Sunday, January 25, 2015

End-Of-Year: Favorite 2014 TV Shows, Part 1

2015 is over three weeks old already and there are already fantastic NEW TV shows I've been obsessing over. All of that just means is that it's about time I finally post my list of favorite TV shows from 2014. So here's the first part...

Though a few honorable/dishonorable mentions first:

HONORABLE MENTION to Transparent which is technically a 2014 TV show, but I literally just saw it this weekend so I feel weird about including it in a list I finalized a couple of weeks ago. In any case, Tambor and cast are great and everyone should watch it.

DISHONORABLE MENTION to Gracepoint because even though I only managed to see its pilot and finale, it was still crystal clear what an unnecessary remake it was. Just watch Broadchurch, people!

DISHONORABLE MENTION to How I Met Your Mother whose rocky final season could've been completely salvaged by sticking the landing and instead they tripped and fell into a fire pit. If they had just aired the 'alternate' ending I'm pretty sure the show would've ranked for me.

HONORABLE MENTION to all the awesome reality TV shows (since I decided to stick with only scripted shows in my list) such as American Ninja Warrior, Amazing Race, Face Off, Fake Off, Masterchef, Masterchef Jr., So You Think You Can Dance, and The Quest. The latter was REALLY fun. Google it!

DISHONORABLE MENTION for networks cancelling good or potentially good comedies such as Enlisted, Trophy Wife, Selfie, A to Z, Suburgatory, The Crazy Ones, Benched, etc. Comedy isn't dead, but there's certainly been a lot of comedy murders lately.

Finally, HONORABLE MENTION to the brilliant actors in not-so-great (but still good) shows like Hayden Pannetiere in Nashville, Matthew McConaughey/Woody Harrelson in True Detective, Allison Janney in Mom, and Ian McKellen/Derek Jacobi in Vicious. I dedicate this to Cristin Milioti.

And now my list... starting with a shameless tie for #35!

35. Elementary/Sherlock - I kept going back and forth between the two Conan Doyle adaptations. Elementary is still my preferred Watson/Holmes duo, but Moriarty's brief appearance and Mary's introduction in Sherlock were hard to forget.

34. Once Upon a Time - There's still a large swath of the show I personally don't care for, but Regina as the reformed villain, Hook's sincere dedication to Emma, and the inspired Frozen arc made this an easy inclusion on my list.

33. Silicon Valley - A strong sense of place and characters helped overcome my hesitation over the weak pilot and in the end I honestly just wanted to keep following their journey.

32. Masters of Sex - Its pedigree and quality acting kept this in my list, but a muddled second half and an increasingly dull (to me) relationship between the two leads knocked this down a bit; the supporting characters are still aces.

31. You're the Worst
- Got to this show late, but the critical love to this unlikely comedy gem is totally warranted. Full of heart and sarcasm in equal measures and isn't that always the best formula especially for comedies?

30. The Walking Dead - People have dismissed this as either too bleak or too disposable and while the former is true, the latter isn't. There were some nice character studies last year and all without sacrificing action and tense sequences the show is duly known for.

29. Orphan Black - The inimitable Tatiana Maslany was brilliant throughout, but the season as whole didn't quite reach up to her level despite some surprising developments to the increasing mythology of the show.

28. Homeland - It wasn't a home-run season like days of yore, but it was immensely improved from whatever last season was. Getting out of the US and having an actual mission to focus on helped a lot. And unlike most, I dug the quiet finale.

27. Downton Abbey - I particularly found the current season airing in PBS (and aired in UK in 2014) quite good especially in terms of my favorite characters. Still wish the beats were slightly more unpredictable, but this show is hardly going to win prizes for being groundbreaking now.

26. The Affair - The unique structure is a little gimmicky and sometimes got distracting and repetitive while the two leads together is probably my least favorite thing about the show. With that said, the acting is unimpeachable and the compelling family drama were the reasons it's on my list. Oh, and Pacey. With a gun.

25. Enlisted - God, this show was so damn good with a wonderfully quirky ensemble and lots of heart. I still don't understand why this didn't get more viewers, but at least its finale was pitch perfect. Hands on heads forever.

24. The Mindy Project - They did a reverse Moonlighting curse as the show improved greatly once they put Mindy/Danny together. The show finally had a stable focus and in the process gave Chris Messina more to do, which is always a good thing. Especially when it involves dancing/stripping.

23. House of Cards - I actually think they delivered a strong sophomore season with both Spacey and Wright going deeper and darker with their characters than even I expected them to. I'm already fearing what the third season will bring with them currently on top!

22. Black-ish - While the pilot was slightly heavy-handed, the series so far has been quite delightful and most of that has to do with the great family ensemble they've assembled. The youngest kids especially are too adorable for words.

21. Broad City - Apart from how ridiculous and funny the two leads are (and they're plenty both I assure you), I  think I just love the show because it just feels so authentically New York City. Plus I just envy their relationship with each other.

20. How to Get Away with Murder - It was my favorite pilot of the fall season and while a lot of the show falls under "hot mess," it's still incredibly fun to watch especially when it's Viola Davis chewing scenery or when literal gay sex is happening on screen. Both occur quite a lot thankfully.

19. Mad Men - If they had continued with their final season, I have no doubt this would be ranked higher in my list because I felt the season was JUST starting to rev up towards the end. I still have high hopes for it and I'm confident they'll deliver.

18. Looking - This show was highly anticipated for me since I expected it to pretty much be the TV version of Weekend and it pretty much was with the adorable Jonathan Groff as the looking-for-love lead. I was bound to love it.

17. Vikings - They did not withhold anything with this sophomore season! If anything, they just did everything bigger and better from amazing battle sequences to heart-wrenching drama; the season had it all. I mean they crucified one of the characters! Also, Lagertha is my queen forever.

16. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
- This show (barely) made my list last year mostly due to my undying love for Whedon and my appreciation for Marvel. Thankfully since then it has gotten SO MUCH better with the writers/actors clearly more in sync with most of the characters as well as the welcome throughline of an actual mission driving the plot forward. Hope they can keep this up!

Part 2 aka my top 15 shows of 2014 soon!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Critical Consensus 2014

Tomorrow is a huge day for the awards enthusiasts. Early in the morning is of course the Oscar nominations and later that night will be the Critics Choice Awards where the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) will give out their prizes. They will be the last critics group to chime in with their picks for bests of the year. Until then, let's take a quick look at what other critics groups 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.

  • The Grand Budapest Hotel (3) - OFCS, SEFCA, NCFCA
  • Selma (3) - AAFCA, BFCC, COFCA
  • Nightcrawler - SDFCS
  • American Sniper - DFCA
  • Gone Girl - NFCS
  • Snowpiercer - BOFCA
  • Goodbye to Language - NSFC
  • A Most Violent Year*
Notable exclusions:  The Imitation Game, Theory of Everything, Whiplash, Foxcatcher, Unbroken

  • Alejandro G. Iñárritu (6) - BOFCA, DFWFCA, SLFC, LVFCS, UFCA, VFCC
  • Ava DuVernay (3) - AAFCA, BFCC, COFCA
  • Dan Gilroy (2) - SDFCS, NFCS
  • Clint Eastwood*
Notable exclusions: Wes Anderson, David Fincher, Damien Chazelle, James Marsh, Angelina Jolie, Morten Tyldum

  • Jake Gyllenhaal (8) - SDFCS, SLFC, HFCS, AFCA, FFCC, NFCS, NTFCA, GFCA, VFCC
  • David Oyelowo (3) - AAFCA, BFCC, COFCA
  • Ralph Fiennes (2) - IFJA, DFCA
  • Tom Hardy (2) - LAFCA, TFCA
  • Timothy Spall (2) - NYFCC, NSFC
  • Eddie Redmayne - NYFCO
  • Brendan Gleeson - BOFCA
  • Bradley Cooper - DFCA
  • Oscar Isaac*
Notable exclusions: Benedict Cumberbatch, Steve Carrell, Joaquin Phoenix

  • Marion Cotillard (8) - NYFCC, NSFC, BSFC, NYFCO, BOFCA, SDFCS, TFCA, GFCA
  • Julianne Moore* (6) - WAFCA, SFFCC, CFCA, SEFCA, HFCS, AWFJ
  • Reese Witherspoon (4) - DFWFCA, IFJA, LVFCS, IFCA
  • Gugu Mbatha-Raw (2) - AAFCA, BFCC
  • Essie Davis (2) - COFCA, NCFCA
  • Patricia Arquette - LAFCA
  • Tilda Swinton - VFCC
Notable exclusions: Felicity Jones, Jennifer Aniston, Amy Adams, Emily Blunt

  • Edward Norton* (6) - BOFCA, KCFCC, SFFCC, OFCS, OFCC, NCFCA
  • Mark Ruffalo - SDFCS
  • Tyler Perry - AAFCA
Notable exclusions: Ethan Hawke, Robert Duvall, Josh Brolin

  • Tilda Swinton (5) - BOFCA, LVFCS, AWFJ,  COFCA, GFCA,
  • Jessica Chastain* (3) - IFJA, UFCA, NFCS
  • Emma Stone - BSFC
  • Keira Knightley - PFCS
  • Rene Russo - SDFCS
  • Agata Kulesza - LAFCA
  • Carmen Ejogo - BFCC
  • Octavia Spencer - AAFCA
Notable exclusions: Meryl Streep, Naomi Watts, Imelda Staunton

  • Nightcrawler (4) - SDFCS, AFCA, NFCS, GFCA
  • Boyhood (2) - BSFC, DFCS, HFCS
  • Selma (2) - BFCC, COFCA
  • Calvary - BOFCA
  • Beyond the Lights - AAFCA
  • The LEGO Movie*
Notable exclusions: Foxcatcher, A Most Violent Year

  • Inherent Vice* (3) - SFFCC, UFCA, DFCA
  • Imitation Game - COFCA
  • Whiplash - IFJA
  • Guardians of the Galaxy - NCFCA
  • Obvious Child - KCFCC
  • Snowpiercer - UFCA
Notable exclusions: Theory of Everything, Wild, American Sniper, Unbroken

  • Tale of Princess Kaguya (3) - LAFCA, BSFC, TFCA
  • The Boxtrolls (2) - SDFCS, AAFCA
  • Big Hero 6 (1) - NFCS
  • How to Train Yoour Dragon 2*
Notable exclusion: The Book of Life

Does any of this actually mean anything for the Oscars? The answer is always yes AND no. Critics aren't Oscar voters, but as a group they are able to spotlight films, big and small. Granted consensus always forms and more often than not it means Oscar nominations so for those with double-digit tallies, they should breathe slightly easier. This means Boyhood, Richard Linklater, Michael Keaton, Rosamund Pike, J.K. Simmons, Patricia Arquette, The LEGO Movie as well as screenplays for Grand Budapest Hotel, Birdman, and Gone Girl are locked and loaded.

The best part obviously about all of these regional critic groups is that sometimes they do highlight films or performers which most likely will not get Oscar nominations tomorrow. Films like Snowpiercer, Obvious Child, Beyond the Lights, and Goodbye to Language and actors like Tom Hardy, Brendan Gleeson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Essie Davis, Tyler Perry, Tilda Swinton, Agata Kulesza, and Carmen Ejogo, for example. It's also interesting to see which Oscar front-runners aren't getting much critical love like Wes Anderson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ethan Hawke, and even the great Meryl Streep herself. They'll all still get nominated tomorrow though so don't feel too sad for them!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Directors Guild Nominations

Convention says that it's nearly impossible to win the Oscars Best Picture without being nominated by the Directors Guild and thus the awards race usually narrows down considerably when the guild announces its picks, which they did this morning. Let's see what they are...

The DGA nominees for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in a Feature Film for 2014 are:
  • Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Clint Eastwood, American Sniper
  • Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Birdman
  • Richard Linklater, Boyhood
  • Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game

It's a no-brainer that Linklater and Iñárritu made the shortlist and while Anderson isn't usually to their taste (this is shockingly his first DGA nomination after all), his film clearly has wide industry support. Eastwood's nod is surprising, but he is a well-known veteran and won the NBR award last month. The real head-scratcher here is Tyldum whose first major citation all awards season long for directing is this nomination by the guild. Better late than never, I guess!

The directors who probably just missed the list include Golden Globes and BFCA nominees Ava DuVernay and David Fincher, BAFTA nominees Damien Chazelle and James Marsh as well as Angelina Jolie and Dan Gilroy. It's worth noting that it's not common for the DGA and Oscars directing lineup to match perfectly so there's definitely still a chance for someone to sneak in to hopefully replace Eastwood and Tyldum. Regardless, the front-runner for the award here (and at the Oscars) is Linklater and if he did win, he would be the 8th straight first-time DGA winner (a win for Anderson or Tyldum would also keep this cool streak alive). Iñárritu would be his biggest challenger though I would think if Selma's DuVernay had been nominated, she could've really won. I'm lighting a candle for that film's shoddy showing at the guilds.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Golden Globes Pick Boyhood & First-Time Winners

If I'm being honest, this was probably the least successful hosting stint of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler at the Golden Globes (which still means it's better than average, just not as great as what they've done the past couple of years). I'm sure some if it was due to their North Korea bit with Margaret Cho falling flat a bit as well as people's uncomfortableness with the Bill Cosby jokes, but to Fey and Poehler they had to go there so to speak and knowing it was their last time hosting gave them the freedom to do whatever. They still managed to make a brilliant joke at Cecil B. Demille recipient George Clooney's expense and their "Who'd You Rather" skit is already a classic, so it was all worth it. So, the winners...

Best Motion Picture, Drama: Boyhood
Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Director: Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Best Actress, Drama: Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Best Actress, Comedy or Musical: Amy Adams, Big Eyes
Best Actor, Drama: Eddie Redmayne, Theory of Everything
Best Actor, Comedy or Musical: Michael Keaton, Birdman
Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Best Supporting Actor: J.K, Simmons, Whiplash
Best Animated Film: How to Train Your Dragon 2
Best Foreign Language Film: Leviathan
Best Screenplay: Birdman
Best Score: Theory of Everything
Best Song: "Glory," Selma

Boyhood led with 3 wins picking up Best Drama Film, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actress followed by Birdman and Theory of Everything which both picked up two awards each, one for their leading actors and another for Screenplay and Score respectively. The Grand Budapest Hotel was the surprise winner for Best Comedy/Musical over Birdman while one of Oscars' front-runners The Imitation Game went home empty-handed. J.K. Simmons continued his awards season dominance by picking up Supporting Actor. Julianne Moore and Amy Adams picked up the Best Actress awards solidifying one as the front-runner (Moore) and the other as possible spoiler to the short list (Adams). Selma might yet figure importantly in the Oscar race, but its momentum this awards season is sorely lacking. Their win in Original Song, however, gave them an opportunity to talk about the film in relation to current events and that's not nothing. Finally, How to Train Your Dragon 2 won Best Animated Film in a bit of an upset to the presumed front-runner The LEGO Movie. I went 8 out of 14 with my predictions thinking the HFPA would pick Birdman and Cumberbatch among a few other misses.

Best TV Series, Drama: The Affair
Best TV Series, Comedy: Transparent
Best Actress, Drama: Ruth Wilson, The Affair
Best Actress, Comedy: Gina Rodriguez, Jane the Virgin
Best Actor, Drama: Kevin Spacey, House of Cards
Best Actor, Comedy: Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent
Best Mini-Series or TV Movie: Fargo
Best Actress, Mini/TV Movie: Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Honorable Woman
Best Actor, Mini/TV Movie: Billy Bob Thorton, Fargo
Best Supporting Actress: Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey
Best Supporting Actor: Matt Bomer, The Normal Heart

On the TV side, the big winners were new series and first-time winners. In fact, every single acting award went to first-time winners from the CW's first Golden Globe win ever with Gina Rodriguez picking up Best Comedy Actress (her win and speech were the highlights of the night) to 8-time nominee Kevin Spacey finally winning his first Golden Globe. The HFPA really went niche this year honoring not only Netflix and the CW, but Amazon as well with two wins for its ground-breaking show Transparent for Best Comedy and Best Comedy Actor. Showtime's freshman series The Affair also picked up two awards for Best Drama and Best Drama Actress. Fargo faced stiff competition, but came out on top over True Detective and The Normal Heart winning Best Mini-Series/TV Movie and winning Best Actor for Billy Bob Thorton (notably beating Matthew McConaughey). The Normal Heart did walk away with one award for Matt Bomer as Downton Abbey and The Honorable Woman also pick up an award each. I did horribly in my predictions this year getting only 4 out of 11 correctly, but two female-created shows winning the top two awards plus acting wins with roles dealing with race, trans, gay, and sexual abuse issues? As Fey/Poehler made the crowd chant tonight... TV *IS* BETTER.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Golden Globes Predictions

I've never really been that great at predicting who wins at the Golden Globes, but there's still something fun at trying to guess every year. The film half is slightly more predictable than the TV half this year, at least in my opinion, but perhaps that's always been true as the TV awards feel tacked on with nary a thought. It doesn't really matter though, because I'm just here for the fashion and for Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Bring it, ladies! Can't wait for tonight!

Best Motion Picture, Drama:
Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical: Birdman
Best Director: Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Best Actress, Drama: Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Best Actress, Comedy or Musical: Amy Adams, Big Eyes
Best Actor, Drama: Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Best Actor, Comedy or Musical: Michael Keaton, Birdman
Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Best Supporting Actor: J.K, Simmons, Whiplash
Best Animated Film: The LEGO Movie
Best Foreign Language Film: Force Majeure
Best Screenplay: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Score: Birdman
Best Song: "Glory," Selma

Even though Boyhood and Birdman have dominated in the precursors so far (and my predictions above are based on that) and have the most film nominations, I can also easily see the HFPA doing something different aka showing love to other films like The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, or even Theory of Everything. The two acting awards which confound me are Comedy Actress and Drama Actor so they'll be something to keep an eye out for during the big night. For my previous thoughts on the nominations, click here.

Best TV Series, Drama: The Good Wife
Best TV Series, Comedy: Orange is the New Black
Best Actress, Drama: Viola Davis, How to Get Away with Murder
Best Actress, Comedy: Gina Rodriguez, Jane the Virgin
Best Actor, Drama: Kevin Spacey, House of Cards
Best Actor, Comedy: Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent
Best Mini-Series or TV Movie: True Detective
Best Actress, Miniseries/TV Movie: Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Honorable Woman
Best Actor, Miniseries/TV Movie: Matthew McConaughey, True Detective
Best Supporting Actress: Uzo Aduba, Orange Is The New Black
Best Supporting Actor: Alan Cumming, The Good Wife

Last year, the HFPA predictably honored Breaking Bad's final season and unpredictably gave some love to Brooklyn Nine-Nine. This year, it's looking to lean towards unpredictability with no one TV show really rising to the top. The acting categories are even more confounding because I think only Tambor and McConaughey are relatively safe picks while the others could be so wrong. We'll see! For my previous thoughts on the nominations, click here.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

BAFTA Nominations

Yesterday was the BAFTA nominations and in an interesting twist to this awards season neither Birdman nor Boyhood nor the two British biopics came out with the most nods. That honor went to Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel with 11 nominations and this without the benefit of being a British film.

Best Film
  • Birdman
  • Boyhood
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • The Imitation Game
  • The Theory of Everything

Best British Film
  • ’71
  • The Imitation Game
  • Paddington
  • Pride
  • The Theory of Everything
  • Under the Skin

The other usual Oscar front-runners did well here still with Birdman and Theory of Everything garnering 10 nods each and The Imitation Game right behind with 9. The latter two films expectantly got British film nominations alongside refreshing picks such as Pride and Under the Skin. Many thought Mr. Turner would be a shoo-in here, but its low turnout (only four nods and without a Best Actor) is telling especially since the Brits picked Paddington in its place. I wished Pride had showed up more below, but at least its tally was better than Into the Woods (2), Unbroken (0), and Selma (0) combined even with lots of British actors in those aforementioned films.

Best Director
  • Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Birdman
  • Richard Linklater, Boyhood
  • Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • James Marsh, The Theory of Everything
  • Damien Chazelle, Whiplash

Marsh inclusion here over Imitation Game's Morten Tyldum gave his film the edge, but regardless the race is most likely between Linklater and Iñárritu. Chazelle sneaking into this category also bodes good support for his film which tied Boyhood with 5 nominations. The upcoming DGA nominations in the next few days will clarify the Oscar picture a bit more.

Best Actor
  • Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
  • Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler
  • Michael Keaton, Birdman
  • Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

Best Actress
  • Amy Adams, Big Eyes
  • Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
  • Julianne Moore, Still Alice
  • Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
  • Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Save for Amy Adams, all of the nominees here have also been nominated by the Broadcast Film Critics and at the Golden Globes so these lineup could pretty much be set for the Oscars give or take Jennifer Aniston (film ineligible) and David Oyelowo (film not seen?). The latter, along with Timothy Spall, Emily Blunt, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Jack O'Connell, Tilda Swinton, and Marion Cotillard were expected to have more support here due to their British/European-ness, but alas.

Best Supporting Actor
  • Steve Carrell, Foxcatcher
  • Edward Norton, Birdman
  • Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
  • Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
  • J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

Best Supporting Actress
  • Emma Stone, Birdman
  • Imelda Staunton, Pride
  • Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
  • Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
  • Rene Russo, Nightcrawler

A few interesting nominations in the supporting categories. First, the British thought Carrell was supporting even though he's been campaigning in lead this whole season. As for the ladies, Russo and Staunton get their first major citing this awards season and I think I'm okay with them replacing Meryl Streep, Jessica Chastain, and/or Tilda Swinton (even though I was betting on the latter to get in) since they're very unlikely for Oscars. I do wish they had nominated more people from Pride (great ensemble)!

Best Original Screenplay
  • Birdman
  • Boyhood
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Nightcrawler
  • Whiplash

Best Adapted Screenplay
  • American Sniper
  • Gone Girl
  • The Imitation Game
  • Paddington
  • The Theory of Everything

Apart from Whiplash (which was deemed adapted by the Academy), I fully expect all of the films in original to repeat their nominations at the Oscars. Selma is probably the one to take advantage of Whiplash's re-categorization. As for Adapted, I am bemused by Paddington's inclusion but apparently the Brits really like that film (and it's also good to boot!). I have a sick feeling that American Sniper will be Oscar nominated here (and elsewhere) and I'll be forced to have that film. Too bad they couldn't have just nominated Wild, Inherent Vice, or even Guardians of the Galaxy!

Best Foreign Language Film
  • Ida
  • Leviathan
  • The Lunchbox
  • Trash
  • Two Days, One Night

Best Documentary
  • 20 Feet from Stardom
  • 20,000 Days on Earth
  • Finding Vivian Maier
  • Virunga

Best Animated Film
  • Big Hero 6
  • The Boxtrolls
  • The LEGO Movie

Based on precursors, look for Ida, CITIZENFOUR, and The LEGO Movie to win here especially since the first two films' major competition Force Majeure and Life Itself respectively weren't nominated.

Best Cinematography
  • Birdman
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Ida
  • Interstellar
  • Mr. Turner

Best Editing
  • Birdman
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • The Imitation Game
  • Nightcrawler
  • The Theory of Everything
  • Whiplash

Best Production Design
  • Big Eyes
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • The Imitation Game
  • Interstellar
  • Mr. Turner

Best Costume Design
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • The Imitation Game
  • Into the Woods
  • Mr. Turner
  • The Theory of Everything

Best Makeup and Hair
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Into the Woods
  • Mr. Turner
  • The Theory of Everything

Best Original Music
  • Birdman
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Interstellar
  • The Theory of Everything
  • Under the Skin

Best Sound
  • American Sniper
  • Birdman
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • The Imitation Game
  • Whiplash

Best Visual Effects
  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies
  • Interstellar
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past

The Grand Budapest Hotel received 7 nods in 8 technical categories clearly coming out on top missing only Visual Effects. A handful of films received four nods including Birdman, Interstellar, Imitation Game, and Theory of Everything. Boyhood surprisingly came up empty more tellingly in Best Editing which even had 6 films in contention.

Best Debut by British Writer, Director or Producer
  • Elaine Constantine, Northern Soul
  • Gregory Burke and Yann Demange, ’71
  • Hong Khaou, Lilting
  • Paul Katis and Andrew de Lotbinere, Kajaki: The True Story
  • Stephen Beresford and David Livingstone, Pride

Rising Star Award
  • Gugu Mbatha-Raw
  • Jack O'Connell
  • Margot Robbie
  • Miles Teller
  • Shailene Woodley

Unfortunately, I don't know any of the names in Best Debut, but I do know all of those in contention for the Rising Start Award and have seen a good chunk of their filmographies as well (this year). The public will be voting for this particular award so I think it'll be between Woodley (YA fans) or O'Connell (Skins actor).

Thursday, January 8, 2015

End-Of-Year: 2014 TV Winners

2015 has been a week old and there are already a few of TV shows and performances that have set the bar for the upcoming year. With that said below are my top performances of the year in their respective categories starting off with my pick for Best Ensemble...

Best Ensemble: Jane the Virgin
Runner-Up: Orange is the New Black
Other Nominees: Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Fargo, Game of Thrones, The Good Wife, The Leftovers, Parks and Recreation, Shameless, Veep

The cast of freshman show Jane the Virgin is from top to bottom excellent. From the delightful title character played by Gina Rodriguez to the wonderful unseen narrator. The women are the MVPs and yet the men are pretty damn wonderful as well in what could've been trickier roles. In any case, I realize I had to pick this cast considering I wanted to nominate ALL of them below and I nearly did. Meanwhile my pick last year Orange is the New Black is still the prime example of diverse female characters on the air (or streaming, in this case) right now and their sophomore season just solidified how great they all are.

Best Actor, Drama: Hugh Dancy, Hannibal
Runner-Up: Mads Mikkelsen, Hannibal
Other Nominees:
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Luke Pasqualino, The Musketeers
Matthew Rhys, The Americans
Kevin Spacey, House of Cards

The one-two combination of Dancy and Mikkelsen enabled the sophomore season of Hannibal to reach the next level as their escalating cat and mouse games really heat up. Mikkelsen has been predictably delicious as the cannibal mastermind, but it's Dancy who really dug into a much darker place to match and even surpass his co-star last year. Hamm and Rhys expectantly did well in their solid shows by falling headlong into their fatherly ennui while Spacey chews scenery like no one else. Finally, Pasqualino is pretty and charming befitting someone playing d'Artagnan. Honorable mentions go to the McConaughey/Harrelson team in True Detective and Justin Theroux's penchant for shirtlessness and not wearing underwear in The Leftovers.

Best Actress, Drama: Viola Davis, How to Get Away With Murder
Runner-Up: Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black
Other Nominees:
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men
Keri Russell, The Americans
Robin Wright, House of Cards

Davis' line delivery alone of her show's title in the pilot is enough to push her to the top of this stacked category, but she also followed that up with her wig-removing crackling delivery of "Why is your penis on a dead girl's phone?" that had everyone talking. Meanwhile Maslany yet again does double, triple, sextuple, octuple duties playing god knows how many characters and does it so superbly. It's literal sorcery! Margulies went through a ringer this past year with her character going through a loss and building herself up to an almost different character while Wright delved deeper into her character's dark past in order to forge ahead even stronger. Russell and Moss continue to excel as well. Honorable mention goes to Ruth Wilson doing her best to make us believe that anyone could find Dominic West more attractive than Joshua Jackson in The Affair.

Best Actor, Comedy: Chris Messina, The Mindy Project
Jonathan Groff, Looking
Other Nominees:
Andy Samberg, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Adam Scott, Parks and Recreation
Martin Freeman, Fargo
Thomas Middleditch, Silicon Valley

I honestly think I'm giving Messina the win just for this scene alone as he channels his stripper past for all of our delights. But his elevated role on the show as Mindy's now boyfriend has been a wonderful delight through and through. Groff, meanwhile, like the other nominees, are playing a version of awkward/dorky that I find very endearing and it's nice to see this from him especially after his slight miscasting in Glee a few years ago. Samberg is a lovable doofus, Scott is sexily dorky, Middleditch is funnily awkward, and Freeman is hilariously disturbed. Honorable mentions go to the new and older Doctor Peter Capaldi, the queen bees of Vicious Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi, and the horse-riding sexily dorky king himself John Cho in Selfie.

Best Actress, Comedy: Lisa Kudrow, The Comeback
Gina Rodriguez, Jane the Virgin
Other Nominees:
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation
Emmy Rossum, Shameless
Rita Volk, Faking It

To be honest, this category is as close as to a 6-way tie for me as it gets since these six wonderful actresses deliver six such indelible and incredible performances that I really hesitated picking a winner, but Kudrow's biting and welcome return to television takes my top honor especially after that absolutely breathtaking (series?) finale. Of course, I can't talk enough about how fantastic newcomer Rodriguez is on her show which seems like the perfect match of actor and program, both so full of heart and charm. I've talked about the awesomeness of Rossum, Poehler, and Louis-Dreyfus before (all previous winners of mine) so I'll just say watch Faking It if you haven't and you'll see how great Volk is in it as well. Honorable mentions go to the very funny ladies of Broad City and Tracee Ellis Ross' colorful Rainbow on Black-ish.

Best Supporting Actor, Drama: Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Dylan O'Brien, Teen Wolf
Other Nominees:
George Blagden, Vikings

Matt Czuchry, The Good Wife
Jack Falahee, How to Get Away With Murder
Joshua Jackson, The Affair

Yes, I know what you're thinking. I just created a Guys I'd Like to Fuck List. There are some very, very attractive men here not going to lie. My top pick is of course the brilliant Dinklage who was constantly on the defensive this past season until he went on the offensive and blew everyone away. O'Brien was my next pick since I highly enjoyed his time possessed by an evil spirit enabling the actor to really stretch himself in new, fun ways. As for the others... all talented, all cute. Blagden was crucified, Jackson was cuckold, Czuchry was framed, and Falahee was rimmed... a lot. Honorable mentions go to Jordan Gavaris' ass, Josh Charles' dramatics, Robin Lord Taylor's limp, and Iain De Caestecker's hallucinations.

Best Supporting Actress, Drama: Melissa McBride, The Walking Dead
Hayden Panettiere, Nashville
Other Nominees:
Annaleigh Ashford, Masters of Sex
Carrie Coon, The Leftovers
Maisie Williams, Game of Thrones
Katheryn Winnick, Vikings

Sure McBride played such as bad-ass hero in the fifth season premiere, but it was her gut-wrenching scenes in the late fourth season episode "The Grove" which haunted me all year. She's also been a consistent highlight this season and it's been great seeing her character's development most of all. Then there's Panettiere who is literally the best thing about her show and she handles all of its soapiness with such real emotion that you just feel for her. Ashford's role was thankfully expanded this season though I wish she was actually in more while Williams, Coon, and Winnick all displayed such resiliency amidst sucky circumstances. Honorable mentions go to the most sympathetic Evil Queen Lana Parilla in Once Upon a Time, the fiercest fish Jada Pinkett Smith in Gotham, and the liveliest zombie Emily Bevan in In The Flesh.

Best Supporting Actor, Comedy: Jaime Camil, Jane the Virgin
Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Other Nominees:
Reid Scott, Veep
Jeremy Allen White, Shameless
Michael J. Willett, Faking It
Parker Young, Enlisted

Braugher should get all of the awards, but he's had a season and a half to delight us all with his increasingly more expressive Captain Holt so that's why I gave this to Camil who, in just a handful of episodes, turned what could have been such an irritating one-dimensional character into someone completely opposite of that. He has great writers, of course, but there's just something so natural and straightforward in how he plays his ego-driven telenovela superstar making it so much fun to watch. White really doesn't belong in the Comedy category, but he was SO affecting this season that I would've nominated him in Best Actress. Young, Willett, and Scott are witty bon-mots machines in already fantastic shows. Honorable mentions go to steamy Raúl Castillo in Looking, Tony Hale's bathroom scene in Veep, and Billy Bob Thornton's weird hair in Fargo.

Best Supporting Actress, Comedy: Cristin Milioti, How I Met Your Mother
Samira Wiley, Orange if the New Black
Other Nominees:
Anna Chlumsky, Veep
Andrea Navedo, Jane the Virgin
Chelsea Peretti, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Lorraine Toussaint, Orange if the New Black

While the final season of HIMYM was largely a failed experiment, it at least gave us Milioti. My favorite episodes last year where ones that featured her, especially the 200th episode where we saw 9-years worth of her stories condensed in one beautiful, way-too short episode. As I was making my picks for this category, I realize I could've easily filled this up with actresses from Jane the Virgin, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and Orange is the New Black. I split the difference picking one for each show (two for OITNB). Wiley is my MVP last year as she really stepped up though Toussaint came so close playing such a great villain. Navedo's scenes with Gina Rodriguez are my favorite aspects in that show and Peretti is always, always a highlight. Chlumsky as Selina's campaign manager was expectantly hilarious. Honorable mentions goes to ALL of the other ladies from the aforementioned shows, because seriously wow.

Best Limited Role, Actor: Pedro Pascal, Game of Thrones
Michiel Huisman, Orphan Black/Games of Thrones/Nashville
Other Nominees:
Noel Fisher, Shameless
Anthony Mendez, Jane the Virgin
Conrad Ricamora, How to Get Away With Murder
Andrew Scott, Sherlock

Damn, I made a sex list again. I mean, yes all of these men caught my attention for one reason or another. Pascal was the easy top pick for me as he was unforgettable in the role, but Huisman did his best appearing briefly in three shows the past year with hot and bothered ladies in his wake. Mendez's role as the unseen, but sassy narrator in Jane the Virgin is a delight as is Ricamora's brief (usually shirtless) scenes in his show. Scott probably appeared not even 30 seconds all season and yet he still made the requisite impact. Fisher's character's evolution was my favorite part of the show last year. Honorable mentions goes to the Super Bowl Prince in New Girl, Michael Pitt eating his face on Hannibal, and Russell Tovey's huge... ears in Looking.

Best Limited Role, Actress: Julianne Nicholson, Masters of Sex
Gillian Anderson, Hannibal
Other Nominees:
Ann Dowd, True Detective/Masters of Sex/The Leftovers
Rhea Perlman, The Mindy Project
Carrie Preston, The Good Wife/True Blood
Barbara Rosenblat, Orange is the New Black

We get to the final category and like last year I'm giving it to a veteran actress playing sick on Masters of Sex. Nicholson's plight wasn't any less harrowing than last year's Allison Janney and I truly was so emotionally attached to her character that when she left midway through the season I kinda stopped caring about the show. My runner-up I think only appeared in two episodes, but her brief scenes with the two leads crackled and popped all the same. Preston is an old-hat in this category and every day I wonder why no one has given her a leading role of her own. Perlman is as refreshing an addition to her show's ensemble as Rosenblat is needed. Finally, Dowd was busy, busy, busy this year with three very different and complicated characters. Honorable mentions go to the other ladies--"alive" or dead--on Hannibal, Palicki's heroic hair flip on Agents of SHIELD, Natalie Dormer's mischievous half smile, and Kate Walsh for sexily slaying it on Fargo.

Whew! And now all is left is my ranked list of TV shows which I hope to get posted before this weekend's Golden Globes. Refresh your memories on my pick for Best Drama, Comedy, and New Show here. Happy watching all!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Writers Guild Nominations

Earlier today the Writers Guild announced their picks for best screenplays of the year albeit with a handful of Oscar-favorites ineligible as per usual. Complain all you want, but at least this gives those without any Oscar chances a moment to shine. This year that looks to be the pleasant inclusion of Guardians of the Galaxy.

Adapted Screenplay
  • American Sniper
  • Gone Girl
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • The Imitation Game
  • Wild
Though it looks to be Gone Girl vs. The Imitation Game for the Oscars, the others are fighting with other contenders such as the ineligible screenplay for Theory of Everything, the NBR-winning screenplay of Inherent Vice, the BFCA nominated screenplay of Unbroken, and oh yeah the "adapted" screenplay of Whiplash which was nominated in the Original category today, but is deemed Adapted for the Oscars.

Original Screenplay
  • Boyhood
  • Foxcatcher
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Nightcrawler
  • Whiplash
This lineup seems quite Oscar-y and yet there are many more ineligible films that could take a spot or two such as Birdman and Selma as well as Mr. Turner and the NBR-winning screenplay of The LEGO Movie. As I said above, Whiplash won't be in contention here so it opens up a spot, but it's just one spot for a few films. The Grand Budapest Hotel screenplay has been the critical favorite with Birdman close behind so they might the ones to beat in the end.

Documentary Screenplay
  • Finding Vivian Maier
  • The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz
  • Last Days in Vietnam
  • Red Army
Unfortunately I haven't seen any of these documentaries, but congrats on their nominations!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Producers Guild Nominations

Ten films were chosen yesterday by the Producers Guild Awards which is somewhat predictive of what the Academy would do, but not always. Really it's all about seeing what films are getting those consensus votes at this time of year.

Producer of the Year Award in Films
  • American Sniper
  • Birdman
  • Boyhood
  • Gone Girl
  • Foxcatcher
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • The Imitation Game
  • Nightcrawler
  • The Theory of Everything
  • Whiplash

The big miss here is Selma, the only film nominated for a Golden Globe and Critics Choice Award to not get cited here. Apparently the studio didn't send out screeners to the guild, but they did send screeners out to the Academy so in terms of Oscars they might still be good, but it's still a big snub. Another late-year release American Sniper did get screeners out to the guild and reaped the benefits and now looking even likelier to crash the Oscar party so to speak. The other misses include Unbroken and Into the Woods though at least their recent favorable box office results should ameliorate any sting. In fact, for a guild that awards producers (i.e. the money people) it's quite interesting to see them not highlight any of the top 13 live-action box office earners this year including quality blockbuster fare like Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: Winter Soldier, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and Interstellar.

Producer of the Year Award in Animated Films
  • Big Hero 6
  • The Book of Life
  • The Boxtrolls
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2
  • The Lego Movie

Meanwhile in animation they did honor the top three highest-grossing films this year with the top earner The Lego Movie as the heavy favorite this Pixar-less year. This line-up looks like the eventual Oscar shortlist give or take a non-English animated film like The Tale of Princess Kaguya, but with this exact same line-up showing up at the Golden Globes and the BFCA, it's hard to bet on that possibility.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

End-Of-Year: 2014 TV Nominees

Happy 2015, all! After the seemingly long holiday hiatus, new episodes are airing tonight on TV! Of course, I'm just now thinking about my favorite TV shows and performances of 2014. Apparently I saw about 80+ TV shows last year which includes a handful of reality TV shows which I don't count for my year-end list to keep me slightly more sane.

With that said, below are my personal nominations for Best Drama, Best Comedy, Best New Show, and Best Ensemble. I'll do another post tomorrow about my favorite individual performances.

Best Show, Drama

Agents of SHIELD
The Americans
Game of Thrones
The Good Wife
How to Get Away with Murder
The Leftovers
In the Flesh
Mad Men

Cannibals, zombies, vikings, spies... my tastes do run the gamut usually, but I like my genre shows clearly. A few of these choices made my list last year, but new additions include a Marvel show that showed great improvement and a couple of divisive freshman TV shows.

Best Show, Comedy

Brooklyn Nine-Nine
The Comeback
Faking It
Jane the Virgin
Orange is the New Black
Parks and Recreation

Comedies don't get as much buzz as dramas and apparently the sitcom is dead and yet I look at this list which includes a couple of network sitcoms as well as shows from Netflix, MTV, and the CW. Great comedies are out there and you just need to go out and find them.

Best New Show

The Affair
Broad City
Faking It
How to Get Away with Murder
Jane the Virgin
The Leftovers

There was also a lot of great new shows that came out this year. Of course a few of them are in non-traditional channels or have already been canceled because of lack of viewers which just goes to show that people really need to give new shows a chance and do a bit more digging to find that wonderful show from all the noise out there.

Best Ensemble

Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Game of Thrones
The Good Wife
Jane the Virgin
The Leftovers
Orange is the New Black
Parks and Recreation

Pretty self-explanatory category. All of these shows' casting directors should get an award, because their ensemble is just so uniformly great in that while they succeed as individual actors, it's when they all work together that make their show as great as they are.

As I said above, I'll post my favorite actors from the past year tomorrow and then hopefully in a few days, I can follow it all up with my ranked list my favorite TV shows along with my top picks for each of the categories above.