Monday, January 28, 2013

Screen Actors Guild Vote for Argo & Downton Abbey

Lincoln may have walked away with the film with the most wins tonight at the SAG Awards for Actor and Supporting Actor, but it's Ben Affleck's Argo which came out on top unexpectedly winning Best Ensemble putting it firmly in the lead especially after its PGA, Golden Globes, and BFCA wins earlier in the season. Katniss and Catwoman, I mean Jennifer Lawrence and Anne Hathaway, solidified their advantage over their fellow Oscar nominees by winning here and each giving gracious and beautiful acceptance speeches to boot.

Best Ensemble: Argo
Best Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Best Supporting Actor: Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln

Shockingly enough even with the actors giving Alec Baldwin his 8th award and Modern Family still being honored as the Best Comedy Ever, the TV awards actually provided some nice surprises like Bryan Cranston's first ever SAG win (compared to his three Emmy Awards) and Downton Abbey picking up Best Drama Ensemble aka the biggest shock of the night. Phyllis Logan, who looked astonishing all glammed up unlike her character Mrs. Hughes, accepted the award surrounded by her surprised and gleeful co-stars.

Best Ensemble, Drama: Downton Abbey
Best Ensemble, Comedy: Modern Family
Best Actress, Drama: Claire Danes, Homeland
Best Actress, Comedy: Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Best Actor, Drama: Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Best Actor, Comedy: Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Best Actress, Miniseries: Julianne Moore, Game Change
Best Actor, Miniseries: Kevin Costner, Hatfields & McCoys

The motto of the night though seemed to be to spread the love around, which I endorse, with no one TV show or movie getting more than two wins. 30 Rock got two wins for Tina Fey and Baldwin and as many times as they have already been awarded, it's kind of nice to honor them especially with their show having its final episode this week. Lincoln also got two wins and while Daniel Day-Lewis is a lock to win his third Oscar, his fellow SAG winner Tommy Lee Jones is in a 3-way fight with Golden Globe winner Christoph Waltz and BFCA winner Philip Seymour Hoffman. But the big story moving forward is definitely Argo's win (which also makes Cranston the only double-winner tonight). With how open the Oscar race has been all season, can Argo really go all the way after its most recent big wins especially with its director not nominated for Oscars? People will keep asking this, so buckle up.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Australian Open: The Finale

As a tennis fan, I feel slightly bad about not even seeing a minute of either the Women's or Men's finals at the Australian Open this year. Part of it is of course has to be because of the time difference, but to be honest most of it was probably due to having no real rooting interest. With that said, it seemed like both finals delivered in drama and captivating tennis with the top seeds and defending champions coming out on top as Victoria Azarenka and Novak Djokovic won their 2nd and 4th Australian Open title respectively. For Djokovic, it's his 6th slam title overall tying him with Stefan Edberg and Boris Becker.

Azarenka came into her final match with sixth seed Li Na finding herself amidst some controversy in taking a medical time out at the end of her semifinal match with Sloane Stephens, which many thought was superfluous and stalled the momentum of the young American. Li meanwhile surprised everyone by reachign her second Australian Open final after easily taking out presumed finalist Maria Sharapova in the semifinals especially considering the Russian's peak form during the tournament. So it was no surprise that the crowd for the final, if not exactly anti-Azarenka, was very pro-Li Na. This atmosphere must have helped the top ranked Chinese player to bounce back after being broken in the first game to take a topsy-turvy first set. Unfortunately, a couple of falls resulting in a slightly injured ankle in the second set and hitting her head in the final set enabled Li to break focus and for Azarenka to pounce ultimately winning 4-6 6-4 6-3. With her win, Azarenka is the 8th woman to win back-to-back Australian Open titles, and also holds on to her #1 ranking which she would've lost to Serena Williams if she hadn't won.

Djokovic was in cruise control all tournament with the exception of his 5-set brawl with Stan Wawrinka, but the Serbian showed off his impressive form by absolutely dismissing 4th seed David Ferrer in the semifinals. Murray, too, moved through an easy draw without any real challenge until the semifinals against Roger Federer. While Murray had a positive H2H record against the Swiss, he had been unable to defeat Federer in a Grand Slam match. Playing the best he has had against a struggling Federer, Murray found himself in a fifth set with Federer only barely surviving by winning two previous tiebreak sets. Murray would step it up in the final set, however, to book his spot in his third Australian Open final. He did well to carry that momentum to win the first set, but Djokovic would win the tight second set in a tiebreak and it was the beginning of the end for Murray. Murray ended up with a painful blister after the second set and this might be one of the reasons why Djokovic finally broke the Murray serve, the first break of the match, in the third set. Djokovic won that set enabling him to play even more freely in the final set pushing Murray, who must still be recovering from his 5-set match with Federer. In the end, he won 6-7(2) 7-6(3) 6-3 6-2 becoming the first man in the Open era to win three Australian Open titles in a row.

Like the singles draw, the doubles draw saw the top seed winning. Mike and Bob Bryan padded their Hall of Fame careers by winning a record 13th Grand Slam title against the unseeded team of Robin Haase and Igor Sijsling. Italian team Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci, who took our the Williams sisters, won their third slam victory defeating Australian team Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua. The lone non-top seed to win was coincidentally enough Australian Jarmila Gajdosova and Matthew Ebden who won the Mixed Doubles title.

Producers Guild Picks Argo

This year has probably been the most wide-open Oscar race in recent years with no real front-runner and more than a handful of films that could legitimately win the big prize. With all of that said, we now turn to the guilds which usually indicate where the industry love is at the moment. It's especially worth nothing that the Producers Guild of America Awards have awarded the last five Academy Award Best Picture winners, more notably during the last three years as they expanded to 10 nominees just as the Academy has done and adopted preferential voting just as the Academy uses.

All of this is to say that it's a very good sign for Ben Affleck's Argo as his film fended off tough competition to take the top prize making his film as the unofficialy front-runner of the moment having won big at the BFCAs and the Golden Globes. If he wins at the DGA (likely) and the film unexpectedly shocks at the SAG Awards (less likely), then his Best Director snub at the Oscars will start to mean less and less. In fact, his snub may have actually helped the film's Best Picture chances. The rest of the PGA winners seem expected with Searching for Sugar Man being the Documentary front-runner all along and the nearly $200 million-grossing Wreck-It Ralph beating presumed front-runners, but little-seen ParaNorman and Frankenweenie.

Here's a list of the PGA winners/award recipients:

Motion Picture: Argo
Animated Motion Picture: Wreck-It Ralph
Documentary Motion Picture: Searching for Sugar Man

Drama Television: Homeland
Comedy Television: Modern Family
Long Form Television: Game Change
Non-Fiction Television: American Masters
Live Entertainment and Talk Television: The Colbert Report
Competition Television: The Amazing Race
Sports Television: Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel
Children's Television: Sesame Street
Web Series: 30 Rock: The Webisodes

Milestone Award: Harvey and Bob Weinstein
David O. Selznick Achievement Award: Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner
Norman Lear Achievement Award: J.J. Abrams
Visionary Award: Russell Simmons
Stanley Kramer Award: Bully

The TV awards seem more stale as usual with 5 of last year's winners also winning here, 6 if you count 30 Rock winning yet again for Web Series. I'm not saying these aren't well-deserved, but I'm a big proponent of also spreading the wealth. And what a couple of days for J.J. Abrams! He was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award last night a day after news broke out that he would be helming the next Star Wars film.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

My Favorite Posters of 2012

Hoping to catch a couple more films before I post my year-end film lists and nominations, but until then I wanted to start it all of by talking about some of my favorite film posters from last year. I had about 50 posters in my longlist, but I managed to narrow it down to the ones below...

1. Cabin in the Woods - This homage to Escher delights me to no end especially with the twists and turns the narrative of the film takes. I also love its woodsy-vintage-comic-book hybrid feel with a touch of horror the perfectly encapsulates the movie.

2. Zero Dark Thirty - No doubt in my mind that this was the best teaser poster for a film that was both highly anticipated and highly guarded. It's bold, stark and really demands a double take.

3. ParaNorman - I actually love all of the posters done for this film so it was difficult to choose my favorite, but the one I ultimately picked is at both simple in its design as well as being visually interesting. The horrified looks of the characters are bonus.

4. The Paperboy - Like the film, this poster really sells the humidity ever present within. The color palette is warm and sensuous and the poster is able to have its main stars on the poster without making them feel like floating heads.

5. The Loneliest Planet - Just beautifully designed with the greenery of the surroundings dominating the poster as it does so in the film. The placement of the actors forces you to take a second look.

6. Safety Not Guaranteed - Not only is this poster hilarious, but it pretty much lays out what the movie is about in such a creative way that should've made more people seek it out to learn more.

7. John Carter - Say what you will about the film (which wasn't as awful as I had expected), but this poster is damn gorgeous. I love showing off the planet as well as the space above and I definitely love how everything feels epic especially with the lead roughly shown to scale.

8. Chronicle - This did its job as a teaser poster making me very curious as to what the film could be about. It even works retroactively after you've seen the film and realized how clever this poster really was.

9. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Just think about to before everyone complained about how long the movie is and how unnecessary a third film would be. Didn't your heart just jump with joy as did mine when this poster came out? I instantly heard Howard Shore's score in my head and I wanted to cry.

10. Beasts of the Southern Wild - I love how confident this feels especially for a smaller film. It's like they knew they needed a poster that demanded attention and I think they succeeded. Just wished they did more posters featuring other equally visually arresting moments in the movie.

Honorable Mentions (in alphabetical order):

  • Ai Weiwei - Appropriately cheeky and strong.
  • The Amazing Spider-man - Love the play on imagery and shadow.
  • Django Unchained - Visually bold and striking in its simplicity.
  • Gayby - Highlights the drama and the comedy within.
  • The House I Live In - Love the interplay between text and image.

  • The Hunger Games - Instantly iconic and feels alive.
  • Life of Pi - Collage technique done beautifully.
  • Magic Mike - Already used cheeky, but perfect adjective to use here, no?
  • The Master - Unexpected, but executed perfectly.
  • Prometheus - Foreboding; love the use of darkness and light.

What about you? What were some of your favorite posters of the past year? Do you think I overlooked a particularly awesome poster? Feel free to share!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Farewell to Fringe

I honestly still can't believe that we will never have another new episode of Fringe, but then I also think about how absolutely incredible it was that such a show actually was able to survive through five seasons and reach 100 episodes.

The two-hour series finale aired last week and I thought it was a bittersweet and beautiful ending for the show. There were many things that I loved, that made me laugh, and that made me cry. I loved that we were able to see the alternate universe again where alt!Olivia and Lincoln are living happily ever after. I practically squealed with joy that Olivia got her cortexiphan mojo back and used it to finally kill Widmark. I laughed when we saw one dead Observer floating and Walter thinking it was "cool." I cried (a lot) when Walter told Astrid that her name was beautiful and when he told Peter that he was his most favorite thing in the world. It was a finale that really did satisfy emotionally perhaps to make up for the season-long arc that failed to match the creative highs the show experienced in seasons 2 and 3.

I wished we had gotten more of Donald and Michael during this season so we were more invested in them as characters as opposed to chess pieces that needed to exist to get to the endgame. With that said, it was a pleasure to have Michael Cerveris those last few episodes to really ground the entire arc of the series especially since he's probably the only character in the end that has had a fairly straightforward narrative and he jumps time! Speaking of, like many myth-laden shows that also feature time travel and alternate realities, many of the plot specifics of the show (especially in the finale) can defy logic to the point of annoyance. I could nitpick the whole chicken-egg scenario of the Observers ceasing to exist and yet events that they influenced (like Peter meeting Olivia) still happening, but there's no point. Olivia and Peter get their happy ending with their daughter while Walter gets to make the noble sacrifice to make up for the damage he inflicted by crossing realities all those years ago.

So I say bravo and thanks to Fringe, its creators, its writers, and most definitely its actors for a thrilling five years. It is easily one of my favorite shows ranking in my top ten year-end list for the past three years. I'm still flabbergasted that John Noble was never nominated for an Emmy and if Anna Torv doesn't become a big star after this it will be a tragedy. I started watching the show in the beginning because of Joshua "Pacey" Jackson and was proud he had grown to be such a great actor and there's nothing I could say to express how much I adore Jasika Nicole. Much thanks also to Blair Brown, Lance Reddick, Seth Gabel, Kirk Acevdeo, Leonard Nimoy, Jared Harris, Georgina Haig, Gene the Cow, and all the rest who filled out the talented cast.

See the cast say thanks to their loyal fans below:

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Australian Open: Men Semifinalists

Yesterday I talked about the women's semifinalist and today it's the men's turn. Of course the first semifinal match already happened, but that's neither here nor there.

For the past few years, the top four men have dominated tennis, with last year as the best example of this with all four men splitting the major titles. With Rafael Nadal still out of the game, however, countryman David Ferrer takes his spot amongst the top four and has done extremely well to live up to his high seed. His biggest obstacle prior to the semifinals was another Spaniard, 10th seed Nicolas Almagro, who won the first two sets during their quarterfinal match. But Ferrer hung in there just as Almagro was imploding within having had three opportunities to serve out the match and failing each time. Ferrer's reward of course is to face two-time defending champion and world no. 1 Novak Dkojovic who had a similar scare of his own earlier in the tournament. His fourth round match with 15th seed Stan Wawrinka was the longest of the tournament at more than 5 hours ending 12-10 in the fifth set. The final result spoke greatly to Djokovic's ability to dig deep and win like the champion that he is, but the entire match also became a showcase for Wawrinka's under-appreciated tenacity and talent.

Last year was the breakthrough year for Andy Murray, reaching the Wimbledon finals, winning Olympic gold, and winning his first Grand Slam title at the US Open. So it's no surprise that he seems to have carried over his great form last year to the beginning of this year as the only player left in the tournament to not drop a set. Granted, he has also be extremely lucky in not facing more seeded players in his quarters especially 6th seed Juan Martin Del Potro and 12th seed Marin Cilic who both went out in five sets to Jeremy Chardy and Andreas Seppi respectively. Skill and luck are both needed to win one of tennis' greatest prize and he's just one match away from reaching his third consecutive Grand Slam final. His semifinal opponent is 4-time Australian Open champion Roger Federer who has been impressively on cruise control for his first few match amidst very dangerous players, but through the fourth round he hadn't even dropped serve! That all changed during his last match, a 5-set thriller with 7th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga that pushed the 17-time major champion to up his level. Winning the match meant that Federer reached his 10th consecutive Australian Open semifinals (on top of his ridiculous streak of 35 consecutive major quarterfinals).

Djokovic and Ferrer already had their match and the defending champion easily demolished the last Spaniard standing in straight sets. I think everyone predicted Djokovic to win, including myself, but I think we were all surprised at how much of a beat down it really was. Federer-Murray is a bit more of a toss-up, however, with their H2H 10-9 in the Brit's favor, but Federer has usually gotten the best of Murray during slams with a 3-0 record. And yet who can forget last year's straight set victory of Murray at the Olympics? I'm rooting for Federer, obviously, but to say I'm predicting him to win would just feel like inviting a jinx so I won't say anything!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Australian Open: Women Semifinalists

It's somehow appropriate that my last tennis post on this blog was entitled "Tennis is Over, Now What?" back in early September right after the US Open since I haven't talked about tennis at all since then, not even my usual year-end review. Which is odd really since 2012 was probably the most fascinating tennis year in recent years with the Olympics being held at Wimbledon, the top 4 men dominating in the slams, Serena making a comeback, and a couple of high-profile retirements (Clijsters and Roddick). My love for the sport hasn't waned really, but perhaps my need to post about it on this blog is coming to an end. I'm still not sure though which is why even though I haven't at all talked about the Australian Open which is winding down in a few days, I'm going to start now by talking about the women's tournament and the four semifinalists.

Everyone knew that an American was going to make the final four, but those people were betting that it would be Serena Williams to be not only the sole American standing, but the woman to beat. It wasn't such a wild idea considering what she had accomplished last year and a win here would've meant re-capturing that #1 ranking. Instead, she fell to American teenager Sloane Stephens in the quarterfinals who to her credit stay focused on her game as Serena became hampered with an injury in the middle of the match. Stephens was seeded 29th, but will be safely entrenched in the top 20 after the tournament. She could move up as high as #11 if she were to win, but she would have to get through defending champion and world no. 1 Victoria Azarenka. Azarenka has been in cruise control all tournament with the exception of a third-round brawl against Jamie Hampton, another young American. Most recently, Azarenka took out 2-time slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova who came into the tournament unseeded due to missing play for most of the year in 2012 due to a knee injury. Kuznetsova exceeded expectations to reach the final 8 and beating 10th seed Caroline Wozniacki.

The woman of the tournament, however, is second seed Maria Sharapova who has lost only 9 games through 5 matches including doling out an impressive two double-bagel matches to begin the tournament. She also took out 7-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams in brutal fashion with many thinking it was going to be a much closer match-up. Her semifinal foe will be none other than Na Li playing her "hometown" slam. While hardly consistent, Li seems to really bring her A-game during the slams, especially the first two of the year. Her straight set victories over 18th seed Julia Goerges and especially 4th seed Agnieszka Radwanska spoke volume. The latter is unfortunately still looking for her first major breakthrough. As far as predictions go, I'm banking on a 1 vs. 2 battle between Azarenka and Sharapova though I'm rooting for one or both of the underdogs to surprise.

And finally, I can't talk about the woman's tournament this year without mentioning 100th-ranked Kimiko Date-Krumm who defied her age yet again by reaching the third round of both the singles and the doubles draw taking out 12th seed Nadia Petrova in the first round and outlasting the 2nd seed doubles team of Hlavacka-Hradecka with partner Arantxa Parra Santonja in the 2nd round of doubles.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Birthday Boy: Logan Lerman

The adorable Logan Lerman turns 21 today sharing his birthday with my dad and looking as youthful as he has always been. He impressed many people this past year, me included, playing the lead character in Stephen Chbosky's critically-acclaimed film adaptation of his own novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Now I haven't revealed my own list of favorite film performances of the past year, but "spoiler alert" Lerman makes my Best Actor shortlist.

Lerman has been acting since he was age 8 playing one of Mel Gibson's young sons in The Patriot and then playing a younger version of Gibson's character in What Women Want. So I guess say what you want about Gibson, but he's best friends with Jodie Foster and seemed to have given young Lerman his start in Hollywood. It wasn't until Lerman was cast in The CW's short-lived Jack & Bobby series that I finally noticed him playing the young boy who would be president some day. The next time I would see him would be playing the title lead in Percy Jackson & the Olympians and I think that movie was better than it had any right to be partly due to him. Unfortunately, he couldn't do the same in the woeful The Three Muskeeters where he played D'Artangan. Apparently, he's really good in 3:10 to Yuma, but I still haven't seen it.

He's set to appear in Darren Aronofsky's Noah and to star in Marc Webb's The Only Living Boy in New York. Before both of those, however, he'll show up in the Percy Jackson sequel later this summer, which I have no real shame in saying I will be seeing in theaters.

Friday, January 18, 2013

End-Of-Year: Favorite 2012 TV Shows, Part 2

A mixture of laziness, writer's block, work, and tennis has conspired to delay this post of my top 10 favorite TV shows of the past year. I was supposed to have posted this a day after I posted the bottom part of my Top 30 list, but alas. So without further a due...

My Top Ten TV Shows of 2012

10. Fringe - This should probably be ranked higher, but this final season, which has been pretty good, isn't matching the highs I felt last season where the alternate universe arc reached its zenith. But those last few episodes last season makes this a worthy top 10 inclusion especially with the promise of major tears coming for the series finale airing tonight. I'm so not ready to say goodbye to these characters.

9. The Good Wife - Yes, Kalinda's S4 arc with her husband is perhaps the one blight in an otherwise another excellent year for this show with Alicia doing better than ever balancing the whole mom/lawyer/wife dynamics while everyone else experience some growing pains. The law firms' financial troubles have been particularly well handled I thought. This show remains the blue ribbon example of casting and ensemble work certainly in all of network TV.

8. Sherlock - The first season, which also had just three episodes, ended up in my top ten list two years ago for the seamless way Moffat updated the Holmes story for our times with pitch perfect acting from Cumberbatch and Freeman to bring the roles of Holmes and Watson to life. This season second was more of the same with higher, more personal, stakes and a couple of brilliant turns from Andrew Scott and Laura Pulver playing Moriarty and Irene Adler respectively.

7. Breaking Bad - Coming off an explosive season and heading towards the finish line, this past season had a lot riding on it, but I think this transitional period went just right. Walter's devolution has reached its peak while everyone around him are really starting to suffer none more so than Skylar played devastatingly by Anna Gunn. The heat is on and things are reaching its boiling point.

6. Downton Abbey - It's very difficult to say anything about this show because most people on this side of the ocean haven't seen the latest season, but I quite enjoyed it, more so than last season which I also quite liked. With the war over, the show was able to focus more with its characters. Like most soap operas, and yes this show can be characterized as such with no shame, there are insane plots, but in the end it's also about whether you care enough about these people to put up with all the crazy and I really do care. Which is why certain developments make it that much more difficult to accept.

5. Shameless - I already gave this cast my Best Ensemble award, because I really do think the young actors making up the Gallagher family are doing something special. It helps that they are led by a very good Rossum who has found that once-in-a-lifetime role that was tailor-made to show off just how talented she is. We are continually rooting for them, for her, to suceed and when they inevitably don't you can't help but keep watching and hoping.

4. Homeland - Apparently the show jumped the shark, or so the internet is telling me. I do think the whole "Abu Nazir in the United States" plot line was a bit too much, but the rest of the season played out as thrilling, exciting, suspenseful, and nervewracking as the show's hailed first season. In fact, the first few episodes of this season pretty much gave me whiplash from how quickly things were progressing. Lewis, Danes, and Patinkin were just aces. The final episode only made me need the next season more.

3. Community - A part of me wondered whether or not my longing for the show's return had any effect on its relatively high ranking. But even if it did, the show can well damn stand on its own merit especially as still one of the most random and inventive sitcoms out there. An entire episode with the characters playing a video game? A tribute to Law & Order? An epic pillow fort/blanket fort war that leads into a Ken Burns-style documentary episode? An episode where the characters realized they might have been stuck in an insane asylum all this time? I miss you, show.

2. Parks and Recreation - *BEST COMEDY* My #1 show last year drops a spot only because there were maybe a couple of episodes that didn't live up to standards BUT the show is still so damn good. From Leslie's campaign and subsequent rousing win to Ben's Washington sojourn and eventual proposal to Leslie, it's been a year full of big changes for almost every character. The comedy is still gold and the relationships between characters have never been better developed. Basically this show is pretty much the moment when Leslie met Joe Biden: magical.

1. The Hour - *BEST DRAMA* It doesn't happen often, but sometimes shows have the perfect season where every episode is just as strong or better than the rest while characters and plots are working seamlessly with one another. I fully believe this latest season of The Hour was one such season. The first season was good, but was slightly unmemorable while this season pretty much destroyed me. Most of the change had to do with really narrowing the focus of the overarching mystery and making it more personally relevant to the characters. The acting has never been better from the leads and supporting alike with some familiar S1 faces getting much-deserved focus and air time this season along with some excellent casting for new characters. I'd watch it all again in a heartbeat.

Addendum: The network with the most shows in my top 30 is ABC, but none of its shows ranked higher than #17. PBS scored two top 8 shows, which are both technically British imports. Speaking of British shows, 4 made my top 11 including my best show of the year. The network with the second most shows in my list is NBC with 4 including two in the top 3. Only 6 new shows made my list.

Shows that I watched, but didn't rank: 2 Broke Girls, Amazing Race, Big Bang Theory, Don't Trust the B- in Apt 23, Elementary, Glee, Glee Project, Masterchef, Modern Family, The Mindy Project, Nashville, The New Normal, The Office, Project Runway, Raising Hope, Revolution, Smash, Supernatural, Survivor, Teen Wolf, True Blood, Wilfred

Cancelled shows or shows I've stopped watching: 666 Park Avenue, American Horror Story, Arrow, Bunheads, Grey's Anatomy, Grimm, Newsroom, Pan Am, Partners, The Killing, The Secret Circle, Touch, Up All Night, Weeds

And finally, just a brief word of a few shows that merited Dishonorable Mentions...

Monday, January 14, 2013

Girls Night at the Golden Globes; Affleck Also Wins Big

The big winners of the night were undoubtedly a couple of girls, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, who both confirmed what everyone already knew when they were announced as host of the show months ago, that they were going to be THE reason to tune in. While I wished they were used more throughout the show, their opening monologue killed especially with hilarious barbs against a couple of James, Cameron and Franco. Whenever they appeared, witticisms just came out of them delighting not just the room, but as my twitter timeline could attest, the millions watching at home. Really if the entire show had been just them riffing with each other, the Golden Globes would have been the best. But alas awards were given out...

Best Motion Picture, Drama: Argo
Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical: Les Misérables
Best Director: Ben Affleck, Argo
Best Actress, Drama: Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Best Actress, Comedy or Musical: Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Best Actor, Drama: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Best Actor, Comedy or Musical: Hugh Jackman, Les Misérables
Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables
Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
Best Animated Film: Brave
Best Foreign Language Film: Amour
Best Screenplay: Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino
Best Score: Life of Pi, Michael Danna
Best Song: "Skyfall," Skyfall

Les Misérables was the night's top film netting three wins for Picture, Actor, and Supporting Actress. It was a great showing for the divisive musical who had to go up against Weinstein-backed Silver Linings Playbook which still walked home with an award for Actress for Jennifer Lawrence. For Drama, Argo was tops taking home Picture and Director, giving Hollywood's newest golden boy Ben Affleck two wins probably making that Oscar snub sting less. The love was spread around though as all of the other films got some love with Lincoln and Zero Dark thirty picking up Actor and Actress respectively, Django Unchained surprising with two awards for Screenplay and Supporting Actor, and Life of Pi not walking home empty-handed with its win for Score. Amour and Adele, who just wanted a night out with friends, predictably won their categories while Brave took home its first major award of the season. Prediction-wise, I did pretty respectably getting 9 of 14. But now the question must be asked, what does this mean for Oscars? With Affleck's win here and at the Critics' Choice, he and his film would be the absolute front-runner now except for the small detail of him not getting a Best Director nomination from the Academy. Top film Les Misérables also didn't get a Director nomination, which means the race is as confusing and exciting as ever!

Best TV Series, Drama: Homeland
Best TV Series, Comedy: Girls
Best Actress, Drama: Claire Danes, Homeland
Best Actress, Comedy: Lena Dunham, Girls
Best Actor, Drama: Damian Lewis, Homeland
Best Actor, Comedy: Don Cheadle, House of Lies
Best Mini-Series or TV Movie: Game Change
Best Actress, Miniseries/TV Movie: Julianne Moore, Game Change
Best Actor, Miniseries/TV Movie: Kevin Costner, Hatfields and McCoys
Best Supporting Actress: Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Best Supporting Actor: Ed Harris, Game Change

The big loser tonight on the TV side would have to be the broadcast networks as they were completely shut out unless you count PBS's lone win for Downton Abbey's Maggie Smith. The rest of the winners came from cable or premium channels with Best Show honors going to Game Change, Homeland, and Girls. Actors, like Smith, who repeated their Emmy wins from a few months back include Julianne Moore, Damian Lewis, Claire Danes, and Kevin Costner. But it was Girls' creator Lena Dunham who made the biggest splash by winning Actress and for her show winning Best Comedy. In terms of predictions, I got a pretty good 8 of 11, but I could've done better if I had just remembered that the HFPA just loves to reward the new, fresh thing (Girls) as well as movie stars (Don Cheadle, Kevin Costner, etc.). But still, can the broadcast networks mount a comeback?

As for the rest of the show, I think it went pretty swimmingly. As I said above Fey and Poehler were just dynamite and I feel ever so sorry for Seth McFarlane trying to top that at the Oscars. Bill Clinton made a fun surprise guest appearance to present Lincoln enabling the Hollywood people present to be sufficiently starstruck while Austrian Arnold Schwarzenegger presented an award to Austrian Michael Haneke. And then there was "girl" of the night, Jodie Foster who had everyone buzzing with her sincere and idiosyncratic speech as she accepted the Cecil B. DeMille award wherein she talked about one's right to privacy as she announced that she already came out "about a thousand years ago, back in the stone age." For that speech and for many more, this 70th Golden Globes will certainly be remembered in years to come.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

End-Of-Year: Favorite 2012 TV Shows, Part 1

I watch a lot of TV. A lot. I can't even tell you the number of shows I regularly watch, because you will probably think I need to see a specialist. All of this is just to say that coming up with a top 30 list of my favorite shows is not at all easy. Ranking them is even more impossible to the point that most of the rankings are quite truly arbitrary. This year, I've decided not to include any reality TV shows so I can make room for scripted shows. My top 10 post will come tomorrow, but for now without further a due...

30. Suburgatory - This should've been included in last year's list, but I guess I didn't realize how much I would like the show until the end of its first season making me super anxious for their sophomore season, which thankfully has kept up with the quality of its first.

29. Castle - Clearly I love the show since I'm still watching and it perhaps doesn't deserve a relatively low rank. But it's that kind of show that while I'm watching it I love it, but seem to forget when I'm not watching it. This is not a knock though on the actors as Fillion and Katic are great together, even more so now that they are officially a couple.

28. Political Animals - In some ways this show could've been much higher on my list or not at all. It was that kind of show that really felt like it was going in a bunch of directions. What truly set the show apart though was the glittering cast and while plotlines could get too insane, I just kept wanting to see what happened next.

27. How I Met Your Mother - I began this latest season with much apprehension and unfortunately nothing they've really done have allayed my fears save for Barney's proposal. But I will always be an apologist for this show, because I still truly love these characters and will stick with them through thick and thin.

26. Girls - The voice of a generation? Well, I don't know about that, but Lena Dunham did create a show with a unique voice that slowly, but surely sucked me right in. These girls' lives are a mess and I can't help but watch it all unfold.

25. 30 Rock - For me the show lost some of its freshness a couple of seasons back, but it has truly found itself again the past year especially as the show does its victory lap towards the end of the series. This show, like Jenna's whole life, is thunder.

24. Last Resort - This show had my second favorite pilot this year offering a real adrenaline rush so rare for TV that I immediately knew they would never be able to sustain it and also it would be cancelled after this season. Fortunately, they were able to sustain some of it mostly due to the cast, but unfortunately they still got cancelled.

23. Ben and Kate - I was a little lukewarm to the pilot (though I still liked it), but the more episodes I watched, the more I realized I'm going to really miss the fun sincerity these characters brought. I'm a sucker for sibling relationships also, so this hit all the spots. Plus, best theme song ever or best theme song ever?

22. The Walking Dead - Last season, spent mostly in Hershel's farm, wasn't great, but the latter half of that season ramped up the drama and stakes and kept it going through the first half of the third season that has given us a rawer, visceral experience to this zombie-filled world. Leading man Lincoln has never been better.

21. Dexter - Talk about a much improved show! Who knew all they had to do was pull the wool over Deb's eyes? The way they handled her arc this season was pretty great with Carpenter selling every "fuck" that came out of her mouth. Couple that with Dexter forcing to do some real soul-searching about his dark passenger, LaGuerta's chilling quest, and a three-dimensional villain made for a damn good season.

20. Once Upon a Time - Last year, this show barely made my Top 30, but the end of the first season focused on more interesting characters (Ruby, Mad Hatter) then orchestrated a magnificent reboot of sorts to start the second season giving more meat to previously one-dimensional characters and a much-needed urgency to the plot.

19. Revenge - This show's relative high placement is mostly due to the extreme goodwill the show built up in its freshman season with its addictive soapy drama and excellent use of Stowe and Mann. This second season has been more perplexing and just a bit underwhelming at parts even if I still enjoy the heck of it.

18. Cougar Town - How thankful am I that last season wasn't its last? I wasn't at all prepared to say goodbye to those lovable idiots most especially during the beach wedding finale that make me laugh and cry simultaneously. I just can't help but love these crazy drunks.

17. Happy Endings - I'm just going to repeat what I said last year. This show is "a piñata filled with candy and crack" and while some of the material and relationships seem a little less fresh this time around, it's all still damn addictive. Plus Hip Hop Santa end tag was too awesome for words.

16. Mad Men - Don't ask me why this isn't ranked higher, because unlike what some people seem to think, this wasn't a "weak" season of the show. It wasn't perfect, of course, but off the top of my head I could name so many great moments, episodes, character development that happened. Hendricks and Moss continue to be the series' MVPs.

15. New Girl - Not sure when it happened, but I suddenly fell head over heels in love with this show. It's weird since for most of its freshman season, I felt like I was watching it more from obligation than desire. But then the show became much more of an ensemble and the writers suddenly figured out how to write each characters better. And voila!

14. Awake - Even though this just missed out being my favorite new show of the season, it does get the honor of being my favorite pilot of the year. I was immediately hooked on its brilliant concept of a man experiencing two realities, one in which either his wife or son lived after a car accident, and each subsequent episodes let me fall into the rabbit hole of obsession.

13. Game of Thrones - My favorite new show last year fell a bit in the rankings this year mostly because while I still love the show's world building, you can already feel things spreading too thin. It's still a gorgeous show though with some powerhouse performances from such actors like Dinklage, Headey, and Williams.

12. Veep - *BEST NEW SHOW* As a huge fan of creator Armando Iannucci's film In the Loop, I knew this show, which borrows a lot of its tone and sentiments from the film, would quickly be one of my favorites. A great lead turn from Dreyfus and a hilarious ensemble make it all work and I can't help but laugh uncomfortably at every other scene.

11. Doctor Who - There were only 6 episodes this year, including the super enjoyable Christmas special. The other 5 episodes saw the last adventures of the Doctor with beloved companions Rory and Amy and like many things this show does, they were all sufficiently epic and even heartbreaking especially Rory and Amy's final episode. Smith, Darvill, and Gillan had real chemistry I will sorely miss. But from the looks of things, Coleman will be just fine.

So there they are! As for my top 10, as I said before, they'll be posted tomorrow sometime, but looking at my nominations and using a process of elimination will make it easy to figure it all out. But the key question is... which show will be #1? Any guesses?

Golden Globes Predictions

I don't even really care about which films and TV shows are honored later tonight, because I'm just really so excited about Tina Fey and Amy Poehler hosting the 70th Golden Globes. But the reason the awards ceremony is taking place is to honor people, so might as well put up some official predictions while I'm at it:

Best Motion Picture, Drama:
Zero Dark Thirty
Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical: Les Miserables
Best Director: Ben Affleck, Argo
Best Actress, Drama: Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Best Actress, Comedy or Musical: Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Best Actor, Drama: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Best Actor, Comedy or Musical: Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables
Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Best Supporting Actor: Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Best Animated Film: Wreck-It Ralph
Best Foreign Language Film: Amour
Best Screenplay: Lincoln, Tony Kushner
Best Score: Anna Karenina, Dario Marianelli
Best Song: "Skyfall," Skyfall

(Read my thoughts on the film nominations here)

Best TV Series, Drama: Homeland
Best TV Series, Comedy: Girls
Best Actress, Drama: Claire Danes, Homeland
Best Actress, Comedy: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Best Actor, Drama: Damian Lewis, Homeland
Best Actor, Comedy: Louis C.K., Louie
Best Mini-Series or TV Movie: Game Change
Best Actress, Miniseries/TV Movie: Julianne Moore, Game Change
Best Actor, Miniseries/TV Movie: Clive Owen, Hemingway and Gellhorn
Best Supporting Actress: Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Best Supporting Actor: Ed Harris, Game Change

(Read my thoughts on the TV nominations here)

My past Golden Globe predictions have been pretty mixed. Sometimes I'd do well, awful, or like last year a bit mediocre. One would just need to look at my crazy "Ben Affleck wins Best Director but his film gets nothing else" prediction to see that. Truthfully, my heart says Bigelow, but my head is saying Affleck for some reason. Both could be wrong! See how I do after the show.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

A Little Bit of Emma and Ryan

Though neither one will have anything to do with awards season in the next few weeks, with the exception of Emma Stone announcing the Oscar nominations with Oscar host Seth McFarlane a couple of days ago, I still think we all deserve a little dose of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. So here they are at the Gangster Squad premiere earlier this week looking as gorgeous as ever.

It's kind of annoying that I couldn't find any picture with the two of them together with the exception of the one above where he has his back turned. Of course, there were lots of pictures of Emma Stone next to a tanorexic Sean Penn. Yeah, no.