Saturday, December 31, 2011

Video: Filmography 2011

"Of course it's happening inside your head. Why should that mean it's not real?"

Any Harry Potter fan know where that quote is from, but as I watched the latest year-end film montage (below) and thought about all of the films I've watched this year, the quote really does speak to all cinephiles alike. We all share this love for the movies which in essence are stories "happening inside our heads" and as fabricated as most of them may be, why couldn't they be "real?" With that said, see the great montage below:



And with that, we bid adieu to 2011. I'll try to post my ranked TV list very soon (i.e. tomorrow) and then after catching up on 2-3 more films, start on my year-end Film posts. To anyone reading this, thanks first of all and also have a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

End-Of-Year: 2011 TV Winners

In previous years I would actually try to talk about each and everyone of my nominees and why I picked them. Stretched myself a bit thin this year so I'm afraid I won't be doing that. But feel free to comment on those nominations and perhaps tell me performances I may have overlooked. With that said, here are my pick for my favorites...


Best Actor, Drama: Damian Lewis, Homeland

Runner-Up: Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad

Cranston had this in the bag until I saw Homeland this past week and was just absolutely blown away by Lewis. Perhaps it's because it's the performance that's made the most recent impact since I was also pretty blown away by Cranston this season. I think in the end I went with the actor who was the strongest element on his show.

Best Actress, Drama: Emmy Rossum, Shameless
Runner-Up: Anna Torv, Fringe

This was a tough decision for me and I think I chose via my expectations. While I expected great performances from my other nominees, I really had no idea that Rossum had this performance in her. Great chemistry with the rest of the cast and the camera loves her. Torv won last year and she continues to do under-appreciated work on an under-appreciated show.

Best Actor, Comedy: Steve Carell, The Office
Runner-Up: Matt Smith, Doctor Who

I never said I couldn't be swayed by sentimentality, but gosh darnit I can't believe Carell will NEVER win an Emmy for this role. His last few episodes were heartbreaking, funny, and touching and his absence this new season has been palpable. Smith or Wood probably could've win this, but I needed to honor Carell.

Best Actress, Comedy: Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation
Runner-Up: Toni Collette, United States of Tara

The parade of last year's winners being runner-ups ends here. Poehler won my award last year when I wasn't even into the show that much. This year with my absolute devotion to her show, I couldn't not give her this deserved honor. Collette, however, more than deserves this for the tough/tricky things she had to do this past season.


Best Supporting Actor, Drama: Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad

Runner-Up: Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones

I'm so happy they both have already won an Emmy, because next year when they have to go up against each other it'd be my own Sophie's Choice. I give a slight edge to Paul since I think he's doing more complicated things emotionally (and with more complex plots). Quick shout out to Reedus who I nominated for really crafting a character almost from nothing on his show.

Best Supporting Actress, Drama: Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Runner-Up: Madeleine Stowe, Revenge

I was duly impressed with everyone who I nominated for this, but the winner had to be one of these two fierce scene-stealing ladies who both play wealthy and demanding matriarchs. Smith had the edge since I like her show a bit more and is just delightful in every scene she's in.

Best Supporting Actor, Comedy: Arthur Darvill, Doctor Who
Runner-Up: Jim Rash, Community

This was probably the toughest category ever considering I left off Neil Patrick Harris, Nick Offerman and Dani Pudi in my nominations. But maybe that's why my top two picks ended up being two actors who would probably least expect to get this award. Darvill was the best part of this past season of Doctor Who and Rash manages to steal scenes even with his talented cast.

Best Supporting Actress, Comedy: Mayim Bialik, Big Bang Theory
Runner-Up: Cobie Smulders, How I Met Your Mother

Bialik is a godsend to her show since I think without her interactions with the girls, the show would've gotten stale. Instead, it's actually funnier than ever and she has quickly become my favorite character on there. The writers haven't had an easy time trying to figure out what to do with Smulders, but whatever crazy thing they come up with her, she's more than game.


Best Ensemble: Game of Thrones

Runner-Up: The Good Wife

Last year, I picked The Good Wife to win in this category and even this year the show garnered 5 acting nominations from me. With that said, I do love the expansive cast of Game of Thrones including, or more especially, the younger actors.

Best Limited Role, Actor: Mark Margolis, Breaking Bad
Runner-Up: Craig Roberts, Being Human

Margolis had one episode where he spoke and it was maybe 4 lines in Spanish. The rest of the time he was immobile and communicated only by ringing a bell. And it was beautiful especially when he rang his bell one last time. Roberts was so good they gave him a web series spin-off which was pretty great as well.

Best Limited Role, Actress: Carrie Preston, The Good Wife
Runner-Up: Suranne Jones, Doctor Who

I don't think I ever laughed as much as the episode where Preston guest starred on The Good Wife this season and while the episode itself was comical, she was the highlight for me. Jones in the meantime was in one of my favorite Doctor Who episodes ever playing an inanimate object/the love of the main character's life. Don't you want to watch it just to make sense of what I just said?

I'll save my picks for Best Shows when I post my list of Favorite Shows of 2011 in a day or two. In the meantime, here are the nominees to refresh your memories:

Best Drama: Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey, Fringe, Game of Thrones, The Good Wife, Homeland
Best Comedy: Community, Cougar Town, Doctor Who, Happy Endings, How I Met Your Mother, Parks and Recreation
Best New Show: Game of Thrones, Happy Endings, Homeland, Revenge, Shameless, Wilfred

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Looking Forward To...


The Iron Lady
Release: December 30, 2011
Distributor: Weinstein Company
Director: Phyllida Lloyd
Starring: Meryl Streep, Anthony Stewart Head, Jim Broadbent, Olivia Colman, Iain Glen, Harry Lloyd, Richard E. Grant, Roger Allam, and Nicholas Farrell

Birthday Girl: Maggie Smith


In honor of Dame Maggie Smith's 77th Birthday I was going to peruse her IMDb credits and then list my top 7 characters she's ever played. In an odd bit of coincidence, however, I discovered I've seen her play only 7 characters (not including her voice work in this year's Gnomeo & Juliet) in her long and great career. This, of course, speaks more about me and my lack of initiative to see anything she has done before the 90s including her two Oscar-winning performances California Suite and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, but I still found it a bit humorous.

In any case, in chronological order they are...

Granny Wendy in Hook - I'm pretty sure this wasn't the first film I saw her in, but even if it was it's such a small cameo that I wouldn't have registered her at all.

Mother Superior in Sister Act - This movie/series was for some reason a big part of my youth perhaps since I went to Catholic school, but her character's evolution is obviously my favorite. She reprises the role in the possibly more entertaining sequel Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit a year later. Too bad we never got to see her sing in the films though.

Mrs. Medlock in The Secret Garden - I remember totally hating her in this film (which also happens to be one of my favorite films of all time) when I was younger. Of course I couldn't see that she was just trying to do what she thought was best and her love/loyalty to the family was unquestionable.

Constance Trentham in Gosford Park - For one of my favorite films ever, I have an awful memory when it comes to individual characters so I can't quite comment on Smith's Contance at the moment, but again I loved the film and it's the only Oscar-nominated role of hers I've seen.

Mastery of the "Bitch, Please" Face

Professor Minerva McGonagall in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - And with this role she was introduced to a whole new generation of fans who only grew to love her as the character she played continued to grow in the books and in the films. She appears in every film of the series with the exception of the second to last film, but she probably made her biggest impact in this year's finale.

Lady Gresham in Becoming Jane - Not much new in this role playing a very rich British aristocrat, as she does, but it's Maggie Smith. Hathaway and McAvoy should just be glad they were on a film with her!

Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham in Downton Abbey - She recently won an Emmy Award for this role as she should as she takes a lifetime of playing upper crust British dames and stern-faced sharp-tongued ladies and shows it all off on this scene-stealing character.

So that's my own complete history with Maggie Smith's filmography. I know she'll continue to be awesome in Downton Abbey for as long as that show is made, but with nearly a decade since her last Oscar nomination, I'm itching for her to be in the conversation again. She does have a film coming out soon and she's filming another one, but whether or not they will garner her Oscar attention is tough to tell. At this point of her career and life though, the Oscars is probably the last thing on her mind especially with her recent bout with cancer.

And hell, on her 77th birthday "Happy BAMFday Maggie Smith" trended on twitter. She clearly really has nothing left to prove.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Link Roundup: Weekend, Who, and Oscar Memo


Seems like everyone was talking about Weekend or other gay films the past week or so. I already made my feelings known regarding Weekend and it should figure in my own top 10 list, but you should also try to check it out yourself. If you have Netflix, it's available on Instant. Also peruse...

In Contention Guy Lodge posts his personal Top 20 Films of 2011 with Weekend topping his list.

Towleroad Nathaniel includes Weekend's British pair on his list of Best LGBT Characters of the Year.

A Blog Next Door But Manuel shows that not everyone is high on Weekend as he eloquently lays out his problems with the film.

After Elton looks at the Year in Movies and duly notes queer films and actors who made their mark in 2011.

Already having slight Doctor Who withdrawal even if I was decidedly mixed on the Christmas special. Others had their own thoughts...

Rob Will Review loved "The Doctor, The Widow, and the Wardrobe" and does an amazing job making me rethink about my own thoughts about the episode.

What's Alan Watching though is one of the many critics not exactly enthused.

And finally, Oscar nominations are a little less than a month away and...

Film Experience Nathaniel sends a friendly memo to AMPAS members on the top 10 things they need to consider as they fill out their ballots, which they should've received today.

End-Of-Year: 2011 TV Nominees


I watch a lot of TV. Some would say too much TV, but that just makes it all the more difficult to determine my favorites of the past year. Like last year, I found it most difficult to narrow down the supporting categories since there have been some truly noteworthy performances even in not so special shows. In any case, I've generally made peace with this list so before I start over-thinking it all over again, here are my nominations...

Best Show, Drama
Breaking Bad
Downton Abbey
Fringe
Game of Thrones
The Good Wife
Homeland

Best Show, Comedy
Community
Cougar Town
Doctor Who
Happy Endings
How I Met Your Mother
Parks and Recreation

Best New Show
Game of Thrones
Happy Endings
Homeland
Revenge
Shameless
Wilfred

Best Ensemble
Breaking Bad
Parks and Recreation
Game of Thrones
The Good Wife
Downton Abbey
Community

Best Actor, Drama
Kyle Chandler, Friday Night Lights
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Damian Lewis, Homeland
Aidan Turner, Being Human
Ben Whishaw, The Hour

Best Actor, Comedy
Steve Carell, The Office
Nathan Fillion, Castle
Joel McHale, Community
Jim Parsons, Big Bang Theory
Matt Smith, Doctor Who
Elijah Wood, Wilfred

Best Actress, Drama
Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey
Claire Danes, Homeland
Romolai Garai, The Hour
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Emmy Rossum, Shameless
Anna Torv, Fringe

Best Actress, Comedy
Beth Behrs, 2 Broke Girls
Toni Collette, United States of Tara
Courtney Cox, Cougar Town
Karen Gillan, Doctor Who
Jane Levy, Suburgatory
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation

Best Supporting Actor, Drama
Alan Cummings, The Good Wife
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
John Noble, Fringe
Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
Norman Reedus, The Walking Dead
Brent Sexton, The Killing

Best Supporting Actor, Comedy
Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Arthur Darvill, Doctor Who
Jim Rash, Community
Adam Scott, Parks and Recreation
Eddie Izzard, United States of Tara
Jason Segel, How I Met Your Mother

Best Supporting Actress, Drama
Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones
Joan Cusack, Shameless
Archie Panjabi, The Good Wife
Madeleine Stowe, Revenge
Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Karine Vanesse, Pan Am

Best Supporting Actress, Comedy
Eliza Coupe, Happy Endings
Mayim Bialik, Big Bang Theory
Julie Bowen, Modern Family
Busy Phillips, Cougar Town
Naya Rivera, Glee
Cobie Smulders, How I Met Your Mother

Best Limited Role, Actor
Misha Collins, Supernatural
Mos Def, Dexter
Zach Gilford, Friday Night Lights
Mark Margolis, Breaking Bad
Zachary Quinto, American Horror Story
Craig Roberts, Being Human

Best Limited Role, Actress
Kehinde Fadipe, Misfits
Dot-Marie Jones, Glee
Suranne Jones, Doctor Who
Carrie Preston, The Good Wife
Anika Noni Rose, The Good Wife
Jessica Tuck, True Blood

Nomination Tally: 7 - The Good Wife; 5 - Breaking Bad, Doctor Who, Game of Thrones; 4 - Community, Downton Abbey, Homeland, Parks and Recreation; 3 - Cougar Town, Fringe, Happy Endings, How I Met Your Mother, Shameless; 2 - Being Human, Big Bang Theory, Dexter, Friday Night Light, Glee, The Hour, Modern Family, Revenge, United States of Tara, Wilfred; 1 - American Horror Story, Castle, The Killing, Misfits, The Office, Pan Am, Suburgatory, Supernatural, True Blood, 2 Broke Girls, Walking Dead

With all of the extra categories and opening myself up to six nominations per category, I was able to honor 34 different shows and 60 performances. What can I say? I'm the "everyone gets a trophy" kind of guy. With that said, I will pick out a winner for each. Probably tomorrow or the day after. Soon after that, I'll post my ranked list of my favorite TV shows of the year, but it's also quite evident which shows those will be with these nominations.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Thoughts on Doctor Who & Downton Abbey Christmas Specials

America really needs to adopt this quirky, but totally great British tradition of having some of its prime-time shows do one-off Christmas specials that actually air on Christmas. Of course it won't ever happen here in America where ratings and Nielsen are what matters, but it's nice to have access to those happening across the pond. With that said, I did watch the latest Christmas specials of two of my favorite shows yesterday, Doctor Who and Downton Abbey, and they were just delightful. My thoughts are below, but only my Doctor Who thoughts are spoilery since Downton Abbey's second season hasn't even aired in America yet.

Doctor Who

I'm not quite sure what to make of this episode. I enjoyed it surely and there were some tears shed especially towards the end, but there were parts that felt a bit off. Maybe it was my mind trying to put the Narnia-esque storyline with talking trees and big robots all together or the somewhat silly forest life force inhabiting a person only to be dispersed in the stars. I have to say, however, Matt Smith was still as wonderful as ever as the Doctor. The first half was very fun/funny really tapping into the "this show is for kids and it's Christmas dammit" tone what with the backwards helmet, the lemonade faucet, and the hammocks for bed. But of course the show is at its best when it tries to tap into just a bit of sadness which was evident in the mother's ordeal of not telling her kids on Christmas that their father had been killed or the Doctor's everlasting feeling of loneliness. In true Christmas fashion though both were fixed by the end and as contrived and saccharine the resolutions turned out to be, I was, as the Doctor would say, "Happy Tearing. Humany Wumany." The end especially with the Doctor reuniting with Amy and Rory (a most pleasant surprise to me) was fantastic. With all the craziness and drama they've all been through the past two seasons, it was nice for them to have this moment. There was also something very affecting to the Doctor spending time with his friends like that or maybe it was seeing the Doctor/Smith cry. I am dreading ever more how they handle permanently separating the Doctor from the Ponds sometime next season. B

Downton Abbey

This past season, which again hasn't aired in America and won't until this upcoming spring, had more than a few story-lines that frustrated me to no end, but the cast has always been up to the task. My favorite storyline, I have to admit, is the continuing saga of Matthew and Mary whose relationship I had grown to deeply care about as the season progressed. Most of this I attribute to the actors Michelle Dockery and Dan Stevens. I say all of this because I was particularly glad that they weren't shortchanged in this Christmas special. With that said, I found this Christmas special quite engrossing. In fact this episode felt more like a season finale than what we actually got a few weeks ago and while there were some characters and story-lines that had to be pushed aside, I felt they shone proper light to those that needed more resolution especially as the next new episode won't be until autumn of next year. As I tried to keep spoilers out, I shall stop now, but I do have to say Maggie Smith steals every scene she's in. This is true for the season, the special, and life in general. A-

I started off this entry wishing American TV would copy the ways of British TV, but then I realized that I probably shouldn't be too hasty. The quirky British scheduling means that I now have to wait 9-10 months for the new episodes for both of these shows. That wait, especially with how each ended their respective specials, is damn interminable. They say patience is a virtue, but I'm not really the virtuous sort.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Don we now our gay apparel...

Hoping everyone is having a very Merry Christmas and just a general happy holiday season. I'm taking just a bit of a blogging breather, but should have my year-end TV nominations in a day or two.

In the meantime, here's a great scene from this past and final season of United States of Tara...


Marshall: You really like Christmas, huh?
Sandi: Makes me happier than anything in creation.
[...]
Sandi: You have such soft hands for a boy. You're a gay, aren't you?
Marshall: I am.
Sandi: How is that?
Marshall: It's like... Christmas every day.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Thoughts on Dexter and Terra Nova Finales

Right around this time of year I usually post my year-end Best of TV lists, but since I'm finding myself behind on a few shows, I'm delaying a bit until after Christmas when hopefully I would have had time to catch up. With that said, I do want to briefly talk about two shows that had their season finales this past week.

Dexter

The last words of the season was "Oh God" and it's pretty appropriate since all season we were hammered by religion and God. It didn't really work for me especially after Brother Sam was killed since he provided a grounding presence for Dexter and for the audience. Of course, those words was said by Dexter reacting to getting caught killing Travis by sister Deb. It's a moment that fans of the show have been waiting for and as far as cliffhangers go, there's nothing bigger for this show than that. They slightly telegraphed the ending, but maybe it was just me looking for something exciting to happen since the finale itself, like the season, had been subpar. Colin Hanks (and Edward J. Olmos) were fairly game this whole season and some of the apocalyptic imagery was gruesome and exciting, but in general the season felt weaker than most. The finale was especially boring as the big drama was whether or not something would happen with Jamie and even though the show is known for their twists and shocks, they weren't going to kill Dexter's child.

With that said, I was impressed by what Jennifer Carpenter and Michael C. Hall had to do, not just in the finale, but in the entire season as well. I was initially worried that their rocky real-life relationship would mean less scenes between the two siblings or scenes that lacked any chemistry. It turned out it was the complete opposite this season with Deb examining her relationship with Dexter and her feelings for him all season giving us plenty of scenes between the two with lots of nuance and emotional charge. I do question the incestuous arc though especially since it doesn't really add anything to the dynamics. Deb already loved Dexter (as a brother) and her reaction to Dexter killing would probably not have changed that much even if she wasn't in love with him. I also question it from the point of view of the writers torturing these two recently divorced actors by putting them in an awkward romantic storyline together. As for the rest of the season, I've already forgotten about it. Here's to hoping a stronger season next year!

Dexter Finale: C+ (B+ for the last 15 seconds!)
Dexter Season 6: B-

Terra Nova

The two-hour finale made me sad, because it offered us a glimpse of what the show could've been this season. It wasn't fantastic, but it was a solid two hours of great energy, good plotting, and thrilling action. If you remember all the way back to the pilot, I was actually high on the show. The show had lots of potential and other than my general annoyance of the Shannon family, I tried to be optimistic. Unfortunately the Shannons became the focal point of the show which would have been okay if we had gotten to learn about other characters, but not really. The finale didn't really change my mind about the family, mostly because I was really disappointed they all managed to come out of it alive, but I was impressed by Elizabeth pretending to inject the guy with dangerous larvae to help Jim escape.

Part of the finale was great. I love that within minutes of the beginning the whole compound was already taken over. Seeing the citizens of Terra Nova (who we should know more of by now) come together was a nice touch. Jim running away from a T-rex who was trying to outrun a fire was a fantastic scene (need more of this please!). And yet still more things to nitpick such as the decision to make Lucas and the rest of the bad guys so one-dimensional. Though I guess in Lucas' case he has more than one dimension but they all hate daddy. And I'm not sure how I feel about The Badlands which is like this show's version of Rambaldi or The Numbers. Now, I'm down on this show because despite the crappy first season it has squandered it's still about a show about a group of people from the future going back in time 85 millions to live with the dinosaurs. THAT IS COOL. They just need to make me care about the characters AND NOT JUST THE SHANNONS. They need to give us more danger, more awe, more of everything really. Well not the Shannons. Less of them would be nice.

Terra Nova Finale: B
Terra Nova Season 1: C+

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Looking Forward To...


The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Release: December 21, 2011
Distributor: Sony/Columbia
Director: David Fincher
Starring: Daniel Craig, Christopher Plummer, Robin Wright Penn, Stellan Skarsgard, Geraldine James, Goran Visnjic, Joel Kinnaman, Joely Richardson, and Rooney Mara

Christmas Movie Offerings

We're four days away from Christmas, but since that falls on a Sunday this year the Christmas box office starts today with the release of The Adventures of Albert Nobbs with the Dragon Tintin. On Friday, We Bought the Land of Blood and Honey comes out and then on Christmas Day Extremely Loud War & Incredibly Close Horse makes it debut. Wait... back up, let's start over.

Like last month for Thanksgiving, there are about seven films coming out this upcoming holiday which I'm interested in checking out though if I'm being honest, I'm only planning on seeing 3-4 of them in theaters. The good thing about the films coming out is that they're all aiming for slightly different audiences which means there should be something for everyone. And with super famous names both in front and behind the cameras, Hollywood is hoping for some potentially big numbers.

The Films For the Whole Family

Not sure where to take the little ones on the trip to the cinema? Well you can catch up on the number of films that are already out such as Arthur Christmas, The Muppets, Hugo, or even that not-at-all recommended Chipmunks movie. But if you want your animals, maybe check out We Bought A Zoo, a film by Cameron Crowe starring Matt Damon as a father who, not shockingly, buys a zoo. Scarlett Johansson and Elle Fanning co-star. Or you can also see a film that's already made more than $200 million internationally and is directed by Steven Spielberg. That film is The Adventures of Tintin which is based on a popular Belgian comic book character. Jamie Bell, Daniel Craig, and Simon Pegg are among the voice actors.

The Films For the Whole Family with Older Kids

Speaking of Spielberg and animals, War Horse also comes out this weekend, more specifically on Christmas Day. Most of the marketing for this film focuses on the horse and the way Spielberg makes war look so darn pretty and cinematic. There's also Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, a film by Stephen Daldry based on a book about an autistic kid whose father dies on 9/11. Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, and Viola Davis are in the film. Both films seem to aim at tackling some serious events in history with a heartwarming tale that is bound to tug at your heart and make you cry. I can't wait.

The Films Certainly Not For Kids

Finally, if all of these other films seems a little too candy cane sweet and ho-ho-ho jolly and you prefer something a bit edgier and thrilling then David Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is for you. This is definitely one film I'm looking forward to, partly because of the amazing trailer I've seen ad nauseum and partly due to the track record of everyone involve. The film stars Rooney Mara, Daniel Craig, and Christopher Plummer with Mara getting some award notices already for a tough role. There's also Angelina Jolie's directorial debut with In the Land of Blood and Honey which I'm thinking is a war story like War Horse except a little more brutal.

Fringe Contenders: Will either/both be nominated for an Oscar?

Of course there's also Albert Nobbs starring Glenn Close, which probably fit in the middle group except I doubt many kids, even older kids, are clamoring to see this one. She's getting some Oscar buzz for this film playing a woman pretending to be a man though the general reviews for this is decidedly mixed to negative. The other films have generally positive reviews with Fincher's Dragon Tattoo the best bet there and Daldry's Extremely Loud waiting for more reviews to give consensus.

There are plenty of other films in the marketplace for audiences most notably this past weekend's box office champ Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and the very well-reviewed Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol as well as some Oscar favorites like The Artist and My Week with Marilyn. For me, I'll do my best to catch The Artist, Mission Impossible, Adventures of Tintin, Extremely Loud, and Dragon Tattoo in the next two weeks or so. What are you looking forward to this holiday season?

Monday, December 19, 2011

One ring to rule them all...


Ten years ago today, America got its first glimpse of Middle Earth as Peter Jackson visualized from J.R.R Tolkien's epic trilogy The Lord of the Rings. The first film, Fellowship of the Rings, was a box office and critical hit making $47 million in its opening weekend for a total of $313 million overall and winning 4 out of its 13 Academy Award nominations. Even with the bar set high with the first film, the series kept bettering itself. Each subsequent film made more than the one before it with the final film, Return of the King, cracking $1 billion worldwide becoming, at the time, the only film to do so since Titanic. The final film also tied Titanic and Ben Hur for most Oscars won with 11 trophies.

What Peter Jackson achieved, along with the superbly talented cast and crew he assembled, was nothing short of amazing. Saying he brought Tolkien's world--The Shire, Mordor, Rivendell, and Helm's Deep--to life would be an understatement. As grand as the visuals and story were, the cast and characters were my favorite parts. Seeing the hobbits shuffling alongside Gandalf or Legolas riding a giant elephant or Eowyn killing the Nazgul or Smeagol channeling his inner Gollum... pure cinematic wonderfulness. It also made household names of Viggo Mortensen, Orlando Bloom*, Andy Serkis, Dominic Monaghan, and many more.

*As an aside, kudos to this film series for introducing me and the world for the first time to brown-haired brown-eyed Orlando Bloom who of course played the blonde-haired blue-eyed Legolas. The level of fanboyism I devoted to him rivaled that of my first fandom love Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

And it's not over! Jackson is currently hard at work in New Zealand reunited with a lot of the same people he worked with for the prequel entitled The Hobbit, which will be divided into two films. The Lord of the Rings trilogy was a lightning in a bottle, so who's to say these next two films will live up to that? No one can really, but boy am I excited to revisit Middle Earth again.

Watch the very first teaser trailer for the series after the jump...

Critics Groups Rundown


Since last week, about 11 critics groups have chimed in with four groups doing so this morning. The groups represented below are the following:

Toronto Film Critics Association, San Diego Film Critics Society (SDFCS), African-American Film Critics Association (AAFCA), Houston Film Critics Society (HFCS), Las Vegas Film Critics Society (LVFCS), Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association (DFWFCA), Detroit Film Critics Society (DFCS), Chicago Film Critics Association (CFCA), Florida Film Critics Circle (FFCC), St. Louis Film Critics Association (SLFC), Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA)

The number in parenthesis represent the total number of critics awards the film or actor has received to date including the wins from last week's update.

BEST PICTURE
  • The Artist (9) - SDFCS, LVFCS, DFCS, SLFC
  • The Descendants (5) - SEFCA, HFCS, DFWFCA, FFCC
  • The Tree of Life (4) - TFCA, AAFCA, CFCA

BEST DIRECTOR
  • Michel Hazanavicius (5) - DFCS, SLFC
  • Martin Scorsese (4) - SEFCA, FFCC
  • Terrence Malick (4) - TFCA, CFCA
  • Nicholas W Refn (3) - SDFCS, HFCS, LVFCS
  • Alexander Payne (1) - DFWFCA
  • Steve McQueen (1) - AAFCA

BEST ACTOR
  • George Clooney (4) - SEFCA, DFWFCA, SLFC
  • Michael Fassbender (4) - HFCS, DFCS, FFCC
  • Michael Shannon (4) - TFCA, SDFCS, CFCA
  • Brad Pitt (2)
  • Jean Dujardin (1) - LVFCS
  • Gary Oldman (1)
  • Woody Harreslson (1) - AAFCA
  • Paul Giamatti (1)

BEST ACTRESS
  • Michelle Williams (8) - TFCA, LVFCS, DFCS, DFWFCA, CFCA, FFCC
  • Meryl Streep (3) - SEFCA
  • Tilda Swinton (2) - HFCS
  • Viola Davis (1) - AAFCA
  • Elizabeth Olsen (1)
  • Rooney Mara (1) - SLFC
  • Brit Marling (1) - SDFCS
  • Yun Jung-Hee (1)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
  • Albert Brooks (11) - AAFCA, HFCS, LVFCS, CFCA, FFCC, SLFC
  • Christopher Plummer (6) - SEFCA, TFCA, DFCS, DFWFCA
  • Nick Nolte (1) - SDFCS

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
  • Jessica Chastain (4) - TFCA, CFCA
  • Shaileen Woodley (4) - SDFCS, HFCS, DFWFCA, FFCC
  • Melissa McCarthy (3) - LVFCS
  • Vanessa Redgrave (1)
  • Octavia Spencer (1)
  • Berenice Bejo (1) - SLFC
  • Janet McTeer (1) - SEFCA
  • Carey Mulligan (1) - DFCS
  • Adepero Oduye (1) - AAFCA
  • Viola Davis (1)

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
  • The Artist (3) - CCFA, FFCC, SLFC
  • Midnight in Paris (2) - SEFCA, SDFCS
  • A Separation (1)
  • 50/50 (1)
  • Margin Call (1)
  • Win Win (1)

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
  • The Descendants (8) - SEFCA, HFCS, DFWFCA, FFCC, SLFC
  • Moneyball (7) - TFCA, SDFCS, LVFCS, DFCS, CCFA
  • Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1)
  • I Will Follow (1) - AAFCA

The Artist remains the frontrunner with the critics with its actor, supporting actress, and script also getting some love this week. The biggest mover this week, however, is Michelle Williams who has built a significant lead with the critics over her fellow actresses while Albert Brooks continues to dominate his category albeit with some tough competition from Christopher Plummer. The other categories are virtually free-for-alls which makes for a disjointed, but exciting awards race. The most intense competition seems to be happening in the Original Screenplay category between The Descendants and Moneyball.

Last week I mentioned to watch out for the unseen films such as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, War Horse, and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, but other than Rooney Mara surprise win with St. Louis critics, they haven't made much of a dent with the critics. But then again, there are still about a dozen or so groups left.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Birthday Hotties: Brad Pitt & Josh Dallas


Two blond prince charmings celebrate their birthdays today. One is getting plenty of Oscar buzz, while the other is in one of the few success stories of the new fall TV season.

The first one needs no introduction as Hollywood A-lister Brad Pitt turns 48 today coming off a fantastic year in film. Just this week, he was nominated for a Golden Globe, SAG Award, and BFCA Award for his portrayal of Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane in Moneyball. All of that coupled with his celebrity status, almost assures him his third Oscar nomination and is a real threat to win his first. He also appeared in this year Cannes-winning film The Tree of Life where I thought he delivered a better performance as the strict father figure.

Relative newcomer Josh Dallas is the other birthday celebrant today turning just 30 years old. He first caught my eye when he appeared in one episode of Hawaii Five-0 last season, but caught my attention again when he appeared in one of the few pleasantly surprising films for me this year, Thor. He just had a bit part there as one of Thor's friends in battle. Despite that, he is probably more well-known now as playing Prince Charming on ABC's Once Upon A Time. While I was initially down on the show, Dallas' chemistry with Ginnifer Goodwin (who plays Snow White) and their respective and interwoven stories are my favorites parts and make me look forward to the show more and more each week.

And just in case, I didn't mention it and you were blind, both of these guys are ridiculous easy on the eyes, too, aren't they? Bastards.

Quick TV Thoughts


No rankings this week since only about a handful of shows were actually on, so just a few quick reactions to each.

The Amazing Race - Didn't blog about this past season at all, but the team that I randomly picked to root for in the first episode ended up winning. Cindy/Ernie may not have been the most lovable team or even the most exciting and Cindy at times had a painfully holier-than-thou attitude, but they ran a good and consistent race and made all the right decisions in the final leg to win. I was especially glad they beat out Jeremy/Sandy who I couldn't believe actually made it that far. Props to Marcus/Amani for making it to the final three as well. Not the most exciting season. The casting was a bit bland and I've already forgotten what happened, but it's a show I will only stop watching when they stop airing it.

The Good Wife - This was the perfect episode to leave us until the show comes back in January. So many juicy things transpired and storylines I'm dying to get back to. First there's the beginnings of the thawing of the Great Cold War between Kalinda and Alicia after Alicia finally learned how Kalinda found Grace. The episode also gave us an "angry Alicia" scene, which I always love, when she threatened to sue Cary in some civil action suit if he didn't release Kalinda (arrested for harassing jurors). Speaking of angry, this was the first time I was impressed with Chris Noth's portrayal of Peter. The way he turned on the charm at the beginning only to delve back into his darker side towards the end was bone chilling. Finally, I loved the bombshell twist Wendy Scott Carr delivered Will. I already miss this show!

Once Upon A Time - I'm not exactly sure what I thought of this episode. It was a great showcase for Jamie Dornan of course, but the writers didn't really do anything new and exciting with the Hunstman story. First of all, my friends and I predicted he'd be the Hunstman from the first episode and were just a bit disappointed at how obvious it was. In any case, Graham remembering his fairy tale past after kissing Emma (just have her kiss the whole town!) was intriguing, but did they really have to kill him off? Is he really dead? I wished I cared more.

Terra Nova - When I saw this week's episode, I thought it was the season finale and when it ended I was ready to tear down the show for not only giving us a relatively disappointing season, but also for providing us with the worst/weakest finale ever. So when I saw the promo for next week's action-packed two-hour finale, I had to re-evaluate my feelings for the episode which in this new context wasn't terrible, but still a bit anti-climactic. From Skye's exposure as the mole to Taylor/Lucas' big reunion, it all felt rushed and a bit inconsequential. Despite my negative/neutral reviews this whole season, I am still rooting for this show. Hope it can end on a high note then have some time to tweak itself if it comes back.

Glee - Not the worst episode this season, because wow that bar has been set below sea level, and it actually helped that there really was no discernible plot marking this episode almost as a one-off. If you approached the episode as some weird gay Christmas dream that you can forget about the next day, it becomes tolerable. A few of the numbers were cute and I did miss the whole gang together again after the faux drama of splitting everyone up this season. The black-and-white show was cheesiness to the max that was equal parts cringe-worthy and fabulous. I'm also enjoying Sam's new-found levelheadedness and maturity which I'll just hope would be contagious in the new year for everyone else. I'm looking at you, Sue.

New Girl - I think the episode was good? I honestly wasn't paying attention, but it really wasn't the show's fault since I find myself multitasking with some of these shows I'm not fully invested in. Nick being involved with Jess and Paul's break-up was pretty funny, but I found Schmidt's sexy Santa thing only mildly amusing. Winston bonding with the boy, and also having scenes with Schmidt's boss, has potential. The end was supposed to be cute, I think, but I just found it forced and a bit annoying. Hm, I just described this show in one sentence didn't I?

The Year With Katie Couric - Basically it was two hours of Katie recapping what transpired during the year. It was on the background as I did other stuff. It was pretty much lots of people protesting, lots of people being obsessed with the Kardashians, lots of people affected by disasters, lots of people breaking through and loving Ryan Gosling or Adele or being obsessed with the royal wedding, and people like Liz Taylor and Amy Winehouse leaving us. Bring it 2012.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Video: 2011 Cinematic Joy

Yet another end of year film montage, but the maker of this one was responsible for my favorite year-end montage last year. He does it again this year, of course, using U2's "Where the Streets Have No Name" (featured on the trailers for Extremely Loud & Incredible Close) to score almost all of it until the very last few seconds where, like last year, he ends with the beautiful score by Michael Giachinno (Lost, Super 8).

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Holy Trinity of Acting Nominations

When an actor has been nominated by the BFCA, SAG, and Golden Globes, aka the holy trinity of acting nominations (in terms of key precursors for the Oscars), it almost always means they are headed towards an Oscar nomination. You have the critics, the industry, and journalists all represented there. Now, there are definitely exceptions with Mila Kunis last year as a recent example of someone who was nominated for all three, but failing to garner an Oscar nomination. In any case, this year 13 actors find themselves in this position and all of them seem very likely, if not locked, for an Oscar nod.

You'd think they'd be a little happier?

Actor: Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Jean Dujardin, Leonardo DiCaprio

Actress: Michelle Williams, Meryl Streep, Viola Davis, Tilda Swinton

Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer, Kenneth Branagh

Supporting Actress: Jessica Chastain, Octavia Spencer, Berenice Bejo

If anyone is in a weak position, it's DiCaprio, but he's in a Clint Eastwood film, playing a famous person while wearing tons of prosthetic make-up, and is "due." Now, there are a few actors that just missed out on getting the holy trinity by just one organization. They all technically are still in the conversation for an Oscar nod, but some definitely have higher chances than others.

Michael Fassbender, Ryan Gosling, Charlize Theron, and Albert Brooks all missed out on SAG nominations, perhaps because their films aren't as accessible as other films. Though in the case of Gosling, he received three different nominations (two of them Golden Globes) for three different films which puts him in a more precarious position than others. The Descendant's Shailene Woodley also failed to register with the SAG, but her youth and the fact that she's nominated along with her ensemble makes it more understandable.

Glenn Close and her Albert Nobbs co-star Janet McTeer were both snubbed by the BFCA which seemed even more egregious since the organization nominates 6 per category. Jonah Hill also missed out with the BFCA. Finally, Nick Nolte and Melissa McCarthy failed Golden Globe nominations. Perhaps the HFPA didn't find either of them "Hollywood" enough?

In any case, all of them still have a good a chance as any other actor in the same or worse position they're finding themselves in now. The only almost sure bet with this group is for Albert Brooks to get nominated, but again who knows?

On the outside with realistic chances are actors such as Carey Mulligan, Vanessa Redgrave, Armie Hammer, Patton Oswalt, Elizabeth Olsen, Gary Oldman, and Michael Shannon.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Birthday Girl: Michelle Dockery


Happy 30th Birthday Michelle Dockery!

Michelle who? Well, if you watch the Emmy winning (and more recently Golden Globe nominated) show Downton Abbey then you would know that she plays the oldest daughter Lady Mary Crawley. Mary is known for being tough as nail and downright abrasive on the outside, but her hidden depths and struggles make her one of the most complicated and interesting character on the show. Her rocky (and epic) romance with Matthew Crawley, played by the equally pretty and talented Dan Stevens, is one of my favorite elements on the show, but her character is fabulous all on her own as well.

Now I've only seen Dockery on this one show, unless you count her 1 or 2-minute scene in this year's Hanna playing Cate Blanchett's double who meets an untimely end in the hands of Saoirse Ronan, so I hope she starts appearing in more things soon. She did seem to impress Hanna director Joe Wright enough for her to appear in his next film Anna Karenina, but unfortunately she's not playing the lead role. Hollywood, give her something!

Golden Globes: Film Nominations


The Artist solidifies its front-runner status as it nabbed a leading 6 nominations this morning followed closely by The Descendants and The Help at 5 nods each. The big winner today though was George Clooney's The Ides of March which notched four nominations after being largely ignored this awards season. Overall, no big shocks and some pleasant surprises. At the very least the Comedy/Musical nominations this year are light years better than they were last year.

Best Director
  • Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
  • George Clooney, The Ides of March
  • Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
  • Alexander Payne, The Descendants
  • Martin Scorsese, Hugo
Things are far from set in this category, but regardless Hazanavisius and Scorsese, two names that gave presenter Sofia Vergara the most trouble, should be set for Oscars, but the other spots are literally up for grabs with still many super famous names and critical favorites in line.

Best Motion Picture, Drama
  • The Help
  • Hugo
  • The Ides of March
  • Moneyball
  • War Horse
  • The Descendants
The biggest snubs seem to be The Tree of Life and Extremely Close and Incredibly Loud, both of which were completely shut out today. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy also came up empty, but that was more expected. Apart from The Ides of March and possibly War Horse, the rest should garner Best Picture nods

Best Actor, Drama
  • George Clooney, The Descendants
  • Leonardo DiCaprio, J. Edgar
  • Michael Fassbender, Shame
  • Ryan Gosling, The Ides of March
  • Brad Pitt, Moneyball
My, my what a certifiably fuckable list. I mean talented. Such a talented list. Clooney and Pitt are Oscar-bound yet again and possibly Leonardo DiCaprio as well with all three repeating their SAG nominations yesterday. Michael Shannon and Gary Oldman really needed to show up here and Ryan Gosling, doubly nominated this year, just has too many films people want to honor. More on that later.

Best Actress, Drama
  • Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
  • Viola Davis, The Help
  • Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  • Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
  • Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin
This is fantastic for Rooney Mara and Glenn Close since the other three are assured Oscar nominations (Davis and Streep) or at least very close to it (Swinton). In Close's case, she went from DOA to true contender with a nod here to match her SAG nomination yesterday. Not so good news to Elizabeth Olsen and Charlize Theron.

Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical
  • 50/50
  • The Artist
  • Bridesmaids
  • Midnight in Paris
  • My Week With Marilyn
I haven't seen The Artist, which again is the Oscar frontrunner, but wow what a line-up of films. This category always gives us some dubious nominees but not this year! I'm especially happy that 50/50 and Midnight in Paris are being recognized.

Best Actor, Comedy or Musical
  • Jean Dujardin, The Artist
  • Brendan Gleeson, The Guard
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt, 50/50
  • Ryan Gosling, Crazy, Stupid, Love
  • Owen Wilson, Midnight in Paris
Dujardin is probably the only one here who will be nominated for an Oscar, but like the category above, this is a great line-up (I would say it's equally fuckable as the Drama section, but I'm not really into Gleeson). I'm especially tickled at Gordon-Levitt and Wilson, the latter the best I've ever seen him in any film. Now about Ryan Gosling. Three nominations this week and all for three different films. People clearly love him (how could you not?) but his fans don't know where to focus the love for Oscars.

Best Actress, Comedy or Musical
  • Jodie Foster, Carnage
  • Charlize Theron, Young Adult
  • Kristen Wiig, Bridesmaids
  • Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn
  • Kate Winslet, Carnage
Three Oscar winners, an Oscar nominee, and Kristen Wiig. Not bad at all. The biggest surprise here are the sudden appearance of the Carnage ladies and yet it's not THAT surprising. What other performances were there this year? I'm rooting for Michelle Williams here slightly especially since she's the only one here who seems to be heading to the Oscars this year.

Best Supporting Actor
  • Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marilyn
  • Albert Brooks, Drive
  • Jonah Hill, Moneyball
  • Viggo Mortensen, A Dangerous Method
  • Christopher Plummer, Beginners
After the inexplicable SAG snub, Brooks is back in the game giving his film its one and only nomination. He is joined by Plummer and Branagh, all three look like good bets for the Oscars. Hill matches his SAG nod yesterday which means his chances of getting his first Oscar nomination just went up by a lot. Happy to see Mortensen recognized, but he has strong competition for Oscars. Patton Oswalt, Armie Hammer, and Nick Nolte just missed.

Best Supporting Actress
  • Berenice Bejo, The Artist
  • Jessica Chastain , The Help
  • Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
  • Octavia Spencer, The Help
  • Shailene Woodley, The Descendants
Pretty shocking to see Melissa McCarthy miss out here after going on a tear the past week or so and especially by the evident love they have for her film. With that said, her SAG nomination still makes her likely to be nominated. Tough luck for Vanessa Redgrace and Carey Mulligan. There's always BAFTA, but the momentum is just not there for either one. Chastain or Spencer for the win here.

Best Animated Film
  • The Adventures of Tintin
  • Arthur Christmas
  • Cars 2
  • Puss In Boots
  • Rango
Everyone else chose to ignore Pixar this year, except I guess these people who missed the memo. They could've at least recognized Winnie the Pooh! In any case, this is between Tintin and Rango and both will similarly duke it out at the Oscars.

Best Foreign Language Film
  • The Flowers of War (China)
  • In The Land of Blood and Honey (USA)
  • The Kid WIth The Bike (Belgium)
  • A Separation (Iran)
  • The Skin I Live In (Spain)
A Separation continues its impressive run through awards season. It'll certainly get nominated, but Oscars don't follow the hype (even if deserved) here. Angelina's directorial debut film also makes it in, which duh.

Best Screenplay
  • The Artist
  • The Descendants
  • The Ides of March
  • Midnight in Paris
  • Moneyball
The Ides of March is the only surprise here with the competition to win between The Descendants (Jim Rash!) and Moneyball. All look likely for an Oscar bid with Ides of March the possible weak link.

Best Score
  • The Artist
  • W.E.
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  • Hugo
  • War Horse
Madonna's film makes it in which makes me think they just wanted her to walk the red carpet ala Angelina Jolie, but whatever. I have no clue who was in the running for this or who was snub, though I suppose this was the place I expected to see Harry Potter, whose star seems to be fading fast this awards season.

Best Song
"Lay Your Head Down," Albert Nobbs
"Hello Hello," Gnomeo and Juliet
"The Living Proof," The Help
"The Keeper," Machine Gun Preacher
"Masterpiece," W.E.

No Muppets? Lame. And I'm already tired writing about awards. The end.

Click here to see my thoughts on the TV nominations.

Golden Globes: TV Nominations


After the woeful decisions the Screen Actors Guild made yesterday, there really was nowhere to go but up with these Golden Globe nominations. They aren't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but the Globes don't really take TV that seriously anyways. With that said, the list is full of new shows with Downton Abbey and Mildred Pierce sharing the honor of amassing the most nominations with 4 each.

Best Television Series, Drama
  • American Horror Story
  • Boardwalk Empire
  • Boss
  • Game of Thrones
  • Homeland
Last year's winner Boardwalk Empire is the only returning show in this very premium cable-heavy line-up. That pretty much tells you the sad state of affairs broadcast TV is in. The Good Wife and Breaking Bad should be on here, but since I only watch one show here (Game of Thrones) I can't really say which show to take out.

Best Actor, Drama
  • Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
  • Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
  • Kelsey Grammer, Boss
  • Jeremy Irons, The Borgias
  • Damian Lewis, Homeland
Rinse and repeat my comments up top. I've only seen Cranston's performance from the lot so there's not much to say, except to comment on Grammer's 9th Globe nomination. They really, really like him. No Michael C. Hall or Kyle Chandler which is a shame, but there's also nary a mention of Patrick J. Adams either.

Best Actress, Drama
  • Claire Danes, Homeland
  • Mireille Enos, The Killing
  • Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
  • Madeleine Stowe, Revenge
  • Callie Thorne, Necessary Roughness
I have no idea who Callie Thorne is, but just for the fact that Stowe is included in this list makes this slightly better than the SAG nominees for me. Apparently Danes is really, really good on her show and will be tough to beat even by the good wife.

Best Television Series, Comedy
  • New Girl
  • Enlightened
  • Episodes
  • Glee
  • Modern Family
Meh. That's pretty much my reaction to these nominees. I like New Girl and Modern Family, but I don't love them and y'all know my feelings about Glee. And as I said yesterday, the omission of Parks & Recreation on these awards shows is simply laughable. Moving on.

Best Actor, Comedy
  • Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
  • David Duchovny, Californication
  • Johnny Galecki, The Big Bang Theory
  • Thomas Jane, Hung
  • Matt LeBlanc, Episodes
How do they not honor Steve Carrell's last season or Emmy winner Ty Burrell? I'm also very confused as to how Galecki, who is pleasant enough, made it over his co-star and last year's winner, Jim Parsons. Then again at least they held off in nominating Morrison again, so that's a point in their favor.

Best Actress, Comedy
  • Tina Fey, 30 Rock
  • Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation
  • Laura Dern, Enlightened
  • Zooey Deschanel, New Girl
  • Laura Linney, The Big C
This is definitely preferable from yesterday's SAG nods if only since they appropriately honored Poehler. I expected Melissa McCarthy to show up here as well after her Emmy win and awards season momentum, but seems like the HFPA didn't get her at all. Alas, Betty White was denied. Didn't know that was still possible.

Best Mini-Series or TV Movie
  • The Hour
  • Downton Abbey
  • Cinema Verite
  • Mildred Pierce
  • Too Big to Fail
Was Sherlock not eligible? Let's just say yes and move on. I'm pretty okay with these nominations. I've seen The Hour, Downton Abbey, and Mildred Pierce and as I said before those latter two led in the nominations. This award is probably Downton Abbey's to lose.

Best Actor, Mini-Series or TV Movie
  • Hugh Bonneville, Downton Abbey
  • Idris Elba, Luther
  • William Hurt, Too Big to Fail
  • Bill Nigh, Page Eight
  • Dominic West, The Hour
Weird to see West nominated and not his co-star Ben Whishaw, but it does hilariously put him up against his old The Wire co-star Idris Elba. Usually the biggest star wins these awards. So that would be...?

Best Actress, Mini-Series or TV Movie
  • Romola Garai, The Hour
  • Diane Lane, Cinema Verite
  • Elizabeth McGovern, Downton Abbey
  • Emily Watson, Appropriate Adult
  • Kate Winslet, Mildred Pierce
What a lovely set of ladies. I'm of course happy for Kate Winslet who was double nominated today after getting a nod for her film Carnage as well, but I'm thrilled to see Romola Garai make it in. Winslet should come out on top though, as she should.

Best Supporting Actor
  • Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
  • Paul Giamatti, Too Big to Fail
  • Guy Pearce, Mildred Pierce
  • Tim Robbins, Cinema Verite
  • Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family
Very happy to see Dinklage here, but I'm still shocked that Aaron Paul is not getting more dues like his Breaking Bad co-star. I'm also a bit surprised that Stonestreet makes it in despite a stronger year for the other actors in his show namely Ty Burrell. And his is of course the only broadcast TV nominations. Sorry Neil Patrick Harris or last year's winner Chris Colfer.

Best Supporting Actress
  • Jessica Lange, American Horror Story
  • Kelly Macdonald, Boardwalk Empire
  • Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
  • Sofia Vergara, Modern Family
  • Evan Rachel Wood, Mildred Pierce
This is actually a pretty great list. A little disappointed that Archie Panjabi didn't make it in or even someone like Naya Rivera, but I wasn't expecting them to be. And while I'm not surprised to see Vergara nominated, I thought her co-star and Emmy winner Julie Bowen would show up here as well.

Click to see my thoughts on the film nominations.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Screen Actors Guild Nominations


Here's the thing. The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) is 90,000+ members strong, but only around 2100 randomly selected actors actually get together and pick out the nominees. The keyword there is "actors" which means unlike critics they don't have the obligation to see everything which puts riskier projects and relatively unknown actors at a distinct advantage. I'm writing all of this less to inform and more to make myself understand where the hell most of these nominations came from. The film nominations aren't that bad actually, especially compared to the truly perplexing TV ones.

Best Ensemble
  • The Artist
  • Bridesmaids
  • The Descendants
  • The Help
  • Midnight in Paris
It's a fairly predictable list, but it's not a bad one. The Artist, The Descendants, and The Help are all looking good for Oscar Best Picture nominations with Midnight in Paris probably just on the edge (and would be more of a sure thing if the Academy had kept their 10 nominations). Bridesmaids is the one film here which has been receiving critic awards for these, but it's less likely it'll translate into anything other than boosting Melissa McCarthy's chances.

Best Actress
  • Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
  • Viola Davis, The Help
  • Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
  • Tilda Swinton, We Need To Talk About Kevin
  • Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn
No newcomers here as all the ladies here have already been nominated for or won an Oscar. The trio of Streep, Davis, and Williams are looking strong with Close getting the miracle she needed to stay in the picture. It's also great news for Swinton who also has had strong support from critics to get nominated for a tough film. Theron was probably the biggest loser here along with Olsen and Jones.

Best Actor
  • Demián Bichir, A Better Life
  • George Clooney, The Descendants
  • Leonardo DiCaprio, J. Edgar
  • Jean Dujardin, The Artist
  • Brad Pitt, Moneyball
Biggest surprise nomination of the day has to go to Demián Bichir. Haven't seen his film, but at least it's an idiosyncratic choice I can understand. The other nominees are less surprising with Clooney, DiCaprio, and Pitt all household names and Dujardin starring in the presumed Oscar front-runner. Unfortunately the edgier films of Fassbender, Gosling, Shannon, and Harrelson put those actors literally on the edge. Big lost for Oldman as well who's still looking for his first Oscar nomination.

Best Supporting Actress
  • Bérénice Bejo, The Artist
  • Jessica Chastain, The Help
  • Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
  • Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
  • Octavia Spencer, The Help
The biggest snubs here are Redgrave and Woodley, but I'm thinking the Golden Globes (and the BAFTA in Redgrave's case) will give them a boost. If McCarthy wasn't in a film like Bridesmaid, she'd be the frontrunner for an Oscar win, but at least a nomination now seems more plausible. Her biggest obstacle seems to be Chastain whose biggest obstacles are vote splitting with her The Help co-stars and with herself in all the other films she starred in this year.

Best Supporting Actor
  • Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marilyn
  • Armie Hammer, J. Edgar
  • Jonah Hill, Moneyball
  • Nick Nolte, Warrior
  • Christopher Plummer, Beginners
I read someone online saying this category was "unformed" and that's the perfect word to describe it. Critics favorite Albert Brooks was shut out while his biggest competition for Oscars, Christopher Plummer, makes it in. Both veteran actors along with Branagh look good for Oscar nominations with the other two spots up for grab. It was always going to be a long-shot, but Andy Serkis getting honored here would've really been something.


The more I reflect on the film nominations above, I realize that while yes, they are boring, they aren't heinous. On the other hand, we get to these mind-boggling TV nominations...

Best Ensemble, Drama
  • Boardwalk Empire
  • Breaking Bad
  • Dexter
  • Game of Thrones
  • The Good Wife
Of course, we start out with a category that I'm actually okay with. I don't watch Boardwalk Empire, but I only hear good things about it and its cast from people. I highly enjoy the other four shows and wholeheartedly agree on the ensemble nomination for three of them. Dexter isn't really an ensemble show for me. Would it have killed them to nominate something like Fringe, Revenge, Justified, or Homeland (the latter two I haven't seen)?

Best Actress, Drama
  • Kathy Bates, Harry's Law
  • Glenn Close, Damages
  • Jessica Lange, American Horror Story
  • Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
  • Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer
I only regularly watch one performance here (Margulies), so this category is sadly shrugworthy for me. I was hoping for at least Emmy winner Margo Martindale, the underappreciated Anna Gunn, fresh newcomer Emilia Clarke, the fierce Madeleine Stowe, or anyone in The Good Wife to show up here. Great showing for Glenn Close who is double nominated.

Best Actor, Drama
  • Patrick J. Adams, Suits
  • Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
  • Kyle Chandler, Friday Night Lights
  • Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
  • Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Wait, what? I guess this is what happens for Jon Hamm is ineligible. Adams is cute and probably great in his show, but seriously? Are they serious right now? I could name about a dozen or so actors that should take his place, but I'll only mention three: Aaron Paul, Peter Dinklage, and John Noble. A "best actor" list for 2011 that doesn't include at least one of those names is an invalid and worthless list. So say we all.

Best Ensemble, Comedy
  • 30 Rock
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • Glee
  • Modern Family
  • The Office
I'm less pissed at what they nominated and more pissed at what they did not. The most egregious snub is the best sitcom (or even best show) out right now and that is Parks & Recreation. Its omission here alone makes this list laughable, but they also saw it fit to still honor Glee? We were all tricked the first time, but come on now. For my money, Community, Happy Endings, How I Met Your Mother, and Cougar Town have better ensemble performances this past year than many of the ones that were nominated.

Best Actress, Comedy
  • Julie Bowen, Modern Family
  • Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
  • Tina Fey, 30 Rock
  • Sofia Vergara, Modern Family
  • Betty White, Hot in Cleveland
They love their Betty White, but how does this list exist without Amy Poehler or even Laura Linney? And while I didn't want her to be nominated, a bit weird also for current It Girl and recent Emmy winner Melissa McCarthy to miss this shortlist. I was also half-expecting Kristen Wiig to show up here especially with the love they showed Bridesmaid in the film section. Oh well.

Best Actor, Comedy
  • Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
  • Ty Burrell, Modern Family
  • Steve Carell, The Office
  • Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men
  • Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family
So we're still nominating people from Two and a Half Men? No Jim Parsons? No Neil Patrick Harris? Nothing from cable? I don't have any more words to be honest.

Best Actress, Miniseries
  • Diane Lane, Cinema Verite
  • Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
  • Emily Watson, Appropriate Adult
  • Betty White, The Lost Valentine
  • Kate Winslet, Mildred Pierce
There goes their Betty White obsession. But I'm so, so happy that Winslet will be walking the red carpet this awards season. And she should also walk away with this award. If anything, the old broad she needs to watch out for is Smith, not White.

Best Actor, Miniseries
  • Laurence Fishburne, Thurgood
  • Paul Giamatti, Too Big To Fail
  • Greg Kinnear, The Kennedys
  • Guy Pearce, Mildred Pierce
  • James Woods, Too Big to Fail
I've ran out of things to say. Whatever.

Though, if you do want to read more of my thoughts and reactions to these nominations, head on over to Encore Entertainment to see my conversation with Andrew.