Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Golden Globes: Film Nominations


Apparently I needed to sleep on my thoughts on the film Golden Globe nominations for a few more nights. Perhaps I just got too excited over the TV nominations? Regardless Birdman leads with 7 nods followed by its fiercest awards season rival, Boyhood, with 5 nominations. Onwards...

Best Director
  • Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Ava Duvernay, Selma
  • David Fincher, Gone Girl
  • Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman
  • Richard Linklater, Boyhood
If this was the eventual Oscar lineup, it would really be something to behold, but I doubt this would actually happen. And yet other than NBR winner Clint Eastwood and mega superstar Angelina Jolie who has been everywhere (until she was forced to take a break recently), there are not many alternates. Linklater is the front-runner at the moment.

Best Motion Picture, Drama
  • Boyhood
  • Foxcatcher
  • The Imitation Game
  • Selma
  • The Theory of Everything
Many expected Unbroken here and in fact that film was completely ignored by the HFPA which has usually been kind to Jolie in the past (remember The Tourist?). I thought Whiplash should've sneaked in, at least over Foxcatcher which saw its slightly dwindling fortunes rise with these Globes nominations. Boyhood should be seen the big favorite here as Birdman is relegated to Comedy/Musical.

Best Actress, Drama
  • Jennifer Aniston, Cake
  • Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
  • Julianne Moore, Still Alice
  • Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
  • Reese Witherspoon, Wild
These are the same nominations as the SAG Awards so I would think it would be quite difficult for anyone else to try to make the shortlist. Marion Cotillard, who has been one of the critics' favorite this award season will do her best though. And I suppose underestimated Amy Adams (in Comedy/Musical) at your peril.

Best Actor, Drama
  • Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
  • Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
  • Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler
  • David Oyelowo, Selma
  • Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
With Michael Keaton in Comedy/Musical, this is a five-man race not only to grab a win here, but to also occupy four of the five spots at the Oscars. Only Oyelowo wasn't nominated for a SAG earlier, but his film might have screened to late. I would think Carell and Gyllenhaal are the weak links with regards to Oscars even though oddly enough I think Gyllenhaal might be a slight front-runner for this award (in Keaton's absence).

Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical
  • Birdman
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Into the Woods
  • Pride     
  • St. Vincent
I'm super, super happy to see such a small film like Pride get nominated for such a major award and the other nominees are quite solid as well including front-runner Birdman, early-year favorite Grand Budapest Hotel, and starry musical Into the Woods. It is a bit sad to see Begin Again and Skeleton Twins ignored though. And how about the mainstream comedies this year like Neighbors and 22 Jump Street? Guardians of the Galaxy and Edge of Tomorrow should've also deserved SOME recognition, but really this year's slate isn't as bad (in fact NOT AT ALL) compared to other years.

Best Actress, Comedy or Musical
  • Amy Adams, Big Eyes
  • Emily Blunt, Into the Woods
  • Julianne Moore, Map to the Stars
  • Quvenzhané Wallis, Annie
  • Helen Mirren, Hundred Foot Journey
Moore is doubles up on the nomination for getting in for a film that won't even be released this year so you know, whatever. I bet Blunt is fantastic, but a tiny part of me wished her nomination was for her superb work in Edge of Tomorrow. Wallis though? I loved her in her debut film a few years ago, but I'd rather use her spot for someone like Kristen Wiig, Elisabeth Moss, Jenny Slate, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Keira Knightley, etc.

Best Actor, Comedy or Musical
  • Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Michael Keaton, Birdman
  • Bill Murray, St. Vincent
  • Joaquin Phoenix, Inherent Vice
  • Christoph Waltz, Big Eyes
Keaton is your likely winner here, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Fiennes put up a fight for this as well as the Oscars (IF he's nominated, a big if). With that said, I was honestly hoping for a surprise nomination for Chris Pratt in this category, but alas.

Best Supporting Actress
  • Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
  • Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year
  • Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
  • Emma Stone, Birdman
  • Meryl Streep, Into the Woods
This matches the SAG nominations almost perfectly with Chastain replacing Naomi Watts, but I think Chastain's performance is more of Oscar's speed so I think give or take Tilda Swinton, this is your Oscar line-up. A couple of other ladies who might break through would be veterans Laura Dern and Rene Russo.

Best Supporting Actor
  • Robert Duvall, The Judge
  • Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
  • Edward Norton, Birdman
  • Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
  • J.K, Simmons, Whiplash
People talk about what a weak year it's been for lead actresses, but supporting actor seems to be lacking any options other than these five names who were also all nominated by the SAGs. I think the closest thing to an alternate would be Josh Brolin in Inherent Vice unless the Academy actually deigns to nominate Andy Serkis for his mo-cap work. Regardless, this is Simmons (likely winner) vs. Norton.

Best Screenplay
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Gone Girl
  • Birdman
  • Boyhood
  • The Imitation Game
No big surprises here as the trio of Boyhood, Birdman, and Budapest Hotel are likely Oscar front-runners in Original while Gone Girl and Imitation Game likewise in Adapted. It's quite a boost to the latter two films being singled out here as it's been a not so thrilling awards race so far this season for Adapted (compared to Original).

Best Animated Film
  • Big Hero 6
  • The Book of Life
  • The Boxtrolls
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2
  • The LEGO Movie
Unless one of the smaller, foreign animated films make any headway, this is your Oscar list as well. Except it doesn't really matter because EVERYTHING IS AWESOME, I mean The LEGO Movie will likely sweep the majority of awards as it has been doing for a few weeks now.

Best Foreign Film
  • Force Majeure (Sweden)
  • Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem (France)
  • Ida (Poland)
  • Leviathan (Russia)
  • Tangerines (Estonia)
I haven't seen any of these yet, but I have heard good stuff from people on Force Majeure, Ida, and Leviathan. It's sad that Brazil's really sweet submission The Way He Looks isn't making any awards dent at all so far.

Best Original Song
  • "Big Eyes," Big Eyes
  • "Glory," Selma
  • "Mercy Is," Noah
  • "Opportunity," Annie
  • "Yellow Flicker Beat," The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I
After they snubbed her last year, I guess they had to honor Lana Del Rey here for her work in Big Eyes. In any case, there isn't a "Let It Go" from the bunch so who knows? Shocked to see "Lost Stars" from Begin Again not make it in though.

Best Original Score

  • The Imitation Game
  • The Theory of Everything
  • Gone Girl
  • Birdman
  • Interstellar
The only film here I haven't seen is The Imitation Game, but it's nice to see Sanchez's innovative drum score nominated here especially after the news that his score is ineligible for the Oscars. Why? Because they suck.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Golden Globes: TV Nominations


Like last year, the Hollywood Foreign Press' penchant for honoring the newest, shiniest things actually paid off with some much needed new shows and faces appearing in their TV nominations. Let's take a look...

Best TV Series, Drama
  • The Affair
  • Downton Abbey
  • Game of Thrones
  • The Good Wife
  • House of Cards
It's a bit sad to see last year's nominee Masters of Sex not make it back, but I guess it's somewhat fitting that fellow extra marital affair Showtime show took its place. I probably would ditch Downton Abbey to get The Americans some damn recognition or Mad Men... has everyone forgotten about Mad Men? At least The Good Wife makes it in here after being snubbed by the SAGs yesterday.

Best Actor, Drama
  • Clive Owen, The Knick
  • Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan
  • Kevin Spacey, House of Cards
  • James Spader, The Blacklist
  • Dominic West, The Affair
With last year's winner Bryan Cranston out of the competition, this is a wide open race. Though again, I grieve for Jon Hamm whose show seem to have fallen out of award bodies' graces or something just when they could all be winning acting awards finally! I'd think Spacey, as an Oscar winner, is the favorite here but I don't really know.

Best Actress, Drama
  • Claire Danes, Homeland
  • Viola Davis, How To Get Away With Murder
  • Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
  • Ruth Wilson, The Affair
  • Robin Wright, House of Cards
Nice to see Wilson, who was just fabulous in Luther, get some kudos. It also makes total sense for them to nominate Davis and I'm just shocked her show didn't go more love from the HFPA. The other nominees are solid, but it's a bit hard to accept it totally when just last year they nominated Tatiana Maslany! Maybe, she can only be nominated for one major award every year (GG last year, SAG this year).

Best TV Series, Comedy
  • Girls
  • Jane the Virgin
  • Orange Is The New Black
  • Silicon Valley
  • Transparent
Yup, hell has finally frozen over. I mean this is a major awards show and neither Big Bang Theory nor Modern Family is nominated... anywhere! Not even in the acting categories. I honestly never thought I'd see the day. It's also fantastic that this category is mostly made up of new shows including my favorite one this season Jane the Virgin, which is also the very first show from the CW honored with a Golden Globe nod. Transparent, meanwhile, is the first show from Amazon to get a nod. It's all very cool, but I am still lighting a candle for the non-nomination of Parks and Recreation and last year's surprise champ Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

Best Actor, Comedy
  • Louis C.K., Louie
  • Don Cheadle, House of Lies
  • Ricky Gervais, Derek
  • William H. Macy, Shameless
  • Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent
Cheadle is the only repeat nominee here so even though this category is usually my least favorite at least the HFPA is mixing it up. Shameless' genre switch to comedy is paying dividends for Macy and I hear nothing but praise for Tambor (my pick to win). Last year's winner Andy Samberg was curiously left out.

Best Actress, Comedy
  • Lena Dunham, Girls
  • Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
  • Gina Rodriguez, Jane the Virgin
  • Taylor Schilling, Orange Is The New Black
I can't even be mad that last year's winner (see a pattern here?) Amy Poehler is not nominated, because GINA FUCKING RODRIGUEZ got nominated. She and her show are absolutely delightful and I know people say that the Golden Globes don't really matter, but tell that to someone like Gina who's breaking through right now on a new show from a little seen network. This is everything to her right now and I'm so happy for her.

Best Mini-Series Or TV Movie
  • Fargo
  • The Missing
  • The Normal Heart
  • True Detective
  • Olive Kitteridge
Other than those new and fresh nominees up above, one of the reasons why I was happy with the HFPA today was because they corrected what the Emmys and the SAG got so very wrong i.e. placed True Detective under Miniseries rather than a Drama Series. NOW I'm interested by the competition amongst it, The Normal Heart, and Fargo. The latter leads all TV shows with 5 nods and I think I'm rooting for it. It's going to be a real race though.

Best Actor, Mini-Series or TV Movie

  • Martin Freeman, Fargo
  • Mark Ruffalo, The Normal Heart
  • Billy Bob Thornton, Fargo
  • Matthew McConaughey, True Detective
  • Woody Harrelson, True Detective
Weird that Sherlock (and thus Benedict Cumberbatch) wasn't nominated, but maybe it wasn't eligible? That said, this is a fun category. McConaughey and Harrelson may be the frontrunner, but I would count out any of the others at all.

Best Actress, Mini-Series or TV Movie
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Honorable Woman
  • Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Freak Show
  • Frances McDormand, Olive Kitteridge
  • Frances O'Connor, The Missing
  • Allison Tolman, Fargo
Though I've seen all of them in other roles, the only nominated role I've actually seen is Tolman's and she's fabulous in it so I hope she wins. And she's finally in the right category as well! How some people thought she was a supporting character on the show confuses me.

Best Supporting Actor
  • Matt Bomer, The Normal Heart
  • Alan Cumming, The Good Wife
  • Colin Hanks, Fargo
  • Bill Murray, Olive Kitteridge
  • Jon Voight, Ray Donovan
Nice to see Bomer and Hanks nominated and of course they would fine a way to nominate Murray. Cumming is fantastic of course, but I actually think his co-star Matt Czuchry would have been a better choice. Of course this category should be split or at least expand to ten nominees because combining genres is just plain ridiculous.

Best Supporting Actress
  • Uzo Aduba, Orange Is The New Black
  • Kathy Bates, American Horror Story: Freak Show
  • Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey
  • Allison Janney, Mom
  • Michelle Monaghan, True Detective
Yeah, I guess this is fine. I mean I'm actually SUPER HAPPY that Aduba picks up her first Golden Globe nod and Janney is unstoppable, but again this category could've been expanded to ten and it would still not be enough room!

My thoughts on the film nominations to come tomorrow once I've slept on them. They weren't nearly as exciting as the TV ones though.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Screen Actors Guild Nominations


Meant to write about the SAG nominations much, much earlier today but didn't have the time. So in an effort to be complete, here's a few quick thoughts on the nominees even though all everyone will be talking about tomorrow are the Golden Globe nominees. Oh well!

BEST ENSEMBLE

  • Birdman
  • Boyhood
  • Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Imitation Game
  • Theory of Everything
Both Boyhood and Birdman have been a favorite in the awards circuit so far and it's pretty much a two-movie race for now and this guild did little to rock the boat. Birdman does lead with 4 nominations, but Boyhood is right behind it at 3 including this ensemble nod consisting of only its four leads. Thrilled to see Grand Budapest show up here and Imitation Game makes sense. I did love Theory of Everything, but I really thought it would've been replaced by Gone Girl, Selma, or Into the Woods. Those latter two films though were hurt by their late release. But whither Gone Girl? It's lack of awards momentum so far has left me confused.

BEST ACTRESS

  • Jennifer Aniston, Cake
  • Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
  • Julianne Moore, Still Alice
  • Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
  • Reese Witherspoon, Wild
Jennifer what now? I mean in the back of my head she was going to get a Golden Globe nod, but that's it so this surprise nomination is just that. Can she go all the way or is the TV-dominated SAG just voting for their old pal Rachel Green? The rest seem set for Oscars. It'd made sense for critics favorite (so far) Marion Cotillard to get left off here. Would've loved to have seen someone like Gugu Mbatha-Raw or Jenny Slate though.

BEST ACTOR
  • Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
  • Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
  • Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler
  • Michael Keaton, Birdman
  • Eddie Redmayne, Theory of Everything
Even before "awards season" began this category has always been about Keaton vs. Redmayne vs. Cumberbatch so it makes sense to see them here and they'll most likely take this fight to the Oscars as well. They'll most likely go up against not nominated David Oyelowo and perhaps Timothy Spall. If so, Keaton would be the lone American... food for thought. Is it just me or is Carell and his film slowly fading from people's mindset? I didn't particularly enjoy the film so I'm okay with that.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
  • Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
  • Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
  • Emma Stone, Birdman
  • Meryl Streep, Into the Woods
  • Naomi Watts, St. Vincent
Even with Watts surprise nomination, I thought this was pretty much expected, but I had expected Watts to have been nominated for her work in Birdman NOT St. Vincent. How she vaulted past Jessica Chastain for her work in either Interstellar or A Most Violent Year is pretty crazy. I was also banking on a Tilda Swinton or Carrie Coon nod, but it's not to be. With that said, I love all of these actresses so I'm all good.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
  • Robert Duvall, The Judge
  • Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
  • Edward Norton, Birdman
  • Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
  • J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
So enough people actually saw The Judge and liked it enough to nominate Duvall? I'll take their word for it. Then again the next best choice was who? Andy Serkis for Apes? Josh Brolin for Inherent Vice? Tyler Perry for Gone Girl? For all the talk about the Best Actress field being "weak," I think this category could use some more options.

BEST STUNT ENSEMBLE, FILM
  • Fury
  • Get On Up
  • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
  • Unbroken
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past
I had been banking a nomination for those two awesome Marvel films this year, Captain America and Guardians of the Galaxy, but alas. Get On Up though? Really? Again, I'll take their word on it.


With Breaking Bad not eligible this year and the nominating committee finally recognizing streaming networks, there were a lot of new shows and faces. It's not perfect, but it's not bad overall.

BEST COMEDY ENSEMBLE
  • Big Bang Theory
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine
  • Modern Family
  • Orange is the New Black
  • Veep
I'm really, really happy to see Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Orange is the New Black, and Veep on this list. When the first two weren't nominated last year for their outstanding freshman seasons I was livid so nice to see them make right. I get that Big Bang and Modern Family are two of the biggest comedies on TV right now, but man we get it. How about some love for Parks & Recreation and Shameless? Maybe next year? I won't hold my breath.

BEST DRAMA ENSEMBLE
  • Boardwalk Empire
  • Downton Abbey
  • Game of Thrones
  • Homeland
  • House of Cards
I bet all of these shows are relieved to not have to compete with Breaking Bad this year. I'm hoping this means Game of Thrones win, because that cast is just ridiculous. I have nothing negative to say about the other nominees, but it is hard to take this list seriously with such obvious snubs as The Good Wife, Mad Men, Masters of Sex, The Americans... I can go on and on.

BEST ACTRESS, COMEDY
  • Uzo Aduba, Orange is the New Black
  • Julie Bowen, Modern Family
  • Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
  • Julia Louis Dreyfus, Veep
  • Amy Poehler, Parks & Recreation
If we must nominate someone from Modern Family, can we at least nominate Sofia Vergara? She, Falco, and Louis Dreyfus were nominated last year, so whatever (though yay Veep). I am glad to see Poehler back in the mix after missing out last year and MY GIRL EMMY-WINNING UZO ADUBA! YES! To be perfectly frank, I would've been 100% okay if all five nominations went to Orange is the New Black here.

BEST ACTOR, COMEDY
  • Ty Burrell, Modern Family
  • Louis C.K., Louie
  • William H. Macy, Shameless
  • Jim Parsons, Big Bang Theory
  • Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family
God, this is the worst category. Two actors from Modern Family? Parsons... again? I don't doubt their talents, but the lack of new nominees here year in, year out bugs me. Where's Adam Scott, Andre Braugher, Adam Driver, Chris Messina, Nick Offerman, Andy Samberg, and on and on and on.

BEST ACTRESS, DRAMA
  • Claire Danes, Homeland
  • Viola Davis, How To Get Away With Murder
  • Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
  • Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black
  • Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
  • Robin Wright, Homeland
If they had to add another nominee to make sure to honor Maslany then I'm all for it. She's now won 2 Critics Choice Awards and been nominated for a Golden Globe and a SAG award. Fuck you, Emmys. But hey, real talk now... Maggie Smith? Doesn't care if she wins or gets nominated. So stop it. Keri Russell, Lizzy Caplan, Elisabeth Moss, and plenty of other actresses would love to take her wasted spot.

BEST ACTOR, DRAMA
  • Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
  • Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
  • Woody Harrelson, True Detective
  • Matthew McConaughey, True Detective
  • Kevin Spacey, House of Cards
The more distance I get from True Detective, the less positive things I have to say about it. With that said, however, I still think those two guys were pretty great so I guess I'm okay with their double-dipping here and plenty thankful they didn't nominate the show for Ensemble. That said, hey SAG committe Mad Men does still exist you know. Jon Hamm, Matthew Rhys, Matt Czuchry are guys who exist.

BEST ACTRESS, MOVIE/MINISERIES
  • Ellen Burstyn, Flowers in the Attic
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Honourable Woman
  • Frances McDormand, Olive Kitteridge
  • Julia Roberts, The Normal Heart
  • Cicely Tyson, The Trip to Bountiful
No big surprises here though it's worth to note that the Gyllenhaal siblings have bookend nominations so it's a good awards season for the household! I wish Alison Tolman had been nominated though.

BEST ACTOR, MOVIE/MINISERIES
  • Adrien Brody, Houdini
  • Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock: His Last Vow
  • Richard Jenkins, Olive Kitteridge
  • Mark Ruffalo, The Normal Heart
  • Billy Bob Thornton, Fargo
They do love them some Cumberbatch. Were there any snubs? The only two I can think of is Martin Freeman for either his work in Fargo or Sherlock and Matt Bomer for The Normal Heart.

BEST STUNT ENSEMBLE, TV

  • 24: Live Another Day
  • Boardwalk Emppire
  • Game of Thrones
  • Homeland
  • Sons of Anarchy
  • The Walking Dead
I mean sure. What is there to say really? Maybe Agents of SHIELD especially with so many more fight sequences this season, but whatever.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

AFI Top Ten Films/TV Programs of 2014

Early tomorrow morning will be the announcement of the SAG Awards nominees and the following day will be the Golden Globes nominations so awards season is ramping up! well the American Film Institute (see the jury this year) chimed in with their picks of their favorites in film and TV this year. They are...


MOVIES OF THE YEAR
  • American Sniper
  • Birdman
  • Boyhood
  • Foxcatcher
  • The Imitation Game
  • Interstellar
  • Into the Woods
  • Nightcrawler
  • Selma
  • Unbroken
  • Whiplash

This year the group has picked 11 films to honor and it's mostly the usual suspects give or take Into the Woods and perhaps American Sniper and Unbroken, all of which by the way has NOT been seen by the general audience because year-end film awards don't care about the audience at all. Neither here nor there though! I am curious at the momentum for a film like American Sniper as well as the lack of one for Gone Girl, which unrelatedly is looking to make over $165 million. Also missing is The Grand Budapest Hotel (came out forever ago), Wild (but it's about a woman), Theory of Everything (it's TOO British/not eligible?) and NBR's top pick A Most Violent Year (yeah, I don't know).


TV PROGRAMS OF THE YEAR
  • The Americans
  • Fargo
  • Game of Thrones
  • How to Get Away With Murder
  • Jane the Virgin
  • The Knick
  • Mad Men
  • Orange is the New Black
  • Silicon Valley
  • Transparent

The absence of The Good Wife is giving me an allergic reaction, but this list is not baf at all. At least they didn't include True Detective, right? I haven't seen The Knick, Silicon Valley, and Transparent, but the other freshman shows on the list are excellent especially Jane the Virgin which is probably my favorite new show this year. Nice to see a couple of last year's freshman class hold fort (The Americans and Orange is the New Black) as well as some old standbys in Game of Thrones and Mad Men. Like last year, I'm just going to assume Orphan Black isn't "American" enough for this group.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

National Board of Review Winners


It's still early days this awards season but it's so far looking like an actual race to the Oscars this year with recent winners from critic groups like New York and Boston Online as well as the Gotham Awards not yet coalescing into a sweeper, which is good all around. In fact, I hope this season in particular the critic groups take a page from Boston Online and really go crazy and champion smaller out-there films. With that said, the same could be said about this past week's National Board of Review winners. Yes, they did their usual Clint Eastwood worshiping and some of their choices were downright odd, but bully for them!

Best Film
A Most Violent Year

Top Ten Films
American Sniper
Birdman
Boyhood
Fury
Gone Girl
The Imitation Game
Inherent Vice
The LEGO Movie
Nightcrawler
Unbroken

Only industry insiders and intrepid film fans have actually seen A Most Violent Year which releases for the general public on the last day of the year (ugh) so I think more than a few people were surprised by its big win here topping Oscar front-runners Birdman, Boyhood, and The Imitation Game which all made it in. Their Eastwood obsession continues with American Sniper and Brangelina are well represented, but can we just talk about the inclusion of The LEGO Movie? I really liked the film, but who knew? Does this mean there's a chance Chris Pratt could actually be in a Best Picture nominee for four years in a row (Moneyball, Zero Dark Thirty, Her)? Fun, if remote, possibility!

Best Actor (TIE)
Oscar Isaac, A Most Violent Year
Michael Keaton, Birdman

Best Actress
Julianne Moore, Still Alice

Best Supporting Actor
Edward Norton, Birdman

Best Supporting Actress
Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year

Breakthrough Performance
Jack O'Connell, Starred Up and Unbroken

Best Ensemble
Fury

Last year, this group's acting winners went on to collect in total just one Oscar nomination, but I have a feeling it's going to be different this year with Moore, Norton, and Keaton seemingly locks for their respective categories. This does give a much-needed boost for Isaac and Chastain. As for O'Connell, I think this will be just one of many, many breakthrough awards he wins this season. I don't think it's enough to catapult him into Best Actor race, but it won't be for lack of films on his part!

Best Director
Clint Eastwood, American Sniper

Best Directorial Debut
Gillian Robespierre, Obvious Child

Best Adapted Screenplay
Inherent Vice

Best Original Screenplay
The LEGO Movie

Best Animated Feature
How to Train Your Dragon 2

There's a lot of intriguing choices here. Again, their Eastwood love is showing hard with that pick, but Robespierre's small film did well to show up here and The LEGO Movie winning a major award like this outside of Animation is pretty shocking. At the moment, it IS the frontrunner to win Animated Film at the Oscars so it is curious to see it lose to How to Train Your Dragons 2 here.


Top 10 Independent Films
Blue Ruin
Locke
A Most Wanted Man
Mr. Turner
Obvious Child
The Skeleton Twins
Snowpiercer
Stand Clear of the Closing Doors
Starred Up
Still Alice

Great list with some inspired choices in Locke, Obvious Child, Skeleton Twins, and Snowpiercer all of which I've seen and loved. It'd be great if critic groups (and the major award bodies) actually champion these smaller films more.

Best Foreign Language Film
Wild Tales

Top 5 Foreign Language Films
Force Majeure
Gett: The Trial of Vivian Amsalem
Leviathan
Two Days, One Night
We Are the Best!

Best Documentary
Life Itself

Top Five Documentary Films
Art and Craft
Jodorowsky's Dune
Keep On Keepin' On
The Kill Team
Last Days in Vietnam

Unfortunately, I haven't seen any of these films and even more shamefully I've only really heard of four of them including the Cannes-winning Force Majeure and the Rogert Ebert documentary Life Itself. Time to step up my screening game!

Spotlight Award
Chris Rock for writing, directing and starring in Top Five
William K. Everson Film History Award
Scott Eyman

NBR Freedom of Expression Award
Rosewater
Selma

As I said up top, it's still at the point where anything and everything can happen. I hope that it does.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Spirit Awards Nominations


Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Of course, Thanksgiving not only signals the beginning of the holiday season but the start of awards season as well. In fact on Wednesday the Spirit Award nominations were announced. Below are the nominees and my brief thoughts on them...

BEST FEATURE
Birdman
Boyhood
Love is Strange
Selma
Whiplash

Birdman leads all films with 6 nominations followed closely by Boyhood and Selma with 5 nominations. Nightcrawler also surprised with 5 nominations but couldn't crack Picture/Director. Love is Strange and Whiplash meanwhile received 4 nominations. A few films like Foxcatcher, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and Theory of Everything weren't eligible but The Imitation Game, Wild and to a lesser extent The Skeleton Twins were and were surprisingly shut out.

BEST DIRECTOR
Damien Chazelle, Whiplash  
Ava DuVernay, Selma
Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Birdman
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
David Zellner, Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter

Looks like this is going to be a race between Iñárritu and Linklater, but DuVernay's nomination seems like a game-changer to me. Regardless, it's nice to see Linklater here after this group ignore his Before Midnight masterpiece last year.

BEST FIRST FEATURE
Ana Lily Amirpour, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
Justin Simien, Dear White People
Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler
Gillian Robespierre, Obvious Child
Anja Marquardt, She's Lost Control

Unfortunately I've only seen Robespierre's delightful Obvious Child, which I'm glad is getting some year-end awards recognition. Had been meaning to catch Dear White People and Nightcrawler, but haven't yet!

BEST FEMALE LEAD

Marion Cotillard, The Immigrant
Rinko Kikuchi, Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Jenny Slate, Obvious Child
Tilda Swinton, Only Lovers Left Alive

I know nothing about Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter but getting Director/Actress nominations is a testament to that film. I have seen Slate and Swinton and thrilled both are nominated. The day of the nominations I also checked out Cotillard's turn in The Immigrant and I compared it to Streep's Sophie's Choice turn so that's where I am with THAT performance. Finally, Moore is the prohibitive frontrunner to win here AND at the Oscars though she'd likely have to go up against Reese Witherspoon who was inexplicably snubbed here. Shout out to Kirsten Wiig, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Elisabeth Moss.

BEST MALE LEAD
André Benjamin, Jimi: All Is By My Side
Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler
Michael Keaton, Birdman
John Lithgow, Love is Strange
David Oyelowo, Selma

Benihana Cumberband's non-nomination for The Imitation Game is really quite strange and really supports the theory that the committee just wasn't sure if it was eligible or not. That said, it does give a few men who need support early on like Lithgow, Gyllenhaal, and Oyelowo the boost they need for awards season momentum. Keaton is the likely favorite, but again that's without facing his biggest rivals of the season, the aforementioned Belichick Cumbaya and Theory of Everything's Eddie Redmayne.

BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year
Carmen Ejogo, Selma
Andrea Suarez Paz, Stand Clear of the Closing Doors
Emma Stone, Birdman

Arquette! Chastain! Stone! Already with those three this feels like such a fun line-up though how amazing would it have been to see Swinton pop up here for her turn in Snowpiercer, which I'm sure is being largely forgotten in awards campaigning. Arquette seems like the favorite for now, but it's early days and I'm more excited at the prospect that Stone COULD get her first Oscar nomination. Again, still early days.

BEST SUPPORTING MALE
Riz Ahmed, Nightcrawler
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Alfred Molina, Love is Strange
Edward Norton, Birdman
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

Molina is supporting while Lithgow is lead? I liked Love is Strange and any award recognition this small film gets is a good one, but category fraud is super annoying. Moving on! I *love* Norton in Birdman and Hawke was pretty good in Boyhood (and I'm seeing his nomination as a make-up for the Before series as well). Simmons is the front-runner right not for this and the Oscars.

BEST SCREENPLAY
Big Eyes
Love is Strange
A Most Violent Year
Nightcrawler
Only Lovers Left Alive

BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY
Appropriate Behavior
Dear White People
Little Accidents
The One I Love
She's Lost Control

It's a bit weird to see the screenplay categories have little overlap with the feature categories, especially Birdman and Nightcrawler but I'll chalk it up as a positive in that voters are actually thinking about each category. With that said, I've only see three of the ten films cited here so I need to up my game a bit.

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD (Low Budget Films)
Blue Ruin
It Felt Like Love
Land Ho!
Man From Reno
Test

I've heard good stuff about Land Ho! so I can't wait to check that out and I have seen Test which I liked, but thought it just okay.

BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM
Force Majeure, Sweden
Ida, Poland
Leviathan, Russia
Mommy, Canada
Norte, the End of History, Philippines
Under the Skin, UK

Wow, this feels like a stacked category already that could repeat at the Oscar with only Under the Skin not eligible for the latter award. I've only see Under the Skin on this list, but I've already heard very good stuff about most of these and it's cool to see the Philippines represented.

BEST DOCUMENTARY
20,000 Days on Earth
CITIZENFOUR
The Salt of the Earth
Stray Dog
Virunga

I'm ashamed to say I haven't ever heard of any of these. Are all worthy to check out?

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Birdman
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
The Immigrant
It Felt Like Love
Selma

BEST EDITING 
Boyhood
The Guest
Nightcrawler
A Most Violent Year
Whiplash

ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD

Inherent Vice

SPECIAL DISTINCTION AWARD
Foxcatcher      

Not much to say about the rest of the categories except to say how ecstatic I am to see Adam Wingard's The Guest nominated for anything. It's one of the pleasant surprises for me this year and if it was up to me I probably would've nominated it for Feature, Directing, and Lead Actor.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Let us give thanks...


"I have decided to scalp you and burn your village to the ground."

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Birthday Boy: Leonardo DiCaprio


Leonardo DiCaprio celebrates his 40th birthday today. And even though he's been a bunch of movies for which he has garnered lots prizes and Academy Award nominations, he will ALWAYS be Jack Dawson to me. He can cover himself up in presidential old-age make-up, make-up a fake identity or two or three, and have a lot of dead wives... but he'll still be that fresh-faced artist from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin who saved a girl in every way a person could've been saved. So basically, happy birthday Leo and oh, draw me like one of your French girls.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Looking Forward To...


Horns
Release: October 31, 2014
Distributor: Radius-TWC
Director: Alexandre Aja
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Juno Temple, Max Minghella, David Morse, Joe Anderson, James Remar, and Heather Graham

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Kalinda Goes, NPH Hosts

Today was a busy pop culture day wasn't it? Stand-alone streaming service from HBO! Every Friends episode available on Netflix next year! Superhero films through the year 2020! Yet none of those made the cut for me tweeting about them. These two news report did though...


Yup, everyone's favorite leather-bound in-house investigator is leaving The Good Wife filling me with much sadness. Apparently Archie Panjabi recently signed a talent deal with 20th Century TV and will be headlining a drama pilot for them so at least we won't be without her talents for long. I, however, can still mourn the end of Kalinda and contemplate why the show's first breakout character and Emmy-winning role has been so wasted the past few seasons. Severing her ties to Alicia in the third season hurt, but it was the abusive husband storyline in the fourth season that seemed like the point of no return for the character as the writers then decided to stop any character development at all for her perhaps out of making the same mistake again. For the best drama in broadcast TV the past few years, it's the rare blind spot for them and I truly hope that at least with the end in sight they're able to craft an ending as brilliant as the character was in the first season. At the very least, they could have her share a scene with the Alicia, which apparently hasn't happened since season 4!


And finally, Neil Patrick Harris is finally hosting the Oscars! He'll emcee the upcoming telecast and it really is about damn time. I knew that as soon as How I Met Your Mother ended, it wouldn't take long for him to get asked and for him to accept. Apparently, they first asked Julia-Louis Dreyfus (which would've been fantastic also), but she turned them down. So instead, Harris will be just one Grammy hosting duty away from claiming the EGOT of hosting as he has already hosted the Tony Awards (to much critical acclaim) numerous times as well as the Emmy Awards. Mind you, he just won the Tony for headlining Hedwig and the Angry Inch (I saw him in it and LOVED it) *and* in the midst of a book tour to promote his autobiography. Where the hell does he find the time? It will be interesting that he'll be hosting the Oscars with his latest film, Gone Girl, already one of the front-runners for the award.