Friday, February 29, 2008
Monday, February 25, 2008
Sunday, February 24, 2008
And speaking of the audience: How many people there in the Kodak (and how many TV viewers) were looking closely at presenter Owen Wilson, to see if they could spot any residual sign of… well, his recent troubles?
And is Tilda Swinton's well-earned Supporting Actress win a good sign or a bad sign for Michael Clayton in other categories? (Great acceptance speech, BTW. Even George Clooney seemed to enjoy the Batman and Robin crack.)
And why was Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson introduced simply as Wayne Johnson? Did he ask for this? Is this part of his ongoing evolution from actor-wrestler to just-plain-actor?
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Friday, February 22, 2008
Thursday, February 21, 2008
When a movie involving high-pedigree talents such as Michelle Pfeiffer, Paul Rudd and writer-director Amy Heckerling goes the direct-to-video route -- well, you have every right to expect the worst. Unfortunately, I Could Never Be Your Woman lives down to expectations.
And yet, even I try to sound sagacious while providing sound bites or quick quotes to fellow journalists on tight deadlines, or tips to friends placing bets in their office Oscar pools, I can't help feeling slightly foolish, if not downright hypocritical. Because, truth to tell, I've never understood why so many people devote so much time, effort and emotional intensity to handicapping the annual horserace hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
NOMINEES: Atonement, Juno, Michael Clayton, No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood.
OVERVIEW: There Will Be Blood and No Country for Old Men appear to be the early favorites. But both films may be too darkly despairing for the delicate tastes of many Academy members. And, more to the point, they could split the vote in the final tabulation. Juno is a long shot – comedies rarely claim the Best Picture award – and Michael Clayton may be viewed (wrongly) as lacking sufficient gravitas. All of which means Atonement, the sort of glossy Brit period piece that often gets the grand prize, could – repeat, could -- slip into the winner’s circle. But would Academy voters really make such a… well, such an idiosyncratic choice? To be brutally honest: I haven’t a clue which horse to bet on in this race, so I’ll cop out and pick a frontrunner.
WILL WIN: No Country for Old Men.
SHOULD WIN: Michael Clayton.
SHOULD HAVE BEEN A CONTENDER: Knocked Up.
NOMINEES: George Clooney (Michael Clayton), Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood), Johnny Depp (Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street), Tommy Lee Jones (In the Valley of Elah), Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises).
OVERVIEW: Looks like a showdown between over-the-top (Day-Lewis, Depp) and close-to-the-vest (Clooney, Jones, Mortensen). And in this category, traditionally, flamboyance trumps understatement.
WILL WIN: Daniel Day-Lewis.
SHOULD WIN: Tommy Lee Jones.
SHOULD HAVE BEEN A CONTENDER: Adam Sandler as the emotionally devastated dentist in Reign Over Me.
NOMINEES: Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth: The Golden Age), Julie Christie (Away from Her), Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose), Laura Linney (The Savages), Ellen Page (Juno).
OVERVIEW: Christie would seem the prohibitive favorite here, for reasons both sentimental (she’s a much-admired actress who hasn’t received an award since 1965’s Darling) and cynical (she plays a woman suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, and Oscar voters love to reward people who essay afflicted characters). Cotillard could conceivably score an upset with her acclaimed portrayal of French singer Edith Piaf – but, unfortunately, leads in foreign films seldom bring home the top prizes. (Do Academy members hate to read subtitles, or what?)
WILL WIN: Julie Christie.
SHOULD WIN: Ellen Page.
SHOULD HAVE BEEN A CONTENDER: Christina Ricci as the sexpot who gets a shot at redemption in Black Snake Moan.
NOMINEES: Casey Affleck (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford), Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men), Hal Holbrook (Into the Wild), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Charlie Wilson’s War), Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton).
OVERVIEW: This award is Bardem’s to lose. He won’t.
WILL WIN: Javier Bardem.
SHOULD WIN: Tom Wilkinson.
SHOULD HAVE BEEN A CONTENDER: Jeff Daniels as the sardonic blind buddy in The Lookout.
NOMINEES: Cate Blanchett (I’m Not There), Ruby Dee (American Gangster), Saoirse Ronan (Atonement), Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone), Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton).
OVERVIEW: Back in 1983, Linda Hunt earned a Supporting Actress award for playing a male character in The Year of Living Dangerously. This year, history could repeat itself, and Blanchett might grab the golden statuette for her attention-grabbing turn as Bob Dylan. But Ryan’s breakout performance as a slatternly, substance-abusing Bostonian will be hard to beat.
WILL WIN: Amy Ryan.
SHOULD WIN: Amy Ryan.
SHOULD HAVE BEEN A CONTENDER: Bae Doo-na as the straight-arrow heroine in the Korean-produced monster mash The Host.
NOMINEES: Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood), Ethan Coen and Joel Coen (No Country for Old Men), Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton), Jason Reitman (Juno), Julian Schnabel (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly).
OVERVIEW: It’s hard to believe, but Ethan and Joel Coen have been around long enough to qualify as grizzled veterans. And we all know how Oscar voters like to honor grizzled veterans, right? Think of this as a kinda-sorta Lifetime Achievement Award for the siblings whose joint resume also includes Blood Simple, Raising Arizona, Miller’s Crossing, Fargo and O Brother, Where Art Thou?
WILL WIN: Ethan and Joel Coen.
SHOULD WIN: Ethan and Joel Coen.
SHOULD HAVE BEEN A CONTENDER: Julie Taymor for the lovely, lyrical and phantasmagorical Across the Universe.
Friday, February 15, 2008
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Among the early Grammy Award winners announced Sunday: Short Form Music Video. The winner: Johnny Cash's version of "God's Gonna Cut You Down," directed by Tony Kaye (American History X, Lake of Fire). Great, great choice. And props to Justin Timberlake.
And, while we're at it, props to another Grammy winner.
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Many boomers may also remember Morse as Prof. Victor Bergman in the '70s sci-fi series Space: 1999. And theatergoers throughout Canada -- where Morse spent most of his professional life -- doubtless have equally fond memories of his performances at the Shaw Theatre Festival and other venues. (An odd coincidence: Just a few months ago, while I was covering the Toronto Film Festival, I attended a preview screening of Eastern Promises at a moviehouse that had once been home for a theatrical company. Among the framed mementoes I noticed on the lobby wall: A poster for a stage production of Gore Vidal's Visit to a Small Planet starring and directed by -- cowabunga! -- that dude who used to chase David Janssen.)
And yet, really, with all due respect to those and his many other credits: All it took is one key role in a classic TV series to ensure Barry Morse's immortality. "He thought it was a good show — well filmed, well directed and well acted," Hayward Morse, the late actor's son, told the Associated Press. "He had nothing disparaging to say about The Fugitive." No kidding.
Monday, February 04, 2008
Sunday, February 03, 2008
5:47 PM -- Of course, I also wonder how many people remember the Steve and Doug Butabi characters (from Saturday Night Live and A Night at the Roxbury) referenced -- through music, and a cameo by Chris Kattan -- in the Diet Pepsi Max commercial. Maybe the ad guys are getting a little too arcane with their pop-culture references?
6:04 PM -- The Wanted spot doesn't look much different than the coming-attraction trailer that's been running in theaters for quite some time now. Shorter, maybe, but not much clearer concept-wise. And, worse, no surprises. IMHO: A wasted opportunity to fine-tune the hard-sell.
6:06 PM -- But the giant pigeons for Fed Ex? Cool.
6:14 PM -- Isn't it a bit late in the day -- very, very late, in fact -- for a Rocky-themed beer commercial? Even Rocky Balboa is more than a year old.
6:17 PM-- Uh-oh. The Iron Man teaser looks a little... well, a little cartoonish, maybe? Or, worse, a little Hulk-ish (as in the first Hulk movie -- or, more specifically, the notorious Super Bowl commercial for that 2003 flick)?
6:19 PM -- But Leatherheads looks funny.
6:38 PM -- The Princess Narnia spot tells me: More of the same. If you liked the first one, you'll like this one. If you didn't, you won't. Will be interesting to see if cable and homevid exposure for Episode 1 will increase the audience for No. 2.
6:42 PM -- The Pepsi spot tells me: Justin Timberlake has a sense of humor about himself. Also reminds me: He deserved more props for his self-effacing turn in the under-rated Black Snake Moan.
7:25 PM -- Enjoyable set by Tom Petty. (But, then again, I'm could hear "Runnin' Down a Dream" four or five times each morning during my workday commute, and never think punching up a new station on my car radio.) On the other hand, Semi-Pro looks... stale.
7:45 PM -- Clever Wall-E spot, establishing the Disney/Pixar link to Toy Story in a way both simple enough to appeal to kids and hip enough to amuse older audiences.
7:53 PM -- In sharp contrast to the aforementioned Wanted spot, the Jumper spot rethinks its own coming-attraction trailer(s) to clarify the central gimmick -- and the dramatic conflict. (I have to admit: This is the first time I've had any idea why Samuel L. Jackson's character is such a party-pooper.) Good move: At this point in the football game, many viewers may be too, uh, fuzzy-headed to grasp subtle ironies or complex concepts.
8:13 PM -- James Carville and Bill Frist come together with a Coke and a smile. OK, maybe I'm easy, but I laughed out loud. Haven't done that since the giant pigeons.
8:16 PM -- But You Don't Mess With the Zohan? Didn't laugh. At all.
8:27 PM -- A second chance for Semi-Pro. Funnier. And, yeah, this spot may get more use -- as an ad for Bud Light.
9:06 PM -- And what do you know? The game wound up having more suspense, and a more jolting surprise finish, than most thrillers released in recent years. Congratulations, New York Giants.