Sunday, January 17, 2010

The 67th Golden Globes - Um, Why is this important again?

What a strange night - I heard Ricky Gervais would be hosting the 1 award show that never has a host. I wasn't worried, but I should have been. Awk. Ward. The whole show had a strange vibe - I'm thinking that the celebs were conscious of the crisis in Haiti, and had to reconcile a night of glitz and glamour amidst the turmoil happening a world away. Nevertheless, the show marched on, and Gervais managed to go from Hero to Zero in the space of 5 minutes. I love dry British wit as much as the next blokette, but wow..some of his "zingers" landed with a thud. And it only got worse. Moreover, some of the celebs presenting let him know it, calling him "shameless," among other things. Also, everyone presenting seemed to be having trouble with the teleprompter. Seriously, stuttering, squinting, pausing...What was going on? There were surprises, and expectations, as well as wonderful heartfelt speeches and salutes (I'm talking about you, Ms. Barrymore!) The winners appear in RED. Please check out my GG predictions in the 2009 section. Thanks!

Best Television Series (Comedy or Musical):

Best Actor in a Television Series (Comedy or Musical):
Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock", Steve Carell, "The Office", David Duchovny, "Californication", Thomas Jane, "Hung" , Matthew Morrison, "Glee"

Best Actress in a Television Series (Comedy or Musical):
Toni Collette, "The United States of Tara" Courteney Cox, "Cougar Town"Edie Falco, "Nurse Jackie"Tina Fey, "30 Rock"Lea Michele, "Glee"

Best Television Series (Drama):

Best Actress in a Television Series (Drama):
Glenn Close, "Damages" January Jones, "Mad Men", Julianna Margulies, "The Good Wife", Anna Paquin, "True Blood", Kyra Sedgwick, "The Closer"

Best Actor in a Television Series (Drama):
Simon Baker, "The Mentalist", Michael C. Hall, "Dexter", Jon Hamm, "Mad Men",
Hugh Laurie, "House", Bill Paxton, "Big Love"

Best Director for a Motion Picture:
Kathryn Bigelow, "The Hurt Locker", James Cameron, "Avatar", Clint Eastwood, "Invictus", Jason Reitman, "Up in the Air", Quentin Tarantino, "Inglourious Basterds"

Best Screenplay for a Motion Picture:
Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell, "District 9", Mark Boal, "The Hurt Locker",
Nancy Meyers, "It's Complicated", Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner, "Up in the Air",
Quentin Tarantino, "Inglourious Basterds"

Best Motion Picture (Comedy or Musical):

Best Actress in a Motion Picture (Comedy or Musical):
Sandra Bullock, "The Proposal", Marion Cotillard, "Nine", Julia Roberts, "Duplicity",
Meryl Streep, "It's Complicated", Meryl Streep, "Julie & Julia"

Best Actor in a Motion Picture (Comedy or Musical):
Matt Damon, "The Informant!", Daniel Day-Lewis, "Nine", Robert Downey Jr., "Sherlock Holmes", Joseph Gordon-Levitt, "(500) Days of Summer", Michael Stuhlberg, "A Serious Man"

Best Motion Picture (Drama):
"Avatar","The Hurt Locker","Inglourious Basterds","Precious","Up in the Air"

Best Actor in a Motion Picture (Drama):
Jeff Bridges, "Crazy Heart", George Clooney, "Up in the Air"Colin Firth, "A Single Man"Morgan Freeman, "Invictus"Tobey Maguire, "Brothers"

Best Actress in a Motion Picture (Drama):
Emily Blunt, "The Young Victoria", Sandra Bullock, "The Blind Side", Helen Mirren, "The Last Station", Carey Mulligan, "An Education", Gabourey Sidibe, "Precious"

Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture:
Matt Damon, "Invictus", Woody Harrelson, "The Messenger", Christopher Plummer, "The Last Station", Stanley Tucci, "The Lovely Bones", Christoph Waltz, "Inglourious Basterds"

Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture:
Penelope Cruz, "Nine", Vera Farmiga, "Up in the Air", Anna Kendrick, "Up in the Air", Monique, "Precious", Julianne Moore, "A Single Man",
Best Animated Movie:

Best Supporting Actor (Television):
Michael Emerson, "Lost", Neil Patrick Harris, "How I Met Your Mother", William Hurt, "Damages", John Lithgow, "Dexter", Jeremy Piven, "Entourage"
Best Supporting Actress (Television):
Jane Adams, "Hung", Rose Byrne, "Damages", Jane Lynch, "Glee", Chloe Sevigny,
"Big Love", Janet McTeer, "Into the Storm"

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Response Editorial - Do the Golden Globes Matter?

I read an article today that questioned the importance of the Golden Globe award, an honor awarded by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for achievements in film and television. Since their inception in 1944, the honors bestowed by the HFPA have not only served to recognize extraordinary contributions to entertainment, but have served a greater purpose through the proceeds accumulated from its broadcasts in the form of numerous charities, programs and scholarships.

Where this particular award show really succeeds, however, is in his format. It's a party! Where dramatic, comedic, musical, film, and television performers converge, drink champagne and rub elbows. Actors who otherwise would never be in the same film are suddenly in the same room, laughing, congratulating and networking the night away - and we, the audience get to enjoy it all without filler and superfluous hosts. Instead, the arena is resplendent, the mood is casual and best of all, it all takes less than 3 hours (lately, anyway).

Another plus of the Globes is the adulation placed upon films and performances that may otherwise have been ignored. The presence of comedy film and acting categories is something singular to the Golden Globes. It's wonderful to see credible, entertaining fare get the attention its deserves, especially knowing how all the others high-profile awards make no such effort. More importantly, there is leverage to be gained by vindication from the HFPA, whose body is composed of critics from around the world, not just the US. And we are not the only one's whose opinion matters.

Mostly, the Globes serve as an important precursor - a critical barometer of how shows, films and performers have been perceived to this point. For viewers still trying to decide what's worth their time and money, being well received at the Globes helps with the decision-making process. For Academy voters, as well -if they've been waffling between films, its justification for a choice they've been mulling over. Perhaps they come away knowing better what choice to fill in on the ballot.

In the end, what's important to remember about awards season is the splendor and history that are made. Some actors and films find their voices and begin a journey to greatness. Others..get a reality check and come to appreciate what little honor finds them knowing its fleeting. But, at least at the Golden Globes, its all about the spotlight for a night.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

7 Best Films of 2009 - Substance over Spectacle

Cruising the internet, reading the mags, watching entertainment news.. It seems everyone has a Top 10 list of the Best Films of 2009. Even the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has widened the Best Picture field of nominees to 10. It's possible to pare down that list - not that many slots are necessary when you consider how long some of these movies will resound in perpetuity, and that hype had a lot to do with some of these films even being noticed. If this list were to be placed in a time capsule, with a battery-powered DVD player with limited showing time, these are the movies of which the viewer should know the human race of 2009 was proud.

1. The Hurt Locker - War is Hell. And Hell is a state of mind. There were many war movies this year, but this one, shot almost like a documentary, features honest performances and the realism of military conflict.

2. Up In The Air - A perfect portrait (human and painful) of the repercussions of the economic turmoil of our time.

3. Star Trek - A reboot of a beloved science fiction franchise, that revitalized and regalvanized legions of fans, that never should have worked. But thankfully, it did.

4. Crazy Heart - Sometimes, to do what you love, you suffer. But what you leave people with is that you lived your life for your dreams, and in so doing, made no compromises.

5. Michael Jackson: This Is It - Once upon a time, The King of Pop was the most revered music video artist in the world for his golden voice and spectacles of innovation and choreography. The film stands as the last testament of his genius, may he rest in peace.

6. 500 Days of Summer - A romantic comedy about the misadventures of two 20-somethings falling in and out of love. Its a non-linear story; That makes sense, because the path to love is hardly ever a straight line.

7. The Princess and the Frog - A refreshing return to form in classic hand-drawn animation set to ragtime jazz capturing the magical atmosphere of pre-hurricane New Orleans. Not to mention, the long overdue presence of an african-american princess in the Disney repetoire.

Best Actresses of the 00's - Part 1

Greetings, fellow film fans!

In celebration of the previous decade's successes (depending on who ask), the coming award season ballyhoo, a list has been assembled of the most likeable, profitable, exciting and enjoyable actresses of the aughts. In no particular order:

1. Rachel McAdams - With turns in 2004's Mean Girls, Wes Craven's thriller Red Eye, Nicholas Sparks' The Notebook and Guy Ritchie's adaptation of Sherlock Holmes, Ms. McAdams has enjoyed a steady flow of roles and has seen her star skyrocket. She has yet to take on a role that will garner her awards attention for her dramatic ability, however. Hopefully, 2010 and beyond will bring her a proper opportunity. Her box office grosses to date = $733, 849,786.

2. Kate Winslet - The proverbial awards bridesmaid finally caught her bouquet this year and Ms. Winslet was awarded the Oscar for Best Actress in The Reader. From 2000, she also delivered in inspired, fun fare such as The Holiday with Jude Law and Cameron Diaz, the dark independent period film Quills with Joaquin Phoenix, and the non-fiction fantasy drama Finding Neverland with matinee idol Johnny Depp. She ended the year with a singular honor; a survey from the UK magazine, Telegraph, voted Kate's body as the most desirable among Hollywood actresses. Her box office grosses to date = $989,809,339.

3. Kerri Washington - A go-to actress to round out your powerhouse cast, Ms. Washington enjoyed diverse roles in film and television. From her breakout role in MTV Studio's Save The Last Dance, to her supporting roles in Ray with Jamie Foxx, for which she received an Image award, a supporting role in Mr. & Mrs. Smith with Brangelina, Kerri continues to elevate any project simply by being there. That she is talented, is a bonus.
Coming up in Part 2.... A Pretty Woman, a Devil in Prada and A Blonde... Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Will it be Sir Captain or Captain Sir? Patrick Stewart to be Knighted by Queen Elizabeth II

Patrick Stewart, mostly known for his role as Captain Jean-Luc Picard on Star Trek: The Next Generation, is among 9 individuals who have been selected by a committee within British Cabinet Office to receive an official title from Queen Elizabeth II earlier next year.
Stewart received the OBE (Order of the British Empire) in 2001. He is being recognized for success in acting (drama), and his work with charities, specifically Refuge, an institution established for the domestically abused.
The 69-year old actor, once the rite is complete, will be formally known as Sir Patrick Stewart of Yorkshire. I think it's safe to say that he's boldly gone where no Star Trek actor has gone before. Congrats, Sir Picard!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

It's Complicated - No It's Simply Funny..See it!

Meryl Streep gives a Master's class in acting with her performance in this film. Ironically, the skillful way she can change her emotions on a dime, phasing in and out of blissful incredulity and simple despair can't be taught. In writer/director Nancy Meyer's latest rom-com, Streep plays Jane, an empty nest divorcee who finds herself suddenly being re-wooed and won by her cheating, charismatic ex-husband, Jake (played cunningly by 30 Rock's Alec Baldwin).

Jane is on the verge of a mid-life crisis - her kids are all grown up and she is facing a future of watching the Hills all alone in her spacious (gorgeous, scenic, straight-out-of-a-catalog) Santa Barbara home for the first time. Her friends tell her she needs to get back out there, but you can sense that she has already resigned herself to loneliness. Just then she has a casual meeting with her new architect, Adam (Steve Martin, in a subdued and heartfelt role), a soft-spoken gentleman whose own marital experiences had left him bruised and battered. His plans for her home are a metaphor - he seems instantly attuned to her needs and has no trouble complying with her demands (in the form of 47 emails), whereas her ex, when he sees the plans, immediately attempts to alter them -It's a short, but brilliantly insightful exchange.

In New York celebrating their son's college graduation, Jane and Jake find themselves at the hotel bar each alone, as Jake's trophy wife has stayed home nursing his sick step-son. In a whirlwind of wine, reminiscing and dancing they find themselves in bed together, Jane confused and hungover, and Jake happy as a clam. It's here that Baldwin shines. He weaves a web of charm, regret and remorse that Jane is unable to untangle. After their second rendez-vous, and an impromptu trip to her therapist for advice (a truly human scene from Streep), Jane decides to dive head first into a full-on affair.

From there, the title of the film is fully realized. Jane is conflicted because she is rediscovering herself in the context of the affair, all the while she is commanding the attention and affection of Adam the architect. She knows he's battlescarred and the details of his pain, but the history with Jake is pulling her focus. It all comes to a head, as expected, and everybody gets hurt. However, Meyer's constructs a conclusion that plays out for the best - and the lessons that Jane and Jake learn inform very grounded discussions, and equally human decisions.

Over the last decade, Nancy Meyers has provided the American Rom-Com library with some aesthetically beautiful films -filled with scenic landscapes, lavish interiors, lyrical sophisticated jazz and rich performances from skilled actors in films such as "The Holiday", "Something's Gotta Give and "What Women Want." This film continues that tradition, and the result is a heartfelt, humorous, realistic exploration into the perils of post-divorce life. It's Complicated is simple answer to how to spend your next free night at the multiplex.

Sherlock Holmes = Weak Sauce: Skip It..

Sherlock Holmes was very underwhelming. Robert Downey Jr. sometimes spoke too hurriedly to be understood. The plot line was murky and there was too much meaningless action. Moreover, as a standalone, the story failed to give the audience a sense of how or why, in Watson's right mind, he and Holmes were friends. I would have enjoyed it more if the film were an introduction to their friendship, so I could understand why I should care. Lord Blackwood was weak sauce as a villian - I am glad that Moriarty wasn't wasted in this film, his viliany was too sublime to be wasted on this story. Save your money or go see "Up In The Air" or "The Hurt Locker" instead.