Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Summer Non-Blockbuster Capsule Reviews

Midnight in Paris
At this point, I think I'd enjoy Woody Allen movies (the decent Woody Allen movies, at least; not the horrible ones) much better if I try and tune out whatever he's trying to say. Because Midnight in Paris is a very enjoyable movie for great long stretches. Particularly when Owen Wilson's meandering strolls along winding Parisian streets take him back to the Paris of the '20s that he (i.e. Woody Allen) reveres so much.... see? Even there I can't seem to divorce The Message from the movie.

Wilson encounters literary icons and legendary artists -- Hemmingway, Salvador Dali, Gertrude Stein, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald -- and the exchanges are both a series of winking references from a director to his knowing audience but also genuinely funny and loose and well-acted. From Kathy Bates (Stein) to Tom Hiddleston and Allison Pill (the Fitzgeralds) to the charismatic Corey Stoll (Hemmingway), everybody's just kind of rolling around in this heady space and it's really charming. Stoll was really something special, I thought. He really nails the ludicrous masculinity of Hemmingway while keeping him genuinely magnetic. Even the romance between Wilson and Marion Cotillard (the object of my eternal agnosticism) is compelling for a while.

The scenes in present-day Paris -- where Wilson tries to avoid his absolute monster of a fiancee and her awful, Paris-hating, Republican-voting parents -- are where things fall apart. Poor Rachel McAdams needs a damned intervention when it comes to choosing movie roles; she's not the first woman to get lured by the prospect of Doing a Woody Allen Movie only to be saddled with a one-dimensional harpy of a woman, but she might be the most ill-served yet. Her Inez is pretty much every Woody Allen bugaboo rolled up into one: unfaithful, emasculating, faux-intellectual, and (a particular sin in this movie) utterly disdainful of both Paris and romanticism itself. Because apparently in the world of Woody Allen, rich people don't love France enough. And eschewing your cushy Malibu lifestyle for artistic poverty means you can afford to bum around Paris for the rest of your life. That he's so closed off from any kind of real-world perspective takes the air out of a full 50% of the movie, and it keeps it from being a true success. I'll take this movies occasional pleasures over wall-to-wall dreck like Whatever Works, but I can't support this "Woody's best in years!" narrative; not when Vicky Christina Barcelona was so much better so recently. C+

There's a big barrier to entry for this movie. Well, two of them. One is that you can't for a second imagine Uma Thurman and Michael Angarano in a romantic (and at some point sexual) relationship. The second is that these dime-a-dozen trust-fundy early-twentysomething smarter-than-the-world protagonists (Igby meets Jason Schwartzman) have become so impossible to root for in even the best movies. To the credit of writer/director Max Winkler, Ceremony recognizes these barriers and addresses them within the story, honestly and with a minimum of winking. It's not a perfect movie, but against all odds it emerges as heartfelt, and the supporting cast -- Lee Pace, Reece Thompson, and most especially Jake Johnson as Thurman's tortured, sloshed brother -- deliver some excellent performances. B

Tree of Life
I actually liked it better than I expected to, given my near-pathological aversion to Terrence Malick's slow pondering of The Big Questions. I didn't love it -- it's very much the movie I expected it to be after seeing the trailer. Seven or eight long, thoughtful sighs stretched out to two and a half hours and stretching from the Big Bang to the end of the world and beyond.

It feels like two movies, really. The first could (and maybe should) have been a breathtaking film about the origins of the universe, from stardust to the primordial ooze to those much ballyhooed dinosaurs, all of them floating across the screen to concerto music like a high-on-its-own intelligence Fantasia. But the dinosaurs are actually the first sign of what becomes, for me, the fatal flaw. You go to the trouble of putting this really well-done CGI into the movie so you can depict the dinosaurs, but they're put in service of what ends up being some kind of Cain-and-Abel allegory; a premonition of man's inhumanity to man. I guess we should give him credit for tackling such archetypal material, but I couldn't help but find it so much shallow profundity.

Once the movie shifts into its second part, a '50s-set family memoir about a domineering father ("Father") and beatific mother ("Mother"), these big themes and oft-used premises are thick in the air. Oedipal conflicts, why bad things happen to good people, no archetype goes un-glazed over. The transparent symbolism keeps only the most directly targeted audience members (uh...sons of stern fathers? residents of Waco during the DDT years?) from truly connecting to any kind of emotion.

And yet undeniably there are things the movie gets very right. Its depiction of young brothers growing up together and very close in age is quite evocative, for one thing. And since Emmanuel Lubezki's cinematography is, as expected, some of the most beautiful stuff you're ever going to see in your life, these moments are undeniably impressive. But the ending brings it all back to huskily-whispered talk about God and mothers and fathers, to gauzy beaches, and ultimately the end of the world. But again, it's all so Big as to leave your reaction to it far behind. B-

Monday, May 30, 2011

2011 Summer Movie Preview, Part 2

Summer movie season! You know it, you love it, you gently make fun of it. More often than not, summer offers a better variety of movies than it's given credit for. Looking forward at this particular summer ... well, there are some diamonds, but also a good bit of rough.

Previously: Part 1

Movie: X-Men: First Class (Matthew Vaughn)
High-Concept Synopsis: It's prequel/reboot time for the mutant superheroes, as we get to see how Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and bestie Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) formed their little band of mutants ... and how it blew apart.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of an X-Men film series that has been wildly divergent in quality but has shown to be capable of greatness. Fans of the super exciting cast, including McAvoy, Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, January Jones, Nicholas Hoult, and Rose Byrne. Fans of the emerging "superhero period piece" genre who are excited to see the mutants take on the '60s and the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who justifiably gave up on the X-Men after that pretty terrible The Last Stand or the actively awful Wolverine movie. Hormoneless wonders who are immune to the charms of either McAvoy or Fassbender (or January Jones, for that matter). People who have been dissatisfied with director Vaughn's Stardust and Kick-Ass and don't really believe in that three-strikes thing.
Why I'd See It: I am an unrepentant fan of the X-Men movies, even after those bad ones. I love these characters, and when they're suddenly played by James McAvoy and Jennifer Lawrence and all sorts of really interesting young performers? And with a cool '60s setting. And with a director who I think has something to prove? I'm electrified with excitement. June 3

Movie: Beginners (Mike Mills)
High-Concept Synopsis:Ewan McGregor deals with the one-two punch of finding out that his elderly father (Christopher Plummer) is gay and has terminal cancer. Hello, ideal indie comedy setup!
Who Will Be Seeing It:Fans McGregor's particular brand of meticulously crafted aw-shucksiness. Fans of director Mills' previous adventures in warm-hearted indie quirk, Thumbsucker. Old gays.
Who Won't Be Seeing It:People who find the premise a smidge too cutesy (the ascots Plummer is sporting don't entirely help in that regard). People who have watched McGregor travel down the path of bad movies and bad habits and now find him so affected and faux-genial onscreen that they can barely look at him. Young gays.
Why I'd See It:Thumbsucker wasn't a perfect movie, but I liked the sweet tone of it, so I'm interested to see how Mills deals with decidedly older protagonists. But man, I just cannot get up for another Ewan McGregor movie. June 3

Movie: Super 8 (J.J. Abrams)
High-Concept Synopsis:Childlike wonder meets aliens meet the American heartland meets grandma's apple pie meets Reese's Pieces meet lens flares meet Spielberg meets Kyle Chandler meets Elle Fanning meets wild fanboy anticipation.
Who Will Be Seeing It:Anybody who grew up on Spielberg movies who want to feel like kids in a simpler America again. J.J. Abrams fans eager to see him hit another summer-blockbuster home run after Star Trek.Friday Night Lights fans happy to see Coach get such a plum career opportunity.
Who Won't Be Seeing It:The Spielberg- and Abrams-averse (you'd think there would be more of them, but they're apparently not on the internet). People who get frustrated by the general opaqueness of the footage we've seen so far (yes, but what's IN the train?). People who have seen the trailers and can't shake a certain whiff of the Shyamalan about the whole thing.
Why I'd See It:I'm totally going to see it, of course. But I'm not as gaga about it as the rest of the entire internet is, and I can't exactly put my finger on a reason why. I guess this just means I'll be able to hold out until its second weekend and avoid some of the nuttier crowds? June 10

Movie: Green Lantern (Martin Campbell)
High-Concept Synopsis: Ryan Raynolds inherits an all-powerful ring that makes him the next in a long line of alien guardians of the universe. ...Seriously, did the rest of you know that's what the Green Lantern was all about? (Blake Lively and Peter Sarsgaard co-star.)
Who Will Be Seeing It: DC Comics enthusiasts looking to put a hurt on Marvel's dominance of the summer season. People for the Advancement of Ryan Reynolds as a Leading Man. Blake Lively fans (holla) who are hoping she can get some positive shine here and then go back to playing trashy bar wenches in Boston movies.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who like their superhero movies a little more grounded-in-reality, Dark Knight-style affairs and not neon-green journeys to space heaven. People turned off by the decision to use CG animation to create Reynolds's green space-suit. Blake Lively fans (holla) who've been hearing alarm bells ever since the first trailer and might rather stay home than watch their girl flounder in a thankless role.
Why I'd See It: You know, this thing looked mighty stupid when I first saw that trailer, but the more I see about the mythology and the aliens and Ryan Reynolds intensely reciting that "neither rain nor sleet nor glowing-green snow" credo -- I guess I'm really drawn to un-gritty comic book movies this summer. June 17

Movie: The Art of Getting By (Gavin Wiesen)
High-Concept Synopsis: Enigmatic and oh-so-dark-and-brilliant high-schooler (Freddie Highmore) needs to shape up, meets a dark-eyed girl (Emma Roberts) and ... I dunno, prepares to enter the real world or something.
Who Will Be Seeing It: People who have somehow not gotten enough of movies where smart-ass prep schoolers learn to overcome their personality disorders. People who have invested heavily in Emma Roberts becoming the next Kristen Stewart.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who tired of this type of achingly profound brat protagonist back when Igby was going down. People who can't trust Freddie Highmore and his tiny eyes. People who have caught on to the fact that anything with a title that starts with "The Art of..." must've been written by a douche bag. Yeah, Sun Tzu, I said it!
Why I'd See It: I'm not 100% opposed to this kind of movie -- the recent Ceremony certainly had its moments. But Freddie Highmore and Emma Roberts are not the people to attract me to a narrative arc I've seen this many times. June 17

Movie: Cars 2 (John Lasseter, Brad Lewis)
High-Concept Synopsis: All the loose ends left by the original Cars will finally be addressed.
Who Will Be Seeing It: People who longed for the redneck automobiles from Cars to take their talents to Europe and Asia. Fans of voice-cast additions Michael Caine and Cheech Marin (I know, I was surprised they'd sign up too). Pixar contrarians.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Pixar snobs. Animation fans who are lining up on the Kung Fu Panda side of the summer divide. People angry that Pixar didn't go the extra mile and digitally render Paul Newman's voice to reprise his role.
Why I'd See It: I really don't have any great animus against either of the Cars movies. They stay where they are, I stay where I am, and we're just fine. June 24

Movie: Bad Teacher (Jake Kasdan)
High-Concept Synopsis:Cameron Diaz plays a teacher. A baaaaaad teacher. Jason Segel, Lucy Punch, and Justin Timberlake co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It:People who are willing to give ol' Cammy a shot at playing a vulgar, mean-spirited chick who's a little too old to make bad behavior seem cute. The folks in Hollywood who have been waiting for Jake Kasdan to be the next big legacy for what feels like ten years now. (Wait...it's been ten ACTUAL years now.) The rare Justin-Cameron shippers hoping for a reunion.
Who Won't Be Seeing It:Character-actor fans annoyed that A-lister Diaz gets the plum role while the arguably more talented Punch has to play the foil. JT-haters (HATERS!) annoyed that they have to put up with him twice this summer. People who realize the writing team of Gene Stupinsky and Lee Eisenberg wrote the hated "Scott's Tots" episode of The Office.
Why I'd See It:Well, first of all: gotta support the team, with "the team" obviously being Justin. That being said: I can veer wildly when it comes to my appreciation of Cameron Diaz, but I like her best when she's not overly concerned with being likeable (look to something like In Her Shoes for a perfect example of that very quality). The trailer looks pretty funny, Jason Segel appears to be in fine form playing The Jason Segel Character. Not sure if I fully trust the Jake Kasdan sensibility, though. June 24

Movie: Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Michael Bay)
High-Concept Synopsis: They're robots! They fight! Or so you would assume! The reality is, Michael Bay has all the filmmaking skill of a toddler and you can't really tell what's happening with the big cartoon robots. Part three!
Who Will Be Seeing It: The apparently millions of people who saw the first and second and somehow didn't feel like they were being slapped in the face with a pair of robot testicles (which were in the movie). Audiences who are glad that mouthy Megan Fox has been replaced by mute sex doll Rosie Huntington-Whitely. Rubes who hated the first two but feel like the addition of this moon subplot is really going to make things interesting.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who learn their lessons. People who can't bear to watch Frances McDormand do this to herself. People who oh, say, have an allergic reaction to Ken Jeong and thus find themselves unable to attend more and more movies.
Why I'd See It: When Transformers: Rise of the Machines came out, I was advised by a friend to not even see it to marvel at how gloriously bad it was. I'm going to assume the same applies here.
July 1

Movie: Larry Crowne (Tom Hanks)
High-Concept Synopsis: Tom Hanks gets laid off, takes a moment to register for Symbol of Our Hard Economic Times status, then pursues an adult education course taught by an unusually sour Julia Roberts.
Who Will Be Seeing It: People who long to live in the days of 1990s Hollywood hierarchy. People who have been clamoring for Julia Roberts to be cast in the role of a woman who's chronically grim-faced. That Thing You Do fans who have been waiting fifteen years to once again experience that Hanks directorial magic.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who resent the kind benevolence of Hollywood royalty. People who recognize the Cedric the Entertainer Seal of Approval for the bellwether of quality it is. Ditto the "co-written by Nia Vardalos" seal of approval.
Why I'd See It: Look, I like Julia Roberts. I've settled into a place where I like Tom Hanks. But everything about this seems so joyless and witless and not at all what I'm looking for in a summer movie. July 1

"I'll Do Something Incredible That Blows God's Freakin' Mind!"

Good luck getting this out of my brain any time soon.

Dear Andrew Rannells, please win the Tony Award. Love, Joe.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

2011 Upfronts: Building a Better Fall TV Schedule

As promised, here's how my own fall TV lineup looks. Truthfully, not all that taxing, which makes sense since so many of the great-looking new shows are mid-seasoners.


Midseason: "Alcatraz" (Fox, 9pm)l "Smash" (NBC, 10pm)

Dropping "How I Met Your Mother" and "Gossip Girl" has pretty much freed up my Monday nights entirely, at least until midseason, when I belong to "Smash."

8pm: "Glee" (Fox)
9pm: "Ringer" (CW)
9pm: "New Girl" (Fox)
9:30pm: "Raising Hope" (Fox)
10pm: "Parenthood" (NBC)

Midseason: "Cougar Town" (ABC, 9pm); "Apartment 23" (ABC, 9:30pm)

Cable (unofficially): "Sons of Anarchy" (FX, 10pm)

Fox has put together a pretty great night, assuming "New Girl" is what I hope it to be. But with my beloved "Cougar Town" returning with "Apartment 23" in November, that 9pm slot is looking awfully competitive. "Ringer" should have a few weeks to convince me that it's worth time-shifting my schedule for -- I finally saw the trailer for the Sarah Michelle Gellar twin drama, and I can't say I'm not intrigued.

8pm: "Survivor" (CBS)
8pm: "Up All Night" (NBC)
8pm: "The X Factor" (Fox)
9pm: "Modern Family" (ABC)
9:30pm: "Happy Endings" (ABC)
9pm: "America's Next Top Model" (CW)
10pm: "Revenge" (ABC)

Wednesday has certainly become the most competitive night on my schedule, no thanks to my curiosity over Simon Cowell's return with "X Factor" (although replacing Cheryl Cole with Nicole Scherzinger on the judging panel definitely dampens that enthusiasm some). Something may have to give at 8pm, though I certainly hope "Up All Night" is good enough to give me a dilemma. Also, yes, I'm back onboard with "America's Next Top Model," at least for this all-star season. Once more into a breach of Tyra's massive ego, and all that.

8pm: "Community" (NBC)
8:30pm: "Parks and Recreation" (NBS)
8pm: "The X Factor" (Fox)
10pm: "Prime Suspect" (NBC)

Midseason: "30 Rock" (NBC)

Cable (unofficially): "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" (FX)

Dropping "The Office" was made easier when it wasn't paired in the same hour with either "Community" (which frustrated me a lot in Season 2, but I'm still hopeful it can rebound) or the brilliant "Parks and Recreation." "Prime Suspect" gets the suddenly-lean 10pm time slot to win me over, which I could see it doing.

9pm: "Fringe" (Fox)
9pm: "Grimm" (NBC)

Reminiscent of when "Dollhouse" and "Ugly Betty" suddenly made Friday nights a DVR hot zone, I once again have competing shows in the Friday Death Slot. I'm going into this season with the expectation that it will be the last for "Fringe" -- I just hope they end the series on a better note than they ended the season. And I'm weirdly optimistic for "Grimm," even if this time slot says NBC doesn't feel the same.


Midseason: "Bob's Burgers" (Fox, 9:30pm)

Cable (unofficially): "Boardwalk Empire" (HBO); "Bored to Death" (HBO)

Sunday nights remain the dominion of HBO and Fox comedies, though I'm holding out hope that ABC will give an early hook to either that fairy-tale show or "Pan Am" and then plug in "Good Christian Bitches" either before or after "Desperate Housewives" where it belongs.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

2011 Upfronts: The Search for Hope in a Universe of Bleakness*

*Or so you would have believed if you read the coverage of the upfronts by any of the TV critics you read or follow on Twitter. Granted, it's the end of a grueling television season; granted. critics took the cancellations of shows like Lone Star and The Chicago Code especially hard; and granted, I'm coming at this from a position of seething jealousy for people who get to cover things like this for a living, but regardless: the notes from the front lines of the networks' presentations of their new fall schedules were oppressively grim. Here's the thing: I don't think these shows look so bad! Okay, some of them do. The ones about clairvoyant detectives and cross-dressing workplace comedies -- those look pretty awful. But more than a few of these new shows look decidedly promising. Sure, most of them premiere at midseason, but hey! I can wait them out.

For now, here's the handful of shows that caught my eye and will compete for precious DVR space come fall.


Up All Night (NBC, Wednesdays at 8pm)
On paper it looks like a hasty collection of actors whom TV people have decided should have successful TV shows, but since those actors are Will Arnett and Christina Applegate and I love them, I'm cool with it. They play parents of a newborn baby, and NBC decides to fly in the face of that arcane rule about babies ruining comedy shows. As a bonus, Maya Rudolph (who, after Bridesmaids and especially Away We Go, seems like a movie star vacationing on TV, even though the truth of the matter is that she's still kind of trying to establish her post-SNL identity) plays Applegate's boss. Arnett and Applegate seem to have solid chemistry, which will likely make or break the show. The time slot is no picnic, but the fact that it looks like the comedy version of Parenthood (at least on the surface) will hopefully endear it to the NBC audience.

Revenge (ABC, Wednesdays at 10pm)
Well, I've dropped Gossip Girl, so I think I could use a new infusion of primetime soap into my life. Emily VanCamp plays a girl who returns to the Hamptons to take ... well, revenge ... upon the evil richies who apparently conspired to ruin her father decades earlier. The cast is full of pet favorites of mine -- like all Everwood fans, I feel possessive of VanCamp, and she's joined by Nick Weschler and Connor Paolo (my favorites from Roswell and Gossip Girl, respectively) as working-class brothers -- and they even dug up Madeline Stowe to play the ice queen of the Hamptons! It's all very melodramatic, and the lines between the Evil Rich and the Noble Poor could use some serious blurring, but the central plot is compelling and VanCamp plays against type as a stone-cold vengeance seeker quite well.

New Girl (FOX, Tuesdays at 9pm)
This one is going to sharply divide people -- at least the ones I encounter daily. You're either a Zooey Deschanel person or you're not (I am), and you're either allergic to twentysomethings-and-their-mating-habits comedies of you're not, and you either grimace and say things like "quirky" when you see a show where the main pretty girl does things like sing-and-dance awkwardly and fall down and such. Here's where I come down: of all the September premieres, this was the trailer that made me the happiest. Deschanel looks goofy and cute, and I love the trio of guys her suddenly single girl moves in with -- Max Greenfield, my suddenly favorite person in the world Jake Johnson, and Damon Wayans Jr. (who I guess is going to have to be re-cast? Because ABC picked up Happy Endings for another season?).

Smash (NBC, Mondays at 10pm, midseason)
I love the look of this one so much, I'm actually angry that I have to wait til mid-season. A non-winking show about casting a blockbuster Broadway musical with my once-beloved Katharine McPhee from American Idol in the ingenue role; with Jack Davenport, Debra Messing, Anjelica Huston (!), and Christian Borle (who I just recently saw and loved on stage in Angels in America) as the behind-the-show players, and starring My Block in Hell's Kitchen as Itself. Get here IMMEDIATELY.

Alcatraz (FOX, Mondays at 9pm, midseason)
J.J. Abrams is back! With a show about a mystery! I'm as surprised as you are. So yeah, there's a decent chance this could be all sizzle and no steak, but watching Fringe turned out pretty well for me, so that's something to hold onto. The plot involves all of the prisoners in Alcatraz getting raptured (timely!) some time back in the '60s, and now they're somehow coming back, having not aged, to commit their crimes again. Not enough? How about Hurley from Lost?? ...Okay, how about Sam Neil unofficially reprising his role from Happy Town!

The River (ABC, midseason)
There are so many reasons why a show like this might not work -- too much ambition for a network show; setting up a mystery it can't pay off; expecting an audience to put up with shaky-cam over the course of a 13+ episode season; teasing a horror conceit on a network that doesn't really do horror. If this were on cable, my doubts would be significantly lessened. But my interest in the concept is piqued enough that I can't not give it a shot.

Awake (NBC, midseason)
Along with Smash, NBC actually boasts the two pilots I'm most looking forward to. This is another concept that, were it on cable, I'd be a lot more confident about it. Jason Isaacs is a cop who gets into a car accident with his wife and son, after which his life kind of splits, Sliding Doors style. In one life, his wife survived the crash but his son died. But when he goes to sleep, he awakes to a life where his son survived but his wife died. Meanwhile, because it's network TV, he's a cop with cases to solve in each reality, all while struggling with therapists (Cherry Jones! B.D. Wong!) to sort out which "life" is real. Only he's quite understandably loathe to give up this duality where he gets to keep his wife AND son, even if it means that he doesn't actually ever sleep? One would think this narrative would, by necessity, go to some dark places. Does NBC have the stomach for that?

Apartment 23 (ABC, Tuesdays at 9:30pm, midseason)
The concept -- nice Midwestern girl moves to the big city, finds a roommate who turns out to be a horrible, diabolical, urbanite bitch -- is kind of limited. But Krysten Ritter plays the bitch, James Van Der Beek plays himself (Ritter's best friend), and from the four minutes' worth of the pilot I saw, it's comedic sensibility is there. Which is a fancy-pants way of saying I laughed a lot. But if people think the characters on Cougar Town are unlikeable ... (though maybe that's what makes them perfect time-slot partners come November)


Of the two shows this fall that are being tagged as "Mad Men wannabes" because they're set in the 1960s, The Playboy Club (NBC, Mondays at 10pm) is the one that didn't bore me (sorry, ABC's Pan Am), but that may just be because I have yet to see the former. Also, with Smash set to debut in its time slot at midseason, NBC maybe doesn't have a ton of confidence in Eddie Cibrian and Amber Heard's show. Prime Suspect (NBC, Thursdays at 10pm) looks a lot better -- Maria Bello's triumphant return to the old ER time slot! -- but I'll want to see where it falls along the procedural/serial divide. Ironically, it's the procedural elements that give me more faith in NBC's Grimm, one of two modern-fairy-tale themed shows this fall (sorry, ABC's Once Upon a Time). Well, that and cutecutecute David Giuntoli (I mean, really) in the lead role. When will he get the accolades he deserves for being the most successful Road Rules alum?

The good news for ABC is that the pilot for Good Christian Bitches (they may have retitled it "Good Christian Belles," but fuckin' MAKE ME) captured my interest way more than I thought it would. Leslie Bibb is good for TV, and while Cheno gets the prime villain real estate, the awesome Miriam Shor could well be the story if the show succeeds. Her and Annie Potts, who gets to be both haughty and funny, which is great. Lord knows when they're gonna haul out Shonda Rimes's new show Scandal (ABC, midseason), with Kerry Washington as a political fixer with the TV-cliche name of "Olivia Pope." Like most Shonda shows, the supporting cast is strong (Henry Ian Cusick, Columbus Short, Guillermo Diaz), and I hope the characters aren't too annoying.

This seems to be the year that I've officially outgrown The CW, but I'm going to give Ringer (CW, Tuesdays at 9pm) a shot pretty much solely because it stars Sarah Michelle Gellar. Much like Katie Holmes, I think she's born to headline a network television show, and I'm hoping she gets another hit.


Free Agents (NBC, Wednesdays at 8:30pm) features the beloved (by me, at least) Kathryn Hahn, but appears to be stranding her on an unfunny sitcom, romancing Hank Azaria. I'm hoping the triumvirate of Whitney (NBC, Thursdays at 9:30pm), Are You There Vodka, It's Me Chelsea (NBC, midseason), and 2 Broke Girls (CBS, Mondays at 8:30pm) don't become a referendum on women in comedy the way Bridesmaids was this summer, because those shows look awful. Sorry, Kat Dennings! Terra Nova (FOX, Mondays at 8pm) is either going to be Too Big To Fail (timely reference!) or one of those high-profile FOX belly-flops, but either way, Avatar is Avatar and I won't be watching the TV version. Finally, The Finder (FOX, Thursdays at 9pm, midseason) is a spinoff of Bones, which is fine. I just wish they hadn't perpetuated Hollywood's continuing employment of that block of wood from 7th Heaven.

Tomorrow I'll post how my Fall TV grid shakes out, because sad OCD like mine shouldn't be hidden underneath a bushel!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

United States of Tara and Learning to Feel (Terrible) Again

So, that happened. And it sucked. I've talked about my love for United States of Tara around here before, but I'm not sure how much I've talked about not just it's greatness as a TV show rather than the simple fact that I just might love it more than any other show on TV. I think that part snuck up on me.

I've been writing about TV shows in this meager blog capacity for about six years now, and in a semi-professional capacity elsewhere for about five. I know how TV works. I stuck up for ABC when they cancelled Pushing Daisies and for FOX when they cancelled Lone Star. Hell, I'll stick up for Showtime now -- it's a business, and probably better to free up next spring's Tara time slot with something that has a chance to become a hit. But I also figured I'd learned to watch these shows from a distance -- if not a professional distance than at least from a distance that says "I know my taste is not universal. I'm happy that my taste and the public's overlap long enough for me to get a few great seasons out of something I love." I didn't shout over Arrested Development or cry over Deadwood or send a single "fuck you" FX's way when Terriers went away after one near-perfect season. And when Fringe goes away next spring (touch wood it gets a full season), I'll say we were fortunate to get four seasons of fucking delightful weirdness out of a broadcast network.

I was so sure in my detachment that I had some fun at Mark and Adam's expense a few weeks ago when The Event and V were cancelled. In my defense, a) those were terrible shows, and b) they didn't have a prayer of getting renewed. I even said that I feared no karmic blowback since all the shows I really cared about (Justified, Fringe, Parks and Rec) had already been renewed, which now seems like so much karmic stepping-in-it. Sorry, Diablo Cody and Toni Collette and John Corbett -- this one's on me.

The super-great Christopher Rosen at Movieline wrote a piece on his blog yesterday about the year anniversary of the end of Lost and how, while he's loved shows like Mad Men and Parks and Recreation since then, he hasn't truly, viscerally cared about a show since Lost. I thought the same thing, save for swapping out Lost for Battlestar Galactica. So it came as a bit of a surprise to me this afternoon, and especially tonight as I watched what is now the fourth-to-last episode ever, that United States of Tara is that show for me. Beyond the fact that I think it's a great show, the bottom line is that I've fallen for these characters. Tara, whose demons and afflictions can't help but make her a burden to the people she loves the most. Marshall, desperately trying to hold it together all while being such an achingly relatable gay teenager I could die, repeatedly, every week. Charmaine, who is so awful for such frustratingly recognizable reasons. Aimless Kate, who manages to be the rare TV teen to actually mature. Even put-upon, saintly Max. I ended up loving all of them, and now I've set myself up for a situation where in a month's time, I'm going to have to do that thing where I get actually, demonstrably sad when the pretend TV people go away.

While I'm at it, having just watched episode 3.9, "Bryce Will Play," might as well talk about that specifically:

1) People have talked about the "dark" streak in this show -- for a lot of them it's why they like the show -- but this is the first episode of the series that's felt actually malevolent in tone. It's fitting for the Bryce alter. I like the notion that drugged-up Tara gives, that Bryce might be her DID way of getting rid of the other alters to whom, much as they tend to fuck up her life, she's become too attached to abolish herself. Toni Collette (who, I'll say again since I guess I won't have too many more chances, earned every bit of that Best Actress in a Comedy Emmy, no matter how many hair-splitting comedians bitch about her not being a comedic actress) is just fantastically creepy as Bryce, and the scenes where Gimmie's parka is stabbed to death and Hatteras is nearly crabbed to death are both morbidly funny (the pumpkin head) and genuinely frightening.

2) I am just so deeply sad that we're probably not going to get to see Marshall emerge from what is a totally understandable but still hard-to-watch-him-go-through-it moody teenage crisis. The scene with him and Max after the film screening was great and cathartic and even-handed, but I can't shake the feeling that Season 3 was the designated "Marshall hits bottom" year, and we won't get to see him boomerang next year. Seriously, casting people, do not let the gift of Keir Gilchrist go to waste.

3) Up until this episode, I liked Eddie Izzard's performance just fine but wasn't writing songs about it. This week, he picked up a good chunk of the storyline and put it on his very capable shoulders. I look forward to seeing him play delightful pompous asses in many other future projects.

4) I like that Tara is keeping the worst from Katie and Charmaine and Max and Marshall, both out of shame and also a desire to protect them. Of course, after that brilliant moment where Bryce re-introduced himself to Charmy, I'm doubting that lasts long.

Three more episodes! You guys! I know the very fact that it's getting cancelled means there aren't very many of you out there who are feeling what I'm feeling, but thanks for indulging me anyway.

Gregsons 4-eva!

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Short Digital Art Installation About My Fear of Aging

1 Girl 5 Gays Power Rankings: May

Back again for another shuffling of the 1 Girl, 5 Gays rankings. Once again, LTG, Jeff Long, and John Ramos have joined me in ranking our favorite guys of the last month. Due to two weeks of not airing new episodes, the rankings got pushed back a smidge. But we are BACK now!

The process: We all ranked our top ten (and bottom three) guys, I made a composite list, and we all made comments. Previous month's ranking in parentheses (NR = "not ranked"). NOTE: Only guys appearing in new episodes (airing on LOGO) in the past month were considered.

Previously: February, March, April

1 Girl, 5 Gays May Power Rankings

1 -- Juan (Previously 1)

So many of Juan's most lovable traits were on display this week, from his slightly sleepy casual vibe to his old-school romanticism. And I love that he said he'd sleep with Andrew over Matt Barker because he believes in forgiveness. That shit made me laugh a LOT, you guys.

"Playing Barbra for a bunch of junior high dudes? Brilliant. I wonder what Juan does when he's not on the show? I bet he's good at it. His mix of innate confidence and self-awareness is really compelling. " -- Jeff

"Even though I know people think Roger Ebert can be too much (especially on Twitter), I really liked Juan's fondness for him. Also 'Do I have mono, or am I just really lazy?' cracked me up. He can do no wrong." -- John

2 -- Jonathan S. (4)
As adorable and funny as ever. In a month with precious few laughs to be found on the show (lots of heavy argument-having among the guys!), Jonathan S was invaluable.

"I just love this guy. That he only snoops in his family's medicine cabinets shows a remarkable level of restraint. " -- Jeff

"Another one who can do no wrong. The fact that he wishes he could dance like a voguer from Paris Is Burning won the night for me. Shante, Jonathan!" -- John

"I am so in love with Jonathan S. To the point where I think he might be the one I secretly want to date." -- LTG

3 -- Ian (9)

BIG month for Ian Lynch. He really brought the personality and managed to call Jake out for being shallow, while still keeping his sense of humor. Also, that story about the hookup of his playing "Your Body Is a Wonderland," complete with allusion to Santos singing -- all winners.

"This may have been Ian's best appearance yet -- not one mention of his junk, and he was funny. I think he may be a guy who shines more in the absence of the dominating duo of Dean and Yerxa." -- LTG

"I loved his efficient dissection of Andrew when people on the panel have defended him for being "honest," and the Choose Your Own Adventure characterization of Matt Barker was spot-on." -- John

"I really admire the guys who are honest enough to admit an insecurity on the show. Ian's crying fit after seeing his exes with guys who were cuter than him was totally relatable and funny. Those guys must've been hella hot though, 'cause he's adorable. If he were a book, he'd be High Fidelity. Or maybe Angela's Ashes." -- Jeff

4 -- Jonathan N. (2)

Seriously, thank God for Jonathan on these panels. Continuing that whole "smart with a sense of humor" thing, he pulls off calling the other guys out on their b-s without sounding hectoring about it. And I really love the haircut, even if it does resemble certain seasons of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.

"Sweet again. I really liked how he said he was a fan of the show and learned so much from watching it when he wasn't on it. I forget that there are as many teachable moments on this show as there are. Frankly, I learn a lot too." -- Jeff

"Still love him, but he showed signs of slipping back into CGI territory this week. At least he picked Jon Hamm over James Franco." -- John

5 -- J.P. (3)

It would annoy me on almost anyone else, but I do love how flustered and neurotic JP gets on, like, every other question. And he cried during Rabbit Hole! I feel you, girl.

"I'm a little worried about JP. He only has drunk sex and doesn't think he has any charisma, when he has more charisma than almost anyone on the panel and when it seems like all of us would gladly have sober sex with him. I don't want him to be cocky, but the hearts and flowers kind of require him to not have a low opinion of himself. Snap out of it, JP!" -- LTG

"Maybe I'm just desperate to hold on to the hearts and flowers, but I thought JP was genuinely embarrassed to say that he has charisma rather than actually thinking he doesn't have any. As for drunk sex, I agree it kind of goes with the being single territory, is all I'll say. And his distaste for the Catcher in the Rye answer was PRICELESS. Still LOVE." -- John

"The charisma moment seemed like he was really considering the question instead of dogging himself. It's kind of a silly question though, seeing as no one at MTV is going to put someone on the show if they think they're without charisma. I also appreciated his answer about Dean and Yerxa. Yes, they are glib about how stupid they think everyone is. No, I don't want to hang out with Dean except to indulge that part of myself that loves to date cold, imperious hipster assholes. But, they actually are both very smart and it is the responsibility of the people on the panel with them to assert their own views." -- Jeff

6 -- Yerxa (5)
You know, I do think it's part of Michael Yerxa's charm that he gets so strident and flip-outty about Romeo & Juliet vs. The Notebook (a tendency for which which Juan later delightfully called him out) but I have to admit, if it were anyone but Santos whom he were admonishing like a wayward grade-schooler, I'd have probably been annoyed. Tone, Yerxa! Tone.

"I'm just getting sick of his outrage. Sure, it's ridiculous to compare Romeo & Juliet to The Notebook, but plenty of people love the latter. That said, His Grindr put-down of Jake was fucking legendary. " -- Jeff

" I'm surprised that he stayed in the argument with Santos for that long -- he does seem to have trouble controlling himself. I would have thought better of him if he hadn't bothered. Still, I appreciated him throwing some shade Jake's way. It's about time." -- John

"Liked him better in his second episode this month than I have in a while. His reaction to the Barker poo story was hilarious, but his It Gets Better discussion reminded me how easily he moves from funny to smart to passionate and back again." -- John

7 -- Alex (7)
There are moments when I feel like Alex's status as The Funny One seems a lil' bit forced. Who didn't see that "ball-sweat cologne" joke coming from a mile away? But then he'll have those moments of perfectly breaking the tension, like the Forces of Nature line in the midst of Yerxa and Santos's dust-up about The Notebook and I appreciate him all the more. Plus I'm with him in choosing Santos's hair (properly cared for, of course) over Juan's.

"Can anyone answer for me why it seems that gays with a broad worldview tend to be sexual cynics? Anyway, I guess my crush on him is over. It seemed like he kind of hated Juan or something. I don't know. Weird stuff was happening. " -- Jeff

"Whatever was going on with him and Juan was definitely unenjoyable, but the Forces of Nature line was exquisitely timed, and I also liked how he would use Matt Barker's reputation as a liar for his own nefarious purposes." -- John

8 -- Jake (NR)
Rough month for Jake, really betraying his shallowness (stop showing off your guns, man!), and then saying that he relates to Whoopi among all the View women because she's "neutral." Not to mention "I'm not sure if I'm charismatic, but I always smile." Sigh. But then he kind of won me over with the level-headed real talk about herpes, plus how he called out how intimidating the Yerxa/Dean axis can be.

"Someone needs to tell Jake that you can either be a big muscle guy or you can be a super natty dresser, but you can't be both. Big guns and twee little bowties are mutually exclusive. (And Ian's shining moment may have been noting how ridiculous Jake looked in that getup.)" -- LTG

"Ugh, I hate to say it, but I think he's really just kind of a dimwit. Don't get me wrong -- I really respect what he does and felt bad for him with the story about the dying mother, and also appreciated his attempts to defuse the herpes panic. But not only being shallow about looks and worried about what his friends would think of his dates, but making me listen to a ten-minute explanation about it? " -- John

"Wow. So, he and Yerxa officially hate each other. This is great. He has a point regarding Yerxa's shaming of others for their opinions, but I think it's telling that his sexual agency was his go-to power jab (see: the pubic hair question). " -- Jeff

9 -- Santos (NR)
However much I think Alex rides the line of trying too hard, Santos ejaculates all over it. The whole thing about wanting to see God's penis ... he thinks he's being SO outrageous and he's really just missing the mark by such a great distance.

"You know, I actually thought this was his most comfortable appearance on the show. Sure, his Trembling Before G_d's Penis moment was cringe-worthy, but he actually seemed to be listening and honestly relating to some of the answers of the others on the panel. This is a huge step forward for him." -- Jeff

"His best moments were...non-verbal? Like, there were moments when he genuinely laughed at something someone else said, which was endearing. But every time he opens his mouth it's hard not to flinch in anticipation, even if the really cringey stuff is happening less often." -- John

"I'm also really glad to see that Santos is letting us see his face. For reals, I think that represents some kind of actual growth for him. " -- LTG

10 (tie) -- Simon (NR)
Seriously, this is reaching crisis point. I find him so incredibly appealing, face-wise, that I'm practically picking out china patterns, but I am STILL waiting for him to pull his wits together and say SOMETHING! I need a there there. The fact that he doesn't watch the show doesn't surprise me, and even bringing up the time Yerxa took a dig at him, he didn't really say anything about it. Take ownership of your personality, pretty face!

"I'm with you, Joe. Who the hell is he? I don't understand. You've choked someone or you haven't. Is there that much nuance in his actual experience that he doesn't have words for it?" -- Jeff

"Yeesh. Spit as lube all the time? He made me side with Andrew there." -- John

"Simon, if you're using spit as lube all the time, you're doing sex wrong. because that stuff dries up way too fast. " -- LTG

10 (tie) -- Andrew (NR)
I can't believe Simon's dithering on the "have you ever choked someone" question allowed for Andrew to look good by pressing him to give an answer. Don't worry, though, Andrew's still awful. Have you noticed how often he bases his answers on superficial shit like race? It's like that's as far as his insights into people are allowed to go. Also, put the nipple away, it's not that cute. Also, that story about his dad and the dead dog was HORRIFYING.

"This is weird, but...despite the pretty solid feeling that I wouldn't want to hang out with him, Andrew was kind of the anchor. Fine, he brought up the race thing a little too much, but he's super young and he's at least making baby steps towards the planet Empathetica. And, even though he may not watch the show when he's not on it, I think the experience (and probably the hate he receives online) is clearly helping him grow as a person." -- Jeff

"I'll admit I didn't find him quite as objectionable. Or at least I found some explanation for the way he is, because that story about his father walking the dead dog was about the most horrifying thing I've ever heard." -- John

Also receiving votes: David, Philip, Dean, Ralph

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Summer's Post-Thor Blockbusters, in Order of My Anticipation

The story of my reaction to Thor -- how at first it seemed terrible, and then it seemed like a movie that everybody would hate but I might enjoy ironically, and then people seemed to enjoy it okay and so did I -- is kind of my reaction to the 2011 summer movie season. What once seemed awful now looks promising! What once looked great now leaves me a smidge cold!

Here's where I sit with them at the moment. I'd say they're subject to change, but the more I've seen/heard about them, the more my anticipation levels have solidified. Please do comment and tell me how wrong I am.

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II
Look, it's just a fact. These movies are for me, and I am for these movies. And all the best stuff from the final book happens at the end! This could may well be two and a half hours of me fighting back tears as each and every peripheral character gets their big moment. I have a thing about endings, okay??

2. X-Men: First Class
Much like with Harry Potter, I've decided I'm through with apologizing for why I'm frothing-at-the-mouth geeked to see my beloved mutants back on the screen again. Put it this way: I'm so excited for this movie that it made me watch X-Men: The Last Stand when it was on FX last weekend, hoping it might be better than I had remembered. I won't be making that mistake again (in one of Dante's circles of hell sits Brett Ratner promising Halle Berry a more prominent role in an eternal next movie), but regardless: James McAvoy won't do me wrong.

3. Captain America: The First Avenger
I remain wary of unnerving, skinny, Benjamin Button Chris Evans in the early going, but once his chest has been pumped up to sufficiently salivating levels, I am all about the Cap'n kicking some Nazi ass. I am equally all about this sequence of shots in the trailer:

Dominic Cooper likes what he sees, people. Dom likes it. Hayley Atwell also likes:

4. The Green Lantern
This thing looked like garbage the first time I saw a trailer. But whether through attrition or through finally putting its best footage forward, I'm really warming up to the idea of this. I never realized how much Green Lantern was all about aliens! Much like with Thor, I like how this movie seems to be embracing something about comic book superheroes besides stoic crime-fighting.

5. Super 8
I don't know what the problem is, folks. Everybody else is flipping out over the trailers, over the Spielberginess, over Kyle Chandler's hair (rightly so, there). I certainly will see it, but I'm less certain that I'm going to love it. That Spielbergian triumvirate of children/pets/aliens already seems a little pre-packaged, even moreso when you consider it's another director doing his Spielberg impression.

6. Cowboys & Aliens
I like Daniel Craig as much as the next guy, and Iron Man means I can't entirely disregard Jon Favreau as a director, but if I felt a whiff of pandering in the way Super 8 is being packaged, there's a full-on stench coming from the way this movie is groveling for geek approval. Also, I'm not convinced Harrison Ford didn't legally die in 1998.

7. Cars 2
Didn't see the first one. Won't be seeing this one.

8. Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Won't be seeing this one either, but also know that I will judge you if you do. What, the first two inept, ugly, lazy, stupid movies weren't enough to convince you that there are better ways to spend your air-conditioning refuge? Every time I see that shot in the trailer of that fish-lipped, functionally illiterate "actress" they got to replace Megan Fox, I want to throw actual tomatoes at the screen.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Assorted Thoughts on Thor

1. The bottom line (yes, I'm including the bottom line at the top of the post) is that I really enjoyed myself with Thor. And not in the ways I thought I would. I was expecting a big, dumb, loud series of explosions that took itself super-seriously, looked like crap, and hopefully gave me a chance to ogle Chris Hemsworth for a while. What I got instead was a big, dumb series of reasonably likeable characters who didn't take themselves nearly as seriously as I thought they would, and bountiful opportunities to ogle Chris Hemsworth, who from some angles may actually have tree trunks for arms. (It did sometimes look like crap, though. Let's not get crazy.)

2. It's that sense of humor, of lightness, that's the key. It's not quite like The Green Hornet, which was essentially an action comedy, but the plentiful moments of latitude not only let Thor breathe a little, but it let the characters lighten up long enough for us to get to like them. Nowhere was this more important than with Thor himself, who on paper could be really hard to like. But Hemsworth turns out to be pretty charismatic, and he used that to supreme advantage. Boy's got a smile on him. Between this and A Perfect Getaway, I'm really growing fond of this guy.

3. Hemsworth isn't the only cast member who makes the lighter tone work. Stellan Skarsgard has some fun scenes opposite Thor, and Kat Dennings dutifully fills in the role of audience surrogate, commenting on the ridiculousness of the setup and repeatedly ogling Thor's body like any sufficiently equipped human being would. I like Natalie Portman a lot, and while she's not bad here, the whole thing where there's supposed to be this great romance between Thor and Jane is the most underwritten and unconvincing part of the movie. And considering that's all Jane's there for, it's hard to say Portman's outing was a success.

4. Aside from the sense of humor, I also liked how the movie embraced the sillier, more fantastical aspects of a comic book story. I have nothing against the Christopher Nolan Batman movies, but I like that the Marvel movies aren't afraid of embracing the more out-there stuff. While I could quibble with the actual design of Asgard, nobody in the movie is making apologies for it being Valhalla in Spaaaaace. Sure, I'll be making "Rainbow Brite" jokes about the Bifrost bridge for a long time, and yes, some of the scenes with Thor's Viking pals stomping around New Mexico might've looked like the lost Capital One ad, but by that time I was invested in the story.

5. The challenge of balancing the Asgard parts with the New Mexico parts wasn't always successful, mostly because while all sorts of unwritten "Heroes Journey" rules were in play when it came to the outcome of Thor's battle with Loki, we still technically weren't sure how it'd go down. But once S.H.I.E.L.D. made its presence known in New Mexico, our knowledge of the bigger Avengers picture dictated everything that would happen and ensured that we'd be experiencing no surprises, right down to the now-requisite Samuel L. Jackson post-credits cameo.

6. All that said, Thor will go down as the movie that sold me on The Avengers. There's still a chance that Iron Man is going to run roughshod over the group and turn it into Tony Stark and the Supremes, but Thor suggested a landscape wherein multiple films to the work of all kinds of exposition and character-building, which will hopefully let Joss Whedon's movie out of the gates at a gallop. We'll see if Captain America advances that agenda even further.

7. I want to throw a bit of a shout-out to Tom Hiddleston's Loki, who managed to be a fun villain, while remaining three-dimensional enough to be reasonably sympathetic at times, all the while looking like a dead ringer for Johnny Weir.

8. And while I'm singling out cast members, Jaimie Alexander plays ... um, "The Girl in Thor's Entourage," basically, and she's pretty good. But between this and her recurring gig on Nurse Jackie, she's all up in my face recently. But then I realized she also played the underage hottie who took Dennis to prom in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia's "Underage Drinking: A National Concern" episode. And now she can do no wrong with me.

9. Finally, I'm not fucking kidding about all the ogling of Chris Hemsworth. If you think the trailer lingered on his shirtless form a lot -- and it did -- the movie does so even more. Did there HAVE to be a scene where Thor ends up in a wet, muddy t-shirt? No there did not. But Kenneth Branagh gave it to us anyway. And if he had to sacrifice all but three of Rene Russo's scenes to give it to us, well, I for one appreciate the sacrifice.

Summer blockbuster season: begun!

Saturday, May 07, 2011

More Kissing Coverage

So that conversation from the other day about the proud history of MTV's "Best Kiss" Award got me on kind of got me onto a kind of mental loop, and there was only one thing I could do to get it out of my system: make a list.

Meanwhile, I've wanted to write for The Awl forever, because it's full of smart and funny smartypants funnypeoples.

And lo, last Friday, both of these disparate strands of my life went and converged when I pitched the fine folks at The Awl a Listicle Without Commentary on the proud subject of MTV Movie Awards "Best Kiss" Nominees, wherein I ranked every single kiss in order of hotness (Free Willy fans, fair warning: you may not be happy). Life is weird, but I'll take it.

Anyway, click on over and read the listicle in all its proud glory.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Summer Movie Preview, Part 1

Summer movie season! You know it, you love it, you gently make fun of it. More often than not, summer offers a better variety of movies than it's given credit for. Looking forward at this particular summer ... well, there are some diamonds, but also a good bit of rough.

NOTE: I'm kind of super late getting started on this, so at least for this first batch of movies, there's not a ton of "pre" in this preview. Like, OMG HAVE YOU HEARD ABOUT THIS THOR GUY?? I'll try to get the other parts of this feature up earlier.

Movie: Thor (Kenneth Branagh)
High-Concept Synopsis: The God of Hammers ... or Thunder ... or Lightning -- whatever, Thor! The guy with the hair and the beard! He's cast out of Valhalla (or whatever) and sent to Earth, where he encounters Natalie Portman and Kat Dennings and THEN must save Earth from either his brethren from Outer Norse Space (or whatever) or else monsters or maybe both? And also learn about this human emotion we call love. (Probably.)
Who Will Be Seeing It: Marvel comics loyalists and/or Norse mythology freaks. People who have been made aware that Chris Hemsworth, as Thor, has made himself to look like this. People who appreciate the Shakespearian flair Branagh will no doubt bring to such a classic tale of musclebound superheroes and the geologists (or whatever) who love them.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Folks who might need a break from all the Marvel stuff for a while. Norse mythology freaks who -- oh, right -- would probably have a heart attack and die from what this movie is probably going to do to Norse mythology. People who begrudge Natalie Portman happiness and financial success.
Why I'd See It: Look, good or bad, it's a big dumb superhero movie with attractive lead performers. I'll either have a surprisingly decent time at the movies with this or I'll be able to make fun of it with the rest of you wisenheimers. Win/win. May 6

Movie: Something Borrowed (Luke Greenfield)
High-Concept Synopsis: Ginnifer Goodwin is -- appropriately -- the good one who strives and pines and takes a back seat to BFF Kate Hudson, who is shallow and awful and getting married to prettyprettypretty Colin Egglesfield. But what happens when Ginnifer falls for Colin?? Uh...probably a lot of fighting in wedding dresses.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Whoever saw this EXACT SAME MOVIE play out as Bride Wars. Big Love fans hoping to give Goodwin's burgeoning rom-com career a boost. The Gays, who may be fooled into thinking that John Krasinski's bitchy, well-dressed, advice-giving character is playing Ginnifer's gay best friend and not the quietly-pining-for-her character he apparently is.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who stopped seeing terrible-looking Kate Hudson movies, like, three terrible-looking Kate Hudson movies ago. Ginnifer Goodwin fans who obviously need to employ some tough love. People who object to the chiseled but mildly charismatic Egglesfield getting a better role than both Krasinski and the consistently underrated Steve Howey.
Why I'd See It: If you'd have told me after Almost Famous that Kate Hudson's niche in 2011 would be playing wildly unlikeable brides-to-be, I'd have slapped you and then run away. Between this and Ginnifer Goodwin's terrible and obvious wigs and Krasinski being fraudulently gay-positioned, I'm decidedly against this movie. And will absolutely see it if someone asks me to. May 6

Movie: The Beaver (Jodie Foster)
High-Concept Synopsis:Mel Gibson plays your standard Beaten-Down Middle-Class White Male that the movies cannot stop empathizing with, only this one has a lil' break with reality and ends up coping by speaking through a beaver puppet that he wears on his hand. Jodie Foster not only directs but plays his wife, while Anton Yelchin is his son, and way back before she was Oscar-nominated, Jennifer Lawrence played Yelchin's love interest.
Who Will Be Seeing It:Anyone who can actually swallow Mel Gibson as a sympathetic family man and someone you'd naturally root for. People who were so enamored with this script -- heralded long before it was ever filmed -- that they can't let go, even with Gibson in the lead. Aspirants to the position of Gibson's next cock-tease c*nt of a wife.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Jews. Whores. People who like Jodie Foster but cannot enable her any longer with this Mel Gibson stuff.
Why I'd See It:The tragedy is that I'd be all over this movie, self-consciously goofy concept and all, were it not for the loathsome, hateful man in the lead. "But Joe, you really believe Mel Gibson is the only gross, misogynistic, homophobic, anti-Semitic bastard in Hollywood?" Probably not, but everybody else is doing a goddamn better job of making sure I don't find out about it so I can live in blissful plausible deniability. Mel fucked that up for himself. May 6

Movie: Bridesmaids (Paul Feig)
High-Concept Synopsis: Kristen Wiig is the maid of honor for best friend Maya Rudolph, but she clashes with Rose Byrne for control of the bridal party. With Melissa McCarthy, Ellie Kemper, and Wendi McLendon-Covey in town, the whole enterprise goes down a Hangover-like rabbit hole.
Who Will Be Seeing It: People who wish The Hangover were made with likeable characters and smart writing. People waiting for Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph to get the big movie breakthroughs they deserve. Anybody who's enjoyed Paul Feig's directing on pretty much every awesome show on TV.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who fall outside of the (debatably slim) section of the Venn diagram like appreciates rude humor and wedding humor. Folks suffering Wiig Burnout from the last few years on SNL. Folks who remember Feig's last big-screen venture, 2006's Unaccompanied Minors, starring Wilmer Valderrama and Lewis Black!
Why I'd See It: Screw that Unaccompanied Minors crap, THIS is the movie that could do for Feig what The 40-Year Old Virgin did for his Freaks and Geeks partner Judd Apatow. I have so much trust in Wiig, Rudolph, and the rest of the cast, my only question is how soon I can see it. May 13

Movie: Priest (Scott Charles Stewart)
High-Concept Synopsis: Paul Bettany once again finds himself fighting off the apocalypse from some kind of vaguely-religious starting point. This time, it's a post-Armageddon world where the vampires have taken over, and he's part of an order of "priests" (aka, vampire hunters). Christopher Plummer, Karl Urban, Maggie Q, and Cam Gigandet co-star. Brought to you by the director of Legion.
Who Will Be Seeing It: People who inexplicably loved Legion as an awesome bad movie (it wasn't). People who always secretly suspected that the Catholic church was the organization best equipped to battle the vampire menace. People who have seen Cam Gigandet looking like this.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who saw Legion for the deadly boring, inept piece of crap it was. People who OH MY GOD SERIOUSLY MORE VAMPIRES? People who have seen Cam Gigandet looking like this.
Why I'd See It: Look, Legion was awful, but call me a sucker because I'm in on this one. There's more action in the trailer than there was in the entirety of Legion, so there's that. May 13

Movie: Everything Must Go (Dan Rush)
High-Concept Synopsis:Will Ferrell plays your standard Beaten-Down Middle-Class White Male that the movies cannot stop empathizing with. He loses his job and, on the same day, comes home to find his wife has locked him out and thrown all his stuff out on the lawn. Movie legalese says that he can live on his lawn for up to three days provided it's in the guise of a yard sale. So he's cleaning up his yard AND HIS LIFE. And in lieu of a beaver hand-puppet dispensing wisdom, there's a fat black kid. Rebecca Hall and Laura Dern co-star (neither as the fat black kid).
Who Will Be Seeing It: People who want to find out once and for all if a relatively young, relatively healthy, entirely white dude can ever find a way to get on his feet again. People drawn in by the stamp of approval that the "based on a short story by Raymond Carver" provides. People who invested heavily in Will Ferrell: Dramatic Actor and are really hoping to be able to cash in.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Audiences who are maybe not sold on Dramatic Ferrell yet. Hoarders who are terrified at the thought of anyone giving away any of their crap. People who think Rebecca Hall (and Laura Dern, really) can do better.
Why I'd See It:I'm actually pretty okay with Ferrell in drama (or at least dramady) mode. But man, this story feels like one of those Message with an M movies that is intent on hammering home some ideas about possessions and self-worth and Finding Yourself After You've Hit Rock Bottom. May 13

Movie: Hesher (Spencer Susser)
High-Concept Synopsis: A creepy, filthy, clothes-averse weirdo (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) latches onto a family that's going through some stuff and ends up as a weird mentor to the family's young son. Natalie Portman and Rainn Wilson co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: JGL loyalists eager to see his take on a bedraggled loner. Fans of co-writer David Michod, who wrote and directed the stellar Animal Kingdom last year. People who appreciate genre-muddled indies that don't bother to be all that happy about anything.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Anybody who's ever met a decidedly anti-social, dirty-haired drifter type in their lives. People who might not trust director Susser's rock cred after learning he's directed music videos for The Offspring. People who are going to get their fill of anti-social yet maddeningly attractive main characters in two weeks with the Hangover sequel.
Why I'd See It: I can't even remember the last time I saw a Joseph Gordon-Levitt movie and he didn't deliver (okay, G.I. Joe is a bit of a stretch, but he wasn't the problem there). This one looks like a bit more of a leap of faith, but I kind of love that I don't know exactly what this movie's going to be from the trailer. Plus, this is probably the one good Natalie Portman movie this year. May 13

Movie: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (Rob Marshall)
High-Concept Synopsis: Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is back for another three movies, the better to loot and pillage American audiences. Penelope Cruz, Ian McShane, Judi Dench, and -- once again -- Geoffrey Rush are along for the ride.
Who Will Be Seeing It: People who have been missing the high-seas madcap antics of Captain Jack. People who have always hoped that the Pirates franchise could be imbued with the kind of dreamlife musical sensibilities of Chicago and Nine. People who believe, not unjustifiably, that Cruz and McShane are upgrades from Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Anybody who actually sat through the entirety of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. People who like Ian McShane fine but would rather watch Orlando Bloom when it comes to the swashbuckling. People longing for the day when Johnny Depp makes a movie where he's not hidden behind gross makeup or hair choices.
Why I'd See It: Ugh, you know, as much as I loved the first one -- and even found some things to like about the second one -- I feel like I was well and truly finished with the series after that dreadful third film. Will I end up drawn in by Cruz, Dench, and McShane? ...I do like all three of them, but I'm not sure if Rob Marshall's take on the material is going to get me to come running. May 20

Movie: Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen)
High-Concept Synopsis: It's the new Woody Allen movie, but where's the senior citizen carrying on an affair with a benevolent prostitute? Ah well, at least there's Owen Wilson as the Woody stand-in (not doing a Branagh-style copycat job, thank God), and a plot revolving around affluence, intellectuals, and infidelity. Rachel McAdams, Michael Sheen, Kathy Bates, Adrien Brody, Marion Cotillard, and Alison Pill co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: As ever, the people who still have faith in Woody Allen. The people who WANT to have faith in Woody Allen and who have noted that the few times he's shown a spark in recent years, it's been with foreign-set films about young people. People who are far enough down the celebrity gossip rabbit hole that they give a shit that Carla Bruni is in this movie.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Whatever unfortunate sould saw Whatever Works. Whatever unfortunate souls saw the one with Anthony Hopkins. Francophiles who nevertheless are fairly neurotic about the French looking down on them.
Why I'd See It: I never quite seem to learn my lesson with Woody Allen. Sometimes I'm beaten down for that tendency (Whatever Works), but sometimes I'm hugely rewarded (Vicky Christina Barcelona), and it's the latter that'll probably get my ass into a seat for this movie, barring some truly toxic reviews. May 20

Movie: The Hangover Part II (Todd Phillips)
High-Concept Synopsis: The same old assholes, this time in Thailand.
Who Will Be Seeing It: People who liked the first one, I guess. Whoever you people are. People who are all, "Oh, you know what's funny? Mike Tyson is what's funny!" Or "I can't get enough of naked Ken Jeong-based humor!" Or "Oscar Wilde is a HACK compared to the guy who wrote that 'Dr. Faggot' joke!"
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who found the first one to be off-puttingly self-satisfied, obnoxious bro-humor that figured it could get away with uniformly unlikeable characters by pandering to guys' basest "Vegas, baby" instincts. Also, the tattoo artist who's suing the movie for copying his face-tattoo design.
Why I'd See It: Seeing as I've not been invited to any fraternity reunions or lost any movie-based bets, I can safely say The Hangover II and I will safely pass each other like ships in the night. May 27

Movie: Kung Fu Panda 2 (Jennifer Yuh)
High-Concept Synopsis: That darn panda is at it again. With all the kung fu.
Who Will Be Seeing It: People who enjoyed the generally well-received first movie. People who will enjoy saying that they enjoyed the Jack Black-voiced panda movie more than this summer's Pixar offering (sorry, Cars 2). People who feel like Seth Rogen is at his best when voicing animated characters (see Paul or Monsters Vs. Aliens).
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Animation snobs. Jack Black snobs. People who don't want to risk the esoteric mysteries of Kung Fu Panda to be too spelled out by a sequel.
Why I'd See It: You know, I make fun, but I hear the original movie is great fun, and I famously made a very wrong choice of You Don't Mess with the Zohan over Kung Fu Panda on a no-air-conditioning emergency trip to the movies. If its this one versus Hangover 2, I won't be making that mistake twice. May 27

Movie: The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick)
High-Concept Synopsis: The long, slow process of life unfolds before our eyes, in gorgeous cinematography and in what will likely feel like real-time.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Malick fanboys everywhere, just champing at the bit to tell you how transcendent it all is. Fans of the super A-listy cast (your Sean Penns, your Brad Pitts). People who enjoy a good long sit.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who find Malick to be ... what's the word? Tedious? Opressively ponderous? Too in love with stillness for their particular tastes? All of that.
Why I'd See It: You guys, I can't. The Thin Red Line killed something inside me, and it's not coming back. On the bright side, I can look at all of Emmanuel Lubezki's undoubtedly gorgeous cinematography with this handy poster. May 27

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Low Res Investigates: The 2011 MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss

Along with the Tony Award Nominations -- which Roommate Mark and I broke down over at The Critical Condition -- yesterday brought us the nominees for the 2011 MTV Movie Awards. If you're like me, you blasted right past the nominations for Best Movie, Best Actress, or Best Performance by a Jim Carrey or Adam Sandler and went straight to Best Kiss. The nominees this year:

Ellen Page & Joseph Gordon-Levitt - Inception
Emma Watson & Daniel Radcliffe - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
Kristen Stewart & Robert Pattinson - The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
Kristen Stewart & Taylor Lautner - The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
Natalie Portman & Mila Kunis - Black Swan

I felt like these nominations deserved as hard-hitting analysis as anything else. So I called upon Roommate Mark to return the favor and dig into Best Kiss, past AND present.

- - - - -

Joe: I should say that I hold a place in my heart for the MTV Movie Awards.
Even if I may not have watched them in years.
Mark: Okay! I was wondering. It's not that I'm opposed to discussing them, per se, but I had ... forgotten about them? Kind of? I seem to remember Scream winning an award. And Jason Voorhies. And Wes Anderson for Bottle Rocket, which retrospectively is cool.
Joe: Yeah, see, what happened was, we changed when we got older, but at the same time, MTV got younger. Or so I like to tell myself.
Mark: No, that makes sense. It's like an extension of Matthew McConaughey's "high school girls" thing in Dazed and Confused.
Joe: The reason I like to talk about Best Kiss -- as opposed to whatever the fuck they think is the Best Picture (these days: Twilight and nothing but) -- is because it's the thing that always made the MTV Awards distinctive.
Mark: True that. "My first kiss, and I got an award!"
Joe: These days, there's all these straining-to-be-cool categories. "Best Scared as Shit Performance" -- which makes me want to die.
Mark: I was JUST going to say. It's so desperate. And sad. Like MTV is actually scared as shit that it won't be cool.
Joe: But, like, remember when they used to give awards for Most Desirable Female and Male?
Mark: Oh, yes! I remember Sharon Stone winning.
Joe: Me too! Remember how weird she was with that speech? "You desiiire me! You really desiiiire me"
Mark: [lowers the sunglasses]

Joe: Weirdly, though, that kind of illustrates the difference in MTV then and now.
Mark: Oooh! Do tell!
Joe: Because a movie like Basic Instinct is so not in the MTV wheelhouse anymore. But it totally was then! Like, Black Swan is nominated this year, but it doesn't seem like it fits, right?
Mark: You're totally right. Because a category like "Most Desirable Male" feels somewhat connected to what both teens AND adults would disucss. While "Biggest Badass Action Star" signals that we are in a zone just one step above the Nick Kids Awards. (Or whatever they're called. With the slime and the blimps.)
Joe: So I feel like Best Kiss is my last connection to those days. The Sex in the '90s / Rock N Jock days.
Mark: I totally get this now. It's both nostalgia for the past and engagement with the present.
Joe: And even though it's just going to be one more award to give to Twilight, my hope is that Best Kiss will be here when Twilight is dead and gone.
(This is all probably tied into why I still watch The Real World, but that is a whole other discussion.)
Mark: It's weird, too, that of all the "fun categories" they had, Best Kiss and Best Villain are all that remain. (Don't lie. You would be on The Real World if they'd have you.)

I will say, though, that it's kind of smart to just throw up K-Stew & R-Pattz vs. K-Stew & Lautner and let the twi-hards fight it out at $.99 per text message or whatever.
Mark: Totally.
Joe: But I can't exactly engage with those choices on their merits. Mostly because the chemistry isn't there in either pairing.
Mark: That's such a pandering pair of nominees, but then again, MTV knows where its bread is buttered.
Joe: But like, if they really wanted to give it to a honest-to-god hot kiss in an MTV Demographic movie, they'd have gone for Amanda Seyfried and Shiloh Fernandez in Red Riding Hood.
Mark: I appreciate that the obligatory "Dude, Gay Shit" nominee is present.
Joe: Oh, let's get to Gay Shit in due time. Because: I have thoughts
Mark: Okay! We'll hold. But you make an interesting case for Red Riding Hood.
Joe: Like, that was some honestly hot chemistry
Mark: Are you suggesting that MTV is just nominating what's popular and not looking at kisses on their artistic and erotic merits?

Joe: Historically, Best Kiss goes for one of 3-4 types of kisses: 1) the popular movie
Which as far as this year's slate goes is, like, all of them.
Mark: 2) The lezzies
Joe: YES. 2) Avant Garde, which encompases gay, lesbian, or 3-way kissing, and possibly human-animal kissing.
Mark: Yes. Fair.
Joe: Which makes me sound like Rick Santorum, but you know what I mean.
Mark: Oh, I do, RUSH LIMBAUGH.
Joe: OKAY! 3) Famous and/or notable kisses, i.e. the Spider-Man upside-down kiss. Or the kiss is Species where she kills the guy with her alien tongue. And 4) two incredibly hot performers kissing.
Mark: Your Gosling/McAdams.
Joe: YES! My example exactly!
Mark: May I suggest a 5th category?
Joe: Please
Mark: 5) The Joke Kiss
Joe: Yes
Mark: i.e. Talledega Nights or American Pie 2.
Joe: Yeah, usually the joke kiss is the gay kiss, but yes.
Mark: Oh.. damn. You're right.
Joe: But there's the two-sided (or three-sided) coin when it comes to gay kisses and MTV, because they also went and gave Best Kiss to Brokeback Mountain.
Mark: But see, that HAD to win because it's both Avant Garde and Important.
AND it's got 2 hot stars. It's 3 of 4 categories.
Joe: True, but it put a gay kiss on equal footing to Two Hot Hetero Stars.
Mark: Which is key.
Joe: Not to imbue this category with more importance than it deserves. But a small tip of the hat.
Mark: Looking at the list, actually, I felt like the nominees sort of mapped out America's growing acceptance of diverse sexualities. I mean, right? A little?
Joe: A little.
Mark: Because at first, it's all just women kissing in straight-fantasy ways. i.e. Bound. And then eventually you get your Brokebacks. And the nomination for James Franco and Sean Penn.
Joe: I still feel like every lesbian kiss they nominate is a "HOT! Chicks making out!" thing. But...hey, sometimes it's hot when two hot chicks make out.
Mark: Yeah. I can see that. It's not like they nominate Annette Bening and Julianne Moore. Like you said: "A small tip of the hat." Small steps forward are better than no steps forward. Have you noticed, too, that certain kinds of kisses seem to get nominated but never win?
The RomCom kiss, for instance. A perpetual bridesmaid.

Joe: Totally. It's kind of hilarious to look at who won the first Best Kiss. [Macaulay Culkin and Anna Chlumsky for My Girl in 1992.]
Mark: RIGHT?!?! It's such an aberration! Because the "cute kiss" is another frequent loser.
Joe: They should bring Macaulay Culkin and Anna Chlumsky out for a reunion kiss. Like they did for The Breakfast Club. Maybe next year for the 20th anniversary.
Mark: Yes, they should.
Mark: And let's be frank, that Anna Chlumsky line that I quoted before is one of the key touchstones in this show's history.
Joe: Um, YES.
Mark: Joe!
Joe: Mark?
Mark: The Chlumsky/Culkin kiss won the award during the same year that The Real World premiered. In both cases, they represent a sweet, almost innocent beginning to something that has become much tawdrier. Coincidence?
Joe: Well now I have a graduate thesis.
Mark: Apply for grant money!
Joe: "Do you sell drugs, Demi Moore and Woody Harrelson? Why would you make out on a pile of money?"

Mark: Question:
Joe: Go.
Mark: Are there other kisses you feel were unfairly overlooked this year?
Joe: Well, I looked at the list of movies that came out. There weren't a ton that jumped out at me. Drew Barrymore and Justin Long had a good Comedy Kiss moment in Going the Distance. Amanda Seyfried and Julianne Moore actually had a way better lesbian kiss in Chloe than the one in Black Swan. And if this were a real award with real merit, something from Blue Valentine would've gotten in.
Mark: See, I like that. That's a kiss that actually forwards our understanding of the film.
From Blue Valentine, I mean.
Joe: That said, I kind of like two of the nominees MTV gave us
Mark: Do tell!
Joe: That Ellen Page/Joseph Gordon-Levitt kiss from Inception had real chemistry (JGL has chemistry with EVERYTHING in that movie) and really stood out in a movie that didn't have much in the way of overt romance. And the Harry/Hermione kiss in Deathly Hallows kind of had it all: history, danger, sweetness.
Mark: Though I will say that it terms of iconic movie kisses, I do feel the Black Swan kiss merits inclusion.
Joe: I do too. I just resent the MTV audience for liking that kiss for the wrong reasons.

Joe: Okay! Closing thoughts: what was your favorite Best Kiss nomination that never won. And favorite one that did.
Mark: Ooh. I like it. Okay, nominees for "should've won" include Franco/Penn in Milk and Christine Taylor/Christopher Daniel Barnes in A Very Brady Sequel.
But for me, the winning loser (as it were) has got to be Anthony Hopkins and Julianne Moore in Hannibal.
Joe: Whoa! Avant Garde Kiss!
Mark: To the extreme, player.
Joe: I like it.
Mark: It's a kiss that fundamentally changes that movie. AND it still weirds me out to this day.
Joe: I hated that movie to the extreme, but I respect your choice.
Mark: How about you?
Joe: Okay, my favorite non-winner: Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes in William Shakespeare's Romeo Plus Juliet. Because COME ON.
Mark: Good choice! So romantic!
Joe: And I think my favorite winner -- while throwing an honorable mention to Step Up 2 The Streets because we tight -- would probably be Sarah Michelle Gellar and Selma Blair in Cruel Intentions.
Mark: Ha! Awesome.
Joe: Which is notable for the same reasons I'm annoyed that Black Swan is nominated. But it felt actually slightly dangerous back in 1999. Which it totally shouldn't have for normal adult people, but I was a sheltered just-outta-high-schooler.
Mark: Well, and SB wasn't just dreaming it when SMG manipulated her into a lesbian make-out session.
Joe: WORD. God, that movie.
Mark: I need to re-watch it.
Joe: I should do a week of Cruel Intentions posts. Half of them dedicated to Ryan Phillippe's sweet, sweet caboose.
Mark: My favorite winner, by the way, is Gyllenhaal/Ledger in Brokeback Mountain.
Joe: A great choice.
Mark: It may be my favorite kiss in any movie, ever.
Joe: Better than Mark Wahlberg and Elizabeth Banks in Invincible??
Mark: What the fuck movie is that?
Joe: He's a football player plucked from obscurity.
Mark: Oh, right.
Joe: She's...probably his wife.

Mark: Before we go.
Joe: Yes.
Mark: I'm feeling weird nostalgia about the 1993 win. Christian Slater and Marisa Tomei for Untamed Heart.
Joe: UNTAMED HEART! Did she kiss his wicked chest scar?
Mark: It feels like that win comes from an alternate universe, where that movie launched their careers as romantic leads.
Joe: I remember thinking Christian Slater was the most fuckable thing on two legs back then.
Mark: Didn't everyone?
Joe: I think he won Most Desirable Male for that movie.
Mark: Seriously: If things had gone a little differently, that movie would be The Notebook.
Joe: (Wiki-check: he did!) OMG, go look who he beat out.
Mark: Aaah! Jean-Claude Van Damme?
Joe: A murderer's row of destined-to-be-grossness! Cruise! Costner! Sugar-Tits!
Mark: It's a category full of boner killers!
Joe: For real.
Mark: Well, with my boner properly killed, I thank you for a great chat.
Joe: To a Harry/Hermione win!
Mark: If Harry/Hermione wins, then it would be a nice throwback to Chlumsky/Culkin, too.
Joe: Aw, true! They won't, but let's never watch and pretend they did!
Mark: Agreed.