Tuesday, January 31, 2006


FWIW. My scores Oscar prediction-wise 85% of the main categories * 87% if you include the techs * 79% of EVERYTHING. (that's if you include the things that very few predict like foreign, documentary, shorts, etc... everything). The crazy thing about spending so much time Oscar prognosticating is I correctly foresaw 28% of all nominations when I did my "year in advance" predix. Not too shabby. There's one category Visual Effects when my guess was better one year ago than it was after seeing all the films. Ha ha.

I'm afraid of me.

The Good. The Bad. The Ugly (Even More Thoughts on the Oscar Noms)

The Good
1. Lots of first-timers. Good to have the Academy getting new blood in there. They obviously need it.

2. As far as former winners go: Really happy to see William Hurt return to Oscar's former warm embrace after a 18 year dry spell. I saw it coming... but chickened out but two days before nominations in predicting it.

3. Pride & Prejudice did reasonably well. Yay.

4. Ubiquitous and pushy campaigns paid off for some of the deserving people (Amy Adams!) but not for all of the undeserving (Cinderella Man)

5. Best Animated Feature actually ignored the big studio CG and went for the actual three best animated films. Imagine it!

The Bad
1. Munich survived the ho-hum screening reactions indicating that that pre-ordained status will --more often than not (see also Gangs of New York) get you past a lot of troubling reactions. People often do vote "how they're supposed to." Not that Munich is a bad film or anything. But definitely not one of the 5 most well regarded or one of the five most beloved or one of the five most successful. So what exactly is it doing here?

2. Neither of my two favorite female performances made it. Joan Allen's snub you can blame on the Globes. They killed off her momentum to honor, Charlizzzzzzzzz. What --oh. Sorry. Excuse me for slobbering on the pillow. I nodded off. Maria Bello's is harder to explain. It's the second very visible cold-shouldering from the AMPAS voters.

The Ugly
1. I don't know any other way to put this so sorry for the vulgarity
[ahem] --when will the composing branch ever get tired of sucking John Williams dick? You'd think the slavish and excessive generosity/worship would get embarrassing for them once in awhile. NOBODY and I do mean nobody (not Brando. not Streep. not Almodovar. not Sandy Powell. not Edith Head. not anyone --no matter how brilliant) deserves an Oscar nomination every year of their career. And nobody else gets one every year of their career. It's an impossibility that you can be the best for your entire life on every assignment that you take. Blech. And he's hogging 40% of the Score category. AGAIN. I feel sick. If he had any decency he would personally remove his genitals from their insatiable mouths and ask to be ineligible from here on out (a la Bill Cosby back in the Emmy days for The Cosby Show) because they clearly are out of control in their wild-eared lust for him. (If you're not sick of this rant yet by some strange happenstance--there's even MORE over at the site --because sometimes I can't shut up. It's less vulgar though.)

2. No David Cronenberg. This has to be their most egregious error this year. And he even campaigned! Some people are just too talented for middlebrow Oscar recognition. Ah, well. His films are their own rewards.

Now, YOU play along:
Name ONE thing in each category: GOOD, BAD, UGLY in the comments section.

Oscar Nominations !!!


They're Heee--eeeere. Here's the big six for your instant discussion pleasure. The individual pages at the site will be updated on an ongoing basis starting now as long as my fingers hold up (70 wpm, baby). You'll know they're updated when links pop up in the list below. All my time today will be devoted to the Oscar pages on the site. But comment here if the spirit moves you.

Best Picture
Brokeback Mountain (Focus)
Capote (Sony Pictures Classics)
Crash (Lions Gate)
Good Night, and Good Luck. (Warner Independent)
Munich (Universal)

note: The editing nominations, which usually line up well with BP and don't line up well this year are: Cinderella Man, Crash, Munich, Walk the Line, and Constant Gardener read (aside form Crash) like an entire "who's who" of the films warring it out for the 5TH slot of the Oscars in everyone's mind. This suggests to me that it was a tighter race than we think for many 5th slots pertaining to the top pictures.

Best Director
Clooney, Good Night, and Good Luck.
Haggis, Crash
Lee, Brokeback Mountain
Miller, Capote
Spielberg, Munich

Best Actor
Hoffman, Capote
Howard, Hustle & Flow
Ledger, Brokeback Mountain
Phoenix, Walk the Line
Strathairn, Good Night, and Good Luck

NOTE:I told y'all forever that they would never give Crowe a nomination in the year in which he threw the phone. But so many did not believe me. Ha. You think they would normally nominate someone playing a pimp in a movie they probably neededd subtitles to understand? I thought not. Crowe's antics forced them to look at alternatives. Which is excellent because Terrence was MORE than deserving. Woo-hoo. Great category.

Best Actress
Dench, Mrs Henderson Presents
Huffman, TransAmerica
Knightley, Pride & Prejudice
Theron, North Country
Witherspoon, Walk the Line

NOTE: This category will be renamed Best Actreszzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Sorry Bello, Linney, Paltrow, Collette, Watts, Devos, Allen, and any others who gave interesting performances this year. But ah well, GO REESE! Get that Oscar you go-getter you. Oscar Voters: PICK FLICK!

Best Supporting Actor
George Clooney, Syriana
Matt Dillon, Crash
Paul Giamatti, Cinderella Man
Jake Gyllenhaal, Brokeback Mountain
William Hurt, A History of Violence

NOTE:so...how mad at I at myself for changing my prediction in this category 48 hours ago. I had it exactly right for a month and then changed it -ARGH!

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, Junebug
Catherine Keener, Capote
Frances McDormand, North Country
Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardener
Michelle Williams, Brokeback Mountain

NOTE: so after snubs for The Cooler (Globe and SAG) and A History of Violence (Globe), methinks the Oscar voters really owe Maria Bello in a strong way. Maria, get another great role quick. It's all about being owed. Just ask Paul Giamatti, so coasting on Sideways this year. But anyway this is a great category. All five are really fine actresses or at least worthy of note.

Merry Christmas!

oh... er--sorry. I meant to say "Happy Oscar Nominations Morning!" I get confused. I went to bed anxious. I woke up a couple of times hoping that it was morning. It wasn't. I wondered about the gifts I was soon to be getting. And then of course I remembered. Though Oscar Night has always been my favorite holiday, Oscar nominations morning is more anxiety inducing than Christmas morning. You're way more likely to get coal in your stocking for one.

Monday, January 30, 2006

SAG Winners

Our SAG Contest winners have been announced ...

A Little Prayer

Dear God,
I know some people would see this as a blasphemy. But you are the omnipotent ruler of the universe and as such you're undoubtedly aware that the Academy Awards are monumentally important to my very existence. So please bless Joan Allen, Maria Bello, the Davids Cronenberg & Strathairn, Heath Ledger, Amy Adams (hey she's totally into you in her movie), Donald Sutherland, Terrence Howard, Rodrigo Prieto, and other people I love to be nominated for Oscars tomorrow morning.

Thy will be done ... [ahem] but if it doesn't line up with mine, please arrange for makeup nominations and statues for this time next year. Amen.


Sunday, January 29, 2006

Final Oscar Predictions

Because it's time to put this all to bed. FINAL (absolutely final) Oscar predictions. Now let's take a day off from awards, shall we?

SAG Live Blogging. The Show. Conclusion

The wrap up and my concluding notes.

Jamie Foxx and Kerry Washington are presenting something or other. Why isn't Kerry Washington a bigger star? I need to know this right now. How impossibly pretty is she? Looks great in white. Oh no wait. how bizarre. that was from last year's show. I have no memory.
I love David Strathairn. Such a fine actor. I fear he may be snubbed on Tuesday.
And another possible snubbee on Tuesday Amy Adams. So happy for her about this awards season. Junebug is now out on DVD so y'all really owe it to yourself to rent it. I gave it a mixed positive review originally but the movie has improved in memory --always a great sign. Rent it.
S Epatha wins again for Lackawanna Blues. I miss having HBO. Thanks her divorce lawyer. Too too funny. The actors in the room ate that up.
Paul Newman wins for Empire Falls. So the Globes have been very predictive of tonights winners (Giamatti being the exception).
Jake and Heath together. YAY. but what is with this intro? I saw Heath on Jay Leno and he was also very twitchy and uncomfortable. Heath's hair is also sitting rather uncomfortably on his head.
BEST ACTRESS. Go Reese! "Ohmygod, y'all!" A little girl from Tennessee. Much improved on her Golden Globe speech. Good job. Next stop: OSCAR!
Oh why you gotta follow Reese with Hilary? Why you gotta stop my buzz short. oh cuz it's BEST ACTOR. Phillip Seymour Hoffman wins. So locked up for Oscar. sigh my poor Heath. So deserving but PSH is a steamroller. Oscar just can't resist the biopic performances. But anyway good speech from PSH.
They're showing a commercial for Firewall. Remember when Harrison Ford was a great movie star? What is going on there?
Even Morgan Freeman is wearing purple. Now, I love purple. My favorite color. But this is out of control. The Boyfriend has demanded a ban of purple at the Oscars. Freeman is announcing Best Ensemble. The winner is Crash. blah.
So Brokeback got shut out of the SAGs. That's too bad.

overall meaning of tonights awards?
REESE & PHILLIP just won their Oscars.
BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN will still win the Oscar --although several journalists will try to convince you it won't.
CRASH will probably win best screenplay
CLOONEY vs. GIAMATTI for supp. actor. (Giamatti has the edge unless they don't want George to go home empty handed)
WEISZ vs. WILLIAMS for supp. actress

SAG Live Blogging. The Show Part 2

Male Actors in Comedy. Zzzzzz. I can't laugh at James Spader because he creeps me out. Serious heebie jeebies. It's been true my whole life. But Sean Hayes wins and makes lots of Brokeback jokes that are about himself as an actor. If he were out of the closet that speech woulda been funny. But it's not really funny because he's still in the closet --even though everyone knows. NEXT!
Ensemble Comedy It's the Housewives. There's lots of purple happening there. The color of the night obviously. It's not just on them. Hey, they're letting the gayboy speak. Well, the character he plays is gay. He's very nervous.
Some speech. I was not paying attention. But here is Dakota Fanning. My friends thinks she is computer generated. Her films have already made like a billion dollars or something... Oh, I get it. She's introducing Shirley Temple Black. Has there ever been a child star as big since? Seriously. Dakota Fanning is not the #1 star in the land. Neither was Macauley Culkin. Etc...
If this tribute were to me I would want it to go on forever. But since it's not about me, I'd like for it to end. Seriously. Why do they let these tributes go on this long. The only time I ever enjoy them is if I am a diehard fan of the person in question. It seems like it would be smarter to keep these things shorter no matter who it was.
I glance away from the screen for one second and Jamie Lee Curtis appears and almost falls apparently. I love Jamie Lee Curtis. Love that she doesn't dye her gray hair. So robbed of an Oscar nomination that time (take your pick which year, 1988, 1994, or 2003).
I just noticed how close to the stage that they've seated the Brokeback Mountain people. They better win something. If they don't grrrrrrrr.
Shirley Temple Black is still talking...
Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Catherine Keener. I love her. Look how pretty she is in brown. It wouldn't been nice if PSH didn't wear his hair all David Spade like. Didn't I predict that the Capote table would be having fun. They seem happy.
Ziyi Zhang introduces the Supporting Actors. I still don't understand why Cheadle was nominated. Oh. Giamatti wins as I predicted. Clooney and Dillon both looked disappointed, but professional about it. Jake seemed very happy/embarrassed by his clip.
In memoriam always so sad. The voices behind both Tony the Tiger AND The Jolly Green Giant. Oh I love Frank Gorshin...my favorite Batman villain if you don't include Catwoman. And Shelley Winters. Oh, I really should've written about her on the site.

okay on to the last post.

SAG Live Blogging. The Show Part 1

In their quick cut intro, Sandra Oh looks cute. Dillon flirts with Sedgwick (?), Keener and Phoenix are both working the messy hair --they wear it well.
Randy Quaid is an actor. He's also apparently very cloyingly sentimental. S Epatha Merkerson is cool. James Denton is an actor. He's handsome in that generic way. But his "I'm on the radio" voice scares me. Anne Hathaway --never mind I HATE PATRICIA HEATON. I just always need to make that clear. Nobody who disses the Pfeiffer deserves space on your TV screen. Thandie Newton is beautiful.
Sandra Bullock is angry all the time and she doesn't know why. The Boyfriend hates "Crash" and keeps reminding the room. My friend Mina says "this show is self-serving and over-dramatized." Does he mean Crash or the SAG Awards? I didn't think to ask.
CLIPS! All awards shows need more clips. Sandra Oh. Everyone in this room clearly loves Sandra Oh. There was screaming. And we l-o-v-e this black & white dress.
Keifer Sutherlandjust won the TV Actor award. The polka dot tie is cute. You know, it's confession time. I really really (I mean really and truly) loved The Lost Boys back in the 80s. Remember that vampire movie. I have a thing for vampires. And I had a crush on Keifer Sutherland at the time. I actually sat through those Young Gun bratpack movies...
hey, we all make mistakes.
Hustle & Flow intro. Terrence is just amazing. I hope he gets the Oscar nomination Tuesday. This movie is so endearing. Now there's some technical difficulties on the show. I know about that too.
Outstanding Performance By an Ensemble in a Drama Series. WOW. I forget how quick they get through these things at the SAGs. I don't watch a lot of TV so I haven't seen many of these shows more than once or twice. But I like that they get rid of the TV personalities early on so I can dream about my movie stars. I miss Six Feet Under. That's the only one of these I have seen regularly. Lost wins. I like the idea of genre shows getting respect finally. But I saw the first few episodes of this and just wasn't blown away. The guy who is representing Lost is wearing flip-flops or something with his suit. No joke. That's just... but anyway he looks really good otherwise. Shaved heads. Yum.
SUPPORTING ACTRESS. contest hopefuls. you know if you guessed the colors right now on these dresses. Who will it be i'm so excited....pins and needles. Rachel Weisz wins again. I guess this is not as big of a contest as we all thought. She looks very good tonight. "Darren Aronofsky I don't know what to call you --my everything" ohhhh. I am embarrassed but I had someone not known or forgotten that they were together. I want The Fountain to be great. I mean stupendously great. I assume you all do too.
They're talking to voiceover actors. I do find it a little odd that this is rarely an awards category. So many actors make their living in this way.
Now they're back to TV. That Supporting Actress Movie prize was just a little snack for us. We have to wait for the rest. I think Patricia Arquette looks cute in that marcel wave.
Felicity Huffman just won Best Actress. I know people think I hate her. The truth is I do not. I just don't want her to win for Transamerica. I think she's excellent on Desperate Housewives. So, it's all good. Congrats, Felicity.

move on to Part 2

SAG Live Blogging. Arrivals Part 2

Already having technical problems so if I CAN do this I will. If not I won't simple as that [frown]. Refresh on occassion and if it's working you'll see new commentary.
ARGH. I hate this laptop. It is soooo confused about it's connection and there is so much inanity to cover... I'll keep trying.
Earlier that was the simplest dress I had ever seen on Charlize Theron. And she looked rather sans makeup. I loved her little "I did Aeon Flux BEFORE this!" excuse making. Sensitive much? He didn't even ask about it.
And good earrings Charlize. Well done.
How much do i love Mary Louise Parker? Guess.
Everybody Loves Raymond. Except for me. Who is Raymond again?
I should probably say that I dig redheads. And some people in my apartment shrieked when they saw Kimberly Marcia Cross in purple. But I think she looks purty.
Ellen Pompeo obviously heard Joe Reid's anguished cry the night of the Golden Globes. She cleaned up nice for SAG. She's still boring though. Sandra Oh is the reason everyone watches that show. That and the amazing miracle of Patrick Dempsey's hair.
Guiliana (name?) is asking Matt Dillon if he ever considered quitting acting --something about how hard it is to maintain a career. We always complain when the press is frivolous w/ the "who are you wearing?" monotony. But sometimes --in their defense--when they try these very serious mini interviews it feels weird on the red carpet.
Oh and to all my readers who think I'm mean to La Swank. A friend of mine is visiting and he refers to her as "Man Sweat" Now that is mean.
Impromptu Poll of Room: Best Dressed?
KM says "Angela Bassett" The Boyfriend says "Terrence Howard" Mina says "I am." BJ is only 22 and he's already losing his memory. He can't remember who. And we've only been watching for one hour.

SAG Live Blogging. Arrivals Part 1

It's 3:49 in LA and the C-Listers TV stars are clogging the red-carpet. Oh, wait there are movie stars already! Yay. I timed this so perfectly. E! actually started showing the arrivals nearly an hour ago but the first hour is usually just the barely famous. Wow. So early for movie stars. I just turned this on and I already get a nice cuddly dose of Jake Gyllenhaal. Casting of Brokeback Mountain was "ephemeral." Hmmmmm. I'm not sure what that means. Well, I mean I know what ephemeral means. But in terms of casting the film... explain please
OK. Don't talk to each other stupid hosts! Talk to the stars. (If they aren't available talk to the TV personalities.)
Here we go, George Clooney. So I guess Ryan Seacrest's corny humor is absorbed by all those around him. George is making jokes about gay cowboy movies and Truman Capote. Har-dee-har-har.
Anne Hathaway is 'chatty Kathy' today. But they've shoved her into a little wee circle in the corner so I can ogle the other stars. Jake is being cute to the fans, signing autographs. So. Cuddly. Just. Want. To. Squeeze. Him.
The boyfriend and assorted friends are already asking if all stylists are on vacation in Hollywood this week.
Rachel Weisz is here. She is wearing like a midnight blue. Pretty. Much improved from the Globes.
Felicity Huffman is talking about her "soft package" she bought to wear in Transamerica. You know. I highly doubt that Felicity took her TV star ass down to Babes in Toyland to buy it herself. Not sure about that color on her but I like the hair.
Moving on to Terrence Howard. Looking fine again. He calls his becoming-a-superstar year "grueling." I bet.

SAG Contest

Reminder: Live Blogging tonight.
Thank you for your entries into the SAG Contest. The Contest is now closed. Winners will be announced tomorrow.
Do you want to see more contests at the site?

"Oh Nellie, We All Have Our Problems!"

Last night I witnessed one of the most peculiar but pedestrian, unintentionally comic but deadly serious, brilliantly camp yet largely unfunny, tense and plodding, surprisingly epic but cramped, overacted but not quite over-the-top movies I've ever seen. The contradictory (and you're right to assume very frustrating) flick in question was nine-time Oscar nominee Peyton Place from 1957.

I love watching older films and trying to eke out context of the era and the movie culture in which they took place. Though I was always a good student, I can't say I ever took a sustained interest in history and what I commit to memory I largely know from the movies. I'm not proud of that, just putting it out there. So here in Peyton Place a couple of cultural movie things spring right up.

First, you get the late 50s/early 60s movie staples of sex hysteria mixed with dawning awareness of how sexual knowledge (rather than shame) might be a good thing. With that conflict comes cross-generational battles of parents and misunderstood teens. You'll also see this shift in changing mores and a widening general gap captured more brilliantly in two Natalie Wood pictures which bookend Peyton Place; Rebel Without a Cause (1955) and Splendor in the Grass (1961).

The other instant movie connection is to the melodrama form. This tale of gossipy neighbors, lives half-lived, and the ever-present fear of social ostracism recalls both Douglas Sirk's All That Heaven Allows (1955) and its recent tribute/companion Far From Heaven (2002). As melodrama though Peyton Place never achieves those pinnacles. The grand moments are there. The expressive lighting and weeping women show up, too. (And usually just in time as your attention has begun to wander). But, sadly, they only appear in spurts. This New England town's tale is told too episodically and is all too overpopulated to become a classic of the form. (It's easy to understand the film's transfer to television in the 60s as a serialized soap). What's more its failure to fully embrace the theatricality disqualifies it as a camp masterpiece, albeit an unintentional one. Rather than pinpoint an incredibly passionate romance or doomed decision, as most melodramas do, it wants to tell you the stories of at least a dozen major characters.

The plentiful characters and shocking revelations (surprisingly outre for a 1950s picture, both in content and visual cues) give the actors lots of scenery on which to chew. But, despite the five Oscar nominations for its cast (one of only nine films in the history of cinema to have been so richly rewarded) their various performances are a mixed bag of accents and quality. Thankfully they do all feel cohesive in performance style (unfortunately not a given in ensemble pictures). Best by a considerable margin is cool but not collected Lana Turner. The thaw of the ice queen is, for many legendary blonde movie stars (Deneuve, Pfeiffer, etc...), the most familiar of character arcs. But Turner sideswipes the inherent familiarity of this 'letting down her guard' drama by retaining all the prickly edges of her character. She doesn't so much melt as unwillingly crack. The finest moment in the entire film has to be Constance Mackenzie's complete exasperation when her maid breaks down confessing troubling family secrets. The way she spits out "Oh, Nellie. We all have our problems" is hilarious and also perfectly mean. It lazily tries to meet the social demands of empathy while being entirely devoid of the actual feeling itself. Turner is all loathing (for others and self) and evasion in this scene. Constance McKenzie, Turner bravely shows, is a real pill.

With Turner's well-handled matriarchal drama as focus, Peyton Place could have been a great melodrama. But the movie wants to be a town portrait and a portrait of America. And --oh, but wait. There's more. Its last act unfurls a third aim: it's now a courtroom drama! Peyton Place attempts much but accomplishes too little. It belongs not to melodrama but to the soap opera form, i.e. melodrama's inferior cousin, the one with similar DNA but less imagination and no ability to think in the abstract. Still and all, there are strangely vivid moments to treasure and an intermittently fascinating snapshot of America in the late 50s. You just have to sit through lots of filler to find and embrace them. Or such was my viewing experience. We all have our problems, indeed.


Saturday, January 28, 2006

The Films They Don't Let Us See

And the last bit of this year's Oscar prediction madness is coming to a close. Today I've completed the Foreign Film Pages as well as detailed my predictions for the categories that never get the love they deserve: Animated Short, Live Action Short, Documentary Short, and Documentary Feature. So take a look.

These categories are notoriously hard to predict because you have to do it blind. We don't get to see the films. Even if you live in NYC (as I do) it's tough to see many of them. With the shorts.... well occassionally they'll have one or two special showings after nominations of the shortlisters only. They usually sell out in the blink of an eye, causing much wailing and gnashing of teeth on my part as I'm not always quick on the draw. Today's distribution and theatrical exhibition system has no room for many of these films (gotta show those Coca Cola student filmmakers commercials and the video game ads!) which is a real shame.

Anyway. Predictions are basically done. Tonight, I sleep on it. Tomorrow I give it a once over. Convince myself I'm not crazy. Maybe make one or two changes and the whole thing is complete. On Tuesday the AMPAS voters let us know how right or how wrong I am in reading their collective mind. On March 5th they hand out the shiny men. Then the whole thing starts all over again for the 2006/2007 season. It's the circle of (Oscar Obsessive) life.

Return of the FiLM BiTCH AWARDS

Gotta get this wrapped up... Medals will be handed out soon in the traditional categories. Until then, here's some more 'Best of's for the year that was.

Diva of the Year
Grand dame thespians, East Village performance artists, JAP comedians, bitter abandoned wives, and landladies with secrets.

Hero of the Year
Bruce, Malcolm, Sophie, Lisa, and Edward will save the day.

Musical Moments (Two Categories)
John & June, disreputable Broadway producers, New York bohemians, corpses and their nervous grooms, Austen heroines, trashy singers, church-going Carolinans, and southern pimps and their hoes star in the most tuneful scenes of 2005.

Live Blogging Sunday

Just a heads up for those around on Sunday evening --In a rare moment of me not throwing a party @ my humble abode during an awards show I will instead be live blogging the SAG awards show right here. So tune in here @ approximately 7:30 PM EST for the first installment (arrivals) if you're interested... and don't forget to vote in the contest (entries must be received by 1:00 PM EST tomorrow).

Friday, January 27, 2006

Friday CatBlogging: Bagheera

When people ask me what my favorite Disney movie is (which they ask much less frequently these days --the Mouse House is seriously falling as a movie dream-making factory) I invariably answer with a quick respectful "Sleeping Beauty" or a giddy, 'wasn't the 1991 Oscar race cool' "Beauty & The Beast". But if you had asked me as a little kid I pro'lly woulda shouted out "JUNGLE BOOK" I was crazy for that movie. Had the vinyl soundtrack album. Knew all the songs. Danced around like a madman (as uninhibited little kids do) to "I Wanna Be Like You". One of the main reasons I loved it so? Cats! Two of the best ones in the movies. You've got your classic evil tiger (Shere Khan) and you've got one of my favorite Disney characters ever: the panther Bagheera.

I knew as a kid that I was supposed to get the biggest kick out of the comic relief characters like Baloo and King Louie but my heart was always with the protective and serious Bagheera. I sided him with him in every scene and absorbed his feelings while watching the movie. Baloo just made me crazy. He's gonna get that little human killed! So irresponsible.

So today I salute one of my favorite wild felines from childhood. Thanks for saving little Mowgli my man! (He turned into quite a looker when he grew up...and he couldn't a done it without you.)

SAG Predictions

SAG Predictions
Teri Hatcher will wear something very tight --I know. I know. Such limbs I go out on. The Capote table will be having a good time. Brokeback Mountain will lose the ensemble prize and lots of silly second guessing will happen in the media who will assume that it suddenly isn't a sure thing for the Oscar BP crown. (It is.) Amy Adams will charm everyone if the cameras show her (but sometimes SAG camera work makes curious omissions). Felicity Huffman will repeat her speech about being an out of work actor when she wins for her Desperate Housewives role and people will begin to resent her instead of go "awwww" since how successful can one person be anyway --shut up about the lean years! Hilary Swank will annoy me, looking on in understanding. Perhaps they share a hard-knock backstory loving PR Agent? (Swank annoying me? There are those shaky limbs again --I'm a daredevil of prophesy). Renée Zellweger will find a way to be there just to spite me in the one year when I should have finally been free of her red carpet ubiquity.

Oh, you meant the awards themselves? Sorry... Hear we go. The theme will be schlubby guys. That's right. I'm predicting that both of the male prizes go to characters actors. Paul Giamatti (Cinderella Man) and Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Capote) will walk off unglamourously with 'the actors' trophy

Meanwhile over in the ladies department I'm thinking the story is "petite youthful beauty" --counterprogramming for the schlubbiness? Though supporting actress is a real tussle and could really go to any of the nominees outside of Frances McDormand (a previous SAG winner who won't be repeating the trick) I'm guessing Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain) takes the prize here for her justly lauded work and Reese Witherspoon (Walk the Line) edges out Felicity Huffman with gawking movie-star worshipping SAG voters (marking the first time in umpteen years where the de-glam trend has exhibited any weakness at all as Oscar ploy. yeaaahhhhh)

Summing up
Will win: Hoffman, Witherspoon, Giamatti, Williams, and Crash
Should win: Ledger, Witherspoon, Dillon/Gyllenhaal, Williams and Good Night, and Good Luck.
Nathaniel's Nightmare: Crowe, Huffman, Cheadle, McDormand, and Crash(...I'm not saying those five are poor performances. Just nowhere close to the right choices when naming best of an entire year.)
Best DramaQueen Scenario (i.e. SAG wins that would make Oscar night a nail-niter) Ledger, Dench, Gyllenhaal, Keener, and Good Night, and Good Luck.

More elaborate reasoning behind my choices over at the FILM EXPERIENCE on the SAG Awards page. Predictions are complete there.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Mind Wanders. When Will It Be Tuesday?

Tomorrow morning we'll have SAG predictions. Until then a wandering mind has settled in. I'm second guessing my predictions. If you play along at home you're probably second guessing yours. You start imagining ever more complicated Oscar scenarios emerging. One reader --we'll call him Vincent since that is, in fact, his name-- told me that my speculation that the lack of passion for the Best Actress frontrunners this year could result in 2003 style surprises made him think of 1994. He writes:

"there were really no stand-out and/or commerically & critically successful (read: obvious choices) Best Actress possibilities, so they ended up filling the category with actresses who had all been nominated (and/or won) at least once before. The winner ended up being Jessica Lange for a little seen film that had been on the shelf for a few years (Like with Susan Sarandon's win, it struck me as an ad hoc "Lifetime Achievement Award," even though Lange already had a supporting.). That further made me think of (your favorite) Michelle Pfeiffer's nomination in 1992 for a "Love Field," which had been sitting on the shelf for a couple of years before it got released. Does this in any way, shape or form affect Paltrow's chances, sans SAG nom (having had her film shelved too)? The connection is tenuous, but it just got me thinking.

Lots of things get me to thinking the week before Oscar nominations are announced. But I try NOT to think about 1994. It was one of those years (read: every single year that the best actress race is considered "weak") wherein Oscar voters just weren't trying hard enough to find the worthy women. They were out there. They just weren't in the typical Oscar bait roles. But back to Vincent's Gwynnie fantasy --she's certainly worthier than Ziyi or Theron. So why not root for her or other unlikelies?

Any thoughts as weird as Paltrow emerging like a phoenix from the ashes running through your head as we close in on Oscar nomination morning? Dazzle us with your complicated mental gymnastics readers. Wake us up from our pre-nomination malaise.

Geek/Dork/Nerd: "showgirls" edition

In tribute to my friend MaryAnn (The Flick Filosopher) I bring you a Vegasy spin on her tasty Thursday treat "geek/dork/nerd" (as seen on Geek Philosophy -which you should be reading, especially if you're a Generation Xer). The general gist of her semantic thesis (extrapolated visually) is this: "Geek" is entirely positive, implying self-awareness about ones obsessiveness and otherness. A "Dork" has less self-awareness and more embarassment potential--like a geek who isn't quite comfortable with themselves. A "nerd" has no awareness of their weirdo behavior. Clueless.

This post allows me to multi-task, too. First I get to shout out to a deserving friend and second I get to lie to myself and pretend I didn't totally miss that big Showgirls anniversary thrusting about around the blogosphere two weeks ago. The things that movie taught me --they don't teach them in any school! I'm so pissed about missing that particular blog party that I'm tempted to throw the french fries you just bought me in the air with inexplicable rage. But I better not. I'm starving and fresh out of vegetables, brown rice, and doggie chow.

It Ain't Over For Me

"Four Four"'s writes my favorite review of Hustle & Flow ever. It makes me 'hongry' for more. So much more that I'm gonna add the doublenumbered one to my sidebar. I also had to swipe one of the screen captures for the upcoming Best Kiss category. And speaking of... The FB Awards will return as soon as I get some sleep or wake up. Whichever comes first. Ah the special torture of insomnia.

Final Predictions

They're almost complete. Of course you know we Oscar-obsessives. Final is never quite final. They're could be final FINAL adjustments made on Sunday February 29th (the last day I am willing to change anything). Most likely to change: Costume Design and any of the acting categories. I'm probably taking too many risks. Supporting Actress still baffles me. I love being baffled.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Blame Games

As Munich continues on its path of disintegration (awards-wise) the blame game has started. Usually this sort of thing happens after Oscar nominations are announced. [Perhaps Universal is bracing for an even more visible shutout than some are predicting?] This same thing happened to a degree with Cold Mountain which was supposed to be the only competition for Return of the King in 2003 and wound up with plenty of nominations but no Best Picture slot. Back then the Brothers Weinstein (of former Miramax glory) blamed it on not enough voters having seen the film and it looks like Munich's backers are experimenting with the same excuse with this film's fate.

But here's a thought for studio finger pointers: If you made the movie and it's a huge high profile one by an A list director and not some itty-bitty arthouse thing --it's your fault that awards voters are not watching the movie in time. They would definitely be willing to see it. They don't need cajoling to sit through it like they sometimes due with underdog fare (like, say, Junebug). It's your fault for rushing it. It's your fault for not getting the screeners out in time. It's your fault. Your fault. What's more if you know (as you seem to) that it's the type of film that requires real grappling with the issues it raises, what the hell are you doing raising the issues just days before people are supposed to vote? (Oscar ballots went out very shortly after Munich's opening). Movies that need to be thoroughly digested usually fare better if you give people time to chew.

These other movies in play for awards? They didn't try to hide themselves until the last minute. This message has been brought to you by Nathaniel's monotonous annual desire to see movies receive proper releases whenever they happen to arrive at a final print rather than ill-advised "peek-a-boo" Oscar tactics. The same goes for The New World. Much as I love the movie, they really ought to disqualify it for nominations since they've altered it post qualifying release, which is technically against the Oscar rules.

The overall take-away message for studios and their Oscar tacticians
Quit trying to get around the system. Quit trying to control the response more than is normal. Yes, you're suppose to help people to like your product. Yes, you're PR teams are supposed to guide perception. But there comes a time when you just let the chips fall where they may. Release your precious movie only after it's finished, do the publicity you're supposed to do, screen it for the critics early like you're supposed to, let people talk about the movie like they're supposed to (you do want audiences to be involved in the moviegoing experience, right?), and let the chips fall where they may. Above all should your movie receive less than glowing response, suck it up. Nobody respects a finger pointer. Just ask Oliver Stone, still trying to blame Alexander's reception on everything but his own moviemaking.

All that said Munich remains a wildcard in the Oscar race. Possibly only A History of Violence is more puzzling to predict in terms of how AMPAS will embrace or reject. Spielberg's examination of the retaliatory assassinations could have a major nomination haul or a total shut-out. We shall see in less than a week.

Hump Day Hotties: Daniel vs. Chloe vs. Nick

What is sexier than talent? Nothing. My hotties this week are Chloe, Daniel V, and Nick of Project Runway fame. They also happen to be my predictions for the finalists when this season of television's greatest reality show concludes in a few weeks. In case you're living under a rock Project Runway plays every Wednesday night on Bravo.

Chloe is a cute girl though her strange lapses in grammar bug. As Joe Reid pointed out to me she also has "stealth bitchiness" which can be appealing so long as the shows editors wants you to like her. The powers-that-be do not want you to like Santino under any circumstances. Yes he's gross. Yes he's obnoxious but it's also more than obvious that the deck is stacked against him in reaction cuts and the editing clips they choose. But anyway...that adorable gay uncle Nick began the season as my heartthrob. And though I still flutter a bit at his total cuteness I must confess that I am tired of staring at his overemphasized fauxhawk --seriously push the hair down Nick! Now my heart (and body) belongs to Daniel V. Sigh. (I'm with One Gay Date at a Time on this one.)

If you're not watching this show by now, you just crazy.

Previous Hump Day Hotties for your distraction...
Katie, Thandie, Jonathan, Sean,Madonna, Cillian, Rachel, Jake, Madonna, & "Give 'Em Hell" Harry, Orlando, Lady Tottington, Daniel, Viggo & Maria , Emmanuelle, Takeshi, Ralph & Rachel

Murrow Speaks. Collette Rocks. AP & Brando Both Suck.

Film Epidemic's take on the resonant and skillful messaging in Good Night, and Good Luck.

IMDB tells us that Toni Collette is going to be touring for 2006. Much as I love me some Toni. I've seen Juliette Lewis' and Gina Gershon's career nosedive doing the same thing. Although maybe they're all doing it as a result of Hollywood not having enough use for their unique screen personas.

Just Jared has pics of Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale from Christopher Nolan's new project The Prestige. You'll remember that Joe Reid brought that potentially drool worthy film to our attention in October 2005.

An AP report that makes me crazy. Seriously how many strange assumptions and errors are in this thing (Chicago is an optimistic movie? Since when. More like joyously cynical. ) Anyway --somebody pay me quick. I know what I'm talking about! And for once can entertainment reporters think to ask someone besides Tom O'Neill for an opinion. Nothing against O'Neill. But damn the homogeny is zzzzz.

And 'What Would Tyler Durden Do?' doesn't care what they're saying about Brando. (warning: NSFW)

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Audience Participation. If you're reading this blog, you know the Oscar nominations are one week away.
Right now, without mulling it now, POST two names.
1. the person you would be most thrilled to see nominated
2. the person you would be most annoyed to see nominated.
Do it! Fill up those comments with names. Stop lurking. Two names. No need to say anything else.

TV Giveth. TV Taketh Away.

This past week my mind kept drifting back to John Sayles' Passion Fish (1992). This is not an altogether rare occurrence. It's just one of those films. The general feel of it stays with you and, for me, there are few screen moments about acting as memorable as the 'anal probe' scene. Don't ask me to explain. You'll just have to see the film.

John Sayles had his breakthrough in 1980 with The Return of the Secaucus Seven, a film which would heavily influence the Oscar-nominated The Big Chillthree years later. Seven introduced audiences to the superb thespian David Strathairn (Good Night, and Good Luck.) and for that alone, John Sayles should be more celebrated than he is. Like many directors whose films feature heavily populated ensembles, Sayles has a repertory of sort and Strathairn is the chief star having appeared in seven of his films.

Despite all of the juicy roles Sayles has written and directed for actors over the course of his career, only one performer has ever emerged with an Oscar nod. The lucky actor? Mary McDonnell. In Passion Fish she played an actress bound to a wheelchair. She lashes out at everyone but eventually meets her match in a strong-willed nurse played by Alfre Woodard. Both actors had been nominated for an Oscar previously: Mary for Dances with Wolves (1990), Alfre for Cross Creek (1983). Though Alfre won the Independent Spirit and was Globe nominated she was rudely passed over come Oscar time, despite this film being entirely dependent on the duet between the two actors.

I was thinking about Passion Fish this week because both of these women were starring on my television set. As some of you noticed, I have become hopelessly obsessed with the new Battlestar Galactica wherein Mary McDonnell plays the sudden unelected President of a nearly obliterated human race in outer space (take that Geena Davis). Ms. McDonnell is excellent in the series: equal parts tough, confident, scared out of her wits, and leading with several decks stacked against her. Meanwhile, over on Wisteria Lane, Alfre Woodard has a much larger audience on ABC's Desperate Housewives. On paper Alfre's latest career turn is the clear winner. Imagine it. Do you want to star in a low budget cable series based on a failed 70s sci-fi series or co-star in the most popular show on television? But that's the funny part about the filmed arts. On paper is never the same thing as onscreen. McDonnell has arguably the best role of her career while Woodard has one of her most thankless. This great actress has been reduced to repeating the same scene relentlessly in a season-long subplot that has barely budged an inch for months. What's more her whole storyline as Betty Applewhite has uncomfortably racist undertones. Hers is the only black family on a mostly white show and there's been lots of unfortunate shots of the lily white leads staring at her house and her family with great suspicion. Desperate Housewivesis an entertaining show but its horribly uneven and can sometimes can leave a bad taste in your mouth. Battlestar Galactica, however, is a true gem. You should not go one more week without seeing it.

Sometimes TV is where you have to go to find your best role ever (Edie Falco, Mary McDonnell, Sarah Jessica Parker). It's often where you go for steady employment inbetween movie gigs (Alfre Woodard). And in many cases its where you go when your movie career mysteriously dies (Geena Davis, Glenn Close, Juliette Lewis, and about a million others). TV giveth. TV taketh away.

Happy Birthday To

...Andy of Everything Oscar. Check out his site or blog and wish him a good one. He promises to unveil his top ten list today. And you know how we love top ten lists. Hell, everyone loves them.

...Mischa. Yes, Mischa Barton of the OC. I admit that I've never watched the show and though I am horrified by paparazzi pics I see of her on pink is the new blog i hold a tiny special place in my heart for her due to the fact that she got down with Evan Rachel Wood on Once & Again in season 3. If ABC doesn't release season 3 on DVD soon I will freak.

...Daniel. As in Auteuil. As in one of the finest actors on the planet. You can catch him in his award winning role in Caché (one of my personal choices for Best Picture 2005) at better theaters in major cities right now. Great movie. great actor.

Who Invented Sudoku?

I need to know. Because they owe me like SO many hours of my life back.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Quit You? Never

Random Perusables
Time Magazine's How The West Was Won Over. Great read on the phenom that is Brokeback Mountain. So pleased it's doing so well.

CBS News on fallout from George Clooney's Jack Abramoff joke at the Globes. I'm sorry Jack's young daughter is in tears. But come on now. Let's not blame the movie star for her frayed nerves. How about the dude himself. If my Dad was a corrupting influence on our already corrupt political climate, a racist, a criminal, and a future inmate... I'd be crying too.

GLAAD Media Awards nominees announced. There's also a funny bit on this over at Good As You too.
Quick info on three categories that interested me...

Brokeback Mountain (Focus Features)
Capote (Sony Pictures Classics)
The Family Stone (20th Century Fox)
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (Warner Bros.)
Rent (Sony Pictures)

Beautiful Boxer (Regent Releasing/here! Films)
Mysterious Skin (TLA Releasing)
Saving Face (Sony Pictures Classics)
Transamerica (The Weinstein Company)
Walk On Water (Samuel Goldwyn Films)

Antony and the Johnsons, I Am a Bird Now (Yeah!!! Buy this. So good)
Melissa Etheridge, Greatest Hits: The Road Less Traveled
Girlyman, Little Star
Sharon Isbin, Rodrigo, Villa-Lobos, Ponce: Guitar Concertos
Amy Ray, Prom

Best Actor Commonalities

Since the 5th slot for Best Actor seems to be a tight race between Russell Crowe who is doing very well in the precursors but lacks as much fresh "buzz" as his rivals Terrence Howard, Jeff Daniels, and even the last-minute surge from theConstant Gardener himself, Ralph Fiennes ... let's look at the possibly meaningless (?) statistics from the past 5 years of Oscar (that's 25 nominees for the math-challenged) to see who most benefits.

Average age of nominees in this category:
46. The youngest recently was Adrien Brody (The Pianist @ 29) and the oldest Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby @ 74). 2005's Oscar bunch looks to be the youngest in some time (more on that here). Who is closest to the average age this year? Fiennes (The Constant Gardener) is 43. Next closest in both directions are Crowe (Cinderella Man) @ 41 and the never-nominated Daniels (Squid and the Whale) hoping for some career achievement 'thank yous' at 50.

Most common roles:
01. Creative types (writers being the most frequent sort) compose 36% of this category's recent nominees. That might give a leg up to Jeff Daniels in The Squid and the Whale but it didn't help Michael Douglas, also playing a blocked formerly celebrated writer five years ago. It might also suggest that Terrence Howard's music dreams in Hustle & Flow might play resonantly to voters.
02. Physical or Mental Ailments of Significant Magnitude also score with voters. That matches up with 20% of the nominees. Surprisingly none of the contenders go that Oscar-bait route this year.
03 Grieving dads suffering the loss of children or spouse account for 16% of nominees. If you extend that to include characters fighting to keep their children alive/with them or those with deep regrets at lost relationships with their children the number expands to a weighty 28% of nominees. The most grief stricken of our possible nominees is Ralph Fiennes having lost his wife and unborn child in the first few minutes of The Constant Gardener. Both Jeff Daniels and Russell Crowe also get to milk emotions both complex (former) and overtly sentimental (latter) from the fear of losing their family.

Does it help to play an actual person, living or dead?
Does it ever. They make up nearly 50% of the nominations in this category. There was only one year recently without real figures. In 2003 all of the nominees played fictional characters. Not so surprisingly the corresponding snubbed actors were also playing fictional characters. To stand a chance in this category, you better be aping a real person...preferrably a famous one. The only fifth slot competitor playing a real characer? Russell Crowe in Cinderella Man.

Commonalities of Snubs ?
To understand the Oscars you have to have context of the year and the other people Academy voters could have selected. So, who, in recent years seemed like the 6th or 7th slotters (list below indicates precursor support and media attention followed by Oscar snub)? And why did they miss out?

2000 Michael Douglas Wonder Boys and Jamie Bell Billy Elliot
2001 Gene Hackman The Royal Tenenbaums , Ewan MacGregor Moulin Rouge! , and John Cameron Mitchell, Hedwig and the Angry Inch , and Billy Bob Thornton in either Monsters Ball or The Man Who Wasn't There
2002 Richard Gere Chicago
2003 Russell Crowe Master & Commander
2004 Paul Giamatti Sideways and Liam Neeson Kinsey

Aside from the fact that nearly all of the snubs are fictional characters and most are in comedies, is there anything else that connects them? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Reminder: My final predictions have begun...Best Picture and Best Actor. And previously: Best Actress Commonalities because I can't stop. But you knew that already, didn't you?

Sunday, January 22, 2006


Read Them:
Fametracker on Brangelina's new project.
Reverse Shot, like me, were also annoyed by what they Overheard @ Caché.
Faggoty-Ass Faggot on American Idols rather ugly homophobia this season.
Hindustan article on the Golden Globes which, for unbeknownst reasons, pits Chinese cinema vs. Bollywood.
Watch Them:
Cinematical on the blue screen shoot of Zach Snyder's Frank Miller adaptation 300
Dan-O-Rama (who has the job I most covet -video repurposing) wishes you a Happy New Year.
Just because it's funny --the Hazzards "Gay Boyfriend" video.
Dreamworks retro style "behind the scenes" newsreel like promo for Dreamgirls.
Do Copenhagen's list of the 50 Best Music Videos of 2005. (That'll keep you busy for awhile)

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Oscar Predictions

The pre-nomination campaigning for Oscar is over. Voting is now closed. Nothing else can possibly affect the outcome of the nominations. I haven't updated the Oscar pages for two weeks so starting tomorrow each page will be updated with my final predictions (might take a few days). Cross your fingers for your favorites. Nominations are announced on Tuesday morning, January 31st.

Brangelina Wants You

...to vote on the new poll. Seriously. You don't want these two coming after you.

They'll Get You My Pretty And Your Little Dog Too!

The Best Villains of 2005
Tunnel Visioned Politicians, Spookily Calm Freelance Hunters, Mad Psychiatrists, and Devious Witches all gave memorable evil this past year at the cinemas. Half metal men who were once in cahoots with the good guys? Not so much. And Voldemort? Don't give me grief --I'm sure we'll be seeing much more of him next year. And the year after that. And the year after that. There is clearly no hope of escape from that franchise.

A History of This Wicked Category
2000 Patrick Bateman - American Psycho, Mrs Tweedy - Chicken Run, Riddick- Pitch Black, Magneto & Mystique - X-Men
2001 Harry - With a Friend Like Harry, Randyl- Monsters, Inc, The Duke - Moulin Rouge!, Nurse Connie - Series 7: The Contender, General Thade - Planet of the Apes
2002 Bill the Butcher - Gangs of New York, Yubaba - Spirited Away, The Reporter - Road to Perdition, Ingrid Magnussen- White Oleander, Green Goblin- Spider-Man
2003 "Cottonmouth" O-Ren Ishii- Kill Bill Volume 1, Captain Barbossa - Pirates of the Caribbean, The Infected - 28 Days Later, Bullseye - Daredevil, Evie Zamora - thirteen
2004 George Bush - Fahrenheit 9/11, Doctor Octopus- Spider-Man 2, Regina George- Mean Girls, Bill- Kill Bill Volume 2, Vincent - Collateral

Friday, January 20, 2006

Heath Ledger is a Baby

Heath Ledger is 26 years old. Younger than me and some of you reading. Older than other awards watchers. But in terms of Oscar? That, my friends, is a newborn. He's barely out of the womb.

I was already aware that were Heath to pull off the miraculous feat of winning this March (provided he receives his expected nomination on January 31st) he would become the youngest competitive Oscar winner in the lead category for men. The current record holder is Adrien Brody for The Pianist. Mr. Brody won the Oscar just a few weeks before turning 30. Richard Dreyfuss of The Goodbye Girl was the previous record holder who had turned 30 a few months prior to his nomination. What I wasn't aware of was how far back you would have to go to even find a nominee as young or younger than Heath Ledger. Oh, sure I knew about the anomaly: Jackie Cooper had a Best Actor nomination for Skippy in 1931 when he was all of nine. But apart from that fluke, how young is too young for Oscar?

Turns out that 26 year-olds just don't compete for Best Actor prizes. 27 years old? They'll let that slide. Tom Cruise (Born on the 4th of July) and Matt Damon (Good Will Hunting) were both 27 when they received their first Oscar nominations. To find someone of comparable age or younger you have to travel back in time to 1977. John Travolta was 23 when nominated for Saturday Night Fever and 24 by the time of the ceremony in '78. Prior to that we travel back to 1963 when Tom Jones himself Albert Finney was in the running at, you guessed it, 27 years of age. Guess who else? Marlon Brando (A Streetcar Named Desire, 1951) the same screen legend that Heath's performance in Brokeback Mountain has drawn comparisons to, also 27.

So, did I ever find someone younger than Heath [besides John Travolta's disco dancer in 1977 -thanks to an anonymous reader who pointed that one out]? Yes. But you have to go back 50 years to do so. All the way back to that legendary rebel without a cause in 1955.

James Dean was 24 years old when East of Eden was released in 1955. He died tragically that same year before the release of his other iconic screen performances in Rebel Without a Cause and Giant. He was nominated twice posthumously for the Best Actor trophy first for East of Eden and then, again, the following year for Giant. Prior to Dean there are but three other exceptionally youthful nominated leads. Aside from the already mentioned Jackie Cooper, there's Mickey Rooney (Babes in Arms & The Human Comedy) twice nominated. Once at 19 and a second time at 23. Finally there is the famous case of Orson Welles who was Heath Ledger's age right now when he received four nominations, including Best Actor, for the legendaryCitizen Kane.

Brando, Finney, Welles, Cruise, Rooney --A mighty good company of men for Heath Ledger, our "Ennis Del Mar", to be in no matter how it all turns out on Oscar night in March of 2006. Don't you think?

Thursday, January 19, 2006


New Awards Posted:
Best Action Sequences
Thai fighters, dinosaurs, apes, Philly gangsters, boxers, and six-armed generals made for arm-rest gripping movie moments.
Contemporary Costume Design
Billionaire vigilantes. Married killers. Doomed diplomats. Old Town hookers. And Pimps with big dreams.
Adapted and Combination Scores
Song scores, classic classical pieces with new themes, etc...

If BAFTA annoys, return to the GLOBES

If, like me, you're instantly eager to wash the BAFTA nods from your mind, check out Defamer's Globe coverage. Two days old but still hilarious.

BAFTA Nominations. A Sampling.

Here's a sampling of the British Film Academy nominations. Don't get too excited. It's snoresville. And I'm in an ugly mood and BAFTA invariably annoys me each year (far less discerning than AMPAS if that's possible) so be warned. Plus I always fail to understand how BAFTA relates to the Oscars. It gets very little press coverage in America after all) but other Oscar predictors get excited about them... and I don't have anything else to write about this morning. ;)

Nearly all Oscar ballots are already in. The last major thing that could influence nominations was probably the Globe wins. And even that is pushing it since they always say that the majority of Oscar voters turn in their ballot quickly after receiving it (i.e. the week before this year's Globe ceremony). The buzz of two weeks ago is more important to nominations than the buzz of right now. Theoretically.

But on to BAFTA...

BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN - focus features / CAPOTE - sony pictures classics / THE CONSTANT GARDENER - focus features /
CRASH - lions gate / GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK - warner independent pictures
Outstanding British Film of the Year

I have never completely fathomed how it is that the British Academy and the American Academy think so much alike. And every year about this time when I start getting sick of precursors I wonder why there are so so so many when they don't really have their own "voices." The homogeny is soul crushing. Only the Globes stuck their neck out this year w/ that History of Violence nomination.

Achievement in Direction
BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN - Ang Lee / CAPOTE - Bennett Miller / THE CONSTANT GARDENER - Fernando Meirelles / CRASH - Paul Haggis / GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK - George Clooney

Again. Too similar to what will be the Oscar list. zzzzz. I'm hoping AMPAS leaves out Meirelles and Haggis. With the former --well who needs two Oscar nods that early in their international career? Should he really be that far ahead of every other foreign director who have ever lived after only two widely seen pictures? And with the latter. His direction isn't very impressive. Crash has its moments but as a directorial piece? Nah.

Actor in a Leading Role
DAVID STRATHAIRN - Good Night, And Good Luck
HEATH LEDGER - Brokeback Mountain
RALPH FIENNES - The Constant Gardener

nice to see Ralph Fiennes in the list. This would be sweet as the Oscar lineup. However... Despite my faith that Jeff Daniels, Terrence Howard, and Ralph Fiennes are all pulling more votes than pre-season would lead us to believe I begin to fear that Russell Crowe could actually pull this off after all. I'm not predicting it. But perhaps the reason he keeps making lineups (this one excluded obviously) when he's far from one of the 5 most lauded in a very strong actor year is because these other three highly acclaimed men are splitting each others support leaving the most middlebrow & most famous contender to rise up. If that happens -blah! Howard, Daniels, or Fiennes would all be very worthwhile nods from AMPAS voters. Nominations that would look smart and discerning in the history books. Crowe is overrewarded already and nothing particularly special in quite a special year for this category. I'm not saying he wasn't good. He sold Jim Braddock. I'm just saying in this year? 2005 is such a great year for this category. Give it to one of the men who really made this particular year soar (Daniels, Howard, or Fiennes thankyouverymuch)

Actress in a Leading Role
JUDI DENCH - Mrs. Henderson Presents
RACHEL WEISZ - The Constant Gardener
ZIYI ZHANG - Memoirs of a Geisha

Happy to see Rachel with the leads. But otherwise zzzz. I have met several actors in my day and only one or two of them have seemed completely dim (which is a common negative you hear about their ilk) so I continue to wonder why actors who rely on their imagination for their income have so little imagination when it comes to looking at other actors' work... or at least when it comes to writing the names down on a ballot. I think Ziyi Zhang is cute as a button and I think she's deserving of nominations this year (for 2046) but if you try to tell me that she gave one of the five best performances of the year in Memoirs (where she is stiff and uncomfortable and doesn't have much of a character to work with to begin with) I will have no choice but to consider you completely daft. Who thinks this way? Who really thinks that she gave one of the best five performances of the year? Show of Hands? Beauty and memorable young career aside one of the five best of the year? I can name 15 women instantly (even in this weak year!) --without even looking at a list-- who deserve acknowledgement before her. And though I admire Theron's attempt at giving North Country some grit it's also a relatively unspecial performance. So why does it keep cropping up? Where is the passion or the imagination from people with ballots in their hands?

Actor in a Supporting Role
GEORGE CLOONEY - Good Night, And Good Luck
JAKE GYLLENHAAL - Brokeback Mountain

Interesting to note that the British Academy does not have rules against actors receiving two nominations in the same category (This is verboten w/ the American Academy). And once again we see actors with no imaginations voting. They just picked 4 films they liked. I think Don Cheadle is a great actor. But in no way was he special in Crash. He wasn't even the best in that film...let alone the hundreds of other films that came out. Argh. And no way was Clooney better in GNaGL than Frank Langella or Ray Wise or any of them really. He just happens to be more famous.

Actress in a Supporting Role
BRENDA BLETHYN - Pride & Prejudice
MICHELLE WILLIAMS - Brokeback Mountain

Supporting Actress. This category just keeps staying crazy. Fun to see a new name thrown in (Blethyn). Not so fun to see a highly uneven performance thrown in (Newton). I'm assuming Junebug didn't play in Britain. Thus no Amy Adams. I suppose a Newton nomination w/ Oscar isn't out of the realm of possibility. But it'd be a bummer to see any of the deserving frontrunners booted for her inclusion.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Syndicated Curiousity

When I was a kid growing up in the suburbs of Detroit with a family that was definitely not into pop culture and movies, I got my entertainment news from small soundbites on Entertainment Tonight for 20+ minutes every night of the week. I rarely watch that show now or any of its offspring like The Insider, Extra, or Access Hollywood. I get lots of entertainment news from a plethora of sources without it. But occassionally I'll tune in --especially around this time of year. I like to hear what people in the heartland are hearing about the worlds of film and television and especially I like to know what they're hearing about awards season. So I watched their Golden Globes day-after coverage with extended curiousity.

Maybe I'm just too old for these shows now but they seem to have gotten more and more manic. Am I imagining this? The news, or press releases rather, are now only about 15 to 30 seconds long (as opposed to maybe 45 seconds to a minute before?) and the editing is much more jarring. The other strange thing? The background music is played at equal volume to the people who are speaking. It makes for a very strange effect where I never know what I'm supposed to be listening to --their catchy jingle or Mary Hart shouting inanities at the top of her lungs with that frozen smile? That creepy but also weirdly genuine smile...like she doesn't have any other facial expression to use. Not creepy spooky like Tom Cruise's pearly white grin. But benevolent creepy.
I knew to expect a lot of Desperate Housewives chatter. I know that's the type of thing that mainstream viewers obsess on. I also knew there would be a lot of fashion coverage --fine by me. What I didn't realize and frankly what really alarms me is that there was almost NO mention of the winners. I watched for a solid hour. The lead in show (don't remember what it's called) and the ET 1/2 hour. They fawned over the Desperate Housewives. They named their Best & Worst Dressed. They fawned over the Desperate Housewives.They got mildly excited about Reese Witherspoon. They fawned over the Desperate Housewives.They drooled on the superstars (mostly Gwyneth Paltrow and George Clooney). They fawned over the Desperate Housewives some more.But they never once mentioned Brokeback Mountain. Not for the entire hour. Reminder: The entire hour was devoted to the Golden Globes!

Is this normal? I found it extremely odd. I mean... I knew that their core audience would want coverage of the Housewives. But not even one utterance of the name of the film that was the big winner of the night? Not even when they briefly showed Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams? If this is a new anti-Brokeback campaign by whichever media company controls ET and its syndicates it was pretty effective. Watching this show you would never ever know that the movie existed, much less that it was the big winner of the night. You would know only that Desperate Housewives was still on, that Geena Davis plays the President of the US on TV, and that George Clooney, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Reese Witherspoon are very famous.


My Favorite Poster Designs of 2005

But which five will have a chance at FB Medals? See the nominees here.
And what poster really sold you on a movie this year?

Hump Day Hotties: Sexpot of 2005

At this point midway through each week I usually point you in the direction of someone working me into a lather in the multiplex of my mind. This week we cut to the filmbitch awards where you can check out my choices for the sexiest onscreen in the year that was. These choices are not always purely about the actors. They usually require a combo of lusty role / right actor. But before you click on over, a brief history of this award as foreplay: [Cue bowh-chicka-bowh-bowhm music. Alternate soundtrack choice: Uma Thurman's "If You Got It, Flaunt It" from The Producers soundtrack]

Christian Bale - American Psycho, Michelle Pfeiffer - What Lies Beneath, Hugh Jackman & Rebecca Romijn-Stamos- X-Men, Eliza Dushku - Bring It On, Ed Harris - Pollock
Laura Elena Haring - Mulholland Dr , Nicole Kidman & Ewan MacGregor - Moulin Rouge!, Viggo Mortenson - Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Jude Law - AI: Artificial Intelligence, Brad Pitt - Oceans 11
Diane Lane - Unfaithful, Orlando Bloom - The Two Towers, Rosario Dawson - 25th Hour, Gael Garcia Bernal - Y Tu Mama Tambien, Christian Bale - Reign of Fire

Ludivine Sagnier - Swimming Pool, Hugh Jackman - X2, Frances McDormand & Allesandro Nivola - Laurel Canyon, Yehuda Levi - Yossi & Jagger, Rebecca Romijn Stamos - X2
Gael Garcia Bernal - Bad Education ,Nia Long & Susan Sarandon & Jane Krakowski - Alfie, Daniel Craig - Mother, Kim Basinger - The Door in the Floor, Brad Pitt & Eric Bana - Troy

and now 2005 ...
featuring two returns and four first time nominees.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Now With Even More Globes!

The morning after the Golden Globes, Joe and I met for a chat.
JOE REID: We're totally starting with the important shit: best/worst dressed.
NATHANIEL R: I just put on another pot o' coffee. This could take all day. [Read the rest...]

Golden Globe Rundown, Photos, and More.

I feel weirdly divided in half these days and I'm wondering why my blog is separate from my site. I feel kinda redundant. Like this should be the front page of my site. I'll think some more on that.

Meanwhile... over there you can check out my GOLDEN GLOBE REACTIONS including who I thought gave the best speeches, who was best dressed, who sported the most unflattering makeup , and my desperate desire to understand how Patrick Dempsey and George Clooney manage to become ever more superhumanly beautiful the older they get. Oh and I didn't mention this because I don't cover TV but my favorite wins of the night in that area were Sandra Oh's and Mary Louise Parker's. I love them both. Well done. Best TV speech? S Epatha Merkerson who won for Lackawanna Blues (co-starring the ubiquitous Terrence Howard). There's also photo goodness. Not that you didn't watch. But... still. We love looking at pictures.

Plus:coupla new FB AWARDS in the categories of Body of Work (those who gave me both quantity and quality) and Casting (It is strange that casting directors can't win Oscars, their decisions being so crucial and all).

And: Lots of updates to my gathering on online voices in the "year in review" habit of top-10ing. This is the last year I'll be gathering other people's lists. But if someone's list excites you, click away. I'm not endorsing all of these people (hell no) but some of them are fine writers / critics / bloggers, what have you.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Golden Globes TONIGHT

Can you feel the energy in the air? Red carpet antics ahead. The Golden Globes are upon us.

Tonight: Oscar hopes boosted or disintegrating. Stars getting drunk worrying about the same. TV stars gawking at their superior movie counterparts. Felicity Huffman praying for a double win to suggest she's both. Weird table sharing for films that didn't get wide support in the nominations. Snarky comments on air (remember Meryl Streep's hilariously faux-icy "Congratulations, NATALIE" after her loss? Funny) Stars aping Renée Zellwegers 'stuck in the bathroom moment' from 2000 as if that joke never gets old (it's the Globe equivalent of the Oscar's infernal Sally Field mocking "you like me. you really like me" Poor Sally.) Ancient legends dragged on stage for our amusement --my favorite Globe moment ever? That'd be Liz Taylor's wobbly utter cluelessness presenting Best Picture to Gladiator with a crisis management assist from Dick Clark. Arms suddenly flailing to the sides with over-enthusiastic gleeful squeal "Glaaaaadeeator!"

my predictions again -so tempted to change them but whatevs. I'll let it be. I just wanna have fun tonight. Gabriel and Nick join me for the annual craziness. Or as Nick calls it "our SECOND favorite holiday of the year" the first being you-know-what...

Enjoy the show!