Wednesday, August 31, 2016

2016 Emmy Predictions: Best Writing and Directing in a Comedy Series

Best Directing in a Comedy Series
Will Win - Jill Soloway "Transparent - Man of the Land"

Could Win - Dale Stern "Veep - Mother", Aziz Ansari "Master of None - Parents"

Should Win - Dale Stern "Veep - Mother"

Commentary - Mother is close, it should be it's the best of bunch. But Parents is clearly a well-liked episode, and Jill Soloway won this last year. Transparent doesn't quite have the buzz it had last season, but it managed to, once again, rack up a lot of Emmy nominations. This a close race, but I think Transparent takes this one again.

Best Writing in a Comedy Series
Will Win - Alex Gregory and Peter Huyck "Veep - Mother"

Could Win - Aziz Ansari "Master of None - Parents" or Dan O'Keefe "Silicon Valley - Founder Friendly"

Should Win - Alex Gregory and Peter Huyck "Veep - Mother"

Commentary - A lot of folks think Catastrophe can pull off an upset, and it is not outside the realm of possibility. But I think that the three ahead of it, are the shows actually nominated for Best Comedy Series. Founder Friendly and Parents are great episodes, and either could win over the voters. But the best written, directed and acted comedy episode of the six is easily Veep's Mother. I think it wins.

2016 Venice Film Festival: La La Land Lands With Massive Oscar Potential

The Venice Film Festival kicked off, which to me is the real start of Oscar season. First, let me say this: Thank GOD! It has been a long summer, and I am glad that the Oscar race has returned to hopefully bring me sanity once again. Well, Oscar season is off to a bang with Damien Chazelle's latest, La La Land. Oscar voters loved Whiplash, and rightfully so, it was masterful. But, according to reviews, Chazelle has surpassed his first previous work. The variety of reviews that have been release so far have ranged from masterpiece to incredible, to Oscar front runner. Also mentioned heavily are the two main leads, with Stone taking the most praise. The Oscar season is young, and there are a lot of movies left to see. But so far, as the fall festivals kick into gear, La La Land has set a high bar for what is sure to be yet another fabulous Oscar season. To quote Frank Underwood: "welcome back".

Monday, August 29, 2016

2016 Emmy Predictions: Best Limited Series and Best Television Movie

Best Limited Series
Will Win - The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story

Could Win - Fargo

Should Win - The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story

Commentary - Fargo is strong, but in terms of nominations, buzz, and probable wins, no one gets close to The People v. O.J. Simpson. This is tough race, with The Night Manager, American Crime and Roots rounding out the category. But I think this is The People v. O.J. Simpson's to lose.

Best TV Movie
Will Win - All the Way

Could Win - Everyone but A Very Murray Christmas

Should Win - All the Way

Commentary - In a weak race, I think All the Way, with its cast, director, and HBO behind it, is going to take the gold. But Confirmation was well liked, they have shown love for Sherlock in the past, and Luther has gotten some other awards attention recently. 

2016 MTV VMA Award Winners

Beyoncé “Formation”

Beyoncé “Hold Up”

Calvin Harris ft. Rihanna "This Is What You Came For"

Fifth Harmony ft. Ty Dolla $ign "Work From Home"

Drake "Hotline Bling"

Beyoncé – “Formation”

Fifth Harmony featuring Fetty Wap "All In My Head"

twenty one pilots “Heathens”

Calvin Harris & Disciples “How Deep Is Your Love”

Beyoncé "Lemonade"


David Bowie “Blackstar” (Production Designer: Jan Houllevigue)

Beyoncé “Formation” (Choreographer: Chris Grant, JaQuel Knight, Dana Foglia)

Beyoncé “Formation” (Director: Melina Matsoukas)

Beyoncé “Formation” (Cinematographer: Malik Sayeed)

Beyoncé “Formation” (Editor: Jeff Selis)

Coldplay “Up&Up” (VFX Editor: Vania Heymann, Gloria FX)

Sunday, August 28, 2016

2016 Emmy Predictions: Best Actor in a TV Movie or Limited Series

Will Win - Courtney B. Vance "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story"

Could Win - Bryan Cranston "All the Way"

Should Win - Courtney B. Vance "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story"

Commentary - A two-race race for the ages is brewing here, and it really boils down to a few factors. I think Courtney B. Vance is going to win this race. In his long illustrious career on television and in film, he has never gotten an Emmy nomination. These voters love this miniseries, he is a powerhouse, easily the best of the bunch, and that does make a difference. But he is up against Emmy juggernaut Bryan Cranston, who has already won a Tony for this role as LBJ, and last year was an Oscar nominee. I think Vance wins, but it will be a close one to the finish.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

2016 Emmy Predictions: Best Actress in a TV Movie/Limited Series

Will Win - Sarah Paulson "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story"

Could Win - Kerry Washington "Confirmation", Kirsten Dunst "Fargo", or Lili Taylor "American Crime" 

Should Win - Sarah Paulson "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story" 

Commentary - Oh come on Emmy voters! PLEASE DON'T SCREW THIS UP AGAIN! Sarah Paulson has churned out incredible performance after incredible performance on American Horror Story for five season (she is nominated again this year in Supporting). Every year you manage to screw it up and not give her an Emmy, despite continually nominating her. This is your opportunity to make things right. Kerry Washington, Kirsten Dunst, and Lili Taylor are all fantastic in their roles this season, and any of them would be worthy winners, and all are possibilities. But this is Sarah Paulson's year. Her role as Marcia Clark is simply jaw-dropping, the series is clearly the most popular of the bunch, and most importantly: it is time. 

The Oscar Narrative: Pre-Festival Predictions - Best Picture

Pre-Festival Predictions
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
The Birth of a Nation
La-La Land
Manchester By the Sea

Other Contenders - Allied, The Light Between Oceans, Nocturnal Animals, Moonlight, 20th Century Women, American Pastoral, Lion, Florence Foster Jenkins, The Promise, Queen of Katwe, Rules Don't Apply, The Girl on the Train, HHhH, Miss Sloane, Snowden, The Lobster, Deadpool, Hidden Figures, Zootopia, Moana, Kubo and the Two Strings, Trolls, Finding Dory, Collateral Beauty, War Machine, Deepwater Horizon, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, The BFG, LBJ, American Honey, The Fits, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, Captain America: Civil War, Wild Oats, Hell or High Water, Pete's Dragon

Commentary - Can Ang Lee finally win the top prize? Two Best Director prizes, but no Best Pictures is an unusual track record. His newest, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, looks great, as does Scorsese's and Eastwood's Silence and Sully. The Birth of a Nation is a couple of weeks from a full crash and burn, but if this scandal can be overcome, I think Oscar voters will appreciate the film, if not the filmmaker. Two sci-fi entries have potential, and after several made the cut last year, you can see the Academy appreciating genre films more and more. Arrival and Passengers have the directors and the cast to grab Oscar attention. Denzel Washington is bringing his Tony-winning adaptation of Fences to the big screen, once again opposite Viola Davis. Damien Chazelle's Whiplash was beloved by Oscar voters, and this time he brings us a musical with Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. Finally, two indie favorites, Manchester By the Sea and Loving, are already known entities with rave reviews out of Sundance and Cannes respectively. Beyond these ten, there is Robert Zemecki's latest Allied with Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard, the adaptation of The Light Between Oceans, Frear's Florence Foster Jenkins, Queen of Katwe, and Warren Beatty's latest Rules Don't Apply. There are a slew of big casts leading Oscar potentials including Moonlight, Lion, American Pastoral, 20th Century Women, War Machine, HHhH, Nocturnal Animals, and Collateral Beauty. What about Stone's Snowden, The Lobster, Miss Sloane, and the highly anticipated adaptation of The Girl on the Train? There is the historical Hidden Figures, LBJ, Cannes hit American Honey, surprise summer hit Hell or High Water, and Weinstein's Wild Oats. Then there are the big blockbuster, who keep hoping that an expanded Best Picture race, and changing demographics will up their Oscar chances: Deadpool, Civil War, Pete's Dragon, The BFG, Rogue One, Miss Peregrine's, Kubo and the Two Strings, Moana, Trolls, Finding Dory, and Zootopia.

2016 Emmy Predictions: Best Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress in a TV Movie or Limited Series

Best Supporting Actor in a TV Movie/Limited Series
Will Win - Sterling K. Brown "The People Vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story"

Could Win - Hugh Laurie "The Night Manager" or John Travolta "The People Vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story"

Should Win - Sterling K. Brown "The People Vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story"

Commentary - Will the Emmy voters pull another Bill Murray? Here's what I mean. Bill Murray won for a so-so role in Olive Kitteridge (the best miniseries of last year, an outstanding piece of work). I mean he was fine, but he had a small role tacked on the end, and wasn't nearly as impressive as his co-star Frances McDormand. He won because he was up against lesser-known entities like Finn Wittrock, Michael Kenneth Williams, and Richard Cabral, all much better performers. I am worried that a similar fate is awaiting John Travolta. Unlike Murray though, his performance in American Crime Story was not great at all, and despite his name recognition, was probably the weakest link in an otherwise stellar ensemble. Instead, I am hoping that voters loved the show so much, that they actually watched it, and recognize that it is Sterling K. Brown's performance Christopher Darden that was the much better performance and reward him the Emmy instead. There is a third option for Emmy voters, particularly if vote-splitting occurs. Six times Hugh Laurie was nominated for Best Actor in a Drama series for House, and six times he lost. These voters clearly like The Night Manager, he is way overdue for an Emmy award, and is fantastic in the series. Watch out for that dark horse.

Best Supporting Actress in a TV Movie/Limited Series
Will Win - Jean Smart "Fargo"

Could Win - Regina King "American Crime" or Kathy Bates "American Horror Story: Hotel"

Should Win - Jean Smart "Fargo"

Commentary - With no nominees from The People vs. O.J. Simpson, this race is intriguing. The last two winners, Kathy Bates and Regina King, are back in this race with more stellar work. But Fargo needs to win something, it is too well-liked by these voters, and Jean Smart is the best part of an incredible series. She is a three-time Emmy winner, gives a jaw-dropping performance, and I think she wins Emmy #4.

Friday, August 26, 2016

2016 Emmy Predictions: Best Directing and Writing in a TV Movie or Limited Series

Best Directing in a TV Movie or Limited Series
Will Win - Ryan Murphy "The People Vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story - From the Ashes of Tragedy"

Could Win - Jay Roach "All the Way" or John Singleton "The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story - The Race Card"

Should Win -  John Singleton "The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story - The Race Card"

Commentary - This is a hot three-way race (and I wouldn't discount The Night Manager either). I think that the juggernaut that is The People Vs. O.J. Simpson is in for quite a sweep. I personally preferred John Singleton's work, but I think that Murphy's is the bigger of the two, and I suspect the director's branch will reward him for also creating this mammoth. But, do not discount a vote split. Especially, when Emmy favorite is on the ballot. He has won this category before, and while All the Way wasn't quite the punch we expected, do not discount these repetitive Emmy voters.

Best Writing in a TV Movie or Limited Series
Will Win  - Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski "The People Vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story - From the Ashes of Tragedy"

Could Win - Joe Robert Cole "The People Vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story - The Race Card" or one of the Fargo episodes

Should Win - Bob DeLaurentis "Fargo - Loplop"

Commentary - That episode, From the Ashes of Tragedy is clearly beloved by these voters, and I think that it will sweep both of these categories. But don't discount the other episodes from O.J. Simpson, or the Fargo episodes, particularly Loplop, which was brilliant.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

2016 Emmy Predictions: Pre-Festival Predictions - Best Reality-Competition Series

Will Win - The Voice

Could Win - The Amazing Race

Should Win - Project Runway

Commentary - If RuPaul was nominated here, he would easily be my pick, but of the bunch, I really don't have much of an attachment. Of the bunch, it would be nice to see Project Runway to win one of these things. But alas, this is a two-way race between the last two winners of this race. The Voice might finally get a leg up on The Amazing Race, but never discount the latter. It was a juggernaut in this race for over a decade, and Emmy voters could easily repeat themselves. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

2016 Emmy Predictions: Best Reality Host

Will Win - Jane Lynch "Hollywood Game Night"

Could Win - Steve Harvey "Little Big Shots" or Ryan Seacrest "American Idol"

Should Win - RuPaul Charles "RuPaul's Drag Race"

Commentary - There are some new members in the group this year that could throw Jane Lynch off of her Emmy throne. I'm not predicting it, because if the Reality and Variety races have shown me anything over the last decade or so, is that consistency is what they do best. That being said, watch out for Steve Harvey, who is hilarious hosting Little Big Shots, and is a favorite on the Daytime side (I know different voters, but it doesn't hurt). Also, sentimentalism may help Ryan Seacrest, who never won for his many years on American Idol. On a personal note, the inclusion of RuPaul was a huge step for Emmy voters, a win would be even better.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

2016 Emmy Predictions: Best Variety Series - Sketch and Talk

Best Variety Series - Talk
Will Win - Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Could Win - The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon or The Late Late Show with James Corden

Should Win - Last Week Tonight with John Oliver or Real Time with Bill Maher

Commentary - With Jon Stewart and Colbert out, this category is going to see a shakeup after almost two decades of dominance. That being said, I think they are going to go with a similar show in Last Week Tonight. It is funny, irreverent, political, and fits right into their mold. However, they could really shake it up and go with a more traditional late night program, with either longtime nominee Jimmy Fallon, or newcomer James Corden.  

Best Variety Series - Sketch
Will Win - Inside Amy Schumer

Could Win- Saturday Night Live or Key and Peele

Should Win- Key and Peele

Commentary - The Emmy voters could give Key and Peele a win as they exit, or they could reward the legendary Saturday Night Live, which had a better season this year. But they like Amy Schumer, they love her show, and yet another strong outing means she will probably win two in a row.

The Oscar Narrative: Pre-Festival Predictions - Best Director

Pre-Festival Predictions
Damien Chazelle "La La Land"
Ang Lee "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk"
Martin Scorsese "Silence"
Morten Tyldum "Passengers"
Denzel Washington "Fences"

Other Contenders - Jeff Nichols "Loving", Nate Parker "The Birth of a Nation", Denis Villanueve "Arrival", Clint Eastwood "Sully", Warren Beatty "Rules Don't Apply", Kenneth Lonergan "Manchester By The Sea", Robert Zemeckis "Allied", Derek Cianfrance "The Light Between Oceans", John Lee Hancock "The Founder", Barry Jenkins "Moonlight", Tom Ford "Nocturnal Animals", David Frankel "Collateral Beauty", Stephen Frears "Florence Foster Jenkins", Oliver Stone "Snowden", Ewan McGregor "American Pastoral", Mike Mills "20th Century Women", Theodore Melfi "Hidden Figures", Yorgos Lanthimos "The Lobster", Tate Taylor "The Girl on the Train", Garth Davis "Lion", James Gray "The Lost City of Z", Cedric Jimenez "HHhH", David Michod "War Machine", Mel Gibson "Hacksaw Ridge", John Madden "Miss Sloane", Amma Asante "A United Kingdom", Peter Berg "Deepwater Horizon", Jeff Nichols "Midnight Special"

Commentary - Can Martin Scorsese win a second Oscar? A director who ranks up there with other multiple Oscar winners like Spielberg, Ford, Capra, Wyler, should have more than one Oscar on his mantel. But there is still competition this year. Ang Lee, another all-time great, challenges his personal best for Oscar number three, in a film that is my most anticipated of the year. Right behind these two legends is a legend in his own right. Of course I'm talking about Denzel Washington. Like other actor-directors Gibson, Beatty, Affleck, Redford, Eastwood, Denzel is hoping to make that jump to directing. The difference? He is already a two-time acting winner. Those other guys all won their Oscars in other races. If Fences is as good as we think it could be, then Washington is one to watch. I was kind of surprised when Chazelle missed the cut with Whiplash considering how much Oscar voters loved that film. He returns with an intriguing new musical starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. Finally, after The Imitation Game was such a success, look for Morten Tyldum's foray into sci-fi with Lawrence and Pratt to be a big contender. Right on the outside is Nate Parker, due to recent controversies, Jeff Nichols who has yet to make a splash with Oscar voters despite great projects, indie favorite Kenneth Lonergan, Denis Villanueve's Sicario followup, and a slew of legends like Warren Beatty, Clint Eastwood, Robert Zemeckis, Stephen Frears, Mel Gibson, Oliver Stone, and John Madden. I am also intrigued by Derek Cianfrance, Peter Berg, Tom Ford, John Lee Hancock, and Tate Taylor's latest projects given Academy notices in the past. Finally, a slew of potentials are looking for some Oscar love including Barry Jenkins, actor turned director Ewan McGregor, Yorgos Lanthimos, Mike Mills, Theodore Melfi, James Gray, Garth Davis, Cedric Jimenez, David Michod, Amma Asante, and David Frankel.

2016 Emmy Predictions: Best Unstructured and Structured Reality Program

Best Structured Reality Program
Will Win - Shark Tank

Could Win - Undercover Boss or Lip Sync Battle

Should Win - Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives

Commentary - I know people have mixed feelings about Guy Fieri, but I freaking love Triple DDD. It is a great show that highlights underground gems across the US. It has no chance of winning this award, but I thought it should be said. Shark Tank won this last year, and they usually go with a show for a while. But Undercover Boss has done well here before, and Lip Sync Battle is a cultural phenomenon, so it is not a done deal.

Best Unstructured Reality Program
Will Win - Deadliest Catch

Could Win- Born This Way, Project Greenlight, or Intervention

Should Win - United Shades of America

Commentary - This race only brings back two of the nominees from last year, of course the two that have historically done well in reality categories. The new projects nominated all are intriguing picks that could shakeup what has otherwise been a stagnant section of the Emmys. That being said, I am sticking with what I know and picking Deadliest Catch, a long time Emmy favorite whose popularity has yet to slow. That being said, watch out for Born This Way, the return of Project Greenlight (which used to be a favorite among these voters), and the previously mentioned Born This Way. For the record, I hope that United Shades of America gets a notice.

Friday, August 19, 2016

2016 Emmy Predictions: Best Variety Special and Best Special Class Program

Best Variety Special
Will Win - The Kennedy Center Honors

Could Win - Lemonade, Adele Live in New York City, or Amy Schumer: Live at The Apollo

Should Win - The Kennedy Center Honors

Commentary - This is an interesting this year. The Kennedy Center Honors always does well here, and this year, they actually deserve an award, for their most entertaining and emotionally effective celebration in years, capped off with a legendary Aretha Franklin performance. But there is some stiff competition. Amy Schumer has a great stand up special, and music's two biggest stars Adele and Beyonce have huge entries. I think the music vote cancels out, and the grandeur of the Kennedy Center beats the smaller comedy set of Schumer. But it's not over until the envelope opens.

Best Special Class Program
Will Win - The Tony Awards

Could Win - Grease Live!

Should Win - The Tony Awards

Commentary - I'm sorry, but if they were going to reward one of the live musicals this year, it should have been The Wiz Live, not Grease Live, and yet here we are, with it possibly stealing away an Emmy from the perennial favorite The Tony Awards. There is a reason though that the Tonys are a perennial favorite. That is because, of the big four, they are the most entertaining, the best balance of performance and awards, and always brighten up the dog days of summer television. I am sticking with the favorite here, knowing how Emmy voters operate. Unfortunately, Grease Live is closing in.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

2016 Emmy Predictions: Best Directing and Writing in a Variety Series

Best Directing in a Variety Series
Will Win - Don Roy King "Saturday Night Live - Tina Fey & Amy Poehler"

Should Win - Ryan McFaul "Inside Amy Schumer - Madonna/Whore"

Could Win - Ryan McFaul "Inside Amy Schumer - Madonna/Whore" or Paul Pennolino "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver - Episode 303"

Commentary - Duh. Don Roy King has won so many of these I've lost count, its the Amy and Tina episode that could win in several categories, and the directors love when these big sketch episodes are done well, and Don Roy King always delivers.

Best Writing in a Variety Series
Will Win - Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Should Win - Full Frontal with Samantha Bee

Could Win - Inside Amy Schumer or Full Frontal with Samantha Bee

Commentary - Please writing branch, do the right thing!!! Give Samantha Bee this Emmy and show up the rest of the variety voters that they were wrong to exclude her from the top category. Unfortunately, I don't think she will win. I'm banking on John Oliver here. This category has bounced back and forth between Colbert and Stewart for so long, that Oliver seems like the natural heir. But watch out for Amy Schumer.

The Oscar Narrative: Pre-Festival Predictions - Best Actor

Pre-Festival Predictions
Casey Affleck "Manchester By the Sea"
Joel Edgerton "Loving"
Ryan Gosling "La La Land"
Michael Keaton "The Founder"
Denzel Washington "Fences"

Other Contenders - Nate Parker "The Birth of a Nation", Chris Pratt "Passengers", Joe Alwyn "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk", Michael Fassbender "The Light Between Oceans", Brad Pitt "Allied", Tom Hanks "Sully", Andrew Garfield "Silence", Jake Gyllenhaal "Nocturnal Animals", Miles Teller "Bleed for This", Colin Farrell "The Lobster", Will Smith "Collateral Beauty", Don Cheadle "Miles Ahead", Ethan Hawke "Born to Be Blue", Joseph Gordon-Levitt "Snowden", Dev Patel "Lion", Trevante Rhodes "Moonlight", David Oyelowo "A United Kingdom", Demetrius Shipp Jr. "All Eyez On Me", Charlie Hunnam "The Lost City of Z", Chris Evans "Captain America: Civil War", Ryan Reynolds "Deadpool", Michael Shannon "Midnight Special", Parker Sawyers "Southside With You", Woody Harrelson "LBJ", Gael Garcia Bernal "Neruda", Mark Wahlberg "Deepwater Horizon"

Commentary - Nate Parker's recent headlines might have just sidelined the entire film. I am only holding him out for now, and seeing how it unfolds. That puts someone like Casey Affleck in this. He is a previous nominee, and Manchester By the Sea has a lot of buzz out of Sundance. Michael Keaton will hit his "overdue" moment this year, Denzel has already won a Tony for this role, and Ryan Gosling + Emma Stone + Damien Chazelle seems like a perfect Oscar formula. Finally, Joel Edgerton, along with his co-star Ruth Negga joined this race after Cannes, and I think he will hold on. Beyond those five, and Parker, there is Chris Pratt, who has steadily built his film profile, opposite Oscar magnet Jennifer Lawrence. Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Will Smith, and Don Cheadle all return to this race, look for their first wins (acting in the case of Pitt). Newcomer Joe Alwyn is an unknown for Ang Lee's latest, Andrew Garfield is still owed a nod for Social Network and stars in the new Scorsese film, Jake Gyllenhaal has several roles, Colin Farrell is the best performance from the first part of the year, Tom Hanks is playing Sully, and Miles Teller is a star on the rise. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Snowden, Dev Patel has Weinstein behind him, Parker Sawyers plays the President, Ethan Hawke plays a legend, Charlie Hunnam has a buzzed role, and finally don't forget some of the big guys like Ryan Reynolds and Chris Evans.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

2016 Emmy Predictions: Best Writing and Directing in a Variety Special

Best Writing in a Variety Special
Will Win - Amy Schumer "Amy Schumer: Live at the Apollo"

Could Win - Patton Oswalt "Patton Oswalt: Thanks for Clapping" or Triumph's Election Special 2016

Should Win - Tig Notaro "Tig Notaro: Boyish Girl Interrupted"

Commentary - I loved Amy Schumer's HBO special, and if she wins this award, it will be incredibly deserved. But I have a personal favorite this year, and that is Tig Notaro's HBO Special. Notaro's story is tragic and well-known. But the way she can channel that pain, and create this weird, off-beat, and hilarious stand up special shows how talented she is, and how creative she is in creating her act. Watch out for the popular Patton Oswalt, and with the election going on, never discount the Triumph special.

Best Directing in a Variety Special
Will Win - Thomas Kail and Alex Rudzinski "Grease: Live"

Could Win - Kahlil Joseph and Beyonce Knowles Carter "Lemonade" or Glenn Weiss "The Kennedy Center Honors"

Should Win - Glenn Weiss "The Kennedy Center Honors"

Commentary  - I get that Thomas Kail just won a Tony for Hamilton and that Grease Live was liked better by Emmy voters than it deserved, but really? I had just recently shown the 1978 original Grease film for a movie night at my library, and then made the horrible mistake of watching Grease: Live just a few nights later. It is no where near as fun or exuberant or even musically as great as the original. I mean no offense but poor Julianne Hough will never get close to Olivia Newton-John. That being said, clearly Emmy voters liked this, it was a directorial feat, and the leading director just help put one of the most successful Broadway musicals ever. I think he wins an Emmy as well. For the record, this year's Kennedy Center Honors, normally a stately affair, was a rousing good time, ending with that magnificent Aretha Franklin tribute to Carole King. Congrats to the legendary Glenn Weiss for pulling together a magnificent evening.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Oscar Narrative: Pre-Festival Predictions: Best Actress

Pre-Festival Predictions
Annette Bening "20th Century Women"
Viola Davis "Fences"
Jennifer Lawrence "Passengers"
Ruth Negga "Loving"
Emma Stone "La La Land"

Other Contenders - Amy Adams "Nocturnal Animals", Amy Adams "Arrival", Meryl Streep "Florence Foster Jenkins", Jessica Chastain "Miss Sloane", Taraji P. Henson "Hidden Figures", Alicia Vikander "The Light Between Oceans", Marion Cotillard "Allied", Emily Blunt "The Girl on the Train", Sally Field "Hello My Name is Doris", Susan Sarandon "The Meddler", Arielle Holmes "American Honey", Rosamund Pike "A United Kingdom", Rachel Weisz "Denial", Isabelle Huppert "Elle", Ellen DeGeneres "Finding Dory", Cate Blanchett "Weightless", Shirley MacLaine "Wild Oats", Madina Nalwanga "Queen of Katwe", Rebecca Hall "Christine", Michelle Williams "Certain Women", Rosamund Pike "HHhH", Felicity Jones "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story", Kate Winslet "The Dressmaker", Renee Zellweger "Bridget Jones's Baby", Hailee Steinfeld "The Edge of Seventeen", Lily Collins "Rules Don't Apply"

Commentary - Can Meryl Streep do it again? Usually Meryl is an easy voter for Academy members. She is always great, always better than her film, and usually, this race is not strong enough to push her out. I think she could easily get nominated for Florence Foster Jenkins, and deserve it. But, I still think that her co-star Hugh Grant outshone her on screen, and the competition this year, if everything goes according to plan, is much stiffer than her more recent nominations. For example, my top five don't include her. I have Viola Davis, who is owed an Oscar Meryl stole for her, and this time she is in a role that has already won her a Tony. I have Oscar sensation Jennifer Lawrence who will have plenty of screen time opposite Chris Pratt in Passengers, a film I think will do really well. I have Ruth Negga in a role that got raves out of Cannes in Loving. I have Annette Bening in a baity project, and she could the one that trips Viola up, because of the bunch she is the most overdue. Finally, Emma Stone crossed the threshold with Birdman, and La La Land looks fantastic. That leaves out Meryl, that also leaves out Amy Adams, because I can't decide which film will be the bigger player. If either lands well, she's in. I'm leaving out Jessica Chastain, in a powerful role, Taraji P. Henson in an Oscar bait film, last year's winner in Supporting Alicia Vikander, previous winners Marion Cotillard, Sally Field, Susan Sarandon, Shirley MacLaine, Kate Winslet, Renee Zellweger. I'm leaving out previous nominees like Felicity Jones, Rosamond Pike, Michelle Williams, Hailee Steinfeld, and one who should have a nomination right now Emily Blunt. Then there are the young starlets like Lily Collins, Arielle Holmes, and newcomer Madina Nalwanga. And then we come back to Meryl. Can she do it? As always, we'll have to wait and see...

The Oscar Narrative: Pre-Festival Predictions - Best Supporting Actor

Pre-Festival Predictions
Mahershala Ali "Moonlight"
Oscar Isaac "The Promise"
Steve Martin "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk"
Liam Neeson "Silence"
Michael Shannon "Loving"

Other Contenders - Aaron Eckhart "Sully", Hugh Grant "Florence Foster Jenkins", Adam Driver "Silence", Craig Robinson "Morris From America", David Oyelowo "Queen of Katwe", Jeff Bridges "Hell or High Water", Billy Crudup "20th Century Women", Michael Sheen "Passengers", Jeremy Renner "Arrival", Armie Hammer "The Birth of a Nation", John Goodman "10 Cloverfield Lane", Warren Beatty "Rules Don't Apply", Kyle Chandler "Manchester By the Sea", Edgar Ramirez "Gold", Michael Shannon "Nocturnal Animals", Ralph Fiennes "A Bigger Splash", Jack O'Connell "HHhH", Edward Norton "Collateral Beauty", Stephen Henderson "Fences", Mykelti Williamson "Fences", Nick Offerman "The Founder", Timothy Spall "Denial", Mark Strong "Miss Sloane", Alan Rickman "Eye in the Sky", Forest Whitaker "Arrival", Vin Diesel "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk", Chris Tucker "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk", Kurt Russell "Deepwater Horizon", Ben Kingsley "War Machine"

Commentary - What an interesting race that is brewing here. You have the Emmy nominee with what is apparently a standout role in the little film that is suddenly on a lot of folks radar, Moonlight. Of course I am talking about House of Cards' Mahershala Ali. There is the indie actor, Star Wars cast member, and overdue Oscar Issac in The Promise. There is Liam Neeson in a meaty role in the new Scorsese film, Michael Shannon hoping to get that nod he couldn't quite pull off for 99 Homes last year, and then of course the beloved veteran Steve Martin hoping to finally get his chance at competitive Oscar gold. And that's just the top five. Hugh Grant is getting rave reviews for his return to the screen in Florence Foster Jenkins, Aaron Eckhart is still waiting on a nod, as is David Oyelowo, and Jeff Bridges returns with the surprise critical hit Hell or High Water. Adam Driver hopes to move his indie chops into Oscar contention with Scorsese's latest, Craig Robinson is a Sundance favorite, Nick Offerman a comedic genius, Jeremy Renner opposite Amy Adams, Armie Hammer, Billy Crudp, Michael Sheen, Edgar Ramirez, and Edward Norton. There is that brilliant performance from John Goodman in 10 Cloverfield Lane, Ralph Fiennes work in A Bigger Splash, the Fences pair, the other Billy Lynn guys, Jack O'Connell,  Forest Whitaker, Kurt Russell, and the late great Alan Rickman.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Oscar Narrative: Pre-Festival Predictions - Best Supporting Actress

Pre-Festival Predictions
Greta Gerwig "20th Century Women"
Naomie Harris "Moonlight"
Aja Naomi King "The Birth of a Nation"
Kristen Stewart "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk"
Michelle Williams "Manchester By the Sea"

Other Contenders - Lupita Nyong'o "Queen of Katwe", Nicole Kidman "Lion", Rooney Mara "Lion", Rachel Weisz "The Light Between Oceans", Laura Dern "The Founder", Dakota Fanning "American Pastoral",  Elle Fanning "20th Century Women", Jennifer Jason Leigh "LBJ", Katey Segal "Bleed for This", Rosemarie DeWitt "La La Land", Octavia Spencer "Hidden Figures", Julianne Moore "Maggie's Plan", Amy Adams "Nocturnal Animals", Isla Fisher "Nocturnal Animals", Laura Linney "Noctural Animals", Laura Linney "Sully", Kate Winslet "Collateral Beauty", Keira Knightley "Collateral Beauty", Helen Mirren "Collateral Beauty", Mia Wasikowska "HHhH", Rebecca Ferguson "The Girl on the Train", Gugu Mbatha-Raw "Miss Sloane", Gugu Mbatha-Raw "The Whole Truth", Meg Tilley "War Machine", Lizzy Caplan "Allied", Carla Gugino "The Space Between Us", Bryce Dallas Howard "Gold", Melissa Leo "Snowden" Shailene Woodley "Snowden", Olivia Colman "The Lobster", Helen Mirren "Eye in the Sky"

Commentary - I think the two that could duke it out for the top prize are Michelle Williams and Kristen Stewart. Williams is already a known quantity, and is already getting rave reviews for yet another Oscar-worthy performance. She also has the overdue factor going for her, with several nominations under her belt. But Kristen Stewart is coming in fast. After years of playing the mopey teenager, Stewart has finally blossomed into a great actress, last year's Clouds of Sils Maria earning a lot of praise. This year, she is in Ang Lee's latest, and she, and film look fantastic. Then, right now at least, I am banking on three first timers to crash the party. 20th Century Women looks great and both Elle Fanning and Greta Gerwig could get in, but of the two I am going for Gerwig. She has been flirting with awards success for a while now, and this might finally be the project that gets notices from Academy voters. Moonlight is an interesting project with a lot of intrigue, and Naomie Harris has a lot of roles under her belt. Finally, The Birth of a Nation could be the Sundance project that really explodes with Oscar nominations, and if they really like it, look out for newcomer Aja Naomi King, who is getting a lot of buzz. I've pulled Lupita Nyong'o out for two reasons. One she is straddling the lead/supporting line, two, Mira Nair has had a lot of big projects flop in recent years, so I am waiting on reviews. Rachel Weisz could return with The Light Between Oceans, which is not getting as much buzz as it should. Laura Dern plays opposite Michael Keaton in The Founder, Dakota Fanning opposite Ewan McGregor in American Pastoral, and Katey Segal has a meaty role apparently in Bleed for this. Recent winners and nominees hoping to get back in include Octavia Spencer, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Julianne Moore, Melissa Leo, and Helen Mirren. There are groups of great actors in several films, and they really need to be seen to decide which, if any, will rise to the top. Of course I'm talking about Collateral Beauty, Noctural Animals, and Lion. Finally, watch out for Olivia Colman, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Rebecca Ferguson, Lizzy Caplan, Carla Gugino, Bryce Dallas Howard, Meg Tilly, and Mia Wasikowska in a competitive race so far.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Oscar Narrative: Pre-Festival Predictions: Best Animated Feature

Pre-Festival Predictions
April and the Extraordinary World
Finding Dory
The Red Turtle

Other Contenders - Kubo and the Two Strings, Trolls, Storks, Sausage Party, The Secret Life of Pets, Sing, Miss Hokusai, Phantom Boy, The Little Prince, The Girl Without Hands, The Angry Birds Movie, The Jungle Book, Kung Fu Panda 3

Commentary - This category has become more and more unpredictable, just as The Good Dinosaur and The Peanuts Movie. Finding Dory did well, but it could be one of those Pixar misses. I feel like Zootopia is strong enough to hold on, and Disney's Moana looks intriguing. I am putting two more eclectic films: The Red Turtle and April and the Extraordinary World, in, as these types of film seem to hit it big with the Animation Branch. That leaves out though some big contenders from the Fall and Summer including Kubo and the Two Strings, Trolls, Storks, Sing, The Secret Life of Pets, The Little Prince, and The Angry Birds Movie. Also, never discount a Jungle Book push in this category (they have signaled they would not push it here, but they could if they want some Oscar glory), and after Anomalisa made in in last year never discount they very adult Sausage Party, whose initial reviews have been pretty damn great.

The Oscar Narrative: Pre-Festival Predictions - Best Adapted Screenplay

Pre-Festival Predictions
Jean-Christophe Castelli "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk"
August Wilson "Fences"
Derek Cianfrance "The Light Between Oceans"
Jay Cocks "Silence"
Todd Komarnicki "Sully"

Other Contenders - William Wheeler "Queen of Katwe", Luke Davies "Lion", James Ponsoldt "The Circle", John Romano "American Pastoral", Tom Ford "Noctural Animals", Barry Jenkins "Moonlight" Audrey Diwan, David Farr, Cedric Jimenez "HHhH", Andrew Stanton, Victoria Strauss, Bob Peterson, and Angus MacLane "Finding Dory" David Lowery and R.F.I Porto "The Yellow Birds", David Michod "War Machine", Erin Cressida Wilson "The Girl on the Train", Allison Schroeder "Hidden Figures", Daniel Clowes "Wilson", John Cameron Mitchell and Philippa Goslett "How to Talk to Girls at Parties", James Gray "The Lost City of Z", Kieran Fitzgerald and Oliver Stone "Snowden", Laura Terruso and Michael Showalter "Hello, My Name is Doris", Richard Wenk and Nic Pizzolatto "The Magnificent Seven", Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, Fabian Nicieza, and Rob Liefeld "Deadpool", Christoper Markus and Stephen McFeely "Captain America: Civil War", Chris Weitz, John Knoll, Gary Whitta, and George Lucas "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story", Scott Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill, and Jon Spaihts "Doctor Strange", Melissa Matheson "The BFG", Marc Haimes, Chris Butler, Shannon Tindle "Kubo and the Two Strings"

Commentary - An interestingly weak race at this point, that hinges on the quality of some of the unknown contenders. Many of them look like pure Oscar bait, but I am just not sure yet. For example, projects like Lion, Queen of Katwe, American Pastoral, Noctural Animals, HHhH, The Yellow Birds, and War Machine all look like possibilities, but their buzz is a bit low. So I am going with bigger, more known quantities, knowing that they are not locks. There are three I do feel like are in a safe place right now. Fences gives the Academy to honor the great August Wilson, and Ang Lee and Martin Scorsese's new projects look brilliant. Sully has a lot of potential, but we have seen these types of biopics not register as well with the Academy in recent years, so a lot depends on how it debuts. Finally, The Light Between Oceans, with Derek Cianfrance looks like it would be fantastic, and yet their seems to be less buzz. I am putting it in there, waiting with anticipation to see the final outcome. The Girl on the Train could go where Gone Girl couldn't, but the first trailer plays more like fall blockbuster than Oscar contender. The Lost City of Z, Hello, My Name is Doris, Snowden, Hidden Figures, Wilson, and How to Talk to Girls at Parties look like possibilities, but have a bit of a climb. Finally, there are a plethora of big films like The BFG, Deadpool, Finding Dory, Kubo and the Two Strings, The Magnificent Seven, Captain American, Rogue One, and Doctor Strange. Usually these films don't play well with writers, but you never know.

2016 Television Critics Association (TCA) Award Winners

Program of the Year
The People V. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story

Outstanding Achievement in Drama
The Americans

Outstanding Achievement in Comedy

Outstanding New Program
Mr. Robot

Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries and Specials
The People V. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story

Individual Achievement in Drama
Sarah Paulson "The People V. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story"

Individual Achievement in Comedy
Rachel Bloom "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Outstanding Achievement in News and Information
Full Frontal With Samantha Bee

Outstanding Achievement in Reality Programming
Making A Murderer

Outstanding Achievement in Youth Programming
Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood

Career Achievement Award
Lily Tomlin

Heritage Award
The Mary Tyler Moore Show