Thursday, July 31, 2014

2014 Emmy Predictions: Best Supporting Actress in a TV Movie/Miniseries

Will Win - Allison Tolman "Fargo"

Should Win - Allison Tolman "Fargo"

Could Win - Julia Roberts "The Normal Heart", Ellen Burstyn "Flowers in the Attic", or Kathy Bates "American Horror Story: Coven"

Commentary - This is one of the most brutal races to predict, and honestly, any of these women could win this award, they are all that damn good. We can probably count out Frances Conroy based on screen time alone. And while I personally loved Angela Bassett in Coven, she doesn't get quite the material that her co-star Kathy Bates does. If any of the Coven women are going to win, it is going to be Bates, who has the best material of the bunch. Many people are predicting Julia Roberts to win, and honestly, I was up until today. She is in The Normal Heart, which looks to really sweep this year's Emmys, and she is an Oscar-winning icon that does not jump down to television often. We know that Emmy voters love their movie stars, and after her triumphant return to the screen, and the Oscar fold with August: Osage County, she is certainly on voters' minds. But to be honest, while his perfectly fine in The Normal Heart, it is nothing special, and certainly no where near her finest work. Ellen Burstyn is the wild card here. She won last year (robbing the great Sarah Paulson!) and could easily repeat, because she is simply delicious in Flowers in the Attic. The production as a whole was nothing to sneeze at it, but damn she lit up the screen every time she was on it. But I am going on a bit of limb here, with the newcomer in the bunch. Allison Tolman was the heart and soul of Fargo, and while she is subtle, something that usually hurts you in Emmy races, I think that there are enough Fargo fans out there, to recognize how important she was to the series. Plus, I feel like these titans of acting with chewy material (Bassett, Bates, Roberts, Burstyn), could cancel out each others votes. Tolman stands to gain from this split, and I think she wins her first, and well deserved, Emmy Award.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

2014 Emmy Predictions: Best Supporting Actor in a TV Movie/Miniseries

Will Win - Matt Bomer "The Normal Heart"

Could Win - Joe Mantello "The Normal Heart", Colin Hanks "Fargo", or Martin Freeman "Sherlock: His Last Vow"

Should Win - Matt Bomer "The Normal Heart"

Commentary - There are a lot of big contenders in this race, and yet it already feels like a slam dunk. Joe Mantello, Jim Parsons, and Alfred Molina are all great in The Normal Heart, but they all pale in comparison to one of their co-stars. Colin Hanks was a part of the dynamic duo (along with the fantastic Allison Tolman) that provided Fargo a dose of much needed heart. Martin Freeman could win here as a consolation prize for his two nominated roles in both Sherlock, and his lead role in Fargo. But in the end, I just don't see how voters can watch these nominees work, and not become overwhelmed by Matt Bomer's character in The Normal Heart. His struggle is part of the emotional impact of the film, and he really stretched himself as an actor and proved his talent in a role that may the role that really launches his career into the stratosphere. Even if it doesn't, at least he will have an Emmy on his mantle.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

2014 Emmy Predictions: Best Writing in a TV Movie/Miniseries

Will Win - Larry Kramer "The Normal Heart"

Could Win - Noah Hawley "Fargo - The Crocodile's Dilemma"

Should Win - Larry Kramer "The Normal Heart"

Commentary - Once again, there is a battle brewing between the two top program contenders. Which makes me want to ask a random question to myself. Which one would have won, Fargo or The Normal Heart, if there had still been a combined category. Logic tells us The Normal Heart, and a lot of the credit to the success of the film, is Larry Kramer. The play won several Tony Awards, and his work across the theater earned him the prestigious Isabelle Stevenson Award. It is his passionate script, whose authenticity is so evident, as we see a young Larry Kramer struggle as his friends and family are dealing with the spread of AIDS. Fargo and American Horror Story are cleverly written shows with plenty of great material, and if there were any justice in this world then Treme would be a top contender here for its submission. But I think we see Larry Kramer take the stage and win an Emmy award, for helping continue to fight for a noble cause, and for making the transition from stage to screen possible.

Monday, July 28, 2014

2014 Emmy Predictions: Best Directing in a TV Movie/Miniseries

Will Win - Ryan Murphy "The Normal Heart"

Should Win - Colin Bucksey "Fargo - Buridan's Ass" or Alfonso Gomez-Rejon "American Horror Story: Coven - Bitchcraft"

Could Win - Either Fargo episode

Commentary - This race, and its writing counterpart, could be indicative of the night as a whole. I personally think that while Fargo will easily win the Miniseries category, it may have trouble in some of the other categories up against the emotional juggernaut that is The Normal Heart. Don't get me wrong, The Normal Heart was my favorite television movie this year, but I think it pulled off its feat despite Ryan Murphy's unsteady direction. It succeeded because of the passion Larry Kramer put into the script, and the performances of its cast. If I were voting, I think the work of the directors of Fargo (my personal favorite being Buridan's Ass), and Gomez-Rejon's episode of AHS: Coven Bitchcraft are better examples of exemplary directing. But Murphy is well-liked in this industry, the film strikes an emotional chord, and I think that he takes home another directing Emmy.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

2014 Emmy Predictions - Best Variety Writing/Directing

Best Directing in a Variety Series
Will Win - Don Roy King "Saturday Night Live - Host: Jimmy Fallon"
Could Win - Any of the other four
Should Win - Jonathan Krisel "Portlandia - Getting Away"
Commentary - This is one of those categories that is hard to tell which way they will go. Colbert, Daily Show, and Jimmy Fallon are the three leading contenders for the top prize, so any one of them could benefit from buzz and popularity. But this category has been dominated recently by Don Roy King. SNL has a bunch of moving parts, and when they all fit together well, then a lot of deserved credit goes to the director. And Doy Roy King is the master of this type of work, has won this category many times before, and has the Jimmy Fallon Christmas episode to showcase his talents. I think he wins again.

Best Writing in a Variety Series
Will Win - The Colbert Report
Could Win - The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Should Win - Portlandia
Commentary - This category has bounced back and forth between The Colbert Report and The Daily Show in recent years, so history tells us that it will be one of these two once again. But watch our for Portlandia. It has the kind of creative spark that might appeal to writers. I am sticking with Colbert if for no other reason, than the fact that after last year's big program win, it is hot.

Best Directing in a Variety Special
Will Win/Should Win - Glenn Weiss "The 67th Annual Tony Awards"
Could Win - Gregg Gelfand "The Beatles: The Night That Changed America"
Commentary - I am once again watching out for The Beatles. The program itself wasn't exactly the best in the world, but it has the right nostalgic factor that appeals to Emmy voters. That being said, I am sticking with the perceived front runner going into next month's ceremony. The Tony Awards is still one of the best nights on television each year, and the 67th edition was no exception. The opening number alone is worthy of an Emmy for host Neil Patrick Harris, and for director Glenn Weiss who brilliant captured the madness, the excitement, and all the parts of the piece. Plus he has won this category several times in a row, and he, and the telecasts seem to be favorites among voters.

Best Writing in a Variety Special
Will Win/Should Win - Billy Crystal and Alan Zweibel "Billy Crystal: 700 Sundays"
Could Win - Dave Boone and Paul Greenburg "The 67th Annual Tony Awards" or Ken Ehrlich and David Wild "The Beatles: The Night that Changed America"
Commentary - The big spectacles do well in the directing category, but we have seen this one go to smaller performances and humor-driven specials. This year, one of my favorites was Billy Crystal's 700 Sundays. Not only is Crystal still a great presence and performer on stage, but the show itself, as a whole, was truly something great. A lot of credit goes to Crystal's writing. He deftly balances the funny with the emotional, and keeps his audience glued. I think they go smaller here, and reward the passions project of a beloved five-time Emmy winner.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

2014 Emmy Predictions: Best Reality Host

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

Could Win - Jane Lynch "Hollywood Game Night"

Should Win - Either the PR duo or Lynch

Commentary - This race is actually brewing into an interesting battle between two worthy contenders. The front runners, and my current predictions, are the dynamic duo of Project Runway, Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn. When Klum was submitting just herself, she had not shot in hell of actually winning because she was only on the screen half the time. The other half in the room as the contestants were making the clothes consisted of Tim Gunn. So when they finally decided to submit together, their combined screen times propelled them to victory. I think that this will continue to help them in future races, including this one. Between the two they have a great amount of screen time, and their dynamic (helpful mentor vs. critical bad ass) creates fantastic television. But Jane Lynch is a real threat. I always thought Betty White could win based on her popularity alone, but she never has enough screen time to really merit a win for Off Their Rockers. Jane Lynch is in a similar situation. She is a well-respected, Emmy-award winning actor that is incredibly popular within the industry, and her personal popularity alone will garner a lot of votes. But unlike White, Lynch is the star of her show. She is involved in every aspect of it, she is a riot, and a presence on screen, and she gets to interact with famous celebrities on a weekly basis. I think that Klum and Gunn are still in the lead, but watch out for Lynch.

Friday, July 25, 2014

2014 Emmy Predictions: Best Variety Series and Special

Best Variety Series
Will Win/Should Win - The Colbert Report

Could Win - The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon or The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

Commentary - So what is going to happen this year in this category? After so many years of rewarding The Daily Show, they finally rewarded its worthy counterpart The Colbert Report. Both had great seasons, both are extremely popular, but since they have seemingly moved on to Colbert, I am sticking with the winner most recent on their minds. But if anything is going to upset the Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert Comedy Central dynasty it is going to be Jimmy Fallon. His successful stint on Late Night ended with a bang, and he took over the legendary Tonight Show with ease, and looks to have a hugely successful run, if ratings and reviews are any indication. This maybe the year they finally go back to the traditional late night routine, but for now I am sticking with the safer, and more likely choice.

Best Variety Special
Will Win - The Kennedy Center Honors

Should Win - Billy Crystal: 700 Sundays

Could Win - The Beatles: The Night that Changed America

Commentary - The Kennedy Center Honors has won this category a record five times in a row, and while there are some top notch projects this year, including Billy Crystal's funny and heartfelt 700 Sundays, the funny tribute to the legendary Mel Brooks, and a tribute to Jimmy Fallon's previous effort. But I think it is going to be hard to beat The Kennedy Centers which is clearly on a roll. Plus, as we know, the voters in these variety categories have no qualms about voting for the same thing over and over again (Daily Show anyone?). But I do think that there is a tough contender lurking in the shadows that could trump the favorite. The Beatles are still one of the most popular bands in the world, and CBS rolled out the carpet for a 50th Anniversary Tribute that started at this year's Grammy Awards and then moved to its own special. I think that it could win over the hearts of Emmy voters, particularly those older voters that remember their rise as it happened five decades ago.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

2014 Emmy Predictions: Best Reality-Competition Series

Will Win - The Voice

Could Win - The Amazing Race or Project Runway

Should Win - Project Runway (well actually RuPaul's Drag Race, but Emmy voters once again screwed that one up).

Commentary - After so many years of The Amazing Race dominating this category, The Voice, the new hot reality show on television, beat it out at last year's ceremony. Of course, Top Chef pulled off that feat once as well, and then voters went right back to Race. Will they do the same thing this time around? I am kind of hoping that as The Amazing Race ages, and shows like The Voice continue to only get stronger that Emmy voters have found a new favorite. Although one to really watch for is Project Runway. After Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn won last year's Host category, I think it brought renewed Emmy attention to one of the better reality programs on television. Honestly, I just think this race needs a shakeup overall. The same six nominees got in again, and even when there have been changes in the category it is usually one or two nominees here and there, and then stagnant for awhile. There are other options out there (what about all the Food Network programs like Iron Chef and Chopped?), and it is time that the Emmys address this stagnation or risk these categories becoming a waste of air time on the telecast. But for now, we are where we are, and while The Amazing Race can never be counted out, I think The Voice will repeat.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

2014 Emmy Predictions: Best Unstructured and Structured Reality Series

Best Unstructured Reality Series
Will Win - Deadliest Catch
Should Win - Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan
Could Win - Really any of them
Commentary -  I have still yet to figure out why they split these categories up. There are now fifteen reality program slots at the Emmys, while other programming continues to only have six. Even if you include long-form television into one category it only has ten versus the fifteen with reality. It also makes it hard to predict, and honestly have these shows are complete crap. But Deadliest Catch has won a bunch of Emmys over the years, and still remains wildly popular despite its age. It has been two years since it won a program category, but it is the only one of the bunch that is truly Emmy tested. In an uncertain category like this one, stick with the old favorite.

Best Structured Reality Series
Will Win - Undercover Boss
Should Win - Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives
Could Win - Shark Tank
Commentary - So this category is a bit easier, although I am once again playing it safe with the new favorite in this category. Although no series has ever won a third in a row for this category, I think if anyone can it is Undercover Boss. Shark Tank is hot on its heels, but it lacks the emotional factor that has made Boss such a hit with viewers and Emmy voters. I have to admit that my pick would be Triple D, simply because I think its a fun show that shows off the culture and cuisine of some of America's tourist destinations. Plus, I have always had an affinity for food programs. But this is most likely a battle between Boss and Shark Tank, and I think Undercover Boss wins again.

The Oscar Narrative: July Nomination Predictions - Best Picture

July Nomination Predictions
Gone Girl
Inherent Vice
Into the Woods
Men, Women & Children
A Most Violent Year

Other Contenders - Fury, Mr. Turner, Get On Up, Big Eyes, Annie, Boyhood,  Selma, Whiplash, Wild, Theory of Everything, The Imitation Game, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Hundred-Foot Journey, Cavalry, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, The Homesman, Map to the Stars, The Fault in Our Stars, The Lego Movie, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Exodus: Gods and Kings, The Gambler, The Judge, Macbeth, Kill the Messenger, A Most Wanted Man, Rosewater, St. Vincent, True Story, Begin Again, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Part I, Obivous Child, Snowpiercer, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Only Lovers Left Alive, Miss Julie, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, Suite Francaise, The Drop, The Search, Magic in the Moonlight

Commentary - So this time I am not breaking my own rule and including Stephen Daldry's Trash in the lineup. Although after seeing the first trailer, I am wondering if it is Academy friendly enough (okay there I go underestimating once again.) But on to the real hard-nosed contenders. A lot of people are high on Fury's chances, so I may end up moving into several categories, but I think of the two major war films being released this year that Unbroken is the one with the most Oscar potential, just based on the source material, and the talent involved. We already know that Foxcatcher is a huge contender, and considering Bennett Miller's first two films managed to get nominations, it stands to reason he, and his films, are popular among Academy voters. David Fincher hit the Oscar circuit well with hits The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Social Network, and slipped a little with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (which still did well nonetheless). Gone Girl is a baity project, and looks like the perfect balance of prestigious Fincher and dark and twisted Fincher. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu could easily return to this race with the intriguing Birdman which has a stellar cast, and after its first trailer, a lot of positive buzz. Christopher Nolan missed the mark with The Dark Knight. But in the expanded Best Picture race, Inception was nominated. So if Interstellar is well-received, there is actually a place for it in the race. Rob Marshall's first film off the bat won the Best Picture Oscar, and it has been downhill ever since. But every time he releases a new one, we all hope that it is another Chicago. Into the Woods could be his return to form. Jason Reitman hit it big with Juno and Up in the Air, then missed the mark with Young Adult and Labor Day. but Men, Women, & Children looks like it could be the perfect film for Reitman to return to the race. JC Chandor has been flirting with Oscar breakthrough for a few years now, and while others may not agree, I think A Most Violent Year is going to be the one to do it. Paul Thomas Anderson's Inherent Vice is my last prediction. The Master was too much for voters in the top categories (although at least the actors recognized its brilliance), so we may be over-estimating its potential. Beyond these ten (which will probably be nine by year's end), there are a lot of those looking to push their way into the race. Big Eyes has a lot of potential for Tim Burton and Co., but the film is getting mixed buzz at the moment. Get On Up could be this year's The Help, or this year's The Butler. Mr. Turner, The Imitation Game, The Hundred-Foot Journey and Theory of Everything are looking for the British vote to play heavily. Wes Anderson is hoping The Grand Budapest Hotel can go where Moonrise Kingdom failed to. Big blockbusters such as the final Hobbit film, How to Train Your Dragon 2, The Lego Movie, and others are hoping to ride a popular wave. And films such as The Judge, The Homesman, The Gambler, Kill the Messenger, A Most Wanted Man, Exodus, Suite Francaise, and Woody Allen's latest Magic in the Moonlight are all hankering for some spotlight.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Oscar Narrative: July Nomination Predictions - Best Director

July Nomination Predictions
JC Chandor "A Most Violent Year"
David Fincher "Gone Girl" 
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu "Birdman"
Angelina Jolie "Unbroken"
Bennett Miller "Foxcatcher"

Other Contenders - Paul Thomas Anderson "Inherent Vice", Stephen Daldry "Trash", Jason Reitman "Men, Women & Children", Christopher Nolan "Interstellar", Mike Leigh "Mr. Turner", Todd Haynes "Carol", Tim Burton "Big Eyes", Rob Marshall "Into the Woods", David Ayer "Fury", Richard Linklater "Boyhood", James Marsh "The Theory of Everything", Will Gluck "Annie", Lasse Hallstrom "The Hundred-Foot Journey", David Dobkin "The Judge", Tate Taylor "Get On Up", Wes Anderson "The Grand Budapest Hotel", Anton Corbijn "A Most Wanted Man", Ava DuVernay "Selma", Jean-Marc Vallee "Wild", David Cronenberg "Maps to the Stars", Jon Stewart "Rosewater", Ridley Scott "Exodus: Gods and Kings", Edward Zwick "Pawn Sacrifice", Ned Benson "The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby"

Commentary - I am going against my own advice and predicting against Stephen Daldry here. Although, he did miss out for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, even though the film got a Best Picture nomination. So for now I am sticking with that theory. I am also leaving out Paul Thomas Anderson, simply because even when his films get recognition, the directors don't always go for him. Another major contender is Jason Reitman. After Labor Day, I am cautiously optimistic, but Men, Women & Children looks right up his alley along the lines of Juno and Up in the Air. Christopher Nolan has been overlooked so many times here, so it will be one of those, I'll believe when I see it moments. Tim Burton and Rob Marshall either knock it out of the park, or crash and burn. This year, both Big Eyes and Into the Woods look like potential home runs. David Ayer is looking good as Fury's buzz goes up, Richard Linklater is a visionary who has been looked over way too many times by his peers, Lasse Hallstrom could pull heartstrings, and Tate Taylor could go with Get On Up all the way where he failed to do so with The Help a few years ago. But now onto the actual predictions. Angelina Jolie could have a real winner with Unbroken, and the screenplay she has to work with, especially whatever the Coen Bros. contributed, is sure to be an excellent adaptation. This really is a watershed moment for her potential directing career. If she can nail it, it would be a wonderful moment as she transforms from the movie star to the auteur filmmaker. David Fincher narrowly missed on a nomination for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and I think Gone Girl is going to be much more Academy friendly. The book has its critics and certainly its supporters. No matter what you thought of it, I think Fincher will raise the level of the material. Bennett Miller missed on a nomination for Moneyball, which hindsight looks ridiculous considering how damn good that film was. But he could return to the race with Foxcatcher, an early Cannes contender that is riding high at the moment, and will premiere at Toronto to continue its roll. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu was nominated for Babel a while back, but Birdman is a return to English language, and to be honest it looks simply fantastic. Finally, I think that JC Chandor, after Margin Call and All is Lost is on the verge of a huge Oscar breakthrough, and the Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain-led A Most Violent Year could be the one to do it for him. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Oscar Narrative: July Nomination Predictions - Best Actor

2014 Nomination Predictions
Steve Carell "Foxcatcher"
Michael Keaton "Birdman"
Oscar Isaac "A Most Violent Year"
Joaquin Phoenix "Inherent Vice"
Channing Tatum "Foxcatcher"

Other Contenders - Chadwick Boseman "Get On Up", Timothy Spall "Mr. Turner" , Benedict Cumberbatch "The Imitation Game", Robert Downey Jr. "The Judge",  Brendon Gleeson "Cavalry", Eddie Redmayne "Theory of Everything", Brad Pitt "Fury", Ben Affleck "Gone Girl", Matthew McConaughey "Interstellar", Miles Teller "Whiplash", Ralph Fiennes "The Grand Budapest Hotel", Jack O'Connell "Unbroken", David Oyelowo "Selma", Adam Sandler "Men, Women, & Children", Michael Fassbender "Macbeth", Ellar Coltrane "Boyhood", James McAvoy "The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby", James Franco "True Story", Jonah Hill "True Story" Bill Hader "The Skeleton Twins", Tom Hardy "Locke", Tom Hardy "The Drop", Alfred Molina "Love is Strange", Christian Bale "Exodus: Gods and Kings", Philip Seymour Hoffman "A Most Wanted Man", Tommy Lee Jones "The Homesman", Christoph Waltz "Big Eyes"

Commentary - I have moved out earlier contenders such as Chadwick Boseman and Timothy Spall, as other contenders have popped up, but they are no less important contenders in this race that, as usual, is stacked this year. And contenders such as Philip Seymour Hoffman and Christoph Waltz, as previously mentioned are borderline lead/supporting. The first place to start is Steve Carell. He is apparently mesmerizing in Foxcatcher, a completely unrecognizable performance. But there is already a big push for Tatum. His profile has risen considerably recently, and I honestly think he is one to watch for in his race, and definitely one to watch if they drop him down to supporting. Joaquin Phoenix surprised a lot of people with a nod for The Master, proving that his "breakdown" or whatever it was did not stop voters from recognizing his brilliance as an actor. He is re-teaming up with Paul Thomas Anderson, and it was just announced that Inherent Vice will be the NYFF centerpiece. Another nomination, his fourth, could be on its way soon enough. I had initially hesitated on Birdman. But new trailer and word from those close to the project have sparked a ton of buzz. So naturally, Michael Keaton, at its center is benefiting from it. If it is as unique and interesting as it looks, he will certainly be in this race. It is the last slot that I am having trouble with. Boseman and Spall are tough ones to not include. But I am going with Oscar Isaac. His profile is rising, many felt he was snubbed last year for Inside Llewyn Davis, and I have a good feeling about A Most Wanted Man. But there are plenty of other possibilities. Benedict Cumberbatch and Eddie Redmayne are young British talents with two big leading roles this year in period pieces. Robert Downey Jr. up against Robert Duvall in the The Judge could be pure gold. Brad Pitt in Fury and Jack O'Connell could capture the intensity of war with passion in Fury and Unbroken. Ben Affleck has won two Oscars, but has never been nominated for acting. Gone Girl could change his fate. Ralph Fiennes is the early contender that may stick around. David Oyelowo was underrated in The Bulter last year, and has a potentially star-making role in Selma. Ellar Coltrane has a performance stretching twelve years, and Miles Teller is an up and coming star, with rave reviews out of Sundance with Whiplash. Even Adam Sandler, yes Adam Sandler, could see some attention if Jason Reitman's Men, Women, & Children is a hit. Finally, don't forget about James McAboy, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Alfred Molina, and Tommy Lee Jones.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Oscar Narrative: July Nomination Predictions - Best Actress

July Nomination Predictions
Amy Adams "Big Eyes"
Jessica Chastain "A Most Violent Year"
Meryl Streep "Into the Woods"
Michelle Williams "Suite Francaise"
Reese Witherspoon "Wild"

Other Contenders - Rosemund Pike "Gone Girl", Julianne Moore "Maps to the Stars", Emily Blunt "Into the Woods", Hilary Swank "The Homesman", Cate Blanchett "Carol", Emma Stone "Untitled Cameron Crowe Project", Marion Cotillard "Macbeth", Jessica Chastain "Miss Julie", Jessica Chastain "The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby", Angelina Jolie "Maleficent", Helen Mirren "The Hundred-Foot Journey", Shailene Woodley "The Fault in Our Stars", Scarlett Johansson "Under the Skin", Scarlett Johansson "Lucy", Quvenzhane Wallis "Annie", Charlize Theron "Dark Places", Gugu Mbatha-Raw "Belle", Kiera Knightley "Begin Again", Rooney Mara "Trash", Shailene Woodley "White Bird in a Blizzard", Emma Stone "Magic in the Moonlight", Jenny Slate "Obvious Child"

Commentary - It appears that Jessica Chastain and Meryl Streep could go lead instead of supporting, although anything can happen in this race, so once again I warn all of us that these are really early predictions, and until some of these categories are decided, we have to be flexible with our predictions. But if they go lead, I think both of them are huge contenders. Streep gets nominated pretty much on a regular basis, although Into the Woods is such a big question mark. And Chastain has already racked up two nominations in her short career, and I personally think (as do a lot of folks), that A Most Violent Year could be the breakthrough film for JC Chandor at the Oscars. Amy Adams is so freakin' overdue for an Oscar, but Tim Burton is really hit and miss. If Big Eyes lives up to the hype, this could finally be her year. Even if it is isn't as good as we hope, she could still ride a wave to at least a nomination, and maybe a win, simply based on the fact that it is about time. Reese Witherspoon returns to this year's race in several films, but I think the one most of are looking to is the adaptation of Cheryl Strayed's Wild. It is really meaty (kind of like a James Franco in 127 Hours or Tom Hanks in Cast Away), and when she gets a great park, she tends to really shine. Plus it is directed by Jean-Marc Vallee, whose Dallas Buyers Club just earned Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto Oscars. Finally, I am currently going with Michelle Williams, who is a popular actress among voters (does anyone else remember that it wasn't that long ago that she was Jen on Dawson's Creek? I remind myself of that sometimes because it is so awesome to see how far she has come as an actor). She is once again in the hot seat with Suite Francaise, which looks like a great opportunity for her up against a veteran like Kristin Scott Thomas. For now, I am sticking with five previous winners/nominees, only because most of the other contenders have too many big question marks right now. Will Rosemund Pike, Emily Blunt, and Julianne Moore stay in lead or go supporting? Will Cameron Crowe return to form paving the way for Emma Stone to earn a way overdue first nomination? Will voters embrace The Homesman despite a mixed opening reception? Will they go for Cate Blanchett again so soon after another win? Will upcoming projects such as The Hundred-Foot Journey, Annie, Dark Places, and Macbeth yield positive results for previous favorites Helen Mirren, Quvenzhane Wallis, Charlize Theron, and Marion Cotillard? Finally, will early favorites such as Shailene Woodley, Angelina Jolie, and Jenny Slate overcome the fall onslaught and remain contenders? All these questions, and plenty more will be answered in good time.

2014 Television Critics Association Award Winners

Last night, big Emmy contenders including Breaking Bad, Orange is the New Black, Veep, Louie, Matthew McConaughey, Julia Louis- Dreyfus, True Detective, and Cosmos all got a nice boost with critical recognition. My personal favorite win of the bunch is the well-deserved win for The Good Wife. Although it missed out on Drama Series at the Emmys, maybe this kind of press helps its performers at next month's ceremony. The full list of the winners is below:

Program of the Year
Breaking Bad

Outstanding Achievement in Drama
The Good Wife

Outstanding Achievement in Comedy
(Tie) Veep and Louie

Outstanding New Program
Orange is the New Black

Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries and Specials
True Detective

Individual Achievement in Drama
Matthew McConaughey “True Detective”

Individual Achievement in Comedy
Julia Louis-Dreyfus “Veep”

Outstanding Achievement in News and Information
COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey

Outstanding Achievement in Reality Programming
RuPaul’s Drag Race

Outstanding Achievement in Youth Programming
The Fosters

Career Achievement Award
James Burrows

Heritage Award
Saturday Night Live

RIP James Garner

Some very sad news. After just recently losing Elaine Stritch, another acting titan has left us, the great James Garner. At the age of 86, Garner was found dead in his home from natural causes. He as a veteran television and film actor that excited and enlightened audiences for generations. His television roles of note included Maverick, The Rockford Files, and a plethora of quality television films. He earned a stunning fourteen Emmy nominations over the course of his career, and won twice. He was also a great leading man in Hollywood, and had a long and fruitful film career with roles in films such as Murphy's Romance (which earned him an Oscar nomination), The Great Escape, Sayonara, and The Notebook (which earned him a SAG Nomination, where he won the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005). He was a great screen presence, a decorated war veteran, and he will be sorely missed. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends during this difficult time.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Oscar Narrative: July Nomination Predictions - Best Supporting Actor

July Nomination Predictions
Johnny Depp "Into the Woods"
Robert Duvall "The Judge"
Edward Norton "Birdman"
Mark Ruffalo "Foxcatcher"
J.K. Simmons "Whiplash"

Other Contenders - Tom Wilkinson "Selma", Christoph Waltz "Big Eyes", Martin Sheen "Trash", Benicio Del Toro "Inherent Vice", Albert Brooks "A Most Violent Year", Bill Murray "St. Vincent", James Franco "True Story", Tim Roth "Selma", Philip Seymour Hoffman "A Most Wanted Man", Jeff Bridges "The Giver", Jamie Foxx "Annie", Michael Caine "Interstellar", Logan Lerman "Fury", Josh Brolin "Inherent Vice", James Corden "Into the Woods", John Lithgow "Love is Strange", Steve Buscemi "The Cobbler", Ansel Elgort "Men, Women, & Children", Domhnall Gleeson "Unbroken", Neil Patrick Harris "Gone Girl", Tyler Perry "Gone Girl", Michael Pena "Fury", James Gandolfini "The Big Drop", Chris Pine "Into the Woods", Peter Saarsgard "Pawn Sacrifice", Oscar Issac "Mojave", Joel Edgerton "Exodus: Gods and Kings"

Commentary - Once again, there are a lot of assumptions here as to who goes lead and supporting. For example, while I've included Philip Seymour Hoffman on my contenders list here, they could campaign him as lead, and vice versa. I am currently predicting Mark Ruffalo to earn his second Oscar nomination, because we already know that Bennett Miller's Foxcatcher is great, and will most likely be a major awards player. But that is under the assumption that both Channing Tatum and Steve Carell stay in the lead. If one gains some heat along the way, they may switch up their game and move the other down to supporting to try and get all three nominated. Christoph Waltz is also in that conundrum of lead vs. supporting. Obviously Amy Adams is the true lead, so will they campaign him as lead or supporting? So beyond that though, there are some obvious and bold contenders emerging here. First and foremost (behind Ruffalo) is Johnny Depp. Now, as we all know, these acting nominations depends on the quality of the film, and whether Marshall has gotten his groove back. But if he has, then the role of The Wolf is a baity one that might return Depp to the Oscars for the first time in a while. Robert Duvall also has a baity role opposite Robert Downey Jr. My one concern is that he has had several roles over the last decade or so that were real possibilities, but then fizzled out. But Duvall is an Oscar-winning veteran, incredibly well-respected, and this role looks right up his alley. Edward Norton is another actor (there seems to be a trend here), who has not been in this race in a while. But Birdman is shaping up to be one of the more interesting 2014-2015 contenders, and he pretty much nails every role he tackles. I, and a lot of other folks, have been high on J.K. Simmons possibility since Whiplash premiered at Sundance to rave reviews. He is a veteran actor who has missed on several before, but this category has a history of rewarding overlooked veterans. Beyond these five (and those that could potentially move into this race) there are a plethora of possibilities. Selma could be a dark horse and Tom Wilkinson is a previous nominee, and Tim Roth is a veteran with a potential to spoil as well. It's about time that Martin Sheen receive some love for his decades in film, and any time someone is attached to a Stephen Daldry project you know at least some buzz is coming their way. Inherent Vice and A Most Violent Year have buzzed directors and great casts, so the likes of Benicio Del Toro, Albert Brooks, and Josh Brolin, all previous nominees/winners. Michael Caine is a two-time winner and teams-up again with Christopher Nolan. Jeff Bridges has a big role in The Giver, but these YA-themes films of recent years have never made much mark on voters. John Lithgow has great reviews for Love is Strange, Domhnall Gleeson has had several films roles, and a big one coming up in Unbroken, Logan Lerman and Michael Pena could emerge from Fury's cast as contenders, and Ansel Elgort may ride two hit films this year to a nomination for his supporting role in Jason Reitman's Men, Women, & Children. And don't forget the deep casts of Gone Girl and Into the Woods, especially if those films are as big as we expect them to be.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Oscar Narrative: July Nomination Predictions - Best Supporting Actress

2014 Nomination Predictions
Emily Blunt "Into the Woods"
Carrie Coon "Gone Girl"
Viola Davis "Get on Up"
Jennifer Garner "Men, Women & Children"
Anna Kendrick "Into the Woods"

Other Contenders - Judy Greer "Men, Women, & Children", Jessica Chastain "Interstellar", Anne Hathaway "Interstellar", Felicity Jones "Theory of Everything", Kristin Scott Thomas "Suite Francaise", Octavia Spencer "Get On Up", Reese Witherspoon "Inherent Vice", Robin Wright "A Most Wanted Man", Emma Stone "Birdman", Patricia Arquette "Boyhood", Oprah Winfrey "Selma", Kiera Knightley "The Imitation Game", Sigourney Weaver "Exodus: Gods and Kings", Rosemund Pike "Gone Girl", Julianne Moore "Maps to the Stars", Meryl Streep "Into the Woods", Shohreh Aghdashloo "Rosewater", Cameron Diaz "Annie", Jessica Lange "The Gambler", Brie Larson "The Gambler", Vanessa Redgrave "Foxcatcher", Kelly Reilly "Cavalry", Noomi Rapace "Child 44", Laura Dern "Wild", Vera Farmiga "The Judge", Krysten Ritter "Big Eyes", Lesley Manville "Mr. Turner", Lily Rabe "Pawn Sacrifice", Jane Fonda "This is Where I Leave You", Imogen Poots "Knight of Cups", Maya Rudolph "Inherent Vice", Rosemarie DeWitt "Kill the Messenger"

Commentary - This category is, as always in a bit of flux. Where will the likes of Meryl Streep (we assume she will be campaigned as lead), Julianne Moore, and Rosemund Pike end up? I assume they are all leads. Just like I am currently assuming that Emily Blunt is supporting, although she could jump up and be a co-lead with Streep. Speaking of Blunt, this category has a history of rewarding two nominees from the same film, so she and her co-star Anna Kendrick could both be heading to nominations, if their roles end up being as baity as their stage counterparts, and most importantly, if Rob Marshall does Chicago and not Nine. Viola Davis looks fantastic in Get On Up, and it is just the sort of big scene-stealing role that wins people Oscars. Plus she is still owed one from a couple of years ago. Her nomination all depends on the reception to the film as a whole. Biopics do well at the Oscars, when they turn out great. I think that Jason Reitman's adaptation of Men, Women & Children could be a real return to form, and lets not forget that when the Academy likes his film, acting nominations follow. I think that of the bunch Jennifer Garner is the most poised to get a nomination, simply based on her popularity and recent appearances in well-liked films including last year's Dallas Buyers Club. But Judy Greer as rapidly risen from unknown sidekick, to respected actress, and she has the real potential to steal scenes, and a spot from her co-star. Finally, this category is always ripe for a new star or character actress to pop up. If Rosemund Pike goes lead, that paves the way for Carrie Coon. For those who have read the book, they say that Coon could have a lot of great material to really breakthrough. Beyond these five, look out for the likes of Jessica Chastain and Anne Hathaway for Christopher Nolan's latest. Kristin Scott Thomas is getting plenty of early buzz for her role in Suite Francaise. Oprah missed out last year for The Butler, but Selma could end up being a huge contender, and the whole "snubbed" or "overdue" factor could play in her favor. Reese Witherspoon is more likely to get attention for Wild, but Inherent Vice could end up being the bigger player. Robin Wright is the front runner to win the Emmy this year, but could also finally score an Oscar nod for the adaptation of John Le Carre's A Most Wanted Man". Birdman looks to be an interesting contender, and Emma Stone, who has several big roles this year, could benefit from its successes. Patricia Arquette is getting rave reviews for Boyhood. If Academy voters embrace the film, she and her co-stars could see some love. Octavia Spencer could join her co-star for Get On Up depending on the size of the role. Also in play are the likes of Felicity Jones, Sigourney Weaver, Kiera Knightley, Kelly Reilly, Krysten Ritter, Vera Farmiga, Lesley Manville, and countless others.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Oscar Narrative: July Nomination Predictions - Technical Categories

Best Cinematography
Bruno Delbonnel "Big Eyes"
Emmauel Lubezki "Birdman"
Jeff Cronenweth "Gone Girl"
Hoyte van Hoytema "Interstellar"
Roger Deakins "Unbroken"

Other Contenders - Dion Beebe "Into the Woods", Roman Vasnayov "Fury", Robert Elswit "Inherent Vice", Bradford Young "Selma", Bradford Young "A Most Violent Year", Greig Fraser "Foxcatcher", Seamus McGarvey "Godzilla", Dariusz Wolski "Exodus: Gods and Kings", Dick Pope "Mr. Turner", Stephen Goldblatt "Get on Up", Janusz Kaminski "The Judge", Sean Bobbitt "Kill the Messenger", Rodrigo Prieto "The Homesman", Eric Steelberg "Men, Women, and Children", Yves Belanger "Wild", Andrew Lesnie "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies"

Best Costume Design
Big Eyes
Exodus: Gods and Kings
Into the Woods
Mr. Turner

Other Contenders - Macbeth, Unbroken, Inherent Vice, A Most Violent Year, Get on Up, Theory of Everything, The Imitation Game, Grace of Monaco, Fury, Foxcatcher, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Noah, Selma, The Giver, The Homesman, Suite Francaise, Miss Julie, The Hundred-Foot Journey, Carol, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Best Film Editing
Gone Girl

Other Contenders - Birdman, Into the Woods, Fury,  A Most Violent Year, Inherent Vice, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Selma, Mr. Turner, Men, Women and Children, Theory of Everything, The Imitation Game, Big Eyes, Godzilla, Edge of Tomorrow, Get On Up, Exodus: Gods and Kings, Kill the Messenger, Suite Francaise, Map to the Stars, Macbeth.

Best Makeup and Hair Design
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Into the Woods

Other Contenders - Maleficent, Guardians of the Galaxy, Unbroken, Fury, Inherent Vice, Exodus: Gods and Kinds, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, Get On Up, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Theory of Everything, The Imitation Game, Selma, Noah, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Mr.  Turner, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Macbeth, The Homesman, Carol, Snowpiercer, Grace of Monaco

Best Original Score
Mychael Danna "Foxcatcher"
Steven Price "Fury"
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross "Gone Girl"
Hans Zimmer "Interstellar"
Alexandre Desplat "Unbroken"

Other Contenders - Thomas Newman "The Judge", Danny Elfman "Big Eyes", Antonio Sanchez "Birdman", Howard Shore "Rosewater", Howard Shore "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies", Thomas Newman "Get On Up", Alexandre Desplat "The Grand Budapest Hotel", John Powell "How to Train Your Dragon 2", A.R. Rahman "The Hundred-Foot Journey", Johann Johannson "Theory of Everything", James Newton Howard "Maleficent", Michael Giacchino "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes", Alexandre Desplat "Godzilla", Jonny Greenwood "Inherent Vice", Gustavo Santaolla "The Book of Life"

Best Original Song
TBA - This one always comes later, once we know some more info!

Best Production Design
Big Eyes
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Into the Woods

Other Contenders - Interstellar, Exodus: Gods and Kings, Mr. Turner, Fury, Unbroken, Get on Up, Foxcatcher, Suite Francaise, Noah, Selma, The Imitation Game, Inherent Vice, Theory of Everything, Godzilla, The Giver, The Homesman, The Hundred-Foot Journey, Macbeth,  A Most Violent Year

Best Sound Mixing
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Into the Woods
Transformers: Age of Extinction

Other Contenders - Fury, Godzilla, Edge of Tomorrow, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Guardians of the Galaxy, Get on Up, Annie, Captain American: Winter Solider, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Inherent Vice, A Most Violent Year, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Snowpiercer, The Lego Movie, Maleficent, The Homesman, The Giver, Gone Girl

Best Sound Editing
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Transformers: Age of Extinction

Other Contenders -  Godzilla, Edge of Tomorrow, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Guardians of the Galaxy, Get on Up, Annie, Captain American: Winter Solider, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Inherent Vice, A Most Violent Year, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Snowpiercer, The Lego Movie, Maleficent, The Homesman, The Giver, Gone Girl, Into the Woods

Best Visual Effects
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Transformers: Age of Extinction

Other Contenders - Noah, Guardians of the Galaxy, Godzilla, Unbroken, Fury, X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Captain America: Winter Soldier, The Giver, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, Pompeii, Into the Woods, Edge of Tomorrow, Exodus: Gods and Kings

2014 MTV VMA Award Nominations

Here is the full list of this year's VMA's!

Video of the Year
Beyoncé ft. Jay Z, "Drunk In Love"
Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX, "Fancy"
Miley Cyrus, “Wrecking Ball”
Pharrell Williams, “Happy”
Sia, “Chandelier”

Best Hip-Hop Video
Childish Gambino, “3005″
Drake ft. Majid Jordan, “Hold On (We’re Going Home)”
Eminem, “Berzerk”
Kanye West, “Black Skinhead”
Wiz Khalifa, “We Dem Boyz”

Best Male Video
Ed Sheeran ft. Pharrell Williams, “Sing”
Eminem ft. Rihanna, “The Monster”
John Legend, “All of Me”
Pharrell Williams, “Happy”
Sam Smith, “Stay With Me”

Best Female Video
Ariana Grande ft. Iggy Azalea, “Problem”
Beyoncé, “Partition”
Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX, “Fancy”
Katy Perry ft. Juicy J, “Dark Horse”
Lorde, “Royals”

Best Pop Video
Ariana Grande ft. Iggy Azalea, “Problem”
Avicii ft. Aloe Blacc, “Wake Me Up”
Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX, “Fancy”
Jason Derulo ft. 2 Chainz, “Talk Dirty”
Pharrell Williams, “Happy”

Best Rock Video
Arctic Monkeys, “Do I Wanna Know?”
Black Keys, “Fever”
Imagine Dragons, “Demons”
Linkin Park, “Until It’s Gone”
Lorde, “Royals”

Artist to Watch, Presented by Taco Bell
5 Seconds of Summer, “She Looks So Perfect”
Charli XCX, “Boom Clap”
Fifth Harmony, “Miss Movin’ On”
Sam Smith, “Stay With Me”
Schoolboy Q, “Man of the Year”

Best Collaboration
Ariana Grande ft. Iggy Azalea, “Problem”
Beyoncé ft. Jay Z, “Drunk In Love”
Chris Brown ft. Lil Wayne and Tyga, “Loyal”
Eminem ft. Rihanna, “The Monster”
Katy Perry ft. Juicy J, “Dark Horse”
Pitbull ft. Kesha, “Timber”

MTV Clubland Award
Calvin Harris, “Summer”
Disclosure, “Grab Her!”
DJ Snake & Lil Jon, “Turn Down For What”
Martin Garrix, “Animals”
Zedd ft. Hayley Williams, “Stay the Night”

Best Video With A Social Message
Angel Haze ft. Sia, “Battle Cry”
Avicii ft. Dan Tyminski, “Hey Brother”
Beyoncé, “Pretty Hurts”
David Guetta, “One Voice”
J. Cole, “Crooked Smile”
Kelly Rowland, “Dirty Laundry”

Best Cinematography
30 Seconds to Mars, “City of Angels”
Arcade Fire, “Afterlife”
Beyoncé, “Pretty Hurts”
Gesaffelstein, “Hate Or Glory”
Lana Del Rey, “West Coast”

Best Editing
Beyoncé, “Pretty Hurts”
Eminem, “Rap God”
Fitz and the Tantrums, “The Walker”
MGMT, “Your Life is a Lie”
Zedd ft. Hayley Williams, “Stay the Night”

Best Choreography
Beyoncé, “Partition”
Jason Derulo ft. 2 Chainz, “Talk Dirty”
Kiesza, “Hideaway”
Michael Jackson ft. Justin Timberlake, “Love Never Felt So Good”
Sia, “Chandelier”
Usher, “Good Kisser”

Best Direction
Beyoncé, “Pretty Hurts”
DJ Snake & Lil Jon, “Turn Down For What”
Eminem ft. Rihanna, “The Monster”
Miley Cyrus, “Wrecking Ball”
OK Go, “The Writing’s On The Wall”

Best Art Direction
Arcade Fire, “Reflektor”
DJ Snake & Lil Jon, “Turn Down For What”
Eminem, “Rap God”
Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX, “Fancy”
Tyler, the Creator, “Tamale”

Best Visual Effects
Disclosure, “Grab Her!”
DJ Snake & Lil Jon, “Turn Down For What”
Eminem, “Rap God”
Jack White, “Lazaretto”
OK Go, “The Writing’s On The Wall”

RIP Elaine Stritch

We all knew that she was not doing well, but it is nonetheless hard news to hear, that the great Elaine Stritch as passed away at the age of 89. She was a Tony-nominated legend of the stage, in a Broadway career that stretches 65 years. She also made a name for herself on television winning a total of three Emmy awards, and starring and guest starring in a variety of shows including 30 Rock, 3rd Rock from the Sun, Law & Order, and The Cosby Show, as well as her many stand up specials. She also had a pretty great film career, most recently, as the voice of the grandmother in ParaNorman. Elaine Stritch was a quick-witted, passionate, and brash actress, whose amazing talents shined in whatever medium she chose to use them in. My thoughts and prayers go out to her family and friends, she will be dearly missed.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Oscar Narrative: July Nomination Predictions - Best Adapted Screenplay

July Nomination Predictions
Gillian Flynn "Gone Girl"
Paul Thomas Anderson "Inherent Vice"
Jason Reitman and Erin Cressida Wilson "Men, Women and Children"
Richard Curtis "Trash"
Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, William Nicholson and Richard LaGravenese "Unbroken"

Other Contenders - Andrew Bovell "A Most Wanted Man", Nick Horny "Wild", Matt Charman and Saul Dibb "Suite Francaise" James Lapine "Into the Woods", William Monahan "The Gambler", Steven Knight "The Hundred-Foot Journey", Irena Brignull "The Boxtrolls", Jon Stewart "Rosewater", Kieran Fitzegerald, Tommy Lee Jones, and Wesley Oliver "The Homesman", Liv Ullmann "Miss Julie", Aline Brosh McKenna, Will Gluck, and Emma Thompson "Annie", Jacob Koskoff, Michael Lesslie, and Todd Louiso "Macbeth", Peter Landesman "Kill the Messenger"

Commentary - This race doesn't seem as deep as its original counterpart, but as we know there are always some borderline contenders that could switch between each category, kind of like Lee Daniel's The Butler did last year, when it went to original, claiming it wasn't "adapted" but instead "inspired". So right now, these are our assumptions of where these films will end up. Unbroken's buzz just rose ten-fold, with the sad passing of its real-life inspiration. But even if that wasn't the case, this script would still be giving us moviegoers chills. The Coen Bros teaming up with the likes of Oscar nominees Richard LaGravenese and William Nicholson. If this film is even half as good as it looks, then this script is an incredibly strong contender. Gone Girl was a well-received, and widely popular mystery novel (which, despite being a librarian, I still have not read), and I think the right person to capture the mood is David Fincher. But this is an interesting case, because Gillian Flynn is adapting her own novel. If she can come out of her trappings as the original writer, and coalesce around a Fincher vision, the results could be fantastic. Paul Thomas Anderson missed out on a nod for The Master, which is kind of surprising. But he returns this year to the Adapted Screenplay race, which earned him his last Oscar nomination for writing for There Will Be Blood, with the adaptation of Inherent Vice. The novel has relatively mixed reactions from readers, but I expect Anderson will be able to elevate the material to Oscar worthy. Jason Reitman kind of missed the mark with Labor Day this past year, but he returns again with Men, Women, and Children. If he can bring back the spark of Thank You For Smoking, Up in the Air, and Juno, he could have another Oscar favorite on his hands. The final slot is tricky. The last John Le Carre adaptation Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy earned a nomination here, so watch out for Andrew Bovell's turn this year. Nick Hornby is an Oscar nominee, and Cheryl Strayed's Wild is certainly juicy material, but when you focus around only character, it can be tricky. Into the Wood and Annie are getting big screen adaptations this year, but musicals don't usually fair well in screenplay categories. Oscar winner William Monahan returns with The Gambler, but it might not end up being limited released before the deadline. Liv Ullmann is an acting legend, and this time she tries her hand at writing with the screenplay for Miss Julie. Jon Stewart could make a mark with Rosewater, Steven Knight returns with the Lasse Hallstrom-helmed The Hundred-Foot Journey", and Suite Francaise looks like pure Academy bait. But in the end, I am sticking with my guns that Stephen Daldry's Trash will be a hit with voters, and earn a nod for Richard Curtis, an Oscar nominee. I underestimated him so many times before, this time around I will not be the fool again.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The 4th Annual Awards Psychic Television Award Winners

Best Drama Series
Winner - Breaking Bad 
Runners Up - The Good Wife and Masters of Sex 
Commentary - How could I not? Breaking Bad will go down as one of the greatest television dramas of all time, ranked alongside masterpieces such as NYPD Blue, Hill Street Blues, The Wire, The West Wing, and The Sopranos. The last several episodes of the series, especially the already infamous Ozymandias, were pure brilliance, although I would expect nothing less from a show that has always been brilliant. There will be a hole in our televisions from the absence of Breaking Bad, and particularly after this Emmy season ends, I think we will finally feel it. It really is over, and yet I am still playing those final moments over and over again in my mind. So from your fans, thank you Breaking Bad for being the best drama series on television, we will miss you. 

Best Comedy Series
Winner - Veep
Runners Up - Parks and Recreation and Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Commentary - Most people agree that this was not Veep's best season. I like to think of it as a transition season, and after watching the final two episodes, I take off my hat and nod with respect to Armando Innanuci and his team of writers and producers. I see what they were doing, and where they were going. They needed this strange transition season to give their story the jolt it needed, and I think it set it up for what will be another cringe-worthy (and I really do mean that in a good way), hilarious fourth and probably fifth season. Of course even in its transition periods, Veep is still one of the best comedies on television, with a lot of credit going to the cast, who continue to have a chemistry like no other, and are always causing my stomach to hurt with laughter. Besides Parks & Recreation, Veep is the best comedy on television. It was time I recognized that. 

Best TV Movie
Winner - The Normal Heart
Runner Up - The Trip to Bountiful
Commentary - Really, there were only two contenders, and really at the end of the day there was only one. The Trip to Bountiful was a success because of its cast, particularly the magnificent Cicely Tyson. But no other film made for television this year even really got close to The Normal Heart. Sure it is a film that has its flaws, it is a Ryan Murphy production, but it is brimming with so much passion, so much emotion, so much deserved anger, and is anchored by an incredible cast, led by jaw-dropping performances by Matt Bomer, Mark Ruffalo, Jim Parsons, and Joe Mantello. When Ryan Murphy is passionate about something, it usually succeeds. And it is clear that Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart, was a story that Murphy, deservedly so, loved. The passion he has for his subject matter is so evident in every scene, and it is what makes The Normal Heart an exemplary work of long form television. 

Best Miniseries
Winner - Fargo
Runners Up - American Horror Story: Coven and Sherlock
Commentary - Fargo has had a whole lot of luck this year, particularly when True Detective decided to submit as a Drama Series, and Sherlock decided to submit its last episode as a film (sorry I still put it in miniseries). While American Horror Story had a another great season with Coven (although not quite as good as Asylum), it was clear that a path to victory had been cleared and Fargo was the victor. And damn if it didn't deserve it. Trying to tackle anything the Coen Bros have done is risky, especially with a film so iconic as Fargo. But the creators of FX's instant classic understood that they needed to tread lightly, while honoring and respecting the original work, and the results were fantastic. Fargo was brilliantly funny, oddly dramatic and philosophical, with moments of tortured violence that jarred the viewers. Its cast was impeccable, the standouts being Billy Bob Thornton, Colin Hanks, and my personal favorite Allison Tolman, who channeled her inner Frances McDormand, and created and instantly classic television character (the way McDormand did for film). Fargo has set itself up as a potential anthology series, I can't wait to see the next chapter. 

Best Actor in a Drama Series
Winner - (TIE) Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson "True Detective"
Runner Up - Bryan Cranston "Breaking Bad"
Commentary - Bryan Cranston has already won an Awards Psychic Television Award, and while many readers will think I am crazy for not repeating the honor, I have a very good reason. True Detective was a masterclass television program, and much of its success is owed to the dynamic duo at the center of its absorbing mystery. Matthew McConaughey will most likely win an Emmy for his role here, but his success with his character would not have been possible without his foil, the always fantastic, and always underrated Woody Harrelson. They were truly an acting team, and to reward one, and not the other would be a grave mistake. I am looking forward to the second season of this anthology series, but I feel bad for whomever has to fill the shoes of these two fine actors, because they have set the bar so damn high. 

Best Actress in a Drama Series
Winner - Lizzy Caplan "Masters of Sex"
Runners Up - Julianna Margulies "The Good Wife" and Robin Wright "House of Cards"
Commentary - This was a tough one, because Robin Wright and Julianna Margulies had such good seasons on their respective shows. But the new hit show this past year was Masters of Sex, an incredible exercise in science, history, subtlety (yes despite all the sex scenes), and acting prowess. At its center was the fantastic Lizzy Caplan. She showed incredible restraint, yet at the right moments exploded with emotional, and it is her story, actually all the women's stories, Caitlin Fitzgerald and Allison Janney included, that is the most compelling, the heart and soul of the show. She will most likely not win at the Emmys due to subtlety, but at least I can do my part to make sure she does not walk away unrecognized for this first fantastic season.

Best Actor in a Comedy Series
Winner - Adam Scott "Parks and Recreation"
Runners Up - Louis C.K. "Louie" and Thomas Middleditch "Silicon Valley"
Commentary - It is kind of funny how things changed. When Adam Scott first came onto the scene at Parks, he was the asshole trying to shut down the town of Pawnee. Over the years though he has grown into an invaluable part of one of the best ensembles on television, and despite the lack of real competition the last couple of years, Television Academy voters continue to ignore that fact. It occurred to me as I was watching the season finale of Parks for the tenth time, that it is Scott's relationship with Poehler's beloved Leslie Knope that is the center of the show. And while Poehler has received (deservedly so), most of the praise, it is about damn time that somebody recognize Scott, and his role in this successful and wonderfully funny show. 

Best Actress in a Comedy Series
Winner - (TIE) Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair "Playing House"
Runners Up - Julia Louis-Dreyfus "Veep" and Amy Poehler "Parks and Recreation"
Commentary - I literally heard about Playing House for the first time the night before it was set to premiere. It seemed funny enough, and as most of the main comedies were ending or had already ended their seasons, so I was looking for something to fill the void. I am so glad that I did, because Playing House was a riotous, and heart-warming series that deserves a renewal (listen USA!!), or several for that matter. The reason the show works is because of its leading ladies, Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair. These two have worked on many projects before, and are clearly great friends, because their chemistry is so strong, and so illuminating. I think this is a great gem of a series that I hope people will come around to and start to watch. It deserves the viewers' time. If for no other reason, go back and check out the first season for Parham and St. Clair, two brilliantly funny women, who radiate energy, warmth, and laughter on the small screen.

Best Actor in a TV Movie/Miniseries
Winner - Billy Bob Thornton "Fargo"
Runners Up - Martin Freeman "Fargo" and Mark Ruffalo "The Normal Heart"
Commentary - Mark Ruffalo had an incredibly emotional role in The Normal Heart, and Martin Freeman proved that he has incredible range as actor. But Billy Bob Thornton as the seedy, quietly, sly villain was mesmerizing, and kept my eyes glued to the screen and my pulse pounding. He could win the Emmy next month, but most likely will lose to Ruffalo's theatrics. Let's face it, he was probably just a bit subdued for the panel of voters. But despite this subtlety, in my opinion he blows the competition away. 

Best Actress in a TV Movie/Miniseries
Winner - Cicely Tyson "The Trip to Bountiful"
Runners Up - Sarah Paulson and Jessica Lange "American Horror Story: Coven"
Commentary - The American Horror Story gals had a great season throwing barbs at one another, but neither had their best season this year, and one particular contender was just plain awesome. Cicely Tyson won a Tony for her role in The Trip to Bountiful, and she deserves to have another Emmy under her belt for the same role. She was the reason to watch The Trip to Bountiful, her magnetism and power of her performance illuminated the screen. This role also won Geraldine Page an Oscar, proving that it is a memorable and emotional character, and I think it completes the triple crown, at least in my heart.  

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Winner - Josh Charles "The Good Wife"
Runners Up - Aaron Paul "Breaking Bad" and Peter Dinklage "Game of Thrones"
Commentary - The Good Wife had an incredible season, and one of the cornerstones of its success was the arch of Josh Charles. He has always been great on the series, but this year he was allowed to explode with passion and anger, and it finally brought his character truly to life. A lot of credit goes to the writers for crafting this remarkable series of events. But it was Charles that brought it to life, and the results were fantastic. 

Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Winner - Sandra Oh "Grey's Anatomy"
Runners Up - Anna Gunn "Breaking Bad" and Melissa McBride "The Walking Dead"
Commentary - I know, I know. The Anna Gunn and Melissa McBride fans will have my head, but I am not ashamed one bit at my choice here. After the mid-seasons of doom of Grey's Anatomy, there was the hospital shooting, and renewed energy on the show. Many may not believe this, but trust me, the last couple of seasons were pretty damn fantastic. I am not sure though how Grey's will turn out though after this year without the dynamic of Christina and Meredith. Sandra Oh is one of the best and most underrated actresses working today, and this season, she got a fantastic farewell, her character coming full circle. It was amazing to watch, and also quite painful, because there will be a vast hole in next year's television lineup left from the gigantic absence of Christina Yang and the fantastic Sandra Oh.

Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Winner - Jesse Tyler Ferguson "Modern Family"
Runners Up - Joe La Truglio "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" and Tony Hale "Veep"
Commentary -  Every year, I am amazed at how Jesse Tyler Ferguson seems to be the one disposable Modern Family guy. He may not have the flashiest role, but he has always been such an important part of the ensemble dynamic. This year, he finally got the time to shine with the preparations for Mitch and Cam's wedding. He got to be bolder, yet still tightly wound, and we got to see much more of Ferguson's chemistry and dynamic with Stonestreet, one I wish was more fulfilled over the course of the show. I know most of you are tired of seeing Modern Family win things, and I get it. But a great performance can come from anywhere, and while the show has reaped a lot of love, Ferguson has not, and it is about time that he does. 

Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Winner - Kate McKinnon "Saturday Night Live"
Runners Up - Allison Janney "Mom" and Chelsea Peretti "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"
Commentary - This race was hard because Allison Janney is jaw-dropping funny, and Chelsea Peretti was absolutely ridiculous. But when I said that one of my favorite Emmy nominations this year was Kate McKinnon I was not kidding. Saturday Night Live had a rough season, but one of the constant bright spots was McKinnon. She, along with some of the hosts, was the reason I really kept watching. She was always pitch perfect with her sketches, and reminded me of some of SNL greats, particularly matching many of the great female comediennes that graced the New York set over the last several decades. She probably won't win the Emmy, most likely because of the fact that there is not enough material in any given episode, a lot like Poehler and Wiig before her, but I'm so happy the voters saw her work as worthy. 

Best Supporting Actor in a TV Movie/Mini
Winner  - Matt Bomer "The Normal Heart"
Runners Up - Colin Hanks "Fargo"
Commentary - Colin Hanks with Allison Tolman was one of the best dynamics of Fargo. But I don't know how any of us can watch The Normal Heart and not be completely amazed by Matt Bomer. Ruffalo has a lot of emotion. But Bomer's performance was simply jaw-dropping. He lit up the screen, and proved that he is truly a versatile and talented actor. I think that an Emmy will soon be sitting on his mantle.

Best Supporting Actress in a TV Movie/Miniseries
Winner - Allison Tolman "Fargo"
Runners Up - Kathy Bates "American Horror Story: Coven"
Commentary - There are always a few nominations I am looking most forward to every year at the Emmys, and this year, that nod was Allison Tolman. I don't know if she will win up against the likes of Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, Ellen Burstyn, or Julia Roberts, but in my opinion, while the others are titans of acting, none of them quite had the emotional impact of Allison Tolman, and she managed to do it with a subtlety, nuance, and a lot of magnetism. That is an incredible feat for an actress that up until a few months ago, nobody really knew much about. I think that Fargo is just the start of what I hope will be a long and fruitful career, because if this particular series is any indication, Tolman is one to watch for.  

Best Guest Actor in a Drama Series
Winner - Joe Morton "Scandal"
Runners Up - Beau Bridges "Masters of Sex"
Commentary - Beau Bridges gets Emmy nominations left and right, but this year he actually really deserved it for his role on Masters of Sex. But damn, was I happy when Joe Morton got in for Scandal. He was such an important part of the fireworks this season on Scandal. Morton is a veteran actor with dozens of excellent roles under his belt. I am so happy that Shonda Rhimes finally gave him a real star-making turn on one of the most entertaining shows on television. He has some stiff competition going into next month's Emmys, but he could be a dark horse contender with some really excellent material to back him up.  

Best Guest Actress in a Drama Series
Winner - Allison Janney "Masters of Sex"
Runners Up - Carrie Preston "The Good Wife"
Commentary - This is kind of a lumped together win for both Mom and for her mesmerizing role on the first season of Masters of Sex. Her struggles sexually, and emotionally were some of the most compelling of the series so far, which is saying something, because there was not a dull character among the group. The role itself was juicy, but Janney truly brought it to life. I have said it many times before, but I truly think Allison Janney is one of the finest working American actors. Her West Wing character C.J. Cregg was one of the greatest female characters in television history, her scene-stealing roles on the American independent film circuit, and now she has two fantastic roles that are once again capturing the hearts and minds of television viewers. 

Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series
Winner - James Earl Jones "The Big Bang Theory"
Runners Up - Bob Newhart "The Big Bang Theory"
Commentary - Okay, so I'm sure there are some cool choices here I am missing, and I honestly could care less. When I think of the guest star that made me laugh the most this season, it was easily James Earl Jones. Playing a wild version of himself, he was absolutely hilarious. Throw in the cameo from Carrie Fisher, and this episode, mostly because of the talents of the great James Earl Jones, had me rolling in the floor with laughter. 

Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series
Winner - (TIE) Romy Rosemont "Glee" and Sarah Baker "Louie"
Runners Up - June Squibb "Glee" and Uzo Aduba "Orange is the New Black"
Commentary - This has been a great year for this category, and so I couldn't just pick one. Sarah Baker is someone I immediately recognized when I saw her, but I didn't know her name. Now I do, because her monologue at the end of her episode of Louie was one of the most brilliant scenes on television this year. Sure Louis C.K. deserves a lot of credit for the writing, but Baker truly made it her own, and yes, the world finally knows her name. But I couldn't leave this category without honoring Romy Rosemont. Glee's The Quarterback episode was chocked full of great moments celebrating and mourning the loss of a talent that left us too soon, Cory Monteith. Jane Lynch's scene was powerful, and Mike O'Malley was excellent as always, but it was Rosemont, as the grieving mother, that truly touched me. I know this is a comedy category, and there was nothing funny about her work this season, but it certainly was worthy.

Best Animated Program
Winner - Bob's Burgers
Runners Up - Archer
Commentary - Archer had another great season, and was close to becoming the only series to win three years in a row. But I think that besides Archer, the best animated series on television right now is Bob's Burgers. It is wickedly funny, feels comfortable and original at the same time, and has a wacky cast of characters that are lovable and endearing. Bob's Burgers is a winner in my heart and I do hope that Emmy voters agree this year. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Oscar Narrative: July Nomination Predictions - Best Original Screenplay

July Nomination Predictions
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Nicholas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, and Armando Bo "Birdman"
Richard Linklater "Boyhood"
E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman "Foxcatcher"
Mike Leigh "Mr. Turner"
JC Chandor "A Most Violent Year"

Other Contenders - Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan "Interstellar", David Ayer "Fury", Scott Alexander and Larry Karazewski "Big Eyes", Ava DuVernay and Paul Webb "Selma", Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness "The Grand Budapest Hotel", Cameron Crowe "Untitled Cameron Crowe Project", Woody Allen "Magic in the Moonlight", Damien Chazelle "Whiplash", Anthony McCarten "Theory of Everything", Graham Moore "The Imitation Game", Thomas McCarthy and Paul Sado "The Cobbler", Ned Benson "The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby", Bruce Wagner "Map to the Stars", Justin Simien "Dear White People", Bill Dubuque and Nick Schenk "The Judge", Ira Sachs and Mauricio Zacharias "Love is Strange", Steven Baigelman, Jez Butterworth, and John-Henry Butterworth "Get On Up!", Mark Heyman and Craig Johnson "The Skeleton Twins", John Carney "Begin Again"

Commentary - If even half of the contenders on this list are good, this will still be an incredibly tight race. Two major contenders have already emerged. Foxcatcher came out of Cannes with a lot of heat on it, and the last two Miller projects have gotten into Best Picture, and gotten a screenplay nod from the writers. Boyhood, last year's nominee Richard Linklater's twelve-year project, might just be too ambitious for many of the categories, but the writers have always embraced Linklater, and I think they will respect his work. But most of the other predictions are really going out on a limb. The first looks at Birdman are truly exciting, and Inarritu's films have always had a following within the Academy. This could be his most popular work to date. Back in 2010, we all thought Mike Leigh's Another Year, despite its strong critical showing, was going to walk away from Oscar Nomination morning with a fat goose egg. But surprisingly, it was the writers that came to bat for, as they usually do (and usually the directors as well). This branch respects what Leigh does, and Mr. Turner debuted at Cannes to great reviews. Don't be surprised if Leigh once again survives the onslaught of later fall contenders to earn another Oscar nomination. Finally, I think that JC Chandor will return to the race. The Academy failed to embrace All is Lost, and since there was no dialogue, I was not surprised that it failed to make a mark with the writers (although The Artist was nominated so it may have just not been their cup of tea). But Chandor surprised a lot of people with a screenplay nod for Margin Call, and A Most Violent Year looks fantastic. If it holds together well, then Chandor could rebound from last year's miss. Beyond these five though there are a tremendous amount of contenders. I was so close to putting Interstellar in, as Inception earned a slot a few years back. But for genre films to breakthrough in these categories, they have to really land well (remind ourselves that recent Academy genre favorites Avatar and Gravity failed to make it into this race). If Interstellar is as good as it looks, then I might have to make some room for it. David Ayer has a lot to work with in the World War II epic Fury, and Ava DuVernay and Paul Webb are tackling the Civil Rights era in Selma. Historical projects do well with the Academy, so depending on their reception, they too could see some love. Wes Anderson was able to buy his time in 2012 to score a nod for Moonrise Kingdom, and he is hoping to do the same with The Grand Budapest Hotel. Previous winners Woody Allen and Cameron Crowe either seem to hit it out of the park or flop, but if Magic in the Moonlight and the Unititled project are Midnight in Paris or Almost Famous, then they should not be discounted. Big Eyes has some mixed buzz right now, and of course Burton's recent track record is worrisome. But if this is a return to form for Burton, then the script will be in play. Also look out for the scripts of The Imitation Game, Theory of Everything, The Cobbler, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, Whiplash, Dear White People, Get on Up, and The Judge.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Oscar Narrative: July Nomination Predictions - Best Animated Feature

July Nomination Predictions
Big Hero 6
The Boxtrolls
How to Train Your Dragon 2
The Lego Movie
Song of the Sea

Other Contenders - The Tale of Princess Kaguya, The Book of Life, Rio 2, Pinocchio, The Penguins of Madagascar, Mr. Peabody and Sherman, The Pirate Fairy, The Nut Job, El Americano: The Movie, Canine Team, Postman Pat: The Movie, The 7th Dwarf, The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart, The Canterville Ghost

Commentary - As always, the Animated Feature race is made exciting by the inclusion of foreign contenders, usually through GKIDS, a fine distribution company that has provided an amazing plethora of high quality animation films that have also been big hits with the Academy's Animation branch. This year, the two that look the most promising are Song of the Sea (which I am currently predicting), and The Tale of Princess Kaguya (which is solidly in my sixth slot). As the year progresses, we will see which of the GKIDS films will make the most impact, but don't be surprised if more than one gets in. It has happened before, and if there are enough contenders for five slots, that is a distinct possibility. Luckily this race already has some heat as two excellent contenders, The Lego Movie and How to Train Your Dragon 2, have already emerged, and honestly, I will be shocked if they are not still in the conversation throughout the year, and both have a lot of potential to actually win. Disney hopes to return after its triumphant Frozen, with Big Hero 6, which has a lot of buzz surrounding it. The Boxtrolls, a major release from Focus looks promising as well. It has a great cast including Toni Collette, Elle Fanning, Simon Pegg, and Ben Kingsley. It has the team behind it to pull off a nomination, and depending on its reception, we could still be talking about it later on in the year. The Book of Life, Rio 2, Mr. Sherman and Peabody, and the Penguins of Madagascar are also not to be forgotten. Once again, almost all of these predictions hinge on how many nominees there are. If there are only three, the game changes tremendously.

Friday, July 11, 2014

First 2014 Emmy Winner Predictions

Best Drama Series - Breaking Bad
Best Comedy Series - Veep
Best Actor in a Drama Series - Matthew McConaughey "True Detective"
Best Actress in a Drama Series - Julianna Margulies "The Good Wife"
Best Actor in a Comedy Series - William H. Macy "Shameless"
Best Actress in a Comedy Series - Julia-Louis Dreyfus "Veep"
Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series - Aaron Paul "Breaking Bad"
Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series - Anna Gunn "Breaking Bad"
Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series - Fred Armisen "Portlandia"
Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series - Allison Janney "Mom"
Best Guest Actor in a Drama Series - Reg E. Cathey "House of Cards"
Best Guest Actress in a Drama Series - Allison Janney "Masters of Sex"
Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series - Jimmy Fallon "Saturday Night Live"
Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series - Uzo Aduba "Orange is the New Black"
Best TV Movie -The Normal Heart
Best Miniseries - Fargo
Best Actress in a TV Movie/Miniseries - Cicely Tyson "The Trip to Bountiful"
Best Actor in a TV Movie/Miniseries - Mark Ruffalo "The Normal Heart"
Best Supporting Actor in a TV Movie/Miniseries - Matt Bomer "The Normal Heart"
Best Supporting Actress in a TV Movie/Miniseries - Julia Roberts "The Normal Heart"
Best Reality-Competition Series - The Voice
Best Reality Host - Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn "Project Runway"
Best Variety Series - The Colbert Report
Best Directing in a Drama Series - Cary Fukunaga "True Detective - Who Goes There"
Best Writing in a Drama Series - Moira Walley-Beckett "Breaking Bad - Ozymandias"
Best Directing in a Comedy Series - Gail Mancuso "Modern Family - Las Vegas"
Best Writing in a Comedy Series - Liz Friedman and Jenji Kohan "Orange is the New Black - I Wasn't Ready (Pilot)"
Best Directing in a TV Movie/Miniseries - Ryan Murphy "The Normal Heart"
Best Writing in a TV Movie/Miniseries - Larry Kramer "The Normal Heart"

2014 Emmy Nominations: Full Analysis

So I got these up a day late, and I apologize, but it actually helped because I got more time to really absorb these nominees and look through all the lists and nominees. As always, there are some shockers, some huge snubs, and some really excellent picks by the Television Academy voters.

I am actually proud to say that I got all six Drama Series nominations right! Of course in such a tough race, it really is luck of the draw (or so it seems), because most likely a few voters going the other way could have completely changed the game. I would have loved to have seen The Good Wife get back in for its rejuvenated season, or Masters of Sex make it in for a stellar first round. But I knew better than to discount the power of Mad Men and Downton Abbey. Mad Men is the perennial favorite that will most likely end its run with a nomination for every season. And Downton is the show that a lot of these older voters cling to. They don't want to watch shows like Breaking Bad and House of Cards, when they can watch the elegant alternative. In Drama Actor, I made the mistake of underestimating Jeff Daniels. We see time and time again previous years' winners get snubbed the next, and with so many contenders, especially so many Emmy and Oscar recognized contenders, I didn't know if Daniels could continue to get in for a show that otherwise was largely ignored. But he is an actor's actor, and they clearly love is liberal-slanted (I love them too by the way) rants on The Newsroom. But I really do feel bad for guys like James Spader, Matthew Rhys, and Michael Sheen who were incredibly deserving, but fell victim to too much competition. Especially, in my opinion, Spader. I was one of those that cursed his name when he kept winning Emmys for The Practice and Boston Legal, but I love his character on The Blacklist, and I love that show, one of the best things on broadcast this year. It was just too populist for these voters, and in fact the show only earned a stunt nomination, a real disappointment for such an entertaining and well-developed program. Then there is actress, and yes for the Orphan Black fanatics, I know that it is a jaw-dropper how Tatiana Maslany was left off. But I actually didn't think it would happen. The show earned a total of zero nominations across the board, and despite its ratings boost, it is clear that the industry is just not watching Orphan Black. Or, and I'm sure this opinion will rile folks up, they are watching it, and just don't love it as much as viewers and critics, or can't get past its genre trappings. But Maslany was not the only snub, as perennial favorite Elisabeth Moss was finally left off the list (showing the age of Mad Men), last year's nominees Connie Britton and Vera Farmiga, and potential upsets like Keri Russell. But honestly, like most of the drama races this year, this was a tough category all around. I was kind of surprised to see Michelle Dockery get in again. Yes, I know that I predicted her, but I genuinely thought that of the major Downton stars (besides Bonneville, who was out the second True Detective switched to Drama) she was the most vulnerable. Her nomination is just proof though that voters still love Downton. But the one that really stood out for me was Lizzy Caplan. It was one of my favorite nominations of the morning, and while her slightly subdued performance means he most likely will not win up against the titans that are Robin Wright, Kerry Washington, and Julianna Margulies, it was nice to see her get a well-deserved nomination. The supporting actor race looked like a seven-way race. Surprisingly, despite the buzz for Breaking Bad, it was Dean Norris that missed the cut, although I kind of felt like Jim Carter was going to get in again. Not only had he surprised us all with nominations the last two years, but this year, he had some real material to back up another one. I was especially thrilled for Josh Charles, who ends his excellent run on The Good Wife with one final Emmy nomination. Most people believe (and rightfully so) that this is a battle between Aaron Paul and Peter Dinklage, but watch out for Charles, he has some explosive episodes to deal with. In the Supporting Actress race, I only missed Emilia Clarke for Lena Headey. I love both on Game of Thrones, but I was actually really happy, because it means that Emmy voters weren't just falling in line, but actually watching the shows. Headey had much more to do this season than Clarke, and voters responded. The one that I really wish had broke through was Bellamy Young. She knocked it out of the park this year on Scandal, and deserved to get some recognition for it. I also would have liked to have seen a goodbye nod to Sandra Oh, who had one hell of final season on Grey's Anatomy. In terms of winning, most folks are sticking with Anna Gunn, but the one to watch out for is Christine Baranski, who really could show some muscle here and take home another Emmy herself.

So when I sense that Girls was weak, I was on to something, but I did kind of feel like Brooklyn Nine-Nine, despite being a bit silly, would be the one to take the slot. But it turns out that despite the obvious nomination for Andre Braugher, that the Television Academy wasn't that big of a fan of the show. Instead they replaced one Millennial HBO show for another, Silicon Valley. It must have been a tight vote considering that it didn't manage any acting nominations, but Mike Judge wields a lot of influence, and the show dethrones Girls. I would have loved to have seen Parks and Recreation or The Mindy Project get in, but overall, this was a solid list of nominees. So now that the nominations have been revealed, the question still remains, can anything beat Modern Family? The answer is, yes! It still can win, but its nominations are starting to fall, missing Eric Stonestreet, Ed O'Neill, and Sofia Vergara, and it is clear that there is Modern Family fatigue. So there are two shows that are fighting for this top spot. Veep finally got a writing nomination, finally putting it in a position to win, plus four acting nods under its belt. And Orange is the New Black broke through with tons of key nominations, including a butt load of acting nods. I think that this year's race is between these two. The Actor race had one of the biggest shocks of the morning when Ricky Gervais was announced for Derek. Gervais surprised us all when he won the Emmy, and he continues to surprise us, and prove that Emmy voters love him. I was kind of mad that Don Cheadle and Matt Leblanc continued to get love, because the picks of William H. Macy and Gervais (along with the usual, but deserved Parsons and C.K.) were really brilliant and outside the box. A nod for Andy Samberg instead would have been refreshing. In the Best Actress race, I think the voters just played it a bit too safe. Yes, they got fresh blood in with Taylor Schilling for Orange is the New Black, but continuing to nod Melissa McCarthy and Edie Falco (both of whom are great, but have already earned their Emmys) over newer, fresher contenders like Anna Faris and Mindy Kaling was a bit disappointing. The supporting races really shook themselves up this year. In Supporting Actor, last year's nominees Ty Burrell, Tony Hale, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and Adam Driver all returned, but the other two Modern Family guys are left off. Andre Braugher wasn't a big surprise, but the inclusion of Fred Armisen was absolutely shocking, and brilliant. Armisen never managed to make it for SNL, and I never thought that Portlandia had enough support. But, despite missing out in Variety Series, Portlandia had a real strong showing, and Armisen could actually win this category, as he is basically a lead performance, and has the kind of episodes that win SNL Hosts Emmys all the time over in Guest. I would have loved to have seen Christopher Evan Welch, Nick Offerman, or some of the other Brooklyn Nine-Nine guys, but overall I thought this was a strong six. The Supporting Actress race was also full of surprises as well. No Sofia Vergara, no Merritt Wever, despite winning last year, and some welcomed nods for scene-stealing veterans Allison Janney and Kate Mulgrew. But the best nomination of the bunch was Kate McKinnon. Everyone agrees that SNL had a rough season this year. But week in and week out, Kate McKinnon was the best part, and she elevated every sketch she was in. This was probably my favorite nomination in the comedy categories. I will also say this. The Emmy voters clearly love The Big Bang Theory, and for years now, Penny has been the heart and soul of that show. I just don't know what Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting has to do get a nod from voters. For the record, I will dive into the Guest categories later with a different post, they are always such a fascinating group of nominees, they deserve a little more time to set in.

TV Movie/Miniseries
For years, Emmy voters ignored Treme in the Drama categories, and while it missed out on some deserving acting nods, I was so thrilled to see it finally get some recognition from voters. But lets me honest, in the miniseries race, this is a battle between Fargo and American Horror Story, both of whom overperformed, knocked it out of the park in terms of overall nominations, and will make for an interesting battle as we approach the big night. I hate to say it, because it seems so boring, but The Normal Heart has its category in the bag. The acting nominations had its share of snubs and surprises. Actually, the actor race went exactly as I predicted, but the actress race threw a curve ball with the inclusion of Kristen Wiig over the likes of Whoopi Goldberg and Rebecca Ferguson. Just further proof that Wiig is beloved by Emmy voters (so give her one already!!). In the end though, this will be a battle of the legends Jessica Lange and Cicely Tyson, and I personally think Tyson was the best of the bunch, and will take home the gold. Back to the actor race for a moment, most folks are leaning towards Billy Bob Thornton. But I know Emmy voters, and the loud and brash speeches, and the emotional weight of Mark Ruffalo in The Normal Heart, will most likely beat out the subdued and quiet vengeance of Thornton. I was surprised across the border at how badly Dancing on the Edge did, especially when John Goodman and Jacqueline Bissett were left off in the supporting races. Instead, in the Supporting Actor race, The Normal Heart guys swept four of the six slots, with presumed nominees Colin Hanks and Martin Freeman filling out the other two. I still think Bomer is the in lead, with the biggest of the story lines, and the most emotional impact of the bunch. Now we come of the mother of all categories this year, the Supporting Actress race. My personal favorite Allison Tolman got in, but unfortunately she looks like she is going to be drowned out by the divas of the night. First there are the American Horror Story ladies. Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett have scenery-chewing roles that are pure Emmy bait, as does Ellen Burstyn, who could win back to back Emmys in this category, this year for Flowers in the Attic. Frances Conroy was a filler nomination for a veteran Emmy favorite, but the one to really look out for is Julia Roberts. Her performance is probably the least impressive of the bunch, but she is Julia Roberts. The last time she appeared on television as a actor (and got an Emmy nod) was in 1999, fifteen years ago. Voters love to rubber stamp Oscar-winning movie stars, and this could easily play in her favorite up against some stiff competition. I would also like to point out that for the first time, American Horror Story got writing and directing nods, so those that think I am crazy for thinking it could actually beat Fargo, beware your underestimation.

I will not even get into he ridiculousness that there are now fifteen reality program slots and still only six for comedy and drama. In terms of the Competition Program, as well as Variety, the same twelve got in again. The voters in these categories have run out of imagination it seems. They did include one nomination that I was happy got in, and happy that I predicted correctly. Hollywood Game Night is a fun show, and Jane Lynch is a charming host. I was glad she broke through here over staler competition and got a well-earned Emmy nomination. Otherwise, these nods have a been there, done that, feel.

The winner predictions will start soon, and further discussions of the writing, directing, and guest categories should pop up within the next couple of days.