Friday, September 30, 2011

Top 100 Films of the Last 50 Years (1960-2010): Part VIII

30. Bonnie and Clyde (1967) - "We Rob Banks". That classic line is only a simply introduction to one of the flashiest, funnest and most endearing crime movies of all time. Featuring stunning performances from Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway who have incredible chemistry and create one of the best duos in American film history. But I think the reason that people love this film, and why it has such an endearing film in the American conscious is that it suceeds in not only providing simply a great film, but also manages to create sympathetic criminals, which is not easy to do with the poise and greatness that was accomplished this time around. It suceeded in creating fully drawn emotionally human characters that is so rare nowadays, and did it with style.

29. The Apartment (1960) - Billy Wilder is one of the greatest American directors ever, and he was never better (at least in the last half century that is) than in his 1960 comedic classic, The Apartment. By breaking boundaries, and discussing comments that were taboo in the beginning of the turbulent 1960's, The Apartment was a groundbreaking American comedy that will forever be remembered as one of the best. Shriley MacLaine, Jack Lemmon, and the entire cast were impeccable, with zippy energy, and incredible chemistry that is so rare in modern day comedies. But what makes this film so incredible is the story, the deft blend of comedy and subtle drama, and the remarkable entertaining factor, make this film one that defies the conventions of the genre and manages to create something new and exciting.

28. All the President's Men (1976) - 1976, had to be one of the best films in memory with Rocky, Network, and this political classic lighting up silver screens across the country in the year of our nation's bicentennial. More importantly, the cast and crew of All the President's Men were daring to make a film about the Watergate scandal, with the actual event still fresh on the minds of Americans. Featuring two stellar performances from Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford, All the President's Men never stoops to cheap political thrills, but instead gives us a straightforward poltical drama that manages to avoid ever being boring. Instead it is thrilling, impeccably entertaining, and in the 1970's was a timely tale that helped to make sense of what was otherwise a confusing and trying time in American history.

27. In the Heat of the Night (1967) - In 1967, the turmoil and dramatic social change of the Civil Rights Movement, had left an incredible imprint on American society. So the in your face social commentary inherent in In the Heat of the Night would have shocked and challenged audiences at the time. Today, it is considered one of the best films from this era, and also serves as an interesting crime film as well as a film of social importance. Not only is it magnificently entertaining and challenging of stereotypes, but it is extremely well made, and features two performances that rank for me towards the top in cinematic history. Sidney Poitier was completely robbed of an Oscar nomination, as his Virgil Tibbs was fiery and strong, and gave us a character that never let the color of his skin affect his abilities and characterizations. Rod Steiger was rightfully honored by the Academy, and plays the racist man, who is also capable of sympathy. That in many ways is why this film was so wonderful, its heros had flaws and its villians were also sympathetic, showing that all of us have prejudices, and it is up to us to be accepting and understanding of one another.

26. The Deer Hunter (1978) - Vietnam was a conflict that not only was a military disaster, but an event that struck deep within the very fabric of American society, particularly with the soldiers that suffered through its trauma. And no film was quite as good as depicting this precarious time in American history that Michael Cimino's 1978 classic,  The Deer Hunter.  Featuring stunning direction and cinematography, along with a dense and tense script, The Deer Hunter's exploration and showcase is incredibly well done. But what this is truly known for are the electrifying performances of Robert DeNiro, Christopher Walken, Meryl Streep, and a plethora of talented supporting characters that bring this harrowing tale to life. They are all powerful and emotional, and truly capture the demented life of post-Vietnam, and grasp the haunting nature with verocity. While some have criticized the narrative as being overly long and at times not contributing to the endpoint, I vastly disagree, believing that every moment of this film is calculated, if not for narrative, then for the development of these deep characters, which are brought ot life with impeccable skill and emotion.

25. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) - "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room." Oh the irony, and has there ever been a more brilliant portrayal of irony and the incompetence of the government than in Stanley Kubrick's 1964 classic, Dr. Strangelove. While not as science fiction charged as many of Kubrick's work, Dr. Strangelove shows that the man was simply capable of anything, as this frantic, tense film, is also funny. Incredibly satirical, while also featuring all the marks of a great Kubrick fim: an impeccable script, brilliant direction, and breakthrough film technology, Dr. Strangelove may have diverged from the usual Kubrick genres, but it did not lose any of the brilliance. The performances are also wonderful, particularly the great Peter Sellers, who plays three roles brilliantly, giving each a touch of his charm, while creating three individualistic characters. His performance, along with the supporting cast including George C. Scott, James Earl Jones, Slim Pickens, and others, make this a true ensemble piece, as well as directorial feat. Most importantly, it is a brilliant commentary on the ills of the Cold War, and in 1964 was a bold statement of cinematic satire.

24. Taxi Driver (1976)It is hard to pin down the greatest Martin Scorsese films, considering he has made so many that are worthy of recognition and worthy of a spot on this list (which makes his better-late-than-never win in 2006 for The Departed even sadder than it originally did). But surely, there is a spot in the top five (or three) for the unsettling experience that was Taxi Driver. Oddly similar to the new film Drive (both include the great Albert Brooks as well),  Robert DeNiro plays a Vietnam vet whose urges and outburts turn violent, particularly as he tries to protect a teenage prosititute. In many ways, Taxi Driver is almost a horror film, the story of a violent mad man who breaks down in violent rampages. But unlike cheap and seedy horror movies, Taxi Driver is simply brilliant, between its fascinating screenplay, steady direction, and particularly, and most importantly, the shockingly brutal and incredible performance from the great Robert DeNiro. He was simply unspeakably amazing in this role, definitely ranked as one of his best performances, and is what holds it together. More importantly, this film became a blueprint for Scorsese, as his directorial flourishes, which were scoffed at the time by some, are now what gives him his signature touch.

23. M*A*S*H (1970)When you think about the great war movies of the twentieth century a lot of names come to mind: All Quiet on the Western Front, Patton, Saving Private Ryan, etc. But any list of great war movies is simply incomplete without Robert Altman's 1970 classic M*A*S*H.  Like all of Altman's films, M*A*S*H features an all-star cast, all intertwined into one grand story, this time revolving around the traumas of the Korean War, and the methods used by a group of Army medical staff to endure. Yet despite that grim description, M*A*S*H is also one of the funniest American movies ever made, with perverted jokes, laugh out loud physical comedy, and a set of comedic actors that are at the top of their game. Despite the humor, it also manages to be real, utilizing its humor to cover up a more important historical lesson about how war can have a profound effect on the individuals involved. And that is what truly makes M*A*S*H one of the best films of the last half-century, is its ability to make you laugh, yet also make you cringe, cry, and feel the effects of war. It is a wonderful cinematic achievement, and one of Altman's greatest works, and that is saying something.

22. Toy Story Trilogy (1995/1999/2010) - In 1995, I was a total of five years old, and yet I will never forget going to the theater and being amazed by Pixar's first film, called Toy Story. Last year, as a junior in college, I went with excited to see the third entry in the Toy Story series, and by the end of the film I was bawling like, well...a five year old. I have grown up with the characters of Woody and Buzz, Mr. Potato Head and Bo Peep, and like an entire generation of Pixar kids, I have become engrossed in their adventures. But even as an adult I can appreciate, love, and laugh at Toy Story because it is so damn good, so well-written, so smart and sharp, and so damn entertaining. Animation is often ignored as an art medium of respect and reward, and year after year Pixar proves that that is simply not the truth. And Pixar has never been better than this trilogy. I was going to break them up and put them throughout the list, but it is so hard to choose which one I like better, plus there is no greater evening than watching all three of them back to back to back. If I ever decide to do a list of the best film series, this is surely going to be in consideration for the top spot.

21. Annie Hall (1977) - Woody Allen has made literally dozens of films over his lifetime, and in recent years he seems to be on a one off, one on basis (for example, last year he had You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, this year he had Midnight in Paris). But Woody was never more on that he was in this 1977 Best Picture Annie Hall. Between his Allen-esque script with zippy lines, a moving story, and a love story that avoids cheese and predicability, making us actually believe it. Plus, this was one of the few times that Allen really worked on camera, as well as behind it. Then you add in the effortlessly charming performance of the great comedianne Diane Keaton, and what you have is a perfect romantic comedy. The Oscars have rarely rewarded the craft of comedy, so it says a lot when they reward a comedy film over the likes of Star Wars. It says that this is a film that would have a lasting presence, and a couple decades later, it is considered a quintessential American film that is not to be missed.

State of the Race: September Predictions - Best Picture

My Predictions
The Artist
The Descendants
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
The Help
J. Edgar
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Soy
War Horse
Young Adult

Other Contenders - The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Tree of Life, Midnight in Paris, Hugo, The Ides of March, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, Drive, Carnage, A Dangerous Method, We Bought a Zoo, The Iron Lady, Bridesmaids

Commentary - This is an interesting situation because of the possibility that there are only five nominees, or a possibility of ten. This makes it impossible to prediction. My predictions currently sit at nine, but this will obviously fluctuate as the season goes on. There are some huge unknowns in this race that I am still currently predicting including War Horse, which could be the historical epic of the season, as could Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar, although its trailer concerns me. On the contrary, the trailer for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, while schmaltzy, looks like pure Academy bait. Young Adult is missing from many pundit's list, but if Reitman is as good with this one as if was with Juno and Up in the Air, then the Academy will embrace it. However, the other five movies on the list have been seen, and are all looking like solid contenders. There are the feel good movies like The Help and Moneyball, which will rack up acting nods and will be the crowd-pleasers of the bunch . The Artist and The Descendants are both festival favorites, and Payne's movie is sure to be one of the top contenders. I am not so sure about The Artist. I think it should get in, but being a silent movie, you cannot trust the Academy's taste enough to not be sure they won't somehow be turned off by it. Finally, I am going with the British spy thriller Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy. It seems like a nice filler for the Academy, and Gary Oldman is getting a lot of Best Actor talk, so it is definitely a possibility.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Trailer

Does this look a little schmaltzy? Yes. A little too sentimental? Yes. Right up the Academy's alley? Hell yes. In the aftermath of 9/11 a tale of courage and healing will be a warm holiday film that will unite people and will soundly resonate with the members of the Academy. It also looks like Bullock, Thomas Horn, and the incredible Max von Sydow all could be contenders (not sure about Hanks). Daldry is a favorite and if this one is at least as good as The Reader (which isn't saying much), expect nominations.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

State of the Race: September Predictions - Best Director

My Predictions
Stephen Daldry "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close"
Clint Eastwood "J. Edgar"
Michel Hazanavicius "The Artist"
Alexander Payne "The Descendants"
Steven Spielberg "War Horse"

Other Contenders - Woody Allen "Midnight in Paris", Terrence Malick "Tree of Life", Bennet Miller "Moneyball", Thomas Alfredson "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy", George Clooney "The Ides of March", Tate Taylor "The Help", Cameron Crowe "We Bought a Zoo", David Yates "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1", Roman Polanski "Carnage", Martin Scorsese "Hugo", Steve McQueen "Shame", Lynne Ramsey "We Need to Talk About Kevin", David Cronenberg "A Dangerous Method", Steven Soderbergh "Contagion"

Commentary - This is a stacked race, with contenders we know are good, and others that have yet to be seen, but hail from Academy favorites. For example, The Artist and The Descendants have emerged as film festival favorites (say that five times fast), and their directors, particularly Alexander Payne have already solidifed themselves as contenders. I am a little more apprehensive about Michel Hazanvicius, as I am still not sure whether the Academy will embrace his silent masterpiece, The Artist. From there, the rest of the top five at this point feature well-known, Academy-favorite directors, although none of their films have been seen. War Horse still tops many people's charts for Best Picture, and if Spielberg is on the mark, it will be hard to ignore him. Clint Eastwood is up and down when it comes to his films, and although the trailer was not that flattering, the all-star cast and baity subject matter could push him, and his film J. Edgar, into the spotlight. Finally I am going with Stephen Daldry. I have doubted him again and again, and will not be the fool this time. Until I get word otherwise, he is going to remain in my top five.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

State of the Race: September Predictions - Best Actor

My Predictions
George Clooney "The Descendants"
Leonardo DiCaprio "J. Edgar"
Jean Dujardin "The Artist"
Gary Oldman "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy"
Brad Pitt "Moneyball"

Other Contenders - Ryan Gosling "The Ides of March", Ryan Gosling "Drive",  Michael Fassbender "Shame", Michael Fassbender "A Dangerous Method", Tom Hardy "Warrior", Michael Shannon "Take Shelter", Matt Damon "We Bought a Zoo", Paul Giamatti "Win Win", Johnny Depp "The Rum Diary", Christoph Waltz "Carnage", Joseph Gordon-Levitt "50/50", John C. Reilly "We Need to Talk About Kevin"

Commentary - There are not a lot of contenders beyond a handful (kind of like 2009), but those that are in the mix are fantastic (or should be), and will battle it out for the top prize. George Clooney is apparently fantastic in The Descendants, and also seems to be showing some more range, than many of his roles where he plays an extension of himself. Even if The Artist fails to woo Academy voters, being a silent film in all, I get the feeling that Jean Dujardin's fantastic performance will get recognition no matter what. Gary Oldman has been under the Academy radar for so long, but the spy thriller Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, looks like it could be the vehicle that finally gets him into the race. Now, we know nothing about Leonardo Dicaprio's performance in J. Edgar, but if it is half as good as his other ones, he will definitely be in the race. I would love to put Michael Fassbender for Shame (as many pundits have), but the film is going to have a hard time reaching an audience, so he'll need precursor support to make the cut. So in the last spot is the latest entry into the race. Of course I'm talking about Brad Pitt, who is getting career-best reviews for the crowd pleaser Moneyball, which is hot right now, and has the pedigree to stay relevant for the rest of the season.

Monday, September 26, 2011

State of the Race: September Predictions - Best Actress

My Predictions
Glenn Close "Albert Nobbs"
Viola Davis "The Help"
Meryl Streep "The Iron Lady"
Tilda Swinton "We Need to Talk About Kevin"
Charlize Theron "Young Adult"

Other Contenders - Michelle Williams "My Week with Marilyn", Rooney Mara "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo", Elizabeth Olsen "Martha Marcy May Marlene", Jodie Foster "Carnage", Felicity Jones "Like Crazy", Michelle Yeoh "The Lady", Kirsten Dunst "Melancholia", Jane Fonda "Peace, Love & Misunderstanding", Rachel Weisz "The Whistleblower", Kristen Wiig "Bridesmaids", Emma Stone "The Help", Emily Watson "Oranges and Sunshine". Charlotte Rampling "The Eye of the Storm"

Commentary - This race has about ten solid contenders, some seen, others not, and then it seems to drop off a cliff. Currently, there are some buzzed performances outside of the top five. For example, we know Olsen is good, and Mara could be good, but both are young and need some precursor support before I jump on their bandwagon. Michelle Williams is currently 6th in my book, but playing Marilyn Monroe is hard to do, although my guess is that by the end of the season, she will be in the top five. So now onto my actual predictions. There are three staples that keep appearing over and over, Viola Davis, Glenn Close, and Meryl Streep. Davis we know is phenomenal in a well-liked movie, Albert Nobbs is getting mixed reviews, but Close almost always gets praised, and while there is a lot of concern for The Iron Lady, Meryl Streep playing Margaret Thatcher is going to be hard to pass up. In the last two slots I am going with two Academy Award winners in buzzed projects. Tilda Swinton is already getting rave reviews for We Need to Talk About Kevin, but the film is dark and may find it hard to break into the major awards. Finally, the last two Jason Reitman films have seen their leads nominated (Ellen Page and George Clooney), and Charlize Theron is usually pretty damn good. If Young Adult is as good as his previous outings, I think she will be a tough contender.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

State of the Race: September Predictions - Best Supporting Actor

My Predictions
Kenneth Branagh "My Week With Marilyn"
Albert Brooks "Drive"
Armie Hammer "J. Edgar"
Ezra Miller "We Need to Talk About Kevin"
Christopher Plummer "Beginners"

Other Contenders - Jonah Hill "Moneyball". Philip Seymour Hoffman "Moneyball", Philip Seymour Hoffman "The Ides of March", George Clooney "The Ides of March", Viggo Mortensen "A Dangerous Method", Thomas Horn "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close", Nick Nolte "Warrior", Patton Oswalt "Young Adult", Neils Astrup "War Horse", Benedict Cumberbatch "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy", Paul Giamatti "The Ides of March", Jim Broadbent "The Iron Lady", John Hawkes "Martha Marcy May Marlene"

Commentary - There are so many contenders in this category that are so uncertain either because of less-than-stellar reviews (The Ides of March boys, Viggo Mortensen), their unfamiliarity in the Oscar race (Patton Oswalt, Jonah Hill), overexposure (Hoffman), or loss of buzz (Nick Nolte in Warrior) making this either an incredibly weak race, or the most confusing and unknown of the year. There is one staple however that has remained and that is Christopher Plummer. Between this film, and his other films such as Barrymore and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Plummer is hitting a late-career stride, and I think it could be his year to finally win an overdue Academy Award. Albert Brooks is another veteran, whose scene-stealing turn is getting a lot of praise. But while the Academy doesn't always go for more stylish films like Drive, this is a type of performance that usually gets a lot of attention. We haven't see My Week With Marilyn yet, but Branagh playing Olivier is sure to be a spectacle. In the last two spots I am going with younger talents who are looking for their breakthrough performances.  Armie Hammer was a standout in The Social Network this year, and while the J.Edgar trailer has left me less than pleased, he does look pretty good as Edgar's lover. Finally, I am going out on a limb for the incredibly disturbing, yet masterful performance of Ezra Miller in We Need to Talk About Kevin. Hopefully this will get a nice campaign push for both Miller and Swinton, and if they are impressed, I think he could be one to watch for.

Friday, September 23, 2011

State of the Race: September Predictions - Best Supporting Actress

My Predictions
Sandra Bullock "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close"
Jessica Chastain "The Help"
Vanessa Redgrave "Coriolanus"
Octavia Spencer "The Help"
Shailene Woodley "The Descendants"

Other Contenders - Kiera Knightley "A Dangerous Method", Carey Mulligan "Shame", Judi Dench "J. Edgar", Berenice Bojo "The Artist", Janet McTeer "Albert Nobbs", Bryce Dallas Howard "The Help", Jessica Chastain "Tree of Life", Jessica Chastain "Take Shelter", Naomi Watts "J. Edgar", Marion Cotillard "Midnight in Paris", Kate Winslet "Carnage", Evan Rachel Wood "The Ides of March", Marisa Tomei "The Ides of March", Emily Watson "War Horse", Melissa McCarthy "Bridesmaids", Anna Kendrick "50/50", Emma Watson "My Week With Marilyn"

Commentary - This category, unlike its Best Supporting Actor counterpart, has a lot of contenders, but they have either not been seen, or if they have, we're not sure what the Academy will think. There is one thing I do know: someone from The Help could easily get in, and if I were betting my money it would be on Octavia Spencer, who is hilarious and emotional, and a true scene stealer in a huge ensemble piece. Viola Davis could also get in depending on where they put her, right now I personally have her in the Lead category. I also think Jessica Chastain has a great shot, considering how many awesome performances she has had, The Help being her most dynamic, and the most popular, although she is definitely not a secure as Spencer. Vanessa Redgrave is apparently great in Coriolanus, and her legendary status could help her a lot. But to be honest the film is getting so-so reviews, and may not have the muscle to sustain through the long season. Shailene Woodley is awful on the Secret Life of the American Teenager, so I was pleasantly shocked when I read that she is simply fantastic in Alexander Payne's latest, The Descendants. Younger actresses have done better in this category compared to lead, and if this film is as well-liked by the Academy as I think it will be, then she could be the season's breakout star. Finally I am going into the unknown, with the pick of Sandra Bullock. Stephen Daldry's films are well liked, and if there is still good will from her Blind Side win, I could see her getting in.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

State of the Race - September Predictions: Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees
Richard Curtis and Lee Hall "War Horse"
Bridget O'Connor and Peter Straughan "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy"
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, and Jim Rash "The Descendants"
Eric Roth "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close"
Aaron Sorkin and Steve Zaillan "Moneyball"

Other Contenders -Steve Zaillan "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo", George Clooney and Grant Heslov "The Ides of March", Roman Polanksi and Yasmina Reza "Carnage", Tate Taylor "The Help", Cameron Crowe and Alina Brosh McKenna "We Bought a Zoo", John Banville and Glenn Close "Albert Nobbs", Christopher Hampton "A Dangerous Method", Adrian Hodges "My Week With Marilyn", John Logan "Hugo", Steve Kloves "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2", Bruce Robinson "The Rum Diary", Rory Kinnear and Lynne Ramsey "We Need to Talk About Kevin"

Commentary - Like most years, this category is stacked with Oscar contenders, and the five that I have currently predicted could all easily be replaced by other contenders. The Descendants is making a huge splash on the awards circuit, and even if it loses its steam as the season goes on, I think that Payne's script, and Clooney's performances are pretty safe all the way to the end. Eric Roth has won and been nominated a lot of times and if Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is as big of an Oscar magnet as Daldry's other films, I don't see why he won't make the cut. Two previous winners also pop up with Moneyball, the feel good baseball movie opening this weekend. Its getting good reviews, and its script is apparently one of the highlights, which is not surprising considering it comes from the minds of Aaron Sorkin and Steve Zaillan (who could also get in for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo). Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy seems like the big British film this year, and the script and Oldman's performance are particularly making a splash, although some precursor awards will help to raise its profile. Finally, I am going out on a limb with War Horse. It hasn't been seen yet, and it could be a bomb, but with Spielberg behind it, it definitely has a chance of making a splash. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

State of the Race - September Predictions: Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees
Woody Allen "Midnight in Paris"
Dustin Lance Black "J.Edgar"
Diablo Cody "Young Adult"
Michel Hazanavicius "The Artist"
Mike Mills "Beginners"

Other Contenders - Drake Doremus and Ben York Jones "Like Crazy", Abi Morgan and Michael Hirst "The Iron Lady", Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo "Bridesmaids", Jeff Nichols "Take Shelter", Will Reiser "50/50", Thomas McCarthy and Joe Tibani "Win Win", Scott Z. Burns "Contagion", Terrence Malick "The Tree of Life", Sarah Polley "Take This Waltz", Sean Durkin "Martha Marcy May Marlene"

Commentary - Like most years, this is a race without many of the supposed big Oscar contenders, and personally I am happy about it, because then incredible, but small works like Beginners, Like Crazy, Win Win, and even awesome comedies like Bridesmaids, all are in contention. That being said, I am playing it safe with these predictions for now, looking towards buzzed projects, and in many ways, ignoring the films I just mentioned, with the exception of Beginners, with may have legs because of Christopher Plummer's performance, and may make people take a second look at its screenplay. One nominee I am getting pretty sure of is Woody Allen. He is a legend in this category, and Midnight in Paris is his best, and biggest film, in years. After seeing the J. Edgar trailer, I am kind of ancy to see how it turns out. But if it is good, then look for previous winner Dustin Lance Black to see his name called again, as it is not easy to create a biopic out of thin air (although I'm not currently predicting it, this goes for The Iron Lady as well). Diablo Cody is also returning to the race, and although Young Adult skipped the festival circuit, which makes me kind of nervous, Jason Reitman has yet to do wrong, and if it turns out to be anything like Juno or Up in the Air, Cody will definitely be in contention. Finally, I went with the silent movie, The Artist. Now I know that seems like a crazy notion, considering there is not dialogue, that means that the script (aka the story) had to have been really good, and people are going crazy over this film and trying to push it into the Oscar race. I am not so certain of its chances in this category, but for now I'll go with the hype.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Review: Drive

As I left the theater after seeing a matinee of Drive, I heard rumblings from the audience that they were disappointed, and I couldn't help by chuckle. Not because I think they are unfounded in disappointment, but because I think they were simply not prepared for the experience, thinking they were seeing Fast and Furious. However, I knew what to expect from Nicholas Winding Refn, and his crew, and unlike my fellow audience members I was not disappointed.

Ryan Gosling's character never gets a name, and is simply credited as Driver, a young stunt driver who works in a shop for extra money, as well as drives get away cars for criminals. His friend from the shop Shannon (Bryan Cranston), hooks him up with two mobsters Bernie and Nino (Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman) for him to become a professional racer. In the meantime, he meets a young mother Irene (Carey Mulligan) who's husband is in jail. Upon the husband's return, he must repay protection money, so Driver decides to help him because he has fallen for both Irene and her son, and feels the need to protect them by helping put the husband's debts behind him. However, as the job goes horribly wrong, (which features Christina Hendricks), Driver begins to get deeper and deeper into the crime world of Los Angeles, and finds it difficult to pull out of it.

Knowing Refn's work it was not surprising how stylized this film was. This is not a classic, constantly moving action film. Instead it fills its intermediate spaces with long gazes, ethereal score and soundtrack, character development, and then it hits you with hyper-violent bursts that shock you. While this may not be the ideal way to make an action film, it manages to work. It is a film that stimulates the senses, develops characters, yet keeps them at a distance, so that it is not ever too emotional or too involved. And while the storyline is not a conventional narrative, its sequence of events make the overall effect linger with you long after, and it makes you think.

But Refn's style and skill are not the only components of this film that work, as the cast is simply stunning, and even if the source material, like the incrediblely ambitious, yet minimalistic script that allows for the director and cast to flourish, were for some reason bad (which they are not), the performances alone would have ensured critical success. Ryan Gosling is steady, secure, and unwavering in a controlled manner, that while subtle in many ways, is so precise and meticulous that you are engaged throughout the entire film. This steadiness also makes the spurts of violence even more shocking and breathtaking when they do eventually hit. But Gosling is not alone, as Cranston provides some humanity, and Carey Mulligan provides emotional heft in ways that are certaintly award worthy. But it is Albert Brooks who, although not seen much in the film, manages to steal every scene he is in with his villanous and explosive Bernie, who brings a calmness and relaxed fit to a monster. It is nice to see Brooks go outside his comedic style, and he has officially placed himself in the Best Supporting Actor race.

Drive is an incredibly stylish and well-made heist thriller that manages to avoid action cliches and features some sharp and stunning performances, as well as a zipping script that manages to tell the story, while being minimalistic, allowing for creative flourishes. Now, Drive is not for everyone, and there are moments where the style causes the film to slow down a little too much. But overall, it manages to overcome its miniscule flaws to become a heart-pounding film that really effects you if you let your populist guard down and simply absorb it.

Grade: A-

Oscar Potential: Probably not going to be the biggest contender but why not: Picture, Actor (Gosling), Supporting Actress (Mulligan), Supporting Actor (Cranston), Supporting Actor (Brooks), Sound, Sound Editing, Cinematography, Film Editing.

J. Edgar Trailer

Well, I'm not quite sure what to think of it. It looks like it has the potential to be good, but honestly it could go either way. Plus, I like DiCaprio, but is anyone else feeling like they've seen this performance ten times from him in the last decade? Either way, this bows at the AFI Fest, so check it out below:

Monday, September 19, 2011

2011 Emmy Post-Game Analysis

So the 2011 Emmys are over, and what a rollercoaster ride, with tons of surprises, shocking upsets, and then a familiar end. Literally, after a while you had to hold your breath before each winner was announced because you just never knew what was going to happen. Below, separated by categories, is a more thorough analysis of the all the action from last night.

No pun intended, oh hell, pun intended, there was a lot of drama in the Drama categories, and when Mad Men finally won the top award, I think we all breathed a sigh of relief that our nerves and excitement could finally take a break. I wasn't exactly disappointed that Mad Men won, as it really was its best season, but after all the shocking wins in this category, and the fact that the only award it had won up until that point was Hairstyling, I thought that maybe the Emmys were going for an upset. Now Mad Men has won as many awards in a row as LA Law and The West Wing, but after its low turnout this year, I think it will not go for the record-breaking five peat next year. There were a few expected, and well-deserved, wins, as both Martin Scorses and Julianna Margulies took the stage in their respective categories. But beyond those three awards, these categories were filled with upsets and incredible wins that finally made me respect the Emmys for recognizing greatness where it was deserved. Margo Martindale was predicted to win, but in the back of my mind, I just felt that the Emmys would snub her. But alas, the panels actually looked at her tape, recognized her brilliance and gave her the award. Her acceptance speech made it all worth while, as she was genuinely happy and overwhelmed,. It is moments like these that keep me intrigued with Awards shows, because once every ceremony, there is one winner (or in this case a bunch), that is actually genuinely happy and surprised, and it sometimes makes it all worth it. That was truly the case of Kyle Chandler. His final episode was not the best in the world, but that kind of technicality did not matter for Emmy voters. In many ways, this win, combined with its shocking win in the Writing category, were nice little tips of the hat to the outgoing series, and maybe also apologetic wins from the Academy which has snubbed FNL for way too many years. But more importantly, this was a trimphant win for Chandler, who is a humble, hard working guy who finally got his due. Peter Dinklage also pulled off a win, although it wasn't neccessarily an upset, as a lot of people had predicted him. I am bummed that my out of the box pick Josh Charles didn't get in, but I am thrilled for Dinklage, who definitely deserved it, and his thanking of his dog walker made it completely worthwhile.

Modern Family did a sweep of these awards, and it wasn't really that shocking. Ty Burrell was predicted to win, and he should have won considering he has the best and funniest episode. The Julie Bowen win was surprising, but I had mentioned that she had a decent dark horse shot, and if you think about it, it was probably less surprising than we thought. Since Jane Lynch was hosting, voters may not have wanted to given her too much exposure. And although Betty White is a legend, they clearly did not like Hot In Cleveland and even White couldn't bring it Emmy gold. So Bowen was clearly the benefactor of this split, and I am thrilled that she won her first, and hopefully not last, Emmy Award. While the Supporting categories were not shockers, they Lead ones definitely provided some excitement, as well as disappointed. In the Actor race, I wasn't made that Jim Parsons won, as he is always excellent on The Big Bang Theory, but I am sad that Steve Carell did not win. He will go down as one of the biggest snubbed performances of all time (in the likes of Martin Sheen for The West Wing), and the Emmys should be ashamed that he did not win for his incredible goodbye episode, especially considering Parsons had already won the year before. The Actress category however was one of the best moments of the night, starting with the pagentry of all nominees coming up on the stage and embracing, another brilliant idea from the incredible Amy Poehler, all of them receiving a well-deserved standing ovation. Then the shocker came when the underdog Melissa McCarthy was announced as the winner and had a tiara placed on her head and a bouquet on her arm. Some people had extremely negative reactions to her win, and I agree that Linney or Poehler had much better performances. But I have been a huge fan of McCarthy's since Gilmore Girls and since she will probably be ignored this Oscar season for her Bridesmaids role, this is a nice toast to a rising new star. On a technical level, aka episode submission, this was not a great choice, but on a personal note, it was a wonderful moment, and a well deserved accolade for an awesome person.

TV Movie/Miniseries
Wow, did I get this one wrong. Now I did get 3/4 Acting awards correctly, as Pearce, Smith, and a very excited Winslet all won very deserving honors. But although I forsaw a potential for a Downton Abbey upset, I did not see it taking Writing, Directing, as well as the big prize. While some may scoff that it is having a second season (when it submitted its Emmy consideration it did not have plans to do so), and the fact that it is a stuffy British PBS series, it actually was a well made series, with tons of great performances, particularly Smith. Plus, while Mildred Pierce got a lot of nominations, it did not sweep the Creative Arts, and it turns out that while the Academy loved the acting in Mildred Pierce, they did not love everything about it. But that wasn't as shocking to me as the Barry Pepper win. Seriously? I mean Pepper is a talented guy, but the only actor from The Kennedy's that deserved a nod was Tom Wilkinson, and he didn't even get close to deserving a win. Pepper's impression of Bobby Kennedy was less than stellar, and The Kennedy's was not good at all. Plus with William Hurt, Edgar Ramirez, Idris Elba, Laurence Fishburne, hell even Greg Kinnear, ahead of him it is a travesty that he won. This one will surely go down as one of the worse, and confounding, wins in Emmy History.

Jon Stewart + Amazing Race = boring. uneventful, completely predictable, whatever.

The Ceremony
I didn't particularly like Jane Lynch's opening video as much as Jimmy Fallon's, but I think that some of the "awful" and "worst host ever" remarks I have read are completely unfounded. She had some really funny moments throughout the show, never overstayed her welcome, and brought a lot of energy to the role as hostess. There were of course some great presenters (Seriously Julianna Margulies deserved the Emmy for her deadpan presenting job), and some terrible ones (Seriously Katie Holmes go away!), as always. And with all the shockers and surprises, at least it never got boring, because even when the snubs were egregious (Carrell for example), at least they kept your interest. Overall, this was actually not that bad of a ceremony, compared to the Oscars earlier this year, but it was definitely not as good as the Tony's. Overall, I was pleased, althoguh I'm sure I will get some vile reactions from others.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

63rd Annual Primetime Emmy Award Winners

I will be live blogging the Emmy winners tonight. Tomorrow I will do an analysis of the winners, and this week I will do my September Oscar Predictions, and finish the Top 100 Films of the Last 50 Years.

Best Comedy Series - Modern Family
Best Drama Series - Mad Men
Best Miniseries or Movie - Downton Abbey
Best Actor in a Drama Series - Kyle Chandler "Friday Night Lights"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Best Actress in a Drama Series - Julianna Margulies "The Good Wife"
Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series - Peter Dinklage "Game of Thrones"
Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series - Margo Martindale "Justified"!!!!!!!
Best Actress in a Comedy Series - Melissa McCarthy "Mike & Molly"
Best Actor in a Comedy Series - Jim Parsons "The Big Bang Theory"
Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series - Julie Bowen "Modern Family"!
Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series -Ty Burrell "Modern Family"
Best Actress in a TV Movie/Miniseries - Kate Winslet "Mildred Pierce"
Best Actor in a TV Movie/Miniseries - Barry Pepper "The Kennedys" ??
Best Supporting Actress in a TV Movie/Miniseries - Maggie Smith "Downton Abbey"
Best Supporting Actor in a TV Movie/Miniseries - Guy Pearce "Mildred Pierce"
Best Variety Series - The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Best Reality-Competition Series - The Amazing Race
Best Directing for a Drama Series - Martin Scorsese "Boardwalk Empire"
Best Writing for a Drama Series - Jason Katim "Friday Night Lights - Always"!!!!!!!
Best Directing for a Comedy Series - Michael Alan Spiller "Modern Family - Halloween"
Best Writing for a Comedy Series - Steve Levitan and Jeffery Richman "Modern Family - Caught in the Act"
Best Directing for TV Movie/Miniseries - Brian Percival "Downton Abbey"
Best Writing for a TV Movie/Miniseries - Julian Fellowes "Downton Abbey"
Best Directing for a Variety Series - Don Roy King "Saturday Night Live"
Best Writing for a Variety Series - The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

Emmy Predictions: Final Prediction List

Best Drama Series - Mad Men
Best Comedy Series - Modern Family
Best TV Movie/Miniseries - Mildred Pierce
Best Variety Series - The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Best Reality/Competition - Top Chef
Best Actor in a Drama Series - Jon Hamm "Mad Men"
Best Actress in a Drama Series - Julianna Margulies "The Good Wife"
Best Actor in a Comedy Series - Steve Carell "The Office"
Best Actress in a Comedy Series - Laura Linney "The Big C"
Best Actor in a TV Movie/Miniseries - Edgar Ramirez "Carlos"
Best Actress in a TV Movie/Miniseries - Kate Winslet "Mildred Pierce"
Best Supporting Actor in a Drama - Josh Charles "The Good Wife"
Best Supporting Actress in a Drama - Margo Martindale "Justified"
Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy - Ty Burrell "Modern Family"
Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy - Jane Lynch "Glee"
Best Supporting Actor in Movie/Mini - Guy Pearce "Mildred Pierce"
Best Supporting Actress in a Movie/Mini - Maggie Smith "Downton Abbey"
Best Directing Drama - Martin Scorsese "Boardwalk Empire - Pilot"
Best Directing Comedy - Michael Alan Spiller "Modern Family - Halloween"
Best Directing Variety Series - Gregg Gelfand "American Idol - Episode 1024/1025 A"
Best Writing Drama - Matthew Weiner "Mad Men - The Suitcase"
Best Writing Comedy - Steven Levitan & Jeffrey Richman "Modern Family - Caught in the Act"
Best Writing Variety Series - The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Emmy Predictions: Best Drama Series

Will Win - Mad Men
Should Win - The Good Wife or Friday Night Lights
Could Win - Boardwalk Empire

Commentary - There is one thing I know, Dexter will not win this award. I don't think Game of Thrones will either, as it lost too many easy Creative awards last weekend. So that leaves four, and all of them could potentially get it. The Good Wife had a great Season 2, but it missed some key directing/writing nods, and I wonder if it has a lot of support outside of the acting branch. Friday Night Lights finally got a nomination for its last season, and if sentiment is high then they definitely have a chance, particularly with that final episode which could melt the Grinch's heart. After last week's Creative Arts Emmys, Boardwalk Empire has put itself in striking distance of Mad Men, plus it will probably take the Directing award Sunday, which plays well to its chances. But then again Mad Men has never done that well at the Creative Arts ceremony, and although Boardwalk Empire is its biggest challenger ever, I don't know if it can pull it off. It will be a close one, but I am sticking with Mad Men until the envelope is open.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Emmy Predictions: Best Comedy Series

Will Win - Modern Family
Should Win - Parks & Recreation
Could Win - Glee, Parks & Rec, The Office

Commentary - While its not yet written in stone, one show is full steam ahead of the others, and will require a major upset to be defeated. This show is not 30 Rock. While the Emmys loved the show in its early years, and will probably continue to nominate it for eternity, I don't think it has a shot in hell of actually winning this year. The Big Bang Theory finally got into the top category, but without major directing or writing nods, and the fact that the Emmys are just starting to realize how good it is, makes me think it will need to wait a couple of years to finally have a shot at the prize. The Office has won before, and this year's storyline, especially with the exit of Steve Carell, may play into the Academy's sentiment. Parks and Recreation is the funniest show on TV, and I am thrilled it got a nod. But it has no other major nods with the execption of Amy Poehler, so I just don't think it has enough broad based support to upset. Love or hate Glee, I personally think it is uneven, so I really like it sometimes, and have to change the channels other, it is a pop culture phenomenon. And while its nomination haul this year was significantly less, it submitted some great episodes and people may not realize just how uneven Season 2 was, and actually vote for it. But the show I was speaking of in the beginning was of course Modern Family. All six of its adult characters got nominations, it cleaned up in the directing/writing categories, and although it didn't kill at the Creative Arts Emmys, I have no doubt it will clean up come Sunday.

Barrymore Trailer

Is this Christopher Plummer's ticket to Oscar glory? While I'm not sure if the Academy will go for a one man stage show, and the Best Actor race is getting tight, I do think that this performance will boost his exposure and chances of getting a nod and winning for his supporting role in Beginners. Plus the Supporting Actor race doesn't look as strong, and is the perfect place for the veteran to get his due. Either way, I think this will be an interesting and entertaining film, and a showcase of what great acting really is.

Emmy Predictions: TV Movie/Miniseries

Will Win - Mildred Pierce
Should Win - Too Big to Fail, or Downton Abbey
Could Win - Downton Abbey, Cinema Verite

Commentary - A week ago, this category seemed like a slam dunk. But after the shakeup at the Creative Arts Emmys, I am now starting to ponder whether an upset is waiting in the wings. Pillars of the Earth probably shouldn't have been nominated, and without any other major nominations  I am happy to say that it won't. While The Kennedy's got some surprise technical wins (and nominations in big categories), it also doesn't look like it is going to win either. I know some people thought the History Channel's liberal bias is why they chose not to air it, but personally I think it was because it simply wasn't that good as a program, whether you love or hate the family. Too Big to Fail was a nice, politically charged drama with great performances and a sharp script, but I don't think it made a big enough mark to swing enough voters to its side. Cinema Verite, like Too Big to Fail, was lifted by its cast, and while the HBO machine is behind it, I think they are gunning for a different program, meaning I don't think there is enough buzz behind it to pull off an upset. However, there is tons of buzz behind the PBS miniseries (now a series, with a second season), Downton Abbey, and after it pulled some technical upsets, I am starting to think that it could win the top prize. However, despite my inclinatiosn of an upset, I am sticking with my guns and going with the HBO juggernaut Mildred Pierce. It is big, bold, well-reviewed, and has Kate Winslet, Todd Haynes, and a host of other talent people with their names beside it. Plus, its abundance of acting, directing, and writing nods leads me to believe that the biggest branches love it, and will give it the Emmy.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Emmy Predictions: Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Will Win/Should Win - Jon Hamm "Mad Men"
Could Win - Steve Buscemi "Boardwalk Empire", Kyle Chandler "Friday Night Lights"

Commentary - So finally, Jon Hamm gets a break from Bryan Cranston, the question is, can he pull it off? There are a few people I think we can eliminate without fault right off the back. Timothy Olyphant surprisingly, and deservingly got a nomination for Justified, but his role is not as flashy, nor his show as popular as some of the other contenders, so I don't know if he can strike gold on his first time out. Also subtle is Michael C. Hall, who, despite playing a serial killer, seems as if he will never win an Emmy for this role. Hugh Laurie has an over the top flashy role as House, but if he couldn't win last year for his insane asylum episode submission, I don't think he will ever win an Emmy. There are three left however who I could legitimately see winning the prize. Kyle Chandler is an outside to say the least, but the sentimentality and always wonderful episodes he submits, may be enough to pull off an upset. Steve Buscemi is really on the radar after Boardwalk swept the Creative Arts Emmys, and while I think he is still second place, his name being called would not be surprising. But it all comes back to Jon Hamm. Without Bryan Cranston, I think this is finally his year. His episode, The Suitcase, is marvelous for him, and the fact that he has not won yet will weigh heavily on the minds of voters.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

We Bought a Zoo Trailer

Well, I love Cameron Crowe, because I think Almost Famous is one of the best movies of all time, and Jerry Maguire is pretty good too. I think this still can be a good movie, but I feel like they are positioning it as the feel good movie of the season. Is there room for two feel good movies, with The Help already on the Oscar radar? Not sure, but I hope there is some depth and humor beneath the surface of the trailer. See what you think:

Emmy Predictions: Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Will Win/Should Win - Julianna Margulies "The Good Wife"
Could Win - Elisabeth Moss "Mad Men", Meirelle Enos "The Killing", Connie Britton "Friday Night Lights"

Commentary - This race is definitely the closest of any of the major categories, with four, maybe five women, all have a stake in the race. I love Mariska Hargitay, and when she won her Emmy for SVU she deserved it. But how she keeps getting nominated despite the show dipping in quality, and the fact that she outlasted Kyra Sedgwick is still shocking to me. Beyond her though, the other five contenders could all legitimately take the prize without my jaw dropping too far. Kathy Bates could have been in the top three had she submitted one of her flashier episodes, but she doesn't do much in hers. That being said, she is Kathy Bates, she is an actor's actor, and she is in a David E. Kelly show, all of which seem to pull off surprise Emmys. So while I don't think she will win, I will not be surprised if she does. Connie Britton has the distinction of being in a show that is going off the air, has the sentimentality factor, and has recently been put on the Emmy radar. But Friday Night Lights is an ensemble piece to the max, and while she is always great, she doesn't have as much screen time as her fellow nominees, nor as much range. A lot of people are picking the dark horse contender Meirelle Enos for The Killing, and her episode submission definitely plays in her favor. But she doesn't have the name recognition of some of the other contenders, and I'm not sure if voters forgot how fast the series declined as it came towards its frustrating season finale. So it comes down to two. The Suitcase is such a fantastic episode, and Elisabeth Moss is almost tied for first. But Jon Hamm is also fantastic in this episode, and Julianna Margulies is in the category. Last years she didn't submit correctly and she lost. But this year she hit the nail on the head, and while Moss is right on her tale, I think that Margulies is going to pull it out and win the prize.

Emmy Predictions: Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Will Win/Should Win - Steve Carell "The Office"
Could Win - Jim Parsons "The Big Bang Theory" or Louis C.K. "Louie"

Commentary - Is it finally time for Steve Carell to win his Emmy? While the Academy never feels as sentimental and nostalgic as us fans do, I think this time around I think everyone will agree. Johnny Galecki finally got a nomination alongside his co-star Jim Parsons. While I think his episode is actually really funny, I don't think he yet has the clout to carry it to a surprise victory. Matt LeBlanc got a surprising nod for Episodes (okay not that surprising, but still not predicted), but his episode is basically a version of himself, and Episodes simply does not have the buzz that say Friends did when he got so many nominations in the earlier part of this decade. For me he is in a far sixth place. Alec Baldwin has won this category mutiple times, but I think his Emmy train, at least for 30 Rock, has left the station. Louis C.K surprised a lot of people when he got a nomination, and then got three others in different categories, showing that he is a rising star on the Emmy radar. Plus his episode is pretty funny, if you are into his kind of comedy. While I think he is not going to win, he could be a dark horse surprise if things fall his way. Jim Parsons is probably the biggest threat to Carell as he won last year, and every episode of The Big Bang Theory is hilarious, but I think between the sentimentality of Carell never winning, plus his episode submission, which actually shows a softer side, could finally be the winning combination.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Emmy Predictions: Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Will Win - Laura Linney "The Big C"
Should Win - Amy Poehler "Parks & Recreation"
Could Win - Poehler or Melissa McCarthy "Mike & Molly"

Commentary - For me, this race comes down to two, with a few outside possibilities. Edie Falco managed to win last year despite not being funny at all (a great performance, just not a comedic performance), but Nurse Jackie was not as good this season, and managed no other nods. Tina Fey returns again for 30 Rock, but there have been very few repeats in this category (none in the last decade), and 30 Rock seems to have fallen out of the discussion. Newcomers Martha Plimpton and Melissa McCarthy benefit from hilarious episodes, and from hot new series. But I don't know if they have the pedigree yet to win the Emmy, plus they face competition from two bigger contenders. If I had a vote, it would go to Amy Poehler for her Flu Season epsiode of Parks and Rec, the funniest performance of the bunch. But Laura Linney has the snob factor, she has never lost an Emmy, and her episode for the Pilot is big bold, hilarious at moments and sober at other ones showing off Linney's incredible range. While I think Poehler has a shot, she will most likely play second fiddle to Linney, who literally carries the entire series on her back (whereas Poehler benefits from a great ensemble cast).

Monday, September 12, 2011

Emmy Predictions: Best Actor in a TV Movie/Miniseries

Will Win - William Hurt "Too Big to Fail"
Should Win - Edgar Ramirez "Carlos"
Could Win - Ramirez, Idris Elba "Luther", Laurence Fishburne "Thurgood"

Commentary - Everyone I know is going with Edgar Ramirez, and while he is definitely the best of the bunch (which is saying a lot considering the talent involved), there are a few things going against him. It is foreign language, it didn't get the Miniseries nod. I still hope that he wins, and think that he could, but I am currently leaning towards someone else. I think Greg Kinnear and Barry Pepper are 5th and 6th respectively as neither really nailed their parts as the Kennedys (and the miniseries as a whole was less than stellar). Idris Elba had a wonderful performance, but I think it may not have enough power behind it as a whole project to win any awards. Laurence Fishburne is great, but it is basically a stage performance, and while they have been nominated recently, those types of performances have yet to break through. So I think it will be William Hurt. He is an Academy Award winner with tons of recognition, his movie got tons of big nominations unlike Carlos, and he is really the glue that holds it together and stands out among an impressive cast. This race is a tough one to call and I may change my mind before Sunday, but for now it is Hurt for the win.

Emmy Predictions: Best Actress in a TV Movie/Miniseries

Will Win/Should Win - Kate Winslet "Mildred Pierce"
Could Win - Diane Lane "Cinema Verite" or Elizabeth McGovern "Downton Abbey"

Commentary - This has some great nominees, although unless something shocking happens, I think most of them are simply seat fillers. Although I didn't particularly care of Taken From Me as a whole, I did appreciated and like Taraji P. Henson's performance. So although I am glad she god nominated, I don't think there is any chance of her winning. I also think Jean Marsh for Upstairs, Downstairs is out, which is kind of surprising, but if some one is going to take the prize from a British production it is going to be Elizabeth McGovern. This is a serious possibility considering Downton Abbey is starting to sneak up on Mildred Pierce and could pull a surprise attack. I also think that Diane Lane in the underappreciated Cinema Verite has a shot, simply because her performance was praised upon its release. However, despite some stiff competition, despite a sudden loss in enthusiasm for Mildred Pierce's chances, I don't think there is anyone who can really beat Kate Winslet. She is movie royalty, an Academy Award winner, and is simply stunning in Pierce.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Emmy Predictions: Best Variety Series

Will Win - The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Should Win - The Colbert Report
Could Win - Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, Colbert

Commentary - Is this the year that Colbert finally knocks off his friend and colleague Jon Stewart? While I enjoy Stewart, I would like to see some love finally start to spread around, and I think Colbert is the obvious successor, although Jimmy Fallon is getting a lot of positive buzz. I think I would throw my remote at the TV if Fallon won, simply because he has the worst comedic timing of any major comedian working today (ok probably not, but I'm not a big fan). All that being said though, I really think any extended discussion on this category is moot. Until someone proves they can beat Stewart, I will continue to predict him.

Emmy Predictions: Best Reality-Competition Program

Will Win - Top Chef
Should Win - Project Runway
Could Win - The Amazing Race, American Idol

Commentary - Last year, Top Chef broke The Amazing Race's streak, and became only the second show to actually win this award. While I think The Amazing Race is always going to be a competitor, I think last year's shocking upset shows that the Academy was ready to move on and honor different programs. I wish that the always entertaining Project Runway would get some recognition, but it doesn't stand a chance of its bigger and more popular competitors. I also think we should watch out for American Idol. It is the biggest show on television and has yet to win. Futhermore, despite all the changes this year, it still managed to be a ratings phenomenon. So while I don't think it will win, I would not discount it.

Emmy Predictions: Directing Categories

Directing for a Drama Series
Will Win/Should Win - Martin Scorsese "Boardwalk Empire - Pilot"
Could Win - Tim Van Patten "Game of Thrones - Winter is Coming"
Commentary - Now that it is clear that the Emmys are not big fans of Game of Thrones (big enough to nominated it, but it lost some easy categories last night), I think that its chances of winning this award have reduced dramatically. So I think that with ease that the great Martin Scorsese will easily win this award, because even though Boardwalk Empire lost some steam, its Pilot was flashy, well-made, and a great start for the series, which all looks good for Scorsese.

Directing for a Comedy Series
Will Win/Should Win - Michael Alan Spiller "Modern Family - Halloween"
Could Win - Beth McCarthy-Miller "30 Rock - Live Show"
Commentary - While the technical impressiveness of Live Show may get 30 Rock the award, I think that the Academy has moved past it, and with three nominations, I think Modern Family has got this one in the bag. Of the three Halloween is the best episode, and I think the consensus to take this award.

Directing for a TV Movie/Miniseries
Will Win - Todd Haynes "Mildred Pierce"
Should Win - Olivier Assayas "Carlos"
Could Win - Brian Percival "Downton Abbey Part 1"
Commentary -  With the shocking losses it took last night, I am now not as confident of Mildred Pierce's chances of sweeping the big awards. That being said, I will stick with Todd Haynes, because sometimes losing creative awards, doesn't mean that the other brances won't appreciate it. I personally would go for Carlos' hemler Olivier Assayas, but I think that if anyone upstages Pierce it is Brian Percival for Downton Abbey which could be the big spoiler of the night

2011 Creative Arts Emmy Winners

So I got 3/4 right on the Guest Acting, and too be honest, I'm glad I was wrong about the one I missed. I made a shot about the outside possibility of Loretta Devine winning, but I was really just posturing, and probably just wanted it to happen. Well, by God, it actually did. I am thrilled for her, as she is a fantastic actress, and a hard working one, and deserves this honor. I also was happy to get the Variety Special, Reality, Special Class, and Host right, although none of them were particularly difficult. Now I have to admit that while I did well in some of the major categories, I know absolutely nothing about the technical categories at the Emmys, and promise to do more research before next year, so that I do not embarrass myself as much as I did. Now here are a few tidbits that might be useful for predicting the big ceremony next weekend:

1) Boardwalk Empire won 7 awards, meaning that it has a lot of support from the technical branches, and Mad Men only won 1. I think I am still going to predict Mad Men, but it looks like there is a real race here.
2) Mildred Pierce could also not be as strong as once thought, as it lost many of its supposedly slam-dunk technical wins to programs such as The Kennedys and Downton Abbey, both of which could give it a run for its money.
3) Game of Thrones will NOT win Best Drama Series
4) Modern Family wins based on the Writing and the Acting, as it only one one (I think one, if not very few) of its technical nods.

Paul McCrane, "Harry's Law"
Loretta Devine, "Grey's Anatomy"
Justin Timberlake, "Saturday Night Live"
Gwyneth Paltrow, "Glee"
"Deadliest Catch"
Jeff Probst, "Survivor"

"The Kennedy Center Honors"
Lonny Price, "Sondheim! The Birthday Concert"
Dave Boone, Matt Roberts and Mo Rocca, "64th Annual Tony Awards"
"Disney Prep & Landing: Operation Secret Santa"

"A Child's Garden of Poetry"
"Nick News With Linda Ellerbee: Under the Influence: Kids of Alcoholics"
"American Masters"
"Freedom Riders"
Josh Fox, "Gasland"
Stanley Nelson, "Freedom Riders"
"64th Annual Tony Awards"
"The Daily Show Correspondents Explain"
"Jay Leno's Garage"
(Tie) Mia Michaels, "So You Think You Can Dance" and Tabitha Dumo and Napoleon Dumo, "So You Think You Can Dance"
Born of Fire - Chrysler 200
"Oscar Digital Experience"
"Game Of Thrones"
Maurice LaMarche, "Futurama"
"Hot in Cleveland"
"Boardwalk Empire"
"Mildred Pierce
"2010 MTV Video Music Awards"
"Boardwalk Empire"
"Mildred Pierce"
"Two and a Half Men"
"Boardwalk Empire", "Home"
"Downton Abbey"
"Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations"
"Deadliest Catch"
"The Borgias"
"Downton Abbey"
"Boardwalk Empire"
"How I Met Your Mother"
"Cinema Verite"
"2010 ESPY Awards"
"Lady Gaga Presents the Monster Ball Tour: At Madison Square Garden
"Freedom Riders"
"Deadliest Catch"
"Mad Men", "Christmas Comes but Once a Year"
"Dancing With the Stars"
"The Kennedys"
"So You Think You Can Dance"
"53rd Annual Grammy Awards"

"Boardwalk Empire"
"Saturday Night Live"
"The Kennedys"
"The Walking Dead"
"Mildred Pierce"
"Great Performances: Harry Connick Jr., in Concert on Broadway"
"Saturday Night Live" - "Justin Timberlake Monologue"
"The Borgias"

"Boardwalk Empire"
"The Pillars Of The Earth"
"Family Guy"
"The Kennedys"
"American Idol"
"Deadliest Catch"
"American Idol"

Don Pasquale - Great Performances At The Met"
"Boardwalk Empire"

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Emmy Predictions: Creative Arts Emmys

You can see my predictions for the big awards presented tonight (Variety Special, Reality, Special Class, etc.) But here are my predictions for the technical awards. I am going to put a disclaimer out though, by saying that some of these are very unsure so take them with a grain of salt:

Animated Program - The Simpsons
Art Direction for Miniseries/Movie - Mildred Pierce
Art Direction for Mult-Camera Series - How I Met Your Mother ("Subway Wars")
Art Direction for Single Camera Series - Boardwalk Empire ("Pilot")
Casting for a Comedy Series - Modern Family
Casting for a Drama Series - Mad Men
Casting for a TV Movie/Miniseries - Mildred Pierce
Children's Non Fiction/Reality - Nick News w/ Linda Ellerbee
Children's Program - Wizard of Waverly Place
Choreography - So You Think You Can Dance (Stacey Tookey)
Cinematography for a Movie/Mini - Mildred Pierce
Cinematography for Multi-Camera Series - How I Met Your Mother ("Hopeless")
Cinematography for Single Camera Series - Boardwalk Empure ("Pilot")
Cinematography for Nonfiction - Gettysburg
Cinematography for Reality - Deadliest Catch
Costumes for Miniseries/Movie -  Downton Abbey (Part 1)
Costumes for a Series - The Borgias
Hairstyling for Miniseries/Movie - Mildred Pierce
Hairstyling for a Multi-Camera Series -  SNL (Anne Hathaway)
Hairstyling for a Single Camera Series - Mad Men ("Hands and Knees")
Lighting Design for Variety - Jimmy Kimmel Live ("Michael Gondry Directs")
Lighting Design for Variety Special - Lady Gaga Presents: The Monster Ball Tour
Main Title Design - Game of Thrones
Makeup for Miniseries/Movie - Pillars of the Earth
Makeup for Multi-Camera Series/Special - SNL ("Jon Hamm")
Makeup for Single Camera Series - Glee ("Rocky Horror")
Makeup Prosthetic - The Walking Dead ("Days Go By")
Music Composition Movie/Mini/Special - Carter Burwell "Mildred Pierce - Part 5"
Music Composition Series - Ron Jones "Family Guy - Road to the North Pole"
Music Direction - Harry Connick Jr., In Concert on Broadway
Nonfiction Series - American Masters
Nonfiction Special - Gettysburg
Original Main Title Music - The Borgias
Original Music and Lyrics - SNL - Three Way (Golden Rule)
Picture Editing for Comedy Series - Modern Famil ("Halloween")
Picture Editing for Special - Lady Gaga Presents Monster Ball Tour
Picture Editing for Nonfiction - If God is Willing and Da Creek Don't Rise
Picture Editing for Reality - The Amazing Race
Short-From Picture Editing - 83rd Annual Academy Awards
Short Format Animated Program - Robot Chicken
Single-Camera Picture Editing for Drama Series - The Killing ("Pilot")
Single-Camera Picture Editing for Movie/Mini - Mildred Pierce - Part 4
Sound Editing for Movie/Mini/Special - Any Human Heart
Sound Editing for Nonfiction - Gettysburg
Sound Editing Series - Game of Thrones
Sound Mixing Half Hour/Animated - Modern Family - Halloween
Sound Mixing One Hour - Glee - The Substitute
Sound Mixing Miniseries/Movie - Mildred Pierce
Sound Mixing for Variety - 53rd Grammy Awards
Sound Mixing for Nonfiction - Gettysburg
Special Visual Effects Mini/Movie - Pillars of the Earth
Special Visual Effects Series - Game of Thrones
Stunt Coordination - Hawaii 5-0
Technical Direction Mini/Movie - Lady Gaga Presents: The Monster Ball Tour
Technical Direction Series - American Idol
Voice Over Performance - Christopher Plummer "Moguls and Movie Stars"
Writing for Nonfiction Program - Josh Fox "GasLand"