Sunday, February 24, 2008
Unfortunately for Gil Cates, it happened on E! during the red-carpet festivities and not the ceremony itself. I'm referring, of course, to D-list actor Gary Busey violating the unspoken rules of the Hollywood caste system by daring to mix with A-listers Jennifer Garner and Laura Linney during their chat with Ryan Seacrest. With nary an invite, Busey proceeded to insert himself into the proceedings and kiss both actresses. (See it, here.) If Ben Affleck hadn't been too busy f-cking Jimmy Kimmel, he might have been on Jen's arm to ward off Busey!
I didn't fill out a balloting card for this year's Oscars, opting instead to call out my guess for who would win each category just before the envelope opening. I called it for both Tilda Swinton and Marion Cotillard. At that point, I was feeling so confident that Anton Chigurh could have flipped a coin for my life and I'd have called it correctly.
So, while I'm at it, let me get all Nina Garcia and call it for Best Dressed: Cotillard for modeling that lovely John Paul Gaultier creation, which looked like a mermaid's tail, but with white-rose blossoms instead of scales. Runner up: Anne Hathaway.
Worst dressed: Daniel Day Lewis's longtime partner, Rebecca Miller, takes the dubious honor for that massive hexagonal broach that looked it belonged to the wardrobe department for the Sci-Fi Channel production of "Dune."
In all, not a bad awards ceremony. Jon Stewart's emcee'ing wasn't one for the ages, but he didn't come off as too smarmy or obnoxious. His one moment of class: Inviting Marketa Irglova -- deserving winner of Best Original Song with partner Glen Hansard -- back on to the stage after the overzealous baton-waver started up the orchestra prematurely.
Friday, February 22, 2008
In a season that has been all about the triumph of the underdog -- Obama in the primaries and caucuses; The Giants at the Super Bowl; Herbie Hancock at the Grammys -- will the Oscar frontrunner, "No Country for Old Men," be spectacularly usurped?
No one expects no gold men for "Country." The movie is as much a presumed winner as Obama at this stage, though, as in the Democratic nominee race, you wouldn't want to call the race just yet. This year's awards could mirror the out-of-nowhere wins of "Shakespeare in Love" or "Crash." There's recent talk in Hollywood about how voters are tired of "No Country for Old Men" winning everything for months. But momentum is a notoriously nebulous thing to quantify since George Gallup isn't cold-calling Academy members and the ballots are secret to everyone except Entertainment Weekly.
Going against "No Country": that Rorschach-test ending and liberal gouges of gory violence that may not play well with older Academy voters. It's safe to assume, however, that Javier Bardem will saunter to the podium to collect a Best Supporting Actor award, if only to have a charming acceptance speech help exorcise all our nightmares about the prospect of Anton Chigurh being somewhere on the loose out there. (If I had a Catch-22 choice between being pursed by either The Terminator or Chigurh -- and I'd hope it wouldn't come down to a coin-toss -- I'd say the futuristic cyborg is the less-scary option.)
Here's what "No Country" has going for it. It's filmmaking that lingers on the corneas and in dark cranial corners long after one emerges from the cinema. This thriller about the senseless nature of evil that will resonate with anyone who turns on the nightly news only to see yellow police cordon tape outside a quiet suburban home or a body bag on a bloodied street corner. And it boasts an unforgettable soundtrack. (That's a joke.)
Ultimately, none of the other big pictures seems to have quite the right ingredients to overtake "No Country for Old Men."
- "Juno" is comedic – those don't tend to do too well at the Kodak theater – and such a big box-office hit that it's no longer an underdog. The film's only shot at something other than a screenplay award for Diablo Cody will be if voters are tired of the sturm und drang of the other Best Picture nominees. (Here's one prediction I'm confident about– Cody will have the most entertaining acceptance speech of the night: "Mom, dad, I hope this finally makes you proud of me after all that stripper stuff.")
- "Michael Clayton" has won less votes than Dennis Kucinich all awards season (but watch out for a possible win for Tilda Swinton).
- "There Will be Blood" will fare well among the younger voters but, even though PT Anderson's film doesn't have a hailstorm of frogs from the sky, it's still weird enough to put some voters off their milkshakes. For starters, Jonny Greenwood's score – which wouldn't have sounded out of place during parts of "2001: A Space Odyssey" – wasn't even nominated due to arcane reasons.
- "Atonement" just doesn't have any lingering buzz, does it? I've criticized the adaptation of McEwan's great novel and many critics concur. Still, it won a BAFTA (though that's a little like George Bush winning the vote in Texas) and The Golden Globe. Its self-conciously epic and old-fashioned sensibilities could sway some voters. But the absence of a nod for its director or Keira Knightley or James McAvoy doesn't do it any favors.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Variety reports that newly tentpole-starved studios engaged in a bidding war for a script titled "2012" by Roland Emmerich. (Sony won the bid for the 2009 summer release.)
To date, Emmerich has zapped the Empire State building in "Independence Day," trashed New York with a giant Gila Monster in "Godzilla," and borrowed the "Perfect Storm" wave to flood an ice-aged Manhattan in "The Day after Tomorrow." (There's more chance of Mayor Bloomberg granting keys to the city to Curt Schilling than the German-born director, though Emmerich could score a nifty gig consulting for FEMA.)
Yep, destruction is this director's specialty -- he makes Michael Bay look like a peacenik -- and he's upping the disaster quotient in "2012." I guess that wiping out whole cities just isn't all that novel in a post-Katrina era, so Emmerich has come up with a story about the very end of the world during the film's titular year.
By the time that movie is produced, audiences may be fatigued: "2012" is the latest in a brace of apocalyptic movies coming soon to a cinema (or is that shelter?) near you. More on that trend in a story I recently wrote, here.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
I'm not so sure about that, Lindsay. As a movie star, you give yourself to the public as a career -- and you've given a lot, including all the travails of your private life. Isn't it time you kept something for yourself? That's taking control back.
Monday, February 18, 2008
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Time to update your Netflix list? Here are my reviews of some of the latest DVD releases this year (including at least a couple of alternatives to renting Good Luck Chuck).
Monday, February 04, 2008
Sunday's 17-14 loss to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII did more than just dash New England's dream of becoming only the second team to complete a season undefeated -- it has unmoored the very equilibrium of the sports universe.
Coach Tom Coughlin's wild carders, who started the season with two losses totaling up to 80 points, pulled off a win that ranks alongside that of the New York Jets defeat of the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III, Truman’s 1948 electoral victory over Dewey, Gary Kasparov’s checkmate against the Deep Blue computer, and Odysseus’s triumph over the Cyclops Polyphemus.
It’s the sort of win that’ll give John McCain vivid nightmares of Ron Paul snatching away the GOP nomination.
Quarterback Eli Manning, the MVP who displayed the sort of cool that could reverse a core meltdown at a nuclear reactor, said afterward, "There's something about this team. The way we win games, and performed in the playoffs in the stretch. We had total confidence in ourselves. The players believed in each other."
New England believed, too. Such was the adulation of the media -- who touted predictions of a Patriots win by 14 points -- that it's a wonder that anyone bothered to print victory caps and T-shirts for the Giants.
Bill Belichick will spend the next dazed six months of the off-season trying to unpick the defeat at University of Phoenix Stadium and wonder where it all went wrong. Ultimately, it came down to this: If a good offense is a good defense, then the Giants battled the turf war with Spartan ferocity. The fabled triumvirate attack of Tom Brady, Randy Moss, and Wes Welker was never fully unsheathed as men in white swarmed...
.... oh, sorry, for a minute I got carried away there. You probably thought you'd wandered into SportsCenter rather than a blog about entertainment. But this was definitely an occasion where the game itself upstaged both the half-time show and all the ads. Janet Jackson could have made out with Madonna and Britney during a full-on burlesque routine and it wouldn't have supplanted the next morning's watercooler talk about the game. And, with the sole exception of the Clydesdale Budweiser ad that took its inspiration from "Rocky," "Seabiscuit," and "Babe," the commercials were utterly unmemorable. Ok, the Victoria's Secret ad was memorable, but for all the wrong reasons.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were pretty good, though, even if Petty isn't a dynamic gymnastic of a frontman like last year's Super Bowl guest, Prince. The grizzled Floridian sounded tremendous during four of his greatest hits, climaxing with the satisfying guitar growl of "Running Down a Dream." The star of the group was guitarist Mike Campbell who, despite an unfortunate hairstyle seemingly modeled on that of Latrell Sprewell, wowed the crowd with his dextrous digits. The critics' response so far has been laudatory, too.
I'm a casual fan of Petty and own several of his albums, so I'm looking forward to seeing him in concert in June for the first time – my wife, a big fan, cannot wait after watching last night's halftime gig. In the meantime, we'll enjoy the outstanding Peter Bogdanovich documentary that makes one fully appreciate Petty's artistic integrity amid a trove of live clips from past to present.
Zooey Deschanel, hitherto the quirky character actor with a nice sideline in sardonic quippery, has long tantalized audiences with her vocal talents in movies such as"Elf," "Winter Passing," and "The Assassination of Jesse James." But the pianist and ukelele player has finally cut a whole album with M. Ward under the moniker of "She & Him." I've listened to a promo of the album, titled "Volume I," and it's terrific. Here's a delightful cut from the record, out mid March. And there's more at Zooey's MySpace page.