Sunday, July 30, 2006

Shattered Glass II: The Shatterening

Oh, The New Republic. Will you never learn?

So who do you think should play me in the movie? I'm holding out for Ian Somerhalder.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Short Form Friday: Dance, Makeup, Dance!

Blogger extraordinaire ModFab pointed me in this direction the other day, so all due credit to him, but Stylus Magazine did a list of the top 100 music videos of all time, YouTube links and all. And it's a good list, let me tell you. Almost all my favorites are in there -- Madonna's "Like a Prayer," Guns N Roses' "November Rain," The Killers' "Mr. Brightside."

As with any list, there are entries I wish were there that are not. As I started to think about it, in fact, there were a whole bunch -- the unfortunate side effect of everybody in the world not thinking the exact same way I do. I know, right? Making my favorite music videos into a weekly(ish) feature on the blog seemed an appropriate remedy. And since there seem to be quite enough "Music Video Mondays" in the blogverse, I figured I'd cheat and offer "Short Form Fridays." Splitting semantical hairs is so hot right now.

This week's entry is a modest one. Not my very favorite video of all time, but one I'm quite fond of. It's also one that deserves an argument in its favor, considering it's so often overshadowed by its older, more historically important (yet not as fun, if we're being honest) sibling. I'm speaking, of course, of Robert Palmer's "Simply Irresistible." Sure, we always hear about Palmer's "Addicted to Love" video. It came first, after all. And it was the title of a Meg Ryan/Matthew Broderick movie that somebody must have seen. Sure, "Addicted" was the groundbreaker, but it was "Simply Irresistible" where Palmer's nameless femme automatons really got their chance to shine. Shimmying toward the camera five abreast like the world's most overly-shellacked girl gang. Doing a badly choreographed swim dance. Bending over for a better down-the-shirt shot. It took a second video for Palmer's ladies to find the fun, I think.

Honestly, watch it again. If "Addicted to Love" is a slightly uncomfortable comment on the interchangeability of women in the music video medium, "Simply Irresistible" is a pretty funny joke at the expense of such a notion. Or else it's just four more minutes of busty women with too much lipstick dancing poorly. Oh, the dancing! It's just so hilarious. There but for the grace of God goes your mom.

The Doctor Is: Out

I'm taking a week off. Sorta. Kinda. I've got some material in the queue, but blogging may be spotty. Rest assured, when I come back, you can expect the actress tournament quarterfinals, so get your votes in for those tiebreakers while you can! Oh, and I'll be turning comment moderation off, so be on your best behavior with all that. Listen to me, like I'm speaking to any more than a dozen people. Still: no taking advantage. Aaron Cameron, I'm talking to you.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Project Runway: Too Big For the Sidebar

I tried to fit my Project Runway thoughts into the sidebar, but it so wasn't happening. After last night's episode, I am utterly dumbfounded by two things: (1) that Bradley was able to basically cough up an outfit from the back of his throat at the last minute and have it get universally praised by the judges (including Nina! Who said she'd put it in Elle!); and (2) that Angela has spent three weeks now, crafting sub-Wendy Pepper "designs" that no one -- including the judges -- would vomit on, much less wear, and has managed to avoid the big auf weidershen. I'd get all indignant about this isn't the show I know and love! but I remember they did the same thing with Starr in season one and we all survived it. But I still reserve the right to shake my fist at Angela whenever she's onscreen.

That being said, I am really loving the dynamic this season, especially with regard to the "contenders." Last season, phenomenal as it was, you really got the feeling that only four designers (Santino, Nick, Chloe, and Daniel V.) could conceivably win, and the only one for whom that wasn't abundantly clear from the very first week was Daniel. This season, however, it seems like much more of a toss-up. Eight contestants have had their designs deemed "the best" of the week during the first three episodes, only Uli getting that distinction more than once. I could see any combination of Laura, Keith, Michael, Robert, Uli, or Kayne making it to fashion week. Hell, maybe even Allison or Bradley or even Jeffrey's played-out ass. Very unpredictable, and I like that.

Oh, and did I mention guest judge Ivanka Trump? Guest judge Ivanka Trump! She's fantastic. And so was Heidi, by the way, for marching right up to Keith and telling him his stupid little bracelet/dog collar was bullshit. Oooh do I ever hate that guy. That being said, next week looks to be awesome. Can't wait.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Lesson, As Ever...

...rumors are always true.

You can believe what you read on the internet.

Richard Gere, don't think we've forgotten.

Credit to Perez Hilton, Defamer, Towleroad, A Socialite's Life, Josh & Josh Are Rich and Famous, Gawker, Pink Is the New Blog, Just Jared, Jossip, Yahoo News, CNN.com, and Fox News for digging up the info on this underreported story.

We suspect Ann Coulter would have had the scoop as well if she weren't so busy outing Bill Clinton.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Linky

(1) I've got another AIM chat with Nathaniel up at The Film Experience. We were both kind of sleepy and punch-drunk, but we made it work (as it were).

(2) I've joined the roster of web sites at Damn Hell Ass Kings, so if you've been reading here all along, try and make room for company. And if you are among the newbies taking a peek: Hello! I hope everything is to your liking!

(3) Pamie's got a new book out! Why Moms Are Weird is en route to my house. Send it en route to yours!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Low Res Caption Contest No. 008

This latest captionable photo was submitted by Low Res loyalist Tipsy McSwiggans. And, yes, I know we do a lot of photos of President Bush with this feature but...well, everybody's gotta be good at something, right? He's just good at making odd and suggestible faces when someone's taking a picture. Anyway, submit a caption to the photo below and win a prize!**


Oh, and the winner of the last caption contest was StinkyLulu. Congrats!

Previous caption contests: No. 007: Today I'm This Many!; No. 006: Scary Santa; No. 005: Door Jam; No. 004: Presidential Wang Touching; No. 003: The Tango A-Rod; No. 002: OT VIII; No. 001: Kegger at Saddam's! Be There!.

** Not a real prize

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Beyond Actress-dome: Round 3 concludes!

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).

Round 3 (cont'd)


Cate Blanchett vs. Meryl Streep
Quantity: Clash of the titans, right here. Both average at least one notable performance per year. Both are, while certainly more than capable as leading ladies, able to take a good cameo and work the hell out of it. Streep has been able to stay slightly more mainstream than Blanchett, but this isn’t the place for value judgments. This is where the numbers matter, and here the numbers add up to an exact push.
Quality: Streep's comic brilliance in Adaptation versus Blanchett's Elizabeth turn. I respect the hell out of both, but if I were to choose one performance to watch on a desert island where I somehow had a generator or some other means of powering my DVD player -- and if I could avoid letting the sand scratch up the DVD itself, you see...where was I? Right. I'd choose Streep.
Fake Oscar Nods: Streep: 3 (The Hours; Adaptation; One True Thing); Blanchett: 2 (Elizabeth; The Aviator)
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: They both have powers. Political powers. Cate rules as a queen (Elizabeth; Lord of the Rings), while Streep recently showed she can rule from her impeccably-designed executive office. Personally, I'm more afraid of Miranda Priestley. Edge: Streep.
Winner: Meryl Streep 3-0


Laura Linney vs. Renee Zellweger
Quantity: Renee's worked a hell of a lot the past ten years, and up until we all got sick of her, she was actually really good in a lot of those movies. No, not Me, Myself, and Irene. Regardless, she can't keep up with Linney, who's good every single time, and who carries a damn heavy workload herself.
Quality: For the third straight round, Linney's You Can Count on Me performance goes up against a fellow 2000 Best Actress nominee. Oh, that's right. Renee didn't get recognized for Nurse Betty because that was the year everybody was just so fucking in love with Chocolat. Ahem. Anway, once again, Linney bests the field.
Fake Oscar Nods: Linney: 3 (You Can Count on Me; The Squid and the Whale; Primal Fear); Zellweger: 3 (Chicago; Nurse Betty; Jerry Maguire). Push
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: Linney may not often want to get her hands dirty, as I've said before, but with Renee I don't think she'll need to. Skinny bitch defeats skinnier bitch. Edge: Linney.
Winner: Laura Linney 3-0


Joan Allen vs. Natalie Portman
Quantity: I'm puzzled as to why Joan Allen doesn't have more quality credits to her name. She's clearly phenomenal. She just doesn't work in an extremely lot of movies. Or at least an extremely lot of movies I've actually seen. It's a list trimmed down enough to where Portman -- who spent chunks of the last ten years attending college and being held hostage by George Lucas -- can catch up and force a push.
Quality: Portman in Closer beats out Allen in The Upside of Anger.
Fake Oscar Nods: Allen: 4 (The Upside of Anger; Pleasantville; The Contender; The Crucible); Portman: 2 (Closer; Beautiful Girls)
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: Interesting match. Portman's got the advantage of youth. But, really, Allen's not that old. She's going to be fifty on August 20 (day before mine! My fellow Leo!), and if I've learned anything from that Molly Shannon "Sally O'Malley" SNL sketch, it's that when you're fifty, you like kick, stretch, and kick. She's fifty! Edge: Allen.
Winner: Joan Allen 2-1


Patricia Clarkson vs. Kate Winslet
Quantity: Not even close. Clarkson has double the noteworthy credits Winslet has. Which isn't necessarily a knock against Kate. One just works a whole hell of a lot more often than the other.
Quality: This one isn't really close either. I loved Clarkson in The Station Agent, for serious. But Winslet in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is in another league.
Fake Oscar Nods: Winslet: 3 (Eternal Sunshine...; Holy Smoke; Titanic); Clarkson: 2 (The Station Agent; High Art)
Spotlights Stolen: They share the screen in this fall's All the King's Men, but we haven't been able to see it yet. Unfortunately.
Girlfight Factor: I think I've said this before, but there really is something quietly menacing about Patty Clarkson. You can see it in Dogville. You can see it in The Dying Gaul. I think Kate might end up underestimating her, to her peril. Edge: Clarkson.
Winner: 2-2 HOLY CRAP IT'S ANOTHER etc. Honestly, I don't plan on there being a tie in every post, it's just worked out that way. That being said, I kind of like that it's worked out this way. Anyway, help me decide between Clarkson and Winslet. It's a tough call. Vote wisely and once.

Coming soon: the quarterfinals!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Trailer Trash: Infertile Power


Children of Men: Not entirely what I was expecting, but in a good way. It's science-fiction, but it looks completely real. And by the end of the clip it looks almost like a triumph-of-the-human-spirit thing. Which is where my complete trust in Alfonso Cuaron comes in handy. Am I crazy to think this could really be something special? I know I want to see it, immediately. Clive Owen and Julianne Moore don't hurt in that regard, either.



TMNT: Yes, those initials do indeed stand for "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," and between this and the Transformers movie, my childhood has been officially raped. I'm sorry, there already was a Ninja Turtles movie, and it was perfect. It was also maybe the last gasp for rubber-suited Jim Henson puppetry in mainstream entertainment (sorry, Farscape). These new CGI turtles with their sleek animated sheen aren't going to cut it.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Beyond Actress-dome: Round 3 Begins!

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).

Round 3


Catherine Keener vs. Reese Witherspoon
Quantity: A dead heat. Keener comes to play with her Holofcener films, her '05 trifecta, and her best-ever turn in Malkovich. Reese's strong body of work has been sufficiently touted on this blog before. In the end, it's a push.
Quality: Tough call! Keener in Being John Malkovich or Witherspoon in Election. Both ambitious to dangerous degrees. There aren't many performances I'd value over Tracey Flick but Keener's Maxine is one of them. By a hair.
Fake Oscar Nods: Witherspoon: 3 (Walk the Line; Election; Pleasantville); Keener: 1 (Being John Malkovich)
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: Keener's a tough bird, as we've discussed. Witherspoon's a cunning and savage social climber who will wreck your shit if you try and stand in her way. As we've discussed. Edge: Witherspoon
Winner: Reese Witherspoon 2-1


Kathy Bates vs. Nicole Kidman
Quantity: Honestly, sight-unseen I thought Kidman would take this in a walk. All those big screen above-title performances, after all. But consider that '96-'00 were sort of barren years for Nicole. And also consider that Kathy Bates has by-hook-or-by-crooked her way through the last ten years with cameos (Titanic) TV work (The Late Shift), and Adam Sandler vehicles (as we've discussed, I have a fondness for Kathy in The Waterboy). It results in a rather surprising push.
Quality: Virginia Woolf v. Libby Holden. Tough call. Both remarkable work. Both Oscar-worthy (though if I had my way, Bates would have won hers and Kidman would have finished second, instead of the vice-versa way it actually went down). Gun to my head, I give it to Kidman. My small part to help right the sails of the Kidman Backlash.
Fake Oscar Nods: Kidman: 3 (The Hours; Dogville; The Others); Bates: 2 (Primary Colors; About Schmidt)
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: Look at poor Nicole Kidman. Broken and battered by the side of the road. Her face would be a twisted grimace of pain if the Botox allowed her muscles to move that way. Edge: Bates.
Winner: Nicole Kidman 2-1


Frances McDormand vs. Uma Thurman
Quantity: Uma puts up a decent fight, but: Fargo. Wonder Boys. North Country. The list goes on. Edge: McDormand.
Quality: The Bride may have been the role of a lifetime, but I think Marge Gunderson takes her down. In the acting department, at least. We'll get to the other stuff in a second. Edge: McDormand.
Fake Oscar Nods: McDormand: 3 (Fargo; Almost Famous; The Man Who Wasn't There); Thurman: 2 (Kill Bill, Vol. 1; Kill Bill, Vol. 2)
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: After losing the "quality" contest The Bride is back for revenge. Marge has the law -- and likely a firearm -- on her side, but we've learned about going up against The Bride when she's out for revenge, right? Edge: Thurman
Winner: Frances McDormand 3-1


Toni Collette vs. Naomi Watts
Quantity: Very close. Collette's credits feature a lot of capitalizing on small roles (The Hours; Velvet Goldmine), while Naomi's usually batting lead-off, so to speak. In the end, it's those leading roles (The Ring; 21 Grams) that give Watts the edge.
Quality: STILL not ready to say whether I prefer Toni in Velvet Goldmine or The Sixth Sense. Doesn't quite matter, though, since neither one bests Watts in Mulholland Dr.. I'm starting to wonder what performance in this competition could.
Fake Oscar Nods: Collette: 3 (In Her Shoes; The Sixth Sense; Velvet Goldmine); Watts: 2 (Mulholland Dr.; 21 Grams)
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: Very tough call. They could both charitably be called "scrappy," though I don't find either particularly tough. Neither has played anything significantly violent or fucked-up onscreen. I think the lead/supporting actress thing might come into play here, giving Toni that extra motivation to pull some hair and utilize her nails. Edge: Collette
Winner: HOLY CRAP IT'S A TIE! This is a tough one, folks. I love them both. Help me decide. Vote wisely and once.

I promised continuation of the Actress Tournament, and I will deliver. But the combination of 90 degree heat and my internet shutting down for a whole day has really pushed my week back. I'll have something up by the weekend. Until then, you'll have to make your own fun. Or you could peruse the sidebar. Good times to be had.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

"Little boxes on the hillside..."

"...little boxes made of ticky-tacky..."

I have had that theme song in my head all week. I kind of love it, but it's been an endless loop of "ticky-tacky" in my head, and I'm not even sure those are real words.

Which means that, yes, my DVD of the first season of Weeds has arrived, and -- as I fully expected -- I am loving it very much. Thank God Mary-Louise Parker was able to nab such a great role. She has a great way of appearing like she's just barely avoiding having life run her down like an express train before pulling her shit together and making things happen. I love her so much. But everything around her on this show is pretty fantastic as well, including the two actors who play her kids. Nice casting job there.

And Elizabeth Perkins! It's so weird, because a year ago if you asked me to name two actresses who manage to inspire literally nothing in me one way or the other, I would have said Elizabeth Perkins and Jeanne Tripplehorn. And now Tripplehorn's doing such fantastic work on Big Love and with Weeds, Elizabeth Perkins has found the best role of her career. And is giving her best performance to match it. This has to say something about the dearth of strong roles for women in film, because no way both these women suddenly got good overnight.

Anyway, Weeds. Check it out. It's fantastic. And it features an Angels in America reunion of MLP and Justin Kirk. And Kevin Nealon being entertainingly off-putting, instead of the other kind. And weed! Lots and lots of weed!

Monday, July 17, 2006

My Weekend

Stereotypically "straight guy" activities I can still take part in without completely embarassing myself, as determined by attending a three day Stag Weekend with the old college friends:

Darts
Poker
Beer Pong
Remembering the rules to "Asshole"
Foam Bat Softball (batting)
Foam Bat Softball (fielding)
Going to a strip club

That last one surprised me, as no one was less interested in going to see naked ladies than I was. But once in there, I discovered that (a) it's like being in a room full of kryptonite and everyone else is Superman but me, and (b) it's exactly like a drag show, but with less lip-synching and more real vagina. I'm not saying it's my new weekend activity, but I no longer think I'll die of embarassment if I go to one.

Anyway, back to more frilly pursuits (the Actress tournament, for instance) this week.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Beyond Actress-dome: Round 2 concludes!

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).


Round 2


Rachel McAdams vs. Renee Zellweger
Quantity: Give Rachel a year or two and she'll have this category kicked, I guarantee it. For now, however, Renee's just been in more movies, period, and has amassed more credits. I may not have enjoyed them all, but I've enjoyed a good many of them.
Quality: In terms of sheer enjoyment, I'll always opt for McAdams in Mean Girls, but I think Zellweger in Nurse Betty is more impressive, acting-wise.
Fake Oscar Nods: Zellweger: 3 (Chicago; Nurse Betty; Jerry Maguire); McAdams: 0
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: McAdams breaks every single bone in Zellweger's skinny body.
Winner: Renee Zellweger 3-1


Julianne Moore vs. Kate Winslet
Quantity: My apologies in advance to those who thought this would have been an appropriate showdown in the finals rather than the second round. The draw, she is a faithless bitch. Both actresses are fabulous, certainly. Winslet's often brilliant, but in terms of volume, she tends to spread her work out more. Moore, it could be argued, hasn’t delivered anything to write home about in nearly four years. But prior to that, she was a machine, busting out sometimes three great performances a year. Kate can’t keep up. Advantage: Moore.
Quality: Good matchup here. Moore’s work in Boogie Nights (I’ve settled upon my favorite Julianne performance) is so strong and so memorable. But what Winslet does in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, in taking her character all the way to the very edge and keeping her there, is the bigger accomplishment. Tough call, but Kate takes it.
Fake Oscar Nods: Moore: 3 (Far From Heaven; Magnolia; Boogie Nights); Winslet: 3 (Eternal Sunshine…; Holy Smoke; Titanic). Push
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: Normally, as I’ve said, I’ll go for the bigger junkie of the two, but even when Juli plays drugged-up (Boogie Nights, Magnolia...man, PT Anderson likes her looped, doesn't he?), she's more messy than dangerous. Kate's not so much dangerous as rebellious, sure, but she survived the Titanic. Have you, Julianne? Edge: Winslet
Winner: Kate Winslet 2-1


Reese Witherspoon vs. Catherine Zeta-Jones
Quantity: Close. Well, close-ish. CZJ's been great in Traffic and Chicago. But then what? Intolerable Cruelty, certainly. High Fidelity, even. But she hasn't been great often enough. Not as often as Reese, at least.
Quality: Tracey Flick or Velma Kelly? That's a face-off for the ages. Witherspoon wins it, but not going away.
Fake Oscar Nods: Witherspoon: 3 (Walk the Line; Election; Pleasantville); Zeta-Jones: 2 (Chicago; Traffic)
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: You think the rules have suddenly changed? She'll still cut you, then step over your corpse on her ascent to the top. Plus, Catherine's pregnant all the time. That's gotta slow her reaction speed. Edge: Reese.
Winner: Reese Witherspoon 4-0


Joan Allen vs. Mary-Louise Parker
Quantity: My dear MLP's time spent kicking ass on Broadway (or so I've heard) keeps her from having enough film credits to topple Allen's impressive filmography.
Quality: Lots of tough calls in this category in the second round here we have Parker's Harper Pitt from Angels in America, a performance that gets better every time I see it (and it kind of blew me away the first time, so...). Then we have Allen's Terry Wolfmeyer from The Upside of Anger, one of the finest female comedy leads I've ever seen. It's almost too close to call. If I had to choose one to watch right now, however, it'd be Parker, so that gives her the edge.
Fake Oscar Nods: Allen: 4 (The Upside of Anger; The Contender; Pleasantville; The Crucible); Parker: 0
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: Parker took this category in her first round matchup through pluck alone. I'm not sure if that's going to be of much help right here. I think if you pulled back Allen's skin, you'd see that she's actually made of a steel infrastructure with ice water coursing through her synthetic veins. Edge: Allen
Winner: Joan Allen 3-1


Laura Dern vs. Uma Thurman
Quantity: Dern's been great on film, but sporadically so. So has Uma, if I'm being honest, but two Kill Bill films, and less-heralded but no less enjoyable work in films like Tape and Hysterical Blindness give her the edge.
Quality: I've made my appreciation for Dern's Ruth Stoops very clear. But Uma's Kill Bill work is going to hold up for a long, long time.
Fake Oscar Nods: Dern: 2 (We Don't Live Here Anymore; Citizen Ruth); Thurman: 2 (Kill Bill, Vol. 1; Kill Bill, Vol. 2). Push
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: Once again, The Bride in a walk. Edge: Uma.
Winner: Uma Thurman 3-0


Kathy Bates vs. Chloe Sevigny
Quantity: Very close. They've both got HBO credentials -- Bates in The Late Shift and Six Feet Under; Sevigny in Big Love -- and both have given much of their best work in supporting roles. In the end, Chloe has just enough credits to eke out a win here. Thank god she got that white trash mother role in A Map of the World!
Quality: Once again, two performances I love. Sevigny's Nicki Grant versus Bates's Libby Holden. Neither an easy woman to deal with. Maybe after another year of Big Love I'll feel differently, but for now Bates's performance still burns brighter.
Fake Oscar Nods: Bates: 2 (Primary Colors; About Schmidt); Sevigny: 1 (Boys Don't Cry).
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: I was tempted to give Chloe a decent shot at this, but then I thought about what an unholy bitch she can be and just how mad she'd ultimately make Kathy. Mad enough to do some hobbling? Maybe. Either way: Bates.
Winner: Kathy Bates 3-1


Toni Collette vs. Catherine O'Hara
Quantity
: Since neither actress is utilized as often as I'd like them to be, this is a close race. Collette's remarkably consistent movie credits (she always tends to be the same level of awesome, doesn't she?) outnumbers O'Hara's comedy showcase, but not by much.
Quality: I'm still not entirely ready to come down on either side of the Velvet Goldmine / Sixth Sense debate for Toni yet. Still, I think I'd take O'Hara in A Might Wind over either one of them. I really think a lot of it. Why wouldn't I have nominated it for an Oscar? I'll need to sit myself down for a talk.
Fake Oscar Nods: Collette: 3 (In Her Shoes; The Sixth Sense; Velvet Goldmine); O'Hara: 0
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: After the first round, I noticed my readers seemed to feel strongly on the topic of Toni Collette's brawling prowess. I confess, I still don't see it, but I'm willing to give it the benefit of the doubt here and give Toni the edge.
Winner: Toni Collette 3-1


Cate Blanchett vs. Charlize Theron
Quantity: Blanchett's list of good performances is positively intimidating. Lady likes to keep busy, that's for sure. And she rarely swings and misses. Theron can't quite compete.
Quality: Theron in Monster bests Blanchett in Elizabeth.
Fake Oscar Nods: Blanchett: 2 (Elizabeth; The Aviator); Theron: 1 (Monster)
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: If I told you I thought anything I've seen out of Blanchett (even Momentarily Power-Mad Galadriel) would last more than three seconds against Aileen Wournos, well, I'd be straight-up lying, wouldn't I? Charlize takes it.
Winner: 2-2 YET! ANOTHER! TIE! Vote, my pretties. Vote in the comments for your favorite. Vote wisely and once.

Monday, July 10, 2006

You'll Read My Hockey Post and Like It!

Living here in Buffalo, you get used to some of the time-tested pat responses and -- for lack of a better term -- pub wisdom that the people around here have honed to perfection through years of talking about the same damn things over and over again. About the weather ("Say what you will about the cold and snow, but I'll take Buffalo's winters over hurricane or earthquake country.), about the Bills ("If Noorwood's three feet to the left, the Bills win two out of those four Super Bowls."), about the local cuisine ("The Anchor Bar may be where they invented 'em, but the real best wings in Buffalo are at [insert favored bar/pizza place].")

And when talk turns to Sabres hockey, the one thing you'll hear most often -- more than "no goal," more than "Clint Malarchuck's gushing jugular" -- is the following: "They gotta go back to the old uniforms. They gotta go back to the blue and gold." It's not a surprising sentiment. Buffalo's a nostalgic city to begin with, and sports fans everywhere are notorious for looking back at how much better it used to be. So when the Sabres switched to black and red back in 1996, it began a decade-long campaign of wistful pining for the old unis. Never mind that with the new uniforms the Sabres went to two conference finals and a Stanley Cup final. The blue-and-gold is old and old is better.

So I was probably the only person in this town who was a little crestfallen when the team made the decision to go back to the old uniforms next year. The geezers (and the even-worse young people with geezer mentalities) had gotten their way. Until a photo of the new jersey leaked onto the internet looking like this eyesore. People, that's just fucking wrong. But it's kind of fitting in a "be careful what you ask for" kind of way. Bet that black and red is looking pretty good right about now, eh?

[Thanks to Off Wing Opinion for pointing me to the sartorial horror.]

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Holy Crap!

$132 million for the Pirates of the Caribbean opening weekend. Dude. That's...incredible. I haven't seen the movie yet, and I suppose if I do I should prepare myself for limited elbow room, because GODDAMN! That beats the old Spider-Man record by almost $20 million. Depp is king, you guys. Good stuff.

Oh, and also: Take THAT, Aquaman.

ETA: Okay, I saw it this afternoon. Not the barrel of pure joy and excitement that the first one
was, but it did the job. Two action setpieces in particular stood head and shoulders above 99% of the first movie. The connective tissue wasn't as strong this time around, so there was a bit of impatience for the movie to get to the fireworks factory already, as it were. But ultimately I think director Gore Verbinski did a good job with...resurrecting the look...the look and feel of...I'm sorry, I'm not made of stone, people. Would you look at Orlando Bloom over there? I just...he really is the most beautiful thing, isn't he?


Okay, okay, focus! The movie. Johnny Depp is, as expected, a blast to watch. I get no small amount of satisfaction out of how much fun Depp has with the Jack Sparrow role. And the interplay between Depp, Bloom, and Keira Knightley is still sparkling. And they brought MacKenzie Crook (aka, Gareth from the BBC version of The Office) back! So good to see him again.

In fact, the movie as a whole did a great job of integrating a whole bunch of returning characters who (a) I didn't expect to see back, and (b) worked even better the second time around. Once again, all due credit to Verbinski who...you know, who directed the whole...thing...the whole movie...crap. Okay, once again, you can't really blame me, can you? I'm sorry, no you cannot.

...Okay! Once more: good movie. Great marketing ploy with the cliffhanger. One gripe, if it's indeed a gripe: the issue of Bill Nighy's omni-accent. That was on purpose, right? How he represents the sea and the sea knows no boundaries, be they on land nor in the throats of men? I really hope so, because if not? Eesh. Anyway...what was I saying?...right...oh for Pete's sake. Fine. Fine! I give up. Have it your way, Mr. Bloom. Continue to be all devestatingly handsome and whatnot. But I'm getting the last word in my own post, got it? Good.

(sigh)

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Trailer Trash: The Return

Back when I used to have a weekly movie column at 411Mania, I would regularly set aside space to comment on the latest batch of movie trailers to come down the pike. Because I'm exactly the kind of nerd who will ask you what you thought of the movie you just saw and then immediately ask what trailers ran before the movie. I like the way a good trailer can make a bad movie look watchable. I like the first glimpse you get of a movie you've been watching come down the pike for months. I don't like when they give the entire movie away, but they've mostly stopped doing that ever since the public caught wise. Well, the good ones, anyway.

So I figured I'd import the trailers feature over to Low Res. It's a better fit on a blog anyway.

What made me think of this, actually, is I saw the Little Miss Sunshine trailer before The Devil Wears Prada this week, and I was all excited because this is one of the movies I'm most anticipating right now. But the trailer they showed was the original trailer which is just not as good as the newer clip. The older clip isn't bad necessarily, but it's more darkly funny while the new clip is more mainstream, and failing to match a mainstream movie (like Prada) with a mainstream trailer is just not good marketing. Not good! Bad! Bad Fox Searchlight!

Of course the big trailer news this past week has been the Spider-Man 3 clip which popped up just in time to steal a bit of thunder from Superman. Now, I'm not as huge a fan of the Spidey movies as some people I could mention. I like them well enough, but they just don't click with me they way that, say, X-Men 2 did. That being said, the preview for the third movie has me positively geeked. Something about the sticky, black, tar-like substance that makes Spidey's costume turn black and (I think) evil. And it's always enjoyable to see what Tobey Maguire's every-three-years trip to the weight room has wrought. Good exciting stuff.

Hollywoodland is a movie I've gone back and forth on as to whether it will be an awards contender this year. It's an old Hollywood throwback, which is a point in its favor, but it's also a "behind the scenes, everyone was a creep" kind of movie, too. Ben Affleck plays TV's original Superman, and you all know my policy on Ben Affleck in a leading role. On the other hand: Adrien Brody. And Diane Lane looks like she's got a nice thick role to bite into. So I'm still very up in the air about how I think this movie will turn out, and that's mostly because the trailer didn't do its job. It's schizophrenic, which is a problem. The titles don't match the visuals don't match the music, it's a mess. Not being able to easily categorize a film isn't necessarily a bad thing, unless it ends up looking like a generic jumble of movies we've seen before. I expect better marketing from a Focus/Miramax co-production.

Finally, I finally saw the full-length trailer for Running with Scissors, Ryan Murphy's film version of Augusten Burroughs's awesome book. I'd originally seen a preliminary clip for the movie on TV back in December and I got worried. It was already going to be a challenge to adapt the comic/tragic tone of the book for a film, and the TV clip seemed...off the mark. Slapsticky. But in the meantime, I'd heard that buzz on the film is very good, particularly Annette Bening's performance. So I checked out the full-length trailer and I feel much better. Most crucially, they seem to have cast the role of Augusten well, which was my biggest concern. This can't be a movie about a crazy mother. It has to be a movie about struggling, sarcastic, fabulous kid, and this Joseph Cross looks like he just might be able to pull it off. And Evan Rachel Wood may have been mis-cast as Natalie, but she's already making me forget about that. I'm really excited to see how it's all turned out. Cross your fingers.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Low Res Caption Contest No. 007

Back by popular demand!

I hardly think my very intelligent readers need a refresher course on how caption contests work, but just in case any stray Taylor Hicks fans wandered in from the AI recaps: you write a caption for the photo below. Be funny.


Previous caption contests: No. 006: Scary Santa; No. 005: Door Jam; No. 004: Presidential Wang Touching; No. 003: The Tango A-Rod; No. 002: OT VIII; No. 001: Kegger at Saddam's! Be There!.

Beyond Actress-dome: Round 2 Begins!

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).


Round 2


Frances McDormand vs. Samantha Morton
Quantity: Once again, I haven't seen enough of Samantha's movies to give her a good shot in this category. Not that I'm sure it would even help when stacked up against Frances, who seems to kick in a superlative performance in something every year.
Quality: This is a tough choice. Really tough. Neck-and-neck. Is McDormand better in Fargo or in Almost Famous? Oh, I'm supposed to compare her with Morton? It's no contest, no matter which Frances performance I pick.
Fake Oscar Nods: McDormand: 3 (Fargo; Almost Famous; The Man Who Wasn't There); Morton: 1 (Jesus' Son)
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: McDormand is a tough, flinty woman. Lord knows I wouldn't want to run afoul of her. But Morton's blessed with a touch of the crazy, I think. Something behind her eyes. She's waiting to freak out. Morton takes it.
Winner: Frances McDormand 3-1


Natalie Portman vs. Parker Posey
Quantity: In between my two favorite Portman performances (Beautiful Girls in 1996 and Closer in 2004), she went to college or something. Something which only allowed sparse opportunities to make an impression onscreen. In that in-between time, Parker Posey hooked up with Christopher Guest, stole the show in a good movie (The House of Yes), stole the show in a bad movie (Scream 3), and chain-smoked like a champ on Will & Grace. In the end, both women ended up with fine bodies of work. Enough for a push.
Quality: Parker was brilliant in The House of Yes. Unfortunately, here she runs into one of my top performances of the decade -- Natalie's in Closer.
Fake Oscar Nods: Portman: 2 (Closer; Beautiful Girls); Posey: 1 (The House of Yes)
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: The only time I've seen Natalie be even close to scary, the only thing at risk were emotions. Meanwhile, when Parker's around, no stuffed dog toy or Barney's window display is safe. She can be scary.
Winner: Natalie Portman 2-1


Patricia Clarkson vs. Alison Lohman
Quantity: Here's where Lohman's age works against her. She's managed to rack up some impressive credits in the past few years, but Patricia's been working steadily -- getting better and better every time -- for almost twenty years. In the past ten years, she's really come into her own. Advantage: Clarkson.
Quality: Clarkson in The Station Agent trumps Lohman in White Oleander.
Fake Oscar Nods: Clarkson: 2 (The Station Agent; High Art); Lohman: 0
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: Here's where Lohman's age works for her. She's younger, more energetic, and she's yet to have been dealt the harsh consequences that life tends to mete out for youthful recklessness. Patty's in some trouble.
Winner: Patricia Clarkson 3-1



Laura Linney vs. Julia Roberts
Quantity: Julia's on and off with me, but in ten years, she's still managed to rack up a good half-dozen performances I've enjoyed (even less likely stuff like The Mexican and Michael Collins). However, Linney went the full dozen, flawlessly going from supporting (The House of Mirth) to lead (P.S.) and back again.
Quality: Once again, Linney finds herself in the middle of a 2000 Oscar race re-match. This time, her You Can Count on Me performance takes on the woman who won the actual award, Julia's Erin Brockovich. This time, however, the best woman wins: Linney takes it.
Fake Oscar Nods: Linney: 3 (You Can Count on Me; The Squid and the Whale; Primal Fear); Roberts: 1 (Erin Brockovich)
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: Tough one. Laura's got a fierceness to her, but it tends to come in a more buttoned down package. She tends to let others get their hands dirty for her, be it her husband (Mystic River), the legal system (Primal Fear), or the rigid and unforgiving social hierarchy (The House of Mirth). It's still marginally tougher than Julia, whose power mostly resides in that ugly face she makes when she cries. Scary, but not scary enough. Edge: Linney.
Winner: Laura Linney 4-0


Rosario Dawson vs. Meryl Streep
Quantity: Not really a fair fight. She's Meryl Streep! She puts a stellar performance on film before her second cup of coffee. Rosario's good, but not good enough often enough. Edge: Streep.
Quality: Time to give credit where credit's due to Dawson's fine work in a fine 25th Hour ensemble. Doesn't mean it tops the best in Streep's last decade, which I think I've decided is indeed her work in Adaptation.
Fake Oscar Nods: Streep: 3 (Adaptation; The Hours; One True Thing); Dawson: 0
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: I have much respect for the grappling advantage held by the cagey veterans. But -- and you'll forgive me for sinking into the abyss of stereotype for a second -- her IMDb bio says she's "of Puerto Rican, Cuban, African American, Irish and Native American descent." Dudes, come on. That's like hitting the ethnic brawler lotto jackpot. She could use some Italian in there to make it a truly flawless combination, but she's certainly got enough to win this one. Advantage: Rosario.
Winner: Meryl Streep 3-1



Nicole Kidman vs. Gwyneth Paltrow
Quantity: Closer than I thought it'd be. I've been as big a fan of the Kidman renaissance as anyone, but even as strong as the performances have been, there hasn't been a truly overwhelming number of them. Still enough to beat Gwyneth, who, as we've discussed, has only really impressed me a small handful of times.
Quality: Loved Gwyneth in Tenenbaums, but it doesn't really stack up against Nicole in The Hours.
Fake Oscar Nods: Kidman: 3 (The Hours; Dogville; The Others); Paltrow: 1 (The Royal Tenenbaums)
Spotlights Stolen: They were both in Malice, which was before either of them really stepped into their own. But Kidman wasn't bad, and I don't really recall Paltrow much, so...Kidman.
Girlfight Factor: Dudes, what a shitty fight this is gonna be. I'm torn as to whether neither will have enough strength to lift their limbs and throw a good punch, or whether their frequent trips to the plastic surgeon (Kidman) or the holistic spa (Paltrow) will leave them prone to an easy knock-down. I'm giving Gwynnie the edge, mostly because I think she'll wear that fugly Oscar dress and frighten Nicole into submission.
Winner: Nicole Kidman 4-1



Mary McDonnell vs. Naomi Watts
Quantity
: Poor Mary. Just not enough quality credits to properly keep up. You had your chance, Hollywood! She's television's all-star player now. Naomi's been a consistent performer for the past five years and it carries her here.
Quality: You know I love me some Laura Roslin. But Naomi in Mulholland Dr. was something else entirely.
Fake Oscar Nods: Watts: 2 (Mulholland Dr.; 21 Grams); McDonnell: 1 (Donnie Darko)
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: Airlock! Still in effect. When you've got the political clout and relaxed restrictions on executive power to blow your enemies into the vastness of outer space, well, blonde Australians are no longer much of a threat. Edge: McDonnell.
Winner: Naomi Watts 3-1



Catherine Keener vs. Tilda Swinton
Quantity: Keener's one of my favorite screen presences, mostly because she's so discerning with her work. Of course, that bites her in the ass here when Swinton's collection of excellent small roles and inspired bits of casting (think Constantine; think Chronicles of Narnia) end up edging out Keener's small but tight resumé.
Quality: Keener's awesome Being John Malkovich performance definitely trumps Swinton in The Deep End.
Fake Oscar Nods: Keener: 1 (Being John Malkovich); Swinton: 1 (The Deep End). Push
Spotlights Stolen: They were both in Adaptation, even though Keener played herself. But it was a Charlie Kaufman-type playing of herself, which means it was indeed a real performance. I still prefer Swinton's literary agent, though.
Girlfight Factor: This is one to watch. Swinton still scares me, don't let anyone ever tell you different. But I have confidence in my girl Keener. She's not going down without a fight, and I think she's smart enough to think of something to get her by.
Winner: 2-2. HOLY CRAP IT'S YET ANOTHER TIE! This is funny, because I have such a clear preference for one over the other. Readers, it's all on your shoulders now. You know what to do. Vote wisely and once.

Up next: Two battles of Oscar winners and, oh the humanity, a clash of the titans.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Stupid Adrian Grenier

Have I become a very shallow person? Because I'm watching The Devil Wears Prada today and it's Anne Hathaway's big realization that her job at a faux-Vogue fashion magazine (and her desire to please her monstrous boss) has turned her into everything she's ever hated. Or so says her killjoy of a boyfriend. But all I can think of is how proud I am of Anne's character and how hard she's worked to go from a dowdy, holier-than-thou fashion novice to a stylish and capable assistant to an impossible woman. I mean, I can dig how she wouldn't want to stay in a job where her boss is so awful to her, but the movie kind of makes it seem like the real reason to quit is so she won't become an evil, vapid fashion person. But...but...she got wicked good at her job, and a sweet makeover, and she dropped from a size six to a size four! Okay, that's definitely shallow, I'll admit. I just wanted her to keep her job and work her way up the ladder and end up taking Anna WintourMiranda Priestley's job, Working Girl-style. Instead of caving to her dumb boyfriend's "integrity" speech.

Anyway, it's a cute movie. Meryl Streep is, of course, amazing, and the best thing about the movie. Stanley Tucci aint half bad, either, and Emily Blunt steals all her scenes as the super-intense "first assistant." Not as funny as it could have been, not as engrossing as it could have been, but a decent couple hours in a darkened room.

Big Brother, the Internet, and You

So the show doesn't air until tomorrow, but the wonderful, wonderful internet has already gotten a bead on the Big Brother: All-Stars houseguests. Something about a leaked audio feed. CBS has been pretty cagey with the leaking, I must say. Anyway, if you simply can't wait another day to find out which all-stars made it into the house, click the link below and find out. To give you a clue, I am, in a word, excited.

So apparently there are 14, rather than the twelve we were originally told there would be. Scuttlebutt is that there was a competition for the final two spots, which would account for the 8-6 male-to-female ratio.

Males: Kaysar, Howie, Marcellas, Will, James (YAY!), Mike Boogie, Jase, and Chicken George.

Females: Alison, Danielle, Nakomis, Erika, Janelle, Diane.

Erika and Diane were surprises, but not entirely unpleasant ones. And if I were to guess, I'd say it was James and Mike Boogie who won the last two spots.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Take That, Boston Legal!

Emmy nominations get announced on Thursday, and the likelihood is that most of my current favorite shows and performers will be passed over in favor of shows and performers that were good about three years ago. That's just the way it goes. I know Tom O'Neil at the L.A. Times' site has been shrilling his shrill about new voting procedures which might give the smaller critical darlings a chance, but I'll believe it when I see it. For now, here's the Emmy ballot as I'd like to see it. Drama categories only, considering I'm all-Office, all the time as far as the comedies are concerned.

Best Drama
Battlestar Galactica
Big Love
Deadwood**
Grey's Anatomy
Veronica Mars

**I think Deadwood might be ineligible for Emmy consideration this year (scheduling idiosyncrasies), but whatever. My list.

Best Actor
James Gandolfini - The Sopranos
Julian McMahon - Nip/Tuck
Ian McShane - Deadwood
Edward James Olmos - Battlestar Galactica
Timothy Olyphant - Deadwood

Best Actress
Kristen Bell - Veronica Mars
Ginnifer Goodwin - Big Love
Mary McDonnell - Battlestar Galactica
Chloe Sevigny - Big Love
Jeanne Tripplehorn - Big Love

Best Supporting Actor
Garret Dillahunt - Deadwood
Victor Garber - Alias
Robert Knepper - Prison Break
Max Pirkis - Rome
Frank Vincent - The Sopranos

Best Supporting Actress
Tricia Helfer - Battlestar Galactica
Sandra Oh - Grey's Anatomy
Polly Walker - Rome
Kate Walsh - Grey's Anatomy
Chandra Wilson - Grey's Anatomy

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Beyond Actress-dome: Round 1 Concludes

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).

Round 1 (continued)


Hope Davis vs. Chloe Sevigny
Quantity: For the longest time, I didn't think I cared for either of these actresses. Both are sour of face and unrelentingly serious onscreen. I came around to Davis earlier, by virtue of her playing opposite Jack Nicholson in About Schmidt. I didn't end up coming around to Sevigny until this year, when she won me over so completely with her Emmy-worthy performance on HBO's Big Love. The weird thing is, once I got over that hump, I realized I kind of always liked her, even when she was decidedly unlikeable (Dogville; Shattered Glass; A Map of the World). I'm as surprised as anyone that Chloe takes this.
Quality: We've got Sevigny's Nicki Grant versus Davis's Joyce Brabner from American Splendor. Both eminently worthy of praise. Both prickly without begging for your approval. Ultimately...and this is a photo-finish here...ehhhhhh Chloe Sevigny. That was a tough call.
Fake Oscar Nods: Davis: 1 (American Splendor); Sevigny: 1 (Boys Don't Cry). Push
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: They're both fairly laconic, but Davis is passive laconic, while Chloe is more of a drugged-out, secretly desperate laconic. I've always got my money on the junkie.
Winner: Chloe Sevigny 3-0.


Diane Keaton vs. Reese Witherspoon
Quantity: Keaton has given a lot of great performances in her career. She just hasn't concentrated enough of them in the last ten years to be able to overtake Reese, whose credits are even more impressive than you might think. From Election to Legally Blonde to Vanity Fair (she really ran the gamut on pluck and ambition, huh?) to Pleasantville to Walk the Line.
Quality: Keaton was pretty great in Something's Gotta Give. Reese was a billion times greater in Election.
Fake Oscar Nods: Witherspoon: 3 (Walk the Line; Election; Pleasantville); Keaton: 0
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: Keaton's got that old lady caginess that I've found so formidable in the elder ladies on this list. But Reese had a photographer who harassed her family at Disney's California Adventure murdered in his hotel room. Ice water in her veins. Daine won't ever see it coming.
Winner: Reese Witherspoon 4-0.


Virginia Madsen vs. Mary-Louise Parker
Quantity: You know, I honestly don't remember when I started loving Mary-Louise Parker, but the love is pure and true. The last ten years saw her being more impressive on the stage than on the screen, but a handful of stellar TV performances -- recurring on The West Wing; Emmy-licious in Angels in America -- put her on this list. Virginia Madsen's career only just rejuventated itself two years ago, so it's no shame that she's only got Sideways and Prairie Home Companion to work with here. Though I loved her in both, MLP has more credits.
Quality: Parker's Harper Pitt in Angels in America bests Madsen's Maya in Sideways.
Fake Oscar Nods: Madsen: 1 (Sideways); Parker: 0
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: Well, in Prairie Home Companion, Madsen plays an angel of death who brings on the demise of those she comes in contact with. On the other hand, MLP is awesome. Advantage: Parker.
Winner: Mary-Louise Parker 3-1


Maggie Gyllenhaal vs. Rachel McAdams
Quantity: Another close one. Both have emerged rather recently as among the best actresses of their generation. McAdams rode in on Mean Girls, then busted out with the '05 trio (Wedding Crashers, Red Eye, and The Family Stone), while Gyllenhaal has taken a more gradual approach on her road from Donnie Darko through Happy Endings. McAdams ekes out a slim victory.
Quality: Oh, Regina George in Mean Girls. So very fantastic. But I tend to admire the work Gyllenhaal put into her amoral Happy Endings character a liiittle bit more.
Fake Oscar Nods: Gyllenhaal: 0; McAdams: 0
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: Maggie certainly seems like a scrapper, or at least the scrapper of her family. But between Mean Girls, The Family Stone, and her pen-wielding antics in Red Eye, I'm a little afraid of Rachel McAdams.
Winner: Rachel McAdams 2-1


Uma Thurman vs. Rachel Weisz
Quantity: Weisz's recent Oscar win is something of a culmination of her steady improvement onscreen, The Mummy and its sequels notwithstanding. Thurman, however, has put in a very steady decade, even aside from her Tarantino-directed highlights.
Quality: Weisz has the all-too-rare distinction of winning the Oscar for her career-best performance, in last year's The Constant Gardener. But with The Bride, Uma (and Quentin) created something of an icon, and it's tough to compete with that.
Fake Oscar Nods: Thurman: 2 (Kill Bill, Vol. 1; Kill Bill, Vol. 2); Weisz: 1 (The Constant Gardener)
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: Um...The Bride? Remember? As wicked as Rachel was in The Shape of Things, Uma's still the one with the Hanzo sword.
Winner: Uma Thurman 4-0


Helena Bonham Carter vs. Charlize Theron
Quantity: Dead heat. Each has put in solid work in unspectacular fare -- Theron in The Devil's Advocate and Celebrity; Helena in Corpse Bride and TV's Merlin. Each has given their fare share of awardsy performances. At then end of the day, it's a push.
Quality: Ooh, check out this clash of the titans: Charlize in Monster versus Helena in Fight Club. Dammit. This one's gonna hurt. They're both SO good. How can I be expected to choose? I suppose, with a gun to my head, I'll give the edge to Theron by the slimmest of margins. She had to carry that movie on her own. Helena had more help.
Fake Oscar Nods: Bonham Carter: 2 (Fight Club; The Wings of the Dove); Theron: 1 (Monster)
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: It's actually the same dilemma as criterion #2: Aileen Wournos versus Marla Singer. Yes, Marla's the junkie while Aileen's merely a drunk, and I always prefer the harder-drugged combatant, but Aileen...is a serial killer. Can't fuck with that. Charlize takes it.
Winner: Charlize Theron 2-1


Holly Hunter vs. Julianne Moore
Quantity: Here's where the last-minute decision to extend the cut-off from 2000 to 1996 really switched things up. All of a sudden, Julianne Moore's not only playing with her 2002 The Hours/Far From Heaven double dip; she's also got that stellar run from 1997-99 where she seemed to hit every single performance out of the park. Tough to see how Holly Hunter (Thirteen; The Incredibles) can be expected to compete.
Quality: It's actually harder to pick Moore's best performance (it's between Boogie Nights and Far From Heaven, FYI) than to decide whether it'll beat Hunter in Thirteen. It will. It does.
Fake Oscar Nods: Moore: 3 (Far From Heaven; Magnolia; Boogie Nights); Hunter: 1 (Thirteen)
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: Now it's Holly's time to shine! Julianne's not much of a fighter, I don't think, whereas Ms. Hunter looks ready to bust open a can of Georgia whoop-ass on someone at all times.
Winner: Julianne Moore 3-1


Catherine O'Hara vs. Evan Rachel Wood
Quantity: On the wings of Christopher Guest mockumentaries, O'Hara flies past the teen angst -- both modern (The Upside of Anger) and period-based (The Missing) -- of young miss Wood.
Quality: Well, crap. Another hard one. Evan Rachel's breakthrough work on Thirteen versus the apex of O'Hara's Guest work in A Mighty Wind. Ultimately, O'Hara manages to kick in superior comedy and drama, which tilts the competition her way.
Fake Oscar Nods: Wood: 1 (Thirteen); O'Hara: 0
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: The unbridled ferocity of youth helps Evan Rachel get the duke in this matchup.
Winner: 2-2. HOLY CRAP IT'S ANOTHER TIE! Readers, it's all on your shoulders now. You know what to do. Vote wisely and once.