Sunday, June 28, 2009

Oscar-Nominee The Hangover?, or: Have People Lost Their Goddamn Mind?


When the Academy announced earlier this week that they were expanding the Best Picture nominees from five to ten, the interweb went buzzing about what films were now in consideration for the top award. The most common names tossed around were Star Trek and Up, both enormous critical and commercial successes with major pluses in their corner (ST has the Dark Knight factor plus a host of shoo-in technical noms and wins while Up has Pixar in its corner plus the WALL-E snub last year). But, the strangest name that came up was The Hangover, Todd Phillips's surprise smash hit about a group of men who are trying to recount the night before after a crazy bachelor party. Granted, these are probably the same people who think Transformers was robbed of a Best Picture nomination in 2007, but I still find it alarming that people would even consider this film on the outside edges of Oscar's radar.

Before I get started, let me just say that this is not the disgruntled ramblings of a man pissed he wasted his precious money on a complete stinker of a film. Far from it, actually. I genuinely laughed heartily quite a few times and thought it was funny enough to overcome it's completely overdone and tired setup. But I have to draw the line somewhere and claiming it to be a film, not just a comedy, worthy of Oscar consideration in any category is right where that line needs to be drawn.

First, let's get the completely misguided idea that Zach Galifiankis is a possible candidate for a Best Supporting Actor nom. If you think I'm kidding, head on over to the IMDb message boards and see for yourself. Their reasoning: if Robert Downey, Jr. can get one for Tropic Thunder, than it shouldn't be out of the question for Galifiankis. Hmm, let's think about this one for a second. RDJ was a former Oscar-nominee making a grand comeback to the A-list after a fall from grace due to drugs and a couple of years working steadily in smaller films to try and build his name up who scored majorly in a huge comic book movie and playing, in Tropic Thunder, an American playing an Australian playing an African American. What in the hell does Galifiankis have going for him besides showing his ass a lot and bashing a baby into a car door? Let me put this bluntly: THERE IS NO CHANCE IN HELL ZACH GALIFIANKIS IS GETTING A NOMINATION. Moving on.

If a comedic film is going to get nominated (and possibly win) somewhere, its biggest shot is in one of the screenplay categories (preferably Original since Adaptation is usually filled with prestige pictures). I can kinda see where people are coming from on this one--hell, Borat got nominated here in 2006--but there's really no chance that it will happen for one simple reason: it's not well-written. Don't get me wrong, the film is funny and there are some great one-liners and comedic moments, but when you think about the film as a whole, there's really no structure or point to it all. I can already feel you starting to protest, so let me explain. Comedic films can be anarchic and often times the best ones are the ones that are a bit messy and all over the place. But there's a difference between the anarchy in something like Bringing Up Baby or Pineapple Express than The Hangover. Bringing Up Baby and Pineapple Express are, indeed, frenetic and teetering on the edge of sanity, but there's an actual point behind all the madness. There is a structure and the madness leads somewhere eventually. You can take any section and laugh at how random and hilarious it is at a given point (the golf game in Baby and the outrageous fight between Franco, Rogen and McBride in Pineapple) but, by the end of the film, it serves an actual purpose. On the other hand, The Hangover doesn't have that solid basis to rely on. It simply feels like the writers sat down and thought, "Hey, wouldn't it be funny if the characters did this..." and randomly added it to any part of the story. The situations may be funny, but they aren't connected in any way and just kind of lie there, forgotten, once the film is done with them once and for all. In other words, Bringing Up Baby and Pineapple Express are the South Park to The Hangover's Family Guy. So, since none of the Apatow films have gotten close to an Oscar nomination, and those are prime examples of comedic screenwriting, I sincerely doubt that the scribes of The Hangover have any chance of hearing their name on Oscar nomination morning.

Finally, let's move on to the big prize: Best Picture. Oscar is notoriously awful with declaring comedies worthy of even a nomination in their beloved Best Pic category. Little Miss Sunshine and Juno were exceptions to the rule in their day and had strong dramatic pathos to rely on during good portions of their run time. Before that, it seems that if the film wasn't a romantic comedy of sorts, you're film had absolutely no shot of making it in. Shakespeare in Love, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Ghost, Moonstruck, Tootsie, The Goodbye Girl all made it in, but they are (obviously) in a different league of comedy than The Hangover. So why exactly are people believing that The Hangover has a shot to make it in? Oh, that's right, 10 slots to fill this year. Well, if you've never followed an Oscar race closely, let me give you a little piece of advice. The Academy would rather dismantle its membership and call it a day than give a Best Picture nomination to something foul-mouthed, crass and non-messagey like The Hangover. Nothing in their history, save for perhaps (and I do mean perhaps) She Done Him Wrong's Best Pic nomination in 1932/33, suggests that the Academy would ever nominate The Hangover for their biggest prize. I know there's no such thing as a sure thing, especially this early in the race, but no way. Not going to happen.

Like I said, The Hangover is not that bad of a film and is actually pretty funny, but it belongs with Half Baked in that odd category of comedies that are funny, but also embarrass you at the same time that you are laughing so much at them. But this Oscar talk is going too far and has got to stop now. C+

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Meestan's Big News


I know. I'm excited too!

If the rumors are to be believed and Facebook can be considered a reliable source, then Sebastian Stan has put a ring on girlfriend Leighton Meester (oh, oh, oh). Needless to say, if this turns out to be true, I'm happy for the both of them and wish them much success together.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

2008 Diva Cup Awards: Best Picture, Director & Original and Adapted Screenplay

Forgive the lack of justification and explanation, but it's nearly July and I need to finish these once and for all. If you're dying to know about something, however, either leave a comment or shoot me an e-mail (address on the right) and I'll be sure to fill you in.

Best Picture
(for more in-depth reasoning behind these choices, check out my Top 10 List of 2008)


A Christmas Tale
Director: Arnaud Desplechin
Screenwriter: Emmanuel Bourdieu and Arnaud Desplechin
Cinematographer: Eric Gautier
Starring: Mathieu Amalric, Emile Berling, Laurent Capelluto, Anne Consigny, Catherine Deneuve, Emmanuelle Devos, Chiara Mastroianni, Melvil Poupaud, Jean-Paul Roussillon

In Bruges
Director and Screenwriter: Martin McDonagh
Cinematographer: Eigil Bryld
Starring: Colin Farrell, Ralph Fiennes, Brendan Gleeson

Rachel Getting Married
Director: Jonathan Demme
Screenwriter: Jenny Lumet
Cinematographer: Declan Quinn
Starring: Rosemarie DeWitt, Anisa George, Anne Hathaway, Bill Irwin, Anna Deavere Smith, Debra Winger, Mather Zickel

Reprise

Director: Joachim Trier
Screenwriter: Joachim Trier and Eskil Vogt
Cinematographer: Jakob Ihre
Starring: Henrik Elvestad, Espen Klouman-Hoiner, Anders Danielson Lie, Christian Rubeck, Viktoria Winge

WALL-E

Director: Andrew Stanton
Screenwriter: Pete Docter, Jim Reardon and Andrew Stanton
Starring: Ben Burtt, Jeff Garlin, Elissa Knight, Kathy Najimy, John Ratzenberger, Sigourney Weaver, Fred Willard

And the Diva Cup Goes to: A Christmas Tale

Best Director


Darren Aronofsky
The Wrestler


Jonathan Demme
Rachel Getting Married


Arnaud Desplechin
A Christmas Tale

Andrew Stanton
WALL-E

Joachim Trier
Reprise

And the Diva Cup Goes to: Arnaud Desplechin, A Christmas Tale

Best Original Screenplay


Burn After Reading
Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

A Christmas Tale
Emmanuel Bourdieu, Arnaud Desplechin

The Edge of Heaven
Faith Akin

In Bruges
Martin McDonagh

Rachel Getting Married
Jenny Lumet

And the Diva Cup Goes to: In Bruges

Best Adapted Screenplay

(Not exactly a stellar year for adaptations, huh? In a normal year, and by that I mean a year where the corresponding Oscar nominees don't leave me in a pool of my own tears from boredom, at least two of these would have barely made my top 10)


Blindness
Don McKellar

Boy A
Mark O'Rowe

Choke
Clark Gregg

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist
Lorene Scafaria

Savage Grace
Howard A. Rodman

And the Diva Cup Goes to: Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Looking Good, Mr. Westwick






I've always liked Ed Westwick, but I think his charm and personality is more readily apparent in his demeanor on Gossip Girl not necessarily his looks. He's not ugly, but he's certainly an acquired taste and certainly more out there than the bland and all-American looking Chace Crawford. So when this set of photographs from GQ emerged last week, my jaw nearly dropped to the floor. Ed is smoking in these pics. Goddamn, who ever was the photographer behind these deserves some kind of Noble Prize for making odd looking models look like sex gods. If Penn isn't careful (and doesn't shave off that ridiculous beard), he may have some serious competition for the title of sexiest Gossip Guy.

I Don't Get It

According to everyone I meet at work, I look exactly like Sylar on Heroes, played by Zachary Quinto. I wouldn't mention it, but I hear it all the time and I really do not get it. I'm not saying that I'm hotter than Zachary or anything because A) I'm not that vain and B) he can be pretty sexy at times and can totally rock that 5 o'clock shadow in ways I can't even imagine.


I'm just totally confused with the comparison; we look nothing alike! Maybe you all can help me out and vote in the poll below. By the way, please excuse the fact that I can't a normal picture for the life of me. I don't take many picutres and these were literally the best of the bunch.




Sunday, June 21, 2009

Poor Prince Jack



I know it's a long shot with his show being canceled and whatnot, but can we please get Sebastian Stan an Emmy nomination? How does he wring so much emotion with only seconds of screentime? I was positively floored by his performance in this week's episode.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Rants on Were the World Mine


The darling of the gay film festival circuit last year, Tom Gustafson's Were the World Mine is a gay-themed, musical "re-imagining" of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. To say I hated this movie and completely don't understand how so many people, gay men in particular, find this wildly offensive, stupifyingly clichéd and transparent film to be interesting in any capacity would be a complete understatement. Just like every other film about a gay high schooler, the main character, Timothy (Tanner Cohen), plays a misunderstood loner in a private all-boys school who is harassed daily by most of the jocks. And I say most because, of course, there's the one über-attractive jock, Jonathon (Nathaniel David Becker), who doesn't pick on him that the main character automatically falls in love with (as we are shown in the main character's imaginary brief musical interlude where this character sings this high-pitched love ballad to him, sprawled out on top of a desk, wearing an open button down shirt with his twinky chest showing while a bunch of the other jocks do this excessively stylized ballet dance around him). Timothy also has an absent, unaccepting father and a mother who practically hates her son's homosexuality because it meant she had to leave her husband and go out and work (yeah, I don't know either), but he, of course, has his couple close friends that act as his surrogate family. Anything surprising or new yet? Didn't think so.

Timothy's eccentric, Mrs. Darbus-esque English teacher is putting on the annual school play--a Taymore-inspired musical version of A Midsummer Night's Dream--which requires the participation of everyone in the class (boy, that sounds eerily reminscent of that kickass Gossip Girl episode where everyone had to act in the school's production of The Age of Innocence). Timothy gets the lead (shocking, I know), but finds it difficult to get the part just right, especially with all of the jock kids making fun of him in that not-so-subtle way that only happens in the movies. So, somehow, while practicing his lines one night, Timothy comes up with this magical potion that, when squirted in someone's face through this flower (kind of like in a porn when the guy shoots his load on someone else's face...although I wouldn't know about such things) turns the person gay and makes them fall immediately in love with the first person of the same sex they see. And, of course, since they are gay, they don't merely walk over to their desired love; oh no, that would be too easy and not gay enough. Instead, they have to glide over like a bunch of overeager ballerinas and start making out hardcore. Cut to the next scene where, in the background, instead of practicing the jocks are flitting about in a circle doing ballet moves in point shoes. Yes, I realize that this a movie with fantasy elements, but why is it that Gustafson feels the need to perpetuate the stereotype that because you're gay, you are artsy, can do ballet, must make out with someone within five minutes of meeting someone hot and are clingy and emotionally needy (there's a minor subplot where the macho, homophobic gym teacher gets sprayed with the potion and falls for the principal and ends up on his front porch, hoping he'll let him in and crying and blubbering like a rotten two year old). If you take out the musical numbers (which I must admit aren't too horrendous just overly theatrical and "pretty" for my taste), I really wouldn't have been surprised to hear that this film was made by one of the major studios with its backwards take on homosexuality, obvious story clichés, ridiculous wish fulfillment fantasy and ending I saw coming from a mile away. I wish I could say I'm surprised this is popular with so many of the "AfterElton" gays, but, then again, these are the same people who regularly think Latter Days and Big Eden are two of our community's greatest films. D

Friday, June 19, 2009

Casting The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

Although it took me close to three months to finally complete, Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay was not a boring or difficult-to-read book by any means. It was just my rotten luck that I decided to read the 600+ page novel right in the middle of the school year when I had little to no time for pleasure reading. Anyways, to say that I loved the book would be an understatement. The fact that Chabon made a novel about the Golden Age of comic books--a subject I know/care very little about--this absorbing is a feat in itself. As soon as I finished it, I couldn't get the characters, their complex relationships with each other and the interesting directions Chabon took the plot (the Antarctica section, for one, as well as the whole "Death of the American Dream" section at the end) out of my head. I kept thinking about this book so much that I finally decided to buy myself a copy with some of my birthday money and for the past month I have been re-reading my favorite bits over again.

As I often do while I'm reading a novel, I picture the movie version in my head and I had a ball doing this with Kavalier and Clay. Apparently, a film adaptation was in the works for awhile with Chabon as the screenwriter and Stephen Daldry as the director. This project was abandoned soon after the script was finished and now seems dead in the water. I'm not sure how I feel about this. On one hand, I'm bummed out that it seems we'll never get to see this readily adaptable book make it onto the screen. On the other hand, however, you know that there's no way they can squeeze everything in a 2 hour so something has to be cut. But what in the hell do you cut from Kavalier and Clay? Everything is so perfectly realized and important to the story that I shudder to think what ends up on the cutting room floor. What this film needs is the mini-series treatment so that we can have six or so hours of amazingness and lots of material can be left in. HBO, can you get on this please? Meanwhile, while this fantasy movie plays in my movie, I thought I'd share what actors I would like to play the main characters. I actually put quite a bit of thought into this and really think that this would be the perfect cast (although I would love to hear input from other Kavalier and Clay fanatics).


Jamie Bell
as Joe Kavalier
When the film was in pre-production, the three main roles already had starts attached to them and the only one I kept was Jamie because, let's face it, he's perfect for the role. I know I'm not the most up-to-date on his filmography, but if he managed Billy Elliot at like 14, I'm pretty sure he can successfully tackle Joe Kavalier--the most dynamic and probably most difficult character in the novel. His character goes through so many transitions in the first half of the book--wealthy young Czech gentleman before Hitler's invasion, a refugee leaving his home and family for safety in America, angry up-and-coming comic book illustrator exacting his own revenge against the Nazis for tearing his family apart, young American who just wants to go out with his girl--it will be difficult to hold him together among these disparate threads. Then there's the Antarctica sequence which relies solely on him and his attempts to maintain his sanity after an accident at the station kills everyone and one other guy. I have complete faith in Jamie that he will get this character perfect should he be given the chance to play him.

Anton Yelchin
as Sam Clay
Without a doubt, Sam Clay is the hardest character to cast. When the film was in pre-production, Tobey Maguire was attached to play Sam. If you've read the novel, I hope you can agree with me that that would have been a horrid, horrid idea. Sam Clay is a casting director's nightmare; you have to find an actor who is young, talented, short and kinda attractive (this is a movie after all- who wants to look at an ugly person for two hours?) but not too attractive (the character is repeatedly described as kind of shlubby and not exactly the most beautiful person around). I was stuck for awhile until I came up with Ashton Holmes a few weeks ago (it must have been after his appearance on the season finale of House). After that, Anton Yelchin came to mind and he immediately seemed absolutely perfect. After Charlie Bartlett, I feel pretty confident that he can handle the parts of the story where he has to be an energetic salesman, constantly trying to convince the powers in charge his and Joe's comic book ideas are worth taking a chance on. I'm not so sure about the quieter, more desperate moments, especially during the last section of the book, but it could be interesting seeing him take a big chance like this and hopefully rising to the challenge.

Anne Hathaway
as Rosa Saks
Natalie Portman was the woman originally conceived for the role Joe's slightly eccentric but ever warm and loving girlfriend Rosa. I can totally see where they were going with Portman and I have no doubts that she would also be great in the role, but Annie is where it's at these days. I also briefly considered Leighton Meester (needs more experience) and Kristen Stewart (too young--she'd never get away with the post-war section--and her goddess-like stone face doesn't seem appropriate for Rosa) but, ultimately, I kept coming back to Anne Hathaway. She can work the bits of humor and lightness that pepper Rosa throughout the novel, but the image I had with me during the course of the book, and the one that ultimately made me believe she was the best choice, is that final phone call in Brokeback Mountain between Anne and Heath. There's so much emotion in that scene but it's fabulously understated and that's exactly where Rosa needs to be played.

Kellan Lutz
as Tracy Bacon
Okay, so I'm going to admit that I'm basing the casting of Kellan Lutz in the Tracy Bacon role solely on physical appearance. The only thing I've seen him in is Twilight (and possibly an episode of 90210 but most likely not) and he had, what, two lines in that? I hear he's quite good in Lisa Kudrow's The Comeback but, unfortunately, I haven't seen that yet. The way I see Tracy is as this large, broad shouldered guy who probably looks intimidating but is really just a big teddy bear and when he puts his arms around you, the problems of the world just melt away. I don't know about anyone else, but this is what I think when I see pictures of Kellan on the internet. I don't know if he has the chops, but it's not as if this role is as difficult as Joe Kavalier, right?

Susan Sarandon
as Ethel Klayman
Like most of the unimaginative film executives in Hollywood, I automatically cast Meryl Streep as Sammy's mother in my mind while reading the book. The thought became even more inescapable during the scene where Sam brings Tracy to his mother's house for dinner and Chabon describes this look ("'Will he?' she said, and, lifting the wrapped dish, she looked him in the eye for the first time all evening. Though it would recur often enough in his memory in later years, he would never know exactly what she meant by that look.") that I knew she would just nail. The way I see it, the whole performance relies on that look and if you can't get it right, the character will fall apart. After thinking it over, however, I decided that I needed to think outside the box a bit and come up with another actress besides Streep. Dianne Wiest came to mind since I've been kinda obsessed with her after her immaculate work in Synechdoche, New York, but, somehow, she didn't seem perfect for the part; no doubt she would have been great (has she ever been less than stellar?) but there had to be someone just right. Finally, someone suggested Susan Sarandon and it was like a choir of angels singing. Ethel has to be feared, loved, respected and funny, all done subtly and often at the same time. I think after her long and varied career and especially after Igby Goes Down, Sarandon can pull this off without a hitch. Plus, she'll be able to get that look without a problem.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Moment I Realized This Gay Thing Was a Done Deal





I remember perfectly the day my copy of this issue of Rolling Stone with Justin Timberlake's infamous, "I'm a man now, bitches" shirtless cover arrived in my mailbox. It just happened to be the first issue of my first Rolling Stone subscription and let me tell you that was $20 well spent. I can't tell you how many times I just sat in my chair, flipping through the magazine and "happening" to land on these pages. I actually still have my original copy in a box somewhere at home and pull it out from time to time just to relive the amazingness that is this photo spread. Damn, this reminds me that JT really needs to make some new music in the near future; can you believe it's will be three years this September since Futuresex/Lovesounds came out?! I was just starting my freshman year in college when I picked up my copy and now I'm heading into my senior year. Good Lord.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Guess Who's Back!



Before I head on to Job #2 of the day (don't you love days like that?), I just had to post the teaser trailer to Michael Moore's still untitled new documentary due out later this year. I know he's divisive and all that shit, but I find him to be one of the most interesting filmmakers working today, never afraid of going completely off the rails to make a point and easily taking topics that could be dry and lifeless and injecting some kind of adrenaline into them. The teaser above reveals very little about the movie besides a general topic (the recession) but I love the tongue-in-cheekness of it all. The world could stand for some more of Moore's button-pushing and I will be glad to support him in that quest.

Friday, June 12, 2009

People Who Can Suck It: Megan Fox


Who Needs to Suck It: Megan Fox, a stick with huge boobs, the star of Transformers and inexplicable "hot" girl to retarded straight guys who have obviously never met a really woman in their life.

Why She Needs to Suck It: I can live with the fact that she's simply a shameless, masturbatory fantasy thrown in for the straight guys because, let's face it, there are a ton of untalented hot guys running around Hollywood for our benefit. No, what I can't really, really can't stand about her is that she thinks that she's this clever celebrity who is now popular enough to start talking about whatever the fuck she wants. Often the stuff that comes out is just stupid word vomit. Take her take on High School Musical for example:

Let me tell you what it's really about. High School Musical is about this group of boys who are all being molested by the basketball coach, who is Zac Efron's dad. It's about them struggling to cope with this molestation. And they have these little girlfriends, who are their beards. Oh, and somehow there's music involved. You have to get stoned and watch it.

Oh wow. Aren't you so clever for picking on an enormous film franchise aimed at kids and making a joke about how it's all about molestation and homosexuality! My, the wit in that statement is just astounding. I don't know if anyone else can ever be allowed to give a witty interview because Megan Fox has just topped us all for all time. The whole time she gives interviews like this, you can almost see her calculating just how outrageous to be so people will pay attention to her and think, "Wow, she is an interesting girl." Please, stop trying to be Angelina (the world can barely tolerate one of her as it is) and go back to making your movies about enormous robots beating the shit out of each other and leave us alone.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Rants on California Suite

A couple of days ago, I had the distinct pleasure of seeing a student-run production of Neil Simon's California Suite through Western Michigan University's Theatre Department. My school has an excellent program, so I knew the acting would be great, but I was worried about how well Simon's stuck-in-the-70's, middle-aged views of relationships and East Coast vs. West Coast views of the world would transfer with 20 year olds from the 20th century. Well, color me surprised that none of that seemed to matter and, in the hands of some gifted young actors that I hope many of you get to see some day, the play was alternately side-splittingly hilarious and heartbreakingly tender--a truly rare combination.

After having such a wonderful time at that performance, I decided to take a gander at Herbert Ross's 1978 film version which had been lying around my place for a few months at least. I had been putting it off for so long because of my aforementioned weariness of Neil Simon, but after seeing the show, I thought to myself, "Hey, if a bunch of college students can be great with this, just imagine what Jane Fonda, Dame Maggie Smith and Michael Caine can do in it!" Then you can imagine my surprise when it turned out that this star-studded extravaganza was nothing more than a pointless, inexcusable and all-around unenjoyable waste of talent.

In case you're not aware, on the stage, California Suite is comprised of four one-act plays all taking place at different times of the year in rooms 203 and 204 of the same posh Californian hotel. The first, and probably biggest, misstep the filmmakers make is to try to make the film more cinematic by having them stay at the same hotel during the same time and then sporadically intercut between all of their dramas. Also, they made the grave error of moving outside of the designated suites in an attempt to "open up" the movie. These are enormous problems because each of the stories require us to become intimately involved with each of these couplings and the constant cutting across the stories and multiple locations make it hard to really get invested for more than a minute or two at a time.


The story that suffers the most from this just happens to be the best of the bunch: the one concerning the visitors from London, Oscar-nominated actress Diana Barrie (Oscar-winner Dame Maggie Smith) and her antique dealing (i.e. gay or bisexual, depending on your interpretation) husband Sidney (a miscast Michael Caine) in town for the Academy Awards ceremony. On stage, the one-act is a luminous, extremely witty and intricate view of a complex and almost incomprehensible relationship. What suits this story extremely well is an intimate surrounding that the tiny, 75-seat theatre the play was performed in achieved perfectly. On film, Ross shoots everything from medium close-up, if not further away, and it's damn near impossible to connect with anything Diana and Sidney are saying or doing. Now, I don't want to suggest that the young actors I saw on stage are better than Dame Maggie Smith and Michael Caine since they are fucking legends for a reason. No, I just wish that the two of them, Smith in particular, had pushed it a little further. During her drunk scenes, she should have acted slightly more intoxicated and less quirky. Not only would her funny lines work better, but it would make the sharp, intense dialogue with Caine all the more heartbreaking.

If the best storyline is treated so shoddily, you can only imagine how the other three come out. Jane Fonda and Alan Alda star in the weakest one as a divorced couple fighting for their daughter. The dialogue is too spot-on and unnaturally witty, so the two of them don't really do anything besides bounce lines off each other for awhile. It's not a complete waste of time, but there are certainly other things I'd rather be watching. The less said about the Walter Matthau story, the better. The tendency to go over-the-top is inherent in the scene and Matthau is so far over it, he's on Mars. In fact, I think Matthau gives one of the worst performances I've ever seen. He's so stereotypically Jewish I'm surprised he doesn't have a yamulke and those curly sideburns; it's extremely insulting and almost disgusting to watch. Richard Pryor and Bill Cosby star in the slapstick portion of the film and that, too, is way too subdued to be half as funny as it could be. But, then again, I shouldn't be so surprised that Ross and company bungled it up as much as they did since that seemed to happen with everything in this film. D+

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

My New Favorite Celebrity Couple

Move over, Brangelina. Suck on it, Tomkat. Get over yourself, Zanessa. Deal with it, Gyllenspoon. There's a hot new celebrity couple in town and their name is Meestan. Or Leighstian. Or Sebton. Okay, so I haven't decided on a cutesy, tabloid-ready power couple name yet, but Leighton Meester and Sebastian Stan are officially my favorite celebrity couple in Hollywood. They haven't had any public fights or major controversies yet, but they are friggin' talented and two of the best looking members of Young Hollywood who someone how manage to look even better when they're together. Here are some of my favorite pics of them being completely cutesy and adorable (while somehow managing not to be gag-inducing).













Sunday, June 7, 2009

2008 Diva Cup Awards: Best Actress

Anna Faris
The House Bunny

One of my biggest frustrations concerning Anna Faris's performance in The House Bunny was obviously not the performance itself, but, rather, other people's hypocritical reaction to my (and at least one other person) claiming it as one of the year's best. Anytime I mentioned on some various Oscar blog that Faris was utterly fantastic in The House Bunny, there were usually at least one or two people who would say something along the lines of, "An Oscar nomination for The House Bunny?! Let's be serious." What killed me was that these are the same people always complaining that Oscar never nominates comedic performances. What more do you want out of a comedic performance? Faris elevates the cheap jokes of this film to the point that the performance reminded me of Groucho Marx in Duck Soup (my favorite comedic performance ever) in that the zingers just kept coming and coming, one right after another, and they all had my convulsing with laughter. Sure, this may not have been acting in the traditional sense of the word, but Anna Faris is one of the most fearless comediennes around and her talent needs to be rewarded ever chance you get.

Anne Hathaway
Rachel Getting Married
Oh Annie. How far you've come in eight years from when we first met you as the Princess of Genovia. You went through your "I'm gonna show my breasts!" phase in both Brokeback and Havoc (a seriously fearless and edgy performance in an otherwise craptacular film), played the straight-woman to Meryl Streep (and Emily Blunt for that matter), dabbled in the British prestige picture (please, let's never try that one again, hmmm?) and even worked your budding star mojo in a middling action comedy blockbuster. But then came Rachel Getting Married, which provided you with your strongest role yet--a recovering drug addict returning from rehab just in time for her older sister's wedding--and your greatest performance to date. Finally, after a couple of years of being on the brink of being a "legitimate" actress, you proved you have what it takes to tear Hollywood apart. After your darkly comic, awkwardly (in a good way) self-centered and all-around magnetic performance in Rachel Getting Married, I seriously can not wait to see what you have in store for us in the (many) years to come (Here's hoping you hit it out of the park with this one). Congrats Annie, you've truly made it and no one deserves it more than you!

Sally Hawkins
Happy-Go-Lucky
Poppy should have been too much to handle. I should have wanted to punch her in the face from the third minute and not wanted to stop until the whole movie was over. I know that if I met someone like Poppy in real life, I don't think I would be able to listen to her endless cheeriness and eternal optimism. Considering all of these prejudices, you have to give Sally Hawkins major credit for creating a character like this that you actually want to spend hours and hours with in the cinematic world. Her spirit is infectious and, for awhile, I actually wanted to be more like her instead of the constant cynic that I am. That feeling eventually subsided, but the brilliance and hilarity of this performance never did.

Melissa Leo
Frozen River
It's always a joy seeing reliable character actors finally enjoying a lead role in a film because it often feels like they realize they only have one chance to get it right and they throw themselves into the part. We already saw Richard Jenkins do just that with The Visitor and now Melissa Leo, a prolific character actress whom I warmly remember as Benicio Del Toro's long-suffering wife in 21 Grams. Playing a hard-as-nails, desperately broke mother slaving away at a dead-end, minimum wage job only to have it gambled away by her good-for-nothing husband, Leo's haggard, world-weary face could have done most of the work for her. Leave it to her, however, to dig deep and provide a refreshing spin on the maternal sacrifice story we've seen since Oscar's beginning. I'm most surprised at how honest and true to life Leo's Ray feels. There are no emotional meltdowns or smashing plates against the wall to show how PISSED she is; it's all quiet and tender and some of the most heartwrenching stuff you're likely to see (especially if you've ever experienced the direness of poverty and living paycheck to paycheck).

Brittany Snow
Finding Amanda
From my review of Finding Amanda and Snow's performance in particular: "You may find it suprising, however, to see that Snow ignores the usual crutches of this [hooker with a heart of gold] archetype and crafts a visibly unique spin on it. From the moment that we meet Amanda, enticing dirty old men by the elevators at a seedy motel with a sweet, bubbly demeanor, we can tell that something just isn't right. She's too happy, too obsessed with keeping her apartment pristine and free from anything that will soil it (she tells her uncle to take off his shoes as soon as he enters the doorway). Snow is smart enough to only hint at the darkness of her past and the unhappiness in her present- she doesn't lay all of the cards on table right away and allow you to read her so easily. When she confesses to her uncle about being sexually abused by a member of the family, she tosses the information out there like it was nothing extraordinary, much to her uncle's incredulation. Snow's Amanda thinks she has moved on from this experience, even if her actions say otherwise."

If Only There Were Six: Julianne Moore, Blindness and Savage Grace

Rest of the Top 10: Meryl Streep, Doubt...Natalie Portman, The Other Boleyn Girl...Kristin Scott Thomas, Il y a longtemps que je t'aime [I've Loved You So Long]...Nicole Kidman, Australia

And the Diva Cup Goes to: Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Monday, June 1, 2009

Things I Loved About Last Night's MTV Movie Awards

Listen, I'm not going to argue that the MTV Movie Awards is a show that needs to be taken seriously or that their nominees and winners signify the end of cinema as we know it or something (especially since my picks won three of the Top 5 awards). They're stupid, harmless fun and that's all they've ever been. I just really hate it whenever someone gets a bug up their ass and yammers on and on about the "tweenification" of the culture and points to this as an example. Well, duh. MTV has always been aimed at this demographic and their Movie Awards show that. It's like blaming the Teen Choice Awards for thinking Hayden Christensen is the best actor of any year. Anyways, let's get a move on and discuss the highlights of last night.


Leighton Meester looking like the hot diva she is.



Anna Faris's reaction (fast forward to the 56 second mark) after getting robbed losing Best Comedic Performance to Jim Carrey.

Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner introducing the much-hyped sneak peek at New Moon. As much as I dislike Twilight and Robert Pattinson, you have to find it amazing that the producers are willing to risk a multi-billion dollar movie franchise on two leads who can't speak in public or be fake "charming" like other movie stars. They are totally awkward when not on set and I kinda love that.

Speaking of Kristen Stewart being awkward...



I know that there are many, many of you out there who completely disagree with me, but this is exactly why I love Kristen Stewart. Not only is she uncomfortable with the limelight, she's also has no idea how to craft a great soundbyte. Plus, you've got to love that after pulling a Bella and dropping the award she just won, she goes back up there and complete owns her awkardness and clumsiness by saying, "That was just as awkward as you thought it was going to be! Bye." What a goddess.


LA TISDALE WON BREAKTHROUGH FEMALE PERFORMANCE! I know it may not seem like much to all of the haters, but this win felt completely genuine over some of the more obvious choices like Twilight and Efron for Best Male Performance (not that it wasn't justly deserved). My apologies to Pinto, Seyfreid and Dennings, but it felt to me that this award would come down between Miley and Vanessa with La Tisdale as the dark horse. La Tisdale winning proves that the tweens were voting based on genuine talent and future capabilities, not just "comedic timing," "musical talent," their personal lives or tabloid-ready exploits. La Tisdale took Sharpay, relegated to the background in HSM3, and with a bit of sass, wit and musical chops, she beat the two stars of their respective movies. Way to go tweens for getting it right!

As an added bonus, let's take a gander at this threesome of hotness. Yum.