstanding Special Class Program for the televised Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, performed in concert with the New York Philharmonic). The Broadway heavyweight has been ruling the stage for more than two decades, and now she’s poised to find similar success on the small screen. Coincidentally, her Tony win for Best Actress in a Play for this performance came the same year Bryan Cranston won for Best Actor in a Play for All the Way.

Logline (courtesy of IMDb): It’s 1959 in a seedy bar in Philadelphia, and Billie Holiday is giving one of her last performances interlaced with salty, often humorous, reminiscences to project a riveting portrait of the lady and her music four months before her death.

Director: Lonny Price
Screenwriter: Lanie Robertson
Cast: Audra McDonald
Runtime: 90 min.

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