Saturday, September 30, 2006

Smooth Joey Appollo's NFL Picks, Week 4

Week 3 results:

Joe: 6-8
Aaron: 7-7


Joe: 31-15
Aaron: 23-23

Arizona at Atlanta
Aaron: Mike Vick was exposed (again) last Monday once the Falcons were down by two TDs and needed their QB to lead them back. At this point, he's Kordell Stewart without the unfounded gay rumors and female genitalia. And, 'Zona QB Kurt Warner is playing worse. Pick: Atlanta

Joe: Every year with Arizona. They always seem to suck me in. Well, no more! I'm throwing my support behind...Michael Vick and the Falcons?? Oh, Christ, never mind. Pick: Arizona

Dallas at Tennessee
Aaron: Remember the opening scene of "The Last Boy Scout"? That's pretty much how I thought Terrell Owens' life would end. "Accidental overdose" was, like, 3rd or 4th on the list. Wait...did TO just force me to reference a Bruce Willis/Damon Wayans vehicle? Just one more reason to loathe him. Pick: Dallas

Joe: If TO couldn't work up the will to live with a game against the Titans on the horizon, he must really have been far gone. On a related note, should I be offended that all the TO gay rumors cropped up once he tried to kill himself? On another related note, TO's publicist reminded me of Sherry Palmer. Not only did I not believe anything she said, but I strongly suspect she engineered the overdoese herself and purchased the pills from foreign terrorists. On an unrelated note, Tennessee fuckin' sucks. Pick: Dallas

Indianapolis at N.Y. Jets
Aaron: Say what you want about Peyton Manning's mug all over the media or the team's inability to win in January...their role this week will be to shut up Jets fans who, inexplicably, now think their team is "back". Pick: Indianapolis

Joe: Amen to that, sir. The Jets last week may have been the first team to ever completely fail at running the ball, passing the ball, stopping the run, and stopping the pass and still win. Convincingly. Goddammit. Pick: Indianapolis

Miami at Houston
Aaron: The Mario Williams bashing is reaching a fever pitch and some unlucky reporter is going to say "Reggie Bush" on the wrong day, real soon. Do they let Sean Salisbury into locker rooms? Pick: Miami

Joe: You know what? No. No. Miami is an awful football team who could barely beat Tennessee at home. Houston's awful, but they've managed to score a damn touchdown. Pick: Houston

Minnesota at Buffalo
Aaron: Here in San Diego, we got the last 2 minutes of last week's Bills-Jets game. On their last-gasp possession, Bills QB JP Losman threw three terrible passes, before letting the ball slip from his hands on 4th down. I guess I'll never learn. Pick: Buffalo

Joe: I plan to continue my streak of picking against my home team until they make it worth my while not to. Even though I have absolutely no respect for the Vikings whatsoever. Pick: Minnesota

New Orleans at Carolina
Aaron: Last Monday's 'Welcome Back New Orleans' claptrap/predetermined football game was a microcosm of ESPN: Self-serving self-promotion disguised as sanctimonious social relevance. Now, THAT'S alliteration. Pick: Carolina

Joe: Predetermined claptrap or no, I really like this Saints team. Like Brees, like Reggie Bush, like its rich, Bobby Hebert-filled history. Only, could you throw the ball to Joe Horn a bit more, Drew? Please? You're killing me here. Pick: Carolina

San Diego at Baltimore
Aaron: Bet the under. Beyond that, this will be the game that officially turns on the San Diego Super Bowl buzz. Shawne Merriman will make orphans of Steve McNair's children. ("You know they DO have a mother.") Yes, but I imagine she would die of grief. Pick: San Diego

Joe: After succumbing to pressure from pretty much everyone in my life, ever, I've started to watch The Wire, which is set in Baltimore. It's what happens to you when you get killed off in Oz. You get reincarnated on The Wire. And then you start longing for the cushy confines of solitary. Why am I saying this? I dunno. I just wanted be the one to go off on a random tangent for once. Pick: San Diego

San Francisco at Kansas City
Aaron: Shout out to m'man, KC coach Herm Edwards for neutering my #1 fantasy RB, Larry Johnson. I'm told he used an Exacto knife and spoonful of Vaseline. Pick: Kansas City

Joe: You think Joe Montana looks at this game with interest as the battle between his two former teams? Or didn't either team pony up enough cash to make him care? Pick: Kansas City

Detroit at St. Louis
Aaron: I'm starting Lions' QB Jon Kitna in place of Eli Manning (bye) this week. If we all remember the "Cameron Corollary", I think we all know how that will turn out. Pick: St. Louis

Joe: I won't forgive the '06 Rams for ruining last year's fantasy sleeper Kevin Curtis and making me waive him last week. I just will not. Pick: Detroit

Cleveland at Oakland
Aaron: I am actually, seriously worried that the Raiders will not win a game this season. Head coach Art Shell won't notice. Pick: Cleveland

Joe: Picked the Browns last week and they reward me by choking away a lead. I'd totally pick against them if they were playing a football team. Pick: Cleveland

Jacksonville at Washington
Aaron: I'm torn on this one. Washington DC was where seminal '80s sitcom 227 took place, while Jacksonville...umm. Well, that settles that, then. Pick: Washington

Joe: Cam, you forget that Jacksonville was the setting of the seminal '00s comic farce, Bill Simmons bitches about a city that isn't Boston for poorly planned roadways without a hint of irony for a solid week. I know that's what I'm basing my pick on. Pick: Jacksonville

New England at Cincinnati
Aaron: I'm surprisingly getting a lot of enjoyment out of the demise of the Patriots. I mean, not 2005-06 Red Sox-demise kind of pleasure, but still a warm, "I hate all things New England" kind of joy. Pick: Cincinnati

Joe: This is why Cam's my friend, y'all. This stuff right here. Pick: Cincinnati

Seattle at Chicago
Aaron: Rex Grossman. I'm picking Rex Grossman's team this week. Maybe if I say it enough, I'll actually believe it. Pick: Chicago

Joe: Hell, I'm starting Rex Grossman for the second straight week in fantasy ball. I'm right there with you. Seattle won a shootout at home last week. Doesn't mean they can't win a defensive struggle on the road. Or...does it? Pick: Seattle

Green Bay at Philadelphia
Aaron: Whoops, I spoke too soon! Watching Brett Favre embark on a 3-13 debacle, while still getting weekly fellatio from the media is actually my favorite ongoing storyline. Who'll be the first to break rank and tell the truth about the aging and ineffective Favre? Peter King? Chris Berman? Al Michaels? Why can't I bet on this? Pick: Philadelphia

Joe: Lest you forget the ongoing sagas on the other side of the ball. You could either opt for the "Brian Westbrook gets labeled 'oft-injured' and a liability every week and every week he tops 100 total yards and 2 TDs," or "Donovan McNabb gets asked about TO's mental health and heroically represses multiple fits of giggles." Pick: Philadelphia

Thursday, September 28, 2006

What is that giant rock coming down the hill, and why are they calling it "Marty"?

You guys, this buzz for The Departed is getting scary. In a good way. Nobody seems to have any reaction aside from rabid praise, and everyone I know cannot wait to see it. This could end up being a critical darling and a box-office success story. And you know what happens to those movies. They get beat by Crash for Best Picture. No, no. Seriously. This movie could be huge.

I know I said I'd hang up the Oscar talk re: Scorsese this year, but...I don't even want to say it. I'll just advise the Dreamgirls to watch their backs and leave it at that. Could be time to revise those predictions.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Fall Movie Preview, Part 2

This is what I'm posting to keep my mind off of the words "Screech in a sex tape"

Movie: Babel (Alejandro Gonzalez Iñaritu)
High-Concept Synopsis: Tragedy connects disparate individuals, separated by language, if not georgraphy. Another day at the office for the director of 21 Grams and Amores Perros.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Schizophrenics who can follow Iñaritu's typically Byzantine storylines. Fans of Brad Pitt, who could conceivably score an Oscar nomination out of this one. Film fans eager to latch onto the presumptive critical favorite of the year.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Audiences tired of Iñaritu's soul-crushingly depressing worldview. People with a capacity for joy. Darren Aronofsky, who must be bitterly jealous that Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett pulled it together long enough to star in another movie, after they both pulled out of The Fountain.
Why I'd See It: I thought Amores Perros and 21 Grams had their problems, but also had a good number of virtues. I think Brad Pitt is capable of very interesting performances. And the critical reaction to the film has been near-universally enthusiastic.

Movie: Flags of Our Fathers (Clint Eastwood)
High-Concept Synopsis: It's the story of the men who raised the American flag in the famous photograph at Iwo Jima in World War II.
Who Will Be Seeing It: WWII and Greatest Generation junkies, who never seem to go hungry for content for very long. Viewers who enjoyed the last collaboration between screen screenwriter Paul Haggis and director Clint Eastwood, Oscar-winner Million Dollar Baby. Hot boy oglers easger to take in a cast that includes Ryan Phillippe, Jesse Bradford, Adam Beach, Paul Walker, Jamie Bell, and Barry Pepper.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Audiences tired of the fifty-billionth WWII film to hit movie screens. Audiences who were underwhelmed by the Haggis/Eastwood awardsapalooza of the last three years. Viewers horrified by the prospect of Ryan Phillippe starring in back-to-back Oscar contenders.
Why I'd See It: Much as I wish he'd pull back on the Oscarbait, I can't dislike Clint Eastwood. And I can think of worse ways to spend two hours than staring at Bell, Bradford, Walker, et al.

Movie: Infamous (Douglas McGrath)
High-Concept Synopsis: Truman Capote struggles to write his masterpiece In Cold Blood, about accused murderer Perry Smith. Uh...again. Yeah, it's essentially the same story as last year's Capote...but this time around Sigourney Weaver, Hope Davis, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Isabella Rossellini play his famous socialite friends!
Who Will Be Seeing It: Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who will caress his Best Actor Oscar in his seat, confident that Toby Jones won't be able to repeat history this year. Capote biography readers who prefer to see a movie that delves, however briefly, into all the dishy celebrity friends Truman kept (so, you know, Sarah and I). Also, Capote himself will be watching from some spiritual plane, as I don't guess he'd have much of a problem with the overkill.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Viewers who have exhausted their ability to care about the eccentric author. Gossip bloggers, too busy dealing with the latest Paris Hilton cooter-flashing to bother with a film about their patron saint. Gore Vidal, that bitter old bitch.
Why I'd See It: I'm hoping we get to delve into the Babe Paley/Slim Keith parts for more than a few glorified cameos. Plus, even with all the bad buzz about how the story is played out, no one has said it's a bad movie.

Movie: Driving Lessons (Jeremy Brock)
High-Concept Synopsis: Harry Potter's Rupert Grint comes of age as he's taken under the wing of an eccentric former actress played by Julie Walters.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Potter fans eager to see Ron Weasley step out of the Hogwarts shadow. Fans of British older-lady-teaches-adolescent-a-thing-ot-two-about-life movies. The three whole people who have ever heard of this movie before.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Potter fans weirded out by the prospect of Mrs. Weasley taking her son Ron out to pull tail. Daniel Radcliffe, who will be too busy nakedly blinding horses in London (I'm sorry...Equus, you say?). Viewers scared away by co-star Laura Linney's sketchy British accent.
Why I'd See It: The trailer looks cute and the actors are appealing. Plus, I'm eager to see what will become of the Potter kids once the movies are finished. And: Laura Linney.

Movie: Marie Antoinette (Sofia Coppola)
High-Concept Synopsis: Life in the French court of Louis XVI is nothing but a big, stupid prison for naïve little Marie Antoinette (Kirsten Dunst). '80s pop music and anachronistic drug use audaciously follows.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of Coppola's work on her earlier films, The Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation. Fans of historical perversion. Fans of Judy Davis, who -- judging by the trailer -- looks to be hammng it up fantastically.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Dunst's legions of non-fans, with whom we tend to cast our lot. Audiences who heed the buzz from Cannes, where the film was pretty well savaged. Historical purists, to whom the idea of French royalty mingling with New Order gives their hives hives.
Why I'd See It: I've very much liked Sofia Coppola's previous films, and while I'm no Dunst fan, this is the kind of movie I'm going to have to see to believe.

Movie: The Prestige (Christopher Nolan)
High-Concept Synopsis: Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale are rival magicians in olden times. Watch them kiss girls and make things disappear!
Who Will Be Seeing It: With Jackman and Bale front and center, I think we can safely say "fans of man" will be in line. And I don't mean it like Pacino does in The Devil's Advocate. Or do I? Also: "Mindfreak" Criss Angel, drawn in by the subject matter, and a good sport about this kind of thing. And David Bowie fans, psyched to see the Goblin King back on screen.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Comic book fanboys mortified to see Wolverine and Batman playing sissy magicians. David Blaine, "Street Magician," who will most definitely not be a good sport about this kind of thing. And conscientious objectors to the edict that Scarlett Johansson must be in everything this fall.
Why I'd See It: Magicians? So hot right now. Plus the casting is insane, Christopher Nolan knows his way around a camera, and the trailer makes it look like a thriller not to be missed. That's some good marketing.

Movie: Catch a Fire (Phillip Noyce)
High-Concept Synopsis: We follow the making of a South African freedom fighter in the guise of Friday Night Lights' Derek Luke.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of political drama. Fans of Luke, who has continued to show great promise without that one great role to hang his hat on. Fans of serious movies, whose only other option that weekend is Saw III.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Racist white devils and/or fans of Saw III. Filmgoers whose "three strikes" policy on Tim Robbins has already been invoked after Mystic River, War of the Worlds, and Zathura.
Why I'd See It: I do enjoy a good political drama, and this one seems to have a little more heft to it that Edward Zwick's also Africa-related Blood Diamond.

Movie: Running With Scissors (Ryan Murphy)
High-Concept Synopsis: Augusten Burroughs is abandoned by his father to a fucked-up mother who in turn gives him up to her psychologist and his fucked-up family. The book is quite funny, naturally.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of the book, whose possible fears for the adaptation were allayed by how fantastic stars Joseph Cross, Annette Bening, Brian Cox, and Alec Baldwin look in the trailer. Fans of Murphy, who has delivered "compellingly fucked" quite well with TV series Nip/Tuck and Popular. Bening freaks who think this might be the Oscar movie.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Fans of the book who are less encouraged by some of the less-fitting casting choices like Gwyneth Paltrow, Joseph Feinnes, and Evan Rachel Wood. Nip/Tuck regulars still pissed about that Rhona-Mitra-is-the-Carver stuff. James Frey, who has got to be pissed at Burroughs for not only avoiding the Oprah-slap, but getting a big studio movie deal out of his fake-ass memoir.
Why I'd See It: The book is one of the funniest things I've ever read. I still think it's a tightrope act to make a movie about it, but Joseph Cross -- the absolute lynchpin of this movie; if he doesn't work, nothing will -- looks really great in the trailer. I'm hopeful. Plus, I think Ryan Murphy's great and I want him to succeed.

Movie: Volver (Pedro Almodovar)
High-Concept Synopsis: According to the press release: "Volver is a meeting of Mildred Pierce and Arsenic and Old Lace..." which we would claim to be the gayest sentence ever if we weren't already talking about Almodovar here. Penelope Cruz and Carmen Maura star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Pedro's numerous and none-too-quiet partisans. Cineastes looking to follow the buzz out of Cannes and Toronto, both of which seemed to love it, and Cruz in particular. The two people who haven't given up on our Penelope yet.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Moviegoers frightened by the devil sounds of a foreign language. Those who remain fierce Penelope Cruz agnostics. Tom Cruise, who was turned off by the "fakeness" of Penelope's relationship with Matthew McConaughey.
Why I'd See It: It's supposed to be excellent. Though -- don't tell Nathaniel -- I haven't seen anything by Almodovar other than Bad Education. Which, in all fairness, I thought was superb.

Movie: Stranger Than Fiction (Marc Forster)
High-Concept Synopsis: Emma Thompson is a writer, struggling with how to kill off her main character. Will Ferrell is that character, only he's real, and he can hear Emma narrating the events of is life.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of Charlie Kaufman-esque reality bending. Emma Thompson fans, eager to take anything they can get from her. Audiences receptive to the hype surrounding Zach Helm's supposedly-brilliant screenplay.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Forster non-fans not ready to drop the whole Finding Neverland thing. Blocked writers, pissed off to see one more possible idea get taken off the market. Jim Carrey, who used to get the kind of role Ferrell nabbed here.
Why I'd See It: If the script is half as awesome as it's supposed to be, it should be a can't-miss movie. Plus, dudes, Emma Thompson. How often does she get to play something cool these days?

Previously: Fall Preview, part 1

Monday, September 25, 2006

Mutual of Buffalo's Wild Kingdom

Get home from the movies.

Flip open the computer, check email.

No death threats for not giving Studio 60 an "A". Good news.

Turn on iPod. Continue to ravage the Hedwig soundtrack and covers album.

Start to write a blog entry about immature boy movies and the cuties who co-star in them.

Turn my head to the right, for no practical reason at all.

See squirrel twitch its way across my kitchen floor.

Look back at my computer.

Check to make sure I'm not dreaming, as this is an actual nightmare I've had. Many, many times. Squirrels in the house.

Not a dream. Squirrel in the house. Just...there.

Book out of the living room so fast, wantonly disregarding the welfare of my iPod (thanks be to god we're in the carpeted room).

Slam the door of my bedroom shut.

Realize I left my phone in living room.

Yell. Loudly.

So, yeah. There was a squirrel in my house. Where squirrels don't belong. We've been having remodeling done on the bathroom downstairs and the workers -- despite being told several times -- have insisted on propping the doors open pretty much all day. My main fear was that a bee would fly in, wait until I fell asleep, and sting me on my eyeball. I have such a thing about bees. Those are the nightmares I have when it's not squirrels.

The next half-hour included: yelling; door-slamming; quarantining the offending beast in my sister's room, where it could safely hide beneath the mountains of laundry; phoning my cousin the dispatcher to see if they could spare us a they could shoot the damn thing, I don't know; calling the rodent control guy (yeah...proud day for the Reid siblings) and getting his voicemail; calling Tara to apologize for cutting her off on IM, then answering no less than three times that, yes, I said "squirrel in my house"; considering opening the bedroom door and chasing the little critter out with a mop; recalling that scene from Christmas Vacation where the squirrel flies out the Christmas tree and latches onto Chevy Chase's face; thinking better of it; hanging halfway out my own bedroom window, trying to puncture a hole in the screen of Squirrel Room's window, hoping it'll just leave on its own; seeing my Dad try to climb out a tiny window and onto the roof; arguing over whether my sister -- if she made it onto the roof -- would get spooked by the beast, lose her footing, and fall to her death; a heated debate over whether she actually saw the squirrel scamper out the window and back into nature where it belongs, or if she was just hoping she did; scouring the apartment several times to see if Rocky there bit into anything with its dirty rabies teeth; and the every-hour-on-the-hour recurrence of the hibbity-jibbities, because there was a squirrel in my house!

Here's the deal, nature: STAY ON YOUR SIDE! I'll take the part with the linoleum and laptops and plumbing and microwave ovens. You take the part with grass and rain and birds and shitting on the ground. There's way more of it for you than there is for me. You get, for example, the entire ocean! I only get my house. Please allow me to keep that without having to resort to sleeping with a tennis racket in my hand. Because I will Sharapova your ass so fast, I swear to god. Grrr, nature! One of these days!

Slightly Extended Movie Thoughts

You know, in retrospect, it was probably not such a good idea to see The Last Kiss and Trust the Man back-to-back like that. Seperately, they're not so bad. Nothing too special, and certainly nothing I haven's seen a billion times before, but there are enough good elements to make them worthwhile. But back-to-back...I am officially burnt out on twenty-to-thirtysomething male angst. I'm spent on fear of commitment and babies. I've reached the end of my rope with regard to shallow affairs with female ciphers. I'm sure it's a fascinating subject, the complex process where immature young(ish) men get freaked out by marriage and babies and go fuck younger, more-sexually-charged-yet-still-not-worthy-of-respect women. I've just reached my limit. Not even Billy Crudup -- I know, I was shocked too -- could make me truly care about it. I need to build up a reserve of giving-a-shit before I embark upon another one. Fairly warned, Nick Hornby: keep your distance for a bit. I want to keep liking you.

Maybe the most irritating thing about The Last Kiss was that Rachel Bilson is -- in my opinion, at least -- one of the most purely likeable personalities on screen today. She single-handedly made me attempt to try and watch The O.C. a few times. And this movie just pisses it all away by making her an unrepentant home-wrecker without a single redeemable quality. Unbelievable. The worst thing about Trust the Man, of course, is David Duchovny, but you knew that. He's like the polar opposite of Rachel Bilson, in terms of likeability. And he's all the worse in this movie because Billy Crudup and Maggie Gyllenhaal are working their asses off, and Julianne Moore gets to do her Julianne Moore thing in a few scenes, and fucking Duchovny is just standing there smarming. Hate him.

Of course, there were bright spots. I totally lied a couple paragraphs back, Crudup is adorable and worth the price of a ticket if you enjoy him like I do. The bright side for The Last Kiss? Eric Christian Olsen's hair looks fabulous. Like, shampoo commercial fabulous. And he's fucking fine besides, and he's naked as a jaybird for half the movie. This is the kind of thing they should be advertising. "Zach Braff. Jacinda Barrett. Eric Christian Olsen's fine behind." My mystifying lack of employment in a major studio's marketing department continues...

Sunday, September 24, 2006

New Recap: Studio 60

Danny's at the table, too, and we immediately get the sense that he's the "make sure you don't get us into a bar brawl or a cop car" half of their heterosexual life-partnership. Come on, we've seen an Aaron Sorkin show before. We already know they're heterosexual life-partners.
So they let me recap a respectable show this time! Stop by for all the showy dialogue and (self?)important storylines, starting this week with recap 1.1, "Crack Pipe Clicker."

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Smooth Joey Apollo's NFL Picks: Week 3

Last week was a pretty successful one for Aaron and I, though an unbelievable Giants comeback and a sage call on the Niners game (if you'll allow me to A-Rod my way into a self-compliment) gave me the edge. This week, a lot of road favorites and a lot of ugly-looking games litter the schedule. And no making fun of the Raiders, as they've got a bye week during which they will debate whether Kelly Stouffer or Andre Ware would make a better starting QB.

Week 2 results:

Joe - 12-4
Aaron - 10-6


Joe - 25-7
Aaron - 16-16

Carolina at Tampa Bay
Aaron: How many more embarassing losses can Bucs QB Chris Simms endure before his Hall of Fame father, Phil, throws him out of the family? (With a perfect spiral, no less.) Pick: Carolina

Joe: Phil's too busy becoming ever-more-irritating as a color commentator. He's no Bob Trumpy yet, but he's approaching Brent Jones territory. Pick: Carolina

Chicago at Minnesota
Aaron: When did Bears QB Rex Grossman become the second coming of Jim Kelly? And, I don't mean the Black guy who played 'Black Belt Jones' back in '73. Although, they're both kicking equal amounts of day player ass. Uh oh, Vikings! Pick: Chicago

Joe: Rex is gonna have to win a lot more games and become a lot more philandering to approach Jim Kelly. Once again, the Vikings look awful and are winning. I worry about their home field advantage here, though. Still. Pick: Chicago

Cincinnati at Pittsburgh
Aaron: When a professional sports team wins a championship, the cycle goes like this: Non-fans of the team are happy for the notable players who finally won "the big one" (former PIT RB Jerome Bettis). Then, we become sick of the team as ESPN beats us over the head with the hype stick and films it all with that blurry-soft focus camera that 20/20 uses to make Diane Sawyer look under 100. Pick: Cincinnati

Joe: So if the Yankees win the World Series this year, everyone's gonna be happy for A-Rod for finally winning "the big one"? Sweet! I actually love the Bengals in this game, but I hate picking so many road teams so far. Pick: Pittsburgh

Green Bay at Detroit
Aaron: Here's how far Packers QB Brett Favre has fallen: SI's Peter King is picking against him this week. For you non-football fans, that's like Joe Reid declaring aloud, "Maybe I've been too hard on Tom Cruise." Pick: Detroit

Joe: If I say Brett Favre's eventual 2-14 career-ending season is going to be pathetic to witness, do you think James Brown is gonna break in from the CBS game center in New York and chastise me for being too eager to bury Favre's career? Even if I promise to say ten "Hail Lambeaus" before I go to bed? Pick: Detroit

Jacksonville at Indianapolis
Aaron: According to my calendar, we're at least 3 1/2, maybe 4 months away from the Colts losing a game that everyone thinks they'll win. Pick: Indianapolis

Joe: It's LaDanian Tomlinson's week off, so my fantasy football team is depending on a backfield of Jacksonville's Fred Taylor and Indy's Joseph Addai. Good thing Peyton Manning is known for running a good ground game. Pick: Indianapolis

N.Y. Jets at Buffalo
Aaron: Look who finally gets a home game! And with only three more weeks of of upstate New York's "summer/fall" season, before eight months of winter kicks in. Lousy "Smarch" weather. [Editor's note: In all the time I've known him, Cam has made that very joke 13,482 times. That's what I call dedication.] Pick: Buffalo

Joe: Make no mistake, last week's win was 80% Miami being a sucky team and 20% Buffalo having a good defense. I'm optimistic, sure, but I'm not sold yet. And I'd rather take a hit here and be pleasantly surprised than the other way around. Pick: NY Jets

Tennessee at Miami
Aaron: The Titans take advantage of the Raiders' bye and assume the mantle of "most unwatchably awful team" this week. Do us proud, guys. Pick: Miami

Joe: If this is the CBS game in your market, I'd seriously consider watching one of those Victoria Principal infomercials that get run as counterprogramming on the NBC affiliates. Pick: Miami

Washington at Houston
Aaron: Saturday morning, I watched that "gambling experts" show that airs on USA Network (and features several angry Italians yelling at the camera). One of 'em said the Texans "might win outright". I'm pretty sure it was Joe Pesci. Pick: Houston

Joe: Dammit, Aaron. This was where I was gonna put some distance between you and I this week. Pick: Houston

Baltimore at Cleveland
Aaron: I'm told that "highlights" of this game will be shown all hell. I bet Mrs. Arthur, my late sixth-grade english teacher, is wishing she hadn't left me off the Academics Olympics team, now! True story. Pick: Baltimore

Joe: "Mrs. Athur"? Is that where your life-long fear of Dorothy Zbornak comes from? Baltimore has beaten the hell out of two of the worst teams in football the first two weeks. Cleveland is bad, but they're not '"Okaland/Tampa" bad. Upset special. Pick: Cleveland

N.Y. Giants at Seattle
Aaron: The Eli Manning-to-Amani Toomer connection helped me win my fantasy league this week, but cost me a win vs. Smokin' Joe Reid. This phenomenon is called the "prognosticator's conundrum". If it had subtitles, Reid might have previewed it for his 100,000-word fall movie feature. Pick: NY Giants

Joe: According to ESPN's Bill Simmons, Eli Manning is not, despite ample evidence to the contrary, a clutch QB who is dangerous as hell in a 2-minute drill. He's just lucky. You know, just like David Ortiz. Pick: NY Giants

Philadelphia at San Francisco
Aaron: The more that Donovan McNabb wins, the more of those damn Campbell's Chunky Soup commericals get made. Think of all that sodium, McNabb. You and your mom are killing this country! Pick: Philadelphia

Joe: The halftime show will consist of both teams' front offices meeting at the 50 yard line and talking shit about Terrell Owens. In other news, Frank Gore is making me really like the Niners as a dangerous team at home. Pick: San Francisco

St. Louis at Arizona
Aaron: Anyone know if Cards QB Kurt Warner and his little boy-wife are still married? She's the reason why all pro athletes should only marry unblemished former strippers named "Desire", "Cinnamon" or "Anna Benson". Pick: Arizona

Joe: I like your train of thought, Cam. Mostly because it makes me envision Kurt and Brenda Warner inviting Matt Leinart and Paris Hilton over for dinner as the walls start to bleed from holy/heathen contrast. Pick: Arizona

Denver at New England
Aaron: Set your DVRs (and for Joe, your VCR). It's NBC's first Sunday Night "Tom Brady Can Have my Baby" love-in. Past Super Bowl highlights, shots of his "loving" parents and "beautiful" girlfriend in the stands and, if we're lucky, a mention that Brady was once a sixth-round draft pick. Come on calendar! Hurry up and be Sunday night, already! Pick: New England

Joe: I'm trying to remember when Tom Brady went from "likeable underdog" to "insufferable Boston man-god." I think it was the first time he went for the "we don't get any respect" gambit. Pick: New England

Atlanta at New Orleans
Aaron: Did I read that U2 and Green Day are performing at the Superdome to celebrate the Saints return to New Orleans? Did no one run this by bayou rappers Lil' Wayne, Mannie Fresh and The Cash Money Millionaires? Someone's getting stabbed for this. Pick: Atlanta

Joe: I'm really starting to dislike this whole "Monday night as an afterthought" thing. I mean, I've gotta watch Studio 60, so it will usually help me out, but this week I've got Brees and Horn in fantasy ball. My concentration will be divided! Pick: New Orleans

Friday, September 22, 2006

Fall Movie Preview, Part 1

I did this last year, four parts in four days. That's...not going to happen this year. Still doing it in four parts, but it's going to take longer than four days to finish. On the bright side, I'm not waiting 'til mid-October to preview fall movies this time! And thanks to for being my go-to spot for upcoming movies.

Movie: All the King's Men (Steve Zaillian)
High-Concept Synopsis: As we said last year, when this was supposed to open, "Sean Penn plays a southern political demagogue, with Jude Law as his reluctant accomplice/enabler. Kate Winslet, Anthony Hopkins, Patricia Clarkson, James Gandolfini, and Mark Ruffalo co-star."
Who Will Be Seeing It: Film aficionados eager to get the serious movie season underway. Sean Penn's "Surly Man" fan club. Political filmgoers eager to see some deceit and power-mongering in their public officials, for a change.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Audiences scared off by the whole "pushed back from '05" thing. Die-hard partisans of the 1949 original. Chris Rock.
Why I'd See It: The phenomenal cast, for one thing. A capable director. And all the southern-fried Sean Penn I can handle. Yeah!

Movie: The Black Dahlia (Brian DePalma)
High-Concept Synopsis: Josh Hartnett and Aaron Eckhart are hard-boiled cops in the hard-boiled 1940s, investigating the historic Black Dahlia murder. Femmes both fatale (Hilary Swank) and not-so-much (Scarlett Johansson) are somehow involved.
Who Will Be Seeing It: DePalma fans hoping for a little less Mission to Mars and a little more...whatever DePalma movie is considered his best and not a polarizing love-it-or-hate-it affair. L.A. Confidential fans eager to see another James Ellroy novel make it to the big screen. The Hilary Swank Society for "Oh, One More Oscar Can't Hurt, Can It?"
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: The Society for "Come The Fuck On -- Josh Hartnett as a Cop? Again?" People looking to see a movie this fall without Scarlett Johansson in it...who will then go home and watch Grey's Anatomy once they realize there aren't any. Nathaniel
Why I'd See It: DePalma's hit-or-miss, but I have to believe the subject matter here is better than it was in Snake Eyes.He's a good fit for the ultra-noir story.

Movie: Sherrybaby (Laurie Collyer)
High-Concept Synopsis: Maggie Gyllenhaal is an ex-junkie ex-con trying to regain a relationship with her daughter.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Indie movie fans who have paid attention to the loud buzz accumulating for the film, and for Gyllenhaal's performance, in particular. Heroin addicts looking for a dark, quiet space to wallow in their smack haze. Independent Spirit Awards voters.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Will Smith, who has his own "single parent struggling to make a better life for his kid" movie coming out this fall. Frances Bean Cobain, for whom this movie hits way too close to home. Maggie's seethingly jealous brother Jake. Oscar nominations were supposed to be his thing!
Why I'd See It: The trailer looks very, very good, and Maggie in particular looks to be on fire. Not literally. At least not that I've seen.

Movie: The Last Kiss (Tony Goldwyn)
High-Concept Synopsis: Zach Braff tries to come to grips with his life and meets a beguiling brunette. BUT, unlike Garden State, in this one he's already married to another beguiling brunette. Plus this one's got Casey Affleck and a script by Crash's Paul Haggis.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of Braff from either Garden State or his fine work on Scrubs. Aesthetes eager to take in the rather attractive supporting cast, which include Rachel Bilson, Jacinda Barrett, and Eric Christian Olsen. Suits at NBC hoping Braff leaves TV for film so they won't have to catch all the heat for cancelling Scrubs, because you know they want to.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: People who didn't like Garden State and who see the similarities between that film and this one. People who still haven't forgiven Tony Goldwyn for putting the moves on dead Patrick Swayze's wife in Ghost. Jacinda Barrett's fellow Real World alumnae, who are probably too busy tending bar or degrading themselves in Challenges to go to the movies.
Why I'd See It: I liked Garden State, I like Zach Braff, and I think Rachel Bilson is adorable. Why wouldn't I? Oh, right. Paul Haggis.

Movie: The Science of Sleep (Michel Gondry)
High-Concept Synopsis: Gael Garcia Bernal has a very vivid dreamlife, which begins to bleed into his relatively ordinary France? ...I think?
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of Gondry's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind who nonetheless thought that movie could have stood to be "a bit weirder." Fans of Bernal willing to look past the fact that he seems to be wearing clothes quite a bit in this movie. Somnambulists. And that's not even an insult.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Fans of linear, no-guff movies that don't require stupid thinking. Fans of intelligent, layered storytelling, but the kind that doesn't have characters speaking stupid French. Dream-less sleepers.
Why I'd See It: It looks more cerebral than Eternal Sunshine, but Bernal is so likeable, he might be all the pull I need.

Movie: The Queen (Stephen Frears)
High-Concept Synopsis: Helen Mirren plays Queen Elizabeth II as she struggles mightily to contain her glee at the death of Princess Diana in 1997.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Royal family sycophants and hangers-on. Fans of Helen Mirren, hoping her much-buzzed performance here gives her another chance to take an awards-show stage and bellow "ass-over-tit!" so loud the Lord himself blushes. Fellow Diana-haters.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Elton John. Parents Television Council head-pearl-clutcher Brent Bozell, who will be too busy getting the vapors over Vivica Fox showing too much thigh on Dancing with the Stars. to deal with that vulgar Helen Mirren. Prince Harry, who plans on being too stoned to care about a movie version of his grandmum.
Why I'd See It: It's supposed to be excellent, and Mirren in particular is said to be Oscar-worthy. Plus, I love the Queen's central message in the movie, which appears to be, "I don't know what all the fuss is about."

Movie: The Last King of Scotland (Kevin MacDonald)
High-Concept Synopsis: A young Scottish doctor goes on a medical mission to Uganda, where he becomes the pet physician of murderous dictator Idi Amin.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of Forest Whitaker, whose performance as Amin has been drawing big-time Oscar buzz. Fans of James MacAvoy (The Chronicles of Narnia), who plays the conflicted Scotsman. And...uh...this guy's from Uganda. Maybe he'd be interested.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Fidel Castro. Saddam Hussein. George W. Bu--, I mean...uh...Mao.
Why I'd See It: I've been talking up this film -- and Whitaker in particular -- for Oscar since the spring, so needless to say I feel justified. Also, I've been a fan of James MacAvoy from Children of Dune, okay. Nobody deserves to enjoy this movie's success more than me!! Nobody!!

Movie: Shortbus (John Cameron Mitchell)
High-Concept Synopsis: Love and sex and loneliness and sex and art and sex and politics and sex and sex and sex all converge in John Cameron Mitchell's said-to-be-phenomenal follow-up to Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Grandmothers and prudes, clearly. No, for real, let's all just hope that those of us who really do want to see it won't have our theatrical experience infringed upon by those looking to have a public wank, eh?
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Grandmothers and prudes. And people turned off by the blurb that says Shortbus "plays like Woody Allen's Manhattan with money shots." Personally, I think Manhattan could have used some money shots.
Why I'd See It: John Cameron Mitchell is such a ridiculously likeable personality, you want to do everything you can to see him succeed. Plus, who doesn't like sex? Plus, the trailer makes it look seriously good. I'm just nervous about that whole people-wanking-in-the-theater thing. I have a delicate constitution.

Movie: The Departed (Martin Scorsese)
High-Concept Synopsis: Leonardo DiCaprio is a cop undercover as a mobster. Matt Damon is a mobster undercover as a cop. Lenny and Squiggy live down the hall. No, no. That's not right. But Jack Nicholson is the mob boss that ties it all together, which is the next best thing.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Scorsese fans eager to see the director return to his Mean Streets form. Audiences who enjoy this film's strategy of loading up on past-and-present leading men (DiCaprio, Damon, Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, and Alec Baldwin). Irish Americans excited that Scorsese is making them look like the bad-ass criminals for once.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Scorsese-haters (AKA, Academy Awards voters). Robert DeNiro, who's gotta feel a little resentful that DiCaprio has replaced him as Marty's go-to guy. Lenny and Squiggy, who feel like they could carry a movie, now that we mention it, and are bitter that they haven't been given a chance.
Why I'd See It: I haven't seen a Scorsese film with this much apparent life in it in quite some time. The cast is superb, and the trailer looks excellent. That's, like, all the ingredients right there.

Movie: Little Children (Todd Field)
High-Concept Synopsis: Patrick Wilson and Jennifer Connelly are married parents in the suburbs. He starts having an affair with single mom Kate Winslet. And somewhere in there, the kid who played Kelly Leak in The Bad News Bears is playing a child molester. Sounds like Oscar season to me!
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of suburban pain and angst -- holla! Angels in America fans who know that Patrick Wilson is in his element when he's having sex with someone he thinks he shouldn't. Fans of the source material, Election author Tom Perrotta's novel.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: People tired of suburban angst and pain (...holla!). People who still haven't forgiven Connelly for that awful Oscar acceptance speech. Bad News Bears alum Tatum O'Neal, who feels she could have played a convincing child molester, too.
Why I'd See It: Todd Field's In the Bedroom was quite good, and I absolutely love the three leads here. What's a little molestation compared to Kate Winslet and Patrick Wilson?

Coming soon: part 2!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Smooth Joey Apollo's NFL Picks: Week 2

I think we can all consider last week a raging success for the NFL picks. 13-3! We haven't seen numbers that good in Buffalo since Bill Clinton was running for President. As for Aaron, well, we should probably cut him some slack. He's spent all week trying to figure out how to poison Al Davis in his sleep. 6-10 doesn't seem so bad in that light.

On to the picks!

Buffalo at Miami
Aaron: I'm convinced that Daunte Culpepper and head coach Nick Saban threw the opener against Pittsburgh. 200 viewings of Shaq and Nick Nolte in "Blue Chips" taught me how to find when the fix is in. Sadly, no one can find Anfernee 'Penny' Hardaway. Pick: Miami

Joe: I'm not sure whether to be happy to learn that the Bills will at least be competitive in the games they lose or depressed that I'll have my heart ripped out of my chest each and every week. Eh. At least Culpepper ain't on my fantasy team anymore. Pick: Miami

Carolina at Minnesota
Aaron: Well, the Panthers looked horrible against a mediocre Falcons team, while the Vikes won their opener. Is it too late for Carolina to re-sign imprisoned WR Rae Carruth and have him kill Minnesota QB Brad Johnson? Let's hope not.
Pick: Carolina

Joe: Wow. Making the "felonious players" joke and not opting for a Vikings sex boat joke. That's dedication to the craft, Cameron. I like it. Pick: Carolina

Cleveland at Cincinnati
Aaron: For you non-football fans, the last time Cincinnati was *this* good was back in the late '80s. A young Joe Reid's grassroots six-year letter writing campaign to return Sarah Jessica Parker's sitcom "Square Pegs" back to prime time had ended, much to his awkward teen dismay. (He'd be appeased years later when the show was brought back as "Freaks and Geeks".)
Pick: Cincinnati

Joe: I think it's awfully big of me to have forgiven the Bengals for beating the Bills in the 1988 AFC championship game. And to have forgiven Sarah Jessica for growing from a sweet little nerd into a horse-faced fornicator. Pick: Cincinnati

Detroit at Chicago
Aaron: Can anyone explain that new Nike ad campaign where Brian Urlacher and other NFL stars play as a high school team coached by 106-year-old hobbit, Don Shula?
Pick: Chicago

Joe: 106 is actually fairly young and spry for a hobbit. Except in Shula's case. That man looked elderly as a teenager. God, I hate that man. What were we talking about? Pick: Chicago

Houston at Indianapolis
Aaron: After last Sunday night's Indy v. NYG game, I think I speak for America when I say "get all these Mannings off my goddam TV, please". Houston...go for his knees.
Pick: Indianapolis

Joe: I can deal with most of the Manning content, just not the one where he's sporting the Dirty Sanchez mustache. Pick: Indianapolis

New Orleans at Green Bay
Aaron: I'm seven games down after just one week of pickin'. And, that's *after* picking correctly against Brett Farve. Well, let's rectify that wisdom quick, fast and in a hurry!
Pick: Green Bay

Joe: Aaron and I keep picking the same teams! That needs to change. And what better time to do so than when he picks the worst team in the league? Err...second-worst team. Sorry, Cam. Pick: New Orleans

NY Giants at Philadelphia
Aaron: Wow. New York/New Jersey fans vs. Philly fans. When the men are all dead at 44 from simultaneous massive coronaries ("you can't eat bacon at every meal") who'll be left to herd their women?
Pick: Philadelphia

Joe: Oh, go back to Whole Foods and chew on a root vegetable, San Diego. Pick: NY Giants

Oakland at Baltimore
Aaron: Last week, the Raiders lost, 27-0. Last week, the Ravens won, 27-0. Just a hunch, but I think Baltimore will cover the spread here.
Pick: Baltimore

Joe: Jerry Porter might not want to pay attention to this one either. Pick: Baltimore

Tampa Bay at Atlanta
Aaron: Bucs head coach Jon Gruden looks about 5'1", with freckles and a most non-threatening aura. Remind anyone else of a late-teens Ricky Schroeder towards the end of his "Silver Spoons" run? I wouldn't bet against him, either.
Pick: Tampa Bay

Joe: It's good to see Michael Vick has sufficiently lowered expectations for himself that one good game is cause for celebration. Only took, what, five years? Pick: Atlanta

Arizona at Seattle
Aaron: The Seahawks contributed to one of my MANY heartbreaking down-to-wire losses last week with a last second game-winning FG. This week, I'm picking them, which means 'Zona QB Matt Leinart will come off the bench and throw 8 TDs, while impregnating two visiting cheerleaders.
Pick: Seattle

Joe: Sorry, Cam. I already made the Leinart paternity joke last week. Feel free to try again with a crack about how many STDs he's picked up from Paris Hilton. Pick: Arizona (upset special!)

St. Louis at San Francisco
Aaron: The Rams actually have players named "Oshiomogho", "La'Roi" and "Jerametrius" on their roster. Can I be the only one who'd kill to see Joe choose one of these names for his first born son?
Pick: St. Louis

Joe: Nice try, Cam. I slept in on this fine Sunday morning. I'd rather things stay that way. No first-borns for me. Pick: San Francisco (upset special #2!)

Kansas City at Denver
Aaron: Just a quick shout out to ESPN for showing Chiefs QB Trent Green's head bouncing off the turf from 800 different angles last weekend. They say he'll only miss two weeks, which, if he were a TV show, would mean he's "on hiatus for re-tooling". And just as likely to ever return.
Pick: Denver

Joe: Hey, wasn't this Larry Johnson guy supposed to be this statistical bonanza? From this angle, I'm wondering if Chiefs fans are still longing for the glory days of Christian Okoye. Lord knows I am. Pick: Denver

New England at NY Jets
Aaron: Tom Brady goes off, while SI's Peter King and ESPN's Bill Simmons experience the serendipity of simultaneous orgasm.
Pick: New England

Joe: After seeing the size and shape of Simmons's head on The Colbert Report, I'm just happy the guy will get to experience an orgasm of any kind. I never thought anyone would be able to wrest the Hey, Arnold Football Head mantle away from Frankie Muniz, but here we are. Pick: New England

Tennessee at San Diego
Aaron: As a Raider fan living in San Diego, the past six days have felt like high school all over again. Clueless, beautiful people mocking and teasing me. Except this time, it's for my football team and not my faded, washed-too-many-times "Don't Worry, Be Happy" t-shirt
Pick: San Diego

Joe: Man, no wonder you eventually ran to Snoop to recover your musical cred. I'm almost ready to start pimping Phillip Rivers as the next superstar QB. Almost. Pick: San Diego

Washington at Dallas
Aaron: Cowboys QB Drew Bledsoe is another one who single-handedly cost me a win last week. My list of NFL enemies is getting to be "Nixon-esque", but I've gotta have at least one game where I go against every fiber in my being and pick the team I KNOW is going to lose.
Pick: Dallas

Joe: Welcome to the "hearts broken by Drew Bledsoe" club. We now have a population larger than several Caribbean islands. Pick: Dallas

Pittsburgh at Jacksonville
Aaron: I'd like to point out that starting at 10:15PM on September 11, I'm undefeated in my Monday night picks.
Pick: Jacksonville

Joe: That's some good hair-splitting, my friend. Some very good hair-splitting. I'm gonna ride Fast Willie Parker as far as he'll take me. Oh, and speaking of the Monday night game, count me among the thousands who vastly preferred Dick Vermeil in the announcing booth to almost any other color man in the business. How does Joe Theisman sleep at night? With horrible nightmares of Lawrence Taylor, no doubt. Pick: Pittsburgh

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Aw, Cool!

Did you guys see ABC Family will be rerunning Everwood episodes starting in October? I'm a big dork. This makes me very happy. I still feel somewhat guilty for abandoning the show in what turned out to be its final season. This is why you don't change time slots, networks!

Anyway, it's good news. And if you thought this entire post was one big excuse to post this pic of Everwood creator/my fake boyfriend Greg Berlanti, well...

(I felt like trailing off was the best course of action there.)

Beyond Actress-dome: The Finals!

64 women enter. One woman leaves.

A few words on the criteria: I'm only taking into account performances from the past ten years (1996 and onward). Film and television performances count. Match-ups will be judged on the following merits: (1) number of performances I've enjoyed (sheer quantity); (2) whose singular best performance is the greatest (quality); (3) if I had an Oscar ballot, how many nominations would the actress have received since '96 (fake Oscars); (4) if both actresses have co-starred in a film, who gave the better performance (spotlights stolen); and (5) who would win in a physical brawl between the two (girlfight factor).



In McDormand's corner:
Fargo, Primal Fear, Wonder Boys, Almost Famous, The Man Who Wasn't There, Laurel Canyon, Something's Gotta Give, North Country, Friends With Money.

In Allen's corner:
The Crucible, The Ice Storm, Pleasantville, The Contender, The Bourne Supremacy, The Upside of Anger.

Edge: McDormand


In McDormand's corner:
Marge Gunderson -- amiable small town sheriff with a strong moral backbone in the Coen brothers' Fargo. The impact of the role in the movie landscape is almost unarguable, and I've already covered that aspect. How about just recognizing what a lived-in, warm, hilariously funny performance it is? And she makes it look effortless, which is maybe the biggest accomplishment of them all. I'm still -- still -- baffled that this won the Oscar. This kind of performance NEVER win the Oscar.

In Allen's corner:
With all the hoopla over writing this entry and then erasing it (ARRRGH!), I can't remember if what I'm about to say here has already been But anyway, here's the thing: by the time 2005 began, we all knew Joan Allen was a great actress. We'd even describe her as "versatile." Thing was, we didn't know what "versatile" meant with regard to Joan Allen until she stepped on the screen as boozy, furious, abandoned wife Terry Wolfmeyer in Mike Binder's The Upside of Anger. Because, once we got to thinking about it, we realized Joan Allen never did comedy. Ever. That her first stab and something overtly funny was such a master class in timing, body language, and lack of self-conciousness would have made headlines for other actresses. In Joan Allen's case, we just...figured she could. And boy, did she.

Edge: Tough call, but I have to give this one to McDormand. The skill level is a little bit higher.

Fake Oscar Nods:

McDormand: 3 (Fargo; Almost Famous; The Man Who Wasn't There).

Allen: 4 (The Upside of Anger; The Contender; Pleasantville; The Crucible).

Edge: Allen

Reader vote: Frances McDormand took the Low Res reader vote. It's like the People's Choice Award, except it means something and has good taste.

Girlfight Factor: It may be all over but the shouting, but that doesn't mean that the non-stop fighting machine that is Joan Allen is going to shut herself down. Especially not when her foe is as formidable as Frances McDormand. At middle age, I don't think either of these women could be any more dangerous. Two things put Allen over the top here, I think. One is the fact that she's already lost and is pissed. And the other is the slight "aging hippie" vibe that McDormand can sometimes project. Lots of talk, but her reflexes have been dulled somewhat by the puff, puff, inhale, inhale, snack, snack action. Edge: Allen

Winner: Frances McDormand 3-2

And there you have it. Our big winner. For the record, if I had been "seeding" the women from 1-64, Frances would have been seeded #2, so it's not a huge shock to me that she won. Allen, however, was around #10 or so, so her run to the finals was something of a dark horse achievement. Well done, ladies!

Hope everyone enjoyed this rather indulgent dip into frivolity. And if anyone would be interested in a similar project for any of the other, non-female genders, well, don't be shy in speaking up.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Before I Forget...

I have an article up on Fametracker as we speak. It's a think-piece on the subject of fame, gossip blogs, and the notion of your body as a temple. It's called Ten Creative Ways for Matthew McConaughey to Take His Shirt Off In Public. My grandmothers have passed on, but I'm confident they're somewhere, smiling proudly.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Overdue Oscar Predictions

Odd that we've made it to September without me making Oscar predictions. I actually didn't think I'd do any this year until it really got to crunch time. Then Forest Whitaker started to get all this "sure thing" Oscar buzz for The Last King of Scotland, and I had been saying he was gonna get nominated since April, except I never posted it anywhere. But I totally did! Ask Nathaniel! Anyway, here's how I think the race will shake out as of right now.It won't end up like this, of course, but let's see how close I can get.

Best Picture

01 – Dreamgirls (Dreamworks/Paramount)
02 – Flags of Our Fathers (Dreamworks/Paramount)
03 – Little Children (New Line)
04 – Stranger Than Fiction (Columbia)
05 – Bobby (The Weinstein Co.)

06- Little Miss Sunshine (Fox Searchlight); 07- World Trade Center (Paramount); 08- Babel (Paramount Vantage); 09- The Last King of Scotland (Fox Searchlight); 10- The Good German (Warner Bros.); 11- The History Boys (Fox Searchlight); 12- The Departed (Warner Bros.); 13- The Pursuit of Happyness (Columbia); 14- The Good Shepherd (Universal); 15- United 93 (Universal); 16 - The Queen (Miramax); 17 - Catch A Fire (Focus Features); 18 - The Fountain (Warner Bros.); 19 - Volver (Sony Pictures Classics); 20 - Running With Scissors (Columbia).

** This category is shaping up more and more each week, though Dreamgirls looks like the only "lock." I worry that I may be tranferring my own personal love for Little Miss Sunshine to the academy, but doesn't this seem like the perfect lovable/inoffensive/success story to grab a fifth slot? The only reason I don't have it picked is that Stranger Than Fiction seems to be crowding that slot. Also, I suspect Babel and Little Children (and maybe Bobby; and maybe The Good German) will duke it out for critical champion.

Best Director
01 – Bill Condon (Dreamgirls)
02 – Clint Eastwood (Flags of Our Fathers)
03 – Oliver Stone (World Trade Center)
04 - Alejandro Gonzalez Iñaritu (Babel)
05 – Todd Field (Little Children)

06- Steven Soderbergh (The Good German); 07- Marc Forster (Stranger Than Fiction); 08- Emilio Estevez (Bobby); 09- Nicolas Hytner (The History Boys); 10- Paul Greengrass (United 93); 11- Jonathan Dayton/Valerie Ferris (Little Miss Sunshine); 12- Martin Scorsese (The Departed); 13- Kevin MacDonald (The Last King of Scotland); 14- Stephen Frears (The Queen); 15- Pedro Almodovar (Volver).

** I can't peg Emilio Estevez as an Oscar nominee. I just can't. Iñaritu seems a much better bet, even if his film gets the snub.

Acting categories await if you follow the link below . . .

Best Actor
01 – Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland)
02 – Brad Pitt (Babel)
03 – Will Smith (The Pursuit of Happyness)
04 – Patrick Wilson (Little Children)
05 – Peter O'Toole (Venus)

06- Matt Damon (The Good Shepherd); 07- Derek Luke (Catch A Fire); 08- Ryan Gosling (Half-Nelson); 09- Will Ferrell (Stranger Than Fiction); 10- Jamie Foxx (Dreamgirls); 11- Sean Penn (All the King's Men); 12- Jude Law (Breaking and Entering); 13- George Clooney (The Good German).

** O'Toole's the sentimental wild card (he's never won). Though Will Smith's role seems more sentimental than a truckload of kittens and grandmothers. Could be a battle.

Best Actress
01 – Meryl Streep (The Devil Wears Prada)
02 – Helen Mirren (The Queen)
03 – Kate Winslet (Little Children)
04 – Annette Bening (Running With Scissors)
05 – Maggie Gyllenhaal (Sherrybaby)

06- Judi Dench (Notes on a Scandal); 07- Penelope Cruz (Volver); 08- Cate Blanchett (Notes on a Scandal / The Good German); 09- Beyoncé (Dreamgirls); 10- Nicole Kidman (Fur); 11- Julie Walters (Driving Lessons); 12- Ashley Judd (Bug).

** Those top four will be damn hard to unseat. Gyllenhaal's a wild card, with an unlikeable role but is having one of those "three worthy performances, give her a nod for something" years. Cruz continues to get crazy praise. And Notes on a Scandal continues to be a great unknown entity.

Best Supporting Actor
01 – Ben Affleck (Hollywoodland)
02 – Eddie Murphy (Dreamgirls)
03 – Jack Nicholson (The Departed)
04 – James MacAvoy (The Last King of Scotland)
05 – Robert Downey Jr. (Fur)

06- Brian Cox (Running With Scissors); 07- Steve Carell (Little Miss Sunshine); 08- Jackie Earle Haley (Little Children); 09- Stanley Tucci (The Devil Wears Prada); 10- Tobey Maguire (The Good German); 11-Michael Sheen (The Queen); 12- Richard Griffiths (The History Boys); 13- Jude Law (All the King's Men); 14- Michael Peña (World Trade Center); 15- Alan Arkin (Little Miss Sunshine).

** Very strong top ten, I think. Any of them could place and I would not be surprised.

Best Supporting Actress
01 – Jennifer Hudson (Dreamgirls)
02 – Jennifer Connelly (Little Children)
03 – Vera Farmiga (The Departed)
04 – Emma Thompson (Stranger Than Fiction)
05 – Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada)

06- Maggie Gyllenhaal (World Trade Center / Stranger Than Fiction); 07- Carmen Maura (Volver); 08- Maria Bello (World Trade Center); 09- Anika Noni Rose (Dreamgirls); 10- Diane Lane (Hollywoodland); 11- Sharon Stone (Bobby); 12- Natalie Portman (Goya's Ghosts); 13- Rinko Kincuchi (Babel); 14- Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine); 15- Frances de la Tour (The History Boys).

** Hardest category to call. Only Hudson seems like a strong bet at this point. Everything beyond that is wild guesswork.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Oh, To Be Second-Billed

If someone told me to fill out an Oscar ballot today for only the films that have opened through August, the only category that wouldn't be sickeningly anemic would be Best Supporting Actress. That one is pretty well stacked. Check it:

Worthy But Would Make My Top 5: All due apologies to Lily Tomlin (A Prairie Home Companion), Catherine Keener (Friends With Money), and Toni Collette (Little Miss Sunshine and The Night Listener). All wonderful performances that contributed greatly to their films' successes. All actresses who would be a beneficial addition to any cast. I'm feeling especially apologetic towards Tomlin, since I've said since I saw that movie that she and a certain female castmate we'll get to in a second ought to share their hypothetical Oscar nod. Sorry, Lily! I still think you're awesome!

The Top Five

#5: Edie Falco - Freedomland
The quintessential good performance in a bad movie. Except this is a great performance. And Edie only really gets one scene to prove it, but prove it she does. All the gravity that was flailed-at (and failed at, by and large) by Julianne Moore and Samuel L. Jackson was present in every compact second of Falco's performance. Edie hasn't yet been given the space on the big screen to bring the same brilliance she shows on The Sopranos, but here she proves she doesn't need much space. Give her an inch, she'll steal a film.

#4: Frances McDormand - Friends with Money
Speaking of gravity, Frances McDormand could bring gravity to game of Whack-a-Mole. But always -- always -- on the underside of that gravity is a manic silliness threatening to break out. It's that manic side that takes over in Nicole Holofcener's film, and we all benefit. She just looks like she's having a lot of fun, and it's a welcome contrast to Jennifer Aniston's all-dour-all-the-time characterization.

#3: Meryl Streep - A Prairie Home Companion
She's going to be getting a whole lot of attention for her other 2006 offering, but Streep continues her ridiculously impressive hot streak -- is it even a "hot streak" when the bottom line is that she's always good, all the time? -- by stealing the spotlight in a Robert Altman ensemble. Not a bad way to spend the summer.

#2: Abigail Breslin - Little Miss Sunshine
This kid, I swear to God. Maybe the best compliment I can pay her performance is that I'd consider it Oscar-worthy even if it had been given by an adult. There are scenes in this movie -- crucial scenes; scenes that, if done poorly, the movie wouldn't have worked -- where Breslin does emotional work that I believe few adult actresses could have pulled off. But she's still playing a kid. That's the best part. This isn't Dakota Fanning being all creepy-mature. This is a kid playing a kid, but doing so in a way that does all the emotional work she needs to do and then some. She is the lynchpin of this movie and that it succeeds wildly is due in so small part to the fact that she's remarkably good. She's cute, not cutesy. Sweet, not saccharine. Funny, not jokey. I love her to death, she's so good.

#1: Emily Blunt - The Devil Wears Prada
Call me crazy, but I think Meryl Streep's sure-thing Oscar nomination for this film is going to come with some coattails, and one of her co-stars will get nominated with her. It's between Emily Blunt and Stanley Tucci, and right now I'm giving Blunt the edge. She'll richly deserve it, for managing to steal scenes away from Streep, if for nothing else. She takes a very stock character and gives her more depth and spark than the film's lead, and she pulls almost all the film's biggest laughs. It's the performance that sticks with you when you're raving about the film to your friends. And it's vaulted her into the big time, that's for sure.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Smooth Joey Apollo's NFL Picks: Week 1

I tried this last year and damn near embarrassed myself to death. This year, I've got someone to share in my humility. LowRes readers may already know Aaron Cameron from his infrequent and self-interested comments on this blog. Aaron and I go back a ways, to our shared time toiling in the vast underground sugar caves at 411 Mania. I even followed Cam to world-famous ex-reality TV star haven Inside Pulse, where we ended up casting the '89 Yankees, pitting black actresses against each other celebrating black actresses, and I acquired his wife at auction.

Through it all, Aaron and I have made a pretty good team. He's straight, I'm gay. He's black, I'm white. He's blind as a bat, and I have sight. Wait, that last one's not true. But still, we're the original Odd Couple!**

This new venture is simple enough. Pick the winners in each week's slate of NFL games. Win/loss records will accumulate from week to week. Loser has to root for the Raiders for the next decade.

Picks for Week One

Miami at Pittsburgh
Aaron: Culpepper v. Batch? NBC hasn’t had this many Blacks in prime time since A Different World rode off into the sunset of syndication (now on Nick at Nite!) Pick: Miami

Joe: Same observation, different take. Culpepper v. Batch? Betcha NBC feels pretty stupid about all those "best schedule of games since Methuselah was in short pants" ads right about now. Pick: Pittsburgh.

Atlanta at Carolina
Aaron: Atlanta’s another team with an African-American QB. This phenomenon was briefly covered in Nick Cannon’s Drumline (a/k/a: Orlando Jones’s apex, before the cinematic suicide of Biker Boyz). Pick: Carolina

Joe: The good news for Carolina is that Steve Smith has probably run out of hamstrings to pull. The bad news for Atlanta is that Michael Vick has been able to play through his herpes infection. Pick: Carolina.

Baltimore at Tampa Bay
Aaron: Your friends would describe this game as having “a nice personality, ummm…’curvy’ body and an interesting face...” Pick: Tampa Bay

Joe: Steve McNair's arm may well fall off before the game is through, but Chris Simms stole Mr. Wilson's newspaper this morning and will be grounded for Sunday's game. Pick: Baltimore.

Buffalo at New England
Aaron: Wow. Happy Kickoff Weekend ’06, Joe. Pick: New England

Joe: Oh, shut up. Pick: New England.

Cincinnati at Kansas City
Aaron: Larry Johnson was the first pick on my fantasy team, which means I expect to hear the words “ACL, torn, lowest, rushing, ever, day” (in no particular order) sometime during the postgame highlights. Pick: Cincinnati

Joe: Chad Johnson's been dreamin' about killing John Spartan for forty years! Pick: Cincinnati

Denver at St. Louis
Aaron: Always pick against anywhere that claims Nelly as their favorite son. Pick: Denver

Joe: The Rams feature my favorite fantasy football staple, the spry white wide receiver. Go, Kevin Curtis! Pick: St. Louis

New Orleans at Cleveland
Aaron: Sorry, Saints…the statute of limitations on ‘feel-good football stories’ is 12 months. Though, there’s only five more months until ‘beads-for-boobies’ season begins down in NO. Pick: Cleveland

Joe: Did I read that right? Cameron Frye is Cleveland's starting quarterback? I'm not sure if "Pardon my French, but you're an asshole!" is gonna cut it, even if it is only the Saints. Pick: New Orleans.

NY Jets at Tennessee
Aaron: Anyone else remember when Joe was supposed to be moving to NYC? Did the Jets scare him off from the big city, or was it the pimps and the C.H.U.D.s? Pick: Tennessee

Joe: This is all Aaron's way of distracting me so I don't mention "former Raider superstar" Kerry Collins in this blurb. Pick: Tennessee

Philadelphia at Houston
Aaron: The team that passed on Ricky Williams vs. the team that passed on Reggie Bush. Remember, always bet against the stupider team. Pick: Philadelphia

Joe: Stupider like a fox! No, that's not true. Houston is really, really bad. Pick: Philadelphia.

Seattle at Detroit
Aaron: It’s obligatory to attempt to predict one upset each week in these things. Watch the NFC champs get Kitna’ed. Pick: Detroit

Joe: Shaun Alexander Madden Curse Watch, Week 1. I'm half expecting an airplane to crash on top of him. And even still? Pick: Seattle.

Chicago at Green Bay
Aaron: I have it on good authority that someone close to Brett Favre will be dead before Sunday. He will dedicate his performance (12 for 33, 3 INTs) to his fallen friend/former roommate/neighbor. This happens at least twice a year. Pick: Chicago

Joe: Brett Favre ran out of family members in October of last year. He now lives alone in the Wisconsin hinterlands, wearing out DVD copies of There's Something About Mary and tossing kibble to his dog, which then gets intercepted by the cat. Pick: Chicago.

Dallas at Jacksonville
Aaron: The best part about training camps ending? No more shots of Bill Parcells in shorts. Pick: Dallas

Joe: Aw, no love for Chunk White Tuna? I'm not sure I like either of these teams as much as other people do, but the Jags are at home, so... Pick: Jacksonville

San Francisco at Arizona
Aaron: The 49ers might actually be the *worse* of the two Bay Area teams. You just think about that for a minute. Pick: Arizona

Joe: Is this finally the year the Cards make good on their "sleeper" status? Oh, and also, the over/under on number of children conceived by Matt Leinart on the sidelines during the game is 2.5. Pick: Arizona

Indianapolis at NY Giants
Aaron: “When brothers collide!” Not to be confused with the Culpepper v. Batch match-up that boasts an identical catchphrase. This has all the makings of a breakout game by Eli Manning that no one will remember when NYG is finishing 8-8. Pick: NY Giants

Joe: No love for the Giants this season, either? I have good feelings, for whatever reason. The marginally less-gawky Manning brother prevails here. Pick: NY Giants

Minnesota at Washington
Aaron: Is it too late for ESPN to give Monday Night Football back to ABC? Pick: Washington

Joe: Monday Night Football is now officially the "leftovers" of the NFL. This game is something of an "Adventures in Reverse Psychology," as I think the Vikes are going to be terrible this season, which usually means they'll end up doing well. That being said, everybody's so down on the Skins for going 0-4. In preseason. Preseason! Ultimately, I have to pick against the team not affiliated with NASCAR and Tom Cruise. Pick: Minnesota

San Diego at Oakland
Aaron: Well, with a 10:15 PM start time on the east coast, I know that I’ll have to wait for Joe to read about this debacle in the newspaper on Tuesday. Hopefully, they won’t print the score, just that ubiquitous “(n)” to signify “too late for our deadline”. Pick: San Diego

Joe: Gee, Aaron. I wonder why you're so insistent that I don't watch this game. Hmm, that's interesting. Just rest easy knowing Art Shell will have lost games by far (51-3) bigger (51-3) margins (51-3) than they'll lose to the Chargers on Monday. Pick: San Diego

** Note: In accordance with the settlement reached with the estates of Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon, we must admit that Aaron and Joe are not the original Odd Couple.

Rewatchables, in Brief

You know how every month there's one movie on HBO that airs a bajillion times and you end up watching it whenever it's on? The August/September champion in that category has been In Her Shoes, followed closely by The 40 Year Old Virgin.

Surprisingly, the former holds up just as well as the latter. Grading on a curve, of course. Virgin is the better movie, but I'll stand by the fact that In Her Shoes is an underrated one, featuring a typically wonderful Toni Collette performance, and a remarkably self-aware turn by Cameron Diaz. Not to mention Shirley MacLaine being as warm and endearing as I've ever seen her. Anyway, it's on again, and I'm watching it. Again.

Also: for those waiting for the Actress Tournament finale...coming soon! I had it almost ready to post before overwriting the damn file. Ugh. "Stupidity" wins the girlfight over Joe in this matchup. Anyway, it's on its way, I promise.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

And the award for best casting in a celebrity feeding frenzy goes to...

Dude, the baby they hired to play the part of Suri Cruise is adorable!

Check it:

...It Pulls Me Back In!

Not five hours ago, I posted in the sidebar that I was (a) over Big Brother All-Stars, and (b) rooting for Will, however begrudgingly. Whole new ballgame now. Erika decided to get all her brain cells working at the same time, Janelle got over her hatred of other women long enough to listen to reason, and Mike Boogie got SO FUCKING PISSED OFF when Will got the boot. Combine that with Howie making a complete and utter ass of himself in the jury house, and Janelle's luck finally running out in a competition, for once, and this easily qualifies as the best episode of the year.

Crafty, Big Brother. Very crafty.

U.S. Hopin'

Watching the U.S. Open in between working today. Well, trying to watch the U.S. Open. The weather's not cooperating -- as it hasn't been all week -- and I really wish it would, because I'm not sure how much more I can take of The New and Definitely Not Improved Ivan Lendl. The man used to look like a Holocaust survivor. It depresses me to say that I prefer that look on him. Particularly when the alternative is this sweaty, bloated creation I see being interviewed right now.


There's been some good tennis in the first week. Nothing quite so mindblowing as last year's Nadal/Blake third-rounder and (especially) that Srichapan/Sanguinetti five-setter than no one seems to remember but me. I'd have given anything for USA to have replayed that one during the rain delays instead of the umpteenth Agassi/Pavel rerun. But there was some fantastic tennis on display this past week. Agassi/Baghdadis, to be sure. No one's going to let us forget how awesome that one was anytime soon. And for anyone who was fortunate enough to follow the coverage to CNBC last night, the Hewitt/Gasquet match featured the latter hobbling around on one giant knot of a cramped leg for the better part of a fifth set, making impossible shots, and coming up just short. Fantastic tennis.

So with the weather delaying fourth round/quarterfinal play today, I'll take the opportunity to run down who I'll be rooting for this week:

Andy Roddick -- I know, I know. It's lonely here on Team Roddick. And Jimmy Connors is bugging the shit out of me. But I always end up pulling for ol' Andy. Particularly since the backlash -- which had been inevitable, considering the fact that he's young, cute, and occasionally hot-headed, but which hit a fever pitch with a first-round loss at last year's Open. He seems like a good guy and he never seems like his mind is anywhere but on the court. I'm hoping he can pull it together and make a run at the finals.

James Blake -- I was always a big fan of the guy, and no one's happier than me that he's been able to turn his career around. He's got a tough fourth-rounder against Berdych, but if he can get past that, he could give Federer a match in the quarters.

Rafael Nadal -- If Roddick makes the semis and faces off against Nadal, all bets could be off. I would give my [clichéd body part here] to see those two in a match. And with Lleyton Hewitt and Mikhail Youzhney as the alternatives, I think CBS is probably with me.

Marat Safin / Tommy Haas -- I love a good comeback, and I've always liked these two. Their fourth-round match is weather-delayed as I type this, but I can see myself really pulling for the winner to continue their run. Plus, I think Marat may be legitimately touched in the head, and that always makes things more interesting.

Amelie Mauresmo -- I'm not sure if it's queer solidarity or what, but I'm always pulling for Amelie. Unassuming, to the point of boring, on the court, she always translated as unflappable to me. And now that she's managed to get some confidence, she's started to win the big ones. Not bad for a "mannish" lady, eh, Martina Hingis?

Dinara Safina -- She'll face Mauresmo in a quarterfinal matchup of women who'd run you the fuck over as soon as look at you. And she's Marat Safin's sister, so maybe crazy runs in the family.

Maria Sharapova -- Much like my affection for Andy Roddick, it's lonely on Maria's side. She's gorgeous and she's in advertisments that get played about a billion times over the weekend. Of course people hate her. But women's tennis will be better served with Maria in the elite. And she seems to be playing well enough to win this week.

Elena Dementieva -- She got beat today. And she's historically been a bugaboo at the Open for players I was rooting for (Davenport, Capriati). But she's also dating Sabres winger Max Afinogenov. So I would have been inclined to pull for her, just out of loyalty.

Lindsay Davenport -- My girl. Always. She may not have always been able to nab the championships when the lights got bright, but she was a joy to watch, and she's running on fumes at this point, but wouldn't it be kind of cool to see her go out on top? She runs into the Henin-Hardenne steamroller tonight. Hate her.

Best case scenarios for Saturday and Sunday? Blake versus Roddick (yeah -- homer, right here) and Sharapova versus Lindsay. Once again, I think the networks would agree with me.