Saturday, August 31, 2013

New Emmy Poll in Sidebar

This week, check out the polls in the sidebar for Best Actor and Actress in a Comedy Series and vote for who you think will take home the Emmy Award in a few short weeks!

2013 Emmy Predictions: Best Actress in a TV Movie/Miniseries

Will Win/Should Win - Jessica Lange "American Horror Story: Asylum"

Could Win - Elisabeth Moss "Top of the Lake" or Laura Linney "The Big C: Hereafter"

Commentary - Last year, Jessica Lange waltzed to her deserved victory for the first season of American Horror Story. This year, she bumps up the lead race, and I don't think that it will be quite as easy of a victory. This year she faces stiff competition from two particular competitors. One is Laura Linney. While she did not win in the Comedy Series category, she is still extremely popular with Emmy voters, and her final outing for The Big C could persuade some voters. But I think that the real competition will come from Elisabeth Moss. She was brilliant in Top of the Lake, which may be more to the Television Academy's liking, and she has yet to win an Emmy Award, despite a growing impressive resume. She is a real contender here to upset. But Lange is still the legend for voters, she chews up scenery on AHS, and has won several times. I expect her to do it again.

2013 Telluride Film Festival: Prisoners and 12 Years a Slave

Two big films premeired at the Telluride Film Festival, one looks to be a taut thriller with minimal Oscar potential, the other could be an Oscar breakthrough.

Prisoners, from director Denis Villeneuve, and featuring a stunning cast including Hugh Jackman, Maria Bello, Viola Davis, Jake Gyllenhaal, Terrence Howard, Melissa Leo, and Paul Dano, all of whom are apparently on their A-game. However the premise of the film, along with its first descriptions, do not particularly reek of Oscar bait. That doesn't mean it isn't in play for a lot of categories, it just means that it is not going to the top of pile. That being said, the reviews so far have been pretty darn good:

Scott Foundas at Variety disagrees, and thinks that it is definitely a major awards contender writing:

"Powered by an unusually rich, twisty script by Aaron Guzikowski (“Contraband”) and career-best performances from Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal, this tale of two Pennsylvania families searching for their kidnapped daughters sustains an almost unbearable tension for two-and-a-half hours of screen time, satisfying as both a high-end genre exercise and a searing adult drama of the sort Hollywood almost never makes anymore. Fully deserving of mention in the same breath as “Seven,” “Mystic River” and “In the Bedroom,” this Sept. 20 Warners release may prove too intense for some viewers, but should ride strong reviews and word of mouth to above-average R-rated returns. It immediately enters the ring as an awards-season heavyweight."

Scott Feinberg of The Hollywood Reporter on the other hand sees the same concerns that I do:

"Having caught up with Prisoners this morning at its second screening, I have to say that doesn't surprise me: it's a well-made and immensely gripping film, featuring outstanding performances from each member of its distinguished ensemble...All that being said, I'm not sure that I see a clear path for Prisoners through the awards season. It reminds me a lot of another excellent whodunnit from Warners, Ben Affleck's Gone Baby Gone (2007), which had a similar underlying premise and also deserved awards recognition -- but wound up with just a best supporting actress Oscar nom for Amy Ryan. Because of that film's dark subject matter, the large number of its actors who shine in the film and the Academy's longstanding genre biases, it mostly slipped through the cracks. Unfortunately, I think Prisoners might too."

The other film that had a big break at Telluride is 12 Years a Slave, which so far has received nothing less than stellar Oscar buzz. It is apparently brutal, something I would expect coming from Steve McQueen. But apparently, that is not enough to turn off the pouring of praise that is coming from critics and the tidalwave of Oscar buzz. I still think we need to approach this with a bit of caution, and see what a bigger audience of viewers and critics thinks before we jump on the bandwagon. But, I will say that for the moment, it looks good for the film and its cast.

Peter Debruge of Variety writes:
"Had Steve McQueen not already christened his previous picture thus, “Shame” would have been the perfect one-word title to capture the gut-wrenching impact of his third and most essential feature, “12 Years a Slave.” Based on the true story of free black American Solomon Northrup’s kidnapping and imposed bondage from 1841 to 1853, this epic account of an unbreakable soul makes even Scarlett O’Hara’s struggles seem petty by comparison. But will audiences have the stomach for a film that rubs their faces in injustice? As performed by Chiwetel Ejiofor, Northrup’s astounding story is too compelling not to connect with American audiences, and important enough to do decent business abroad as well."

Eric Kohn from Indiewire writes:

"It's all so credibly enacted that once Brad Pitt (whose Plan B productions produced the film) arrives in a bit part as a kind-hearted Canadian who visits the plantation and speaks out against slavery, the character's messianic qualities seem like a bit much. Yet by the time we get there, it's hard not to plead for an end to Northup's battle. More than a powerful elegy, "12 Years a Slave" is a mesmerizing triumph of art and polemics: McQueen turns a topic rendered distant by history into an experience that, short of living through the terrible era it depicts, makes you feel as if you've been there."

Friday, August 30, 2013

2013 Emmy Predictions: Best Supporting Actor in a TV Movie/Miniseries

Will Win - Peter Mullan "Top of the Lake"

Could Win/Should Win - James Cromwell or Zachary Quinto  "American Horror Story: Asylum"

Commentary - I assumed this whole year that James Cromwell would win an Emmy for American Horror Story, and I am still convinced that it could happen. But I also think that it would be a real shocker if AHS won three acting awards, despite its obvious popularity, and I think that while Cromwell's tape is great, so is his co-star's Zachary Quinto, and I could see a lot of vote splitting occur among that particular panel leading to a dark horse victory from Top of the Lake's Peter Mullan. He is fantastic in a series that was popular among the Academy this year, and it could end up being the one major award that the series wins. I also think that an acting panel will see his performance as a standout, without the internal competition from his American Horror Story competitors.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

2013 Emmy Award Predictions: Best Supporting Actress in a TV Movie/Miniseries

Will Win/Should Win - Sarah Paulson "American Horror Story: Asylum"

Could Win - Ellen Burstyn "Political Animals" or Alfre Woodard "Steel Magnolias"

Commentary - I think that Sarah Paulson's performance on this season's American Horror Story is one of the most impressive things I have seen on television in a long time. I also think that she has the showiest of the performances, stealing every scene she is in. And I think that all of this will lead to her winning her first Emmy award. However, this will not be a cakewalk to the podium, as there are several other contenders that will be hard to beat. Of couse I am speaking of Ellen Burstyn and Alfre Woodard. They are both extremely popular within the party, are acting legends at this point, previous Emmy winners, and could probably sit on the toilet and read a newspaper and still win an Emmy award. Furthermore, this year they both have scene-stealing roles in popular projects. However, I can not imagine a panel watching all five performances and not going with Sarah Paulson, so I am sticking with my guns for now.

2013 Telluride Film Festival: Labor Day Reviews

I have been a fan of Reitmans since he first started out, and am really looking forward to Labor Day. However, it appears that this is a major departure in style for the director, according to early reviews. At first I was a bit disappointed, but the reviews were also positive, so my disappointment quickly evaporated. This major shift in tone did sort of start with Young Adult, which was a lot darker than his previous efforts, and I wonder if the Academy will embrace such a stark turn. From the first look, it does appear that at least its actors are in the running, particularly Winslet, who apparently is as great as always. I am looking forward to the film, and in terms of Oscar race? We'll have to wait and see. Here are some early reviews/comments on the film:

One of my favorites, Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood at Indiewire writes:

"Reitman takes us on a ride that never flags and often surprises with real emotion. He deploys multiple flashbacks, which are not easy to manipulate. Winslet has trod some of this ground before, as her mousy Mildred Pierce also harbored a strong sexual drive. This delicately sensual performance, though, should generate Oscar talk. But Brolin matches her as a strong, dangerous and sexy leading man."

Scott Feinberg at The Hollywood Reporter makes these comments about the film and its Oscar chances:
"The second big takeaway is that Reitman, with this film, reaffirms his credentials as an actors' director. I'm not sure if it's attributable more to the way he writes his characters or directs his actors, but he has always been able to help coax actors to give him their best -- Aaron Eckhart, Ellen Page and George Clooney, if not Charlize Theron, were never better than they were when they worked with him -- and this film is no exception. Winslet is always great, but Josh Brolin has only rarely played parts worthy of his talents and/or made the very most of his parts, and on this film he does both."

At the end of the day, it will come down to the box-office play, the overall critics reviews, and how the rest of the competition ends up. Once again, I say, we'll have to wait and see.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

2013 Emmy Predictions: Best Writing in a TV Movie/Miniseries

Will Win - Richard LaGravenese "Behind the Candelabra"

Should Win/Could Win - Jane Campion and Gerard Lee "Top of the Lake"

Commentary - Another tough race that will probably favor the more popular choice of the bunch. Behind the Candelabra is most likely going to be the big Emmy favorite this year among movies and miniseries, and although I felt its story had some issues, I think that LaGravenese's script will be swept along with the film. I think that the dark and complicated work of Top of the Lake is more deserving in this case, but I think that it will finish in a close second.

2013 Telluride Film Festival Lineup

Tomorrow the Telluride Film Festival begins, and it will be premeiring some big films including Jason Reitman's Labor Day, and the recently premeired Gravity, both of which have high Oscar ambitions. The full list is below:

ALL IS LOST (d. J.C. Chandor, U.S., 2013)

BEFORE THE WINTER CHILL (d. Philippe Claudel, France, 2013)

BETHLEHEM (d. Yuval Adler, Israel, 2013)

BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR (d. Abdellatif Kechiche, France, 2013)

BURNING BUSH (d. Agnieszka Holland, Czech Republic, 2013)

DEATH ROW: BLAINE MILAM + ROBERT FRATTA (d. Werner Herzog, U.S., 2013)

FIFI HOWLS FROM HAPPINESS (d. Mitra Farahani, U.S., 2013)

THE GALAPAGOS AFFAIR: SATAN CAME TO EDEN (d. Dan Geller, Dayna Goldfine, U.S.,

GLORIA (d. Sebastián Lelio, Chile, 2013)

GRAVITY (d. Alfonso Cuarón, U.S./U.K., 2013)

IDA (d. Pawel Pawlikowski, Poland, 2013)

INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS (d. Joel and Ethan Coen, U.S., 2013)

THE INVISIBLE WOMAN (d. Ralph Fiennes, U.K., 2013)

LABOR DAY (d. Jason Reitman, U.S., 2013)

THE LUNCHBOX (d. Ritesh Batra, India, 2013)

LA MAISON DE LA RADIO (d. Nicolas Philibert, France, 2013)

MANUSCRIPTS DON’T BURN (d. Mohammad Rasoulof, Iran, 2013)

THE MISSING PICTURE (d. Rithy Panh, Cambodia/France, 2013)

NEBRASKA (d. Alexander Payne, U.S., 2013)

PALO ALTO (d. Gia Coppola, U.S., 2013)

THE PAST (d. Asghar Farhadi, France/Italy, 2013)

SLOW FOOD STORY (d. Stefano Sardo, Italy, 2013)

STARRED UP (d. David Mackenzie, U.K., 2013)

TIM’S VERMEER (d. Teller, U.S., 2013)

TRACKS (d. John Curran, Australia, 2013)

UNDER THE SKIN (d. Jonathan Glazer, U.K., 2013)

THE UNKNOWN KNOWN (d. Errol Morris, U.S., 2013)

2013 Venice Film Festival: Gravity Reviews

As always, it is too early to tell whether the small group of viewers and critics who have seen Gravity represent a more widespread viewership, but so far the response to Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity is stellar. It looks to be the visual specatcle of the year like Avatar, Hugo, and Life of Pi before it, and probably is already a lock for at least Visual Effects. Even if it ends up being downplayed a bit as it hits stateside, it already has received a huge Oscar boost from its initial premeire, the question is, can it hold the buzz? Check out some early reviews below:

Justin Chang from Variety writes:

"About halfway through Alfonso Cuaron’s astonishing “Gravity,” Sandra Bullock, playing a lost astronaut stranded 375 miles above Earth, seeks refuge in an abandoned spacecraft and curls into a floating fetal position, savoring a brief respite from her harrowing journey. Of the many sights to behold in this white-knuckle space odyssey, a work of great narrative simplicity and visual complexity, it’s this image that speaks most eloquently to Cuaron’s gifts as a filmmaker: He’s the rare virtuoso capable of steering us through vividly imagined worlds and into deep recesses of human feeling. Suspending viewers alongside Bullock for a taut, transporting 91 minutes (with George Clooney in a sly supporting turn), the director’s long-overdue follow-up to “Children of Men” is at once a nervy experiment in blockbuster minimalism and a film of robust movie-movie thrills, restoring a sense of wonder, terror and possibility to the bigscreen that should inspire awe among critics and audiences worldwide. "

Oliver Lyttleton at The Playlist at Indiewire gave the film an A writing:

"With 'Children Of Men' still more of a cult favorite means that he perhaps doesn’t have the reputation among wider audiences that he deserves, but that’s likely to change here. The film’s technically perfect, of course, from the terrific sound design to the impeccable effects (the exact extent of the CGI is difficult to say, because pretty much everything looks photo-realistic, even when
things head indoors). But it’s also cleverly written, and more than anything phenomenally directed, from the way that he uses every available surface to tell his story (someone’s going to write a book one day on the use of reflections in this film) to the way he and Lubezki shift the light to vary the color palette, preventing it from becoming repetitive. Almost every decision is inspired.
Almost every one. There’s one nod to “2001” at one point that’s so overt enough that it threatens to break the reality of the world that Cuaron’s set up. And the very final music cue is so overbearing that we nearly dropped the film down a grade. But ultimately, these are minor quibbles. “Gravity” is about as visceral an experience as you can have in a cinema, it’s a technical marvel, and it’s a blockbuster with heart and soul in spades. It’s about the best opening to a film festival that you could ask for."

Todd McCarthy at The Hollywood Reporter thinks it will be a popular success:

"At once the most realistic and beautifully choreographed film ever set in space, Gravity is a thrillingly realized survival story spiked with interludes of breath-catching tension and startling surprise. Not at all a science fiction film in the conventional sense, Alfonso Cuaron's first feature in seven years has no aliens, space ship battles or dystopian societies, just the intimate spectacle of a man and a woman trying to cope in the most hostile possible environment across a very tight 90 minutes. World premiered at the Venice Film Festival, with Telluride showings following quickly on its heels, this Warner Bros. release is smart but not arty, dramatically straightforward but so dazzlingly told as to make it a benchmark in its field. Graced by exemplary 3D work and bound to look great in IMAX, the film seems set to soar commercially around the world."

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

2013 Emmy Contenders: Best Directing in a TV Movie/Miniseries

Will Win/Should Win - Steven Soderbergh "Behind the Candelabra"

Could Win - Jane Campion and Garth Davis "Top of the Lake - Part 5"

Commentary - Two big time film directors graced the small screen this year: Academy Award nominee Jane Campion and Academy Award winner Steven Soderbergh. Top of the Lake is probably the most artistic of the two, but no one can deny the power, cinematic quality, and excellent direction of Soderbergh in Behind the Candelabra. I think that Candelabra will clean up rather well at this year's Emmys, and I expect Soderbergh to be an easy name to check off, and another trophy to the film's collection.

Monday, August 26, 2013

2013 Emmy Predictions: Best Reality-Competition Program

Will Win - The Amazing Race

Could Win - Top Chef or The Voice

Should Win - The Voice or Project Runway

Commentary - The question this year, as every year, is, can anything beat The Amazing Race? Of course there are things that can beat it. It has lost once before to Top Chef, who could easily take it down again. Although I think that if anything is going to beat it, it is going to be The Voice. It has become a huge pop culture phenomenon and is well liked by fans and critics, and now the Television Academy. But there is another question lingering: Will anything beat The Amazing Race? I really don't think so. The Top Chef win was a fluke, and until something beats it again, I will stick with my guns.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

2013 MTV VMA Award Winners

I will be updating the winners live!:

Video of the Year - Justin Timberlake "Mirrors"
Best Male Video - Bruno Mars "Locked Out of Heaven"
Best Female Video - Taylor Swift "I Knew You Were Trouble"
Artist to Watch - Austin Mahone
Best Song of the Summer - One Direction "Best Song Ever"
Best Video With a Social Message - Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Mary Lambert "Same Love"
Best Hip Hop Video - Macklemore & Ryan Lewis "Can't Hold Us"
Best Pop Video - Selena Gomez "Come and Get It"
Best Collaboration: Pink feat. Nate Reuss, “Just Give Me a Reason”
Best Rock Video: Thirty Seconds to Mars, “Up in the Air”
Best Direction - David Fincher "Justin Timberlake - Suit and Tie"
Best Art Direction - Janelle Monae feat Erykah Badu "Q.U.E.E.N"
Best Choreography - Bruno Mars "Treasure"
Best Cinematography - Macklemore & Ryan Lewis "Can't Hold Us"
Best Editing - Justin Timberlake "Mirrors"
Best Visual Effects - Capital Cities "Safe and Sound"
Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award - Justin Timberlake

2013 Emmy Predictions: Best Reality Host

Will Win - Tom Bergeron "Dancing With the Stars"

Could Win - Ryan Seacrest "American Idol" or Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn "Project Runway"

Should Win - Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn "Project Runway"

Commentary - I am not sure why all the fascination with Tom Bergeron, other than the fact that he has an old-school hosting style that appeals to the older members of the Academy (aka the majority of the Television Academy). But whether I get it or not, after his win last year, he enters this race as the odds-on favorite. As well know, the Variety and Reality categories do not have an incredible amount of turnover. I think that Ryan Seacrest could finally win this year. While American Idol has certaintly dipped in quality and ratings, but he, like Bergeron, has that old school flavor of hosting, and could beat Bergeron. But if I were voting, it would be for Klum and Gunn, particularly for Gunn who is just wonderful on Project Runway. I also think that their combined screentime makes them an interesting and possible dark horse, although I think it may be wishful thinking on my part.

2013 MTV VMA Award Predictions - Final List

Video of the Year - Justin Timberlake "Mirrors"
Best Male Video - Justin Timberlake "Mirrors"
Best Female Video - Taylor Swift "I Knew You Were Trouble"
Artist to Watch - Austin Mahone "What About Love"
Best Pop Video - Justin Timberlake "Mirrors"
Best Rock Video - Imagine Dragons "Radioactive"
Best Hip Hop Video - Macklemore & Ryan Lewis "Can't Hold Us"
Best Collaboration - Robin Thicke feat. T.I. and Pharrell "Blurred Lines"
Best Message Video - Macklemore & Ryan Lewis "Same Love"
Best Direction - David Fincher "Suit & Tie"
Best Art Direction - Lana Del Rey "National Anthem"
Best Choreography - Bruno Mars "Treasure"
Best Cinematography - Macklemore & Ryan Lewis "Can't Hold Us"
Best Editing - Justin Timberlake "Mirrors"
Best Visual Effects - Skrillex feat. The Doors "Breakin' a Sweat"

Saturday, August 24, 2013

New Emmy Poll in Sidebar

This week, pick which actors you think will win Best Supporting Actor and Actress in a Drama Series!

2013 Emmy Predictions: Best Variety Series

Will Win - The Daily Show With Jon Stewart

Could Win - The Colbert Report, Jimmy Kimmel Live!

Should Win - The Colbert Report

Commentary - For years now, Stephen Colbert has set on the sidelines while his friend and colleague Jon Stewart has won this category. I love Jon Stewart, he definitely deserves Emmy recognition. But I think I speak for everyone when I say that this is starting to get old. Colbert should win this award at some point, and I am hopeful that the wait will be over this year. Jimmy Kimmel could also win this year with an excellent episode submission. But history is hard to ignore, and until The Daily Show stops winning, I will continue to predict it.

2013 MTV VMA Award Predictions - Video of the Year

Will Win - Justin Timberlake "Mirrors"

Could Win - Robin Thicke feat. T.I. and Pharrell "Blurred Lines; Taylor Swift "I Knew You Were Trouble"

Should Win - Justin Timberlake "Mirrors"

Commentary - Most experts are predicting a match up between Robin Thicke & Co. and Taylor Swift. Both are definitely popular, and both are definitely creative enough to garner enough votes. But I think that an upset is brewing. Justin Timberlake is incredibly popular, just as popular as the other two nominees, and Mirrors is defnitely the best song and video nominated in this category. I think, and really hope, that at the end of the day good taste will win. A guy can hope right?

Friday, August 23, 2013

2013 Emmy Predictions: Best Reality Program

Will Win - Shark Tank

Could Win - Mythbusters, Undercover Boss, or Deadliest Catch

Should Win - Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives

Commentary - Unlike its competition counterpart, Reality Show gets shuffled to the Creative Arts Emmys, or as Kathy Griffin calls them the "Schmemmys". That being said, it is still a big category, and worth looking at. I feel confident Antiques Roadshow and my personal favorite Triple D are not going to take home the award. Beyond those two it is a tight four-way race between extremely popular reality programs. Last year's winner Undercover Boss was a surprise, but now that it has entered the winner's circle, it could easily do it again. Mythbusters and Deadliest Catch are long-running reality staples, and both are entertaining to watch. But I think that this year one of the newer shows Shark Tank will beat the odds and take home the prize. The premise is interesting to say the least, it has a major broadcast network behind it, and has actually been a great boost in ratings on a Friday, which is shocking considering that is usually a deadzone. I think that it has buzz and publicity to beat out the old favorites, but it will be a close race to say the least.

2013 MTV VMA Award Predictions: Best Female and Male Videos

Best Female Video
Will Win - Taylor Swift "I Knew You Were Trouble"

Could Win - Rihanna feat. Mikky Echo "Stay" or P!nk feat. Nate Ruess "Just Give Me a Reason"

Should Win - P!nk feat. Nate Ruess "Just Give Me a Reason"

Commentary - Unfortunately, this race looks like a giveaway, with Swift most likely crushing her competition. I would love to see P!nk win, as her videos are always emotional and inventive instead of Swifts standards, but oh well. Swift has been playing the victim card really well since Kanye messed up her VMA moment a few years ago, and sympathy (as well as teen popularity), will most likely win the night.

Best Male Video
Will Win - Justin Timberlake "Mirrors"

Could Win - Robin Thicke feat. T.I and Pharrell "Blurred Lines"

Should Win - Kendrick Lamar "Swimming Pools (Drank)"

Commentary - I honestly don't know which of the two frontrunners is going to win this category. Blurred Lines is an opportunity to reward three popular male artists, and it has become the song of the summer, you literally cannot escape it. But I think there is a lot of love for Justin Timberlake, and he is also considered an artist. I am going with Timberlake. By final list time on Sunday, it could easily change.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

2013 Emmy Predictions: Best Variety Special

Will Win - The Kennedy Center Honors

Could Win - Louis C.K. "Oh My God"

Should Win - C.K., Concert for Sandy Relief, or Mel Brooks Strikes Back

Commentary - This is a stacked category with a lot of great choices, and really any of them have a chance of winning. Mel Brooks is an Emmy-winning legend, and his latest Strikes Back could register with his many fans in the Television Academy. The Concert for Sandy Relief was such an emotional and important event to help those still struggling after the devastated superstorm. Also, with idiots like Rand Paul making negative comments against Sandy victims, it make send a political statement to vote for the event. Finally, Louis C.K. is the hottest ticket on television right now, and his standup special is backed by HBO, and frankly is just outright hilarious. But I think that perennial winner the Kennedy Center Honors has the whole package. It honors legends, features the ever popular Caroline Kennedy, is incredibly entertaining, and has a snobby and classy factor that has been key to its Emmy success for years.

2013 MTV VMA Award Predictions - Artist to Watch

Will Win - Austin Mahone "What About Love"

Could Win - Zedd feat. Foxes "Clarity", The Weekend "Wicked Games"

Should Win - None really

Commentary - I'll admit, I look at this list and I realize how hold I am. None of these artist register with me. The few I have heard of, the knowledge of them is limited to say the least. But I do know that young star Austin Mahone is extremely popular. Of the bunch he is probably the most recognizable which helps his case for the win. The other two that seem familiar are Zedd and The Weekend, so watch out for upsets.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

2013 MTV VMA Award Predictions: Best Pop Video

Will Win/Should Win -  Justin Timberlake "Mirrors"

Could Win - Miley Cyrus "We Can't Stop"

Commentary - It pains me to say this, but yes Miley Cyrus could win a major music award for We Can't Stop. It is just baffling. But the video is just crazy and colorful enough to sway voters. But I think that Justin Timberlake, being the only artist of any quality among the nominees, and having an incredibly cool video, will take the prize. At least I hope so.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

2013 MTV VMA Award Predictions: Best Rock Video

Will Win/Should Win - Imagine Dragons "Radioactive"

Could Win - 30 Seconds to Mars "Up in the Air" or Mumford & Sons "I Will Wait"

Commentary - A relatively tight race between three decent videos. If this were a song or record race, Mumford & Sons, who won this year's Grammy for Album of the Year, would probably easily win. I still think that they can because of their huge popularity, but in terms of the quality of the video, I think that Imagine Dragons' Radioactive will beat its competition, particularly 30 Second to Mars' Up in the Air, although it will be a close three-way race.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Top 100 Television Shows Since 2000: Part VII

40. South Park (1997-2013) - When it comes to offending people, no television show has made quite a mark as much as Trey Parker and Matt Stone's utterly ridiculous and incredibly brilliant series South Park. With its cast of crazy, eccentric characters, South Park is one of the biggest cultural events of the last decade plus, and no show has quite had the discussion, both positive and negative,
over the years than South Park. It has tackled some of the most controversial subjects, and doing so with intelligent, satrical humor that may offend many (I mean how many times in an episode does your mouth drop), but for those that understand where it comes from, that respects the integrity and the genius of its creators, it is worth it. The four young characters at the center of the show take modern day topics ranging from religion, politics, to celebrities and give us a look at them through their lenses. Sometimes it goes for the surface-level jokes, jokes that are probably the reason many people have stayed away,  but most of the time, those cheap laughs are only disguising a much deeper and more satrical view of these issues. With South Park, along with other classics such as Family Guy, The Simpsons, and King of the Hill, television saw a huge boom in adult-themed animated series in the late 90's and throughout the last decade. But among these great shows, South Park is one that really stands out, and stands on its own. The others take on popular and controversial subjects as well, but South Park does it with a balls-out, grab you and never let you go approach that sets it apart as one of the boldest shows since 2000.

39. Dexter (2006-2013) - When you think of great anti-heroes, you think of vigilantes like Batman, but do you think of Dexter Morgan? It is hard to make a case for a loveable serial killer, but as the serial killer who goes after other serial killers who have escaped justice, Dexter Morgan might just be
one of the most unusual, and one of the best anti-hero heroes that has ever graced the small screen. Dexter is one of those shows that doesn't make him seem perfect (for godsake he is a serial killer!),
but he is also shown as a human with real emotion. This delicate and complicated balance has been handled beautifully by its writers and its actors over its eight seasons. The creators avoided too many of the classic (or more importantly cliche) background stuff that usually makes it way into serial killer films, and adds a cast of wonderful characters, including an ongoing set of brilliant advesaries (particularly John Lithgow). At the heart of the show is the brilliant Michael C. Hall. I'll admit, that I never thought much of him as an actor on Six Feet Under. I guess it is hard to standout when actors like Frances Conroy, Rachel Griffiths, and Peter Krause are among your ensemble. But I think that the complicated, deadly, horrible, yet incredibly human character Dexter Morgan was the perfect role, the one that put him on the map, and he tackled it with ferocity, emotion, and simply knocks it out of the park every single season. But he is not alone. Besides the aforementioned advesaries that have had standout season-long guest actors, another great character throughout its run as been Dexter's sister Deb, played brilliantly by Jennifer Carpenter who deserves an Emmy nomination before the show ends its run. Dexter is a complicated, bloody, delightfully tense, scary, and wonderfully intense show that makes you think twice about who is really the villain, and does so with such passion, such intensity, and such kick-ass awesomeness that it is one that should not be missed.

38. The Comeback (2005) - After Joey was such a complete disaster, I thought that none of the Friends cast members were going to be able to dive back into television. Well, in 2005, Lisa Kudrow returned to television with HBO's The Comeback. While it sadly only lasted one season, it was one hell of a season, and proved two very important things. One, that sometimes audiences miss the boat. And two, Lisa Kudrow is a hell of a talent, and one of the funniest women working today. Semi-
autobiographical, The Comeback is the story of a former sitcom star who tried to get back into the
business, filming the events of how she planned to accomplish it. With Kudrow, having experienced a vacuum after Friends ended, there is definitely a sense of authenticity excuding from Kudrow's Valerie Cherish (it also helps that it has a reality vibe). Playing up the humiliation and the struggle to recapture stardom, Lisa Kudrow, along with the talented writers, nail every nuanced moment with great comedic timing, and a dose of wonderful charm. The Comeback did not hit particularly well with viewers (as evidenced by its lone season), but it has found an almost cult following on DVD in in the aftermath of its sad demise. That is because it is an incredibly intelligent and intricate look at the inter-workings of telelvision, and many times viewers hold off on shows like that. It is really a shame because it is literally laugh-out-loud funny, and one of the most clever concepts to hit the airwaves in the last thirteen years. For me, and this is why I keep harping on it, all it did was prove that Lisa Kudrow is a wonderfully funny and incredibly talented actress that deserves a big, mainstream television comedy to showcase her talents. I guess a guy can hope, right?

37. Carlos (2010) - Despite being run on Sundance Channel, therefore making it eligible for television awards, Olivier Assayas' brilliant look at Venezuelan revolutionary/terrorist Ilich Ramírez Sánchez Carlos, was also playing as a feature film and ended up winning film awards from groups
such as London Critics Circle Film Awards, European Film Awards, National Society of Film Critics, and more importantly big groups such as LAFCA and NYFCC. I'm not sure if there is much of a precendent, but it is definitely an anomaly that a project wins both film and television awards. It also speaks to the power and greatness of Carlos that both film and television groups found it cinematic and well-made enough to reward it. Well, I saw this on television, and tend to agree that it is definitely more of a television program than an film in terms of its release, however its quality and its performances are cinematic to say the least. And I firmly believe that if it had been release solely as a film, it would have been nominated for Oscars instead of television Golden Globes and Emmy Awards. At the center of this movie is one of the most fantastic peroformances of any medium since 2000 by Edgar Ramirez, who earned both Golden Globe and Emmy nominations for his work, as the title character. His portrayal was haunting, deep, emotional, and perfectly captured Sanchez's spirit, madness, and presence. But the show itself is a monumental undertaking about a controversial subject and director/writer Olivier Assayas and the other two contributing writers Dan Franck and Daniel Leconte, do a wonderful job of framing Ramirez's performance, as well as expanding the initial biopic premise, to add in an in-depth analysis of international relations, and of modern-day terrorism. That is what sets Carlos apart. While it is talking about our past, it has such a trememdous presence and prevalence that reflects our modern world, helping it hit home and connect with viewers and critics. A stunning achievement to say the least.

36. Everybody Loves Raymond (1996-2005) - If you were to look at just the title, you would think that this show was all about Ray Romano. While Romano was clearly the leading player, Everybody Loves Raymond shares a status as one of the best ensemble efforts to have hit television in the modern era. Romano plays Ray Barone, the sports writer with a wacky family. His wife Debra, played with such passion and emotion by the great Patricia Heaton, is always at odds with his parents who happen to live across the street, as she tries to help Ray create a life of his own. Peter Boyle and Doris Roberts are perfect in their roles as Frank and Marie, particularly Roberts who nails the overbearing mother role with gusto. And finally probably my favorite character is Brad Garrett's
Robert as the second child that always seems to pale in comparison to his mother's obvious favorite. Combine all these talented actors, wacky and wonderful characters, and some top notch writing, and you have an incredibly dysfunctional and hilarious television family. Of course dysfunctional families have been the center of television sitcoms since their debut (think Ricky and Lucy, they were not exactly normal). But Everybody Loves Raymond worked very hard to distinguish itself among the masses by always looking for the humor in everyday life. Sometimes they stretched a bit too much, but most of the time, it was ordinary day-to-day activities and lives that made up the constant humor on the show. In that respect, it was always a refreshing, and bitingly authentic portrayal of an American family that connected with viewers, critics, and Television Academy voters as well, as it ended up winning a total of fifteen Emmy Awards across its nine season run, including two Best Comedy Series Emmys and a bundle for its talented cast. Everybody Loves Raymond is a classic American sitcom, and one of the last ones in the golden age of television comedies. Most importantly, it was one of the funniest and most authentic shows to hit the airwaves in a long time.

35. American Horror Story/American Horror Story: Asylum (2011-2013) - Ryan Murphy shows tend to start off with a bang, and then sort of fizzle after a while. At least that was the case with Nip/Tuck, as well as currently the case with Glee. So after the first brilliant season of American Horror Story, I was worried that Murphy would not be able to handle the storyline which seems to have little wiggle room after its mostly decisive finale. Fortunately for us, Murphy and Co. have decided to turm American Horror Story into an anthology series, and I think this decision will lead to
brilliant season after brilliant season, hopefully for a very long time. I am not a huge fan of modern horror, but the first two installments of this series both played on classic horror themes, giving them clever, insane, dirty, and downright ridiculous twists that were never too scary, or too gross, but instead just the right balance of fear, disgust and intrigue. The first installment was a play on the classic haunted house. A new, and troubled family (led my Dylan McDermott and the awesome Connie Britton), move in, only to find that the next dorr neighbor Constance, and her children, all have a constant (no pun intended) presence in their short stay. The second season took place in an insane asylum led by troubled and devilish nuns, and a divisive and complicated medical experimental doctor. The twists and turns throughout the season never make sense until their epic conclusions, but the anticipation is worth the wait, as both brilliant intertwined their labyrinth of characters and storylines all exposing their mysteries by the end of their runs. While the writing and directing help make these mysteries formidable, it is the stunning cast, including its rotating members of stars such as Britton and McDermott, as well as Denis O'Hare, and this season's crop including James Cromwell, Chloe Sevigny, and Joseph Fiennes. But the real stars are the crop of talented actors who have embraced two different characters, now moving on to a third including Lily Rabe, Sarah Paulson, Frances Conroy, Zachary Quinto and Evan Peters. However, the real star of this series has been the always-talented and deliciously stunning Jessica Lange who simply knocks it out of the park. Next season Coven will feature performances from the likes of Angela Bassett, Gabourey Sidibe, and Kathy Bates. I cannot wait to see what happens next.

34. Southland (2009-2013) - Southland started a trend for many struggling shows, when it was unceremoniously cancelled by NBC, only to find a new home on cable's TNT (Cougar Town has done a similar leap from ABC to TNT's parter channel TBS). I was so thrilled when TNT decided to pick up the show, because Southland was one of the most intense, well-acted, and well-made cop dramas to hit the airwaves since 2000. I thought, and was worried, that Southland would end up being yet again another overrated, extremely popular, and extremely boring cop drama. But instead, creator
Ann Biderman and her team of talented writers and directors, bring to life something entirely different from the boring norm. Coming after The Shield, which proved to be another genre busting classic, Southland had absolutely no fear in terms of tackling its grittiness and rawness head on (which is probably why it only ended up susceeding on cable not on a broadcast network). Taking place in the last decade in Los Angeles, Southland worked extremely hard to try to capture the authenticity of the landscape of LA at that time, and successfully avoided too many of the normal cop drama pitfalls, or sheen that paints a glossy picture of the law. It also helped tremendously that the talented set of actors, led by Benjamin McKenzie, Shawn Hatosy, and most importantly the stunning Reginia King and Michael Cudlitz, were able to match the writing and directing by bringing raw and fierce energy, as well as a touch of humanity to their roles. Unlike most cop dramas, these officers are not squeaky clean, and their plans don't always work out perfectly. Instead they are flawed human beings who challenge their codes and procedures to help protect their city and their citizens. The result is a raw, and incredibly well-made drama that will be sorely missed.

33. Modern Family (2009-2013) - I am a huge Modern Family fan, and even I can admit that this past season, its fourth, was not on the same level of quality as its first three. There were some episodes in the bunch that simply did not work, period. But even in its darkest hour, Modern Family is still one of the funniest and best comedies on television right now. From the very beginning,
Modern Family defied the normal standards of family sitcoms by including a gay couple, a younger/older couple which has now added a new edition, and taking on issues that are usually avoided or made fun of in other major comedies. Sure the unconventional family is now old news, but Modern Family has always managed to make it fresh. The issues they tackle are hilarious, and at the end of all of them there are moments of true love and emotion, reminding us that while this is an hilarious sitcom, it is also a show that showcases a true family. But the real reason to watch Modern Family is the absolutely amazing cast. Ed O'Neill plays the old-school patriarch with humanity and grumpiness. Julie Bowen is great as the overbearing mom, and Ty Burrell is pitch-perfect as her goofy, but loving husband. Jesse Tyler Ferguson gives his on screen sister (Bowen's Clair) a run for her money as the uptight partner to Eric Stonestreet's flamboyant and hilariously fun Cam. The kids give the adults a run for their money by nailing their lines and situations with ease, and usually outsmarting their parents/aunts/uncles/grandparents. Overall, Modern Family will continue to be a success, and even though many of us are a bit fatigued by its awards-haul, it is not hard to see why it has been such a success over the last couple of years, and after its awesome season finale, maybe Season 5 will be a refreshed and rejuvinated show.

32. Fringe (2008-2013) - I know most people were so disappointed when Fringe ended its run this year, after only five seasons. Especially disappointed were its science fiction fans, who tend to be some of the most devoted. But I think most of us can agree that it was a miracle that this show survived a total of five seasons on a broadcast network, particularly Fox. This type of show may do well on cable networks, but I think that its disappointed fans should look for the silver lining in this case. Fringe is the story of a brilliant, but kind of off scientist, who helps an FBI agent explain phenomena that have no explanation. It is a show that doesn't have to reach to far to capture your
attention. It is not another government-is-lying-to-us-conspiracy-theory shows, nor is it one that has to synthetically create drama. Instead, it relies on the natural interesting nature of science and unexplained acts to create mysteries that are dramatic, sometimes shocking, and always entertaining. That means that its writers, directors, all spearheaded by its team of creators, led by J.J. Abrams, who brought us Lost, and includes Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci, created and maintained a show that was daring, bold, and incredibly well-made. It also helped that its cast, led by the impeccable Anna Torv and the scene-stealing John Noble, was pitch-perfect, and willing to go along for the ride, no matter what was thrown at their characters. This year Fringe ended its incredible run, and I think I speak for everyone when I say that it will be missed. There was nothing on television quite like Fringe, particularly on broadcast television, and I think there will be a huge hole in programming that may never be filled completely.

31. The Simpsons (1989-2013) - I know you are tired of hearing me say this, but if this were a best of the 90's list or a best of all time list, The Simpsons would probably be in the top five. But even its devoted and longtime fans who have stuck by it through its stunning twenty five seasons will admit, that while the last thirteen years has been a great time for The Simpsons, if is not quite as good as the
first 12. That being said, week in and week out, The Simpsons is still one of funniest, and most popular shows on the air. It has become a staple on Fox, which has used its success to launch several other successful and long running enterprises including King of the Hill, Family Guy, American Dad, and now Bob's Burgers. But The Simpsons will always be the original, and I have a feeling that at the end of the day it will probably out live its successors, and its successors' successors. Set in the town of Springfield (Springfield in which state, we may never really know), and features Homer Simpson, his wife Marge, and their kids Lisa, Bart, and Maggie. Over the last 25 seasons, these characters along with Moe, Millhouse, Mr. Burns, and countless others in their crazy universe have become pop culture icons, and some of the most recognizable, most popular, and greatest television characters to ever grace the small screen. In fact, Homer Simpson is always on those "Greatest Television Characters" list, usually near the top for his ridiculous antics, his sometimes questionable parenting skills, and his classic "D'oh!" This September, The Simpsons will start its 26th season on broadcast television, a tremendous feat. Throughout its run it has won 28 Emmy Awards, continued to be a critical success, and has legions of devoted fans. This is because The Simpsons is a brilliant funny, wacky, intelligent, and biting satirical animated series that has never lost its touch.

Casting Society of America Artios Award Nominees

Big Budget Feature – Comedy
“Oz the Great and Powerful,” John Papsidera
“Pain & Gain,” Denise Chamian, Lori Wyman (Location Casting), Ania Kamieniecki-O’Hare (Associate)
“Silver Linings Playbook,” Mary Vernieu, Lindsay Graham, Diane Heery (Location Casting)
“Ted,” Sheila Jaffe, Angela Peri (Location Casting)
“The Watch,” Alyssa Weisberg, Shay Bentley Griffin (Location Casting), Yesi Ramirez (Associate), Karina Walters (Associate)

Big Budget Feature – Drama
“Argo,” Lora Kennedy
“Les Misérables,” Nina Gold
“Life of Pi,” Avy Kaufman
“Lincoln,” Avy Kaufman, Erica Arvold (Location Casting), Pat Moran (Location Casting)
“Zero Dark Thirty,” Mark Bennett, Richard Hicks, Seher Latif (Location Casting)

Feature – Studio or Independent – Comedy
“Hitchcock,” Terri Taylor, John McAlary (Associate)
“Moonrise Kingdom,” Douglas Aibel, Henry Russell Bergstein (Associate)
“Pitch Perfect,” Kerry Barden, Paul Schnee, Tracy Kilpatrick (Location Casting)
“Seven Psychopaths,” Sarah Halley Finn, Tamara Hunter (Associate)
“To Rome with Love,” Patricia DiCerto, Beatrice Kruger

Feature – Studio or Independent – Drama
“The Company You Keep,” Avy Kaufman
“Lawless,” Francine Maisler
“Looper,” Mary Vernieu, Lindsay Graham, Lisa Mae Fincannon (Location Casting), Craig Fincannon (Location Casting)
“Magic Mike,” Carmen Cuba, Wittney Horton (Associate)
“Mud,” Francine Maisler, Diana Guthrie (Location Casting)
“The Place Beyond the Pines,” Cindy Tolan, Adam Caldwell (Associate)

Low Budget Feature – Comedy or Drama
“Celeste & Jesse Forever,” Angela Demo
“Compliance,” Kerry Barden, Paul Schnee
“Frances Ha,” Douglas Aibel, Henry Russell Bergstein (Associate)
“The Sessions,” Ronnie Yeskel
“Smashed,” Avy Kaufman, Kim Coleman

Animation Feature
“Brave,” Kevin Reher, Natalie Lyon
“Epic,” Christian Kaplan
“Frankenweenie,” Ronna Kress, Jennifer Rudin (Location Casting)
“Ice Age: Continental Drift,” Christian Kaplan
“Wreck-It Ralph,” Jamie Sparer Roberts

Short Film
“200 Years,” Sherrie Henderson, Dan Velez
“Hotel Pennsylvania,” Donna DeSeta
“Little Shadow,” Donna DeSeta
“Room 8,” Rose Wicksteed
“The Learning Curve,” Kendra Patterson

Television Pilot Comedy
“Animal Practice,” Lisa Miller Katz
“Guys with Kids,” Geraldine Leder
“How to Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life),” Susan Edelman, Jeff Greenberg
“The Mindy Project,” Felicia Fasano
“Partners,” Julie Ashton-Barson

Television Pilot Drama
“The Americans,” Cami Patton, Christal Karge, Julie Tucker (Location Casting), Ross Meyerson (Location Casting)
“Bates Motel,” April Webster, Sara Isaacson, Jennifer Page (Location Casting), Corinne Clark (Location Casting)
“The Following,” Greg Orson, Lesli Gelles-Raymond, Lisa Mae Fincannon (Location Casting)
“House of Cards,” Laray Mayfield
“The Newsroom,” Francine Maisler

Television Series Comedy
“30 Rock,” Katja Blichfeld, Jessica Daniels
“Girls,” Jennifer Euston
“Modern Family,” Jeff Greenberg, Allen Hooper (Associate)
“New Girl,” Anya Colloff, Michael Nicolo, Jessica Munks (Associate)
“Nurse Jackie,” Julie Tucker, Ross Meyerson

Television Series Drama
“Game of Thrones,” Nina Gold
“The Good Wife,” Mark Saks, John Andrews (Associate)
“Homeland,” Judy Henderson, Lisa Mae Fincannon (Location Casting), Craig Fincannon (Location Casting)
“House of Cards,” Laray Mayfield, Julie Schubert
“The Newsroom,” Francine Maisler, Nancy Perkins

Television Movie or Mini Series
“American Horror Story,” Robert J. Ulrich, Eric Dawson, Carol Kritzer, Eric Souliere (Associate)
“Behind the Candelabra,” Carmen Cuba, Wittney Horton (Associate)
“Phil Spector,” Sharon Bialy, Sherry Thomas, Mia Cusumano (Associate)
“Political Animals,” David Rubin, Melissa Pryor (Associate), Jason Loftus (Associate)
“Top of the Lake,” Kirsty McGregor

Daytime Drama Series
“Days of Our Lives,” Marnie Saitta
“General Hospital,” Mark Teschner
“The Young and the Restless,” Judy Blye Wilson

Children’s Series
“Good Luck Charlie,” Sally Stiner, Barbie Block
“iCarly,” Krisha Bullock, Jennifer K.M. Treadwell (Associate)
“Jessie,” Sheryl Levine
“Victorious,” Krisha Bullock, Jennifer K.M. Treadwell (Associate)
“Wizards of Waverly Place,” Howard Meltzer

Television Animation
“American Dad!,” Linda Lamontagne
“Bob’s Burgers,” Julie Ashton-Barson
“Family Guy,” Linda Lamontagne
“Robot Chicken,” Linda Lamontagne
“SpongeBob SquarePants,” Sarah Noonan

New York Broadway Theatre – Comedy
“The Assembled Parties,” Nancy Piccione
“Dead Accounts,” David Caparelliotis
“The Nance,” Daniel Swee
“The Performers,” Cindy Tolan, Adam Caldwell (Associate)
“Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” Daniel Swee

New York Broadway Theatre – Drama
“The Big Knife,” Jim Carnahan
“Glengarry Glen Ross,” William Cantler
“Golden Boy,” Daniel Swee
“The Heiress,” Tara Rubin, Eric Woodall, Merri Sugarman, Lindsay Levine (Associate), Kaitlin Shaw (Associate)
“The Other Place,” David Caparelliotis, William Cantler
“The Trip to Bountiful,” David Caparelliotis

New York Broadway Theatre – Musical
“Annie,” Bernard Telsey, Patrick Goodwin (Associate)
“Kinky Boots,” Bernard Telsey, Justin Huff
“Matilda the Musical,” Jim Carnahan, Nora Brennan
“Motown the Musical,” Bernard Telsey, Bethany Knox
“Pippin,” Benton Whitley, Duncan Stewart

New York Theatre – Comedy or Musical
“Bad Jews,” Carrie Gardner
“Detroit,” Alaine Alldaffer
“The Explorers Club,” Nancy Piccione
“Far From Heaven,” Alaine Alldaffer
“The Madrid,” David Caparelliotis

New York Theatre – Drama
“If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet,” Jim Carnahan
“Ivanov,” James Calleri, Erica Michelle Jensen
“Nikolai and the Others,” Daniel Swee
“Really Really,” Bernard Telsey, William Cantler
“Reasons to be Happy,” Bernard Telsey, William Cantler

Regional Theatre East
“The Blue Deep,” James Calleri, Erica Michelle Jensen
“The Glass Menagerie,” Jim Carnahan, Stephen Kopel
“The Importance of Being Earnest,” James Calleri, Paul Davis
“The Power of Duff,” Howie Cherpakov
“Sweet Bird of Youth,” David Caparelliotis (Location Casting)

Regional Theatre West
“Allegiance,” Craig Burns
“Arcadia,” Janet Foster
“Blood and Gifts,” William Cantler, Karyn Casl (Associate)
“Glengarry Glen Ross,” William Cantler, Karyn Casl (Associate)
“Pygmalion,” David Caparelliotis

Los Angeles Theatre
“Intimate Apparel,” Michael Donovan
“Joe Turner’s Come and Gone,” Joanne DeNaut, Andy Crocker (Associate)
“The Parisian Woman,” Joanne DeNaut
“The Producers,” Margery Simkin, Michael Donovan
“The Royale,” Mark B. Simon

Special Theatrical Performance West
“Carousel,” Jay Binder, Jack Bowdan
“Fiorello!,” Jay Binder, Jack Bowdan
“It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s Superman,” Jay Binder, Jack Bowdan
“On Your Toes,” Jay Binder, Jack Bowdan

Special Theatrical Performance East
“The Book of Mormon,” Carrie Gardner
“Memphis,” Rachel Hoffman
“War Horse,” Daniel Swee

2013 New York Film Festival Lineup

CAPTAIN PHILLIPS (Opening Night Gala Selection)
Director: Paul Greengrass

THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY (Centerpiece Gala Selection)
Director: Ben Stiller

HER (Closing Night Gala Selection)
Director: Spike Jonze

Director: Richard Curtis

ABUSE OF WEAKNESS (Abus de faiblesse)
Director: Catherine Breillat

Director: Declan Lowney

Director: J.C. Chandor

Directors: Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson

Director: Frederick Wiseman

BASTARDS (Les Salauds)
Director: Claire Denis

Director: Abdellatif Kechiche

Director: Agnieszka Holland

Director: James Franco

Director: Sebastian Lelio

Director: James Gray

Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

Director: Ralph Fiennes

JEALOUSY (La Jalousie)
Director: Philippe Garrel

Director: Arnaud Desplechin

THE LAST OF THE UNJUST (Le Dernier des injustes)
Director: Claude Lanzmann

LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON (Soshite chichi ni naru)
Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda

THE MISSING PICTURE (L’image manquante)
Director: Rithy Panh

MY NAME IS HMMM … (Je m’appelle Hmmm…)
Director: Agnes B

Director: Alexander Payne

NOBODY’S DAUGHTER HAEWON (Nugu-ui ttal-do anin Haewon)
Director: Hong Sang-soo

NORTH, THE END OF HISTORY (Norte, hangganan ng kasaysayan)
Director: Lav Diaz

Director: Hany Abu-Assad

Director: Jim Jarmusch

Director: Jehane Noujaim

STRANGER BY THE LAKE (L’Inconnu du lac)
Director: Alain Guiraudie

Director: Tsai Ming-liang

A TOUCH OF SIN (Tian zhu ding)
Director: Jia Zhangke

Director: Roger Michell

WHEN EVENING FALLS ON BUCHAREST OR METABOLISM (Cand se lasa seara peste Bucuresti sau metabolism)
Director: Corneliu Porumboiu

THE WIND RISES (Kaze Tachinu)
Director: Hayao Miyazaki

2013 MTV VMA Award Predictions - Best Hip-Hop Video

Will Win - Macklemore & Ryan Lewis "Can't Hold Us"

Could Win - Drake "Started From the Bottom"

Should Win - Kendrick Lamar "Swimming Pools (Drank)"

Commentary - I think that Kendrick Lamar is the best young talent in hip-hop, and it would be cool to see him upset here. But I think that this one is pretty much locked up by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, who are also great talents, for their inventive video for Can't Hold Us. Also watch out for Drake, of the bunch he is the biggest star, with the most success (yet), so popularity could rule the day.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Review: Lee Daniels' The Butler

As of late there has been so much discussion over Lee Daniel's latest project originally entitled The Butler (later changed due a ridiculous lawsuit from Warner Bros). The latest discussion has been about the overall quality of the film and the increasing amount of Oscar buzz surrounding the project. Well all the hype and the buzz led me to the theater this afternoon to see the now named Lee Daniels' The Butler, a flawed, but in the end emotionally effective and entertaining enterprise that sets itself up as the first big Oscar contender of the early fall/late summer.

Starting in 1926 Macon, Georgia, The Butler is the story of a young boy named Cecil Gaines (played as an adult by Forest Whitaker) on a cotton farm who grows up to be a long-serving butler in the White House, serving from Eisenhower to Reagan, a total of seven presidents. The story's main focus however is on his family, including his son (David Oyelowo), who while attending college in the South, becomes swept up in the violence of the Civil Rights Movement, much to the grief of his father, who does not believe that is the way to achieve true civil rights. Since his time on the former plantation where his landlord (played by Vanessa Redgrave) tells him how to disappear into the background and become the perfect servant, Cecil has always believed that what he does matters. His son's aggresive nature is disturbing and goes against his way of life. Stuck in the middle of her son and husband, Gloria Gaines struggles with the separation and battles of her family, slipping into vices such as alcoholism and adultery. Throughout the turbulent decades of the 50's, 60's, 70's and 80's, the social struggles of the country are faced by Cecil and his family, and as the world around them is turned upside down, he continues his quiet determination to prove to the world and his family that his hard work and loyalty can change the world.

Lee Daniel's The Butler is one of those films that is really hard to wrap your head around. There are so many wonderful elements in it that make the film entertaining and emotionally stunning. The images of the Civil Rights Movement, the violence and the struggle are realistic and historically accurate, which makes their impact incredibly felt. Furthermore, while there are plenty of rough spots in the story, there are also wonderfully emotional, as well as many humorous moments that really work well. But the real triumph of the film is the acting from its talented cast. Some of the supporting players make their mark including Cuba Gooding Jr. who is funny and heartfelt, and reminds me that at one point he really was an actor of substance. Hopefully he can use his success here to relaunch a successful film career. David Oyelowo has a big role that could launch him into a new realm of his career, and he is outstanding as the revolutionary son. Oprah returns to the screen for the first time since Beloved, and the results are fantastic. She goes through the range of emotions that her character requires with ease, and she has natural soulfulness, subtlety and chemistry with her castmates that reminds us all that she really can act, and yes, she is Oscar worthy. But the real stunner here is Forest Whitaker. He is quiet, expect for moments when he is required not to be, and is subtle to say the best. But underneath his restrained exterior is an extremely heartfelt, and extremely effective performance that may not be able to stand up at the end of the year against more bold performances, but it sure does deserve to.

However, when I said that The Butler was flawed, I was not kidding. I was a huge fan of Danny Strons with his scripts for Recount and Game Change, but this time, his script almost fails the movie. There are moments that are duds on the screen and the pace, while entertaining, also doesn't allow a lot of time to absorb the events, and more importantly, their impact on our main characters. The biggest problem though is the stream of actors that play the Presidents and First Ladies. While the actors playing them are all talented, including Robin Williams, Jane Fonda, John Cusack, Liev Schreiber, Alan Rickman and James Marsden, none of them really hit the nail on the head, or more importantly, aren't allowed the room to. Of the bunch, I actually thought Marsden was the best, but that doesn't mean much. Some of their impersonations were just bad, and I find it hard to believe it was their fault. None of them are given enough screen time or really any meaty storylines to play, and so most only serve as a distraction or a foil to Cecil's character. This endless stream of cameos shares some characteristics with the disappoting Rob Marshall endeavor Nine, as that too top-billed top-notch actors only to end up reducing their roles to sideshows.

Lee Daniels campiness, over-the-top approach, and directorial style really worked in Precious, and was a complete failure in The Paperboy. This time around, it works to some degree, especially in the emotional and funny moments that help make the film work. But sometimes, it stretches too far and the audience can feel it. I am happy to say though that some of his instincts have been tamed here, and may be signs of a maturing director. I am still looking forward to his future projects.

In the end, the good points about the film, the emotion and the main performances were able to overcome the parade of presidential losers and the more cringe-worthy moments to create a film that is a great acting showcase, an emotional heart-tugger that really captures its audience, and entertains while teaching a valuable lesson. So many on blogs and comments have suggested that another film about the Civil Rights era is not needed. This constant argument that we are in a post-racial era constantly bombards projects that still dare to discuss the subject. In a time when it seems the racial divide is growing, the Voting Rights Act is no longer potent, and states across the country are suppressing minority voters, the notion that no more discussion of race is needed is absolutely ridicolous. The Butler ends with the election of Obama, and Cecil's pride swells when he sees a black man in the White House that he served at for so many years. It is a wonderful moment, and a reminder that while so many positive steps have been taken towards true justice and equality, the fight lives on. This flawed, but ultimately succesful project is a nice reminder of the continuing struggle.

Grade: B

Oscar Potential: Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor (Whitaker), Supporting Actress (Oprah), Supporting Actor (David Oyelowo), Best Supporting Actor Cuba Gooding Jr.), Art Direction, Cinematography, Costume Design, Hair and Makeup Design, and Original Song (Fantasia's In the Middle of The Night).

2013 MTV VMA Award Predictions: Best Collaboration

Will Win - Robin Thicke feat. Pharrell and T.I. "Blurred Lines"

Could Win - Justin Timberlake "Suit and Tie"

Should Win - P!nk feat. Nate Ruess "Just Give Me a Reason"

Commentary - Acutally a close rase, I think that the ever popular Justin Timberlake could easily prevail for his collaboration with the legend Jay-Z. But this year, there is one song that it seems like none of us can escape, and that is Blurred Lines. It has three music superstars, is catchy as hell and extremely popular, which will definitely help it with the MTV generation (which may hurt the old-school feel of Suit and Tie). For my vote, it would go to the emotional video for Just Give Me a Reason, but that may not stand out next to the two leading contenders.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

New Emmy Polls in Sidebar

This week's polls feature the races for Best Supporting Actress and Actor in a Comedy Series, both of which are great races with a lot of potential contenders. As always, pick which actor or actress you think will win the Emmy in a couple of weeks!

2013 MTV VMA Award Predictions: Best Direction and Best Message Video

Best Direction of a Music Video
Will Win/Should - David Fincher "Suit & Tie - Justin Timberlake feat. Jay-Z"
Could Win - Macklemore & Ryan Lewis "Can't Hold Us"
Commentary - Can't Hold Us has a creative concept, but I don't think anyone can beat Suit & Tie this year. First, Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake are extremely popular, and the video is well made to say the least. But the real reason is that when a legendary director like David Fincher's name is attached to it, the rest of the nominees simply pale in comparison. It will be kind of cool if David Fincher wins an Emmy and a VMA in the same year.

Best Video With a Message
Will Win/Should Win - Macklemore & Ryan Lewis "Same Love"
Could Win - Kelly Clarkson "People Like Us" or Beyonce "I Was Here"
Commentary - Macklemore and Ryan Lewis were everywhere this year, and I expect them to do well at next Sunday's awards. In the ongoing battle about same-sex marriage, young people are those that are changing the public discourse in favor of equality. Even more conservative young voters are backing off of the gay marriage argument favoring more libertarian ideas. The whole point of this slight political diatribe is that young voters that watch MTV found Same Love to be a poignant and important song for their generation, and I think it will be rewarded for just that.

Is Lee Daniel's The Butler an Oscar Contender?

Tomorrow afternoon I will see Lee Daniel's The Butler, a movie that has been getting a lot of press, mostly positive over the last week. I always thought that with its cast, and its Weinstein connection, that it would play well during the Oscar season. It has the historical factor, and is apparently an emotional heart-tugger, both of which are right down the Academy's alley. I was concerned though about critical reception. While a positive critical score is not neccessarily essential to be an Oscar-nominated film, it does go a long way to building on buzz and with the theatrical release. It was semi-decent reviews, I think, that helped The Help stay an Oscar contender two years ago, and not fall from grace after release. If the reviews had been less-than-stellar it may not have made the cut. It had the great cast, the great historical presence, and a major studio behind it, which all combined for both box office success and Oscar nominations, including one for Best Picture. It had a 77% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 62 on Metacritic. Just decent enough to not kill the film's hopes. This time around The Butler is sitting at a 73% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 66 on Metacritic, both of which are very similar to The Help. The last remaining question is whether it will do well at the box office. Well as of Friday, it was leading the weekend, on track for $25 million opening. It also had an excellent A Cinemascore rating which will most likely ensure steady buisness over the next couple of weeks (which are usually thin in terms of box office), and it could easily cross the $100 million mark by the time Oscar season kicks into full gear. I will wait till tomorrow to really stake a claim as to whether these pieces will combine together for Oscar success. But I will say that right now the stars are definitely aligning for this project, and at the least, some of its components, most likely being Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, Makeup, Costume Design, and some other techs, are definitely not out of the question. As always, we'll have to wait and see...

Friday, August 16, 2013

2013 MTV VMA Award Predictions: Tech Categories

I am not going to spend too much time of these, most of which are presented off-screen or before the actual ceremony. But I will at least give you my usual Will Win, Could Win, and Should Win, the other categories will get more discussion in the next several days.

Best Art Direction
Will Win - Lana Del Rey "National Anthem"
Could Win - Janelle Monae feat Erykah Badu "Q.U.E.E.N" or Alt-J "Tessellate"
Should Win - Janelle Monae feat Erykah Badu "Q.U.E.E.N"

Best Choreography
Will Win - Bruno Mars "Treasure"
Could Win - Jennifer Lopez feat. Pitbull "Live it Up"
Should Win - Ciara "Body Party"

Best Cinematography
Will Win/Should Win - Macklemore and Ryan Lewis "Can't Hold Us"
Could Win - 30 Seconds to Mars "Up in the Air"

Best Editing
Will Win/Should Win - P!nk feat. Nate Ruess "Just Give Me a Reason"
Could Win - Any of them

Best Visual Effects
Will Win/Should Win - Skrillex feat. The Doors "Breakin a Sweat"
Could Win - Duck Sauce "It's You" or Wicked Games "The Weekend"

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Hayao Miyazaki's The Wind Rises Trailer

In this weak Animated Feature race, I expect several foreign entries to play well including Ernest and Celestine from France, and Hayao Miyazaki's latest The Wind Rises, which is doing incredibly well in its initial Japanese release. Miyazaki won an Oscar for 2001's Spirited Away, and was nominated again a few years later for Howl's Moving Castle. Check out the latest trailer for The Wind Rises, which will be hitting the festival circuit very soon.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Meryl Streep to Campaign as Supporting Actress for August: Osage County

So Weinstein Co. has decided to do some switcheroos in terms of their upcoming campaigns for August: Osage County, the adaptation of the Tony and Pulitzer winning play. I had originally thought (as did a lot of people) that Meryl Streep would campaign as lead, Roberts most likely as supporting, and Martindale as supporting. It looks like instead, Weinstein will push Roberts as lead (not a real surprise), but will bump Streep down to supporting alongside Martindale. The role was originated by Deanna Dugan on stage, and won her a Best Actress in a Play Tony. But it is a lot easier to get in two supporting performances than it is to get in two leads, and I think this is a brilliant move for Weinstein and could ensure more nominations across the board for the film, if it lives up to the hype. Some will argue that this hurts Martindale, but Streep has recently won, so there is not a sudden need, and recent winners Melissa Leo and Octavia Spencer were able to overcome internal competition and win Oscars, so really anything is possible.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

2013 Teen Choice Award Winners

I am worried about our future. Although I am happy for Pitch Perfect, Chord Overstreet, Jim Parsons, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Maybe there is hope for humanity after all.

One Direction

One Direction

“Live While We’re Young,” One Direction

“Little Things,” One Direction

Rebel Wilson, Pitch Perfect

Syklar Astin, Pitch Perfect

Pitch Perfect

Adam DeVine, Pitch Perfect

“Come and Get It,” Selena Gomez

Selena Gomez

Selena Gomez

“Pretty Little Liars”

“Pretty Little Liars”

Lucy Hale, “Pretty Little Liars”

Keegan Allen, “Pretty Little Liars”

Ian Harding, “Pretty Little Liars”

Troian Bellisario, “Pretty Little Liars”

Janel Parrish, “Pretty Little Liars”

Gabby Douglas

Nick Jonas


Chord Overstreet, “Glee”

Blake Jenner, “Glee”

Lea Michele, “Glee”

Logan Lerman, Perks of Being a Wallflower

Perks of Being a Wallflower

Demi Lovato

“Heart Attack,” Demi Lovato

Ashton Kutcher

Ian Somerhalder, “The Vampire Diaries”

Jim Parsons, “The Big Bang Theory”

Nina Dobrev, “The Vampire Diaries”


Miley Cyrus

“We Can’t Stop,” Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus, “Two and a Half Men”


Bruno Mars

Bruno Mars

LL Cool J

Ed Sheeran

Demi Lovato, “The X Factor”

Sandra Bullock, The Heat

Sandra Bullock + Melissa McCarthy, The Heat

Iron Man 3

Robert Downey, Jr., Iron Man 3

Anne Hathaway, The Dark Knight Rises

Breaking Dawn, Part 2

Taylor Lautner, Breaking Dawn Part 2

Kristen Stewart, Breaking Dawn Part 2

Emma Watson, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Breaking Dawn, Part 2

Robert Pattinson, Breaking Dawn Part 2

Kristen Stewart, Breaking Dawn Part 2

Kellan Lutz, Breaking Dawn Part 2

Nicholas Hoult, Warm Bodies

“The Vampire Diaries”

“NCIS: Los Angeles”

Lucy Liu, “Elementary”

“The Simpsons”

“The X Factor”

“Keeping Up with the Kardashians”

Simon Cowell, “The X Factor”

The Kardashians, “Keeping Up with the Kardashians”

Kevin Jonas, “Married to Jonas”

“The Fosters”

Justin Bieber

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

David Guetta

Hunter Hayes

Taylor Swift

Lady Antebellum

“We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” Taylor Swift

“Beauty & A Beat,” Justin Bieber feat. Nicki Minaj

“Can’t Hold Us,” Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Ray Dalton

“Radioactive,” Imagine Dragons

Harry Styles

Harry Styles

David Beckham

Ellen DeGeneres



Demi Lovato

Justin Bieber

Philomena Trailer

Every couple of years, Stephen Frears produces an Oscar contender. In 2006 it was The Queen which earned an Oscar for Helen Mirren, and a Best Picture nomination. This year, it looks like he may be in play again for Philomena. At the least Judi Dench will be in play, as the trailer makes her look like a real contender. Check out the trailer below: