Friday, December 27, 2013

Film Critic Groups Forming Consensus


Today is the first day members of the Academy can begin casting a vote for their favorite films, actors, directors, writers, and film crews to receive Oscar nominations, which is shockingly less than three weeks away. In a perfect world, each member would be well-versed of many of this year's films and vote on quality and nothing else. But of course they will undoubtedly have their favorites and biases as well as been exposed to the input from other groups like the American Film Institute, the Screen Actors Guild, the Hollywood Foreign Press, and the many, many critic groups that have so far chimed in. Before taking a break for the Christmas holiday, 27 critic groups picked their winners and like most years, the consensus trend is unfortunate and real.

Below is a simple tally of critic wins a film or actor has gotten the past few weeks. Those with asterisks won an award from the National Board of Review. Winners of the New York Film Critics Circle (NYFCC), Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), and Boston Society of Film Critics (BSFC) are also noted below due to their status slightly being more prestigious. Others listed which don't have wins include those nominated by the BFCA, SAG, or other relevant groups.

BEST PICTURE
  • 12 Years A Slave - 20 (BSFC)
  • Her* - 4 (LAFCA)
  • Gravity - 2 (LAFCA)
  • American Hustle - 1 (NYFCC)
  • Inside Llewyn Davis - 1
  • Nebraska
  • The Wolf of Wall Street
  • Captain Phillips
  • Saving Mr. Banks
  • Philomena
  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • Fruitvale Station

BEST DIRECTOR
  • Alfonso Cuarón - 15 (LAFCA)
  • Steve McQueen - 13 (NYFCC, BSFC)
  • Spike Jonze*
  • David O. Russell
  • Paul Greengrass
  • Martin Scorsese
  • Alexander Payne

BEST ACTOR
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor - 16 (BSFC)
  • Matthew McConaughey - 6
  • Oscar Isaac - 2
  • Bruce Dern* - 1 (LAFCA)
  • Robert Redford - 1 (NYFCC)
  • Forest Whitaker - 1
  • Tom Hanks
  • Christian Bale
  • Joaquin Phoenix
  • Leonardo DiCaprio

BEST ACTRESS
  • Cate Blanchett - 17 (NYFCC, LAFCA, BSFC)
  • Sandra Bullock - 3
  • Adèle Exarchopoulos - 3 (LAFCA)
  • Brie Larson - 3
  • Emma Thompson* - 1
  • Meryl Streep - 1
  • Judi Dench
  • Amy Adams
  • Julie Delpy

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
  • Jared Leto - 21 (NYFCC, LAFCA)
  • Michael Fassbender - 2
  • James Franco - 2 (LAFCA)
  • Barkahd Abdi - 1
  • James Gandolfini - 1 (BSFC)
  • Bill Nighy - 1
  • Daniel Brühl
  • Bradley Cooper
  • Will Forte*

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  • Lupita Nyong'o - 17 (LAFCA)
  • Jennifer Lawrence - 5 (NYFCC)
  • Scarlett Johansson - 2
  • June Squibb - 1 (BSFC)
  • Oprah Winfrey - 1
  • Shailene Woodley - 1
  • Julia Roberts
  • Octavia Spencer*
  • Sally Hawkins

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
  • Her - 14
  • American Hustle - 4 (NYFCC)
  • Nebraska - 1
  • Enough Said - 1 (BSFC)
  • The World's End - 1
  • Inside Llewyn Davis*
  • Blue Jasmine

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
  • 12 Years A Slave - 15
  • Before Midnight - 5 (LAFCA)
  • The Wolf of Wall Street*
  • Philomena
  • August: Osage County
  • Captain Phillips

BEST ANIMATED FILM
  • Frozen - 17
  • The Wind Rises* - 7 (NYFCC, BSFC)
  • Despicable Me 2 - 1
  • Ernest & Celestine - 1 (LAFCA)
  • The Croods
  • Monsters University

The most important thing to remember is that Academy members are not critics and vice versa. While it's likely that we'll be seeing a lot of the same names come Oscar nomination morning, it is never 100%. I just wished that this year bucked the consensus trend and that the various groups had spread the love more since their individualistic championing is their best asset to awards season as a whole. I'll post a final and complete list of critic groups prior to the Critics Choice Awards, which as it turns out, takes place on the night of Oscar nominations!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas is the New Black


Really wish Netflix had made the entire Christmas pageant scene from the Orange is the New Black finale available online to share. I guess you just need to visualize Pousséy singing "Amazing Grace" with Taystee and Black Cindy harmonizing along with her or Norma finally breaking her season-long silence by sweetly singing (taking over for a clearly upset Crazy Eyes) prompting Piper to do what she ended up doing. Or you can sign into Netflix and watch the entire episode!

Anyways... Netflix at least put up the full version of Black Cindy beat-boxing "Jingle Bells" complete with a mic drop on YouTube, so that's something:


Damn, I'm really finding myself missing this show so much. I can't wait for S2. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Movie Glut


Desolation of Smaug, Peter Jackson's fifth foray into Middle Earth led the North American box office over the past weekend beating out the overly promoted sequel to Anchorman, which came in at the lower end of expectations. At least it did better than extinct on arrival Walking with Dinosaurs. In limited release, it was mixed fortunes as Spike Jonze's non-traditional love story Her, bolstered by its awards buzz, debut solidly, while Asghar Farhadi's The Past, recently  snubbed by the Academy's foreign language branch, had less the desirable results. All of these films and so much more are banking that people will come out in droves this upcoming Christmas week.

In terms of new releases, distributors thought it best to dump a whole bunch of films on Christmas Day. The most anticipated of these for cinephiles like myself would be Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Due to its delay coming out of the gates, it hasn't lit up the usual award precursors, but from everything I've been hearing it's not exactly a cuddly film. Probably a bit more tailored for general audiences is The Secret Life of Walter Mitty directed and starring Ben Stiller. The beautifully edited commercials and visually entrancing posters for this film feature grand adventures for its day-dreaming protagonist which should appeal to a broad audience or at least that's the hope. For those needing a bit more testosterone to their holidays, it's practically a smorgasbord with samurai action film 47 Ronin, sports comedy Grudge Match, and military film Lone Survivor (uh... spoiler alert?) all debuting. Ralph Fiennes' Charles Dickens film The Invisible Woman and the Justin Bieber documentary Believe are also coming out tomorrow. And yes, that's hopefully the first time Dickens and Bieber have appeared in the same sentence.

The competition doesn't end there, however, as there are plenty of holdovers appealing to families and/or Oscars enthusiasts that should do much business. Disney's animated hit Frozen should do extremely well this week coming off a weekend where it ranked third overall and already hitting the $200 million milestone today. Fellow November release, Catching Fire grossing over $370 million already, is still in the mix as well as recent release Saving Mr. Banks starring Emma Thompson as Mary Poppins' creator P.L. Travers and Tom Hanks as Walt Disney himself. American Hustle leads the Oscar-y holdovers after a successful expansion this past weekend where it ended up just behind Frozen. With a super starry cast and great reviews, it should do well in the next couple of months no matter what happens this week. Along with American Hustle and Her, other Oscar-y films looking for more people to watch them this week included Inside Llewyn Davis, Philomena, and Nebraska.


Finally, there's the long-awaited August: Osage County starring Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts. It was supposed to come out on Christmas, but it has since been pushed back to Friday the 27th. Did they see all of the competition above and decide to play it safe or perhaps it's a sign that the studio is slowly cutting its losses after the seemingly cool critical and awards reception the film has had to date. Also getting very little awards buzz relative to expectations is Jason Reitman's Labor Day starring Kate Winslet, which won't really open until next month save for a one-week Oscar qualifying run this Friday. For my part, as a Streep and Winslet fan I'll definitely see their films whenever they come out, but since it won't be on Christmas I'll need to decide which of the other films I'm going to watch. I'm leaning towards Walter Mitty to see with my parents then possibly Her, American Hustle, and/or Wolf of Wall Street just for me. So many choices! What will you do?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Birthday Boy: Brad Pitt


Three-time Oscar nominee, 2-time recipient of People Magazine Sexiest Man Alive honor, and perennial Hollywood A-lister Brad Pitt hit the big 5-0 today! And man has he done a lot. I mean I've seen 21 of his films and that's less than half of what he has done and he's far from done. Just this year, he starred in *and produced* the unexpected hit World War Z as well as this year's Oscar front-runner 12 Years A Slave.

But let's back up just a bit. Now, I actually don't have a *favorite* performance of his, but who didn't rewind their cassette tape (haha, wow) when J.D. appeared in Thelma & Louise or totally got obsessed with vampires after his turn in Interview with a Vampire? Or had wicked dreams regarding Tyler Durden and his fondness for tight pants and shirtlessness? Yeah, those were the days. Yup... wait, where was I? Oh right! If you said no to all of those, then you're not me. So with those fond memories, just have to say happy birthday Brad!

Looking Forward To...


Her
Release: December 18, 2013
Distributor: Warner Brothers
Director: Spike Jonze
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Rooney Mara, Chris Pratt, Olivia Wilde, Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, and Amy Adams

Monday, December 16, 2013

Broadcast Film Critics Association Nominations


The Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) released their nominations this morning and, as expected, they really tried their best to predict what's going to be nominated for the Academy Awards. It's a cynical way of viewing these nominations of course, since many of these films and performances are really deserving, but it really does start to feel like an echo chamber after awhile. To make matters worse in this case, they seem to think MORE categories are actually a good thing. No, we don't need to know what critics thought were the best action movies of the year. Less is more!

BEST PICTURE
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
Gravity
Her
Inside Llewyn Davis
Nebraska
Saving Mr. Banks
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street

A majority of these films have been cited elsewhere (AFI, Golden Globes, NBR) with the one slight surprise being Dallas Buyers Club. It's also curious to see none of Weinstein's films make the shortlist (The Butler, Fruitvale Station, August: Osage County), but none of those films have gotten much traction so far. 12 Years a Slave and American Hustle lead with 13 nominations, but the McQueen film is really the one on top as Hustle got some help from BFCA's extraneous categories. Gravity is close behind with 10 nods.

BEST DIRECTOR
Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips
Spike Jonze, Her
Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
David O. Russell, American Hustle
Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street

With six nominations (like the other main categories), it's a very good chance the Oscar shortlist will be composed of the people here. The big question, of course, is who will be left out? Then there's the one director who was left out here, Alexander Payne. He could still make it in!

BEST ACTOR
Christian Bale, American Hustle
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Robert Redford, All Is Lost

Super bummed to see Oscar Isaac and Joaquin Phoenix missing the cut. And while I haven't seen the performance yet, what does Leonardo DiCaprio have to do to get recognized?

BEST ACTRESS
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Judi Dench, Philomena
Brie Larson, Short Term 12
Meryl Streep, August: Osage County
Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks

Quite a coup for Brie Larson! I wonder if she could go all the way. Still, other than her name, the list is as dull as it has been. And it's kind of odd to see Amy Adams not make it in especially with how much they love the film. And no, them relegating her to the below-the-line comedy field doesn't count.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
Daniel Bruhl, Rush
Bradley Cooper, American Hustle
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
James Gandolfini, Enough Said
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

Will Forte and Jonah Hill are still two performers looking from the outside, because this group of six has been solid throughout w/ only Gandolfini missing out on a Globe nod and Cooper missing out on a SAG nod.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Scarlett Johansson, Her
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
June Squibb, Nebraska
Oprah Winfrey, Lee Daniels’ The Butler

Loving the nomination for Johansson even if her Oscar chances are dim. So with that said, I think the rest are your Oscar nominees. Moving on...

Many more nominations after the jump...

Friday, December 13, 2013

Video: Filmography 2013

There's always a number of film montages that inevitably pop up towards the end of the year and while most of them are fine, there are only very few people who consistently deliver in quality. Gen Ip (@genrocks) is one such person. Her year-end videos of the year's film are like short films unto themselves. For this year, this is what she had to say about her video:

"Words are life," says Max in 2013's "The Book Thief", and indeed they hold us together and to help us share that transcendent phenomenon that is life. This video takes 300 of this year's films and distills it into a 7-minute exploration of the ideas we keep coming back to: the purpose of life, the nature of evil, the mystery of death, the power of love, and the inevitability of time.


Whew! That was pretty great right? Befitting yet another fantastic year of film! I can't wait to see what next year will bring.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Golden Globes: Film Nominations


I already talked about the unusually refreshing TV nominations earlier today, so it's time to talk about the movies! It was a big day for still presumed frontrunner 12 Years A Slave which leads with 7 nominations alongside American Hustle. Next up is Nebraska with 5 nominations and then Gravity with 4 nominations. So far nothing too shocking...

Best Director
  • Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
  • Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips
  • Steve McQueen, 12 Years A Slave
  • Alexander Payne, Nebraska
  • David O. Russell, American Hustle
The competition is between Cuaron and McQueen here and at the Oscars unless one of them gets Affleck'd out of the Oscars for some reason. I would think Martin Scorsese is a threat in the long run as well as Spike Jonze, but might both of their films be just a little outside the Academy comfort zone?

Best Motion Picture, Drama
  • 12 Years A Slave
  • Captain Phillips
  • Gravity
  • Philomena
  • Rush
With most of their tougher competition relegated to the Comedy/Musical category, Cuaron and McQueen will go head to head here once again as the favorites. With their starry cast, it's surprising that The Butler and Saving Mr. Banks missed with the HFPA, but that gave big boosts to Philomena and even more surprisingly Rush.

Best Actress, Drama
  • Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
  • Sandra Bullock, Gravity
  • Judi Dench, Philomena
  • Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks
  • Kate Winslet, Labor Day
These are the exact nominees as yesterday's Best Actress lineup at the SAG with the exception of Winslet replacing Meryl Streep (who's in Comedy). I don't think anyone, let alone Winslet, expected this, but it'll certainly give her film the buzz it sorely needed. Some thought Adele Exarchopoulos would've shown up instead.

Best Actor, Drama
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years A Slave
  • Idris Elba, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
  • Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips
  • Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
  • Robert Redford, All is Lost
After getting snub by his fellow actors, Redford needed to show up here and he did. Forest Whitaker's absence is quite telling, but again the HFPA just didn't seem to like the film. Ejiofor is the frontrunner here and he's actually nominated twice, like Elba, once here and another for their TV work.

Best Motion Picture, Comedy Or Musical
  • American Hustle
  • Her
  • Inside Llewyn Davis
  • Nebraska
  • The Wolf of Wall Street
Granted I've only seen Inside Llewyn Davis, which definitely is very musical, but looking at these nominations, I think the definition of "comedy" has warped into something completely different. I'm not totally against these films, but I just feel sorry for the real comedies like The Heat, This is the End, or Much Ado About Nothing to be featured here.

Best Actress, Comedy Or Musical
  • Amy Adams, American Hustle
  • Julie Delpy, Before Midnight
  • Greta Gerwig, Francis Ha
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Enough Said
  • Meryl Streep, August: Osage County
I just love this category so much. Adams and Steep were givens, but the Globes highlighting the other three is just delightful considering they've all been unfairly pushed aside so far this awards season for FANTASTIC work.

Best Actor, Comedy Or Musical
  • Christian Bale, American Hustle
  • Bruce Dern, Nebraska
  • Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
  • Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis
  • Joaquin Phoenix, Her
Not too shocking to see all the male leads for the Best Picture nominees making it in. In terms of frontrunner, I don't think there really is one. Perhaps Dern as a sentimental favorite. But my vote would go to Isaac just because I pretty much fell in love with his singing voice in the film.

Best Supporting Actress
  • Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
  • Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
  • Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years A Slave
  • Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
  • June Squibb, Nebraska
If there was one shocking news of the day, it would be the HFPA choosing to not nominated Oprah Winfrey, which is such a curious choice given their history. That made room for Sally Hawkins who joins the others who, unlike her, were SAG nominated yesterday.

Best Supporting Actor
  • Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
  • Daniel Bruhl, Rush
  • Bradley Cooper, American Hustle
  • Michael Fassbender, 12 Years A Slave
  • Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
Leto has been the one dominating the awards circuit, but I think the non-campaigning Fassbender will make it competitive in the long run. First-time nominees Abdi and Bruhl are putting themselves in very good shape repeating both of their surprise SAG nominations yesterday. Finally, Cooper makes it 4 for 4 for the American Hustle team in the acting categories as he replaces SAG nominee James Gandolfini. Still think Will Forte and Jonah Hill could make a play for Oscars.

Best Screenplay
  • Her
  • Nebraska
  • Philomena
  • 12 Years a Slave
  • American Hustle
I think the only surprise here is the inclusion of Philomena. With the Oscars splitting the screenplay category, all of these should re-appear there. I did hope that Before Midnight would randomly show up here.

Best Animated Film
  • The Croods
  • Despicable Me 2
  • Frozen
Apparently this is the first time that Pixar has not been nominated for this award. I mean Monsters University wasn't their best film, but the HFPA nominated Cars 2 in the past! Anyways, Frozen should win this handily especially since its bigger competitor, The Wind Rises, wasn't eligible here.

Best Foreign Language Film
  • Blue is the Warmest Color
  • The Great Beauty
  • The Hunt
  • The Past
  • The Wind Rises
The Wind Rises was eligible here so go figure! I want to see all of these films! I haven't yet. Ugh, the problems of a cinephile.

Best Original Score
  • All is Lost
  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
  • Gravity
  • The Book Thief
  • 12 Years a Slave
I've only see two of these films, 12 Years and Gravity (there goes Cuaron and McQueen again), so I don't really have much to say about this award.

Best Original Song
  • "Atlas," The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
  • "Let It Go," Frozen
  • "Ordinary Love," Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
  • "Please Mr. Kennedy," Inside Llewyn Davis
  • "Sweeter than Fiction," One Chance
I'm shocked not to see "Young and Beautiful" from The Great Gatsby here. Actually what happened to The Great Gatsby? I thought it would be right up the HFPA alley. But as much as I love, love, love "Let It Go," "Please Mr. Kennedy" is the my current earworm.

Golden Globes: TV Nominations


The Hollywood Foreign Press finally used their penchant for the newest and shiniest thing for good picking up where the Emmy Awards and Screen Actors Guild couldn't in honoring some of the new shows and faces of TV. In fact, House of Cards, a new show from Netflix, leads with 4 nods alongside HBO's Beyond the Candelabra.

Best TV Series, Drama
  • Breaking Bad
  • Downton Abbey
  • The Good Wife
  • House of Cards
  • Masters of Sex
Only Breaking Bad and Downton Abbey repeated their SAG nominations from yesterday while both of those alongside House of Cards repeated their Emmy nods. That's all well and good, but I just want to celebrate the return of The Good Wife (after a two-year absence) as well as the HFPA recognizing new show Masters of Sex. There are other new shows they could've obviously honored (Orange is the New Black, The Americans, Orphan Black), but this is more than what other groups have done so far.

Best Actor, Drama
  • Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
  • Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan
  • Michael Sheen, Masters of Sex
  • Kevin Spacey, House of Cards
  • James Spader, The Blacklist
Can we take a moment to light a candle for Jon Hamm and Mad Men? The show was shut out of the nominations through no apparent faults of its own. Also weird to see last year's winner Damien Lewis or this year's Emmy winner Jeff Daniels missing, but this is Cranston's award to lose. Not to mention he's in a category with four guy from NEW shows. Talk about in with the new.

Best Actress, Drama
  • Taylor Schilling, Orange Is The New Black
  • Robin Wright, House of Cards
  • Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black
  • Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
  • Kerry Washington, Scandal
Like the men, there's a lot of new blood here most notably for the awesome breakthrough of both Taylor Schilling and Tatiana Maslany, their show's lone, but monumental nomination. Maslany especially has been a critic/internet favorite ever since her BBC America show aired so to see here here with all the big names is a delight. Just really didn't expect last year's winner Claire Danes to be out of the running though.

Best TV Series, Comedy
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine
  • Girls
  • Modern Family
  • Parks and Recreation
It was a very, very good day for Michael Schur. Not only does his show Parks and Recreation finally get a series nod for the first time, but his new show (also my favorite NEW show of the fall) Brooklyn Nine-Nine makes it in. Those nominations alone make this category the best it's been in years. Hey, remember last year when they nominated Smash? Though I did think Veep or the final season of 30 Rock was going to make it in.

Best Actor, Comedy
  • Jason Bateman, Arrested Development
  • Don Cheadle, House of Lies
  • Michael J. Fox, The Michael J. Fox Show
  • Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
  • Andy Samberg, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Bateman, Cheadle, and Parsons all repeat their Emmy/SAG nominations so that's whatever. But it's Fox and not Robin Williams who won the "veteran in a new comedy show" slot. And I didn't expect Samberg to be cited here, but any love for his show is fine by me. I'd probably trade any of these men with Adam Scott or Jake Johnson though.

Best Actress, Comedy
  • Zooey Deschanel, New Girl
  • Lena Dunham, Girls
  • Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
  • Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation
This is pretty much the same nominations as last year except Falco replaces host Tina Fey (HFPA just really didn't care to say goodbye to 30 Rock at all). It's a solid list, but I hope reigning winner Louis-Dreyfus would be okay if I beg and plead for Poehler to win one. I mean come on now!

Best Mini-Series or TV Movie
  • American Horror Story: Coven
  • Behind the Candelabra
  • Dancing on the Edge
  • Top of the Lake
  • White Queen
Behind the Candelabra leads and is probably the frontrunner. That said, I still need to see Top of the Lake and Dancing on the Edge which I hear are pretty good.

Best Actor, Mini-Series or TV Movie
  • Matt Damon, Behind the Candelabra
  • Michael Douglas, Behind the Candelabra
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor, Dancing on the Edge
  • Idris Elba, Luther
  • Al Pacino, Phil Spector
Just a couple of movie stars slumming it on TV. I'm talking of course about Ejiofor and Elba who are both nominated in the film categories as well this year. Realistically they don't have a chance against Emmy winner Douglas.

Best Actress, Mini-Series or TV Movie
  • Helena Bonham Carter, Burton and Taylor
  • Rebecca Ferguson, White Queen
  • Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Coven
  • Helen Mirren, Phil Spector
  • Elisabeth Moss, Top of the Lake
A few crossovers with SAG and the Emmy, but I'm hoping Moss avenges Mad Men's impromptu fall from grace to win here.

Best Supporting Actor
  • Josh Charles, The Good Wife
  • Rob Lowe, Behind the Candelabra
  • Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
  • Corey Stoll, House of Cards
  • Jon Voight, Ray Donovan
Year in, year out, I just find it so ridiculous that the HFPA combines supporting roles in this way, but at least they made some excellent choices with Paul, Stoll, and Charles especially which surprised me.

Best Supporting Actress
  • Jacqueline Bisset, Dancing on the Edge
  • Janet McTeer, White Queen
  • Hayden Panettiere, Nashville
  • Monica Potter, Parenthood
  • Sofia Vergara, Modern Family
See SAG and other award shows, the HFPA was okay not nominating Maggie Smith. You can do that also! Pretty incredible for Panettiere to repeat her nomination from last year. I'd probably give it to any of the ladies from Orange is the New Black or newly SAG-nominated Mayim Bialik, but really the one snub that absolutely pains me is Anna Gunn. That nomination really should've been a no-brainer. Oh well, you win some, you lose some.

My thoughts on the film nominations to come later today!

Screen Actors Guild Nominations


Busy day meant I'm only just writing my thoughts down on this morning's SAG nominations even though just a few hours from now everyone will be talking about the nominations for the Golden Globes. That's when you know you're fully entrenched in awards season where there's a different accolade every day to keep track of! In any case, this is one of the big ones as actors is a huge group of industry folk, but unfortunately it also means their choices tend to be fairly conservative and preferential to veterans. That's why the word I would describe today's nominations would be... eh.

BEST ENSEMBLE
  • 12 Years a Slave
  • American Hustle
  • August: Osage County
  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • The Butler
Big sigh of relief from Harvey Weinstein as both August: Osage County and The Butler make it into this shortlist after getting not much love from critics. Of course those two films, with their super starry cast, was tailor-made for this award and should do well in the next couple of months. 12 Years a Slave was the frontrunner and with a leading 4 nominations, it is still the frontrunner. I don't think anyone expected Dallas Buyers Club to be cited here. I was expecting Inside Llewyn Davis or Her and disappointed both came up empty-handed today.

BEST ACTRESS
  • Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
  • Sandra Bullock, Gravity
  • Judi Dench, Philomena
  • Meryl Streep, August: Osage County
  • Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks
It's super difficult to actually complain about the nominees here, because I love all of these actresses and the two performances I've seen (Blanchett and Bullock) are phenomenal. But it's also the same names everyone has been predicting give or take a possible Amy Adams spoiler. I feel for the actresses in smaller films like Julie Delpy (still my wishful dark horse), Brie Larson, Greta Gerwig, and Adele Exarchopoulos.

BEST ACTOR
  • Bruce Dern, Nebraska
  • Chiwitel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
  • Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips
  • Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
  • Forest Whitaker, The Butler
Apparently Robert Redford's absence here is pretty shocking, but with a field THIS strong I'm not too disappointed. If anything, I wish they could've found room instead for Oscar Isaac or Michael B. Jordan. I like Forest Whitaker, but I think this was a wasted nominated for him. Chiwetel Ejiofor in the meantime should be the man to beat if I had it my way.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
  • Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
  • Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
  • Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
  • June Squibb, Nebraska
  • Oprah Winfrey, The Butler
Like the lead category, it's hard to actually find fault with the actors cited, but it'd be great if there was a surprise entry like a Margo Martindale or a Melonie Diaz. Or how about Elizabeth Banks for her work on Catching Fire. That's right I said it. Anyways, I'm happy for Nyong'o though who was quite good and I've got to admit that Winfrey was damn fun to watch in her film. Looking forward to seeing the rest of the performances.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
  • Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
  • Daniel Bruhl, Rush
  • James Gandolfini, Enough Said
  • Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
  • Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
This is the one category that still feels unformed and yet I wouldn't be too shocked if most (or all) of these men are also Oscar-nominated. Bruhl is the most vulnerable probably with Jonah Hill, Bradley Cooper, and Will Forte trying to crack the category. That said, I'm kind of hoping Gandolfini makes it all the way for a posthumous Oscar. It's sentimental for sure, but not undeserved.

BEST STUNT ENSEMBLE, FILM
  • All Is Lost
  • Fast and Furious 6
  • Lone Survivor
  • Rush
  • The Wolverine
Kind of shocked not to see Catching Fire, Thor, or Iron Man 3 here. I mean The Wolverine? All Is Lost? What?! Whatever.


And if you thought the film nominees were unexciting, the TV nominees make the film nominees look bold and fresh. Not to say the nominations are bad, but there was such an explosion of great new shows this year and unfortunately you could barely tell with the following nominations.

BEST DRAMA ENSEMBLE
  • Boardwalk Empire
  • Breaking Bad
  • Downton Abbey
  • Game of Thrones
  • Homeland
Breaking Bad leads with 4 nominations and it's probably going to win this award and everything else until the Emmys next year for its widely successful final season. Games of Thrones makes a come back after getting snub last year, though in its place is perennial favorite Mad Men, which seems to be losing steam awards-wise of late. As I said, the lack of new shows (Masters of Sex, The Americans, Orphan Black, House of Cards, etc.) sting, but it's also something no one was really expecting anyways.

BEST COMEDY ENSEMBLE
  • 30 Rock
  • Arrested Development
  • Big Bang Theory
  • Modern Family
  • Veep
Last year this group nominated Glee and The Office, so at least there's nothing that insane happening this year, but even with the fresh inclusion of Veep (and comeback nomination for Arrested Development), it still feels old hat. I thought Girls would make it in and don't get me started of their continuing to ignore Parks and Recreation. For my money this year, Orange is the New Black and Brooklyn Nine-Nine were leagues ahead of most of these shows.

BEST ACTRESS, DRAMA
  • Claire Danes, Homeland
  • Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad
  • Jessica Lange, American Horror Story
  • Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
  • Kerry Washington, Scandal
ANNA GUNN! God, yes. All the awards to her. But look, I love Maggie Smith and all, but you really don't have to nominate her every single time. It's okay. She's never going to show up any ways. Instead we could've given it to Dockery or Margulies (both nominated last year) or those in new shows like Tatiana Maslany, Robin Wright, Tatiana Maslany, Keri Russell, Tatiana Maslany, Lizzy Caplan, and of course Tatiana Maslany.

BEST ACTOR, DRAMA
  • Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
  • Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
  • Jeff Daniels, Newsroom
  • Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
  • Kevin Spacey, House of Cards
Of course, Bryan Cranston. Duh. Give him the award already. But I'm sad about the exclusion of his co-star Aaron Paul. Love me some Dinklage always and Spacey was a no-brainer for this crowd as as the other two even though I again wish for newer blood like Mandy Patinkin, Matthew Rhys, Andrew Lincoln, etc.

BEST ACTRESS, COMEDY
  • Mayim Bialik, Big Bang Theory
  • Julie Bowen, Modern Family
  • Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
  • Tina Fey, 30 Rock
  • Julia Louis Dreyfus, Veep
Well at least Betty White was not nominated again and Julia Louis Dreyfus and Mayim Bialik got well-deserved citations. But how you can have this award without Amy Poehler is just confounding. Also shocked to see Lena Dunham come up empty (she also wasn't nominated last year) as well as to see none of the ladies from Orange is the New Black make the list.

BEST ACTOR, COMEDY
  • Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
  • Jason Bateman, Arrested Development
  • Ty Burrell, Modern Family
  • Don Cheadle, House of Lies
  • Jim Parsons, Big Bang Theory
Blah, blah, blah they're all talented and whatever but wow I could probably come up with a list of about a dozen or so actors I'd rather see nominated like Adam Scott, Nick Offerman, Andre Braugher, Adam Driver, Jim Rash, Jake Johnson, etc.

BEST ACTRESS, MINISERIES
  • Angela Bassett, Betty & Coretta
  • Helena Bonham Carter, Taylor & Burton
  • Holly Hunter, Top of the Lake
  • Helen Mirren, Phil Spector
  • Elisabeth Moss, Top of the Lake
Nothing too shocking here, except to say that I'm pretty annoyed that Jessica Lange gets to compete in this category at the Emmys and over in Drama for this award. Also was Emmy winner Laura Linney not eligible? In any case, with those two ladies not in the running, it's a good chance for Moss to pick up the win here. I'm rooting for her!

BEST ACTOR, MINISERIES
  • Matt Damon, Behind the Candelabra
  • Michael Douglas, Behind the Candelabra
  • Jeremy Irons, The Hollow Crown
  • Rob Lowe, Killing Kennedy
  • Al Pacino, Phil Spector
Interesting to see Emmy nominated Benedict Cumberbatch to not get nominated here despite being in two Best Ensemble films. But no matter who was nominated, the result will be the exact same as the Emmys with Michael Douglas prevailing as it should be.

BEST STUNT ENSEMBLE, TV
  • Boardwalk Empire
  • Breaking Bad
  • Game of Thrones
  • Homeland
  • The Walking Dead
This is the same nominees as last year except Homeland replaces Sons of Anarchy. You can also tell that this is pretty much the Best Drama category except The Walking Dead replaces Downton Abbey. In other words... zzz.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Looking Forward To...


The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Release: December 13, 2013
Distributor: Warner Brothers
Director: Peter Jackson
Starring: Martin Freeman, Richard Armitrage, Orlando Bloom, Cate Blanchett, Luke Evans, Lee Pace, Evangeline Lilly, Benedict Cumberbatch, Aidan Turner, Dean O'Gorman, Stephen Fry, and Ian McKellen

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

AFI Top Ten Films/TV Programs of 2013

Yesterday, the American Film Institute announced their picks for the best films/TV shows of the past year. And they are...



MOVIES OF THE YEAR
  • 12 Years A Slave
  • American Hustle
  • Captain Phillips
  • Fruitvale Station
  • Gravity
  • Her
  • Inside Llewyn Davis
  • Nebraska
  • Saving Mr. Banks
  • The Wolf of Wall Street

As early as we are into awards season, it still seems like the consensus is already taking shape as the same films keep getting all the love and it's no exception here. I at least thought we would get a random film like last year's The Dark Knight Rises or Bridesmaids from the year before, but here we are. The films that could be labeled as snubbed include Lee Daniels' The Butler and August: Osage County, but I was more hoping this group could've given a boost to smaller films like Before Midnight, Much Ado About Nothing, and Short Term 12. It's also hard for me to be super excited about this list since I've only seen four films out of the ten. Gotta catch up!


TV PROGRAMS OF THE YEAR
  • The Americans
  • Breaking Bad
  • Game of Thrones
  • The Good Wife
  • House of Cards
  • Mad Men
  • Masters of Sex
  • Orange is the New Black
  • Scandal
  • Veep

Unlike the film category, I've actually seen almost all of these shows with the exception of Scandal, which I will need to make time for soon. I don't really have any complaints about any of the others as I'm a big fan of all of them. I'm especially heartened to see the list citing news shows like Masters of Sex, Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, and The Americans. Then there's Breaking Bad with its phenomenal final season and The Good Wife with such a game-changer season--TV is so full of good! I would've probably cited Broadchuch and Orphan Black to this list as well, but I'll just tell myself they weren't eligible for this "American" honor.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The cold never bothered me anyway

Let it go, let it go
I am one with the wind and sky
Let it go, let it go
You'll never see me cry
Here I stand
And here I stay
Let the storm rage on


I saw Disney's latest animated feature Frozen this past weekend and the songs are still playing on loop in my head. The one playing the most often is of course the soon-to-be Oscar nominated "Let It Go" performed by the luminous Idina Menzel. Lots of people are calling it the film's "Defying Gravity" song and it's hard to argue with them. Both songs are kickass power ballads sung by Menzel as her character learn to accept who she is. It's breathtaking by itself, but in the context of the film, it's probably even better. Thankfully Disney decided to upload the full scene from the film on YouTube for everyone to see:


Now excuse me as I watch this a couple more times.

My power flurries through the air into the ground
My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around
And one thought crystalizes like an icy blast
I'm never going back,
The past is in the past

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Looking Forward To...


Saving Mr. Banks
Release: December 13, 2013
Distributor: Buena Vista
Director: John Lee Hancock
Starring: Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson, Colin Farrell, Ruth Wilson, Paul Giamatii, Jason Schwartzman, B.J. Novak, and Bradley Whitford

National Board of Review Winners


American Hustle had a big day yesterday winning Picture, Screenplay, and Supporting Actress from the New York Film Critics Circle, but, in what I hope is a sign to come this awards season, the National Board of Review went a different way altogether.

Best Film
Her

Top Ten Films
12 Years a Slave
Fruitvale Station
Gravity
Inside Llewyn Davis
Lone Survivor
Nebraska
Prisoners
Saving Mr. Banks
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
The Wolf of Wall Street

Her also won Best Director giving much needed boost to Jonze's film, but it must be said that for the past few years the winner of the Academy Awards tended to come from the top 10 rather than the pick for best film. The usual suspects are all here with American Hustle and Captain Phillips missing. Out of the 11 films cited here, I've only so far seen three (12 Years, Fruitvale, and Gravity) so I'm looking forward to seeing the others in the next few weeks.

Best Actor
Bruce Dern, Nebraska

Best Actress
Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks

Best Supporting Actor
Will Forte, Nebraska

Best Supporting Actress
Octavia Spencer, Fruitvale Station

Breakthrough Performances
Michael B. Jordan, Fruitvale Station
Adele Exarchopoulos, Blue is the Warmest Color

Best Ensemble
Prisoners

Spotlight Award
Career Collaboration of Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio

An acting win here means more regarding getting an Oscar nomination rather than winning an Oscar, but this certainly gives all of these actors a boost, especially Dern in a packed field (and Spencer and Forte in largely unshaped fields). Jordan and Exarchopoulos seem to be in line in sharing the bulk of Breakthrough awards in the coming months. Can those translate Oscar? We'll see. Slightly shocked to see Prisoners pick up Ensemble thinking that would've been an easy win for 12 Years a Slave.

Best Director
Spike Jonze, Her

Best Directorial Debut
Ryan Coogler, Fruitvale Station

Best Original Screenplay
Joel and Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis

Best Adapted Screenplay
Terence Winter, The Wolf of Wall Street
Best Animated Feature
The Wind Rises

Creative Innovation in Filmmaking Award
Gravity

As I said before it was a big day for Jonze winning here, but Coogler's accomplishment also shouldn't be forgotten. Though I wonder how steep that competition is this year. The Screenplay awards look solid, but it's too early to say if it all means anything yet. The Wind Rises is out front though winning here as well as the NYFCC over Frozen. Can Miyazaki win the Oscars?


Top 10 Independent Films
Ain't Them Bodies Saints
Dallas Buyers Club
In a World...
Mother of George
Much Ado About Nothing
Mud
The Place Beyond the Pines
Short Term 12
Sightseers
The Spectacular Now

Pretty great list, mostly because I've seen half of the films and pretty much really liked them all with top honors going to Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing. Curious to see Frances Ha or Before Midnight not mentioned here though.

Best Foreign Language Film
The Past

Top 5 Foreign Language Films
Beyond the Hills
Gloria
The Grandmaster
A Hijacking
The Hunt

Best Documentary
Stories We Tell

Top Five Documentary Films
20 Feet from Stardom
The Act of Killing
After Tiller
Casting By
The Square

Out of the 12 films here, I've only seen exactly one, the beautiful documentary Stories We Tell and I do hope that one goes all the way. I have only heard good stuff about The Past, The Hunt, 20 Feet from Stardom, and The Act of Killing.

William K. Everson Film History Award
George Stevens, Jr.

NBR Freedom of Expression Award
Wadjda

There's not much to say at the moment. Every film and performances cited here obviously get a boost, but it's all still too early. We're at the honeymoon phase where anything and everything can still happen.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

RIP Paul Walker (1973-2013)


Actor Paul Walker was tragically killed yesterday in a car crash in Southern California. He turned 40 just a few months ago and was in the midst of filming the seventh film in the popular Fast & Furious franchise. Walker was attending a charity event on the day of his death in support of his organization Reach Out WorldWide. This particular event was to benefit the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

With his all-American good looks, I had the biggest crush on Walker early on in his career even though he was relegated to just small supporting roles in films such as Pleasantville, Varsity Blues, She's All That, and The Skulls. His big break was being cast as the co-lead in the 2001 film The Fast and the Furious. The franchise has had its ups and down, but in recent years has found its groove by maintaining its status as the premiere car chase action flick while also focusing on the alternative family unit the series has created through the years. I've been a long-time fan of the series and liked the 2011 film well enough though I still haven't seen the latest film. The question of what happens to the franchise now is obviously something that will need to be addressed by the people involved, but that is secondary to the immediate need of mourning the death of a beloved friend.

Below is the first tweet from Walker's Fast & Furious co-star Vin Diesel after the news broke out last night:

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Scattered Thoughts on The Hunger Games: Catching Fire


Hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving, or, if you're not American, a lovely week. It has been a week since I saw the latest Hunger Games film Catching Fire and it's pretty great. It improved on the first film and did justice to the book. After the jump are my bulleted list of thoughts...

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Looking Forward To...


Inside Llewyn Davis
Release: December 6, 2013
Distributor: CBS Films
Director: Ethan & Joel Coen
Starring: Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, Garret Hedlund, Adam Driver, Max Casella, Alex Karpovsky, Stark Sands, and John Goodman

Spirit Awards Nominations


The announcement of the Spirit Awards nominations the have always signaled the start of awards season and it's even more apt this year with so many worthy independent films in contention for this award and beyond. So despite a few grating snubs, it's hard to complain about the nominations too much.

BEST FEATURE
All is Lost
Frances Ha
Inside Llewyn Davis
Nebraska
12 Years a Slave

The first big snub is of course Richard Linklater's Before Midnight, but apparently his earlier Before films have also failed to impress with this crowd. On the other end, 12 Years a Slave leads with 7 nominations with Nebraska surprising everyone by getting the second-most with 6 nominations. Good for Frances Ha to make it in here despite not really showing up elsewhere.

BEST DIRECTOR
J.C. Chandor, All is Lost
Jeff Nichols, Mud
Alexander Payne, Nebraska
Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
Shane Carruth, Upstream Color

Very surprised to see Joel & Ethan Coen (and Noah Baumbach to a lesser degree) not show up here, but it's a strong category regardless. McQueen is the likely winner here and is a very strong contender for the Oscars as well.

BEST FIRST FEATURE
Blue Caprice
Concussion
Fruitvale Station
Una Noche
Wadjda

I've only seen Fruitvale Station which was a very accomplished work that truly deserved this nomination. Hope I get to see the others sometime.

BEST FEMALE LEAD
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Julie Delpy, Before Midnight
Gaby Hoffman, Crystal Fairy
Brie Larson, Short Term 12
Shailene Woodley, The Spectacular Now

Despite getting a Feature nod for her film, it's insane that Greta Gerwig failed to get nominated here. I mean this group nominated her for Greenberg for pete's sake. Also curious to see Julia Louis Dreyfus not here for Enough Said. Regardless, I've seen all but one (Hoffman) of the performances and it's a ridiculous great line-up. Delpy and Larson's nominations are my favorite, but it's Blanchett who'll win (and not undeservedly so).

BEST MALE LEAD

Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis
Michael B. Jordan, Fruitvale Station
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Robert Redford, All is Lost
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave

These nominations were actually pretty predictable. Perhaps an errant vote for Joseph Gordon Levitt in Don Jon or Ethan Hawke in Before Midnight, but these really were the six men expected to come out on top. The only question is which 2-3 will not be Oscar-nominated? I think Ejiofor is the only one locked, but then I feel as if I'm jinxing him so forget I said that.

BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE
Melonie Diaz, Fruitvale Station
Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave
Yolonda Ross, Go For Sisters
June Squibb, Nebraska

Many people expected to see Octavia Spencer show up here, but the committee I think made the better decision to cite her co-star Diaz. For myself, I wouldn't have nominated Hawkins for this role, but I'm not unhappy about it all. Nyong'o is fabulous and I'm very gleeful she made the shortlist (more to come)! I do wish her co-star Sarah Paulson made it in as well.

BEST SUPPORTING MALE
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
Will Forte, Nebraska
James Gandolfini, Enough Said
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
Keith Stanfield, Short Term 12

Surrounded by expected nominees (even the posthumous and deserved nomination for Gandolfini), Stanfield's nomination is a pleasant surprise. In terms of predicting the winner, this is the most wide-open race I think with the other four men as likely to win as the others. Now face it, did y'all think we'd get Tony Soprano, Macgruber, and Jordan Catalano in the same category?

BEST SCREENPLAY
Before Midnight
Blue Jasmine
Enough Said
The Spectacular Now
12 Years a Slave

BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY
Afternoon Delight
Don Jon
In a World
The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete
Nebraska

I've seen all of the first for Screenplay and only one film in First Screenplay (yay for Levitt's nomination!). I really do want to see In a World and Nebraska. As for the Screenplay awards, hard to pick a winner there since I actually found myself liking-loving all of them.

BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM
Blue is the Warmest Color
Gloria
The Great Beauty
The Hunt
A Touch of Sin

I've only heard of Blue is the Warmest Color (you couldn't have avoided all the articles about it even if you wanted to) and The Hunt starring Mads Mikkelsen so I don't have much to say. Hope to see those two films though soon.

BEST DOCUMENTARY
The Act of Killing
After Tiller
Gideon's Army
The Square
20 Feet from Stardom

Have only heard great things about 20 Feet from Stardom so I'm looking forward to watching that, but I need a primer on all of the others.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
All is Lost
Computer Chess
Inside Llewyn Davis
Spring Breakers
12 Years a Slave

BEST EDITING
Frances Ha
Museum Hours
Short Term 12
Una Noche
Upstream Color

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD (Low Budget Films)
Computer Chess
Crystal Fairy
Museum Hours
Pit Stop
This is Martin Bonner

ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD
Mud

No other comments, but like any start of awards seasons, I'm hit with a multitudes of films I still need to catch up on. Thank goodness for the holidays coming up!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Doctor Who 50th Anniversary


The first episode of Doctor Who aired on BBC November 23rd 1963, or 50 years ago today. It starred William Hartnell as the first of several actors to play the Doctor, a Time Lord who travels through space in time, currently being played by Matt Smith. The show is a national institution and a cultural phenomenon in its native Britain. It's the longest running science fiction television show in the world with 33 total seasons and nearly 800 episodes aired. The show ran from 1963-1989 with a TV film airing in 1996. The current incarnation of the show, which debut in 2005 and informally dubbed as "New Who," brought the Doctor and his adventures to a whole new generation.

For myself, I have only seen New Who with the Doctor being played by Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, and Matt Smith. John Hurt will be playing a "version" of the Doctor in the 50th Anniversary Special titled "The Day of the Doctor" which will air live worldwide in a couple of hour while Peter Capaldi will take over the role next season making him 12 or 13 depending on what transpires in today's episode.

Is it a perfect show? Hardly. But its longevity and cultural reach really is something to be admired. The stars is its limits. Below is "The Night of the Doctor," the prequel mini episode to the Anniversary Special starring the Doctor, though not the one anyone expected:

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Looking Forward To...

 

Oldboy
Release: November 27, 2013
Distributor: FilmDistrict
Director: Spike Lee
Starring: Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, Sharlto Copley, Hannah Simone, Michael Imperioli, Lance Reddick, Rami Malek, James Ransome, and Samuel L. Jackson

Birthday Girl: Ming-Na Wen


This picture was taken a couple weeks ago. Today she turns 50. But since it's Ming-Na Wen, is anyone really surprised she looks this amazing?

Now, I wished she did more. I've been a fan of her all the way from her Joy Luck Club/Street Fighter days and of course ER. Then she was the voice of Mulan, who is only the most kick-ass Disney princess ever. Currently she's kicking ass in Joss Whedon's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. so I at least see her more regularly now.

Anyways, happy birthday to her!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Looking Forward To...


Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Release: November 22, 2013
Distributor: Lionsgate
Director: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Stanley Tucci, Woody Harrelson, Josh Hutcherson, Jena Malone, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Hemsworth, Sam Claflin, Amanda Plummer, Donald Sutherland, Lenny Kravitz, Lynn Cohen, and Philip Seymour Hoffman

Like most blockbuster films, Catching Fire has about a dozen or so posters used for its marketing. Most are character posters that highlight, you guessed correctly, the characters of said film, but everyone knows the real selling point is Katniss herself: Jennifer Lawrence. Below are two posters made to look like ads that would appear on Panem's Capitol:


Then there's the left one below which is a bit more traditional when you think of action movie one-sheets. The one next to it though is bit more interesting, which makes sense since it's the IMAX poster and they tend to be more visually experimental.


Finally, these last two are my favorites:


I just love the rich colors and painterly quality they both have. The first is part of a series of character posters with Katniss the only character standing up while everyone else is shot while sitting down. The second poster is probably my pick for best poster for the film. Again, the colors are eye-catching, and I just love how she's literally on top of the world with her bow and arrow, with the clouds looking like wings behind her.

How about you? Any favorites from this bunch? How excited are you about the film?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Philippines in Need After Typhoon Haiyan


The devastation Typhoon Haiyan has caused my home country of the Philippines has been completely heartbreaking. Thankfully my immediate family and people I know over there are relatively safe/doing okay, but there are still hundreds of thousands more who have been affected by one of the strongest storms ever recorded on Earth and they need all of the help they can get.

Below are just a few links to sites which have compiled links to places where people can donate and help:

CNN World: How to help Typhoon Haiyan survivors

Huff Post Impact: How To Help Typhoon Haiyan Survivors

Tennis Guru: How to donate for Typhoon Haiyan victims in the Philippines

Tumblr: Help Philippines

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Looking Forward To...

 

Thor: The Dark World
Release: November 8, 2013
Distributor:
Buena Vista
Director: Alan Taylor
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman, Idris Elba, Kat Dennis, Christopher Eccleston, Ray Steveson, Stellan Skarsgård, Jaimie Alexander, Chris O'Dowd, Zachary Levi, Rene Russo, and Anthony Hopkins

Monday, November 4, 2013

SNL: What Does My Girl Say?

With nearly 200 million views on Youtube, Ylvis' music video for their super catchy song "The Fox" is very popular. Whenever something like this happens, I'm usually out of the loop, but I actually saw the video a couple of days after it was uploaded and proceeded to forward it to all of my friends. I've since seen it more than a dozen times (probably way more) and I'm oddly still not sick of it. So just imagine my reaction when Saturday Night Live put their own twist on the viral hit over the weekend:


It was a pretty big episode for host Kerry Washington as SNL tries to deal with the fallout regarding the show's lack of diversity among its cast. Regardless, her and Jay Pharaoh really brought it for this fun music video, which I'm sure will be stuck in my head for days/weeks to come, just like the original.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

NPH Celebrating Halloween


Here are Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka with their two super adorable kids being awesome this Halloween. I need that Bride of Frankenstein wig like yesterday. Anyways, this is actually their second Halloween getup this year. They actually went the Alice in Wonderland route last week:


Too. Cute. Ugh. Can they just adopt me already? Or at least be responsible for my Halloween costume, because this year I went the lazy route. Wore a Superman shirt last week for a party and today wore a Blue Power Ranger (remember them?) shirt. I'll try to do better next year.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Looking Forward To...


Dallas Buyers Club
Release: November 1, 2013
Distributor: Focus Features
Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Jennifer Garner, Dallas Roberts, Denis O'Hare, Kevin Rankin, and Steve Zahn

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Looking Forward To...


Blue Is the Warmest Color
Release: October 25, 2013
Distributor: IFC
Director: Abdellatif Kechiche
Starring: Léa Seydoux, Adèle Exarchopoulos, and Salim Kechiouche

Quick Birthday Post


Remember when Buffy turned 19? I'm the same age today... give or take a decade.

I'm currently out of town, but this is as good a time as any to remind y'all that while I don't regularly post here, I'm always on twitter and also have a tumblr.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Looking Forward To...


12 Years a Slave
Release: October 18, 2013
Distributor: Fox Searchlight
Director: Steve McQueen
Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sarah Paulson, Brad Pitt, Paul Dano, Alfre Woodard, Paul Giamatti, Adepero Oduye, Benedict Cumberbatch, Bryan Batt, Quvenzhané Wallis, Scott McNairy, Taran Killam, Michael K. Williams, Garret Dillahunt, Lupita Nyong'o, and Michael Fassbender

Friday, October 11, 2013

Happy National Coming Out Day

Today was National Coming Out Day and the Human Rights Campaign put together a short video to honor its 25th anniversary. Be out and proud!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Looking Forward To...


Kill Your Darlings
Release: October 16, 2013
Distributor: Sony Classics
Director: John Krokidas
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Dane BeHaan, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Ben Foster, Elizabeth Olsen, Jack Huston, Kyra Sedgwick, David Cross, and Michael C. Hall

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Pilot Thoughts: Super Fun Night and The Millers

Didn't really have time to write about any TV this past week, but here are my quick thoughts on two new shows I saw...


Perhaps it was the severely low expectations I had prior to seeing the premiere or maybe because they decided to skip the presumably awful pilot and show the second episode instead, but I didn't actually think Super Fun Night was too bad. Broad? Severely. Cardboard characters? Certainly. Stupid? Many times. But at more than a few moments, it did resemble something kind of fun. It even reminded me of Miranda, a hilarious and wonderful show across the pond starring comic genius Miranda Hart. Like Miranda, Super Fun Night mines a lot of its comedy from the awkwardness, socially and physically, of its main character, in this case Kimmie Boubier played by the totally game Rebel Wilson. Unlike Miranda, however, Super Fun Night isn't as interesting, its supporting characters are flat, and the jokes are a mess. I like Wilson (even more when she uses her regular accent and not trying to pull off an American one like she does here), but this show doesn't deserve her. C+


The Millers is the kind of show that I'm willing to give some time to find its footing mostly because I'm a big fan of Greg Garcia's last show, Raising Hope, and because the cast is pretty great including the always fantastic Margo Martindale. The pilot itself wasn't terrible, except for the one pivotal scene where Tom (Beau Bridges) spurred on by the news of his son Jack's (Will Arnett) divorce decides to finally divorce his overbearing and controlling wife (Martindale). I was shocked I didn't go deaf during the scene from all the loud yelling. It wasn't pretty. But as I said, I'm willing to give it some leeway. I actually like the premise of each parent living with a different kid. In the pilot, we got lots of Arnett and Martindale, so I'm looking forward to seeing how Bridges and Jayma Mays play off one another. Oh and did I mention they also did Dirty Dancing? How can I hate a show that does this? B-