Sunday, June 29, 2008

The 1939 Supporting Actress Smackdown is Here!

StinkyLulu is hosting the 1939 Supporting Actress Smackdown today so head on over and check that out. Yours truly is participating once again and, like always, I had a lot of fun offering my two cents about these five performances. What made 1939 an even greater treat was that I got to discuss two performances from my favorite film of all time: Hattie McDaniel and Olivia de Havilland in Gone With the Wind.

That's quite a trio there.

Who of the 5 nominees would I give the Oscar to if I had the choice? Which performances (trust me, there were more than one!), for being from such a banner year, were complete wastes of time? And, most importantly, who will the Smackdowners give the trophy to? All these questions will be answered here.

Hilary Duff Will Someday Win an Oscar

Mark my words, someday it will happen. Now, I don't think that Hilary Duff is a particularly good actress (has anybody else suffered through Raise Your Voice?) but, for God knows what reason, she just seems to be the type of pretty young thing that with the right role could win a Supporting Actress Oscar. Just picture it: Duff playing a recovering meth addict who, while selling her body to support her habit, got pregnant and had to give up her child so he/she could have a better life. With some type of baity role like that, which combines two of Oscar's favorite "types" (drug addict and whore with a heart of gold), and the fact that she would gain extra press with the "Who knew?" aspect, she could be accepting a little gold man of her own one day in the future. None of her upcoming project really scream "Oscar" at me but I have faith that one day I will be proven right. Come on, Hilary! Take that biopic role that fulfills every cliche of the genre; people will forget it in 10 years, but you'll have an Oscar!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Oprah's Favorite Links

Over at Goatdog's Blog, Mike, Nathaniel of The Film Experience and Nick of Nick's Flick Picks are on hand to discuss their latest in the Best Pictures from the Outside In series. This time, they discuss the 1928-29 winner The Broadway Melody (which, I'm urging you, avoid at all costs) and the 2006 winner The Departed (Best film of the year, in my opinion).

StinkyLulu discusses Olivia de Havilland in Gone With the Wind for the upcoming Smackdown on Sunday, of which I will be taking part in.

My New Plaid Pants has screengrabs of the best scene of the year so far.

Stale Popcorn ponders why so many actors and actresses have given the greatest performances of their career in gay (or homoerotic) roles.

Valley Dreamin' thinks Nicole Kidman is totally overrated.

A Blog Next Door announces his dream ballot for the Comedy Emmy's.

Camp Rock: Yay or Nay?

I can't believe I'm actually posting about this, but I'm very curious after the guilty pleasures of the HSM movies. Has anyone seen Camp Rock, the latest attempt by Disney to control the minds of children between the ages of 6 and 13 all over the country? If you have, what did you think about it? And, most importantly, are there any Sharpay-level divas I should be paying attention to? At my place of employment, the shit paraphernalia with the lead characters is all over the place and already annoying the fuck of me. Didn't the movie just come out like a week ago? How can they have a Camp Rock stool out already?

On another note, does anyone else get really annoyed just at the sight of the Jonas Brothers? Not only are 2 of the 3 skanky looking beyond belief (the curly-headed one isn't too bad), but they are the biggest tools ever. I remember I was watching the ball drop on New Year's Eve and they were on there ringing in the new year, but I never would have recognized them because I seriously thought for 5 minutes they were Panic! At the Disco. They had on the obnoxious trench coats and those Abe Lincoln-inspired stove top hats. Besides being skanky and complete tools, they are also ultra-religious which makes me super-uncomfortable.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

My Emmy's (Part 1)

As promised, here are my personal nominees for the 2007-08 Emmy's. You already know the nominees for the real Emmy's are going to be as boring as usual, so I hope you enjoy the few "oddball" choices I threw in. My winners will be announced sometime in the future.

BLIND SPOTS: I don't get any pay channels, so you won't see any acclaimed shows like Weeds, The Wire, Tell Me You Love Me or Californication. Somehow, Mad Men alluded me throughout it's season on AMC (which I do get), so I'll hopefully catch up with the first season on DVD soon. CBS procedural dramas annoy the fuck out of me, so don't expect CSI here. In fact, most shows on CBS annoy the fuck out of me, so there's not much from that channel. Neil Patrick Harris is the man, but I don't watch How I Met Your Mother anymore (the only episodes I saw this season were the one's with Britney) so it didn't feel right to nominate him. No matter how wildly you praise Battlestar Galactica I will probably never watch it; I just can't stand sci-fi. Too many years of watching Star Trek when my parents had it on has made me a lifetime hater.

Best Comedy

30 Rock (NBC)
Desperate Housewives (ABC)
The New Adventures of Old Christine (CBS)
Pushing Daisies (ABC)
Ugly Betty (ABC)

To be honest, the only reason Ugly Betty made it in is because I couldn't find another show more worthy. I love the show, but Ugly Betty works better when it concentrates on characters and interaction instead of dealing with a storyline. When you get Mark, Wilhemina and Christina into the same room, few can top it. At other times, however, it nearly stalls. I feel much stronger about the other four comedies. Pushing Daisies was the nicest surprise of the year- an eternally optimistic and schmaltzy show that didn't get on my nerves and was actually charming. Who knew that was possible? The New Adventures of Old Christine, for being a show about a 40-something divorced mother, is strangely a show I can totally relate to. The more this show gets going, the funnier it gets. 30 Rock thankfully retained its offbeat sense of humor into the second season. With the addition of the newest housewife on Wisteria Lane, Desperate Housewives felt rejuvenated and made me feel like I was watching the first season again.

Best Drama
Damages (FX)
Dirty Sexy Money (ABC)
Footballers Wives (BBC America)
Gossip Girl (The CW)
House (Fox)

I don't watch many dramas, but this is a shortlist I can feel very comfortable with. House is procedural, for sure, but it never feels stale to me. The ensemble works well together and the medical cases always have me fascinated. The final season of Footballers Wives wasn't as addictive as the first few seasons, but the show cranked its "batshit crazy" meter up to 11 and went places that few American shows do. Speaking of addictive, now other show on TV had me talking as much as Gossip Girl. I was enthralled with every minute and nearly every conversation on Thursday morning had me starting off with, "OMG, did you watch Gossip Girl last night? Wasn't that crazy?" Dirty Sexy Money had not only the best title of any new show, but it also had one of the most in-tune ensembles of the season. The show is pure trash, but it's enthralling nonetheless. Damages was brilliantly addictive in a way that even Gossip Girl couldn't imagine. Every scene had you re-evaluating the last one, wondering if you were judging a character wrong or if so-and-so is really a good/bad person.

Best Actress (Comedy)
Marcia Cross, Desperate Housewives
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Anna Friel, Pushing Daisies
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, The New Adventures of Old Christine
Tiffany Pollard, I Love New York 2 (VH1)

My favorite category this year was also one of the hardest to narrow down to five. This meant that Eva Longoria, who had her best season yet on Desperate Housewives, couldn't get a nomination, but I'm happy with my shortlist. Tina Fey is the straightwoman on 30 Rock, but no one does it as well as her. And bonus points for making Liz Lemon the most relatable character on TV. Marcia Cross is brilliant in every episode of Desperate Housewives and this year was further proof that this woman should be winning Emmy's every year for her work. Her best moment: her line reading of "Ow, my baby!" when Orson pokes her in her fake pregnancy belly with a BBQ fork. Louis-Dreyfus' Christine is, theoretically, one of the most awful characters on TV. She's lazy, meddling and inconsistent, but that's why I love her. Who else but her would spend a week in bed after Melinda Doolittle's defeat on American Idol and not allow anyone to mention it ever again. Anna Friel is charm personified, but she keeps her Chuck grounded in reality so she doesn't become annoying. I realize that I Love New York 2 is a reality show, but if Tiffany Pollard (aka New York) wasn't acting, then she needs to get counseling because she is majorly fucked up. To prove my point, recall the scene between her and Buddha in her hotel room where she goes from hating him, to loving him, to kicking him out of her room, to inviting him to stay the night and then getting angry when he doesn't....all in a matter of about 2 minutes. Those girls from The Hills should get lessons from Pollard about how to act for reality television, because after 4 different series with this character she has finally perfected her.

Best Actress (Drama)
Glenn Close, Damages
Holly Hunter, Saving Grace (TNT)
Blake Lively, Gossip Girl
Zoe Lucker, Footballers Wives
Leighton Meester, Gossip Girl

The only reason I kept watching Saving Grace after the first couple of middling episodes was because of Holly Hunter. Her character was alive and always interesting even when the show wasn't and Hunter brought much needed star power. Zoe Lucker wasn't given much to do on this last season of Footballers Wives, even somehow emerging as the sane one next to Joan Collins's Eva de Wolfe and Laila Rouass's Amber Gates. But her Tanya Turner was still the fabulous bitch supreme and went out at the top of her game. Blake Lively and Leighton Meester, as Serena van der Woodsen and Blair Waldorf respectively, brought delicious energy and zest to Gossip Girl. Serena is positioned as the "good girl," but through Lively's performance you can see her "bad" side sneak through every now and again. Blair, on the other hand, is the bitchy queen and Meester plays up to that supremely well- she's the heir to the fabulous bitch throne now that Tanya Turner. And what more can be said about Glenn Close's triumphant return to form on Damages? She's played these type of roles before, but every moment feels like something brand new and never been done before.

Best Actor (Comedy)
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Steve Carell, The Office (NBC)
Lee Pace, Pushing Daisies
James Roday, Psych (USA)
Ray Wise, Reaper (The CW)

I don't watch The Office often, but when I do I'm always amazed at Steve Carell's ability to milk a laugh out of almost anything. Psych is an often underrated show and James Roday is a comedic firestorm who often gets ignored. No one else on TV lets loose with such reckless abandon and gets the same hilarious results. Alec Baldwin just keeps on impressing me in 30 Rock. Best moment: portraying four members of Tracy's family, racist stereotypes and all, in a three minute span. Reaper's quality varies from episode to episode, but Ray Wise as Satan is the only constant. He's charming, sly and quick witted- just what we want in our Devil. Lee Pace's Ned is a conflicted mess on Pushing Daisies, but his love for Friel's Chuck is endearing and provides some of the funniest moments of the show (kissing through cellophane....awwww!).

Best Actor (Drama)
Peter Krause, Dirty Sexy Money
Hugh Laurie, House
Penn Badgley, Gossip Girl
Ben Richards, Footballers Wives

You can tell I don't watch many dramas, since I could only come up with four nominees. Penn Badgley, playing the Seth Cohen role of Dan, isn't given as much to do as the girls on Gossip Girl, but his wit and bumbling/moping characterization of Dan is the most honest and realistic thing about the show. Hugh Laurie has got House down, but that doesn't mean his performance is any less fascinating. Bonus points for keeping the dark humor that made him popular throughout the series and not try to sneak in a little sympathy to make him a "full" character. Peter Krause, much like Stephen Campbell Moore in Bright Young Things, has to be the sane sense of reason in a crowd full of nuts. If his performance didn't work, the rest of the ensemble would look ridiculous and be unwatchable. Footballers Wives was Tanya Turner-less for the first few episodes of the season, so Ben Richards had to step up and take command for awhile. He went from wife-beater to guilty murderer to deeply in love to insane in a matter of four or five episodes and the progression was entirely logical. For the fifth and final spot, you tell me who I should nominate: Is Jon Hamm from Mad Men worthy, or do you have someone else to praise?

I've had to split this up into two parts because it's so long, so another post will come shortly with the Supporting Performers, Reality Shows and Guest Performances.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

A Boy and His Monkey

I know this has been posted elsewhere, but I just can't resist. He is so damn cute in this picture!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Best Album of the Year So Far...

Doesn't involve Madonna singing about her one-stop candy shop, Duffy leaving Rockferry, Cyndi Lauper getting into the nightlife or Mariah Carey touching her body. No, the best album of the year (so far) is one notorious artist's shameless attempt to get nominated for a Grammy Award to go with her recent Emmy win. Who am I talking about?

Kathy Griffin For Your Consideration

The D-List Diva is in top-notch form on For Your Consideration. Whether she's discussing Oprah giving away massive refrigerators to the residents of Macon, Georgia (which, I must admit, made me a little nervous) to Marie Osmond giving Oprah a little slavegirl doll to her mother Maggie's latest TV obsession and new favorite word to her relationship with Apple billionaire Steve Wozniak, not a single second on this album is wasted. If you've never seen her live (I have been fortunate enough to catch her and it was AMAZING), For Your Consideration is the closest thing I've heard that gives the sensation of her live show. She's uncensored and the jokes just keep coming and coming full force. Please, if you're a fan of Kathy, go out and buy For Your Consideration to support Team Griffin and try to get her on to the C-List.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

For Your Consideration: Britney Spears

For Your Consideration

Britney Spears, How I Met Your Mother

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series

Can somebody please get Britney Spears nominated for an Emmy? That would be my diva dream come true.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Just Call Me Angel of the Morning, Angel

I watched Charlie Wilson's War again the other night and while I didn't think it held up the second time around (short review here), I fell in love with the scene where Emily Blunt comes slinking down the stairs of Charlie's apartment wearing underwear and a button down shirt singing along to "Angel of the Morning" by Juice Newton. I had never heard the song before, but it was used so well that it immediately got stuck on my head and now I've been listening to it over and over again. It's so fucking brilliant and over-the-top. God, I miss the 80's (not that I was around for long during the decade).

Monday, June 16, 2008

Everything's Coming Up Roses for Patti LuPone

In case you haven't heard, the one and only Patti LuPone, Broadway diva extraordinare, won her second Tony Award last night for playing Mama Rose in the recent revival of Gyspy. I didn't watch the Tony Awards live, but I was talking with one of my dearest friends Shannon (who's obsession with Patti LuPone rivals on mine with Judy Garland or Bette Davis) and she told me to check out her acceptance speech. Here it is for you to enjoy and I bet you'll especially love the ending when the band tries to cut her off and Patti LuPone has a few choice words for them. What a diva!

Although I'll probably never get to see LuPone in this show, I'll settle for this splendid interpretation of "Rose's Turn," one of my favorite numbers in all of Broadway history.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

La Tisdale is Pissed (and Other Emmy News)

Uh oh. This is not good. Mothers, lock up your kids because a shitstorm is about to errupt. I was flipping through the list of Emmy contenders this year and when I came to the Best Supporting Actress in a Mini-Series or Made for TV Movie category, I noticed that La Tisdale wasn't listed for her superior work in High School Musical 2. As if that wasn't bad enough, guess who is being considered? Zac Efron in Lead Actor, Vanessa Hudgens in Lead Actress and Corbin Bleu in Supporting Actor. What the hell is going on?

"Wait a minute? I'm not even up for CONSIDERATION? This is uncalled for! Well, if I'm not being considered at least none of my other castmates will be on that list....WHAT?! They're considering Vanessa fucking Hudgens and that random black guy who adds NOTHING to the movie? This is unbelievable! I'm going to cut a few bitches..."

How could they ignore La Tisdale? She was obviously the whole damn movie and the only reason I've sat through it repeatedly (more La Tisdale in HSM2 love here).

In other random news, Blake Lively and Leighton Meester, Serena and Blair on Gossip Girl respectively, are going Supporting while Penn Badgley (Dan) is the only cast member going Lead. Britney Spears is also being considered in the Guest Actress category for her hilarious comeback work on How I Met Your Mother.

My personal Emmy ballot will be coming in a few days while the actual nominees won't be announced until July 17th (But they will be hella lame compared to mine).

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Indie Clones

Yesterday, I heard Girls Aloud's "Hoxton Heroes," a B-side to their current single "Can't Speak French," and I was immediately impressed both with the song and the group's balls to actually record it. "Hoxton Heroes" was originally slated to be on their Tangled Up album (Which, if you haven't heard it yet, go out and listen to it NOW. Most artists dream of a Greatest Hits album that sounds half as good as this, but to Girls Aloud it's just another studio album) but the record label considered it too controversial and dropped it. The song is a savage attack on the indie music scene and how they think they are all hipster and original when they all sound the same. True to form, the indie hipster scene in the United Kingdom raised a ruckus and hurled insults at the girls in response.

One of the common insults Girls Aloud received was that they are just as manufactured as the indie music they are dissing. The difference is, though, is that Girls Aloud embrace that manufactured sound and use it to their own advantage. I'm not too familiar with British indie rock music, but the same debate rages on in America. Pop dance music, after the boy band craze of the 90's, has been given a bad reputation and many artists are afraid to release straight pop music (there's usually Timbaland or someone of that sort to lend a hip-hop edge). But so-called pop-punk is more popular (and more mainstream) than ever. As they become more mainstream, however, the groups start sounding more and more similar. It especially irks me when the people who listen to the music start comparing them to real punk artists like the Sex Pistols or The Clash. Are you out of your fucking mind? Johnny Rotten could tear apart three of these bands himself- all before noon. And someone like Fergie is derided for her "mainstream" sound when she's not pretending to be anything she's not. She delivers cheesy pop music and does it well (And you can't tell me that she sounds like everyone else. You know a Fergie song as soon as you hear it).

What also irks me are people who think that you're the most retarded person ever just because you like cheesy pop music. "You're favorite artists are ABBA, the Spice Girls and Madonna? Oh, I see." I'm sorry if I find that type of music and think that your shitty indie music that no one's ever heard of makes me want to die on the inside. I understand if you don't like Fergie- she's not for everyone- but don't act all superior because you think she's not "real" music. If you're going to act like that, I'm just going to tell you that you can suck it.

By the way, here is Girls Aloud's "Hoxton Heroes" for you to listen and judge for yourself.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Rants on Stolen Kisses

I've never really understood Hollywood's (and the public's) obsession with sequels. Why would you want to see the same characters doing the same things over again in basically the same film? It especially irritates me when it's done for nothing other than financial gain (Do you honestly believe Spielberg and Lucas' motive to drag out Harrison Ford for Indy 4 was to fulfill some artistic calling?). They are rarely ever as good as the original, but yet everyone keeps falling for them time and time again, believing that this time it will be worth it.

Until recently, I was proud to say that I neither understood nor fell for this sequel craze. But, then I saw Stolen Kisses (François Truffaut, 1968) and it immediately made sense to me. Seeing Jean-Pierre Léaud's Antoine Doinel on the screen again, a few years after the first time I saw and fell in love with The 400 Blows, just made me so happy I can barely describe it. At that point, it almost didn't even matter if what followed was going to be the biggest pile of crap ever: Antoine and I were reunited and all was good in the world. Thankfully, with Truffaut in the director's chair, no film is ever going to be a complete waste of time.

Stolen Kisses
picks up with Antoine being dishonorably discharged from the Army for frequent AWOL's and a general poor attitude (Ah, some things never change). Antoine lands a job as a night clerk in a hotel, but is quickly fired. Eventually, he finds himself working at a detective's agency and this is where the bulk of Stolen Kisses takes place.

Léaud's Antoine is still the born loser that he was in The 400 Blows. Everything he touches seems to fall apart sooner or later. Whether it's his night clerk position, wrapping a shoe box to try to pass off as an employee at a shoe store or trying to romance an older woman (Delphine Seyrig), Antoine can't seem to catch a break. More than anything, Truffaut and Léaud pass Antoine as a sort of Chaplin-esque figure longing for romance but caught in the harshness of the cold, cruel world. There are also many visual throwbacks to Chaplin from the baggy pants/tight coat combination of Antoine's army uniform, to his many goofy expressions when caught in compromising situations (like the one at the top of this post when he has caught a woman cheating on her husband) to his one-legged stop right in front of the hotel where the prostitutes hang out right after he is discharged.

If anything has changed between The 400 Blows and Stolen Kisses, it's the overall tone that has done a complete 180. The 400 Blows was an almost straight drama (with some amusing asides) about juvenile delinquency in which you could feel Truffaut's own rough childhood coming in to play in every scene. Stolen Kisses, on the other hand, is a light and playful comedy as breezy as an early Buster Keaton short. One is not necessarily better than the other; they both suit their movies' needs perfectly. Stolen Kisses isn't interested in following a former delinquent trying to reform or get his life together. Truffaut instead wants to focus on a young, idealistic man searching for love while stumbling through whatever life throws his way.

Stolen Kisses
is the rare sequel that takes its original and completely changes it around to make a completely different movie. It's the type of work we should be praising more in an era when Hollywood is greenlighting sequels to the most ridiculous movies (Transformers 2? Didn't we get enough robots destroying things the first time?) and Truffaut is the director we should be looking at to guide us in how to make a proper sequel. A-

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Is That a Knife in Your Hand, or Are You Just Happy to See Me?

Have I ever mentioned how much I like Jason Mraz? And, no, it's not just because of this picture that emerged on his MySpace a couple of days ago in which he appears in briefs and wielding a knife; he's a genuinely talented singer/songwriter. "The Remedy" is still my favorite song of his, although "Geek in the Pink" is pretty amazing as well. His latest CD We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things goes back to his roots after the genre-busting Mr. A-Z and is quite good.

Robert Downey, Jr. is Still the Coolest Guy Ever

Is it weird that I kinda want to see Tropic Thunder this August? I know it's directed by and starring the least funny comedian in movies right now, Ben Stiller, and that blackface has me a teensy bit worried. After seeing the above clip from the 2008 MTV Movie Awards last Sunday, I think Robert Downey, Jr. has the ability to make it work. If anyone can make me forget about a white guy in blackface (in 2008, no less) it would be Robert Downey, Jr. He can be so funny without even trying (the same can't be said for Ben Stiller, who tries waaaaay too hard and still isn't funny). Only Robert Downey, Jr. could turn the ridiculous, self-indulgent dialogue of Shane Black's Kiss Kiss Bang Bang into one of the funniest performances of that year. I'm glad that he's making a comeback and I hope he'll make Tropic Thunder worth it.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

In Totally Superficial News

Isn't Gaspard Ulliel (Hannibal Rising, Paris Je T'Aime) just totally amazing to look at? I hadn't really noticed until a couple of days ago when I saw these pictures and now I'm positively floored.

You may thank me now.