Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Oh, Mira Sorvino. That's The Closest You're Getting to Another One.

Oscar Nominations Here.

I correctly predicted 35/40 in the eight major categories, which I'm pretty certain is the best I've ever done. No truly shocking nominations certainly helped that cause. Of course, I must request that if you do read my predictions from yesterday, by all means, don't look past the screenplay categories. Therein lies the bloodbath. As per usual.

Actually sitting back and taking a look at the nominees, I have to say this is one of the better Best Picture fields in recent memory, at least as far as movies I have enjoyed go. With the notable exception of Crash (which … I don't need to get into again), I very much enjoyed Capote and Good Night and Good Luck; and Brokeback Mountain and Munich are Top 5 of the year, for me. It's about as good a Best Pic lineup since 2002 (Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Chicago, The Hours, The Pianist), with that year getting the edge on the basis of Gangs of New York being preferable to Crash. Do NOT even think of asking me to draw parallels between the racial/cultural/ethnic melting pot concerns of those two movies.

Looking at the acting categories, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress are full up on performances I loved, every single one. In fact, the only truly "weak" category is Supporting Actor, where I agree with the Gyllenhaal nomination (even if he's not exactly "supporting"), but not much else. I mean, Clooney was nothing special in Syriana; Giamatti was okay in Cinderella Man; Matt Dillon was one of a dozen similarly good performances in Crash, trying to hold up that weak script, but didn't exactly rise above everyone else to deserve a nomination. And I just have not been able to grasp the acclaim for William Hurt in A History of Violence. Not a great collection of performances, if you're me.

Overall, though: not too shabby there, Academy. Didn't go for the huge box-office. Enjoyed the understated indie (if not TOO indie) fare. Gave it up for Catherine Keener and Amy Adams. Not too shabby indeed.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Oscar Prognostinominationcation

(That there is why I don't do portmanteau)

So, Oscar nominations are announced tomorrow morning. My boy Nathaniel has his more-than-educated guesses up at his site. Might as well give the kid some competition, right? Historically, I don't do too poorly in the major categories. I'm generally dismal when trying to predict the techs, though.

With that in mind, here's my best effort:

Best Picture
01 - Brokeback Mountain
02 - Good Night and Good Luck
03 - Crash
04 - Munich
05 - Walk the Line
alt.: Capote

Best Director
01 - Ang Lee - Brokeback Mountain
02 - George Clooney - Good Night and Good Luck
03 - Paul Haggis - Crash
04 - Bennett Miller - Capote
05 - Noah Baumbach - The Squid and the Whale
alt.: Steven Spielberg - Munich

Best Actor
01 - Phillip Seymour Hoffman - Capote
02 - Heath Ledger - Brokeback Mountain
03 - David Strathairn - Good Night and Good Luck
04 - Joaquin Phoenix - Walk the Line
05 - Terrence Howard - Hustle & Flow
alt.: Russell Crowe - Cinderella Man

Best Actress
01 - Reese Witherspoon - Walk the Line
02 - Felicity Huffman - Transamerica
03 - Judi Dench - Mrs. Henderson Presents
04 - Charlize Theron - North Country
05 - Kiera Knightley - Pride and Prejudice
alt.: Ziyi Zhang - Memoirs of a Geisha

Best Supporting Actor
01 - George Clooney - Syriana
02 - Paul Giamatti - Cinderella Man
03 - Matt Dillon - Crash
04 - Jake Gyllenhaal - Brokeback Mountain
05 - Donald Sutherland - Pride and Prejudice
alt.: Terrence Howard - Crash

Best Supporting Actress
01 - Rachel Weisz - The Constant Gardener
02 - Michelle Williams - Brokeback Mountain
03 - Frances McDormand - North Country
04 - Maria Bello - A History of Violence
05 - Catherine Keener - Capote
alt.: Amy Adams - Junebug

Best Original Screenplay
01 - Good Night and Good Luck
02 - Crash
03 - The Squid and the Whale
04 - Syriana
05 - Cinderella Man
alt.: Match Point

Best Adapted Screenplay
01 - Brokeback Mountain
02 - Capote
03 - The Constant Gardener
04 - Munich
05 - A History of Violence
alt.: Walk the Line

Predictions in (almost) all categories after the jump.

Best Cinematography
01 - Brokeback Mountain
02 - Good Night & Good Luck
03 - The Constant Gardener
04 - King Kong
05 - Jarhead
alt.: Memoirs of a Geisha

Best Editing
01 - Brokeback Mountain
02 - Good Night & Good Luck
03 - Crash
04 - Walk the Line
05 - The Constant Gardener
alt.: Munich

Best Art Direction
01 - Memoirs of a Geisha
02 - Good Night & Good Luck
03 - Brokeback Mountain
04 - King Kong
05 - The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
alt.: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Best Visual Effects
01 - King Kong
02 - Star Wars, Episode III
03 - War of the Worlds
alt.: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Best Makeup
01 - The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
02 - Mrs. Henderson Presents
03 - The New World
alt.: Star Wars, Episode III

Best Costume Design
01 - Memoirs of a Geisha
02 - Walk the Line
03 - Good Night and Good Luck
04 - The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
05 - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
alt.: Mrs. Henderson Presents

Best Original Score
01 - Brokeback Mountain
02 - Memoirs of a Geisha
03 - King Kong
04 - Cinderella Man
05 - Syriana
alt.: Crash

Best Original Song
01 - Transamerica ("Travelin' Thru")
02 - The Producers ("There's Nothing Like a Show on Broadway")
03 - Hustle & Flow ("Hustle & Flow")
04 - Crash ("In the Deep")
05 - The Corpse Bride ("Remains of the Day")
alt.: Mad Hot Ballroom ("Mad Hot Ballroom")

Best Sound Design
01 - Walk the Line
02 - War of the Worlds
03 - King Kong
04 - Batman Begins
05 - Jarhead
alt.: Crash

Best Sound Effects Editing
01 - Star Wars, Episode III
02 - King Kong
03 - War of the Worlds
alt.: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Best Animated Feature
01 - Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
02 - Tim Burton's Corpse Bride
03 - Madagascar
alt.: Chicken Little

Best Foreign Film
01 - Paradise Now (Palestine)
02 - Tsotsi (South Africa)
03 - Joyeux Noel (France)
04 - Sophie Scholl (Germany)
05 - The Italian (Russia)
alt.: The Child (Belgium)

Saturday, January 21, 2006

The King of All Media

I like music, I like movies, I like books. It's why I have a blog in the first place. And I know I should probably post about these things individually, as I consume them, but for now, here's a glut of what's most recently crossed my path.

BOOK: Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
This is a quasi-sequel/spinoff to Gaiman’s American Gods, which I loved a lot, and which, if you’ll recall, I read for a second time on my fated Amtrak trip of death and found it to be a lot funnier the second time around. Anansi Boys is more overtly comical than the stealthy Gods, in the vein of Gaiman’s collaboration with Terry Pratchett on Good Omens. The entire character of Grahame Coats is worth a spinoff of his own. Anyway, the book again delved into mythological characters existing in a modern setting, and Gaiman is rather sly about creeping the Ancient Myths 101 stuff into the story gradually. If I go around randomly saying “In the beginning, all the stories were Tiger stories,” now you’ll know why. Wonderful book.

MOVIE: Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee)
I was a little bit worried that after such an avalanche of advance praise, expectations for the film would have risen far beyond what Ang Lee could live up to. All too gladly, my fears were unfounded. This is a fantastic and essentially note-perfect film. At 134 minutes it doesn’t feel like it’s dragging, and that’s certainly a tendency Lee has shown in the past. I thought the length here was necessary to give a sense of just how far Ennis and Jack’s relationship stretched. Also, I thought the screenwriters did an admirable job of filling in the gaps created when such a short story is expanded like this. The acting is incredible. I’m sometimes astounded at how far Heath Ledger has come in one year. He deserves an Oscar, for sure. Jake Gyllenhaal and Michelle Williams are also great, and don’t come off as too young, which I was worried about. It never stumbles, this movie. So, so, SO good.

MOVIE: Match Point (Woody Allen)
Not as good. I’m so hit-or-miss when it comes to Woody Allen. This one never really grabbed me like, say, Annie Hall or Crimes and Misdemeanors did. The story seems rather worn -- the social climber whose status becomes threatened; the extramarital affair which threatens to be exposed -- and I don’t think Woody brought enough to the script to make the retread worth it, honestly. Scarlett Johansson does a good job with a script that does her absolutely no favors. The movie basically asks her to first be sexy, then be clingy. Neither at the same time, and none of it given much depth on the page. It’s not an awful movie, although you could probably eke out a 50-page thesis on how this movie adds to Woody’s career-long tendency towards misogyny, but the end product really does pale to the expectation of Allen taking on such atypical subject matter.

BOOK: Magical Thinking by Augusten Burroughs
It’s funny, in the wake of the Oprah/A Million Little Pieces pseudo-scandal, Burroughs's name came up in two separate conversations I had about memoirists and their flexible relationship with the truth. My opinion is that I don’t really care how much of Burroughs's Running with Scissors or Dry is verbatim fact. They were thoroughly entertaining reads and I’m happy to have come across them. But after reading the “true” short stories in Magical Thinking, I’m kind of hoping they are faked up. Mostly because I hope Burroughs isn’t entirely like that. In the long-form, his personality is refreshing in its lack of sentiment. With the short stories all piled up on one another, everything gets laid on a little thick: the vanity, the shallowness, the “I was raised in a cult and thus have no social skills” stuff. At some point his self-awareness becomes knee-jerk and insincere. That being said … dude is a really good writer and the bulk of his stories are great fun to read. My favorite thing about Burroughs is that he has become this maddeningly endearing (though if you hadn’t read his earlier books, I’m not sure how endearing) character of his own making who you really hope is going to pull it together and are willing to forgive his frequent lapses into unnecessary drama. It’s a lot of the same reasons I was so enthralled by Jonathan Couette’s Tarnation, which was also an interesting subject of fakery in a supposedly factual genre.

SONG: “Konstantine” -- Something Corporate
True to my personal history, I just stumbled upon this song recently even though it was released in, like, 2001. Also true to my history, the band is kind of pop-punk in that way that tends to irk me, where you can clearly tell that the lead singer hasn’t passed eleventh-grade chemistry yet. Though my iTunes list is checkered with the many pieces of evidence that contradict that statement. Anyway, this song. First off, it’s nine minutes long. Second, it’s crazy overwrought, in that introspective Lydia Dietz-as-a-boy sense, in which every line has some deep portent. It’s a breakup song, essentially, but the music and lyrics are so dark that it plays like an elegy. It comes from that seventeen-year-old place where breaking up with someone is like having them die, so it makes sense. And it’s almost all piano, this deep, haunting piano, which you know is what hooked me. It’s epic in a really immature way, and I am in no way using “immature” as a negative, because that’s the attitude that makes the song work. And I love the song, so it’s justified. Honestly, though, it’s like a science experiment where you listen to the song and it makes you feel so sad, and then you listen to the lyrics and it’s like “wait, it’s about a high-school break-up? The hell am I so sad for?” It’s awesome, listen to it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Scarlett Johansson presents: The Golden Globes

I had originally intended to do an in-depth recap of last night's Golden Globes. But after three hours of awards show and another two watching 24, I didn't have the heart for it.

Luckily, Nathaniel insisted on a lengthy internet chat this morning dissecting the entire event. And he even edited it for me! And he posted it here, so go read it if you want to know what I thought Ellen Pompeo was dressed like. Hint: it was something you'd find on my (or your) grandma's end table. Which isn't good.

[Yes, that was yet another Globes=tits wordplay in the post title. Be thankful I didn't try to apply razor-sharp wit like that to a recap.]

The E! True Hollywood Story: My Netflix List

A true story:

: I gave you a little mental shout-out when Joaquin won last night. He was all sorts of unkempt-looking, but he was adorable nonetheless. He can go from Penn to cute in record time.

Sars: He is really cute, I think. I loved him so much in Signs.

: He was pretty great in that. He's been in so many projects I haven't cared for, though. I never even think of him when it comes to actors I like. And I probably should, because he's got the goods.

: He does. He's always thinking; I respect that. Although...he was annoying in SpaceCamp.

: In the what now?

: SpaceCamp!

: …

: Lea Thompson! Tate Donovan!

: Oh god. IMDb, here I come.


: Am I fired if I say I've never heard of it?

: ...You're fired twice. "Never heard of it." IT'S LIKE I DON'T KNOW YOU ANYMORE.

: But ... but ...

: No. Rent it.

: Holy god, that is some ... interesting cast.

: I'm telling you. You are an incomplete cultural commentator.

: This'll work. It can play into my continuing anthropological study of Tom Skerritt's face.

: Oh shit, I forgot about him. Heh. This is why I usually don't make fun of Kate Capshaw, even though she deserves it.

: I can honestly tell you ... never. Never once even heard tale of it.

: That is amazing to me. I'm old, but still.

: No, because that was the same year as Goonies, I think [edit: Err, almost.], and I sure as shit saw that. It's probably just some random Chaos Theory-like fluke.

: I had never seen Goonies until last year. Guess who yelled at me for that?

: Everybody?

: YOU.

: Me? Would I do that?

: You gave me the nonplussed "...." So go rent your ass some SpaceCamp.

: Maybe there was some rift and everybody who saw Goonies didn't see SpaceCamp and vice versa? I'm grasping here.

: My brother saw them both, so I don't know what the connection is.

: Oh, man, Netflix has the trailer. But it says if I liked Adventures in Babysitting, I'll like this one. So that works for me.

: Yeah, that's accurate, I'd say.

So it was that I was thrown into the breach with SpaceCamp. [We meet again, Tate Donovan.] I'll let you all know how it turns out.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Events Occur in Real(ly Annoying) Time

The new "nonstop" season of 24 kicks off Sunday night, the fifth season for the popular-as-ever series about counter-terrorist agents and the people who get tortured by them. I'll be watching, of course, though without the exact same enthusiasm I've had for previous seasons. 24 kind of lost me last season, for the first time ever. I'd weathered ludicrous plot twists, amnesia, cougars, Wayne Palmer, dropped characters, physics-defying ten-minute drives across Los Angeles, and Kevin Dillon; and yet it was only last season that made me toss up my hands in frustration. Maybe it was just a slow culmination of all the little things that make 24 a rather ridiculous show. Maybe it was the ultra-strident and repeated infomercials for state-sponsored torture that passed for episodes. Maybe it was because I never really understood what the bad guys wanted to do beyond fuck up Jack Bauer's day. Whatever it was, 24 became more of an annoyance than anything.

So, before the fifth season begins and some sort of government installation goes up in flames by the end of the first hour, I've got a few helpful suggestions for the show if it wants to keep this viewer happy and content. I'm so sure they're sweating losing my support. Still. My blog, my universe.

Oh, and I tried to come up with "24 Ways 24 Can Get Back on Track," but who can think of 24 things about any TV show these days? Unless we're talking "Reasons Why I Love Daniel Vosovic on Project Runway." And we're not. *Sigh*

How 24 Can Win Me Back

00:01 - Realize I'm not an idiot. Look, last we left Jack, he was a dead man. Literally. Do not test my patience by making him the new director of CTU by hour six. I realize in order to have a show Jack must re-enter the CTU universe (CTUniverse?). But seasons two and four both began with Jack existing well outside the boundaries of the federal counter-terrorism agency, and both saw him re-enter it and gradually assume more and more authority throughout the course of one day to the point where he's calling a majority of the shots. It's just not realistic, and returning to that well yet again, this time with Jack being legally dead and all, makes me think the 24 producers don't think much of my critical thinking skills. Use your creativity. Give Jack a slightly different relationship with CTU to operate out of this year. He can still bark out orders about there not being enough time. He can just do it outside the confines of that second-floor command post we've come to know so well.

00:02 - Seriously, cut it with the Rumsfeld shit. This is an ideological thing, sure. I'm against state-sponsored torture and am sickened by the current administration's arrogant use of it. But, it's not like 24 was ever this bastion of restraint. Jack Bauer has been putting the screws to interrogation subjects since day one. And, sure, it made me uncomfortable, but it worked within a morally ambivalent structure. But last season things got really strident, with scores of "it's the only way!" proclamations that were a) patently false, yet b) never acknowledged as such. Instead, we got Michelle Dessler reminding us that "Jack has been right at every turn," perhaps the most patronizing line of dialogue I've heard on television. It all culminated in the execrable plot line where "Amnesty Global" (née "International") stepped in and showed itself to be every bit the liberal bogeyman of Dick Cheney's nightmares. Yeah, it's my personal politics, but I would hope it squicks out every viewer to see torture played out right in front of them. So maybe the show could show some actual consequences of state-sponsored torture instead of the lip-service they pull, which amounts to Kiefer looking grave and some tertiary character providing the easily-trampled counterpoint. Which leads me to my next point …

00:03 - Maybe let Jack be wrong about something? I know, I know. He's your John Wayne, James Bond, Bruce Willis, and John McCain all wrapped up into one. He's Superman and he's MacGyver. But, frankly, watching Jack march on in, defy authority, hack off some limbs, rush into enemy territory, and succeed against impossible odds has gotten a bit stale. Maybe let Jack fuck up. Maybe let him fuck up huge. Then make him have to fix it. It's not the most original storyline in the world, the redemption arc, but for this character it'd be a welcome change.

00:04 - Watch it with Chloe this season. Look, I love Chloe's maladaptive ass. You know I do. And I love it when she's occasionally part of the story and not just the bitchy tech in the background. But the show really needs to tread lightly with her. We saw shades of possibly overplaying the Chloe hand last season, when she went all machine gun commando in that one episode. Yeah, it was thrilling and cathartic and a little funny. But Chloe is still a small doses character. A little of that goes a long way. Involving her too prominently in the plot dilutes the character and makes those quirks of hers that annoy her co-workers annoy us as well. Don't do that.

00:05 - Make It Personal. The ante has gotten upped in recent seasons with nuclear bombs, bioterrorism, and whatever the hell the bad guys were trying to do last season. But it was never as good as the first season's assassination plot against a character we cared about. There was an immediacy to that. Problem is, we don't care about the current 24 Prez the way we did about Palmer. But finding a central plot that the viewers will care about is kind of what the writers are getting paid for. Here's hoping they've come up with something.

00:06 - Leave the families out of it. Please. No more boring-ass time filler subplots involving family/friends of CTU agents. We don't give a rat's ass about Michelle's brother, Driscoll's daughter, Chloe's old college buddy, or Audrey's ex-husband. Y'all, we barely cared about Driscoll and Audrey. All it does is come off like the show is jogging in place while they can think of something else for Jack to do. We don't care, and we never, ever will.

00:07 - Don't bring folks back unless you mean it. Bringing Mia Kirshner back last season, apropos of nothing, was fine, because we never fully understood what Naked Mandy was about anyway. But the returns of David Palmer and Mike Novick made almost no sense, aside from viewers' apparent desire to see them again. They spent the better part of six episodes playing information-tag with the Vice-President, and it was maybe the most boring thing on TV. I guess what I'm trying to say here is: I really hope Kim Bauer has a good excuse for returning this year. And stop giving her boyfriends whose lives get ruined merely because they know her.

00:08 - Plan shit out! I never fail to be baffled by the near-annual realization that the producers of 24 don't know where their story is going. More than any show on television, 24 presents a clear season-long mandate. The producers have twenty-four episodes to tell one contained story. Their parameters are clear, and there is no threat of cancellation or a short season order hanging above their head. Twenty-four episodes that could be plotted out ahead of time with an idea toward where they're going and how they're going to get there. And every single season, they reach the point where the show meanders around waiting for the next good idea to hit. I get that it's a frustrating task for the writers, but it's even more frustrating for the viewer to realize that the ten episodes in which he's just invested himself don't really matter much, because we're going in a different direction. One clear season-long vision, dudes. It's not too much to ask.

00:09 - Failing all previous attempts at improvement, just go nuts. Okay, so if the previous eight suggestions are simply out of the realm of possibility, I humbly suggest the following: throw all questions of realism out the window and go balls out. Jack performs open-heart surgery on himself. Kim is pregnant with Tony's twins. The President's cabinet is a sleeper cell. Sherry Palmer and Nina Myers come back from the dead. Zombies. Whatever. It's one way or the other, though. Either shape up or let all sanity ship out. I'll have an easier time watching it, regardless.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

If By "Choice" You Mean "Desperate Grab for Relevance"

You all know I'm an awards show whore. But the Critics' Choice Awards on the WB was really pushing it. For one thing (and this is for those readers who aren't coming from The Film Experience and thus may not know the shameful truth about this awards show), the whole thing is a misnomer. These "Critics" represent the Broadcast Film Critics Association, which are all those crazily mustachioed dudes who get six minutes a week to plug some big studio product or another on the network morning shows. Oh, and also E! harpy Tom O'Neill, who I've heard comes flying and screeching into your window at night if you dare to speak "The Hours" three consecutive times. Not to be all snobby about it, but the general consensus is that the critics with the most gravitas behind them are print critics. So not so much the "Critics' Choice" as the "talking heads choice." Goody.

Also, the main problem with this ridiculous awards show is that it is so very disingenuous. As has been noted many a time by my fellow bloggers Nathaniel and Nick, the BFCA aren't so much interested in giving awards to the actors and films they themselves liked. They'd rather give out awards to those they think will eventually win the Oscar. That way they get to trumpet how accurate a "precursor award" they have. This attitude is present in the roughly seventy-five times reference is made to the BFCA's predictive Oscar prowess during the awards telecast. It's pretty damn lame.

So, I watched this year. But I promise you, there was nothing better on TV. Okay, Project Runway reruns were probably the more attractive option. Whatever, don't judge me. What follows is a run-down of the "high"lights:

-- Dennis Miller is hosting. Which is sure to be a delightful occurrence, since the Hollywood crowd -- with George Clooney as a ninety-time nominee or whatever -- probably can't get enough of him. And when did Dennis get so hacky? I mean, I knew that he had traded in his sense of humor back in the aftermath of 9/11 and all, but I don't remember him going for such dated and easy punch lines. He actually made a virtual reality joke. What century is this? And the "make crack look like Sanka" line? That's recycled from his HBO show in 1997, right?

Also, Dennis is bombing. Hard. He bails on the Brokeback Mountain jokes after about a half hour, because they are dropping like petrified birds. And, yeah, a sense of humor would be nice in this liberal Hollywood audience, but a) the jokes aren't funny, and b) I cannot feel that sorry for Miller. The guy turns in his funny bone so he can shill for the George Bush back in 2002, he can't exactly expect that his ragging on the gay cowboys is going to be taken in the good-natured spirit that he thinks he's intending it. Not when it comes from the other side of the fence, dude.

-- Crash wins Best Ensemble, as well as Best Screenplay, and my reaction to both makes me realize just how much I dislike that movie, in retrospect. At first I just felt it was overrated. Now I'm pissed-offedly yelling at my TV for Brendan Fraser to shut the hell up with his weird choked-up "I hope we all learned something from this movie" speech. Rotten-ass movie.

-- March of the Penguins (another overrated one) wins Best Documentary and there are fucking men dressed in penguin costumes in the audience. Are they serious? I hate this awards show.

-- Speaking of which, what kind of "critics" group gives awards for Young Actor to Freddie Highmore (over Jesse Eisenberg) and Dakota Fanning (over Q'orianka Kilcher)? You don't know who these people are, but I assure you, it's an outrage. Oh, and while we're on the subject of Dakota Fanning, if that girl is half as preternaturally evolved and mature as she projects herself to be, she needs to give Kathy Griffin a phone call as of yesterday and plan some sort of Betty Ford skit/PR stunt to diffuse the Griffin/Spielberg beef. I'd be the girl's biggest fan if she did that. Again, none of you have any idea what I'm talking about, but stick with me.

-- Amy Adams (Junebug) ties with Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain) for Best Supporting Actress, which is the only unexpected award result of the night. Williams bagged on the ceremony to stay in Australia with Heath Ledger. Good call on behalf of the former Jen Lindley. As for Adams, she's delightful, and gives an exuberant, cute, and heartfelt speech. I hope she gets an Oscar nomination.

Although, if I were in a cynical mood, I'd mention that the tie was likely a result of the fact that Supporting Actress was by far the hardest category to "forecast" with an eye toward the Oscars. Which likely led to voters flailing wildly and voting for the first or last alphabetical name on the ballot.

-- Best part of the show, bar none: John Leguizamo steps up to deliver his little scripted banter before announcing some bullshit award or another. So he gets to the part about how "The Critics Choice has awarded the eventual Oscar winner in this category x amount of times over the past however-many years" line (the latest in several similar scripted pats on the back throughout the night). So Leguizamo says it, then pauses, and goes, "This is a cocky awards show." Oh, John. I forgive you for your entire career, up to and including Land of the Dead. That was awesome.

-- For Chrissakes, Matt Dillon. Stop glowering at me. What the hell have I ever done to you?

-- Paul Giamatti looks like a recluse literary genius or something. Wild hair going in all directions. Neither he nor Phillip Seymour Hoffman wore ties. They both certainly continue to cultivate their meticulously crafted images of shlubby artisans who sacrifice traditional beauty for their art. I was happy for them both, sure, but they did seem to be playing up the "I'm so awkward in this setting full of beautiful Hollywood glitz" thing.

-- Okay, so Reese Witherspoon took Best Actress, as expected, and starts her speech off with a joke: that old saw about film critics being pasty white shut-ins who are afraid to look actors in the eye or whatever the hell the perception is. And she's cute, objectively speaking, so it's not as jerky as it sounds here in print. But then it sounds like someone starts … heckling her? At an awards show? She actually seems a bit rattled by it for three entire seconds, before she pulls herself together, turns on the charm, and finishes beautifully. What a pro. Girl has ice water in her veins.

Honestly, that's all the noteworthy crap that went on. Brokeback Mountain took Best Pic, as expected. George Clooney got some bullshit "thank you for being liberal and handsome" award (presented by a particularly braying Julia Roberts), and Virginia Madsen was maybe drunk? Because she freaked the fuck out when Paul Giamatti won Supporting Actor. Oh, and Dennis Miller was really bitter about bombing, too. Don't expect him to be back doing this shit gig again.

I, on the other hand, will see y'all at the Golden Globes, next Monday.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

To Tide You Over

Sorry about the lack of updates this week, you guys. Call it post-holiday inertia. But until I come back with an entry proper, here's a handful of thoughts:

-- Jon Stewart as Oscar host is a phenomenal idea, especially in a year with so many topical films in contention.

-- Vince Young played a phenomenal college football game in the Rose Bowl. That said, he is not a very good pro prospect. Certainly not a top 5 draft pick. Dude throws sidearm, not terribly strongly, and while he's got the jets, half the time he's just shuffling around behind his O-line until a hole opens up. No way he gets that kind of time in an NFL backfield. Yet watch the hype machine go on this guy.

-- Project Runway season 2? Living up to the season 1 hype. Nicky Hilton notwithstanding.

-- American Idol season 5 on Television Without Pity: Now with 100% more me!