Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Looking Forward To...

 

Labor Day
Release: January 29, 2014
Distributor: Paramount
Director: Jason Reitman
Starring: Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin, James Van Der Beek, Gattlin Griffith, Clark Gregg, Tom Lipinski, J.K. Simmons, Dylan Minnette, and Tobey Maguire

Monday, January 27, 2014

End-Of-Year: Favorite 2013 TV Shows, Part 1

My goal was to get this list posted a few days after I picked my acting winners, more than two weeks ago, so clearly that didn't happen. In any case, below is the first part of my ranked list of TV shows I watched in 2013. You may think having a Top 35 List is pretty much giving everyone an trophy, but that's not even half the number of the shows I saw last year. And thus...

35. Cougar Town - New network, but same hijinks. At this point, the show really is just a bunch of drunks having fun together. I'm not complaining.

34. 30 Rock - Probably too low, but I sort of already fell out of mad love with the show a few seasons ago. With that said, their final season was a back to form and it'll truly be missed if only for my love Jenna Maroney.

33. Big Bang Theory - The most popular show on TV right now isn't perfect, but the cast chemistry in undeniable. When the show takes advantage of its full ensemble, it's very good.

32. New Girl - Its sophomore season was really great including the back half which aired last year minus the whole Schmidt two-timing storyline, but while still good, it seems to have stagnated early in its junior season just a bit.


31. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - I was lukewarm on the pilot and a few of the early episodes were a bit unmemorable. With that said, I've become oddly invested in the characters and while it's still not the show I know Whedon can deliver, it's still a show I like to watch.

30. Arrested Development - I actually saw the whole series for the first time last year which is why I've ranked it here since while I was intrigued at how they structured the latest season in Netflix, it made for rough watching early on.

29. How I Met Your Mother - This ranking would be much higher if the show took full advantage of Cristin Milioti, because every episode she's been featured in has been aces. But look this is one of my favorite shows the past few years and while the unique final season framework hasn't been super successful, at least they're doing something different.

28. Community - Most people would like to forget that this Dan Harmon-less season ever happened, but I was never really one of those people who thought it was a bad season, just different. In fact, I ended up loving a handful of episodes.

27. Girls - I actually think I may have liked this season over the first one and its lower ranking only means A LOT of new shows premiered this year. That said, I honestly don't get the haters for this show. Okay, maybe if they're complaining about anything Jessa-related.

26. Call the Midwife - Managed to watch the first two seasons last year and ended up loving its mix of high-stakes drama (delivering babies!) with some organic comedy (Miranda Hart!).

25. Please Like Me - There's something just super appealing to the quirky, brash humor by Josh Thomas in this fun British show about a guy coming out of the closet and yet stubbornly refuses to change one iota.


24. Vikings - I honestly didn't expect to love a show about the lives of Vikings and yet with fully realized characters and superb production qualities, this History show really delivered. Plus it has a hot monk!

23. Teen Wolf - This is a supernatural show full of hot guys and kickass ladies. Do I really need to explain more about why it's one of my not-at-all guilty pleasures?

22. Sleepy Hollow - When this show premiered, I pointed out that its pilot walked "the fine line of embracing its weirdness while also providing a refreshing sense of gleeful sincerity in its tone" and fortunately the show maintained this throughout while also developing its characters and its overwrought, but entertaining mythology.

21. The Crazy Ones - This is a show that definitely got much better as it went, especially when it stopped being the Robin Williams show and became more of an ensemble show, a really funny one at that. Its end tag bloopers is one of my favorite things this past season. Also Kelly Clarkson in the pilot! Win!

20. Hannibal - As a huge fan of Bryan Fuller, I knew this show would be right up my alley and while it's less whimsy and more gory than his other shows, the quality remains. It helps that Mads Mikkelsen and Hugh Dancy are doing amazing things in their roles.

19. Elementary - I don't subscribe to comparing this show with BBC's Sherlock since they're both so different. What I do love about this show is the fresh take Miller brings to the character and his fantastic relationship with Liu's Watson.

18. Downton Abbey - I never know which season of this show I'm honoring--the one that aired in the US early last year or the one that aired in the UK later last year. No matter, as I think the show has found its sweet spot between period piece and soap opera melodrama and I can't get enough of it.

17. House of Cards - While it wasn't my favorite Netflix original of last year, it was still such a delight to see Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright plot together to take over the world. I can't wait to see what/who else they can manipulate and destroy.

16. Mad Men - Ranked the exact same last year, I do think people have started to really take the greatness of this show for granted. But it's still pretty damn great especially with its central character so much more broken than ever. Also, this season gave us Bob Benson, so there you go.

I'll hopefully post the second part of my rankings aka my Top 15 before the end of the week, but whenever I say that it usually takes a few more days or week to actually happen. In the meantime, here are a few honorable mentions...


An Adventure in Space and Time - This was a BBC television movie that dramatized the origins of the show Doctor Who airing in time for the 50th Anniversary of the show. So good, but as it was a movie, didn't make my list.

Fringe - Based on the last three episodes it aired in 2013, this would be a Top 20 show easy, but I wanted to honor newer shows and it already made my Top 10 list last year.

Lizzie Bennett Diaries - Such an inventive take on the Pride & Prejudice story, adapted for the YouTube generation. Since it was a web series, I felt it'd be better to call it out here rather than including it in my list. Watch it here.

Reality Shows - I saw a lot of good to great ones the past year, but with so many scripted shows to honor I had to take them out. But from old favorites (Amazing Race, Masterchef, Face Off) to new surprises (The Writers' Room, Masterchef Junior) to silly fun ones (American Ninja Warrior, Whodunnit?, Hollywood Game Night), I had to pay tribute to them in some small way.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Gravity Pulls Ahead After DGA and Historic PGA Wins

Though Gravity walked home empty-handed last weekend at the SAG Awards, it has so far gained a lot of ground by picking up a couple of wins from the PGA and DGA making it the favorite to win Best Picture at this year's Academy Awards.


First, the Producers Guild made history last week by declaring a tie for their top prize, giving it to not only Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity, but also to Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave. The biggest result of this was effectively keeping the Oscar race as tight and competitive as ever especially with rival American Hustle winning the Ensemble award at the SAG Awards. Though people have debated whether or not a tie was actually beneficial for either win, but my thinking is that a win is a win. For Gravity, it legitimizes their film a bit as more than being a sci-fi visual wonder while for 12 Years a Slave, it gives them a much-needed major guild win to hang on to their frontrunner status they acquired early on. The rest of the winners are below...

Motion Picture: Gravity and 12 Years a Slave
Animated Motion Picture: Frozen
Documentary Motion Picture: We Steal Secrets 
Drama Television: Breaking Bad
Comedy Television: Modern Family
Long Form Television: Behind the Candelabra
Non-Fiction Television: Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown
Live Entertainment and Talk Television: The Colbert Report
Competition Television: The Voice
Sports Program: SportsCenter
Children's Program: Sesame Street
Digital Series: Wired: What's Inside
Milestone Award: Bob Iger
David O. Selznick Achievement Award: Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli
Norman Lear Achievement Award: Chuck Lorre
Vanguard Award: Peter Jackson, Joe Letteri and Weta Digital
Stanley Kramer Award: Fruitvale Station
Visionary Award:
Chris Meledandri


With the race so close, everyone was seemingly looking to the DGA for some clarity, except that Cuarón was already seen as the heavy favorite and indeed he did win becoming the seventh straight first-time winner for the guild. With his awards season domination including his win last night, it would seem he's locked to win the Oscars and convention says if he won then Gravity would win Best Picture. Many, however, are predicting a split year with Cuarón winning Director and 12 Years a Slave winning Picture. It's possible, but history doesn't really support that scenario. At this point, it might not be until we hear who won Best Editing during the Oscar ceremony to figure out how the top two categories would go. Pretty exciting! The other DGA winners are below:

Feature Film: Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
Documentary Feature: Jehane Noujaim, The Square
TV Drama Series: Vince Gilligan, Breaking Bad
TV Comedy Series: Beth McCarthy-Miller, 30 Rock
TV Movie/Miniseries: Steven Soderbergh, Behind the Candelabra
Reality Programs: Neil P. DeGroot, 72 Hours
Variety Program: Don Roy King, Saturday Night Live
Variety Special: Glenn Weiss, 67th Tony Awards
Children's Programs: Amy Schatz, An Apology to Elephants
Robert B. Aldrich Award: Steven Soderbergh
Frank Capra Achievement Award: Lee Blaine
Franklin J. Schaffner Achievement Award: Vincent DeDario
Diversity Award: Shonda Rhimes & Betsy Beers

In other news, Breaking Bad, Frozen, and Behind the Candelabra continued their own award season domination picking up awards from both guilds and for Frozen, it solidified its frontrunner status for the Oscars. The series finale of 30 Rock won a DGA alongside the series finale of Breaking Bad. None of the documentaries nominated for the PGA were Oscar-nominated, but Oscar-nominee The Square picks up momentum with its DGA win.

Thoughts on Australian Open 2014

The last time I blogged about tennis was probably right before last year's French Open which meant I didn't get to talk about the craziest Wimbledon in the history of ever or the US Open that was plagued yet again by rain. But it's a new year and the results at this year's Australian Open compelled me to put a few words together.


Close Call for Victorious Li Na

Li Na was down a match point in her third round match against Lucie Safarova, but the latter woman's backhand down the line on match point missed by just an inch enabling Li to right the ship for the rest of the match and cruising her way to victory. Defeating first-time Grand Slam finalist Dominika Cibulkova, Li avenged her two prior final losses at Melbourne for her first Australian Open title and second overall. She always seemed to me to be the kind of player who should have more than one Grand Slam title and now that she has two, I'm hoping it leads to many more. Certainly with two, she's already a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame, and her superb personality is sure to catapult her to even bigger levels of fame off court.

Small Dominika Cibulkova Upsets Big Seeds

Even though she couldn't quite win her maiden slam against fourth seed Li Na, Dominika Cibulkova had a breakthrough tournament beating third ranked Maria Sharapova and fifth seed Agnieszka Radwanska (who beat defending champion Victoria Azarenka) and also becoming the first Slovak to reach a Grand Slam final. It's worth noting that for the last six major tournaments, she'd done no better than reach the 3rd round. It's also worth noting that she's only 5'3". Small frame, but huge game and huge tournament for her.


Stan Wawrinka Finally Comes Out on Top

After he beat defending champion Novak Djokovic in yet another 5-set thriller in the quarterfinal, it seemed like that was the best Stan Wawrinka could hope for. It would have been a fantastic result for him, finally beating Djokovic after losing to the Serb twice last year (once at the Australian Open) in 5-set matches and reaching the semifinals at Melbourne for the first time. And yet he kept winning, winning two of three tiebreaks in a four-set win against Tomas Berdych to reach his very first Grand Slam final. With his H2H 0-12 against top seed Rafael Nadal, he was seen as the big underdog in the final. But he handled Nadal's balls better than his compatriot a round before and was also helped that Nadal wasn't 100% physically. Didn't really matter though as Wawrinka won his maiden Slam in his first slam final (like fellow champions Martina Hingis and that Roger guy did before him). He moves up to a career high no. 3 in the rankings and more notably, takes over the Swiss no. 1 ranking.

History Slightly Delayed for Rafael Nadal

Top seed Rafael Nadal wasn't able to compete at last year's tournament so reaching the final this year, tying Pete Sampras for number of times in GS finals, was a monumental result. To do this with a nasty blister on one of his hands which everyone couldn't stop talking about also added an extra layer to his tournament. So it wasn't really surprising that in the three matches leading to the final, he didn't exactly cruise getting pushed to play five tiebreaks. He won them all, of course, including the one to win the opening set against his rival Roger Federer in the semifinals erasing any hope early for the Swiss to win his first match against the Spaniard in 7 years. In the final, he met another Swiss man who hadn't won a single set off of him in the past. With a win, Nadal would've been the only male player in the modern era to win each of the Grand Slams at least twice and solidifying his case for Greatest of All Time. He didn't win and he might have injured himself in the process, but doing this well at his worst Slam? That should tell you what's left for him this year.

Now What for Roger Federer?

This may sound weird, but I think Roger Federer had a good tournament. Coming from a hardcore fan, that may sound completely delusional. After all, he lost yet again to his rival Nadal, falls down to number 8 in the rankings, and loses the top Swiss rank to his friend Wawrinka. But after his tough 2013 and his somewhat challenging draw, it's hopeful he was able to reach the top 4 beating a couple of top 10 seeds in the process including Andy Murray. I mean he literally was down and out and people were questioning his ability to win slams and there he was just a match away from another final. One can't help but wonder what if he had made the finals. He would've been the favorite to win against his countryman (though who knows?) which would've meant slam number 18. He also came close to winning a smaller title this year, losing to Lleyton Hewitt in the final. Will 2014 be a year of too close for Federer? He has a new bigger racket and a new coach. We'll see.

Tennis is Still Unpredictable

Wawrinka beating Djokovic and Nadal might be the result of the tournament, but there were a bunch of results that were just as surprising: Ana Ivanovic defeating Serena Williams and Sam Stosur, Juan Martin Del Potro losing to 62nd ranked Roberto Bautista Agut, and first round losses of Petra Kvitova, John Isner, Tommy Haas, and Sara Errani. In the midst of all of this, a couple of new names came to the forefront: Canadian teenager and Justin Bieber fan Eugenie Bouchard reached the semis while Grigor Dimitrov made a name for himself other being Sharapova's boyfriend or "Baby Fed" by taking a set off Nadal in his first ever Grand Slam quarters. This is why they play.

Finally, the Heat

The heat. That was the unfortunate star of the tournament during the first week as Melbourne was gripped with an extreme heatwave with temperatures reaching to 120 degrees or more most days. It contributed to a few of those early upsets as a large number of players retired, withdrew, or were just negatively affected early on due to the heat. Fans also stayed away that first week making the Happy Slam more like the Empty Slam. Thankfully the extreme heat subsided during the first weekend and stayed that way making room for some much better tennis for everyone overall.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Screen Actors Guild Loves American Hustle & Breaking Bad


As expected, American Hustle picked up Best Ensemble at the Screen Actors Guild Award last night keeping it as a favorite to win Best Picture at the Oscars despite losing in the individual acting categories. All of the BFCA acting winners repeated their wins with the SAG solidifying their frontrunner status, which bodes especially well for Matthew McConaughey and Lupita Nyong'o whose facing stiff competition in their categories. 

Best Ensemble: American Hustle
Best Actress: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Best Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave
Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club


Breaking Bad and Modern Family came out on top, both winning Ensemble and Actor, which means for two years in a row, Bryan Cranston walked home with two awards (last year in TV Actor and as part of Argo's ensemble). It also means Modern Family has won the Ensemble award for four straight years, which frankly is ridiculous. Meanwhile, Michael Douglas' win completes his awards sweep for his role as Liberace. And as much as I love them, Maggie Smith and Helen Mirren's wins seem so thoughtless especially considering the competition. In Mirren's defense, she at least had the decency to call out the rightful winner in her category who was Elisabeth Moss.

Best Ensemble, Drama: Breaking Bad
Best Ensemble, Comedy: Modern Family
Best Actress, Drama: Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Best Actress, Comedy: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Best Actor, Drama: Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Best Actor, Comedy: Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Best Actress, Miniseries: Helen Mirren, Phil Spector
Best Actor, Miniseries: Michael Douglas, Behind the Candelabra

I actually didn't watch much of the ceremony, catching only the tail end right around the Life Achievement presentation for the legendary Rita Moreno. I mean why did they hold this year's ceremony on a Saturday? The In Memoriam segment this year seemed more gut-wrenching than in previous years. In terms of Oscars, this win obviously puts American Hustle on top, but Nyong'o's win over Jennifer Lawrence is worth a mention. And then there's Dallas Buyers Club, which was the only film this year to pick up two awards. Coupled with a surprise Best Ensemble nomination here and a Best Editing nomination at the Oscars and is everyone underestimating this film?

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Critics Pick Gravity, 12 Years a Slave, & American Hustle


The Broadcast Film Critics Association gave out their awards on the same day as the Oscar nominations and since it took me a whole day to process the Oscar nominations, it took me a little bit longer to process the winners of the Critics Choice Awards, which are...

Best Picture: 12 Years a Slave
Best Director: Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
Best Actress: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Best Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave
Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
Best Original Screenplay: Spike Jonze, Her
Best Adapted Screenplay: John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave
Best Ensemble: American Hustle
Best Young Actor: Adele Exarchopoulos, Blue is the Warmest Color
Best Foreign Language Film: Blue is the Warmest Color
Best Documentary: 20 Feet From Stardom
Best Animated Feature: Frozen
Best Comedy: American Hustle
Best Actress, Comedy: Amy Adams, American Hustle
Best Actor, Comedy: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
Best Action Movie: Lone Survivor
Best Actress, Action Movie: Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Best Actor, Action Movie: Mark Wahlberg, Lone Survivor
Best Sci-Fi/Horror Movie: Gravity
Best Cinematography: Gravity
Best Editing: Gravity
Best Art Direction: The Great Gatsby
Best Visual Effects: Gravity
Best Hair and Makeup: American Hustle
Best Costume Design: The Great Gatsby
Best Score: Gravity
Best Song: "Let It Go," Frozen

Gravity was the most awarded film picking up 7 wins including Best Director, Best Actress in an Action Movie, and a handful of technical categories. American Hustle was next with 4 wins including Best Ensemble, Best Comedy, and Best Actress in a Comedy. Finally, 12 Years a Slave walked home with the top prize of the night, Best Picture, as well as one for its screenplay and the first major award for Lupita Nyong'o who delivered a pitch perfect acceptance speech. All season long these three films have risen to the top and the BFCA saw no reason to rock the boat. Among the other winners were critical favorites Cate Blanchett, Jared Leto, Her for Original Screenplay, Frozen for Animated Feature, and Blue is the Warmest Color for Foreign Film. The latter also picked up the Best Young Actor for its star Adele Exarchopoulos.

Matthew McConaughey once again beat out Chiwetel Ejiofor which could be a sign for the Oscars while Leonardo DiCaprio picked up another Best Actor in a Comedy and his other film from last year The Great Gatsby picked up two technical awards. So the winners for the most part were more or less expected, but I wished this group had chosen to award those who needed a boost either because they are smaller films, were "snubbed" by Oscars, or because they just deserved it more. Just off the top of my head... Inside Llewyn Davis, Brie Larson, James Gandolfini, The Heat, The World's End, Greta Gerwig, etc. But it's all about predicting the Oscars now so oh well.


At least, there was at least one bright spot of the ceremony which was the the presentation of the Genius Award to Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, and Ethan Hawke for their brilliant multi-decade collaboration for the Before trilogy. The charming banter and cross-talking they engaged in with each other on stage showed why the trilogy worked so well and why this award was so well deserved.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Thoughts on Oscar Nominations

It's been one whole day since the Oscar nominations and you know what, even with all the crazy snubs, I think I'm generally fine with the nominees. Mostly it's because I actually haven't seen as many as I should have, which I'll need to fix soon. Out of the 43 individual films nominated (exclusing the shorts), I have only seen a paltry 16 films. It gets worse. Out of the 107 total nominations (again excluding the shorts), I've only seen 57 which translates to a dismal 53.3%, my worst rate in years.

In any case, here are the nominations and my brief thoughts on each category...

BEST PICTURE
  • American Hustle (10 nominations)
  • Captain Phillips (6 nominations)
  • Dallas Buyers Club (6 nominations)
  • Gravity (10 nominations)
  • Her (5 nominations)
  • Nebraska (6 nominations)
  • Philomena (4 nominations)
  • 12 Years a Slave (9 nominations)
  • The Wolf of Wall Street (5 nominations)

For the third year in a row, we have 9 films in Best Picture. Is this just coincidence or is there something fundamentally screwy going on? We'll never know. With that said, I just wished they had left it at 10 nominees, but which film this year would've benefited? Probably Blue Jasmine, but it could be Lone Ranger for all we know! In any case, it's a bit shocking to see 12 Years a Slave not atop the nomination count with two films beating it, Gravity and American Hustle, with 10 nods each. I'm super thrilled to see Her in the lineup. Philomena might be a bit of a surprise, but with the British contingent and Weinstein's only viable film it seems this season, it was more likely than not.

BEST DIRECTOR
  • David O. Russell, American Hustle
  • Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
  • Alexander Payne, Nebraska
  • Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
  • Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street

No crazy shenanigans this year! Yes, DGA-nominated Greengrass was replaced by Payne, but that's not really shocking. Plus all awards season, this category has been fought solely between first-time Oscar nominees Cuarón and McQueen. It's worth nothing though that they are in the category with previously Oscar-nominated directors so it's not a given one of them will win. For me I wished Spike Jonze could've made it in, but at least he was still nominated for producing and writing Her.

BEST ACTOR
  • Christian Bale, American Hustle
  • Bruce Dern, Nebraska
  • Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
  • Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

As soon as I heard Bale's name announced, I knew two things: the Academy really loved American Hustle and there was going to be a big name left out. For the latter, it was Tom Hanks whose final scenes in Captain Phillips and doing double duty as Walt Disney was thought to be a sure thing. In a lesser extent fellow Hollywood icon Robert Redford and fellow SAG nominee Forest Whitaker were also snubbed. My own ballot would've most likely included Oscar Isaac and Joaquin Phoenix, but in a category as stacked as this, these nominees make sense for the Academy. Ejiofor should win, but McConaughey, fresh of his Golden Globes and BFCA wins and appearing in two Best Picture films, might have the momentum.

BEST ACTRESS
  • Amy Adams, American Hustle
  • Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
  • Sandra Bullock, Gravity
  • Judi Dench, Philomena
  • Meryl Streep, August: Osage County

While I wished I liked her film more, it's ridiculous that Emma Thompson was the one to not make it in. She's delightful in the movie (and in real life) and she was honored by the NBR and was nominated in every precursor. But that just goes to show you how unpredictable the Oscars can be sometimes. It's hard to tell who knocked her out. Could be Adams though the Academy's love for her film would suggest otherwise... so maybe it was Meryl Streep whose film only garnered two nominations. This is Streep's 18th Oscar nomination which insane. I haven't seen her film, yet so I've no idea if this was deserved or because they just can't stop nominating her. Blanchett is the favorite, but might they want to honor the only non-previous winner of the group (Adams) who happens to also be in the right age range of when they love to award their actresses? Crazier things have happened.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
  • Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
  • Bradley Cooper, American Hustle
  • Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
  • Jonah Hill, Wolf of Wall Street
  • Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

If someone told you five years ago that in just a few years time Cooper and Hill would not only be getting their second Oscar nominations, but that they'd also be nominated alongside Leto (the frontrunner to win), you'd probably laugh then report them to the nearest psychiatric institution. But here we are. It's in that spirit that I'm predicting Zac Efron, Chris Martin, and Dwayne Johnson to be fighting for an Oscar in the near future! More seriously though, Daniel Bruhl was left out as were a possible posthumous nomination for James Gandolfini and fun left-field choice James Franco.

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

With today's nomination, Lawrence becomes the youngest actor to ever get three Oscar nominations and if she wins, she'll be the youngest ever to win two Oscars beating Luise Rainer by five years. Her nomination also meant that for two years in a row, she's in a film by David O. Russell which managed to get an acting nomination for each category. In any case, I do love her, but I'm pretty much rooting for everyone else (though my actual vote would go to Nyong'o.) But wow, I'm pretty shocked the Academy resisted the urge to welcome Oprah Winfrey back to the fold. Who thought that would happen? In fact the lack of any nominations for Lee Daniels' The Butler (and Fruitvale Station) is just a bit confounding.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
  • Before Midnight
  • Captain Phillips
  • Philomena
  • 12 Years a Slave
  • The Wolf of Wall Street

As long as Before Midnight got in, I would have been happy. So... I'm happy. Both Philomena and and 12 Years a Slave were ineligible for a WGA, but it was always thought they'd be nominated here. They knocked off Lone Survivor and August: Osage County and in my fantasy Much Ado About Nothing.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
  • American Hustle
  • Blue Jasmine
  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • Her
  • Nebraska

This lineup matched 100% with the WGA which is a bit sad since I was really hoping Inside Llewyn Davis would have made it in. But like Before Midnight in Adapted, I would've been pleased just as long as Her was nominated. I really, really hope it wins as it has actually been the surprise frontrunner all season long most recently winning at the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards. But could it really win against the more conventional choices?

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
  • The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium)
  • The Hunt (Denmark)
  • The Great Beauty (Italy)
  • The Missing Picture (Cambodia)
  • Omar (Palestine)

I've only seen half of one film, The Hunt, which I just couldn't finish more because of the subject matter and less because of its quality. The Missing Picture is Cambodia's first Oscar nomination which I think is pretty cool and I've only heard good stuff about it as well as the other films. They'll certainly be a part of my Netflix queue in the next few years whenever they appear there.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
  • The Croods
  • Despicable Me 2
  • Ernest and Celestine
  • Frozen
  • The Wind Rises

Duh, Frozen. Duh, The Wind Rises. Duh, Monsters Uni... wait, where's Monsters University!? I mean the film wasn't groundbreakingly awesome, but to have the same honor as Cars 2 as the only Pixar films to not be nominated for an Academy Award is way harsh. BTW I'm Team Elsa.

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
  • American Hustle
  • Gravity
  • The Great Gatsby
  • Her
  • 12 Years a Slave

This is the first category in which I've seen every nominee which is nice. I still have no idea who is the frontrunner. It's probable that Gravity will just sweep all of the technical awards, which I wouldn't be against. The Great Gatsby recently won this at the BFCA so maybe it's that. Whatever. I just can't believe they actually nominated Her! I fell in love with its near-futuristic aesthetics so I'm glad it was honored with a nomination.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

  • The Grandmaster
  • Gravity
  • Inside Llewyn Davis
  • Nebraska
  • Prisoners

Apparently the big snub here is 12 Years a Slave with Nebraska supposedly replacing it. I don't have any actual thoughts on this, but I do love that Inside Llewyn Davis deservedly got in after getting way fewer nominees yesterday morning than it should've gotten. I'm hoping it wins, as unlikely as it may be, but if it does how much would that sting to Deakins who had been a long-time Coen brothers collaborator and still looking for his first Oscar?

BEST FILM EDITING
  • American Hustle
  • Captain Phillips
  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • Gravity
  • 12 Years a Slave

All Best Picture nominees and apparently it's been since the 80s since a film has won Best Picture without being nominated here. I would think Gravity would be the front-runner here, but I honestly don't know.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
  • The Book Thief
  • Gravity
  • Her
  • Philomena
  • Saving Mr. Banks

Shocked about The Book Thief? Don't be. It's John Williams and they love John Williams. I'm stoked to see Her nominated here (a running theme throughout the nominations), but I don't even hate any of the nominees really. Though I'll have to make sure to listen to Philomena's score whenever I get around to seeing the film.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
  • "Alone yet, not alone," Alone, Yet Not Alone
  • "Happy," Despicable Me 2
  • "Let it Go," Frozen
  • "The Moon Song," Her
  • "Ordinary Love," Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Really thought Lana Del Rey's song from The Great Gatsby would've had more awards season impact, but the film probably came out way too early. Of course I wished there were songs eligible from Inside Llewyn Davis since this nomination would've been a gimme, but alas. But then there's The Moon Song which was such a sweet moment in an already sweet film. Glad that made it in. I'm still very much Team Elsa.

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
  • American Hustle
  • The Grandmaster
  • The Great Gatsby
  • The Invisible Woman
  • 12 Years a Slave

I would've probably nominated Her for the high-wasted pants alone, but this seemed like a solid list of nominees. 12 Years is probably the favorite, right?

BEST SOUND EDITING
  • All is Lost
  • Captain Phillips
  • Gravity
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
  • Lone Survivor

Seems like an easy win here for Gravity, though apparently Captain Phillips is also in the running.

BEST SOUND MIXING
  • Captain Phillips
  • Gravity
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
  • Inside Llewyn Davis
  • Lone Survivor

Same nominees above except Inside Llewyn Davis (its second nomination!) replaced All is Lost. And again, Gravity looks likely to dominate the tecnical awards.

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
  • Gravity
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
  • Iron Man 3
  • The Lone Ranger
  • Star Trek: Into Darkness

Gravity is going to win this so everyone else is just happy to be nominated especially Lone Ranger and Star Trek, which made it in over Pacific Rim, which I thought was impossible a few months ago.

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING
  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
  • The Lone Ranger

This category is pretty useless. I mean even if they deserved it, I wouldn't know since I haven't seen either one, but did we really need to nominate Lone Ranger or Bad Grandpa? The answer is no. Hell no. And while I'm not exactly an American Hustle fanboy (I still like the film, but think it's way over-awarded), it was made for this category.

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
  • The Act of Killing
  • Cutie and the Boxer
  • Dirty Wars
  • The Square
  • 20 Feet From Stardom

I'm quite shocked that Blackfish couldn't translate all of its buzz and media coverage into a nomination. Also, I'm very disappointed to see the charming and wonderful Stories We Tell by Sarah Polley snubbed. I haven't seen any of these yet, but I know I have to see The Act of Killing (the favorite) and 20 Feet From Stardom.

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT
  • CaveDigger
  • Facing Fear
  • Karama Has No Walls
  • The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life
  • Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall

And now we get to the shorts section where I usually have no idea what any of these films are about and just pick the one with the name name. In this case, Karama Has No Walls.

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM
  • Feral
  • Get a Horse!
  • Mr. Hublot
  • Possessions
  • Room on the Broom

I've actually seen Get a Horse! which I admired more than liked. Hope to see the others in the next few weeks.

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM
  • A quel No Era Yo (That Wasn't Me)
  • Avant De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything)
  • Helium
  • Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?)
  • The Voorman Problem

Lots of intriguing names here! It's almost impossible to pick, but my gut tells me I would like Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa?

And that's it. Enjoy the rest of your Friday and the weekend ahead. We all now have a few weeks to digest all of this and hope the voters pick the right people to win. Yup, I just made a joke. Moving on.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Critical Consensus 2013


For the past few years, I've been keeping tabs of all of the critic groups around the country and their picks of best of the year. This is mostly to satisfy my OCD-ness with regards to awards season, but it's also fun to see it all laid out in the end and see what it could mean for Oscars, etc. Speaking of, Oscar nominations are tomorrow morning and tomorrow night is the Critics Choice Awards where the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) aka the last critics group to chime in will be picking their winners. Before that here's what the rest had to say...

This final list of 36 critics groups include the Alliance of Women Journalist (AWFJ), African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA), National Society of Film Critics (NSFC), Online Film Critics (OFCS), Black Film Critics Circle (BFCC) as well as critic groups from the following regions: Los Angeles (LAFCA), New York (NYFCC), Boston (BSFC), Washington D.C (WAFCA), New York Online (NYFCO), Boston Online (BOFCA), Southeastern (SEFCA), Indiana (IFJA), San Francisco (SFFCC), Austin (AFCA), San Diego (SDFCS), Toronto (TFCA), Dallas-Forth Worth (DFWFCA), Las Vegas (LVFCS), Utah (UFCA), Detroit (DFCS), Houston (HFCS), Chicago (CFCA), Denver (DFCA), Florida (FFCC), St. Louis (SLFC), Phoenix (PFCS), Oklahoma (OFCC), Kansas City (KCFCC), Central Ohio (COFCA), North Texas (NTFCA), Nevada (NFCS), Iowa (IFCA), Georgia (GFCA), North Carolina (NCFCA), and Vancouver (VFCC). Meanwhile, the National Board of Review (NBR) winners are marked with an asterisk.

BEST PICTURE

  • 12 Years A Slave (23) - BSFC, NYFCO, BOFCA, OFCS, CFCA, WAFCA, KCFCC, HFCS, SFFCC, AAFCA, SEFCA, IFJA, SLFC, DFWFCA, LVFCS, PFCS, BFCC, AWFJ, FFCC, NFCS, VFCC, IFCA, NCFCA
  • Her* (6) - LAFCA, SDFCS, DFCS, AFCA, OFCC, GFCA
  • Gravity (5) - LAFCA, UFCA, COFCA, NTFCA, DFCA
  • Inside Llewyn Davis (2) - NSFC, TFCA
  • American Hustle (1) - NYFCC
Notable exclusions: Nebraska, The Wolf of Wall Street, Captain Phillips, Saving Mr. Banks, Dallas Buyers Club, Philomena

BEST DIRECTOR

  • Alfonso Cuarón (21) - LAFCA, NYFCO, OFCS, WAFCA, SDFCS, DFCS, KCFCC, HFCS, SFFCC, DFWFCA, TFCA, PFCS, AFCA, UFCA, COFCA, OFCC, NFCS, NTFCA, DFCA, GFCA, VFCC
  • Steve McQueen (15) - NYFCC, BSFC, BOFCA, CFCA, KCFCC, AAFCA, SEFCA, IFJA, SLFC, LVFCS, BFCC, AWFJ, FFCC, IFCA, NCFCA
  • Joel & Ethan Coen (1) - NSFC
  • Spike Jonze*
Notable exclusions: David O. Russell, Paul Greengrass, Martin Scorsese, Alexander Payne

BEST ACTOR
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor (22) - BSFC, NYFCO, BOFCA, OFCS, CFCA, WAFCA, KCFCC, HFCS, SFFCC, SEFCA, IFJA, SLFC, AFCA, BFCC, UFCA, COFCA, OFCC, FFCC, NTFCA, GFCA, IFCA, NCFCA
  • Matthew McConaughey (7) - DFCS, DFWFCA, LVFCS, PFCS, AWFJ, NFCS, DFCA
  • Oscar Isaac (4) - NSFC, SDFCS, TFCA, VFCC
  • Bruce Dern* (1) - LAFCA
  • Robert Redford (1) - NYFCC
  • Forest Whitaker (1) - AAFCA
Notable exclusions: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joaquin Phoenix, Christian Bale

BEST ACTRESS
  • Cate Blanchett (24) - LAFCA, NYFCC, BSFC, NSFC, NYFCO, BOFCA, OFCS, CFCA, WAFCA, SDFCS, SFFCC, SEFCA, SLFC, DFWFCA, TFCA, PFCS, AWFJ, OFCC, FFCC, DFCA, GFCA, VFCC, IFCA, NCFCA
  • Sandra Bullock (4) - KCFCC, HFCS, AAFCA, NTFCA
  • Adèle Exarchopoulos (4) - LAFCA, IFJA, UFCA, COFCA
  • Brie Larson (3) - DFCS, AFCA, BFCC
  • Emma Thompson* (1) - LVFCS
  • Meryl Streep (1) - NFCS
Notable exclusions: Judi Dench, Amy Adams, Julie Delpy, Greta Gerwig

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
  • Jared Leto (25) - LAFCA, NYFCC, NYFCO, BOFCA, CFCA, WAFCA, SDFCS, DFCS, HFCS, AAFCA, SEFCA, SLFC, DFWFCA, LVFCS, TFCA, PFCS, AFCA, BFCC, AWFJ, OFCC, FFCC, NFCS, NTFCA, DFCA, VFCC
  • Michael Fassbender (5) - OFCS, KCFCC, GFCA, IFCA, NCFCA
  • James Franco (4) - LAFCA, NSFC, SFFCC, COFCA
  • Barkhad Abdi (1) - IFJA
  • James Gandolfini (1) - BSFC
  • Bill Nighy (1) - UFCA
  • Will Forte*
Notable exclusions: Daniel Brühl, Bradley Cooper, Jonah Hill

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
  • Lupita Nyong'o (20) - LAFCA, NYFCO, BOFCA, OFCS, CFCA, WAFCA, KCFCC, HFCS, SEFCA, SLFC, DFWFCA, LVFCS, PFCS, AFCA, BFCC, AWFJ, FFCC, GFCA, IFCA, NCFCA
  • Jennifer Lawrence (11) - NYFCC, NSFC, SFFCC, IFJA, TFCA, COFCA, OFCC, NFCS, NTFCA, DFCA, VFCC
  • Scarlett Johansson (2) - DFCS, UFCA
  • June Squibb (1) - BSFC
  • Oprah Winfrey (1) - AAFCA
  • Shailene Woodley (1) - SDFCS
  • Octavia Spencer*
Notable exclusions: Julia Roberts, Sally Hawkins

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
  • Her (17) - NYFCO, OFCS, CFCA, WAFCA, SDFCS, DFCS, KCFCC, IFJA, SLFC, LVFCS, TFCA, AFCA, AWFJ, COFCA, OFCC, FFCC, GFCA
  • American Hustle (5) - NYFCC, SFFCC, SEFCA, BFCC, DFCA
  • Inside Llewyn Davis* (2) - VFCC, NCFCA
  • Nebraska (1) - PFCS
  • Enough Said (1) - BSFC
  • The World's End (1) - UFCA
Notable exclusions: Blue Jasmine, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity 

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
  • 12 Years A Slave (17) - OFCS, CFCA, WAFCA, KCFCC, HFCS, SFFCC, AAFCA, SEFCA, SLFC, DFWFCA, PFCS, AFCA, BFCC, AWFJ, OFCC, FFCC, NCFCA
  • Before Midnight (6) - LAFCA, NSFC, BOFCA, SDFCS, IFJA, UFCA
  • The Wolf of Wall Street* (2) - COFCA, DFCA
  • Short Term 12 (1) - GFCA
Notable exclusions: August: Osage County, Captain Phillips, Philomena, Lone Survivor

BEST ANIMATED FILM
  • Frozen (23) - WAFCA, KCFCC, HFCS, SFFCC, AAFCA, SEFCA, IFJA, SLFC, DFWFCA, LVFCS, PFCS, AFCA, BFCC, UFCA, OFCC, FFCC, NFCS, NTFCA, DFCA, GFCA, IFCA,
  • The Wind Rises* (8) - NYFCC, BSFC, BOFCA, OFCS, CFCA, SDFCS, TFCA, COFCA
  • Ernest & Celestine (1) - LAFCA
  • Monsters University (1) - NCFCA
  • Despicable Me 2 (1) - KCFCC
Notable exclusions: The Croods, Epic

So what does this all mean for the Oscar nominations tomorrow? Everything and nothing. You have to realize that critics are not Oscar voters. The best critics could do is give their recommendations of which films and actors Oscar voters should be watching. It is a bit disheartening then that every year most of the categories seem to coalesce into a single front-runner thereby limiting what's being showcased. This year isn't any different as every main category above had one film or performer garnering an overwhelming majority of critic groups. The one relatively competitive category is Best Director where Cuarón and McQueen won every single critics group save one and even then Cuaron is way out front. Other frontrunners include 12 Years a Slave, Frozen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Cate Blanchett, Lupita Nyong'o, Jared Leto, and the screenplays for Her and 12 Years a Slave. I would be shocked if any one of these missed out on an Oscar nomination tomorrow.

What's more interesting to me, of course, is seeing the other names supported by critics especially if their Oscar chances are less certain. For example, Her and Inside Llewyn Davis were definitely critical favorites though their place in the Best Picture lineup is precarious at best. Likewise, critics showed their love for Oscar Isaac, Brie Larson, Adèle Exarchopoulos, James Franco, and Scarlett Johansson among others even though an Oscar nomination for any of them would be quite a big, but pleasant surprise. I wish more of these unlikely names showed up with the critic groups.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Golden Globes Does the American Hustle; Brooklyn 99 Surprises


Due to my parent's anniversary falling on Golden Globes Sunday this year, I actually missed all of the red carpet coverage (blessing in disguise?) and the first hour or so of the ceremony. So it felt like I was playing catch up all night. Most of this could be attributed to the weird hi-jinks happening on stage like a barefoot Emma Thompson hamming it up or Diane Keaton singing at the end of her tribute to Cecil B. Demille recipient Woody Allen. But I think the unpredictability of the awards, especially the TV ones, and the spread the love mentality also had something to do with it. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler were predictable great. The Clooney joke was one for the ages and all of their in-show skits were just right. They should be asked again next year in two years if they're willing. But of course, we have to talk about the winners...

Best Motion Picture, Drama: 12 Years A Slave
Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical: American Hustle
Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
Best Actress, Drama: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Best Actor, Drama: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Best Actor, Comedy or Musical: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
Best Actress, Comedy or Musical: Amy Adams, American Hustle
Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
Best Animated Film: Frozen
Best Foreign Language Film: The Great Beauty
Best Screenplay: Spike Jonze, Her
Best Score: Alex Ebert, All Is Lost
Best Song: "Ordinary Love," Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

American Hustle walked home with the most awards with three total, two for its actresses and one for Best Comedy/Musical. Dallas Buyers Club was the only other film to pick up multiple awards with two for Jared Leto and Matthew McConaughey. The latter was a bit of a surprise winning against presumed front-runner Chiwetel Ejiofor whose film was actually shut out for most of the night until winning the last award for Best Drama Film. It was a curiously weak showing for 12 Years a Slave that could portend things for the Oscars. But it did still win the top prize, which many thought was going to go to Gravity especially with Alfonso Cuaron winning Director earlier, so it's still very much in the race. Meanwhile Leonardo DiCaprio got his second Globe win this time in Comedy/Musical while Cate Blanchett continued her winning streak. As an aside, did anyone else gasp when DiCaprio was presenting Best Actress in Drama and said "Cate" thinking for a split second he was goign to say "Winslet" instead of Blanchett? In any case, Her also managed to win a major award for Spike Jonze's screenplay while Frozen expectedly won Best Animated Film (though not Best Song which went to U2, an obvious result in hindsight). I went 8 out of 14 with my predictions getting a couple of acting and most of the below-the-line categories wrong.

Best TV Series, Drama: Breaking Bad
Best TV Series, Comedy: Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Best Actress, Drama: Robin Wright, House of Cards
Best Actress, Comedy: Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation
Best Actor, Drama: Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Best Actor, Comedy: Andy Samberg, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Best Mini-Series or TV Movie: Behind the Candelabra
Best Actress, Miniseries/TV Movie: Elisabeth Moss, Top of the Lake
Best Actor, Miniseries/TV Movie: Michael Douglas, Behind the Candelabra
Best Supporting Actress: Jacqueline Bisset, Dancing on the Edge
Best Supporting Actor: Jon Voight, Ray Donovan


The big winner on the TV side is the letter B with Breaking Bad, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and Behind the Candelabara picking up two awards each for the series and their lead actors. Bryan Cranston and Michael Douglas' wins were expected, but who could've predicted Andy Samberg to beat out Poehler in getting awarded for a sitcom role? Thankfully the universe righted itself immediately as Poehler finally, finally won (suck on that Emmy Awards) and was given the opportunity to make out with Bono as well as delivery a truly lovely speech. Fellow internet-fave Tatiana Maslany didn't win as she lost to The Princess Bride herself Robin Wright. More exciting though was the win for Elisabeth Moss for Top of the Lake making her the first Mad Men actor to win a major acting award. Pretty ridiculous stat, right? Other wins included Jon Voight who was weirdly nervous and Jacqueline Bisset who was clearly in shock as she delivered a confused and rambling speech that just made everyone uncomfortable. Overall, I did pretty poorly predictions-wise with 5 out of 11, but at least most of the wins were pleasant surprises. Mostly pleased for Brooklyn Nine-Nine whose wins should guarantee a S2 renewal. In the end, Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul said it best when he accepted the show's series win, "Yeah, bitch!"

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Golden Globes Predictions


Can't wait for tonight's Golden Globes mostly to see Tina Fey and Amy Poehler host again. But I also didn't really realize how up in the air a lot of categories are until I sat down and tried to make predictions, which hopefully means an exciting show. My final predictions are below, but with many, many reservations...

Best Motion Picture, Drama: 12 Years A Slave
Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical: American Hustle
Best Director: Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity

Seems like a somewhat safe bet to pick Cuarón to win Best Director over McQueen, but the latter could still win. The question is would the HFPA split Director and Best Drama as I've predicted here? As for Comedy, American Hustle seems to be more in line with the HFPA, but the more critical pick of Her could also surprise.

Best Actress, Drama: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Best Actor, Drama: Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years A Slave
Best Actor, Comedy or Musical: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
Best Actress, Comedy or Musical: Meryl Streep, August: Osage County

I think the Drama categories are set since I don't think the HFPA will disagree with consensus with Blanchett and Ejiofor. But Ejiofor could be slightly vulnerable if the HFPA wanted to honor a bigger name like Hanks or McConaughey. More difficult to predict are the Comedy categories. All of the men are in Best Picture nominees and seem to be playing at a relatively level playing field so they really could go any which way. I'm picking DiCaprio over Dern and Bale because in my head they think he's the bigger star. As for actress, NONE of these ladies have risen to top this season. Convention says it'll be between Adams and Streep since they're the biggest names. I think Streep ekes this one out on name alone.

Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

Would the HFPA really award Lawrence two years in a row? I think they will, even over Nyong'o just because they do love her. But don't underestimate Roberts' star appeal as well. As for Leto, he's been dominating all season but perhaps if the HFPA end up loving either American Hustle or 12 Years a Slave, Cooper or Fassbender could just take it. I don't think they will though.

Best Animated Film: Frozen
Best Foreign Language Film: Blue is the Warmest Color
Best Screenplay: 12 Years a Slave
Best Score: Gravity
Best Song: "Please Mr. Kennedy," Inside Llewyn Davis

Score and Song are the only ones I'm not 100% certain about. I think most of the films in the Score category can win and only giving the edge to Gravity, because it's such a big film. As for Song, "Let It Go" is the absolutely favorite... for the Oscars. But Oscar-ineligible "Please Mr. Kennedy" has seen strong support throughout the season... and it's very much like the HFPA to reward Timberlake.

With my film predictions out of the way, here comes TV, which is also perplexing me in a few spots...

Best TV Series, Drama: Breaking Bad
Best TV Series, Comedy: Girls

The HFPA's penchant for the newest thing, especially if they involve film stars, may be the downfall for Breaking Bad which for all intents and purpose should and will win. But House of Cards would probably be very, very appealing to the HFPA. As for Comedy, I think they'll pick last year's winner Girls, but they could also go back to their Modern Family love-fest. Anything could happen in this category and I wouldn't be too surprised.

Best Actress, Drama: Kerry Washington, Scandal
Best Actress, Comedy: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Best Actor, Drama: Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Best Actor, Comedy: Michael J. Fox, The Michael J. Fox Show

Fox seems like a solid prediction here, because again he's a star HFPA would like to honor. And you'd think Cranston would be a slam-dunk gimme as well, but with a category so full of movie stars including Spacey and it's a bit trickier. Louis-Dreyfus is also likely to win after her unexpected lost last year to Dunham AND she's double-nominated this year. But I honestly have NO CLUE who'll win Drama Actress especially with Danes not even nominated. Schilling and Maslany are new, young, and pretty just the way the HFPA likes but Wright is a movie star while Margulies and Washington has been getting so much buzz. I'd sooner predict a 5-way tie than actually pick someone. In this case I just closed my eyes and pointed.

Best Mini-Series or TV Movie: Behind the Candelabra
Best Actress, Miniseries/TV Movie: Elisabeth Moss, Top of the Lake
Best Actor, Miniseries/TV Movie: Michael Douglas, Behind the Candelabra
Best Supporting Actress: Sofia Vergara, Modern Family
Best Supporting Actor: Rob Lowe, Behind the Candelabra

Behind the Candelabra and Douglas are the only two wins I'm 100% confident in making this entire awards show. Moss seems likely to win, but who knows? The supporting categories are even more up in the air. I picked Lowe and Vergara for no apparent reason. We'll see how wrong I am later tonight...

Click here to see my thoughts on the nominations... Film/TV

Saturday, January 11, 2014

End-Of-Year: 2013 TV Winners

Took a bit longer than expected, but here are my TV acting winners from 2013. I'll be posting my ranked list of my favorite shows in a few days. But the winners here pretty much give away my favorites shows of the past year, don't they?


Best Ensemble: Orange is the New Black
Runner-Up: The Good Wife
Other Nominees: Breaking Bad, Broadchurch, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Game of Thrones, Mad Men, Masters of Sex, Parks and Recreation, Veep

Looking at the shows I didn't end up picking, you just realized how many great ensemble shows there are on TV right now. This year I had to go with the largely female and kick-ass ensemble of Orange is the New Black, because it's nearly impossible to pick a favorite character from that show and they all work so well together. And The Good Wife has the best drama ensemble on network TV. No question about that. BTW last year's winner Shameless only fell because of all the new shows.

Best Actor, Drama: Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Runner-Up: Luke Newberry, In the Flesh
Other Nominees: Hugh Dancy, Matthew Rhys, Kevin Spacey, David Tennant

While the other men nominated here are really quite good, especially Dancy and Rhys who pleasantly shocked me by playing against type, this award belonged to Cranston for absolutely nailing the already iconic role of Walter White in his show's final episodes. We will remember his name. Newberry is a young British actor in the little-seen, but fantastic zombie miniseries In the Flesh. I love to honor younger actors especially in genre shows and he really deserves it for what he was asked to do with the tough role.

Best Actress, Drama: Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black
Runner-Up: Keri Russell, The Americans
Other Nominees: Lizzy Caplan, Julianna Margulies, Elisabeth Moss, Emmy Rossum

Speaking of younger actors in genre shows, Maslany pretty much showed everyone how acting is done by expertly playing multiple clones with differing personalities. She really is the breakthrough TV star of 2013 for me and so happy for all the attention and success she's getting. Of course, there's Russell who, like her co-star, played against type and surpassed even my high expectations. Finally, the four other nominees are too fabulous for words. Margulies and Caplan debatedly gave career-best performances this past year.

Best Actor, Comedy: Matt Smith, Doctor Who
Runner-Up: Andy Samberg, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Other Nominees: Jake Johnson, Jim Parsons, Adam Scott, Josh Thomas

This was one of the more difficult categories, because this year I didn't really FULL OUT LOVE any one of these performances. I still really, really liked all of them and definitely love certain episodes, but in general, there wasn't a name that rose to the top. In the end, I picked Smith to pay tribute to his tenure as the Doctor and Samberg as runner-up to stick up for him a bit. Many people seem to love Brooklyn Nine-Nine as I do, but still mixed on Samberg.

Best Actress, Comedy: Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation
Runner-Up: Taylor Schilling, Orange is the New Black
Other Nominees: Malin Akerman, Tina Fey, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Sarah Michelle Gellar

This would be the third time I'm picking Poehler in just the five years I've been handing out awards on this blog and while I can totally understand people scratching their heads on my pick this year, I just needed to follow my gut. Her character Leslie went through so many ups and downs this season and Poehler navigated through it all wonderfully. Schilling was the obvious runner-up just for managing to maintain the audience's focus while being surrounded by flashier (better?) performances.

Best Supporting Actor, Drama: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Game of Thrones
Runner-Up: Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
Other Nominees: Josh Charles, Jordan Gavaris, Mads Mikkelsen, Corey Stoll

Bad guys with redemptive arcs is a well-worn TV trope certainly, but it doesn't mean it's uneffective with the right actor and part and my top two proves that. Playing the humbled King Slayer, Coster-Waldau showed he's more than just a pretty face full of snark. And while Paul's Jesse had long since dropped his bad guy designation, these final episodes showing him going through hell, so helplessly trapped by his previous bad decisions, have been heartbreaking in the best way.

Best Supporting Actress, Drama: Olivia Colman, Broadchurch
Runner-Up: Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad
Other Nominees: Christine Baranski, Gwendoline Christie, Lena Headey, Annet Mahendru

It's actually pretty funny that Colman and Gunn are my top two picks since Gunn is actually going to be playing Colman's character in the American version of Broadchurch so you might just see Gunn here next year if she affectively delivers the same way Colman did. Of course, Gunn herself was amazing to watch this year with her character trying her best to survive amidst the chaos. The other nominees are just as amazing and wonderful, especially Mahendru who I knew nothing about before this show.

Best Supporting Actor, Comedy: Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Runner-Up: Albert Tsai, Trophy Wife
Other Nominees: Adam Driver, Nick Offerman, Jim Rash, James Wolk

I was really sad when Last Resort was cancelled last year mostly because Braugher would be off my TV, but thankfully he came back as a gay NYC captain with a penchant for the rules in Brooklyn Nine-Nine in a role that was so unexpected AND perfect at the same time. His chemistry with Samberg elevates the latter and is a key highlight for the show. Tsai in the meantime is ridiculously hilarious and watchable and not even just for his young age. Just an aside... James Wolk is super pretty. More on that below.

Best Supporting Actress, Comedy: Danielle Brooks, Orange is the New Black
Runner-Up: Kate Mulgrew, Orange is the New Black
Other Nominees: Stephanie Beatriz, Mayim Bialik, Jenna Fischer, Jane Krakowski

So I said above that it was nearly impossible to pick a favorite character in Orange is the New Black, but my top two picks here would definitely be near the top. All of the characters in that show are bigger than life, but there's something about Brooks and Mulgrew's portrayals just stick with you. Plus one of them is Captain Janeway! Finally, just a tip of the hat to Fischer and Krakowski whose shows ended this year. Wished these two superbly talented ladies were awarded more.

Best Limited Role, Actor: James Wolk, Mad Men
Runner-Up: Eddie Izzard, Hannibal
Other Nominees: Arthur Darvill, Nathan Lane, Andrew Rannells, Mark Sheppard

Wolk, who is unnaturally handsome, was the epitome of a scene stealer in this past season of Mad Men. Seemed like everyone was analyzing every word his character Bob Benson said and every outfit he wore. When we finally found out what he was up to, it was all anyone could talk about. Then there's Izzard who managed to rise to the top of sick serial killers in a show full of sick serial killers. That's a talent right there.

Best Limited Role, Actress: Allison Janney, Masters of Sex
Runner-Up: Natalie Dormer, Elementary/Game of Thrones
Other Nominees: Uzo Aduba, Cristin Milioti, Carrie Preston, Alison Wright

Finally, this is the one category where I wished I could award a 6-way tie. I'm serious. Aduba plays probably my favorite character in her show (I really love its cast if you couldn't tell) while Milioti has been such a breath of fresh air in every conceivable way. Preston is ALWAYS good be it playing the best goddamn lawyer in The Good Wife or the sassiest waitress in True Blood while Wright is such a revelation in a role that just breaks your heart. The latter you could also say for Janney who was the best part of Masters of Sex. You literally felt all of the emotions she felt and my God were there a lot of emotions. Dormer in the meantime proved in her two roles as Margaery Tyrell and Moriarty that she's pretty damn kick-ass.

As I said up top, my ranked list of TV shows will be posted in a few days. Click here to refresh your memory on my picks for Best Drama, Best Comedy, and Best New Show.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

BAFTA Nominations


The BAFTA announced their nominations yesterday and it seemed like the one question everyone had afterwards was, "Wait, Gravity is British film?" In any case, British or not, it garnered the most nominations including one for Best British Film totaling 11 nods. The rest of nominees are as follows...

Best Film
  • American Hustle
  • Captain Phillips
  • Gravity
  • Philomena
  • 12 Years a Slave

Best British Film
  • Gravity
  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
  • Philomena
  • Rush
  • Saving Mr. Banks
  • The Selfish Giant

Second to Gravity are its Oscar rivals, American Hustle and 12 Years a Slave, with 10 nominations each. It's a particularly strong showing for the first film and perhaps just very slightly disappointing for the latter to not have more. One of these three films will win here and at the Oscars, the only question is which one? Philomena expectedly gets a boost here doubling up like Gravity while Saving Mr. Banks surprisingly got into the British shortlist, also like Gravity.

Best Director
  • David O. Russell, American Hustle
  • Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips
  • Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
  • Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
  • Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street

This lineup matches 100% from the DGA nominations which could mean this is also what we'll see next week during Oscar nomination morning, but I'm hoping there'll be surprises like last year. Scorsese makes it in despite his film not cracking the Best Film category, but at least it received a few nominations which is better than completely snubbed films Dallas Buyers Club and Her, the latter of which saddens me. Now, this will be a battle between Cuaron and McQueen certainly and you'd think the British cred of the latter will give him a leg up, but who knows? Finally, how about Greengrass and his film (9 nominations!), which is having a pretty solid awards season, certainly more than I have it credit for.

Best Actor
  • Christian Bale, American Hustle
  • Bruce Dern, Nebraska
  • Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
  • Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips

Best Actress
  • Amy Adams, American Hustle
  • Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
  • Sandra Bullock, Gravity
  • Judi Dench, Philomena
  • Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks

Yes, he's English and she plays "British," but nominating Bale and Adams here shows great support for the film which managed to get a nomination in each acting category. This meant that a few big names were left out including Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, and Matthew McConaughey among others. My dark-horse wish of a Julie Delpy nomination though didn't come to fruition. In fact, I'm pretty annoyed Before Midnight didn't register at all. Was it ineligible? Meanwhile, Brit Ejiofor and Australian Blanchett should handily win their respective categories.

Best Supporting Actor
  • Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
  • Daniel Bruhl, Rush
  • Bradley Cooper, American Hustle
  • Matt Damon, Behind the Candelabra
  • Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave

Best Supporting Actress
  • Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
  • Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
  • Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
  • Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
  • Oprah Winfrey, Lee Daniels' The Butler

The biggest shock here is the absence of Leto who has been dominating this category all season and is the frontrunner to win an Oscar. His replacement is Matt Damon whose film had a theatrical release in Britain and thus qualified the film for the awards. Fassbender should then be seen as the front-runner here. Meanwhile, no shocking things for the actresses with the exception of June Squibb's snub. It's probably between Nyong'o and Lawrence. The BAFTA might be tempted to give Lawrence a make-up win after not giving her the award last year for her Oscar-winning role.

Best Original Screenplay
  • American Hustle
  • Blue Jasmine
  • Gravity
  • Inside Llewyn Davis
  • Nebraska

Best Adapted Screenplay
  • Behind the Candelabra
  • Captain Phillips
  • Philomena
  • 12 Years a Slave
  • The Wolf of Wall Street

You want to see how much they loved Gravity? Well, they've nominated it for its screenplay. Again, Her and Before Midnight are shockingly left off which I hope won't repeat at the Oscars next week. Good day for Inside Llewyn Davis, 12 Years a Slave, and Philomena who were all passed over for WGA nods for one reason or another. I really hoped though that this group would've picked The World's End, but alas.

Best Foreign Language Film
  • The Act of Killing
  • Blue is the Warmest Color
  • The Great Beauty
  • Metro Manila
  • Wadjda

Best Documentary
  • The Act of Killing
  • The Armstrong Lie
  • Blackfish
  • Tim's Vermeer
  • We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks

Best Animated Film
  • Despicable Me 2
  • Frozen
  • Monsters University

Should be easy wins for Blue is the Warmest Color, The Act of Killing, and Frozen since they've all dominated their respective categories so far this season. It also helps that their toughest opponents were nominated (or eligible) in this case, The Hunt, Stories We Tell, and The Wind Rises respectively.

Best Cinematography
  • Captain Phillips
  • Gravity
  • Inside Llewyn Davis
  • Nebraska
  • 12 Years a Slave

Best Production Design
  • American Hustle
  • Behind the Candelabra
  • Gravity
  • The Great Gatsby
  • 12 Years a Slave

Best Costume Design
  • American Hustle
  • Behind the Candelabra
  • The Great Gatsby
  • The Invisible Woman
  • Saving Mr. Banks

Best Film Editing
  • Captain Phillips
  • Gravity
  • Rush
  • 12 Years a Slave
  • The Wolf of Wall Street

Best Makeup and Hair
  • American Hustle
  • Behind the Candelabra
  • The Great Gatsby
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
  • Lee Daniels' The Butler

Best Music
  • The Book Thief
  • Captain Phillips
  • Gravity
  • Saving Mr. Banks
  • 12 Years a Slave

Best Sound
  • All is Lost
  • Captain Phillips
  • Gravity
  • Inside Llewyn Davis
  • Rush

Best Visual Effects
  • Gravity
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
  • Iron Man 3
  • Pacific Rim
  • Star Trek Into Darkness

Gravity expectedly picked up the most technical nominations with 6 total missing out on two understandable categories (Hair/Makeup and Costumes). Captain Phillips and 12 Years a Slave picked up 4 nominations each with the latter more shockingly missing out on the same two awards Gravity wasn't nominated for.

Best Debut by British Writer, Director or Producer
  • Colin Caberry and Glenn Patterson, Good Vibrations
  • Kelly Msarcel, Saving Mr. Banks
  • Kieran Evasns, Kelly + Victor
  • Scott Graham, Shell
  • Paul Wright and Polly Stokes, For Those in Peril

Rising Star Award
  • Dane DeHaan
  • George Mackay
  • Lupita Nyong'o
  • Will Poulter
  • Lea Seydoux

Two years ago, I knew almost all of the names in Best Debut, but like last year I'm pretty much flying blind this time around. I do most most of those nominated for the Rising Star Award with the exception of Mackay. Since this category is voted on by the public, it'll be whoever has the biggest fans. So... DeHaan? I mean he is going to be in the new Spider-Man film, but that hasn't come out yet. Any ideas?

Sarah Michelle Gellar Wins People's Choice Awards


The People Choice Awards were held last night. I didn't watch, because there are only so many hours in a day and who really cares what the "people" think. But there were still a few well-deserved winners like The Good Wife taking home Favorite Network TV Drama and Orange is the New Black the top choice for Favorite Streaming Series. It's also hilarious that Breaking Bad, which aired its final episode just a few months ago, won Favorite Series We Miss Most. See a complete list of winners here.

My favorite win though was Sarah Michelle Gellar for Favorite Actress in a New TV Series. It was a great moment not because I really thought she deserved this particular award (see Keri Russell, Tatiana Maslany, Taylor Schilling, Lizzy Caplan, etc.), but because it's always good when an under appreciated and under-rewarded actor gets their due. She highlighted this sentiment by touchingly paying tribute to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the show that catapulted her as a TV icon. The quote and video are below:
For seven years, I had the privilege to be a part of one of the most amazing television shows and I've never gotten a chance to publicly thank them--the cast, the crew, and all the fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. So thank you.


To say I was emotionally overwhelmed after seeing the clip above would probably be understating it. Buffy the Vampire Slayer remains my favorite show ever and I'm just glad its star is still so appreciative after all of these years. And you know what, she's pretty great in her new show The Crazy Ones.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Box Office: Catching Fire and Frozen Reach Milestones


On the second to last weekend of November, Catching Fire and Frozen made their contrasting debut. Catching Fire made over $158 million in super wide release, good for 6th highest grossing opening weekend and the best ever November opening. Frozen started out in just one theater for a still impressive $243,000+ gross. The week after that was Thanksgiving and by the end of the weekend, they both claimed the top two spots at the box office as well as getting the highest and second-highest Thanksgiving gross ever. Both films would hold well the next few weeks taking advantage of good word-of-mouth and the holiday season.


Yesterday, the second Hunger Games film finally surpassed the final gross of its predecessor ($408,010,692) and is just a day or so away from overtaking Iron Man 3 for the top film of 2013. Frozen in the meantime, fresh off from being ranked #1 at the box office on its 7th week, reached the $300 million milestone, a tally not many people thought it would reach let alone surpass by a good amount. People are now looking to $350 million and perhaps even to beat the $368 million gross of Despicable Me 2. To add to this amazing feat, it was confirmed today that the film's soundtrack was the best-selling album of last week, only the fourth animated film soundtrack to do so in the chart's 58-year history.

Girl freaking power indeed.