Sunday, December 31, 2006

Year in Review: Trailers & Posters

I figured New Years Eve was a good time to post a piece about the movie things that whet our appetites for more movie things. Trailers (or teasers --which I actually prefer) and posters are the sweet moment of anticipation before the unveiling of the real thing. The best trailers never give the entire game away but leave you wanting more. The best posters offer an design that captures a movie while also being aesthetically appealing as a one off. Here are my choices for the best


Runners Up: Children of Men and Casino Royale. I'm not counting 2007 peaks like Spider-Man 3 or Ratatouille but if I was they'd be here. Without further ado, in descending order (left to right) the four best of the year.

4. The Prestige One of those rare trailers that shows you a lot without giving the game away, and cleverly establishes a three act structure for you to imagine filled out in the theater. The movie is messier but this trailer is tight.
3. The Devil Wears Prada Smart gambit, this. Merely a full scene but what a scene. A funny introduction to four main characters with a tantalizing new light cast on a legendary star. End result: You have to see the movie. You've already bought your ticket.
2. Marie Antoinette light as air, fun, and unusual. It immediately cues you in that this'll be an idiosyncratic and personal vision from a real auteur.
1. Little Children One of the best trailers I've seen in years. Better than the movie. So good, in fact, that (full confession) I went into the movie assuming it was a masterpiece and trying to love it as much as I felt I should. The movie hasn't aged all that well in my head but damn this trailer is an A+. It's so evocative and isn't that what trailers should be? They should make you feel something but the feeling should remain open-ended enough to leave you needing more.

You know that The Devil Wears Prada's awesome graphic simplicity will appear (that heel with the devil's pitchfork: genius) but what else? The first FiLM BiTCH AWARDS Category is up. It's red, red, red. Check it out.

There are other sites that cover marketing well. It's not really my thing since I'm more interested in the final piece than the pre-release hype. But that said I feel like the teams behind the promotional pushes for Borat, Little Miss Sunshine, The Devil Wears Prada, and Casino Royale deserve some kinda medal for the magic acts performed. They played the media and the moviegoing public perfectly, maximizing the critical and financial response. So, good for them.


Tags: movies, marketing, cinema, movie posters, film, James Bond, Borat,New Years Eve, movie trailers

Smackdown 1975

Chez Lulu another Supporting Actress Smackdown is busting out. This time it's for the ladies from 1975 (the Nasvhille girls and more...)

She makes it look "easy". Lily Tomlin gets my vote for her confident quiet take on a
highly compartmentalized woman in the great great great
Nashville (1975).

Given all the year end screenings and write-ups I'm attempting, I didn't have time to do all four 1975 screenings. I was going to skip Nashville on account of the familiarity but I ended up obsessing on it all over again at the expense of seeing the other movies. But I did fashion another clipreel for Lulu and the gang despite being booted from YouTube. Not entirely sure what happened there. Everything I see on YouTube is fan-posted movie & tv clips (all of which = copyright infringement) so how come it was little old me that got banned? Is it because I promote older flicks as opposed to the latest clip featuring whoishotrightnow on showthateveryonewatches?

P.S. Next Sunday is the 2006 Supporting Actress Blog-a-Thon. A couple of dozen blogs will be doing FYCs for individual performances they love from this past year. I haven't picked my chick quite yet but I'm definitely on board.

P.S. 2 OK. Now go on over to Lulu's and see what we all had to say about Lily Tomlin and the others. Join the conversation.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

List Orgy!

I honestly don't know what I'd do without lists. When I wake up I pour some slow roasting lists into a cup and add a little nutrasweet. I then roll out my yoga matt and do some ashtanga listmaking. After showering I always listurize because I want my skin supple and my mind tight. At work excel proves a great listmaking tool! When I come home I eat, watch a little tv, and indulge in some hotlistmaking with the boyfriend. I sleep and dream of lists.

best week ever -10 gayest moments of '06 (Dreamgirls write up -LMAO)
cinemavistaramascope -favorite film-related 06 experiences (Herzog!)
modfab 10 best performances: tv, film, stage
popbytes favorite albums of 2006 --yay, brazilian girls. But, I lost track of music this year. I didn't even use my iPod for weeks.
cinematical james rocchi's worst list: Apocalytpo
low resolution joe reid's top ten in TV --go Brothers & Sisters
the reeler -worst top ten lists. so much hate for all he may actually implode with bile. God I hope I make this list next year.
ultranow a swell "thank goodness" list

starting tomorrow you'll pro'lly be getting lists daily until we're done with reviewing 2006. Hope you like list.

Year in Review: Obnoxious Performances (and other cinematic stupidities)

Despite my general malaise in regards to the movie product of 2006, I don't actually relish pointing and laughing at the bad stuff. I'd rather just move on. But since I'm a completist I gotta do that annual hall of shame thing. And some things are just too annoying to let slide.

There are stars and filmmakers who force my hand. There I sit peacefully in the movie theater and they refuse to let me enjoy myself. They suck the good air out of the room.

read the rest...
for triple dishonors in each acting category and more general stupidity at the cinema. Return and discuss. Join in the pointing and laughing.

Tags: movies, cinema, Julianne Moore, bad movies, blood diamond, film, Johnny Depp, Uma Thurman,racism, Hilary Swank, Eragon, Babel, Lindsay Lohan,x-men

Friday, December 29, 2006

Delayed. Look Busy.

I'm swamped at my paying gig but come January 2nd, I'll be full tilt boogie into the 'top ten' and the 'year in review.' If you can handle it, please consider donating (it's the donate button, funny that) for this festive season and help me on my way to doing this full time --I get closer each year.

If you're desperate for conversation, say something inflammatory about a well loved movie in the comments or head on over to Cinemarati where a heated discussion is in swing re: Dreamgirls --join in.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

John Waters Top Ten

John Waters ArtForum top ten is here. He's not just a hilarious cult film director. He's also a part time critic. This list is always a must read. F'rinstance on Sherrybaby:
Maggie Gyllenhaal plays an ex-convict drug addict (the kind I see in Baltimore every day), and the film is so depressing and great that I wish I could see it with an all-female prison audience.

Year in Review: Multiplex of Horror

What do big blue dragon eggs, a white trash Julianne Moore, super ex-girlfriends, frat boy male witches, and Natalie Portman's bald beauty have in common? They are all playing in my 'multiplex of horror'. My choices for worst movies of the year.

tonight & tomorrow: Worst Performances, Moments, Trends. And then, before y'all start hating on me for all the hating, I promise we get happy with praise. The "best of the year" hoopla begins this weekend.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Year in Review: The Overrated

I've recently decided that the image below, from Steven Soderbergh's misfire The Good German says a lot about this past year in film.

In this scene Cate Blanchett wanders through a sewer. As you can see from this still, German is all kinds of beautiful to look at (courtesy of black & white cinematography by Peter Andrews, Soderbergh's camera wielding alter ego) but plug your nose: the movie smells.

Yes, this sewer image is an apt stand-in for the movie year. Not for the ubiquitous presence of Cate Blanchett (though that's a neat bonus), but for this: even the good movies kinda stank.

Read the Full Article ...for thoughts on the six most overvalued films of the year (only one of them is "bad" in the normal sense but the hyperbole on all five is out of control) and a list of possibly terrible movies I avoided and why.

Links, Episode #213

Cinematical on the flops of 2006 and (unrelated) Spike Lee doing James Brown. Hey, Malcolm X felt good.
ModFab points to the best NYC stage experiences this year.
Lassiter Space his thoughts on Sedaris vs. Burroughs. Where do you stand? I prefer Sedaris, actually.
OpieBlue on Buffy 'season 8' albeit in non moving pictures form. Damn.
Stephanie Zacharek's top ten list. Marie-Antoinette, yay!
Dave Kehr on the new additions to the National Film Registry. Fargo, Notorious, sex lies and videotape –wheeee.

Updates & Supporting Actress Stuff

Time still short. Must.compile. year-end review listage. In the meantime, Oscar Predix have been slightly revised. The next big events for setting Oscar's table are the Screen Actors and Producers Guild nominations, both to be announced on 01/04/07 --smack dab in the week in which most Academy voters are filling out their Oscar ballots.

In other site news: There's a fresh poll at the site, the final in the "20 years of acting wins" series: Supporting Actress. That should get you in the mood for the next two Sundays of supporting actress events.

Sunday December 31st: Supporting Actress Smackdown, 1975
Sunday January 7th: Stinky Lulu's Supporting Actress Blog-a-Thon ~think of it as FYCs for 2006

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A Christmas Gift From Bazmark

According to Coming Soon (by way of the Sydney Morning Herald) filming has begun on Baz Luhrmann's Australia, a romantic epic to star Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman.

The film is set during World War II. Nic will play an English aristocrat with a mammoth ranch in Australia and Jackman a cattle driver. How butch! Baz Luhrmann, one of my very favorite filmmakers only makes a movie every 5 years or so, so you can imagine how thrilled I am to hear that Australia has officially begun. How do you suppose he'll work that "L'Amour" signage into this one?

Related posts:
Nicole Kidman: She's (Almost) Back -a mini appreciation
Hump Day Hottie: Hugh Jackman -man. dancer. father. actor. singer. god
Moulin Rouge!, the obsession -a scene by scene rundown

Oscar Ballots Out Today

The Post Office reopens today just in time for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to mail out those Oscar ballots. Oscar hopefuls like to be fresh in the minds of voters when they have that pen and paper in hand. So ask yourself this: who and what's happened this past week that's bound to be on AMPAS's collective mind?

[Holiday festivities stopped my Year in Review dead in its tracks. It will reboot tomorrow. Oscar predictions should be fully updated late tonight -N]

Sunday, December 24, 2006

DVD: Catch Up Quick

This list was requested by Oh My Trill. For readers who haven't made it to the movie theater as much as they would've liked and are trying to catch up. Here's rental ideas so that you can follow along with all the year end lists, articles, FB Awards, and the usual arguments that rage on through February and the Oscar hullabaloo. All of these movies are out on DVD already (or will be by 12/26 in a couple of cases).

Because it's really good: Duck Season (Mexico)
Really f***ing scary: The Descent, An Inconvenient Truth
Movie-Movie Fun: Inside Man, Monster House, A Prairie Home Companion, The Devil Wears Prada, Little Miss Sunshine
For Actressexuals: Friends With Money
Gretchen Mol is naked. Gretchen Mol is naked a lot: The Notorious Bettie Page
Some (not me) think it a masterpiece: Three Times (Taiwan)
might be nominated for foreign film: Water (Canada)
You should probably have an opinion, be it love or hate: The Black Dahlia, Lady in the Water, Miami Vice

Linkmas Eve

Reverse Shot on Annie Hall and the Film Forum Woody Allen retrospective.
YouTube "Scary Mary" Mary Poppins recut. [thx, Vince]
Low Resolution Joe Reid's annual airing of grievances: a fine tradition.
Stale Popcorn wishes you a merry one...
Movie Blog with that Silver Surfer image making the rounds. I'm unimpressed too. Looks like someone just hit a chrome filter on photoshop or sumthin'

and some lists!
Reel Fanatic "10 Scenes That Lingered..."
Modern Fabulousity to unleash a week long 'best of the year' blitz
NY Times or "The Paper of Eastwood Worship" A.O. Scott even calls him "the greatest living American filmmaker". You know last time I checked Woody Allen, Terrence Malick, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, and David Lynch were all still alive. Among others. So, whatever.
IMDB "Top 25 Celebrities of 2006" This list is based on database searches. These kinda lists are both fascinating and highly disturbing. My girls (the ones I sometimes hate myself for loving) ScarJo and LiLo are way up there. Jake Gyllenhaal is much lower than I'd anticipated. And I have to ask: why on earth are people still searching for info on Tom Hanks in 2006? Get over it! [src]

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Year in Review: Stocking Stuffers

I had so much fun doing the "stocking stuffer" post last year that I thought I'd give it a second go round. How happy would I be Christmas morning with these particular goodies in my stocking? I would burst.

Objects / Gadgets I Most Covet from 2006 Movies
  • tarot deck all fancy like in Scoop. Only without the serial killer connection. Just the cards, thanks. They're fun at parties.
  • handmade crafts made especially for me by Gael Garcia Bernal. He had such a way with the inanimate in The Science of Sleep and handmade gifts are endearing.
  • a blood diamond --not that I wanna contribute to destroying the lives of noble Africans but they're apparently priceless and I live in Manhattan. That don't come cheap.
  • Nigel's phone # Hey, if he'll just hand out a wardrobe worth of designer clothes to the 'smart, fat girl' in The Devil Wears Prada, surely, he can hook me up. I so need a makeover.
  • A bag of gold stars for my journal writing. OK, I don't really keep one anymore. This blog is enough. But if I did it wouldn't be as juicy or deranged as Judi Dench's in Notes on a Scandal unless I had some way to turn the good times creepy...with visual aids.
  • keys to a friend's empty restaurant It sure came in handy in Volver. Empty restaurants are handy for attracting local film crews and throwing big parties. Both of which sound like good ideas to me. [spoiler] Plus nothing beats an empty freezer. You can use it for food storage or to, well, you know --oh, like you've never wanted to hide a body. Don't judge.
  • tiny blue swimsuit --preferrably the one on Daniel Craig in Casino Royale. And preferrably removed from his body and placed in my stocking by the man himself. In my presence. Not all gifts should be wrapped.

    please and thanks
What do you want in your stocking?

Tags: movies, diamond, cinema,tarot,film, Daniel Craig, Gael Garcia Bernal,stocking stuffers, Christmas

ReIntroducing: Velma Von Tussel

Here are your first images of Michelle Pfeiffer in next summer's musical Broadway-to-screen transfer Hairspray [click to enlarge]

For those of you who aren't familiar with Hairspray: a) what's wrong with you? and b) get thee to the John Waters 1988 classic immediately. It's so great. I always wanted Michelle Pfeiffer to play Debbie Harry in a movie (a job for Kiki apparently) but it looks like reinterpreting Harry's role in a movie is the closest that Pfeiffer will get to that.

I'm more than a little worried about this movie. In it's previous incarnations as a cult comedy classic and as a hit Broadway musical it's been endearingly goofy, a touch perverse and wildly entertaining. But this film replaces the queer genius of Divine and Harvey Feirstein with (gulp) John Travolta. The new typeface at the official website doesn't help instill confidence either. Instead of the Broadway musical's bright airy logo, this one is all garish with black outlines and darkened colors. Ewww.

Plus it's directed by Adam Shankman. Now he knows from choreography, his credits there are abundant and that helps in dance musicals a genre to which Hairspray> easily belongs. In addition to numerous movies he also choreographed one of Buffy the Vampire Slayer's finest moments ever: the musical episode "Once More With Feeling." You know how I feel about Buffy so it's really hard to hate on him. (here is Shankman with Buffy herself --->)

But so far as a helmer... unless you count Shankman's The Wedding Planner, A Walk to Remember, Bringing Down the House, The Pacifier, or Cheaper by the Dozen 2 as classics, you're probably thinking that Hairspray just might suck. Or at least it will be closer to the Rent school of mismanaged musical properties and far from the land of the Chicago bullseye.

But: Michelle Pfeiffer is in it!

Tags: movies, cinema, Hairspray, moviemusicals musicals, animation,film, Michelle Pfeiffer, Divine,John Waters, hairspray

Friday, December 22, 2006

Lead/Support: A Fine Line

Hudson in Dreamgirls. Bening in Running With Scissors. The casts of The Departed and Little Miss Sunshine. O'Hara in For Your Consideration. If you've seen those movies, how would you categorize the roles: Lead or support? Inquiring minds want to know.

Year in Review: This Blog (So Self Indulgent. So Meta)

2006 Year in Review: The First of Two Zillion Posts Looking Back on the Year That Was...

Some may find this particular post as annoying as those sitcom episodes where they use flashbacks (clipreels) instead of making a new episode. But considering the amount I'm pumping out for you daily, you can allow me the self indulgence. Behold: Three lists about this here blog in 2006 --minus the month we're in now. Those of you who've just joined us or have been naughty intermittent readers, you can catch up. The rest of you can sweetly reminisce about things that just barely happened. Good times.

a dozen semi randomly chosen favorites
12 Movie Meme it's still showing up in odd places ~ I'm so proud.
11 Rowlumbusitis Diagnosing a Hollywood disease.
10 untitled featuring Louise Brooks.
09 Melissa Etheridge Wants Angelina Jolie If you're in bed with Brad...
08 Request: The Sound of Music fun to write.
07 She's a Bitch (@ the movies) first adventure in iMovie
06 "Don't Turn the Projector Off!" on The Purple Rose of Cairo: this post was crucial in my decision to do the personal canon. I need to write more about movies I love to keep the cinema love alive in the face of bad movies.
05 Last Night I Met Kate Winslet a Little Children: the cocktail party
04 David Jude Law writing the Actors of the Aughts list chewed up a great chunk of time but I loved doing it. The discussions were much to chew on as well.
03 The Battle That Never Ends simple, still true.
02 Pfeiffer Blog-a-Thon Seeing the turnout in participation and readership was divine. Apparently I'm not the only one that loves Hollywood's MIA blonde legend.
01 The Whitakers Vs. The Del-Mar Twists Far From Heaven vs. Brokeback

Interesting Comments Sections
The Fountain plot and/or narrative?
Notes on Talking... I'm losing patience with Cate Blanchett. Readers aren't.
Oscar Night in Review on 'Black Sunday' --Brokeback's loss got y'all riled up --well over 100 comments.

Celebrity traffic boosters: These posts brought lotsa eyeballs
Scarlett Johansson Week The actress du jour
A History of ... Gyllenhaal Jake & Maggie mania and the birth of a popular series (on hiatus until '07 obviously)
A History of ... Angelina Jolie co-starring Haven, Pitt & Aniston
We Are All Nicole Kidman
a quiz
Hump Day Hottie: Channing Tatum ya pervs
Desperately Apeing Jennifer Connelly -misadventures of Jared Leto

Happy Holidays

For those you moving into the scary "offline" world for the duration of this family & friends laden week of festivities...

May your moviegoing be merry.


I can't sleep for reasons too annoying to go into here. The worst thing about insomnia is not that you're awake. It's that you aren't fully awake. So instead of a new snazzy article (and I'm aware that there are a million movies I need to write about) you get a few links.

popbytes amazing photos of Winslet
new now next MaddyMo to direct a movie? a gay latino boxing movie?
GreenCine interview with Cuaron on Children of Men, which is really growing on me --anxious to see again.

and, finally, I'd like to point on two blogs completely echoing my exact thoughts on recent news items: savage cats on the Gong Li golden flower 'controversy' and film ick on Samantha Morton's replacement on Transibberian

Thursday, December 21, 2006

#97 The Women

If you ask any group of film buffs to name Hollywood's pinnacle year --it's "best year ever"-- chances are that "1939" will be uttered quickly and then argued about. That was the year that brought us Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Ninotchka and at least a dozen other extremely beloved films. Also strutting around in theaters that year was a bitchy but endearing comedy/melodrama mix. The film's impressive star line up was headlined by Norma Shearer as Mrs Stephen Haines. She was orbited by stars of similar (or then just-lesser) stature: Rosalind Russell, Joan Crawford, Paulette Goddard and Joan Fontaine among them. Even with the mega-wattage and box office pull of the stars The Women bore the sexist, reductive tagline:

“It’s all about men!”

Not that it isn't about men, I must quickly add. Or at least women's ideas about the men in their lives. The drama and comedy in The Women comes from the way the gathered actresses fight over men, adore men, adjust themselves for men, connect themselves to men and sabotage each other --presumably also for men. What? You thought with Roz Russell and bitchtastic Joan Crawford in the mix that this wouldn't be catty?

Continue reading... for more on this starry 30s comedy.

Tags: movies, cinema, The Women, comedy women, film, Joan Crawford, Norma Shearer,MGM

Supporting Actor: Updates

Where are we at now?

I've altered the rankings in my Supporting Actor Predictions for Oscar. But I'll say this. It looks volatile ... or at least more volatile than other categories. Nearly a dozen men still in the mix, albeit with varying levels of traction. But here's where I currently think Oscar will go. Return and discuss.

  • Why did Steve Carell (a comedian getting serious) never get any traction?
  • Where did Brad Pitt's buzz go?
  • Can Oscar enjoy Mark Wahlberg the way audiences do?
  • Of the major players, who do you think doesn't have the traction suspected?
Also vote on the new poll (the past 20 years of the supporting actor Oscar)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Hump Day Hottie: Djimon Hounsou

Djimon Hounsou, he of the 6’4” Olympian hard body, has one of those great Hollywood stories. Born in Benin he immigrated to Paris as a teenager where he lived on the streets until he was discovered (by Thierry Mugler to be precise) and thrust into the world of high fashion, catwalks, and print. Beloved by reknowned chroniclers of the male form like Herb Ritts (RIP) and Greg Gorman (nsfw Djimon) he eventually worked his way into the movies starting with Sandra Bernhard’s cult classic performance film Without You I’m Nothing (1990) –which you know makes me love him even more. Plus: it’s fun to say his name. (jee-mahn han-soo)

What makes Djimon Hounsou more desirable than the average model turned actor is that he is good at both professions. Just ask Cindy Crawford and thousands more: top notch model doesn’t often equal top notch actor. The combination isn’t quite as rare as that pink diamond that everyone goes batshit crazy for in Blood Diamond but it’s in the same ballpark: once in a blue moon.

That said Hounsou probably says yes too often as an actor. For an actor of mid level fame and a good amount of respect, why does he take those barely-there roles like Tomb Raider 2? And why on God’s green earth did he agree to get in that embarrassing colored breastplate for Eragon for instance? But it’s easy to see why casting directors are hot on him for genre pieces: it’s that otherworldly beauty (well another world than Hollywood at least), imposing physicality and screen presence even sans dialogue.

It wasn’t long ago that Hounsou was a surprise Oscar nominee for In America and he could be up for the same prize again for his new role as a fisherman turned action hero (well, sort of) in Blood Diamond. Though I should say this now: Calling Hounsou a supporting actor in this is like saying that Sidney Poiter was “supporting” Tony Curtis in The Defiant Ones. This film is essentially about two African men, one white (ginormous movie star Leonardo DiCaprio) and one black (Honsou), who are both thrust into considerable danger while pursuing the same thing (the titular diamond) for different reasons. DiCaprio has the more complex role. But he’s white and this is one of those movies, the subgenre White Liberal Guilt Epic so you know that the black characters will be one dimensional. Hounsou’s character is such a saint in this movie that he doesn’t even seem to understand the concept of lying. He’s utterly confused when DiCaprio tells him to do so. He’s either a saint or he’s ridiculously stupid. I’m hoping that the critical awards momentum that Hounsou is experiencing is due to a climactic scene wherein he movingly talks his violent son back into his arms rather than for his other scenes which seem to consist of screaming but I have my doubts.


And as a bonus, enjoy one of the happiest music videos ever made: "Love Will Never Do (Without You)" starring Janet Jackson and a bevy of hard bodies including Hounsou's. He's a little Kevin Aviance androgynous here but that's A-OK with us. He sure does look happy lipsynching. Other famous faces within include Antonio Sabato, Jr (the ex-Mr. Virginia Madsen, don'cha know) and one of Madonna's Blonde Ambition Truth or Dare boys, 'Carlton'.

Previous Hump Day Hotties: Scarjo & the twins a celebration of Scarlett and cleavage * Daniel "Bond, James Bond" Craig long time fancied, pre-007 * Brad Pitt golden über hotness and exhibitionist tendencies * Qi Shu & Chen Chang 3 times is not enough * Jamie Dornan & Asia Argento burning up Versailles * James McAvoy randy king of Scotland * Naomie Harris pretty chameleon * Hot on TV from "Agent Cooper" to "Faith" * Channing Tatum steppin' up and out * Hugh Jackman dancer, mutant, god * Uma Thurman 18 years of hotness. * Cheyenne Jackson Broadway to Hollywood * Season One of HDH Gyllenhaal, Li, Bernal, etc...

tags: Djimon Hounsou, movies, cinema, Blood Diamond, Africa, academy awards, celebrity, Leonardo DiCaprio

Anne Hathaway is Pretty

I was watching The Devil Wears Prada (again) the other night and I had the following collosally obvious realization: Anne Hathaway is, like, really really pretty. Beautiful in the big full memorable sense of the word.

Have you had a startlingly obvious epiphany of late? If so, share in the comments.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Pretty in Link

J.J. honors two of my favorite actresses: Donna Murphy & Viola Davis. Why Hollywood isn't casting them I'll never kn-- oh wait, that's right: Cate Blanchett had a free week in her calendar and she does bit parts now, too.
Cinema Strikes Back A hilarious bit on a silly movie headline. Love it.
Solace in Cinema A five year old boy reviews Star Wars. If it sounds a little too much like a plot synopsis, well, he'd fit right in at any major paper!
Cinematical on Volver's Goya nods -Go Pedro & Penelope! She's pretty.
MSN Movies Nicole Kidman's best friend on the physical luxury / emotional exhaustion of The Painted Veil. That film opens tomorrow on the coasts so go see it. It's pretty.
MNPP says happy b-day to Jake Gyllenhaal. He's pretty.

All Hail The Queen (and other tales of year end prizes)

[There's an animated gif in this post so give it a minute to load -Nathaniel]

Greetings awards watchers. With over a half dozen critical prizes already announced, one thing is still as certain as it ever was: Helen Mirren is going to win Best Actress. To save her money on airfare can't they just ship it to her now?

Anyway here is how the chips have been falling

Best Picture: Echoing what looks to be a highly contentious Oscar Best Picture race, critics in a rare episode of “I have a different opinion than my colleagues,” seem split. The current tally (counting only critical prizes) is as follows:
United 93 and The Departed: 3 each Letters From Iwo Jima, The Queen, Little Children: 1 each

Best Actor: Forest Whitaker Last King of Scotland: 7.5 Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat: 1.5 (they tied once. very niccccce) Poor Leonardo DiCaprio has yet to be honored despite the double dip.

And now, enjoy, this mini film I've made for you, awards junkies:

Best Actress "Helen Mirren is the poo. So take a big whiff." Though I think her star turn in The Queen is a swell performance I’m still a little alarmed at the ease in which she wins everything. It's like it's the greatest performance of all time or something? Where are the critics with a differing opinion? Or do media outlets only hire critics with interchangeable aesthetic taste? The tally as it stands so far: Mirren: 9 Dench, Streep, Gyllenhaal, Winslet, Bening, etcetera: 0

Best Director: Martin Scorsese The Departed: 6 Paul Greengrass United 93: 2, Stephen Frears The Queen: 1. I’m not going to say that “it’s __________ year!” because who wants to jinx that?

Best Supporting Actor Jackie Earle Haley Little Children: 4 Djimon Honsou Blood Diamond & Michael Sheen The Queen: 2 each Mark Wahlberg The Departed: 1. The movie stars (Jack Nicholson, Brad Pitt, Eddie Murphy) that were early expected leaders for the actual Oscar (and who dominated the Globe nods) are still nowhere in sight.

Best Supporting Actress Jennifer Hudson Dreamgirls 4.5 Adriana Barazza Babel, Shareeka Epps Half Nelson, Luminita Gheor The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, Cate Blanchett for Notes on a Scandal: 1 each and my beloved Catherine O’Hara For Your Consideration .5 (tied with Hudson once)

My Oscar Predictions will be updated Friday. The Critics Pages (they’re missing NYFCO & Vegas currently) will be updated tonight.

Monday, December 18, 2006

You Linky, You

AfterElton The Year in Queer (Movies)
Cinematical Jeffrey Anderson offers up his ten best list.
In Contention So does Kris Tapley. But he cheats with a tie for #1 ;)
Flick Filosopher finds the force in Eragon. Funny because her criticism is spot on about this shamelessly derivative movie.
ModFab tells Mel Gibson where to stick it.
Electronic Cerebrectomy names the best movie posters of the year.
Edward Copeland on the 20th anniversary of Little Shop of Horrors

And you may have heard that TIME magazine named me the person of the year. I have nothing to say about this other than "duh!" but I like these posts about Time's pronouncement @ Brevity is Wit and ModFab and I also like that I get a beautiful shout out at QTA under "Best Blogs". Today was a happy day. mwah.

The Pursuit of Will's Happiness

It may please you to know that the new Will Smith vehicle Pursuit of Happyness is mostly free of the overt sentimentality promised in its trailer. Even the offputting spelling error in the title didn’t grate in context. Smith’s own star turn is also well played, a huge relief since one imagines it’s the movie’s principal reason for being. Smith plays Chris Gardner who rises from single homeless dad to successful stockbroker in this tale both simple and simply told.

Given today’s movie trending towards overplotting, simplicity can often be a sweet salve. But a little of it goes a long way: Pursuit overstays its welcome with a repetitive structure and such an intense focus on the movie star at its core that it barely notices any other character, all of them existing only to provide obstacles or helping hands (usually obstacles). Like many triumph of the human spirit stories it also suffers from complete obviousness. The final emotional payoff is never in doubt –not that that would be a problem if the movie didn’t take an awful long time to get there. There’s even a lessons learned voiceover by Smith which makes the movie, for all its attempts at adult honesty regarding poverty and ruined marriages, feel like a children’s film. We’re even given cute chapter titles like “running” for sections of the movie in which, yes, Chris Gardner runs a lot.

It’s easy to follow and easy to root for the movie star but Pursuit of Happyness’s inspirational message didn’t engage my mind enough to distract me from what it leaves unsaid. Take Pursuit’s central plot point: Chris Gardner changes his life by accepting an unpaid internship with Dean Witter. At the end of this grueling internship the company chooses one of its twenty unpaid interns to hire. (You only get one guess as to who is chosen.) This information is presented as a daunting but golden opportunity : a chance for an ‘up by your bootstraps’ tale of triumphant life change. But all I could think of while listening to the conditions of the game was “what a racket.” This is an underdog story but it completely glosses over a cynical and genius move on the part of big business. They feed off of working stiffs without having to reimburse them, and Hollywood is there with an “amen”.

Chris Gardner works his way out of homeless shelter but what of the other interns? If we’re to follow the film’s logic they each have done the same thing as Chris Gardner. They’ve all taken on gigantic workloads, earning large revenues for a huge corporation and all but one of them receives nothing in return. It’s a sweet deal for big business but this happy ending is only for one man. The other unlucky souls, the ones filling the backgrounds of the frame with nary a handful of lines among them to give them movie life, Pursuit has no use for them. They’re but grist for the storytelling and corporate mill. It’s a triumphant tale alright. But guess who wins? C

Monologue Monday: "Rent Boy"

Choose Life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose fixed interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends.

Choose leisurewear and matching luggage. Choose a three-piece suite on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on Sunday night. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pissing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats you spawned to replace yourselves. Choose your future. Choose life.

But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life. I chose somethin' else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you've got heroin?
That's the opening lines from Ewan McGregor's sensational breakthrough in Trainspotting (1996). Who would have thought that this mesmerizing actor, who at first specialized in lowlifes like Mark 'Rent Boy' Renton and the devilish grinning Alex in Shallow Grave would have morphed into one of the screen's most endearing heartthrobs? When you stop to really consider his range: look at the aforementioned plus great work in Moulin Rouge!, The Velvet Goldmine and able headlining turns in Down with Love and Big Fish...well, it's an outrage that he hasn't yet been nominated for an Academy Award. And now he's playing second fiddle to Renée Zellweger's supremely annoying Miss Potter ? Oh the humanity. Ewan deserves better treatment from the Academy, filmmakers, and the moviegoing public.

Next For McGregor

His next five movies look (on paper) like quality fixes for we McGregor junkies. The first one out is Woody Allen's Scoop follow up, Cassandra's Dream which co-stars Colin Farrel and Tom Wilkinson. After that it gets even more intriguing. In The Great Pretender (2008), a comedy, he'll play a dual role as a Hollywood star and the extra who impersonates him. He co-stars with Ben Kingsley and Emily Mortimer (his Young Adam lover) in Number 13 which takes place on the set of an Alfred Hitchcock film. I, Lucifer, an adaptation of the bestseller, will pit Ewan against a devilish Daniel Craig --that's a lot of hottie for one film. And speaking of... The Tourist, already filming, pairs Ewan with Hugh Jackman who introduces him to sex clubs! You've just bought an imaginary ticket, haven't you?

Related Posts:
Miss Fugly on Miss Potter
Where is Ewan McGregor's Penis random thoughts
Ewan Gordon McGregor #3 Actor of the Aughts
Moulin Rouge! my obsession: scene by scene

Tags: actors, cinema, Academy Awards, Ewan McGregor, Renee Zellweger, Hugh Jackman, Daniel Craig,Trainspotting, film, movies

Sunday, December 17, 2006

I Could Never Be Your Comeback

Continuing the brutal saga of "will we EVER see Michelle Pfeiffer again?" seems there's yet more trouble for MGM's plans for I Could Never Be Your Woman which they've moved at least thrice now. You can read about it at Variety if you're following this infernal wait for the return of the great one.

I was shocked that MGM handled Casino Royale so superbly this fall --but maybe that was all Sony. It's not MGM's usual MO, the deft handling of hot properties. They screwed up royally with Hotel Rwanda in 2004 --Not a great film but one that could have gone much much further with audiences & awards with a different studio behind it. Anyway, I had allowed myself to hope that even if I Could... weren't any good, it could still be a hit for the romcom market: quality is seemingly not a factor for success determinatino in this genre which tends to rely mostly on casting combos to excite its audience and the Rudd/Pfeiffer match seemed curious and inspired.

Will this film ever get released?


Celebrity Miscellania
Glitterati Gossip Christina Ricci fur fallout.
WOW Angie & Maddox & crickets.
Stale Popcorn Glenn finds his best actress. It ain't Mirren.

Twitch a Canadian top ten. The only film I'm even vaguely familiar with is Away From Her, which stars the legendary Julie Christie and will have a US release next year. Anyone wanna share info on the others?
Slant Ed & Nick deliver their top tens. (I wish Slant's lists weren't always so similar to one anothers but I don't mean that as a dig. It's just an observation. It's a thing that happens with other collective outlets too --an indication, perhaps, that the writers see or at least discuss all the movies together? Or maybe it's just that they hire people with similar taste so that the outlet has a specific aesthetic pov. I don't know. Just thinking aloud. But you see this elsewhere too. Again, not really about Slant. But I think who you view and discuss movies with does very much effect your reaction to said movies)
LA Times best of 2006

Hollywood Elsewhere Jennifer Holliday is upset about Dreamgirls but I wonder if she weren't an apparent recluse if she could've been in it? The always entertaining Loretta Devine (Crash, Boston Public), also a member of Dreamgirls original cast --she played Lorell, Anika Noni Rose's part now-- got not just a cameo but a cameo with a solo musical number.
Artifacts fun post on weaves, wigs and diva feuds. Starring: Beyoncé and JHud.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Under Your Tree

The Film Experience's exhaustive (for you and for me, people) "Year in Review" begins on December 22nd, the first official day o' winter. The coal: the Worst of the Year feature. The stocking: crammed full of sweet juicy lists. The big prezzie under the tree: The 7th Annual Film Bitch Awards. And just when you think it's time to wrap up 2006, The Oscars will keep it going a wee bit longer. Screw December 31st! New (Film) Year's Eve doesn't arrive until February 25th, 2007 when those naked golden boys with swords hit the Kodak theater.

In the comments
Please FYC for people you'd like to see join me for the 2nd annual Oscar Symposium (last year's group here), movies you're rooting for in various FB categories (there are so many), and other year end holiday hopes. What do you want under your tree?

If you want to review how we do, investigate the awards index

How'd They Do That ?!

The Academy f/x "bake off", a process by which they winnow down the eligible contenders for Oscar glory by viewing clip reels from campaigning films, has declared that these 7 films have the year's best visual effects:

Casino Royale (Bond explosiveness)
Eragon (dragon riding)
Night at the Museum (CG chaos)
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (Davy Jones!)
Poseidon (ship sinking worked before)
Superman Returns (flying! lifting things!)
X-Men: The Last Stand (Best most effects)

Which begs the question: What of the trippiest f/x experiences of the year. In 2006 no effects work freaked me out more than that sequence at the feast in Pan's Labyrinth and none moved me more than those in The Fountain, which I suppose fall into the non-Oscary trap of actually working as storytelling (see also: the snubbing of the f/x in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) rather than primarily as surface level of "wow, how'd they do that?" razzle dazzleables.

My tech predictions here.

And this is worth checking out: Boing Boing points us to a really interesting web site on the special effects in the Pirates sequel, which are obviously heading for the win.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Buffy the Television Slayer

In the winter I tend to watch a bit more television and I recently realized that no matter how much I love any given show I chance upon, none are ever as good as Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Truly. Nothing. Maybe they should just quit. TV, I mean. Stop production on everything.

This message has been brought to you by my DVDs of Buffy's season 1 (even bad Buffy is great) & season 3 (the best season of anything ever). Stupidly I don't own the other 5 seasons.

Friday Song & Dance

Dreamgirls opens tonight albeit at excruciatingly high prices $25 a seat here in Manhattan until Christmas. What is that about? Posting will be light this weekend: gotta get to that movie and shopping blitz. But have a great weekend and enjoy this Friday morning with a vaguely Golden Globe themed musical morning with the following videos!

Clockwise from top left: Globe nominee Toni Collette and The Finish sing "Beautiful Awkward Pictures" [src], Beyoncé in a short clip singing (rather emphatically I might add) one of the original songs for Dreamgirls "Listen", Meryl Streep & Lily Tomlin singing "My Minnesota Home" from the rudely Globe snubbed A Prairie Home Companion and, finally, Devotchka (who sing the Little Miss Sunshine Oscar song candidate) performing "We're Leaving" --great band.

And speaking of leaving. That's what I gots to do. On to that shopping / work / movie blitz.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

I Could Never Be Your Woman Trailer

All I want for Christmas is Michelle Pfeiffer's return. Santa's running late. Here's the trailer for I Could Never Be Your Woman. It says Valentine's Day but I'm hearing it's already pushed back to March.

Continuing today's theme of "hell yes! / oh no!" this is directed by Amy Heckerling who directed Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Clueless (hell, yes!) and also Look Who's Talking and Loser (oh no!). Woman looks a little Diane Keaton in Something's Gotta Give-cutesy (or worse?) but I'll take La Pfeiffer whenever and wherever I can get her, thank you very much.

Golden Globe Whiplash: "Hell Yes" and "Oh No!"

Are the Golden Globe voters idiot savants or just idiots? Or are they smart cookies with bad taste? It’s tough to say sometimes. They can give you whiplash with alternating smart and terrible choices, all lined up side by side. For every “hell, yes!” there’s an “ohmygod. No!” In my years of Oscarwatching I've come to this theory: The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is both smarter and stupider than the Motion Picture Academy.

for a rundown of the snubs, the biggest campaign boosts, and more on my hatred of Miss Potter, the beauty of supporting actress category, the f***ed up foreign category, and a John Williams-less year of film scoring.

See It, I Must

Movie awards obsessives will understand this. No one else will. One of the most trying things about this cursed affliction (awards fascination) is that, should a major awards group decide that a movie is worthy of something or other --even though it initially looked like it was going nowhere with Oscar, you suddenly have to see it. Even if you have no earthly desire to do so. It's the completist instinct.

I speak of ... Bobby. Rotten on the tomato-meter but now, a Golden Globe Best Picture nominee.

I speak of ... Apocalypto. Which has been described by people I trust as a snuff film of sorts. Ewwww. And now it's looking like a possible Oscar nominee in technical categories.

I speak of ... Blood Diamond. Which looks like all the other Edward Zwick movies about the trials of ethnic folk and the white people who save them (The Last Samurai, Glory). I never like these movies and they make me angry because I l-o-v-e Zwick's television work (his true calling) and these white liberal guilt epics are preventing him from making them.


This could be a very long weekend at the movies.

Globe Nominations = Live Chat

The Film Experience & Modern Fabulousity thank you for joining in on the chat session which was great fun for nearly two hours (we started early at 8:00ish--eager beavers, all). Unfortunately around about 9:45 the chat room locked up. But I hope you had a ball while it lasted. I did.

Renée Zellweger showed up and was nearly stoned to death. The Bening announced her nominatable supremacy. Bill Condon's Dreamgirls snub caused a collective scratching of the head. Fox News led with Gibson's Apocalypto nod (of course). Eastwood and DiCaprio double whammies came at the expense of worthier candidates (the chat participants loved themselves some Ryan Gosling in Half Nelson --they're picking out black clothing as we speak) and there was a great mutual cheer for Emily Blunt who is heaven in The Devil Wears Prada. It was agreed that Best Actor, Comedy is a terrible lineup.

UPDATE The Golden Globe page at the main site will have commentary posted this evening. It's back to bed for me.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

What'cha Looking For?

'Round about this time (awards season) my traffic always goes on the rise as Oscar junkies come out in force. But some people end up here randomly... looking for something. What it is only those people know. I am not able to transfer this blog to the new beta version where you can sort by topic (on account of the blog's size / comment volume) So regular readers can move on to another post but if you're new: recap
Bookmark. Subscribe. Comment. Share in the obsession...

Miss Fugly

Oh, you guys...

Miss Potter --ouch. It's the life story of Beatrix Potter (Renée Zellweger) whose sweet children's books (like Peter Rabbit) became ginormous best-sellers. The bulk of the movie concerns the first years of her career and her relationship with her editor (played by the reliably delightful Ewan McGregor). If the tinkly music and biopic creakiness doesn't annoy you, though, Renée sure will. We know from the great Babe (1995) that director Chris Noonan can do cute and whimsical without going too coy or precious. To his credit that's a tight rope to walk but yeesh, his leading lady ain't helping him walk it. The supporting cast is fine (McGregor fans may get a kick daydreaming about Moulin Rouge! while watching this for reasons I won't go into) if not particularly challenged, but then there's Renée.

Now I know some of you will immediately rag on me for being a hater. But I should let you in on a little secret: I actually wanted the big Z to redeem herself. I did. I mean, I've long since moved on. Loving to hate her...hating to love her. That's so 2003. I've found a far worthier punching bag since then. But there's no mistaking that she's a mess in this film.

At first I thought she was going for some sort of kabuki Mary Poppins homage. No joke. I did. I was even thinking. 'Um, it's not working Renée but good for you for being a weirdo and having a take on the character' And then I just started getting scared because I realized: she just doesn't know what she's doing anymore. This is an incredibly affected performance. It's as if she forgot that only some of her scenes are performed with animated characters. She definitely forgot that you don't have to do something with your face at every moment when the camera is on you. Sometimes just existing, your face in repose, is all the camera needs. Even our mediocre famous actresses (the Bosworths, the Albas et. al) understand this.

Renée was once a very good and pretty actress (see Nurse Betty and Bridget Jones Diary for proof) but something is wrong with her. I'm absolutely perplexed about her appearance in this movie. I can't recall a leading lady this famous allowed to look this terrible onscreen --her face is all blotchy and her makeup and wig are also unflattering. Add the aesthetic misfortunes to her continual face pulling and you have a film that's hard to look at, Miss Potter's delightful drawings aside.

Miss Potter D+ Renée Zellweger F

UPDATE: in one of the worst decisions the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has ever made... or perhaps in their most perverse prank, they've nominated this atrociously fussy performance for a Golden Globe as Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical. If the category was named "Worst Actress" than maybe OK, yes...

tags: Renee Zellweger, movies, Ewan McGregor,celebrities, Miss Potter, biopic, cinema, peter rabbit,films

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Must Love Links

some good reads...
Slant on hijacking awards season
Nerve eavesdropping at the NYFCC [src]
ModFab on the best song contenders
But I Always Like a Good Storm on the ever delicious John Barrowman.
Defamer on the straight-washing of Heroes only gay character.

some good views...
Cinema Strikes Back has Volver wallpaper for your screen
popbytes on Illeanarama which is like an unexpected early Christmas gift for Illeana Douglas fans like myself. And I thought I was alone...
East News stills from the first of 3 Pfeiffer Pfilm coming in 2007 (thx, AJ)

and some Devil Wears Prada lovin' to send you off
samurai frog on the loaded DVD & the greatness of Hathaway
Dennis Lim Streep, "a goddess among mere mortals" (thx, Mick)

Pfeiffer Watch: Stardust Testing

Maybe you've heard that I like Michelle Pfeiffer?

a little bit, yeah.

2007 will hopefully usher in a new productive Pfeifferian era. Three films are due, which is quite a lot considering her face hasn't graced the screen since her wicked genius spin in 2002's White Oleander (my review). Release dates keep shifting but it looks like Stardust, a Princess Bride-ish adaptation of Neil Gaiman's hugely entertaining novel, will be the second to arrive (after the romcom I Could Never Be Your Woman with Paul Rudd). Pfeiffer plays a very evil blood loving witch in Stardust.

Some early test screening reviews (beware of spoilers -unless you've read the book. Than just read away)
  • #1 This moviegoers says that Michelle “chews scenery throughout most of the film” and deems her “over-the-top”
  • #2 Another thinks she is "phenomenal" and compares the performance's power to her actorly swagger as Catwoman in Batman Returns.
Are you excited yet? Stardust Official Site still empty. Give me something. Give it to me! Give it to me!

(previously in my breathless anticipation of La Pfeiffer's return)

Child Stars Give You Wrinkles

Mayim Balik who, in a brilliant feat of casting, played the young Bette Midler in Beaches (and later went on to TV fame with Blossom) is 31 years old today. I only bring this up because oh my god that makes me feel old. Wasn't it just yesterday that I bought the Beaches soundtrack on (gasp) cassette! Wasn't it yesterday that it was all the rage to joke about collagen pioneer Barbara Hershey's inflated lips? If it wasn't yesterday it was like a year ago ... tops!

Just imagine how you'll feel when Dakota Fanning or Haley Joel Osment turn 30! You'll feel ancient. Be warned.