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Tuesday
Jan132015

DGA Nominations: Eastwood is Fashionably Late Yet Again

The Directors Guild of America have spoken and raised the Eastwood flag yet again. The 84 year old director cruised to a nomination for his conservative military drama American Sniper. It's his fourth nomination with the DGA. He has won twice before at the DGA and also received a Lifetime Achievement Award. The Academy has nominated him even more often for directing as American Sniper will be his fifth Best Director nomination should it come to pass. Eastwood has a habit of crashing the party late. He did it in 2004 with Million Dollar Baby when everyone was preparing for an Aviator sweep. He did it in 2006 with the tiny grossing nearly black and white foreign language film Letters from Iwo Jima and he looks like he'll do it again on Thursday for American Sniper.


DGA NOMINEES:

Wes Anderson, Grand Budapest Hotel
Clint Eastwood American Sniper
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Birdman
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game

I promised you back when the Globe nominations were first announced that the Academy would never come up with a list that good for Best Director. While we won't know the truth of my prediction until Thursday morning, the DGA choices don't bode well for a happy Thursday morning for many of us. Congratulations to the nominees but, all due respect, Eastwood & Tyldum replacing Duvernay and Fincher is trading down if we're judging by the directing jobs in question and not by legendary reputations and best picture heat respectively.

But here's something to give you hope if you're already grousing about these nominations: In Ye Olden Times (i.e. 1970 through 2008) the DGA was considered the single most predictive precursor. This was not because the DGA lineup was always Oscar's lineup for Best Director. In fact, it rarely matches 5/5 but it was called that because it was the single most predictive of the Best Picture race (not Best Director). That is no longer the case -- or if it is it's lost all meaning since there can be up to 10 nominees for Best Picture now so it's easy to call five of them. But in Ye Olden Times, i.e. up until seven years ago, today's announcement would mean that American Sniper was probably going to edge out another movie we thought was more strongly in the mix like The Theory of Everything or Selma.

Here are some recent history switcheroos from DGA to Oscar

2013 DGA (4/5) Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips. Oscar replaced with Alexander Payne for Nebraska.
2012 DGA (2/5) Hooper, Affleck, Bigelow. Oscar replaced with Haneke, Zeitiln, and Russell
2011 DGA (4/5) Fincher, Dragon Tattoo. Oscar replaced with Malick for Tree of Life
2010 DGA (4/5) Nolan, Inception. Oscar replaced with the Coen Bros for True Grit
2009 DGA (5/5) 
2008 DGA (4/5) Nolan, Dark Knight. Oscar replaced with Stephen Daldry for The Reader
2007 DGA (4/5) Sean Penn, Into the Wild. Oscar replaced with Jason Reitman for Juno 
2006 DGA (3/5) Dayton/Faris and Condon. Oscar replaced with Greengrass and Eastwood 
2005 DGA (5/5)

There's not much of a pattern though both of the recent years with perfect matches were very much consensus years where it was the same five titles all the time. 2014 is not that kind of year. When Oscar makes a change they trade both up and down... the only throughline, and it has exceptions, is that Oscar's directing branch tends to be a little more artistically inclined than DGA's more populist tastes. So the people who didn't make it today are still in it: James Marsh has a BAFTA nod to recommend him, Ava Duvernay has a critically acclaimed resonant film, Damien Chazelle is a new boy wonder (and they love those since its the old boys club) and David Fincher is, well, David Fincher with a huge hit. One of them could surely still knock one of the DGA contenders out. But who and which?

Final predictions soon. Need some time to think on it. Thoughts?  

Tuesday
Jan132015

Top Five Golden Globes Speeches 

Margaret with more on Sunday's Golden Globes...

Awards show speeches are weird and wonderful things. They’re awkward and rushed, they hold the weight of hundreds of peoples’ expectations, and they are bound to disappoint or offend somebody no matter what they contain.

Since the Golden Globes are the first big ceremony of awards season (People's Choice A-whats? Haven't heard of 'em), the winners have their work cut out for them to be memorable and charming and humble enough to make their new statuette the first of many.

Below we have a roundup of my picks for best movie-category speeches of the night, plus some speculation about whether they might influence the Oscar race. (For wins, not nominations, since the voting is closed and they're now set in stone.)

Honorable mention goes to Just-Keep-Simmons for his amusingly gruff speech ("I think I only have 45 seconds, so shut up").

5. Wes Anderson – Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy (Grand Budapest Hotel)

Oh, Wes Anderson. Never change! I mean, look at him. Look how uncomfortable he is, how his eyes are locked to his notes. Look at that slightly crooked bowtie. So many ‘um’s and ‘uh’s. He does not want to be the center of attention. If we needed any proof that he’s not the awards-campaigning type, we have it now. It’s lovely to see a Grand Budapest Hotel win, and that could mean that it's got a more solid shot at an Best Picture Oscar nomination than most of us dare hope... but then again, the HFPA often marches to the beat of their own drummer.

4. Julianne Moore – Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama (Still Alice)

Remember when we never got to watch Julianne win anything? Judging by her adorably delighted reaction, the thrill is a fresh one. She shares a lovely dictum from her mother (“a happy person is someone who has work and love”) and gets choked up thanking her family. On the cynical side, the speech hit all the right marks. People love their frontrunners (especially women—boo) to be humble and surprised and emotional when they win. A good move towards Oscar.

3. Michael Keaton - Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy (Birdman)

Sure, it’s a little long (more obvious since it came near the end of the late-running program), but he’s telling a story instead of listing off names, and in the dynastic industry that is Hollywood it’s refreshing to hear from people who were born far from the business. Also: he produced actual tears as he choked out a touching tribute to his son (“Two things I wasn’t gonna do—cry, and give air quotes—damn”), and we all know Oscar loves a good manful cry. This may have pushed him into winner territory.

2. Patricia Arquette - Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture (Boyhood)

The win was an expected one, but it was no less enjoyable for that. She’s concentrating so hard on getting all her written words out (“Sorry I’m the only nerd with a piece of paper”), but you can just see the immense feeling threatening to bubble out as she gives sweet, genuine thanks to her movie family. It’s clear that the role and the film mean very, very much to her. No major shakeups from this speech; it seems pretty clear she’s headed straight to the Dolby podium.

1. Common and John Legend - Best Original Song in a Motion Picture (Selma)

Potent, stirring, beautifully put.  What every awards speech should be if it possibly can. Common did almost all of the talking, more about Selma itself than the winning song, and put the focus back where it should be: “Selma has awakened my humanity… Selma is now.” If there’s any justice (there isn’t), this would be making the rounds among all the people crying “historical inaccuracy!!” and giving them something else to think about. Good for their awards chances as songwriters, good for the film as a whole. Bonus points for making Oprah cry. 

What were your favorite speeches of the night? Who didn't win that you'd like to hear a speech from soon?

Tuesday
Jan132015

2015: First Quarter Calendar. What U Waiting For?

January
13th DGA Nominations ~ Today
15th Merry Christmas ~ It's Oscar Nomination Morning!
15th BFCA "Critics Choice Awards"

btw 16th-28th Oscar qualifiers that have been in hiding start their platform journeys including Still Alice, Cake, Mommy. Other Oscar contenders expand considerably... especially if they win nominations.

16th Paddington, Blackhat, Appropriate Behavior (it's hilarious. Go see it)
19th Martin Luther King Day. Everyone go see SELMA again!
23rd Song One (reviewed), and Black Sea
24th PGA Awards
25th SAG Awards 
30th ACE Awards
31st ADG Awards, ANNIE Awards 

February
2nd Groundhog Day
4th VES Awards
5th Berlin International Film Festival opens with Nobody Wants the Night
6th Jupiter Ascending, Seventh Son which is hopefully not Julianne's Norbit since final Oscar voting starts this very day.
7th DGA Awards
8th BAFTA Awards
13th The Last Five Years (reviewed), Kingsman: The Secret Service, Fifty Shades of Grey
14th Valentine's Day
15th ASC Awards, MPSE Awards
16th President's Day
17th CDG Awards
20th Future Foreign Film Oscar Nominee Argentina's Wild Tales (it's a super good time at the movies. Go see it with a group of friends) 
21st Spirit Awards
22nd Hollywood's High Holy Night. Happy Oscar Night!
27th Maps to the Stars (reviewed, I'll believe that opening when I see it!), '71 (reviewed)


March
3rd "Best Shot" Season 6 premieres with The Sound of Music. Pick a shot and join the 50th anniversary party! 
6th Chappie, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and the 32nd Annual Miami Film Festival kicks off
8th Daylight Savings Time
10th Madonna's 13th studio album "REBEL HEART" drops after expertly monetized leaking response 
13th Cinderella, In the Heart of the Sea 
17th St. Patrick's Day
20th Divergent: Insurgent 
27th Serena (I'll believe that opening when I see it!), A Little Chaos (reviewed)
31st The Smackdown Returns. Guests TBA (Tentative Date) 

Okay technically that's the first quarter but a little April for ya, too...

April
03th Effie Gray (I'll believe this opening when I see it), Furious 7
05th Happy Easter Sunday. Mad Men Season 7B premiere.the final seven episodes. Begin weeping copiously
10th Daredevil Season 1. Binge-watching commences
15th Tribeca Film Festival kicks off 

 

Tuesday
Jan132015

Curio: Patricia Arquette, Freddy Krueger, and Seventeen Magazine

Alexa here with some time travel for your Tuesday. I was thrilled to see self-professed nerd Patricia Arquette take the stage on Sunday night for her Globe win.  I've had a thing for her for since the summer of my 15th year, when a pal of mine snuck me some VHS copies of various Nightmare on Elm Street movies.  They were my first slasher films, and while the genre didn't stick for me, when I saw the third installment I decided it was the best: not only did it have snake Freddy Krueger but I felt a kinship with the igenue with the cute bangs. (Hair was of the utmost importance to me then.)

Later that summer, while I was reading through my back issues of Seventeen Magazine, I tore out a page that mentioned her; little did I know how amusing the page would be today. Makes me glad I don't throw things away:

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jan122015

Looking for the Promised Land: A Midsummer Night's Queers

If the comments on last week's recap of Season 1 of Looking are any indication, what fascinates yours truly, Manuel, about the show is also the very thing that makes it so divisive. Disclaimer: what follows should in no way be taken as an apology for the show nor a glowing endorsement of it as "the best!" As I pointed out last week, there's room for improvement and Patrick & co. have great heights to scale before being able to sit alongside Don Draper, Selina Meyer, Valerie Cherish, Piper Chapman & Jane Rodriguez (my Top 5 shows for 2014). 

The burden of representation. That's how I diagnosed what has fallen on Looking for the mere reason that it's one of the few shows openly about gay people men. As some of you pointed out in your comments, issues of entertainment value and overall quality depend on the fact that the show (whether intentionally or not) announces itself as a mirror. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jan122015

Beauty vs Beast: Bombing The Globes

JA from MNPP here again, keeping the Golden Globes afterglow going with this week's double-edition of our weekly "Beauty vs Beast" poll. Looking for a communal villain at an awards show can be rough - one person's beastly Matthew McConaughey or nightmarish Alejandro González Iñárritu will be inexplicably loved by others (quite deranged folks, I'm convinced). But then there are the "Ooof" moments, when something lands with a quite resounding thud, and those are the times that well, those are what we'll most likely remember one two and ten years from now. Here are two of last night's "Ooof" moments. Which side do you fall down on?

I have my own opinions (read this tweet) as to what's going on with Jeremy Renner, who was all kinds of messy from the moment he hit the stage, but anybody who can make a long avowed J-Loather like me feel a pang of sympathy for her is sure accomplishing... something. On the other hand... the globes, they were definitely golden? As a statement of fact it's not false, exactly. Okay I'm stretching.

 

Next up...

That picture will never not crack me up. Personally I was down with Margaret Cho's North Korean schtick; what pushed it over the edge for me was the banality of her offered opinions, like the category mis-placement of Orange is the New Black. But I gather not everyone took to it so kindly! Meryl Streep, for instance, seemed genuinely mortified being roped into the routine. That said I don't know if you've heard this but Meryl Streep is considered a fine actress -- her horror might've been a ruse. A terribly terribly convincing ruse. (Maybe she'll win an Emmy for the performance next year?)

 

You've got one week to make your opinions heard; hit the comments and draw your battle lines. And yes, one week from now we'll know the Oscar nominations and the Golden Globes will be but a foggy hangover feeling; tis the nature of the awards beast.

PREVIOUSLY Last week's poll tackled Annie Hall in honor of Diane Keaton's birthday, and she easily la-di-da'd her way to a triumph, taking over 80% of the vote! Poor Alvy, this is gonna keep him in therapy for... yeah he's never getting out of therapy. Said brookesboy:

"I think some people think Keaton is getting by on charm in this role, but it's so much more than that. The seeming effortlessness in this performance is what makes it so special and enduring."

Monday
Jan122015

GALECA Nominations: Pride, Birdman, Transparent, and Mommy

The Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Assocation, which has over 100 members nationwide, and first joined the year end awards jamboree in 2009, have announced their nominations for the year in a slew of categories, not all of them for movies. Full disclosure two members of TFE are members of this organization: Nathaniel and Glenn. You may notice a lone nomination for Under the Skin and love for Mommy both of which we were loud advocates of during voting. We didn't need to shout the praises of Pride because a lot of people were doing it. It's fanbase grows each week which leads me to believe that maybe it should've come out in March like Grand Budapest Hotel, you know?

Click to read more ...