Saturday, December 31, 2011

Young Adult - Movie Review

★★★½

Starring Charlize Theron, Patton Oswalt, Patrick Wilson, Elisabeth Reaser, Jill Eikenberry and Collette Wolfe. Directed by Jason Reitman.

This is anti-romantic comedy, a nice counter-argument to the usual fluffy "find a man" comedies where the preview shows him running to her in the rain at an airport, or the girl and her friend dancing to an oldie in their living room. This is about Mavis (Charlize Theron), an author of young-adult novels who's never grown up herself. One day she decides to win back her old high-school boyfriend Buddy. The fact that he's married and just had a baby is a mere obstacle.

When Mavis arrives in town, she runs into former classmate Matt (Patton Oswalt) the nerd who's still suffering from a savage beating at the hands of some fun-loving jocks. Mavis doesn't really care, unless Matt can somehow help her in her quest to land Buddy.

This comedy goes to some dark, sad places, and it's almost exhilarating how our heroine refuses to grow up, refuses to repent. There's a real sadness to Mavis underneath, and she's doing everything she can to make sure she stays shallow. To take a good look at herself might destroy her.

Acting nominations are deserved from Charlize Theron and Patton Oswalt. This movie is good reminder that Theron is still a force to be reckoned with.

The Worst Ten Movies of 2011

I'll do my Top Ten after I've caught a couple more titles.

I have not seen such alleged stinkers as Big Momma 3, Beastly, Hoodwinked Too, The Art of Getting By, Spy Kids 4, One Day, Shark Night, Apollo 18, Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star, Creature, I Don't Know How She Does It, Dream House, Human Centipede 2, Three Musketeers, Like Crazy, Jack & Jill, I Melt with You, New Year's Eve, The Sitter or The Darkest Hour, but of what I've seen, these were the worst:

Dishonorable Mentions:

ATLAS SHRUGGED PART I - Maybe fans of the book will find some things to appreciate, but this rushed, unfinished production does Ayn Rand no favors.


CONAN THE BARBARIAN - This reboot is an ugly, unimaginative take on the character immortalized by Arnold Schwarzengger.  Marcus Nispel (Pathfinder) was the wrong hire for this material.

THE GREEN HORNET - Seth Rogen tries to remake the superhero movie in his own image, and the results are mediocre. Watching Jay Chou trying to speak English is akin to watching a cat trying to get peanut butter off the roof of its mouth. Christoph Waltz can't find the comedic notes for his villain role. If Jack Black tries to tackle the Green Arrow, someone tackle him.

GREEN LANTERN - You have Peter Saarsgaard as your villain, and yet he's made the subplot to the main villain - a giant cloud of evil. The overabundance of CGI does not compensate for the lack of thrills. Ryan Reynolds needn't worry about donning the green ring a second time.

KABOOM - Microbudgeted yawner about a party boy who wonders if, gee, maybe the end of the world is coming. But first, let's do drugs and dance!

THE OTHER WOMAN - An aftermath movie. Natalie Portman plays the second wife to a successful businessman, having snagged him by being his mistress. Then the baby they had together dies. Her marriage is becoming more and more loveless, and her stepson is the weapon his parents use against each other. Lisa Kudrow conveys deep bitterness as the first wife who had her life torn apart, but these are such awful selfish people to spend time with, I'd recommend it only as a cautionary tale for young woman thinking of sleeping with a married man. "Do you want this to become your life?"

THE ROOMMATE - This twist on Single White Female shows that Leighton Meester has talent and deserves better. No one else involved does.

SEASON OF THE WITCH - As corny and silly as you'd expect a medieval movie to be starring Nicolas Cage.


SOMETHING BORROWED - Kate Hudson was nominated for an Oscar once.  No, seriously, it's true.

THE TREE OF LIFE - A gorgeous 2 hour 25 minute slideshow. No real story. Just three boys living in 1950's Texas. And we go back to the creation of the world, and time passing, and waves crashing, and trees growing, and stars twinkling, and wind blowing through the grass, and the cosmos winking, and critics closing their eyes and chanting "Ohmmmmmmmm...." through the whole bloody thing. The Emperor has no clothes.

And now...

... the Worst Ten



10. DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK - The creepy-crawly creatures of this "from the mind of Guillermo Del Toro" effort are never scary, but that's not even the main problem. When Katie Holmes takes pictures of them to prove they're real, and the photos are all over the ground, it just cuts ahead to the next scene with still no one else believing her. Why did no one look at the pictures? I don't mind leaps of logic if they're not Herculean leaps.

9. PASSION PLAY - A drifter (Mickey Rourke) finds a woman with literal angel wings. An offbeat quirky comedy could have sprung from that premise, but instead we get a forlorn ponder-drama, where melancholy is chosen over mirth. Bill Murray wastes his time as a gangster who wants to keep her for himself, and the finale's terrible special effects make for the perfect exclamation point on why this film is such a mess.

8. YOUR HIGHNESS - This would-be parody never captures the quick wit of the Pythons nor the underlying sweetness of The Princess Bride. I think even Cheech & Chong would disown it. The R-rated stoner humor mixed in with medieval tropes never meshes, and it made me resent actor/writer Danny McBride and director David Gordon Green for getting this much money with this talented a cast, and this was all they could churn out.

7. SANCTUM - If you're going to make a movie about a group of people stuck in underground caves, it's imperative to always give the audience a sense of place. The whole thing was shot on sound-stages for all I know. It features paper-thin caricatures of people shouting and trudging down damp corridors and then dying one by one when they make incredibly stupid decisions.

6. DYLAN DOG: DEAD OF NIGHT - One of those genre mashups that succeeds at none of its targets, not at horror nor comedy nor noir nor entertainment, with Brandon Routh completely miscast in the lead.

5. JUST GO WITH IT - Adam Sandler has lost it. I used to look forward to his movies, but what worked for him 10-15 years ago isn't working now. Between this, Grown Ups, and (what I've read about) Jack & Jill, he needs an intervention, and yet whenever he takes risks (Funny People, Reign Over Me), it's not as successful at the box-office. This comedy is about a man who pretends to be married to get one-night stands, but when he meets a woman he wants to continue seeing, his lies about his marriage expand and grow. There's so much effort put into the contrived premise that it kills whatever laughs might have been achieved.

4. RED RIDING HOOD - Well, the opening credits were cool. Other than that, director Catherine Hardwicke (the first Twilight) indulges her worst instincts in this ethereal medieval romance/murder-mystery where a werewolf is killing the townspeople at night. Our heroine Red (Amanda Seyfried) is torn between two village hunks, either of whom could be the killer lycanthrope, neither of whom have chemistry with her. Giant lanterns are hung on each red herring to the point it becomes obvious who the wolf is because the movie's tried to hard to make us think it's anybody else.

3. SUCKER PUNCH - Teen girls clad themselves scantily in fetishized costumes while fighting creatures in some dreamscape video-game of a movie pretending to be about female empowerment. Director Zack Snyder has had financial success adapting other people's work (Dawn of the Dead, 300, Watchmen) but in doing his own, he shows he really is all style and no substance.

2. THE RITE - Deathly dull exorcism flick with Anthony Hopkins in paycheck mode as the older priest who winds up getting possessed himself. Colin O'Donoghue is the black hole where an engaging protagonist should be.

1. BREAKING DAWN PART I - I've been fine with the first three movies. I take them at face value. But this... this plunges new depths of cheese. The actors aren't improving. If anything it highlights their weaknesses. Taylor Lautner has never been worse. The first half-hour is about the wedding, the second half-hour is about Bella's pregnancy, and the final act is about vampires and Jacob patrolling to keep Bella safe while she delivers whatever a vampire-human hybrid baby is. Even die-hard Twihards will have to admit how bad this movie is.


UPDATE: I now believe HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN was the worst movie of 2011.  I say "believe" because it was so rancid, I couldn't watch the whole thing.  For what it's worth.

Atlas Shrugged Part I - DVD Review

½


Starring Taylor Schilling, Grant Bowler, Matthew Marsden, Edi Gathegi, Nick Cassavettes, Jon Polito, Michael Lerner, Patrick Fischler, Graham Beckel and Rebecca Wisocky.
Directed by Paul Johansson.

The first rule of adapting a book into a movie is to make the movie accessible to people who haven't read the book. I have never read Ayn Rand's 1957 1100-page novel, but this movie is written with the seeming presumption that everyone watching the movie has read the book.

Now maybe if this had been made with a Hollywood budget, with better actors, a best director, etc., that wouldn't matter as much, but the holder of the rights had to get moving on this or lose them. The result is not unlike the first episode of Fox Business Channel's first attempt at a mini-series.

Angelina Jolie was once looking at starring in an Atlas Shrugged movie, but here we'll have to settle for Taylor Schilling, known to me as one of the leads of NBC's short-lived nurse drama Mercy. She plays Dagny Taggart, a 26-year-old running the largest railroad company in the US in 2016, along with her brother James (Matthew Marsden). The country's in turmoil since gas and oil prices have skyrocketed, and several talented successful businessmen are disappearing. And about every six minutes, someone asks the mysterious question, "Who is John Galt?"

But here's the thing. Why should I care who John Galt is? Who is Mortimer McGillicuddy? Who is Joe Shlobosky? Context, people!

The Taggarts are bumping up against Hank Reardon (Grant Bowler), who's developed a new type of steel that's twice as strong at half the weight.

The movie is obviously made on the cheap, yet it's about the rich and elite few who make the country run by the power of their own brilliance and general awesomeness. It's nothing but esoteric conversations between two or more people about events and ideas, in corridors, in lobbies, at parties.

Some of these ideas are worth discussing, some of these ideas might make more sense on the page, some of these ideas might be antiquated now that it's not 1957. But another big problem with this movie is these ideas need to build to something, and after 91 minutes of conversations about things happening we never get an emotional connection to, it ends with a cliffhanger.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Trip - DVD Review

★★★

Starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon.
Directed by Michael Winterbottom.

I remember watching a clip from this movie four or five times about a year ago. The movie actually didn't hit US theaters until the summer, and now it's on DVD and Netflix Instant. The clip was of the two stars both doing their Michael Caine impression, and it was pretty funny.



If I'm understanding this right, the two actors did it as a six-episode series for BBC, but this is a two-hour edit-down for theatrical release. They play versions of themselves, two actors touring the countryside, reviewing restaurants for an article Streve will write. Steve is longing to get back to Hollywood movies, while Rob is perfectly happy with his career in British TV.

It's not much more than an excuse for the two to riff and play off each other, but that is enough. it made me laugh a few times, and there's a nice undercurrent of regret from Steve as he reflects on his career and where he wants to be in life, even as he digs at the annoying but content Rob. It's a trip worth taking.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Dylan Dog: Dead of Night - DVD Review



Starring Brandon Routh, Sam Huntington, Anita Briem, Taye Diggs, Peter Stormare and Kurt Angle.
Directed by Kevin Munroe.

Whatever problems Superman Returns had, I didn't think Brandon Routh was one of them. I liked him as Clark Kent/Superman. But here he is completely miscast. Or maybe Bryan Singer (Usual Suspects, X-Men) is better at getting performances out of his actors than Kevin Munroe (TMNT).

Routh is Dylan Dog, a sardonic, conflicted private investigator who specializes in the undead. The role requires someone with star-power and charisma to pull off, and Routh can't. I kept thinking how much more salvageable this might have been had it starred Timothy Olyphant.

Dylan works in New Orleans, home of vampires, werewolves and zombies. It combines noir cliches with horror and comedy, and none of it works. The mystery's uninteresting, the comedy's flat, the creatures are about as scary as a community church's hell house.

Any random episode of HBO's True Blood or WB's Buffy the Vampire Slayer is better. At least Jonah Hex was twenty minutes shorter.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Movie Review

★★★½

Starring Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgard, Robin Wright, Steven Berkoff, Joely Richardson, Geraldine James and Goran Visnjic.  Directed by David Fincher.

I've read the book and seen the Swedish movie, and yet I was still enthralled by this version. David Fincher is a slick director, one of the most reliable working today, and he knows how to piece together a procedural. The dense story of Steig Larsson's murder mystery would need over three hours to not feel rushed, but Fincher managed to do it in two and a half.

Daniel Craig is Mikhael Blomkvist, disgraced editor of Millenium magazine, who resigns after losing a libel case. He gets a call from an eccentric millionaire Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer, who's always great). Henrik's niece was murdered forty years ago, and he wants Blomkvist's help to solve it once and for all.

Blomkvist needs a research assistant and he gets one in Lisbeth Salander, one of the great recent female characters. Here she's embodied by Rooney Mara (The Social Network), and she makes the role her own.

I love the fact Fincher kept this in Swden and didn't try to Americanize it by putting in in New England. It's faithful to the source material and yet makes the right adjustments to streamline the storytelling aspects.  It was as satisfying to me as Fincher's Zodiac.

I'm saddened this isn't doing better at the box-office. It means we won't be able to see Fincher do the other two books.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Monday's Box Office Estimates

For December 26.

1. Mission Impossible 4 - $16.71 million ($78.65) - 11 days
2. Sherlock Holmes 2 - $11.55 ($90.56) - 11 days
3. War Horse - $7.51 ($15.03) - 2 days
4. Alvin & the Chipmunks 3 - $7.35 ($56.94) - 11 days
5. The Girl w/ the Dragon Tattoo - $6.65 ($27.78) - 6 days
6. Adventures of Tintin - $6.4 ($24.11) - 6 days
7. We Bought A Zoo - $6.15 ($15.6) - 4 days
8. The Darkest Hour - $2.5 ($5.5) - 2 days
9. New Year's Eve - $1.64 ($34.29) - 18 days
10. The Descendants - $1.33 ($33.72) - 41 days
11. The Muppets - $1.21 ($76.91) - 34 days
12. Hugo - $1.18 ($44.93) - 34 days

For a 2 1/2 hour movie with no stars beyond "director Steven Spielberg", War Horse is doing quite well and domestically outgross Steve's other December movie, The Adventures of Tintin.

Box-office for December is still down overall compared to last year.  (I like to think it's because audiences are protesting the movie studios behind the internet-censoring bills SOPA and PIPA.)  But Mission Impossible 5 is likely.

Random Movie Stuff - 12/26/11

- Here's the first photo from Magic Mike, a male-stripper comedy from director Steven Soderbergh.  It stars Matthew McConaughey, Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer (Beastly), Matthew Bomer (USA's White Collar), and Joe Manganiello (HBO's True Blood).  It's loosely based on Tatum's experiences as a stripper before his acting career took off.  The movie's scheduled to open June 29.  Soderbergh also has Haywire opening next month.

- Dan Aykroyd has joined the cast of Dog Fight, a political satire starring Will Ferrell and Zack Galifianakis as two warring candidates.  It also stars Jason Sudeikis, John Lithgow, WIll Forte and Brian Cox.

- Alan Taylor, whose directorial efforts mainly comprise of HBO fare like Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire, will be the new director for Thor 2.  Kenneth Branagh directed the original.

- Seth Rogen will star in The B Team, about a master spy who is kidnapped, so his support team must go in to save him.

- What do Tom Hulce (Amadeus), Jon Polito (Miller's Crossing), Derek Jacobi (Anonymous), Wesley Eure (TV's Land of the Lost), Guillermo Diaz (TV's Weeds), Sean Maher (Serenity), Roger Rees (TV's Cheers), Denis O'Hare (TV's True Blood), Jonathan Slavin (TV's Better Off Ted), and Luke Evans (Clash of the Titans) have in common?

- The Top Ten Movies according to Christy Lemire, of Ebert Presents At the Movies:

1.  Martha Marcy May Marlene
2.  50/50
3.  The Myth of the American Sleepover
4.  The Tree of Life
5.  Bellflower
6.  Melancholia
7.  Take Shelter
8.  Hell & Back Again
9.  Beginners
10. Bridesmaids

The Help - DVD Review

★★★½

Starring Viola Davis, Emma Stone, Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jessica Chastain, Allison Janney, Ahna O'Reilly, Sissy Spacek, Cicely Tyson, Chris Lowell, Mary Steenburgen, Mike Vogel, Brian Kerwin, Aunjanue Ellis, Anna Camp and Nelsan Ellis.
Directed by Tate Taylor.

The story begins and ends with Aibileen (Viola Davis), a long-time maid in 1963 Jackson, Mississippi. She's been raising white kids her entire career while suffering the condescending racism from her employers. She runs into Skeeter (Emma Stone) an aspiring writer who comes back home from college and is furious to learn her family's maid Constantine (Cicely Tyson) had been fired. Skeeter looked at Constantine as the one who really raised her, and she starts thinking about a story, a book about the injustices suffered by "the help."

Now this is not a Spike Lee tackling of racial turmoil. We don't see any burning crosses. This is more of a Fried Green Tomatoes-flavored take on the South. It's funny, it's touching, and it's buoyed by a great cast. Davis and Stone are stand-outs, as is Octavia Spencer as Minny, a maid with attitude who will suffer no fools when treated poorly. Also really good is Bryce Dallas Howard as the villainous Hilly, the town's central socialite, the main Heather.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Cave of Forgotten Dreams - DVD Review

★★★

Directed by Werner Herzog.

In southern France, there is Chauvet Cave, closed now to the public because it has cave drawings on its walls that they estimated are 30,000 years old. It was a remarkable archaelogical discovery, but before France had it sealed, they allowed filmmaker Werner Herzog in with his cameras to document history.

Looking at cave drawings might seem like something you catch on the History Channel anytime, but these drawings are thousands of years older than any discovery in history. Herzog's a fine host, inviting us to ponder our existence, wondering what these ancestors might have thought if they'd known their works would be so immortalized.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Fright Night - DVD Review


★★★

Starring Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, Toni Collette, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, David Tennant and Imogen Poots.  Directed by Craig Gillespie.

I don't remember much about the original.  I remember liking it.  I remember liking William "Herman's Head" Ragsdale, Amanda "Married with Children" Bearse, and Roddy MacDowell taking on vampire Chris "Prince Humperdink" Sarandon.  And the poster was cool.  That's the main thing I remember.  That poster.

Everything old is new again, and the movie gets a very fitting update.  Jerry the vampire (Colin Farrell) lives in Las Vegas, where everyone's up at night and no one stays too long so no one can keep track of who's coming and going.  Charley (Anton Yelchin) is doubtful when his friend Evil Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) approaches him about Jerry's true nature, but it isn't long before Charley sees the proof.

Charley then goes to visit Las Vegas showman Peter Vincent (David Tennant), a cross between Van Helsing and Criss Angel, to see what he knows about fighting real vampires.

What's nice about this version is it pulls off the balancing act between horror and comedy.  There's laughs to be had throughout but Colin Farrell's Jerry is one dangerous creature, and I liked the all-in-one-take car chase when Jerry's going over and under the car to try to kill the people inside.

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol - Movie Review

★★★½

Starring Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton, Michael Nyqvist, Vladimir Mashkov, Josh Holloway, Tom Wilkinson, Anil Kapoor, Samuli Edelmann and Lea Seydoux.
Directed by Brad Bird.

Tom Cruise has turned the Mission Impossible movies into his own James Bond franchise, and while I've enjoyed all of them, I can't say I've loved any of them. The first one was a fun mystery, the second one was John Woo's parody of himself, and the third one was fast and fun, but all three were pretty disposable. This one's easily the best in the series.

Cruise, for the couch-jumping hullabaloo and the Stepfording-of-Katie-Holmes kerfuffle and the Scientology bruhaha, is still one of the coolest movie stars working today. He's back as superhuman spy Ethan Hunt, a Jason Bourne with a perfect memory. This time around he has to stop a nuclear activist trying to start World War III so Earth can be rebuilt from the ashes.

Movies on one level are supposed to transport the viewer, and here we go from the Kremlin to Dubai to India. Director Brad Bird brings a lot of sensibilities he displayed in The Incredibles, and that's a good thing. We get sweeping shots of the cities, we get heroes barely avoiding sudden death. I saw it in IMAX, and when Cruise has to step out of the world's tallest building in Dubai, it feels like we've gone out on the ledge with him. That's exactly what I would want.

And it's funny. The makers have Cruise, they have co-action-star Jeremy Renner, they have the sexy Paula Patton, and they make full use of the comic potential of Simon Pegg's chatty Benji. One thing Iv'e appreciated about the MI franchise is while Cruise is the star, Ethan can never accomplish his missions without a team.

This was Bird's first live-action directorial effort (he also did Iron Giant and Ratatouille), and the transition is seamless. I look forward to whatever he does next (which happens to be about the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.) ((Wow, he's younger than me. Man, I've made some wrong choices in life.))

Friday, December 23, 2011

Random Movie Stuff - 12/23/11

Thursday's Box Office:

1.  Mission Impossible 4 - $6.42 million ($32.44) - 7 days
2.  Sherlock Holmes 2 - $4.75 ($58.75) - 7 days
3.  Alvin & the Chipmunks 3 - $3.97 ($36.94) - 7 days
4.  Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - $3.31 (8.37) - 2 days
5.  The Adventures of Tintin - $4.43 ($8.01) - 2 days
6.  New Year's Eve - $1.17 ($29.34) - 14 days

Tom Cruise is back.  Mission Impossible 4 looks like the movie of the season, on pace for a $45 million weekend.  It's also doing well overseas.  The other movies could all qualify as "disappointing."  Sherlock Holmes 2 and Alvin & the Chipmunks 3 opened under expectations, and now so has The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  If US box-office were all that mattered, The Adventures of Tintin could be called a bomb, but since it's already made $237 million otherwise, it'll be fine.

In Other News:

- Amanda Seyfried will star in the Linda Lovelace biopic called Lovelace.  She will be joined by Sharon Stone, Wes Bentley, Hank Azaria, Chris Noth, Bobby Cavanale, Juno Temple and Robert Patrick.

- Woody Allen's next film has had its title changed to Nero Fiddled and will take place in Rome.  It will open in limited release in May.  It stars Jesse Eisenberg, Ellen Page, Alec Baldwin, Penelope Cruz and Roberto Benigni.

- Director Spike Lee may reunite with Clive Owen (Inside Man) for his remake of Oldboy.  It stars Josh Brolin as  a man who's kidnapped on his daughter's birthday and held prisoner for 15 years without explanation.  Once freed, he seeks revenge on his captors, if he can figure out who they are.  Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland, Jane Eyre) has also been offered a role.

- Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, starring Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton, has been pushed off its March 2nd release date to sometime in the fall.

- Remember when Disnay Animation said they were done with fairy tales?  Then they saw the receipts for Tangled.  Now they're making Hans Christian Anderson's The Snow Queen, due for release on November 27, 2013.  They're titling it Frozen.

- Dax Shepard (NBC's Parenthood) will write, direct and star in Outrun, an action comedy that will co-star Bradley Cooper, Kristen Bell, Kristen Chenoweth and Beau Bridges.

- HBO has cancelled Bored to Death, Hung, and How to Make It in America.  It has renewed Enlightened, starring Laura Dern.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

My Top Ten of TV 2011

1. BREAKING BAD (AMC) - Last year's heartbreaking finale, where Jesse has to kill Gale in order to save Walter White, led to a full season of suspense where Walter keeps trying to figure how he can kill Gus before Gus kills him, and Gus is one smart man. Giancarlo Esposito created in Gus one of the great all-time menacing TV villains. Few things are scarier when Gus's smile disappears. He gave Emmy-worthy work, but so did Aaron Paul as the tormented Jesse, and Mark Margolis as the silent old cartel man who gets one last stab at revenge. In the first season, Walter was a chemistry teacher just trying to make ends meet. Now his transformation into Heisenberg is complete, with that final revelation that Walter is just as capable of Machiavellian maneuvers as Gus. Next season, the final one, will surely be an epic showdown once Jesse realizes how Mr. White manipulated him.

2. COMMUNITY / PARKS & RECREATION (NBC) - Any other year I might have put The Office here too, but I must acknowledge it's lost a step without Steve Carell's Michael Scott. But Community's surreal study group and P&R's misfit public servants are the best hour-block of ensemble comedy on TV.

3. JUSTIFIED (FX) - This Kentucky law show upped its game in the second season by casting Margo Martindale as the drug-dealing matriarch Maggie presiding over her three dangerous sons, throwing up new roadblocks for Raylen (Timothy Olyphant). This show is 1/3 procedural and 2/3 building drama, one of the most satisfying on TV.

4. GAME OF THRONES (HBO) - I'm a fan of the books, and I can't imagine anyone doing a better job of bringing them to life than what they've done here. Sean Bean and Mark Addy were spot on as old friends and soldiers now serving as the two most powerful men in the kingdom. There was scheming, backstabbing, heartbreaking betrayals, and mesmorizing performances. Tyrion's my favorite character from the books, and Peter Dinklage has played him as exactly as well as I could have hoped.

5. THE GOOD WIFE (CBS) - Julianna Margulies has just about erased my memories as nurse Carol Hathaway. She was born to play Alicia Florick - lawyer, lover, mother, wife. Each week there's an interesting case, but also each week the intrigue increases, especially now with Alicia's estranged husband (Chris Noth) as the state district attorney.

6. HOMELAND (SHO) - Remember how good Damien Lewis was in Band of Brothers? Now he's an Iraq War vet returned home and under deep suspicion by the CIA that he might be a sleeper-cell terrorist. Claire Danes gets to showcase what she can do as a bipolar agent, really really good at what she does, as long as she's on her meds.

7. AMERICAN HORROR STORY (FX) - It was trippy, campy, and one heck of a Halloween roller coaster ride. Jessica Lange's Constance was a Tennessee Williams delight.

8. TOO BIG TO FAIL (HBO) - William Hurt was front and center as Hank Paulsen, scrambling behind closed doors when he realized the entire world's economy might collapse on his watch. Also good were Billy Crudup as the buck-passing Tim Geitner and Paul Giamatti as the horrified Ben Bernanke.

9. THE GOP PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES - "Oops." Come on, I bet you $10,000 they're frankly fundamentally grotesquely great!

10. LATE NIGHT with JIMMY FALLON (NBC) - I don't watch that much, but he has the best YouTube clips of any late-night talk-show host. I must have watched his and Colbert's cover of "Friday" ten times.

 
Honorable Mention:

V FINALE (ABC) - This show suffered toward the end of its second season, with every episode being another where the Fifth Column fails against Anna. But that last episode, where the action ramped up and no less than three major characters died, was an excellent springboard for the next season. That never happened.

Other good stuff:

DEXTER (SHO), MODERN FAMILY (ABC), BIG BANG THEORY (CBS), BOARDWALK EMPIRE (HBO), HELL ON WHEELS (AMC), BOSS (STARZ), NEW GIRL (FOX), SURVIVOR (CBS), THE WALKING DEAD (AMC), TRUE BLOOD (HBO), THE AMAZING RACE (CBS), THE MIDDLE (ABC), CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (HBO), LOUIE (FX).

I'd also add THIS WEEK (ABC) when Jake Tapper hosts, THE OFFICE (NBC) when Steve Carell was still on there, the Red John finale of THE MENTALIST (CBS), the work of Scott Caan on ENTOURAGE (HBO) and HAWAII FIVE-O (CBS), the new blood of Vanessa Bayer, Paul Brittain, Taran Killam and Jay Pharaoh on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE (NBC), and any time Bill O'Reilly and Jon Stewart appear on each other's shows.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My Worst Ten of TV 2011

1. KIM KARDASHIAN - The fact that Kim can get paid $17 million to televise her wedding to Kris Humphries only to divorce him 72 days later is wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, and the worst.

2. MAN UP! (ABC) - The six-hundredth sitcom about immature, emasculated guys. It was obnoxious and unnecessary.

3. NICK SWARDSON'S PRETEND TIME (COM) - I tried an episode. It mixes his stand-up with sketches starring him. Neither the sketches nor the stand-up are funny, so I don't see this Sandler coattail-rider lasting much longer.

4. THE PLAYBOY CLUB (NBC) - This series never had a chance (why make a show about the notorious club as a soap opera, a female-centric genre?) but for me it was brought down by Eddie Cibrian's laughable Don Draper impression. It's akin to one of those Syfy movies where they take the same plot as a blockbuster but replace Tom Cruise with C. Thomas Howell.

5. JAMES FRANCO at THE ACADEMY AWARDS (ABC) - They tried to go young, and Anne Hathaway was game, but her co-host froze her out. Franco looked like a guy who regretted saying yes to the gig but couldn't figure out how to get out of it.

6. MEET THE PRESS (NBC) - Tim Russert was king, so that was a big chair to fill, but David Gregory just can't do it. It's the least lively, least informative of the Sunday morning news shows. I watch parts of ABC's This Week, FNC's Fox News Sunday and NBC's Chris Matthews Show almost every week, and sometimes CBS's Face the Nation. Meet the Press? Irrelevant.

7. PERFECT COUPLES (NBC) - Another Friends/Coupling clone, with two semi-charming leads surrounded by two-dimensional duds.

8. HARRY'S LAW (NBC) - Exhibit A that David E. Kelley is going senile. Kathy Bates's performance can only cover so much of the silly plotting and grandstanding lawyer monologues, with some of the least convincing closing arguments ever.

9. I HATE MY TEENAGE DAUGHTER (FOX) - Jaime Pressly deserves better than this vehicle about two neglectful moms who've spoiled their daughters, and now they're reaping the benefits of their daughters being monstrous mean girls.

10. DONALD TRUMP - Not only was his the worst Comedy Central roast ever (thanks, The Situation), but he raised his vulgarity to new heights by teasing a run for the presidency, and trying to moderate his own debate where he'd pick someone to endorse. Stick to Celebrity Apprentice, Don.

Dishonorable Mention:

FRED ARMISEN as OBAMA - I will bring it up every year until Saturday Night Live rightfully gives the job to Jay Pharaoh.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sasquatch Wrangler

I came across this job posting for Executive Senior Vice Director of Sasquatch Wrangling, so I applied. (Plus I know a couple guys at their company.)







Action Team,

I am the perfect candidate to cover any and all sasquatch-wrangling duties.  I lived in the Northwest for a time, where its family roamed, even shook hands with one upon occasion.  (We bonded over how poorly they’d been depicted in Harry & the Hendersons.)  I have reviewed your requirements and can answer each.

-          I have two rats, two dogs, and eight children, so I am proficient at feeding live creatures.

-          I also have plenty of experience at cleaning cages. (See previous sentence.)

-          Who doesn’t love a walk through the forest?

-          I can comb anything out of any place. (See three sentences ago.)

-          I own THREE snow-scrapers.


I am also a daily-challenge relisher, a short-time-frame project-driver, and I’ve been known to show pictures of my girl back home right before gunfights.  Oh, and I’m always three days away from pension.

As to the right-hand column requirements:

-          I have worn night-vision goggles before.

-          Is identifying an M-16 blindfolded and underwater close enough?

-          I have mad written and furious verbal communication skills.

-          I did P90X about a year ago and came up with a killer body and play tackle football every Saturday on the MVHS practice field with a bunch of guys ten years younger than me. (Join us if you wish; we usually start around 12:30.)  So I’d have no fear in a bar fight, despite my killer body going to complete goo in the past four months.

-          Can drive stick.

-          MicroSoft Suite is my prison wife.

-          Can play harmonica, but only songs I wrote myself.  They sound great blindfolded and underwater.

-          I actually did win the gold-looking medal in the steeplechase.  It looks suspiciously like a James Garfield $1 coin, but they tell me it counts.


Your perks and benefits sound awesome.

I have attached my resume.  I hope I have made it sufficiently boring in case the person reading it is wearing a tie.

And tell Joel I said “Hi.” Then add something after the “Hi” he finds so hilarious, he wipes a tear and then talks about missing me.


The Descendants - Movie Review


★★
Starring George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller, Beau Bridges, Robert Forster, Nick Krause, Judy Greer and Matthew Lillard.
Directed by Alexander Payne.

I'll start by saying my wife didn't like it. She said it was too slow and she was bored.

I liked it. But I went in expecting a movie that would live up to all the award buzz it's been receiving. I've seen more than one critic call it the best movie of the year. It's good. It's fine. The acting is terrific. But this won't make my top ten, let alone my best movie of the year.

George Clooney plays a real-estate lawyer whose wife is in a coma after a boating accident. He's used to being the backup parent, letting his wife deal with their two daughters (Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller) so he can focus on work. But with her out of the picture, he has to reconnect. He also, with his cousins, owns a trust of a million acres on one of the Hawaiian islands. They're trying to decide if they should sell and to who.

The movie does a good job of displaying how the personal and professional life blends and overlaps, and it has some funny moments, but overall I'd call it a drama. You can tell it's from the man behind About Schmidt and Sideways.  And it could trim the ruinning time by ten minutes and not lose a thing.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Random Movie Stuff - 12/18/11

- Ben Kingsley may reunite with his Hugo co-star Asa Butterfield in Ender's Game.

- Reese Witherspoon will star in Devil's Knot, about the West Memphis Three. It's the true story of three young men who were convicted of killing three boys in 1993, but after several years and a couple documentaries made demonstrating their innocence, they were finally freed. Witherspoon would play the mother of one of the victims, who was sure they were guilty but over the years came to believe them and fought for their release.

- Rachel McAdams is in talks to reunite with her Sherlock Holmes 2 co-star Noomi Rapace in Passion for director Brian DePalma.

- James Frain (Water for Elephants) has joined the cast of The Lone Ranger, starring Armie Hammer, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Tom Wilkinson.

- David Fincher (Se7en, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) is still working on developing an animated film based on the Dark Horse comic-book character The Goon. He's also still looking at doing an origin story of Captain Nemo, a prequel/reboot of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.


Weekend Box Office

For the week of December 16-18.


 
1. Sherlock Holmes 2 - $40.02 million (WB) - 1 wk
. . . 3703 screens / $10,807 per screen
2. Alvin & the Chipmunks 3 - $23.5 - 1 wk (Fox)
. . . 3723 / $6312
3. Mission: Impossible 4 - $13 - 1 wk (Par)
. . . 425 / $30,588
4. New Year's Eve - $7.42 ($24.83) - 2 wks (WB) -43%
. . . 3505 / $2117
5. The Sitter - $4.4 ($17.72) - 2 wks (Fox) -55.3%
. . . 2752 / $1599
6. Breaking Dawn Pt. 1 - $4.3 ($266.4) - 5 wks (Sum) -45%
. . . 2958 / $1454
7. Young Adult - $3.65 ($4.09) - 2 wks (Par) +1076%
. . . 986 / $3702
8. Hugo - $3.63 ($39.07) - 4 wks (Par) -40.1%
. . . 2532 / $1432
9. Arthur Christmas - $3.6 ($38.54) - 4 wks (Sony) -44.7%
. . . 2929 / $1229
10. The Muppets - $3.45 ($70.93) - 4 wks (BV) -50.5%
. . . 2808 / $1230
11. The Descendants - $3.35 ($28.73) - 5 wks (FS) -23.5%
. . . 878 / $3815
12. Jack & Jill - $1.23 ($70.5) - 6 wks (Sony) -60.3%
. . . 1910 / $641

The real winner here is Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.  In opening in IMAX-only a week before its wide release, it's generated buzz as the event film of the winter.  Not so fortunate were the two sequels for Sherlock Holmes and Alvin & the Chipmunks.  Depends on the legs they have through Christmas, but with all the competition coming, it doesn't look good.

To put the numbers in perspective, the top four grossers this weekend were $83.94 million.

In 2010 - $85 million (Tron Legacy, Yogi Bear, Chronicles of Narnia 3, The Fighter)
In 2009 - $105 million (Avatar, Princess & the Frog, The Blind Side, Did You Hear About the Morgans)

Now next week, you have Mission Impossible expanding, The Adventures of Tintin, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, We Bought A Zoo, War Horse and The Darkest Hour.  It means movies like The Sitter and jack & Jill cannot be expunged from theaters fast enough.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Myth of the American Sleepover - DVD Review

★★★★

Starring Claire Sloma, Marlon Morton, Amanda Bauer, Brett Jacobsen, Nikita Ramsey, Jade Ramsey, Annette DeNoyer and Wyatt McCallum.
Directed by David Robert Mitchell.

This beautiful night-in-the-life-of ensemble piece among Michigan teenagers is the best debut for a director since Richard Linklater with Dazed & Confused. Mitchell takes unknowns and amateur actors and puts them together in a sweet timeless piece that feels so real it could be a documentary at times.

The movie follows four threads. There's Maggie (Clare Sloma), who plays the Peppermint Patty to her friend's Marcie, as the two go from party to party looking for the right boy to kiss on the last night of summer. There's Rob (Marlon Morton), who spotted a cute girl in the supermarket and spends all night trying to find her. There's Claudia (Amanda Bauer), a sophomore who wonders if her boyfriend's been faithful to her. And there's Scott (Brett Jacobsen), a college student who's trying to find the cute twins he had a crush on in high school.

Like most low-budget indies, not much happens, and yet I loved following these characters around, hoping for each to find their desires. It makes one nostalgic for those times, not for what actually happened, but for what we deserved to happen

Friday, December 16, 2011

Sympathy for Delicious - DVD Review

★★

Starring Christopher Thornton, Mark Ruffalo, Orlando Bloom, Juliette Lewis, Laura Linney, James Karen, Noah Emmerich and Robert Wisdom.
Directed by Mark Ruffalo.

Mark Ruffalo's directorial debut is a thorny one. It asks philosophical questions but offers no answers, and based on the premise it goes down some unlikely, not necessarily believable paths.

Christopher Thornton plays Dean, a paraplegic DJ. Hard times and bitterness have left him stuck unemployed on skid row, but one day he discovers he has the power to heal people. The local priest who works with him exploits him to gin up donations for the local shelter, but all Dean wants to do is DJ in a band, and he gets his wish from the local obnoxious star (Orlando Bloom).

Ruffalo uses the same techniques many a low-budget mumblecore director have employed, like hand-held camera movements and several shots of the hero staring off and thinking while soft music plays. The movie really small. I had a hard time believing that he could heal so many people and not have it become a national story.

(*P.S. I wasn't sure if I wanted to see this since I'm almost finished with my own screenplay about a guy who can heal people. I was relieved to see that other than that, they have nothing in common.)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

2011 Golden Globe Nominations

Best Motion Picture - Drama

 The Descendants
 The Help
 Hugo
 The Ides of March
 Moneyball
 War Horse

Best Motion Picture - Comedy Or Musical

 50/50
 The Artist
 Bridesmaids
 Midnight in Paris
 My Week with Marilyn

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama

 George Clooney, "The Descendants"
 Leonardo DiCaprio, "J. Edgar"
 Michael Fassbender, "Shame"
 Ryan Gosling, "The Ides of March"
 Brad Pitt, "Moneyball"

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama

 Glenn Close, "Albert Nobbs"
 Viola Davis, "The Help"
 Rooney Mara, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"
 Meryl Streep, "The Iron Lady"
 Tilda Swinton, "We Need To Talk About Kevin"

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Comedy Or Musical

 Jodie Foster, "Carnage"
 Charlize Theron, "Young Adult"
 Kristen Wiig, "Bridesmaids"
 Michelle Williams, "My Week with Marilyn"
 Kate Winslet, "Carnage"

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Comedy Or Musical

 Jean Dujardin, "The Artist"
 Joseph Gordon Levitt, "50/50"
 Ryan Gosling, "Crazy Stupid Love"
 Brendan Gleeson, "The Guard"
 Owen Wilson, "Midnight in Paris"

Best Performance by an Actress In A Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

 Berenice Bejo,  "The Artist"
 Jessica Chastain, "The Help"
 Janet McTeer, "Albert Nobbs"
 Octavia Spencer, "The Help"
 Shailene Woodley, "The Descendants"

Best Performance by an Actor In A Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

 Kenneth Branagh, "My Week with Marilyn"
 Albert Brooks, "Drive"
 Jonah Hill, "Moneyball"
 Viggo Mortensen, "A Dangerous Method"
 Christopher Plummer, "Beginners"

Best Director - Motion Picture

 Woody Allen, "Midnight in Paris"
 George Clooney, "The Ides of March"
 Michael Hazanivicius, "The Artist"
 Alexander Payne, "The Descendants"
 Martin Scorsese, "Hugo"

Best Screenplay - Motion Picture

 "Midnight in Paris"
 "The Ides of March"
 "The Artist"
 "The Descendants"
 "Moneyball"

Best Animated Feature Film

"The Adventures of Tintin"
 "Arthur Christmas"
 "Cars 2"
 "Puss in Boots"
 "Rango"

Best Foreign Language Film

 "Flowers of War"
 "The Land of Blood and Honey"
 "The Kid with A Bike"
 "A Separation"
 "The Skin I Live In"

Best Original Score - Motion Picture

"The Artist"
 "W.E"
 "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"
 "War Horse"
 "Hugo"

Best Original Song - Motion Picture

 "Gnomeo and Juliet"
 "Machine Gun Preacher"
 "Albert Nobbs"
 "The Help"
 "Masterpiece," "W.E"

Best Television Series - Drama

 "American Horror Story"
 "Boardwalk Empire"
 "Boss"
 "Game of Thrones"
 "Homeland"

Best Television Series - Comedy Or Musical

 "Enlightened"
 "Episodes"
 "Glee"
 "Modern Family"
 "New Girl"

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Drama

 Steve Buscemi, "Boardwalk Empire"
 Bryan Cranston, "Breaking Bad"
 Kelsey Grammer, "Boss"
 Jeremy Irons, "The Borgias"
 Damian Lewis, "Homeland"

Best Performance by an Actress In A Television Series - Drama

 Claire Danes, "Homeland"
 Mireille Enos, "The Killing"
 Julianna Margulies, "The Good Wife"
 Madeleine Stowe, "Revenge"
 Callie Thorne, "Necessary Roughness"

Best Performance by an Actress In A Television Series - Comedy Or Musical

Laura Dern, "Enlightened"
Zooey Deschanel, "The New Girl"
Tina Fey, "30 Rock"
Laura Linney, "The Big C"
Amy Poehler, "Parks and Recreation"

Best Performance by an Actor In A Television Series - Comedy Or Musical

Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock"
David Duchovny, "Californication"
Johnny Galecki, "The Big Bang Theory"
Thomas Jane, "Hung"
Matt LeBlanc, "Episodes"

Best Mini-Series Or Motion Picture Made for Television
 "Cinema Verite"
 "Downton Abbey"
 "The Hour"
 "Mildred Pierce"
 "Too Big to Fail"

Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television

 Romola Garai, "The Hour"
 Diane Lane, "Cinema Verite"
 Elizabeth McGovern, "Downton Abbey"
 Emily Watson, "Appropriate Adult"
 Kate Winslet, "Mildred Pierce"

Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television

 Hugh Bonneville, "Downton Abbey"
 Idris Elba, "Luther"
 William Hurt, "Too Big To Fail"
 Bill Nighy, "Page Eight"
 Dominic West, "The Hour"

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Jessica Lange, "American Horror Story"
Kelly MacDonald, "Boardwalk Empire"
Maggie Smith, "Downton Abbey"
Sofia Vergara, "Modern Family"
Evan Rachel Wood, "Mildred Pierece"

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Peter Dinklage, "Game of Thrones"
Paul Giamatti, "Too Big to Fail"
Guy Pearce, "Mildred Pierce"
Tim Robbins, "Cinema Verite"
Eric Stonestreet, "Modern Family"

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

2011 Screen Actors Guild Nominations

18th ANNUAL SCREEN ACTORS GUILD AWARDS NOMINATIONS

THEATRICAL MOTION PICTURES

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role

DEMIAN BICHIR / Carlos Galindo - "A BETTER LIFE" (Summit Entertainment)
GEORGE CLOONEY / Matt King - "THE DESCENDANTS" (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
LEONARDO DiCAPRIO / J. Edgar Hoover - "J. EDGAR" (Warner Bros. Pictures)
JEAN DUJARDIN / George - "THE ARTIST" (The Weinstein Company)
BRAD PITT / Billy Beane - "MONEYBALL" (Columbia Pictures)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
GLENN CLOSE / Albert Nobbs - "ALBERT NOBBS" (Roadside Attractions)
VIOLA DAVIS / Aibileen Clark - "THE HELP" (DreamWorks Pictures / Touchstone Pictures)
MERYL STREEP / Margaret Thatcher - "THE IRON LADY" (The Weinstein Company)
TILDA SWINTON / Eva - "WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN" (Oscilloscope Laboratories)
MICHELLE WILLIAMS / Marilyn Monroe - "MY WEEK WITH MARILYN" (The Weinstein Company)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
KENNETH BRANAGH / Sir Laurence Olivier - "MY WEEK WITH MARILYN" (The Weinstein Company)
ARMIE HAMMER / Clyde Tolson - "J. EDGAR" (Warner Bros. Pictures)
JONAH HILL / Peter Brand - "MONEYBALL" (Columbia Pictures)
NICK NOLTE / Paddy Conlon - "WARRIOR" (Lionsgate)
CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER / Hal - "BEGINNERS" (Focus Features)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
BERENICE BEJO / Peppy - "THE ARTIST" (The Weinstein Company)
JESSICA CHASTAIN / Celia Foote - "THE HELP" (DreamWorks Pictures / Touchstone Pictures)
MELISSA McCARTHY / Megan - "BRIDESMAIDS" (Universal Pictures)
JANET McTEER / Hubert Page - "ALBERT NOBBS" (Roadside Attractions)
OCTAVIA SPENCER / Minny Jackson - "THE HELP" (DreamWorks Pictures / Touchstone Pictures)

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
THE ARTIST (The Weinstein Company)
BERENICE BEJO / Peppy
JAMES CROMWELL / Clifton
JEAN DUJARDIN / George
JOHN GOODMAN / Al Zimmer
PENELOPE ANN MILLER / Doris

BRIDESMAIDS (Universal Pictures)
ROSE BYRNE / Helen
JILL CLAYBURGH / Annie's Mom
ELLIE KEMPER / Becca
MATT LUCAS / Gil
MELISSA McCARTHY / Megan
WENDI McLENDON-COVEY / Rita
CHRIS O'DOWD / Rhodes
MAYA RUDOLPH / Lillian
KRISTEN WIIG / Annie

THE DESCENDANTS (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
BEAU BRIDGES / Cousin Hugh
GEORGE CLOONEY / Matt King
ROBERT FORSTER / Scott Thorson
JUDY GREER / Julie Speer
MATTHEW LILLARD / Brian Speer
SHAILENE WOODLEY / Alexandra King

THE HELP (DreamWorks Pictures / Touchstone Pictures)
JESSICA CHASTAIN / Celia Foote
VIOLA DAVIS / Aibileen Clark
BRYCE DALLAS HOWARD / Hilly Holbrook
ALLISON JANNEY / Charlotte Phelan
CHRIS LOWELL / Stuart Whitworth
AHNA O'REILLY / Elizabeth Leefolt
SISSY SPACEK / Missus Walters
OCTAVIA SPENCER / Minny Jackson
MARY STEENBURGEN / Elaine Stein
EMMA STONE / Skeeter Phelan
CICELY TYSON / Constantine Jefferson
MIKE VOGEL / Johnny Foote

MIDNIGHT IN PARIS (Sony Pictures Classics)
KATHY BATES / Gertrude Stein
ADRIEN BRODY / Salvador Dali
CARLA BRUNI / Museum Guide
MARION COTILLARD / Adriana
RACHEL McADAMS / Inez
MICHAEL SHEEN / Paul
OWEN WILSON / Gil

PRIMETIME TELEVISION

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
LAURENCE FISHBURNE / Thurgood Marshall - "THURGOOD" (HBO)
PAUL GIAMATTI / Ben Bernanke - "TOO BIG TO FAIL" (HBO)
GREG KINNEAR / Jack Kennedy - "THE KENNEDYS" (REELZ CHANNEL)
GUY PEARCE / Monty Beragon - "MILDRED PIERCE" (HBO)
JAMES WOODS / Richard Fuld - "TOO BIG TO FAIL" (HBO)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
DIANE LANE / Pat Loud - "CINEMA VERITE" (HBO)
MAGGIE SMITH / Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham - "DOWNTON ABBEY" (PBS)
EMILY WATSON / Janet Leach - "APPROPRIATE ADULT" (Sundance Channel)
BETTY WHITE / Caroline Thomas - "HALLMARK HALL OF FAME: THE LOST VALENTINE" (CBS)
KATE WINSLET / Mildred Pierce - "MILDRED PIERCE" (HBO)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series
PATRICK J. ADAMS / Mike Ross - "SUITS" (USA)
STEVE BUSCEMI / Enoch "Nucky" Thomson - "BOARDWALK EMPIRE" (HBO)
KYLE CHANDLER / Eric Taylor - "FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS" (DirecTV)
BRYAN CRANSTON / Walter White - "BREAKING BAD" (AMC)
MICHAEL C. HALL / Dexter Morgan - "DEXTER" (Showtime)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series
KATHY BATES / Harriet Korn - "HARRY'S LAW" (NBC)
GLENN CLOSE / Patty Hewes - "DAMAGES" (DirecTV)
JESSICA LANGE / Constance - "AMERICAN HORROR STORY" (FX)
JULIANNA MARGULIES / Alicia Florrick - "THE GOOD WIFE" (CBS)
KYRA SEDGWICK / Dept. Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson - "THE CLOSER" (TNT)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series
ALEC BALDWIN / Jack Donaghy - "30 ROCK" (NBC)
TY BURRELL / Phil Dunphy - "MODERN FAMILY" (ABC)
STEVE CARELL / Michael Scott - "THE OFFICE" (NBC)
JON CRYER / Alan Harper - "TWO AND A HALF MEN" (CBS)
ERIC STONESTREET / Cameron Tucker - "MODERN FAMILY" (ABC)


Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy SeriesJULIE BOWEN / Claire Dunphy - "MODERN FAMILY" (ABC)
EDIE FALCO / Jackie Peyton - "NURSE JACKIE" (Showtime)
TINA FEY / Liz Lemon - "30 ROCK" (NBC)
SOFIA VERGARA / Gloria Delgado-Pritchett - "MODERN FAMILY" (ABC)
BETTY WHITE / Elka Ostrovsky - "HOT IN CLEVELAND" (TV Land)

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series

BOARDWALK EMPIRE (HBO)
STEVE BUSCEMI / Enoch "Nucky" Thompson
DOMINIC CHIANESE / Leander Cephas Whitlock
ROBERT CLOHESSY / Ward Boss Jim Neary
DABNEY COLEMAN / Commodore Louis Kaestner
CHARLIE COX / Owen Sleater
JOSIE & LUCY GALLINA / Emily Schroeder
STEPHEN GRAHAM / Al Capone
JACK HUSTON / Richard Harrow
ANTHONY LACIURA / Eddie Kessler
HEATHER LIND / Katy
KELLY MACDONALD / Margaret Schroeder
RORY & DECLAN McTIGUE / Teddy Schroeder
GRETCHEN MOL / Gillian Darmody
BRADY & CONNOR NOON/ Tommy Darmody
KEVIN O'ROURKE / Mayor Edward Bader
ALEKSA PALLADINO / Angela Darmody
JACQUELINE PENNEWILL / Lilian
VINCENT PIAZZA / Lucky Luciano
MICHAEL PITT / Jimmy Darmody
MICHAEL SHANNON / Agent Nelson Van Alden
PAUL SPARKS / Mickey Doyle
MICHAEL STUHLBARG / Arnold Rothstein
PETER VAN WAGNER / Isaac "Icky" Ginsburg
SHEA WHIGHAM / Sheriff Elias Thompson
MICHAEL KENNETH WILLIAMS / Chalky White
ANATOL YUSEF / Meyer Lansky

BREAKING BAD (AMC)
JONATHAN BANKS / Mike
BETSY BRANDT / Marie Schrader
RAY CAMPBELL / Tyrus Kitt
BRYAN CRANSTON / Walter White
GIANCARLO ESPOSITO / Gus Fring
ANNA GUNN / Skyler White
RJ MITTE / Walter White, Jr.
DEAN NORRIS / Hank Schrader
BOB ODENKIRK / Saul Goodman
AARON PAUL / Jesse Pinkman

DEXTER (Showtime)
BILLY BROWN / Chicago Mike
JENNIFER CARPENTER / Debra Morgan
JOSH COOKE / Louis
AIMEE GARCIA / Jamie Batista
MICHAEL C. HALL / Dexter Morgan
COLIN HANKS / Travis Marshall
DESMOND HARRINGTON / Joey Quinn
MARIA DOYLE KENNEDY / Sonya
RYA KIHLSTEDT / Michelle
C.S. LEE / Vince Masuka
EDWARD JAMES OLMOS / Professor Gellar
JAMES REMAR / Harry Morgan
LAUREN VELEZ / Lt. Maria LaGuerta
PETER WELLER / Liddy
DAVID ZAYAS / Sgt. Angel Batista

GAME OF THRONES (HBO)
AMRITA ACHARIA / Irri
MARK ADDY / King Robert Baratheon
ALFIE ALLEN / Theon Greyjoy
JOSEF ALTIN / Pypar
SEAN BEAN / Lord Eddard "Ned" Stark
SUSAN BROWN / Septa Mordane
EMILIA CLARKE / Daenerys Targaryen
NIKOLAJ COSTER-WALDAU / Ser Jaime Lannister
PETER DINKLAGE / Tyrion Lannister
RON DONACHIE / Ser Rodrik Cassel
MICHELLE FAIRLEY / Lady Catelyn Stark
JEROME FLYNN / Bronn
ELYES GABEL / Rakharo
AIDEN GILLEN / "Littlefinger" Petyr Baelish
JACK GLEESON / Joffrey Baratheon
IAIN GLEN / Ser Jorah Mormont
JULIAN GLOVER / Grand Maester Pycelle
KIT HARINGTON / Jon Snow
LENA HEADEY / Queen Cersei Lannister
ISAAC HEMPSTEAD WRIGHT / Bran Stark
CONLETH HILL / Lord Varys
RICHARD MADDEN / Robb Stark
JASON MAMOA / Kahl Drogo
RORY McCANN / Sandor Clegane
IAN McELHINNEY / Barristan Selmy
LUKE McEWAN / Rast
ROXANNE McKEE / Doreah
DAR SALIM / Qotho
MARK STANLEY / Grenn
DONALD SUMPTER / Maester Luwin
SOPHIE TURNER / Sansa Stark
MAISIE WILLIAMS / Arya Stark

THE GOOD WIFE (CBS)
CHRISTINE BARANSKI / Diane Lockhart
JOSH CHARLES / Will Gardner
ALAN CUMMING / Eli Gold
MATT CZUCHRY / Cary Agos
JULIANNA MARGULIES / Alicia Florrick
CHRIS NOTH / Peter Florrick
ARCHIE PANJABI / Kalinda Sharma
GRAHAM PHILLIPS / Zach Florrick
MAKENZIE VEGA / Grace Florrick

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series

30 ROCK (NBC)
SCOTT ADSIT / Pete Hornberger
ALEC BALDWIN / Jack Donaghy
KATRINA BOWDEN / Cerie
KEVIN BROWN / Dotcom
GRIZZ CHAPMAN / Grizz
TINA FEY / Liz Lemon
JUDAH FRIEDLANDER / Frank Rossitano
JANE KRAKOWSKI / Jenna Maroney
JOHN LUTZ / Lutz
JACK MCBRAYER / Kenneth Parcell
TRACY MORGAN / Tracy Jordan
MAULIK PANCHOLY / Jonathan
KEITH POWELL / Toofer

THE BIG BANG THEORY (CBS)
MAYIM BIALIK / Amy Farrah Fowler
KALEY CUOCO / Penny
JOHNNY GALECKI / Leonard Hofstadter
SIMON HELBERG / Howard Wolowitz
KUNAL NAYYAR / Rajesh Koothrappali
JIM PARSONS / Sheldon Cooper
MELISSA RAUCH / Bernadette Rostenkowski

GLEE (FOX)
DIANNA AGRON / Quinn Fabray
CHRIS COLFER / Kurt Hummel
DARREN CRISS / Blaine Anderson
ASHLEY FINK / Lauren Zizes
DOT MARIE JONES / Coach Beiste
JANE LYNCH / Sue Sylvester
JAYMA MAYS / Emma Pillsbury
KEVIN McHALE / Artie Abrams
LEA MICHELE / Rachel Berry
CORY MONTEITH / Finn Hudson
HEATHER MORRIS / Brittany Pierce
MATTHEW MORRISON / Will Schuester
MIKE O'MALLEY / Burt Hummel
CHORD OVERSTREET / Sam Evans
LAUREN POTTER / Becky Johnson
AMBER RILEY / Mercedes Jones
NAYA RIVERA / Santana Lopez
MARK SALLING / Noah �Puck� Puckerman
HARRY SHUM, JR. / Mike Chang
IQBAL THEBA / Principal Figgins
JENNA USHKOWITZ / Tina Cohen-Chang

MODERN FAMILY (ABC)
AUBREY ANDERSON-EMMONS / Lily
JULIE BOWEN / Claire
TY BURRELL / Phil
JESSE TYLER FERGUSON / Mitchell
NOLAN GOULD / Luke
SARAH HYLAND / Haley
ED O'NEILL / Jay
RICO RODRIGUEZ / Manny
ERIC STONESTREET / Cameron
SOFIA VERGARA / Gloria
ARIEL WINTER / Alex

THE OFFICE (NBC)
LESLIE DAVID BAKER / Stanley Hudson
BRIAN BAUMGARTNER / Kevin Malone
CREED BRATTON / Creed Bratton
STEVE CARELL / Michael Scott
JENNA FISCHER / Pam Beesly Halpert
KATE FLANNERY / Meredith Palmer
ED HELMS / Andy Bernard
MINDY KALING / Kelly Kapoor
ELLIE KEMPER / Erin Hannon
ANGELA KINSEY / Angela Martin
JOHN KRASINSKI / Jim Halpert
PAUL LIEBERSTEIN / Toby Flenderson
B.J. NOVAK / Ryan Howard
OSCAR NUNEZ / Oscar Martinez
CRAIG ROBINSON / Daryll Philbin
JAMES SPADER / Robert California
PHYLLIS SMITH / Phyllis Lapin-Vance
RAINN WILSON / Dwight Schrute
ZACH WOODS / Gabe Lewis

SAG HONORS FOR STUNT ENSEMBLES

Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture
THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU (UNIVERSAL PICTURES)
COWBOYS & ALIENS (UNIVERSAL PICTURES)
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 2 (WARNER BROS. PICTURES)
TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON (PARAMOUNT PICTURES)
X-MEN: FIRST CLASS (20TH CENTURY FOX)

Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Television Series
DEXTER (SHOWTIME)
GAME OF THRONES (HBO)
SOUTHLAND (TNT)
SPARTACUS: GODS OF THE ARENA (STARZ)
TRUE BLOOD (HBO)
LIFE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

Screen Actors Guild Awards 48th Annual Life Achievement Award

MARY TYLER MOORE
(h/t ComingSoon.net)

Noticeable Snubs:

No Gary Oldman for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
No Albert Brooks for Drive
No mention of Corey Stoll in the Midnight in Paris ensemble

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Rock of Ages trailer

It's here.

I'm excited about this one for a few reasons. 

1. It's from Adam Shankman, who did a great job on Hairspray.
2. Tom Cruise tends to knock it out of the park in supporting roles (Magnolia, Tropic Thunder).
3. I love the 1980's.

The overall cast looks pretty good, although Alec Baldwin looks out of place with the bad longhair wig.  I'll reserve judgment on that one.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Arthur Christmas - Movie Review

★★★½

Starring the voices of James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Bill Nighy, Jim Broadbent, Imelda Staunton and Ashley Jensen.  Directed by Sarah Smith.

Here's the hundredth take on how the North Pole really works, and what do you know, it has some fresh ideas.

Santa is a title that has passed from father to son for over 1500 years like a monarchy. As the world's population expanded, so has Santa's operation, and now with his army of elves and high-tech spaceship, he is still able to cover all the children of the world in one night.

The current Santa has had his 70th Christmas, a jolly good run. His oldest son Steve, the heir apparent, is a militant efficiency machine. His younger son Arthur is a clumsy, well-meaning kid with his heart in the right place. When one child's present is not delivered, Steve argues the percentages, Santa accepts it, and Arthur is appalled. "No child left behind." So Arthur makes a deal with his Grandsanta to deliver the present on their own.

I like the idea of a royal Santa line, and the issues the movie raises with grandparents, parents and children. It's also pretty funny. It's from Aardman, the studio behind Wallace & Gromit and Flushed Away, and it has that British edge to the humor.

Hugo - Movie Review

★★★½

Starring Ben Kingsley, Asa Butterfield, Chloe Moretz, Sacha Baron Cohen, Ray Winstone, Jude Law, Emily Mortimer, Christopher Lee, Helen McCrory, Michael Stuhlberg, Frances de la Tour and Richard Griffiths.
Directed by Martin Scorsese.

"I address you as you are: wizards and mermaids, travelers, adventurers; come and dream with me!"

In many ways, this "kids" movie is the one Martin Scorsese was born to direct. Based on The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, it's about a boy who winds the clocks at a Parisian train station long after his drunkard uncle has disappeared. He must avoid the station inspector, who likes to catch orphans like rats. Which is understandable. After all Hugo shoplifts his meals every day.

Hugo also steals parts here and there from the toy shop of Georges (Ben Kingsley). Hugo has an automoton from his late father, and he hopes when he fixes it, it will have a message for him.

The movie starts out with kid-movie trappings but the deeper into the story, the deeper the emotions run, and it becomes a tribute to the magic of moviemaking.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Jane Eyre - DVD Review

★★★

Starring Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Fassbender, Judi Dench, Jamie Bell, Sally Hawkins and Simon McBurney.
Directed by Cary Fukunaka.

Somehow I've made it this far in life without ever reading or seeing a filmed version of Jane Eyre. (I hear the musical's good.) But now I have.

It begins and ends with Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland) as Jane, and she does amazing work here. There are times her face blanks out and she is truly plain Jane. And then we can see her heart breaking by the smallest twitch of the lip or blush of the cheek.

I enjoyed getting enveloped in the foggy moors of 19th century England in Bronte-land, where everything's restrained and proper, but underneath, there's those pesky emotions dying to get out. Jane has the typical Dickensian childhood. Orphaned, abandoned, raised in a strict and heartless school, but once free as an adult, she acquires valuable employment as a governess for the wealthy Mr. Rochester.

Something felt missing, and my wife explained how the movie trimmed most of God out. Jane's faith is what sustains her, what motivates her, what drives her, at least on the page. The movie gives Jane that solid character; it just doesn't clarify where it comes from. She's Jane Eyre. Enough said. Regardless, I found it a fine introduction to the story, which is understandably classic.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Random Movie Stuff - 12/7/11

- William Hurt is in talks to join Saoirse Ronan (Hanna) and Max Irons (Red Riding Hood) in The Host. Based on the Stephenie Meyer best-seller, it's about post-apocalyptic world where a girl has an alien soul controlling her brain.

- Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren will play husband and wife in Alfred Hitchcock & the Making of Psycho. Hopkins will play Hitchcock, the profilic director who had to scrounge for financing in order to make Psycho, which no studio wanted to touch.

- Angelina Jolie, whose directorial debut In the Land of Blood and Honey opens later this month, has her next two acting projects lined up. First is what's described as a scientific thriller for director Luc Besson (The Fifth Element), and then she'll star in a biopic about Gertude Bell for director Ridley Scott (Robin Hood).

- Chris Columbus's 1492 Pictures have acquired the movie rights to Anne Rice's Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt. Cyrus Nowrasteh (The Stoning of Soraya M.) will direct.

- Tom Wilkinson will play the main villain in The Lone Ranger, starring Armie Hammer (The Social Network, J. Edgar) as the Lone Ranger and Johnny Depp as Tonto. Director Gore Verbinski is working on getting the rest of those originally cast reassembled, including Helena Bonham Carter, Barry Pepper, and Dwight Yoakum.

- NBC is looking at Ryan Seacrest as a possible replacement for Matt Lauer on The Today Show.

- Harry Morgan has died at the age of 96. He's been in movies ranging from High Noon to The Apple Dumpling Gang to Dragnet, but he's best known for his Emmy-winning turn as Col. Potter on M*A*S*H.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Has The Office jumped the shark?

I thought the ensemble was strong that it might be able to survive without Michael Scott (Steve Carell), but it occurs to me that it's lost so much more than that. Gone is the byzantine upper management that gave us leaders like Jan and David, gone is the soul-crushing feel of the daily cubicle drudgery. Andy Bernard (Ed Helms) doesn't have the fragile ego that made Michael do impulsive, selfish things. Andy started off as a jerk who had to go to anger management. Now he's a puppy-dog who just wants to please everyone, and all of his co-workers want him to succeed. Where's the comedy in that?
Now with Sabre CEO Robert California (James Spader) I thought we'd get some darkness to rock the boat, but Robert's been hit and miss. This week's episode, where we meet his wife (Maura Tierney) may have been the best use thus far of the potential of this mind-gaming genius. I enjoyed Andy twisting himself into a pretzel trying to do what he thought Robert wanted him to do.

These characters are still fun and funny. Dwight, Jim, Pam, Ryan, Kelly, Toby, Angela, Meredith, Stanley, Creed, Erin, Oscar, Daryl, Phyllis... I just hope the show can find some consistent Michael-free magic. Or maybe they should quit while they're ahead.

Watts & Wright as Grandmothers, Benoit biopic, etc.




- Naomi Watts and Robin Wright have signed on for The Grandmothers, about two lifelong friends who wind up falling for each other's teenage sons.

- SRG Films will be making Crossface, a biopic of pro-wrestler Chris Benoit, who after years of drug use, depression and head trauma, murdered his wife and son before taking his own life.
- Remakes of RoboCop and Total Recall are on their way, and now Paul Verhoeven's Starship Troopers is getting the remake treatment.


- Speaking of RoboCop, Peter Weller has joined the cast of Star Trek 2 for director JJ Abrams. He joins new cast members Benecio Del Toro and Alice Eve, and the returning seven of Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho and Anton Yelchin.

- This week's Super Bowl halftime show performer: Madonna.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Breaking Dawn still #1

The box-office for the weekend of December 2-4.

1. Breaking Dawn Pt. 1 - $16.9 million ($247.3) - 3 wks (Sum) -59.5%
. . . 4046 screens / $4177 per screen

2. The Muppets - $11.2 ($56.14) - 2 wks (BV) -61.7%
. . . 3440 / $3256

3. Hugo - $7.63 ($25.19) - 2 wks (Par) -32.9%
. . . 1840 / $4144

4. Arthur Christmas - $7.35 ($25.29) - 2 wks (Sony) -39.1%
. . . 3376 / $2177

5. Happy Feet Two - $6 ($51.79) - 3 wks (WB) -55.2%
. . . 3536 / $1697

6. Jack & Jill - $5.5 ($64.31) - 4 wks (Sony) -45%
. . . 3049 / $1804

7. The Descendants - $5.2 ($18.09) - 3 wks (FS) -29.2%
. . . 574 / $9059

8. Immortals - $4.39 ($75.59) - 4 wks (Rel) -50.5%
. . . 2627 / $1673

9. Tower Heist - $4.1 ($70.8) - 5 wks (U) -42.9%
. . . 2404 / $1705

10. Puss in Boots - $3.05 ($139.52) - 6 wks (DW) -59.4%
. . . 2750 / $1109

First weekend of December tends to be low, but Hugo and Arthur Christmas have to be rethinking their strategy of opening against The Muppets and each other, and just a week after Happy Feet Two. Puss was wise to open Halloween weekend.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Movie Award Season

I saw Beginners the other day.  It was really good, and Christopher Plummer was great in it.  It wasn't exceptional for him; it just showed that if you give him a quality part, he will nail it.  He's a worker.  He'll keep appearing in movies like Priest so he can make a Beginners.  Nevertheless, he has to be the favorite right now to win Best Supporting Actor.

Most of the award-buzzed movies either haven't come out yet, or if they have, it's only on a limited basis.  I want to catch George Clooney in The Descendants as soon as I can, because I get the feeling it may not stick around long.  I'm looking forward to The Artist, The Iron Lady, My Week with Marilyn, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, etc., opening at a theater near me.  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and War Horse are the other big award-bait ones coming.  I hear Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close will be in the mix, but I can't say its trailer appealed to me.

Oh yeah, and Hugo.  Still gotta catch Hugo.

I missed Drive and The Ides of March.  Hopefully they're at a $1 theater somewhere soon.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Exclusive! San Andreas 3-D movie, Ender's Game, etc.

- New Line is prepping a big-budget earthquake movie for 2012. San Andreas 3-D will be produced by Beau Flynn. Here's the exclusive from the L.A. Times, and here's Deadline Hollywood pretending they have the scoop. (h/t @TheInSneider)

UPDATE: After I commented twice there and they deleted my comments, Deadline has removed the word "Exclusive."

In Other News:

- Kyle Chandler (Super 8) has joined the cast of Broken City, starring Mark Wahlberg as a detective hired by the mayor (Russell Crowe) to investigate his wife's lover. Catherine Zeta-Jones, Barry Pepper, Jeffrey Wright and Justin Chambers co-star. (VO)

- David Ayer (Training Day) is going write another version of Scarface, and it's said he's studying the 1932 and 1982 versions. (DHD)

- Asa Butterfield (Hugo) will star in Ender's Game for director Gavin Hood (Wolverine). Harrison Ford and Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit) are also being sought for roles.