Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Smoke Monster Cometh


It’s been a long, hard slog through the jungle of midseason replacements and writers’ strikes, but tonight, we finally reach our destination: The season premiere of Lost.

It’s a tad bittersweet, this reunion, because we’ll only get to hang out with Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley, Sayid, BenRy, Locke, Desmond, Juliet and the 53,000 other cast members of Lost for 8 episodes this year (damn you, writers’ strike!!!) so here’s hoping the merry gnomes behind this show made these episodes count. In the DVDs for the third season, they admitted that they took way too long getting the action going that year, and they claim they learned from their mistake. In other words, we won’t have 5 episodes of Kate and Sawyer eating fish biscuits in bear cages this time around. We hope.

So what will we have? Who knows. The LA Times put together a good list of questions that they’d like to see answered. For me, the biggest questions remain: Who are the Others and how do they know so much about the Losties? How come The Island heals people? And of course, what the hell is the Smoke Monster?


Season 3 ended with the Losties on the verge of getting rescued, the discovery that the rescuers are not who they claim to be, and a mind-blowing “flash forward” in which we learn that some of the Losties do get rescued, and Jack is a mess because of it.


What do you think we’ll see in Season 4? And more importantly, what are you hoping we’ll see?

My Current Obsession

We all have our favorite TV series which left us too soon (My top 5 are: My So-Called Life, Freaks and Geeks, Arrested Development, Veronica Mars and The Ben Stiller Show). I just started watching another which would totally be on the list, but thanks to some serious internet campaigning, has been given a second chance to find an audience this month.

Jericho is about a young guy (Skeet Ulrich, aka the poor man's Johnny Depp) who returns home to his small hometown in Kansas just before Denver (the nearest major city) is subject to a nuclear attack. The people of Jericho lose all radio and TV contact and are basically lost and uninformed, though
the new stranger in town knows way more then he lets on. Slowly, spotty information creeps in that other major cities around the US have been attacked as well. It's kinda like The Stand meets Lost...seriously suspenseful, with twists and unknowns every other minute. I'm loving it!

Not many people watched Jericho when it initially aired (I know I skipped it because I'm not a huge Skeet Ulrich fan and it was on CBS (which seems like, as my friend Elayna and I discussed yesterday, the network for old people. As she said, "Their shows star people like Mark Harmon. No one under 50 likes Mark Harmon" (other then as Mr. Shoop in Summer School, of course))). Anywho, those who did watch it, loved it (Garney and Stephen King among them) and sent literally tons of nuts to CBS in an effort to bring the show back for another season (Not sure what the nuts are about yet...apparently they play a role in the season finale). I'm so glad they did. Now, I'm obsessed with getting through season 1 before season 2 debuts on Feb. 12th. You can catch up/get hooked with full episodes online and we can all keep Jericho on the air a little while longer.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Best Picture Movie Marathon


Have you missed this year's Best Picture nominees? Can you handle 12 straight hours of movie watching in a theater? Then AMC has the plan for you! Saturday, Feb. 23 (the day before the Oscars are announced) you can catch all 5 nominees back to back at an AMC theater near you. Personally, I don't think I could handle it (only 1 of the 5 films (Juno) is anyway light and uplifting. If I want to spend an entire day depressed, I'll just watch the final episode of Veronica Mars on a loop or something), but if you're up for it, it's a great way to catch up before the big show.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Crash Strikes Again

I know a ton of people loved it and thought it was very deep and wonderful, but, for me, Crash was the worst film to win the Oscar for Best Picture in my lifetime (and that list includes Forrest Gump). Now, like a horrible virus, Crash will be back as a television series on Starz. Thank God I don't pay for that crap...

White people are so deep when they talk about race.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Top 5: Things I'm Loving Right Now


I had a dream last night that Justin Timberlake called and asked me out on a date to the symphony. It was pretty awesome and put me in a really good mood, and got me thinking of some other things that make me happy right now:

1. Daniel Day Lewis - On last night's SAG awards, DDL dedicated his award to Heath Ledger. He seems really shaken up about the death of someone he didn't even know (I hear he had a similar experience when on the Oprah show) and it makes him so human and wonderful. I can't wait to hear is Oscar acceptance speech.

2. Breaking Bad - A new show on AMC about a 50 year old Chemistry teacher who learns he has lung cancer and decides to put his chemistry skills to work cooking crystal meth. It stars the awesome Bryan Cranston (of Malcolm in the Middle) and is a seriously dark comedy...kinda like Weeds, with your high school chemistry teacher instead of cheery Mary-Louise Parker...but in a good way.

3. The Feeling: 12 Stops and Home - The debut album from the UK pop artists is so much fun. I've been rocking out to this album for a couple months now and I still can't get enough.

4. Project Runway - The competition is getting fierce (as sprightly Christian loves to say) and it's turning out to be one of the most talented groups of any season of PR. At this point, I think Christian and Rami are shoe-ins for the finals. Jillian is promising if she can manage her time better and Sweet P is really showing some great clothes lately. I love Chris, but think he and Ricky will fall short in the end. Makes for some fun and interesting TV.

5. 101 Cookbooks - I love to cook and lately I've been finding serious inspiration from this website. I recently became a pseudo-vegetarian and the recipes on 101 Cookbooks are all vegetarian or vegan and most are super healthy. I could think of worse ways to start cooking in the New Year.

What things are you loving right now?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Calling All Anglophiles/Buffy Fans

Thank God for BBC America (one of my Top 5 Cable Channels I Would Choose if I Could Only Have 5 Channels (which is something I've actually thought about. The list also includes HBO, Travel Channel, Bravo and FX)) because the second season of Torchwood premieres Saturday night. Torchwood is a spin off of the long running BBC series Doctor Who, and is basically Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets X-Files with some time travel thrown in for good measure. This season, James Marsters (fka Spike from Buffy and Angel) guest stars as a former lover of Captain Jack Harkness...sounds delicious. So, set your DVR (because I'm sure you are too fabulous to sit at home watching TV on a Saturday night) and enjoy all the Englishness Sunday morning.

And while we're at it, what 5 cable channels would you choose (if you could only have 5 cable channels)?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Trainwreck Watch - Amy Winehouse (Vol. III)

Who Wants to See Amy Winehouse on Intervention? Wouldn't that be the greatest episode ever? Well, it looks they tried to make her go to rehab and she finally said, Yes (again anyway. She has been before). After stories earlier this week about video footage on the internets of Amy smoking crack (why are people calling it the "internets" now? I mean, it makes sense because there is obvs more than one "net" but why the sudden change? I'm curious), I guess she finally realized it's time to get her act together...and not a moment too soon. Hopefully, our girl can stick it out and get back to making killer records (and being brunette. Blond is not a good look for her). Wouldn't that be a refreshing change of pace?

Alert to Chuck Fans


Chuck Palahniuk's second long-awaited movie adaptation, Choke, recently debuted at Sundance. Some early reviews are out, and Fox Searchlight has already purchased this film for $5 million.

It's another dark opus delving into the world of sex addicts and theme park employees. Sam Rockwell stars as medical school dropout and con-artist Victor Mancini. A little disappointed that the first person narrative is not present throughout the film a la Fight Club, but whatever. I will still be shocked if this movie sucks.

Here's an interview with director Clark Gregg, along with a snippet from the film:



Have a great Thursday, and you can check Chuck's official website, "The Cult" for more news and updates.

Top 5: Add This to Your Queue

As the writers strike drags on, I find myself watching more movies (natch) and in an effort to make your Netflix queue as long as mine (393 DVDs and counting), here are 5 (mostly) new releases worth checking out:

1. A Mighty Heart - The title is all wrong; it made me think this would be a cheesy, manipulative telling of a truly tragic tale, but it's not. Angelina Jolie is incredible as journalist Daniel Pearl's wife (I cannot believe she wasn't nominated for an Oscar this year), but the entire film (directed by Michael Winterbottom, who's films I really love (well, except for 9 Songs, which my ex-boyfriend rented thinking it was a lovely concert film, and it basically turned out to be performances by Franz Ferdinand and The Dandy Warhols mixed with scenes of a couple having pretty graphic sex. It was very bizarre)) is really good and interesting and serves as a reminder of a truly heroic man and his amazing wife. Don't let the title fool you; it's a tough movie (I haven't cried that hard in a long time), but worth every minute.

2. 3:10 to Yuma - There were quite a few great westerns released this year. This remake, starring Christian Bale and Russell Crowe, is no exception. Christian Bale is really one of the worlds great underrated actors (as Liz has said, he's been the "Next Big Thing" for what seems like forever). Now with the Batman franchise and films like this, maybe he'll finally get the notice he deserves (oh, and Russell Crowe is great, too, but I figured that pretty much goes without saying).

3. Transformers - Every now and then, I love a good, mindless action movie...and boy did Transformers deliver. Actually, it's probably the best of Michael Bay's films...amazing special effects, incredible sound and a really great leading man (Shia LeBeouf is one of my favorite young actors. I really hope he keeps it together and doesn't ever pull a LiLo). Kinda made me wish I'd seen it on the big screen...

4. Away From Her - This story of an older couple, still very much in love, and how their world changes when one of them develops Alzheimer's is, well, sad, as you would expect, but also very touching. Julie Christie will probably win the Oscar for her performance (she should really win for being so gorgeous at age 66. Seriously. It is wrong to be jealous of someone 3 times my age because she's prettier than me?) and, while I would probably vote for a few other ladies (you, know, if I had a vote), the film, and Christie's performance, is absolutely worth checking out.

5. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind - I can't believe it took me 6 years to see George Clooney's first film. A look at the life of Chuck Barris, the creator of The Gong Show, The Dating Game and The Newlywed Show (who also worked for the CIA (maybe)), with a script by Charlie Kaufman, Confessions is a weird, funny, sad, intriguing look at a man who was a bit mad, and all genius.

So there you have it. If you have any suggestions to make my queue longer, I'd love to hear 'em...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

OscarBlog Results

I correctly predicted 64 out of 99.

The only category that I got all 5 right was Cinematography.

I was only off by one in the following categories:
Actor
Actress
Supporting Actor
Supporting Actress
Adapted Screenplay
Original Screenplay
Art Direction
Costume Design
Visual Effects

I got the majority right (3 out of 5) in the following categories:
Picture (would have been 4 if I didn't switch from Michael Clayton last minute)
Director
Documentary
Original Music Score

The rest of the categories I got at least one right.

There are several nominated films I haven't seen that I'm hoping to catch before I make my own picks and predictions for this year's awards, but I'll certainly be sharing them with you sometime before the broadcast.

Three surprises I'm most pleased with:
In the Valley of Elah actor nomination for Tommy Lee Jones
song nomination for August Rush
costume design nomination for Across the Universe

Three surprises I'm most upset about:
only 3 nominations for Sweeney Todd
directing nominations for Juno's Jason Reitman and Michael Clayton's Tony Gilroy (too many more deserving contenders overlooked)
Surf's Up for Animated Feature (I watched it last night, it's good but not Simpsons movie good)

The best of the overlooked (from what I've seen):
PICTURE - Sweeney Todd
DIRECTOR - Tim Burton "Sweeney Todd"
ACTOR - Ryan Gosling "Lars and the Real Girl"
ACTRESS - Amy Adams "Enchanted"
SUPPORTING ACTOR - Adrian Brody "The Darjeeling Limited"
SUPPORTING ACTRESS - Imelda Staunton "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY - Ben Affleck and Aaron Stockard "Gone Baby Gone"
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY - Kelly Masterson "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead"
ANIMATED FEATURE - The Simpsons Movie
ORIGINAL MUSIC SCORE - Mark Mancina "August Rush" (possibly ineligible like Jonny Greenwood "There Will Be Blood" because of references to other music)
ORIGINAL SONG - Pop! Goes My Heart "Music and Lyrics"
CINEMATOGRAPHY - Dariusz Wolski "Sweeney Todd"
FILM EDITING - Chris Lebenzon "Sweeney Todd"
ART DIRECTION - Stardust
COSTUME DESIGN - Stardust
MAKEUP - Sweeney Todd
SOUND EDITING - 300
SOUND MIXING - Sweeney Todd
VISUAL EFFECTS - 300

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Oh My God!

Heath Ledger is dead. I've not always been very kind to him on this site, but he really is (or was) a talented actor and this is just sad. Kinda reminds me of when River Phoenix died...so much talent wasted (like Brad Renfro, his death appears to be drug related). As Dave said, this is gonna make watching the new Batman movie really weird.


Also, they say these things happen in threes...so it begs the question, who's next?

Monday, January 21, 2008

OscarBlog Part 5 - Directing Your Attention to Best Picture

Sorry that this installment is coming in so much later than the others, but I was too busy watching football and the Amazing Race finale yesterday, and instead of having a holiday today like most of you probably did I had my first day of work at a new job.

Before I get to the final two categories, let me just make a special note here that I am forced to make a switch in my predictions for Original Score since Jonny Greenwood's score for There Will Be Blood was deemed ineligible apparently because its references to other music makes it diluted. Enchanted and Into the Wild were also deemed ineligible. So put Christopher Gunning's score for La Vie en Rose in the spot that Greenwood once occupied in my predictions.

The nominees will be...

BEST DIRECTOR
Paul Thomas Anderson "There Will Be Blood"
Tim Burton "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"
Coen Brothers "No Country for Old Men"
Sean Penn "Into the Wild"
Julian Schnabel "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"

I can't remember a year that was tougher than this when it comes to predicting the nominees for Best Director. These would all be first-time nominees for Best Director except for Joel Coen who was nominated for Fargo eleven years ago. If I were to rank my confidence in these predictions, the Coen Brothers would be first. No Country for Old Men has won the most critics awards and has also become the highest grossing Coen Brothers film to date. Second would be Julian Schnabel for Diving Bell with the incredible buzz the film is getting and the number of pre-Oscar awards he's already won including the Golden Globe. These two nominees are the only locks.
Leading the other three would be Paul Thomas Anderson whose There Will Be Blood is an extremely impressive and mature work for only his fifth film. If Sean Penn's chances are better it's only because he's an actor, and actors make up the vast majority of Academy voters. The prediction I'm least confident in is picking Tim Burton. He's certainly earned it as a well established and respected director that marches to his own beat. Sweeney Todd may be too macabre to get a Best Picture nomination, but I think Burton will pull through.

Of all the possible contenders that prove my predictions wrong, there are only two I'm really worried about. First is Joe Wright, whose Atonement just may end up receiving the most nominations of any film this year (I'm predicting it gets 8, with There Will Be Blood and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly close behind with 7 each). Second is Sidney Lumet who has been nominated five times in his illustrious career (starting with 12 Angry Men in 1958, then Dog Day Afternoon and Network in the 70s, and Prince of the City and The Verdict in the 80s), but his latest film Before the Devil Knows You're Dead never got the recognition it deserved (even the Independent Spirit Awards only nominated its screenplay and Marisa Tomei for supporting actress). The same Academy that gave Lumet an Honorary Award just three years ago may change all that.

There's such a long list of other contenders though, but the only ones that I think have a decent chance of getting the nomination are Ridley Scott for American Gangster, Ben Affleck for Gone Baby Gone and David Cronenberg for Eastern Promises.

BEST PICTURE
Atonement
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Into the Wild
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood

A very difficult year to predict, but I think these will be the five. My final last-minute change is replacing Michael Clayton with Diving Bell. I hope I don't regret making the switch. There just usually seems to be a last minute contender that ends up surprising a lot of people (like The Pianist and Letters From Iwo Jima), and this year I think it's going to be Diving Bell. It's an amazing life-affirming tale, and unlike Michael Clayton it's a true story. What bugs me the most is that I haven't had a chance to see it yet because it hasn't even opened in my area. I did see Michael Clayton though, and I wasn't terribly impressed.
If I'm wrong about any of these predictions I hope it's because Sweeney Todd gets the nomination that I think it so richly deserves. Most predictors are including Juno on their lists, and calling it this year's Little Miss Sunshine. Even if it were as good as Little Miss Sunshine, there are just more Oscar-worthy films this year than there were last year. Juno is more attitude than heart (whereas Little Miss Sunshine was the other way around) and I just don't think enough voters are going to be putting it at the top of their lists with so many other great films to choose from.


So that's it. It may be a little bit anti-climactic, but at this point the announcement of the nominations is only 12 hours away so most of you will be reading this after the fact. Look for an epilogue post with my reactions to what I got wrong. And of course I'll have to make my predictions as to what will win. So this isn't goodbye so much as a see ya next blog.

See This...


There Will Be Blood finally opened across the country last week and it was everything I'd hoped. The story of a turn of the century Oil Tycoon, TWBB follows Daniel Plainview (played brilliantly by Daniel Day Lewis...so deserving of his (pretty much) guaranteed Oscar this year) as he buys up land in Little Boston, California and drills for oil (becoming ridiculously wealthy in the process). The film is really a character study of a man driven by greed, ambition and paranoia and the lengths he will go to maintain dominance in his world.

Perhaps most interesting is the maturation of director Paul Thomas Anderson. I am a huge PTA fan (Magnolia was maybe my favorite film of the 90's), but TWBB is completely different from all his other films...it's almost like an old school epic western. The shots are long and gorgeous, the music (by Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood) is haunting and perfectly placed, and the performances are spot on. PTA has grown as an artist and it's wonderful to see...almost like an old friend who's growing up and taking on new and interesting challenges. Absolutely one of the best films of the year.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

OscarBlog Part 4 - Sounds Good To Me

Remember when I said the last entry would be the shortest in the series? I'm going to try and prove myself wrong.

The nominees will be...

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Paul Cantelon "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
Michael Giacchino "Ratatouille"
Jonny Greenwood "There Will Be Blood"
Alberto Iglesias "The Kite Runner"
Dario Marianelli "Atonement"

Alberto Iglesias was nominated last year for The Constant Gardner, and Dario Marianelli was nominated for Pride & Prejudice like everyone else who worked on Atonement. Besides these two each receiving their second nomination, everyone else listed above would be a first-time Oscar nominee. I think the race is going to be between Marianelli and Jonny Greenwood (of Radiohead) who each composed a thrilling score that practically becomes a character of its own.
I'm pretty confident that these will be the five nominees even though last year this was the only category that I only correctly predicted one nominee (Babel's Gustavo Santaolalla who went on to win the Oscar). If the same thing happens this year the nominees who will prove me wrong will most likely be Christopher Gunning for La Vie en Rose, Marc Streitenfeld for American Gangster, Howard Shore for Eastern Promises, or Michael Brook, Kaki King and Eddie Vedder who all worked on Into the Wild.

There's also Clint Eastwood whose score for Grace Is Gone was nominated for a Golden Globe (the award went to Atonement), and you can't count rule out Alan Menken for Enchanted or Mark Mancina for August Rush since original music played such a big part in both films. If that's not enough possibilities, consider Film Music Critic Association nominees David Shire for Zodiac and Alexandre Desplat for both The Golden Compass and Lust, Caution. I could list more, but I won't except for that six-time nominee James Newton Howard is eligible this year for six different films (Charlie Wilson's War, The Great Debaters, I Am Legend, The Lookout, Michael Clayton and The Water Horse)


BEST ORIGINAL SONG
Come So Far (Got So Far To Go) "Hairspray"
Falling Slowly "Once"
Guaranteed "Into the Wild"
That's How You Know "Enchanted"
Walk Hard "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story"

There are 60 eligible songs this year. Stage musicals that become movie musicals which offer something that qualifies for this category more often than not end up getting a nomination, so expect Hairspray to make the list. There's no denying the beauty of the music in Once, and Falling Slowly was featured more strongly than If You Want Me. There are three eligible songs from Into the Wild (the other two being Society and Rise) so I went with the Golden Globe winner. That's How You Know was also featured the most strongly of the three songs from Enchanted (the other two are So Close and the hilarious Happy Working Song) and was the only one to receive a Globe nomination. I'm least confident in my prediction for Walk Hard (the film has three more contenders: Beautiful Ride, Let's Duet and Back Where You Belong) but the title song did also receive a Globe nomination and I think the Academy would welcome John C. Reilly singing at their ceremony once again.
Of the other 47 contenders, some of the more likely candidates would be either of the songs from Music and Lyrics (Pop! Goes My Heart and Way Back Into Love, which was written by Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne), one of the four songs from August Rush (Someday, This Time, Raise It Up and Break), one of the songs from Grace Is Gone (Grace Is Gone and Lullabye for Wyatt, also composed by Clint Eastwood) and Despedida from Love in the Time of Cholera. I wonder though that if by some chance the Academy nominated Hello (I Love You) from The Last Mimzy, would Roger Waters actually come perform at the ceremony?


BEST SOUND MIXING
American Gangster
Atonement
Sweeney Todd
There Will Be Blood
3:10 to Yuma

The first four are solid predictions. I'm least confident in 3:10 to Yuma making the list, but I figure it has to be nominated for something and this may be it. Other films that could end up taking its spot include August Rush, The Bourne Ultimatum, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Hairspray and No Country for Old Men. Then there are also the more effect-driven films like Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Transformers and 300.


BEST SOUND EDITING
The Bourne Ultimatum
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
Transformers

Since there were no major war movies released in 2007 expect this category to be filled with blockbusters like those listed above or perhaps The Golden Compass, I Am Legend, Live Free or Die Hard, Spider-Man 3 or 300.


Only one entry remains. Be sure to check back for Part 5 when the manifesto concludes with Best Picture and Best Director.

Friday, January 18, 2008

OscarBlog Part 3 - Featuring Screenplays

I'm getting a late start on this one so I'll save sound and music for Part 4 and have this entry focus on the feature and screenplay categories. This may just end up being the shortest entry in the series so let's just get started.

The nominees will be...

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

Bee Movie
Ratatouille
The Simpsons Movie

This has to be the easiest call to make this year. My only concern is that the Academy will be film snobs and not nominate The Simpsons Movie because of its television origin. Then again, it is The Simpsons and what else are they going to nominate? Beowulf? I don't think so. Unless the French graphic novel inspired Persepolis gets a big last minute push, I expect The Simpsons Movie to make the cut and then witness the Academy snobbery when they instead award Ratatouille on the big night. Don't get me wrong, Ratatouille is great, but not as great as The Simpsons Movie.


BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
In the Shadow of the Moon
Lake of Fire
No End in Sight
Sicko
Taxi to the Darkside

You probably don't want to read about it, and I really don't feel like writing about it so I'll be brief. I just picked four out of the five I was familiar with from the short list of 15 eligible films (the fifth is Zoo but only because of a very negative review). The other film I chose, Taxi to the Dark Side, is because it received a Writers Guild nomination and focuses on an innocent taxi driver who was tortured and killed by Unites States forces in Afghanistan five years ago. That sounds like an Oscar contender to me. Some of the others I'm unfamiliar with but sound like Oscar material from titles alone are Ghosts of Cite Soleil, Into Great Silence, Manda Bala (Send a Bullet) and The Unforeseen. I had to include that last one for the sake of irony alone.


BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Beaufort - Israel
Days of Darkness - Canada
Katyn - Poland
The Unknown Woman - Italy
The Year My Parents Went On Vacation - Brazil

You probably don't want to read about it, and... you get the idea. I'm not familiar with any of these films (though I have heard of the Canadian director Denys Arcand who won four years ago for The Barbarian Invasions). Entry forms for this award were sent to 95 countries, and a record 63 submitted films but only 9 of them make the short list. The four that didn't make my guess list above are The Counterfeiters - Austria, Mongol - Kazakhstan, 12 - Russia, and The Trap - Serbia.


BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Paull Thomas Anderson "There Will Be Blood"
Coen Brothers "No Country for Old Men"
Christopher Hampton "Atonement"
Ronald Harwood "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
Sean Penn "Into the Wild"
Screenplay nominations usually go to Best Picture nominees and the list above could very well be the five films nominated for the big prize. For that reason alone there's a chance that John Logan's screenplay for Sweeney Todd could be nominated. A more likely substitution to this list, however, would be James Vanderbilt for his Zodiac screenplay since he received a Writers Guild nomination (Atonement was left off their list). There's even a slim possibility that David Benioff could be nominated here for The Kite Runner, though I think a nomination for 3:10 to Yuma writing team Halsted Welles and Michael Brandt has a much better shot than any of the aforementioned contenders.

However, since the Academy is comprised mostly of actors, I think the most likely alternate for this list would be Ben Affleck for the Gone Baby Gone screenplay he wrote with Aaron Stockard since it will be easier to nominate Affleck here than in the director category (even though that is something he managed to do all by himself). It only took ten years since he shared a screenwriting award last time with Matt Damon for Good Will Hunting for him to write another screenplay with someone else. Two deserving contenders that should be in the running but are certain to be left out are Harold Pinter for Sleuth and Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn for Stardust.


BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Diablo Cody "Juno"
Tony Gilroy "Michael Clayton"
Tamara Jenkins "The Savages"
Steven Knight "Eastern Promises"
Nancy Oliver "Lars and the Real Girl"

Steven Knight is the only one here not also nominated for a Writers Guild award, which instead nominated Judd Apatow for Knocked Up, so that's always a possibility but I'm betting against it because of Apatow's television roots and the Academy snobbery I mentioned earlier. The prediction I'm least confident in for this category is Tamara Jenkins who I could see losing out to Brad Bird for Ratatouille since Pixar has had three films nominated in this category before (Toy Story, Finding Nemo and most recently Bird himself for The Incredibles), or perhaps a posthumous nomination for Waitress writer/director Adrienne Shelly.
Noah Baumbach was nominated here last year for The Squid and the Whale but his follow-up Margot at the Wedding is (I think appropriately) not garnering the same buzz. Normally a Wes Anderson film would be a strong contender here (The Royal Tenenbaums was nominated five years ago) but the script he co-wrote with Jason Schwartzman and Roman Coppola for The Darjeeling Limited probably won't be noticed I think mostly because of its early fall release date. Todd Haynes (nominated here five years ago also, when he should have won for Far From Heaven) qualifies in this category for I'm Not There which he co-wrote with Oren Moverman, but since a large chunk of the dialogue is lifted from source materials (such as Don't Look Back and various interviews with Bob Dylan) it may not seem original enough (even though it's one of the most original films of the new millenium).

Kelly Masterson's screenplay for Before the Devil Knows You're Dead is certainly worthy of a nomination, but since that film failed to find the audience it deserves she'll have to settle for losing to Diablo Cody at the Independent Spirit Awards. I'd like to see Peter Hedges and Pierce Gardner receive a nomination for Dan in Real Life, but that's not going to happen either.


Now the OscarBlog series is more than half complete. I hope you're enjoying reading it as much as I enjoy writing it.

What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been


Sunday is a big day. The Chargers take on (and hopefully crush) the Patriots (sorry Liz) in the AFC Championship game, The Wire continues it's brilliant 5th season and a fantastic The Amazing Race season comes to an end.

The Amazing Race has been crazy so far. From the botoxed LA blondes claiming they weren't beneath flirting to get ahead (a lot of good it did them), to the interesting Goth couple (named Kynt and Vyxen...apparently the letter "Y" is very Gothy) and Nate and Jen, the athletic couple who more then once screamed "I hate you" at each other (ahhh love), all the characters have provided a fun and wild ride (for the most part. Even racing around the world has it's dull episodes). Now, three teams are left. Here's how I think the remaining teams will rank in the end:

3rd Place - Nick and Don: The Grandfather/Grandson team is rad (Don is a foul mouthed 68-year-old, who's been impressive keeping up with his 23-year-old grandson (and the other teams for that matter)), but I don't think Don has the stamina to over come 2 other teams to take the million bucks. Props to them both for making the top 3.

2nd Place - Ron and Christina: Currently in first place, they'd be the first Father/Daughter team to win the race. Their entire season focused on the need for Ron to chill out and not be so hard on his daughter. He seems to have accomplished that goal, so really, haven't they already won?

1st Place - TK and Rachel: The hippies (as they are referred to) have shown you can go far in TAR being mellow and having a good time (and not screaming at each other over stupid mistakes). They have some serious good luck (they were last place in a non-elimination round and over came a Speed Bump to over take Nate and Jen and stay in the race) and I think they've got a great shot at winning it all.

Tune in Sunday night at 8 to see if I'm right...

Oh, and Go Chargers!

Update: I was dead on with my TAR picks...too bad i didn't have the same luck with the Chargers...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

OscarBlog Part 2 - By the Look of It

It may not be as exciting as the acting categories, but the technical categories are a lot more difficult to predict when it comes to the nominations. This will be the first of two entries covering the technical categories in this overall five-part series of Oscar blogs. This first grouping will cover the six categories that pertain to what the audience sees, and the second grouping will cover sound and music. In the interest of brevity, I won't bother with any kind of clever intro.

The nominees will be...

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford - Roger Deakins
Atonement - Seamus McGarvey
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly - Janusz Kaminski
No Country for Old Men - Roger Deakins
There Will Be Blood - Robert Elswitt

This list matches the films nominated by the American Society of Cinematographers. The only first-time nominee would be Seamus McGarvey, but the long single-take steadicam sequence that follows James McAvoy through the ruins in Atonement is enough to solidify his nomination. The only one who's won before is Janusz Kaminski (for both Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan, with an additional nomination for Amistad) and from what I understand he's expected to win again this year.
If Roger Deakins manages the double nomination it will be the first time in 26 years (Robert Surtees was nominated for both The Last Picture Show and Summer of '42, and lost to Oswald Morris for Fiddler on the Roof). Deakins is bound to win one of these days though. having already accumulated five very impressive nominations (The Man Who Wasn't There, O Brother Where Art Thou?, Kundun, Fargo and The Shawshank Redemption). Robert Elswitt's only nomination to date occurred two years ago for Good Night and Good Luck.

Other cinematographers who stand a good chance of making this list include Dariusz Wolski for Sweeney Todd, Eric Gautier for Into the Wild and Roberto Schaefer for The Kite Runner, with an outside chance for Edward Lachman for I'm Not There.


BEST FILM EDITING
Atonement - Paul Tothill
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly - Juliette Welfling
Michael Clayton - John Gilroy
No Country for Old Men - Roderick Jaynes
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street - Chris Lebenzon

Roderick Jaynes is actually a pseudonym created by the Coen Brothers to credit themselves as editors on all their films, and were once nominated for editing eleven years ago for Fargo. The only other film editor listed above with previous Oscar nominations is Chris Lebenzon for Crimson Tide and Top Gun. Interesting note: John Gilroy is the younger brother of Michael Clayton's writer/director Tony Gilroy (who also wrote all three Bourne films) and John's twin brother Dan Gilroy wrote Two for the Money and is married to Rene Russo.

This category usually matches up pretty well with Best Picture (which I'll cover in the final installment of this series) and all of the above films are in the running for the big prize. Other films that have good chances of earning a film editing nomination are The Bourne Ultimatum, Into the Wild, There Will Be Blood and 3:10 to Yuma. Some films with smaller chances are Gone Baby Gone, Eastern Promises and I'm Not There.


BEST ART DIRECTION

Atonement - Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer
Elizabeth: The Golden Age - Guy Dyas and Richard Roberts
The Golden Compass - Dennis Gassner and Anna Pinnock
Sweeney Todd - Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo
There Will Be Blood - Jack Fisk and Jim Erickson

The majority of these contenders have been nominated before for other pictures. The Atonement production team was nominated for Pride & Prejudice, which the last film from Atonement director Joe Wright. The production designer for The Golden Compass won this award sixteen years ago for Bugsy the same year he was also nominated for his work on Barton Fink. The team that worked on Sweeney Todd has been nominated seven times, mostly for work on Scorsese films, and won recently for The Aviator. It would be the first nomination for the design teams for Elizabeth and There Will Be Blood.
All of these teams have been nominated this year for the Art Directors Guild, which nominates five films in three categories (Period, Fantasy and Contemporary). With the exception of Fantasy nominee The Golden Compass, all of the above listed films are in the Period category. American Gangster is the fifth nominee in the Period category, and could very well steal a spot here from Elizaebeth. I don't see any of the other Fantasy nominees earning an Oscar nod except for perhaps Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End since Dead Man's Chest was nominated in this category last year. If any of the Contemporary nominees were to make the cut, it would most likely be The Diving Bell and the Butterfly or No Country for Old Men, with an outside chance for The Kite Runner.

Films that didn't receive a guild nomination that I think still have a chance of getting nominated here would be Across the Universe, Hairspray and (most deserving of all) Stardust.


BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Atonement - Jacqueline Durran
Elizabeth: The Golden Age - Alexandra Byrne
Enchanted - Mona May
La Vie en Rose - Marit Allen
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street - Colleen Atwood

This will be the first and last nomination for Marit Allen, who passed away in November because of a brain aneurysm. Her impressive 18 year career in film also included costume design for (among many other films) Brokeback Mountain, Eyes Wide Shut, The Secret Garden, Little Shop of Horrors and last year's Love in the Time of Cholera. The only other first-timer on this list is Mona May. Colleen Atwood is the only one previous winner (for both Memoirs of a Geisha and Chicago, among four additional nominations in her career). Jacqueline Durran has one prior nomination for Pride & Prejudice, and Alexandra Byrne has three with Finding Neverland, Elizabeth and Hamlet (the Kenneth Branagh version).

Once again these designers are also nominated in their guild, and the Costume Designers Guild separates the films the same way as the Art Directors Guild. Also once again they are all in the Period category save one, with Enchanted of course being in Fantasy. The other film nominated in Period is 3:10 to Yuma which may end up splitting votes with the more artsy The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. I don't see any of the other Guild nominees making their way onto the Oscar ballot.


BEST MAKEUP
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Norbit
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Sweeney Todd is a given. I'm picking Norbit since the Academy voters seem to love them some latex (hence a nomination for Click last year). Three years ago the foreign film The Sea Inside was nominated for this award, and that film is sort of the anti-Diving Bell (similar situation but without being uplifting). Other potential nominees include 300, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, La Vie en Rose and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.


BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
300
Transformers

Both of the other Pirates installments were nominated so I don't see why they'd leave out its conclusion, Transformers is the kind of movie this category was made for, and 300 was easily one of the most visually dynamic films of the year. Other potential nominees include The Bourne Ultimatum, Evan Almighty, The Golden Compass and I Am Legend.

I Wanna Go to Sundance!!!


The Sundance film festival begins tonight. With a long history of bringing awesome movies to the world (Reservoir Dogs, Clerks, Little Miss Sunshine, Napoleon Dynamite, Sex, Lies and Videotape all debuted at the festival), Sundance has become the place to premiere your independent film. This year, I am most excited for Hamlet 2, about a High School drama teacher (played by Steve Coogan) who writes a musical sequel to Hamlet. Doesn't everything about that sound awesome?

I've always wanted to make the trek to Utah for Robert Redford's annual film festival (I've had a few friends go and return with stories of drinks with Parker Posey and film going with Laura Linney). I mean, what a better way to spend a week? Watching movies; wearing fun snowy weather clothes; perhaps hot tubbing with Peter Sarsgaard and Paul Rudd (I suppose their wives can join us). Sounds amazing. Maybe next year...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

OscarBlog Part 1 - Introduction to Acting

I'm Garney. You may not recognize my name (spell check certainly doesn't) and seeing as how this is my first entry as a contributor here (to this point my only contributions have been in comments and as quote source material for Red) let me take the time to introduce myself. So please reread the first sentence. I don't want to waste too much time with an intro because this is going to be a long one, and it's only the beginning.

I'm going to be blogging my predictions for what will be nominated for the 80th Annual Academy Awards. The nominations are announced Tuesday so this will be the first in a series of five entries. You think this is bad... when I was growing up I would separate my action figures into "production teams" that would each make their own movie and then vote for awards. I'd even have a ceremony with acceptance speeches and everything.


The first time I watched the Oscars was at the age of six when Amadeus won Best Picture. Growing up in my house, Oscar night was like a holiday. A nice spread of vittles would be prepared and any talking during the ceremony only pertained to the ceremony itself. It's a holiday I still celebrate (religiously), but it's not so much the event itself (though there are some elements I enjoy very much and the obsession with fashion is not one of them) that holds my enthusiasm as much as it is the horserace. So for this entry let's focus on the show horses themselves and cover the acting categories.

The nominees will be...

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Cate Blanchett "I'm Not There"
Ruby Dee "American Gangster"
Catherine Keener "Into the Wild"
Amy Ryan "Gone Baby Gone"
Tilda Swinton "Michael Clayton"

This exactly matches the Screen Actors Guild list. I think that's all the validation I need so I'll talk about who I'm not predicting. Like most years there are dozens of viable contenders for the actor categories while the actress fields are pretty sparse. There's a strong possibility that someone from Atonement could make the cut. My money would be on Vanessa Redgrave whose final act appearance may be brief (Judi Dench won with less screen time) but still memorable and she's the biggest name in the cast. If not Redgrave then look to the young Saoirse Ronan to join the ranks of previous child actress nominees such as Anna Paquin and Abigail Breslin.

I thought this might be the year that Jennifer Jason Leigh got a nomination, but then I saw Margot at the Wedding. If voters love Juno as much as other pundits think they will (more on that in a future entry when I explain why I'm not predicting Juno to be nominated for Best Picture) then Jennifer Garner could find her name on the list here, likewise love for No Country For Old Men (a surefire Best Pic contender) could benefit Kelly Macdonald.

A possible wild card that I would like to see get nominated is Emily Mortimer for Lars and the Real Girl. The worthy contender that's certain to be overlooked is Imelda Staunton for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.


BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Javier Bardem "No Country for Old Men"
Phillip Seymour Hoffman "Charlie Wilson's War"
Hal Holbrook "Into the Wild"
Max Von Sydow "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
Tom Wilkinson "Michael Clayton"

Javier Bardem and Tom Wilkinson are shoe-ins, and I think Holbrook is pretty close to being a shoe-in too. It would be Holbrook's first nomination, and he's had a very distinguished career and is in a film that will most likely get a Best Picture nod (same thing happened for Alan Alda a few years back with The Aviator).

I've managed to catch more than 75 films released in 2oo7 but there are still a few big contenders that I haven't seen yet, and many of them have strong contenders in this category. Some are because they haven't opened in my area yet, such as There Will Be Blood (which opens here tomorrow finally) and from the trailers Paul Dano certainly looks like he deserves a nomination, The Savages which is getting some buzz for Phillip Bosco, and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. I just think the fifth "surprise" spot which usually goes to a younger actor (like Ethan Hawke for Training Day and Mark Wahlberg for The Departed) will go to a more dignified older actor this year in a more serious film. Max Von Sydow just feels like a good fit on the list.

I haven't seen Charlie Wilson's War yet, but I think it will get its only nomination here for Phillip Seymour Hoffman because he also appeared in two prestigious lead performances last year (The Savages and Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, which I did see and he's brilliant). Sometimes instead of being nominated for the best supporting acting you get nominated for the most supporting acting. This is what I think helped Jim Broadbent win in this category for Iris (the same year be appeared in Moulin Rouge and Bridget Jones' Diary) and earn John C. Reilly a nomination here for Chicago (the same year he was in Gangs of New York. The Hours and The Good Girl). The same could benefit Casey Affleck more likely to be noticed here for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (one that I missed, but I hear his performance is "a revelation") than for lead actor in Gone Baby Gone.

A possible wild card that I would like to see get nominated is Alan Rickman for Sweeney Todd. The worthy contender bound to be overlooked is Adrian Brody for The Darjeeling Limited.


BEST ACTRESS

Cate Blanchett "Elizabeth: The Golden Age"
Julie Christie "Away From Her"
Marion Cotillard "La Vie en rose"
Angelina Jolie "A Mighty Heart"
Ellen Page "Juno"

Another exact match with the Screen Actors Guild list. The majority of these contenders are playing real people with real problems, and the other two are playing fictional characters with real problems. The only prediction here with any risk to it is Blanchett since this new installment of Elizabeth didn't draw the same audience or recognition it did eight years ago. I missed it. The only films I did catch from the list above are Away From Her and Juno, and both performances are worthy of awards (especially Julie Christie, and for another great and arguably better performance from Ellen Page rent Hard Candy).

The possible contender I'd most like to see make the list is Amy Adams for Enchanted. No one looked like they were having more fun on screen last year... except for maybe Phillip Seymour Hoffman in the opening of Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (gonna have to see it to get the joke). It would also be great to see Helena Bonham Carter get a nod for Sweeney Todd, but voters may be confused as to whether Mrs. Lovett is a lead or supporting role and that will cost her votes. Lack of screen time also hurts Keira Knightley's chances for an Atonement nomination. Laura Linney has been nominated a few times so you can't count out her performance in The Savages, but I don't think enough voters will see it.

It's a shame that once again this field is lacking in potential candidates. I can't really think of a worthy contender with very little chance of getting recognized; maybe Ashley Judd for Bug or Molly Shannon for The Year of the Dog.


BEST ACTOR
George Clooney "Michael Clayton"
Johnny Depp "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"
Ryan Gosling "Lars and the Real Girl"
Daniel Day Lewis "There Will Be Blood"
Viggo Mortensen "Eastern Promises"

Daniel Day Lewis is the only lock. George Clooney is pretty close to being a lock also which is a shame because although he does a great job in Michael Clayton, I saw at least ten that were better. There are the other three mentioned above, the likely candidates James McAvoy for Atonement and Emile Hirsch for Into the Wild, and several unlikely candidates such as the aforementioned Phillip Seymour Hoffman for Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, Tommy Lee Jones for In the Valley of Elah, Chris Cooper for Breach, Steve Carell for Dan in Real Life and Glen Hansard for Once.

Denzel Washington could make the list for American Gangster, but it feels like whatever enthusiasm existed for that film has died. When I first read about John Cusack's performance in Grace is Gone I thought for sure he'd be looking at his first nomination, but sometimes the earliest buzz is the worst buzz. I've been told that if Mathieu Amalric is nominated for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly then all bets are off as to whether Daniel Day Lewis walks away with this award, and perhaps Diving Bell will end up proving that last minute buzz is the best kind of buzz.


I think that's more than enough for now. Tomorrow's Oscar blog will focus on some technical categories. If you're impatient and want to see a complete list of my predictions, check out approved timewaster Garney's Blog.

What Does Your Favorite Candidate Watch?

Probably not much these days, but TV Guide asked the candidates about their TV watching habits. The answers are pretty interesting...Hillary likes Grey's Anatomy and Dancing with the Stars....Obama loves The Wire (which wins him major points, obvs)...John Edwards' guilty pleasure is "Fred Thompson on Law and Order" (hilarious!). John McCain likes some pretty cool stuff (he's the other person watching Damages) and Mitt Romney loves The Office (but he's so, like, not cool. My brain hurts with that one). It all very fun an interesting, but is it bad to base your vote on who watches the coolest TV? I sure hope not...

Dennis Kucinich loves The Colbert Report. Who knew?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Oh my God!

Brad Renfro died!!!



RIP in Kid from The Client

Something for the Ladies

Along with other age-old questions like “Is there a God?” and “Why does Donald Duck cover himself with a towel after showering when he doesn’t even wear pants?” I have always wondered why women’s clothing sizes vary so much from brand to brand. You can be a size 4 at Express and a size 10 at Old Navy. Wear a small at H&M and a large at American Apparel. In addition to leading to massive fluctuations in self-esteem, this also makes is nearly impossible to shop online or in catalogues.

Well, some bright young thing out of North Carolina felt my pain. A 22-year-old named Melissa Adelman (I hate it when they’re so young) formed a company called Size Me Up, which designs a computer application that allows you to compare sizes between different brands. Let’s say the pants at Banana Republic fit you perfectly: you can use this to figure out which size that corresponds to in Levi’s and Calvin Klein and all those other brands you promised yourself you wouldn’t throw your money away on this year.


I wasn’t clear by this article if this program is up and running yet, but I hope it will be soon. I’m tired of having to carry 4 different sizes of the same shirt into the dressing room every time I want to try something on.

THIS is American Idol!

Just when I started to miss Seacrest a little (I didn't know it was possible, either), American Idol is back with a 2 night, 4 hour season premiere. Good Lord. 4 hours?!?! I don't know if I can handle that much crappy singing (I really only like Idol after the Hollywood round), but I know a lot of people watch for the schadenfreude of the early episodes.

According to Nigel Lythgoe, the focus this year is back on the singers and not so much on the celebrity "mentors" (which is probably a good thing. I don't know that Gwen Stefani and J-Lo should really be telling anyone how to sing. Ass shaking, yes. Singing, not so much). I just hope this season has more Kelly Clarksons/Chris Daughtrys and less Carmen Rasmusens/Sanjayas.

At least there is a show to fill my evenings...I can only watch The Devil Wears Prada on HBO so many times.

Don't worry, kids. He's never too far away.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Harry Potter and the Filming Indecision


How do you wrap up a beloved blockbuster of epic proportions in one single film? Apparently, you don’t.

Rumors are swirling that the final Harry Potter film, based on the final book in the series Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, is going to be split into two films. The filmmakers are saying it’s the only way to present the 776-page doorstop of a book in all its glory on screen.

In addition, the rumor mill is spitting out nuggets such as Steven Spielberg might be tapped to direct, and that the movie is chasing Oscars.

Now I’m just a small town public school girl, but I thought the Deathly Hallows was a really phenomenal book, and if done correctly it probably could garner some awards. That scene where Harry is walking into the forest to face Voldemort and he talks to the ghosts of his parents and Sirius and Lupin? Talk about tearjerker. That scene in the metaphysical King’s Cross Station with Dumbledore? Damn near spiritual.

That being said, I’m not sure I love the two-movie idea. The books are so rich in detail that ten movies could probably never capture it. My favorite Harry Potter movies have been the ones that had the loosest interpretations of the books, Prisoner of Azkaban and Order of the Phoenix. Those were films where the director kind of said to hell with fans expectations and put his own stamp on it. Prisoner became a symbol heavy mediation on time and growing up and OthP became a political thriller. Yeah, some huge chunks of fantastic plot got missed, but if viewers want that, go to the friggin’ library, lazy.

Ultimately whatever, I’ll still go opening weekend to both films. I'd just like to seem them use some imagination and turn it in to one terrific film. What do you guys think?

The Final Golden Globes Post

Even though the Globes were canceled, a wonderful and stirring announcement ceremony was held in my apartment last night, hosted by your two favorite bloggers (uh, that would be Liz and me, obvs) for an audience of 2 (who, it must be said, were not as attentive or interested as I would like). Needless to say, we were a million times more entertaining than Billy Bush and Nancy O'Dell (whose telecast was too painful to watch). My picking abilities were decent (I guessed 8 awards correctly). Let's recap:

TV - The big winner was Longford, an HBO movie I've been meaning to watch On Demand. It took the awards for Best Actor, Actress and Film Made for Television. I was super excited to see Tina Fey win Best Actress Comedy (though Liz and I agree she's not really an "actress," but any love for Tina and 30 Rock is awesome) and Glenn Close win for Damages (she really is incredible on that show, but then, she is Glenn Close. Can you believe she doesn't have an Oscar?!?). And as much as I love Jeremy Piven as Ari Gold on Entourage, isn't it time to honor someone else? Especially when Ted Danson was so fantastic on Damages? I'm just asking. Finally, Mad Men took home the award for Best Drama Series. I haven't watched it, but I hear it's awesome. AMC will begin re-airing episodes Monday at 12am. Get your DVR ready...

Film - Some real surprises. Julian Schnabel as Best Director? Marion Cotillard for Best Actress Musical/Comedy (who, in the group she was in, totally deserved to win, but her film (La Vie en Rose, which is pretty good) was not a comedy...and not really a musical either. [begin rant] This really bugs me about the Golden Globes. Just because the film is about a singer, does not mean the film is a musical. They need to redefine their "musicals" (and I'd be happy to accept the job): Sweeney Todd and Hairspray = Musicals. La Vie en Rose and, say, Ray = Dramas with a lot of music. It's just annoying [end rant]). All that to say, I think the French contingent of the Hollywood Foreign Press got a little carried away this year. I was happy Cate Blanchett take the award for Best Supporting Actress (she was so great as Bob Dylan) and, as weird as it sounds, was excited Atonement won Best Score (it really is fantastic). I was a bit surprised Atonement won Best Picture, as I thought it was a bit uneven, but perhaps it's overall look was enough to win the big prize.

Oscar nominations come out next week and I think Atonement now has a good chance of winning a ton of awards. Garney said to me recently, "I think Atonement will receive the most Oscar nominations of any picture (Picture, Director, Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay, Art Direction, Costume Design, Sound, Musical Score, Film Editing... with strong possible Best Actor and Best Actress nominees as well) and that may ultimately be enough to make it take the big prize" and I think he's right. However, it is kinda fun to not have any clear front runners this year (Atonement, Into the Wild, There Will Be Blood and No Country for Old Men have all been named "Best Picture" at some point). Should be interesting to see how things pan out...

What did you think? Were you surprised about Atonement? Are you so sad we didn't get to see a Johnny Depp acceptance speech? And who thinks Liz and I should fill in for Billy and Nancy next year?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Internet Radio Wars


I had the pleasure (if you can call fighting your way through massive crowds of tech geeks a pleasure) of attending the gigantastic Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this week, and while I saw a few really cool products, this was one of my favs.

It’s called Slacker and it’s an Internet radio station. I know, not that special, right? Red already told us about Pandora a while back. But I personally like Slacker better. (No offense, Ginge). For one thing, Slacker has way more artists. I typed a few of my favs into Pandora and it didn’t have them. The people who run Slacker have licensing deals with all the major labels and a shed load of the indies so they have pretty much everything you might want.

The way it’s set up is, they had DJs and professional music programmers design all these pre-made radio stations by genre, so you can just listen to those if you want. Or, you can type in your favorite band and it will give you songs by them as well as similar bands. When I first started playing with it, I typed in Rilo Kiley (natch). It gave me one of their new songs, and then a song by Bright Eyes and then Death Cab for Cutie. I love those bands, but I already know them. I was nervous I wasn’t going to learn anything new. But soon enough, it was queuing up bands called things like The Wooly Leaves, Those Transatlantics and Say Hi To Your Mom. All new to me. You can use these bands to create your own radio stations and send them to your friends.

If you have $200 laying around, you can buy Slacker’s handheld device at the end of January. This lets you take your stations and music with you wherever you want. Pretty cool, no? They also have tons of artist information, ways to tell them if you like/hate certain songs/artists and a premium service that lets you save songs to your computer.

You can’t search for individual songs, which kind of sucks, but its still a great free way to listen to bands, especially if you office has blocked MySpace.

The Globes Are Coming

As you know, the Golden Globes telecast has been canceled and replaced with a one-hour press conference which will announce all the winners Sunday night (which is really for the best. With The Amazing Race (which is so awesome this season), The Simpsons and The Wire, my Sunday night is already really full). Here's who I think will win (and who I would have voted for based on the films I've seen) in the major film categories:



Best Picture (Drama): No Country for Old Men (No Country For Old Men)
Best Picture (Musical/Comedy): Sweeney Todd (Juno)
Best Actor (Drama): Daniel Day Lewis – There Will Be Blood (Viggo Mortensen – Eastern Promises)
Best Actress (Drama): Julie Christie - Away from Her (I've only seen Keira Knightly in Atonement, but I wouldn't have voted for her)
Best Actor (Musical/Comedy): Philip Seymour Hoffman – The Savages (Johnny Depp – Sweeney Todd)
Best Actress (Musical/Comedy): Ellen Page - Juno (Ellen Page)
Best Director: The Coen Brothers – No Country for Old Men (The Coen Brothers)
Best Supporting Actor: Javier Bardem – No Country for Old Men (Javier Bardem)
Best Supporting Actress: Amy Ryan – Gone Baby Gone (Cate Blanchett – I’m Not There)
Best Screenplay: Coen Brothers – No Country for Old Men (Coen Brothers)
Best Score: Atonement (Atonement)
Best Animated Film: Ratatoullie (The Simpsons Movie)
Best Foreign Film: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (I haven't seen any of the nominees)

And, I’ve already told you who I’d vote for in the TV categories, but here’s who I think will actually win:

Best Series (Drama): House
Best Series (Comedy): Extras
Best Actor (Drama): Hugh Laurie – House
Best Actress (Drama): Glenn Close – Damages
Best Actor (Comedy): Ricky Gervais – Extras
Best Actress (Comedy): Mary-Louise Parker - Weeds
Best Supporting Actor: Jeremy Piven - Entourage
Best Supporting Actress: Katherine Heigl - Grey's Anatomy

I'm not very confident in my picks, frankly. The Hollywood Foreign Press (who selects the winners) always throws me for a loop or two (to which you respond, "Then why the hell did you write this post?" and I say, "Because I had nothing better to do. Get off my back!" Geez you can be mean sometimes!) So, if you want to make a wager on the accuracy of my picks, you'd probably stand to make some cash. I'm just saying...

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

"San Diego was Da Bomb"

So quoth the eloquent Randy Jackson when discussing the seventh season of American Idol (which begins next Tuesday). I love when people give props to my hometown.

Here's my question, though: After a painful sixth season, several past winners losing record deals and even Kelly Clarkson struggling to sell records, is American Idol still a viable star maker? Or has it become like America's Next Top Model (where most of the contestants fail to have any modeling career let alone become "top" models. (I mean, the only ANTM winner who is still famous is Adrian Curry and she's famous for banging Peter Brady))? Seriously, is American Idol "done"? Or are you just as eager as ever for the train wrecks and talent?

Ben Mulroney hosts Canadian Idol. Isn't he a million times yummier then Seacrest?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Gingers are Freaking Funny

Conan O'Brien rocks out to Rock Band and sings Radiohead's Creep and Beastie Boy's Sabotage. Awesome...

WriterGate 2007 - The Strike Continues

It's official...the Golden Globes telecast has been canceled and replaced with a one-hour press conference which will announce all the winners Sunday night. At first, I was kinda annoyed (I really love the GG. No real idea why. I think it's the clothes), but upon further refection, this is pretty great. We get all substance and no filler (no style either, but I guess I'll survive). Basically, we don't have to sit through 3 hours of lame jokes from second tier Hollywood stars. We can just hear all the winners in a nice, one hour time frame. I think I like this idea...

In other Strike news, I couldn't sleep last night and stayed up to watch the return of Jon Stewart and A Daily Show (Jon said it wasn't The Daily Show without the writers). It was kinda funny, but mostly not. Poor Jon. Please let him have his hilarious staff of writers back (I hear The Colbert Report was actually really funny, but I couldn't stay up that late to watch. I'm a grandma).

Finally, some people are excited about Leno and Kimmel appearing on each other's shows. I guess I would care too if I ever watched their shows, but I'm a Letterman/Conan girl myself (and really don't stay up late enough to watch Late Night TV anyway). I really just wish the strike would come to an end because, although I am happy to have lots of free time to catch up on Netflix and clear out the DVR, I am seriously jonesing for some new material for Jim Halpert and Liz Lemon.

Yes, Jim. I'm as fed up as you are.