Movies: A Year in Review (2011)

February 26, 2012

When 2011 began, it was highly discussed as the “year of sequels,” since it was reported to contain 27 sequels, the most in any calendar year. Of these sequels, there were movies we all looked forward to (The Muppets, Sherlock Holmes), movies that we didn’t want but expected there to be a sequel (The Hangover Part 2, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn) and those movie franchises that just won’t go away no matter what (Scream 4, Fast Five, Final Destination 5). But what started as a year of continuing stories shifted gears as the months were ripped from the calendar. Eventually at the year’s end, 2011 will be known for a year of nostalgia.

There have been a number of films that explored the theme of nostalgia this year, the first being Rango. For those who have seen the film, you can sense how the creators of the animated feature plucked the styles from classic films such as Blazing Saddles, The Shakiest Gun in the West, Star Wars, and Apocalypse Now. It was a unique way to pay tribute to such classics with a quirky and unorthodox animated film. This is why Rango is one of my favorite films of the year and to no surprise, is nominated for Best Animated Feature.

Continuing with the theme of nostalgia, no other film hits it right on the head as much as Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. Warning, there are spoilers ahead. While the film dealt with the beauty of Paris and sort of plays out like a travel brochure to the world-famous city, Woody Allen shoves a hefty dose of nostalgia in the film as Owen Wilson finds himself unhappy in his current life and wishing he was living in the 1920’s. To his surprise, at the strike of midnight his dream comes true and he finds himself drinking with Ernest Hemingway and sharing a discussion with Pablo Picasso and F. Scott Fitzgerald. He falls in love with Adriana, but soon realizes he prefers the time period to the present when Adriana confesses she prefers the 1890’s. It’s a wonderful and clever tale with the fantasy of living in a different time period to escape the present.

Another film that was heavy on nostalgic style was Nicholas Refn’s Drive, starring Ryan Gosling. Everything about this film screams “nostalgia” from the pink font of the title to the synth-heavy soundtrack. It’s also a tribute to car films such as Bullitt (1968). Other noted inspirations from Drive include The Day of the Locust, To Live and Die in L.A., Point Blank, and The Driver. Once you’ve seen Drive, you might mistaken it for a film from the 70’s.

There was a film I was anticipating since the announcement that it was being released: The Muppets. But what could they possibly have a movie about? It’s been 12 long years since the last Muppets film, but Jason Segel wisely exploited that and used it in the very self-aware, nostalgic film. While the film was full of typical Muppets fun, the one who really enjoyed it were the adults who remembered The Muppets Show. The film had dozens of clips from the show and even dealt with the story-line that the Muppets had to have a reunion to save their Muppet Theater. Let me just say one thing, there is nothing like hearing “Rainbow Connection.” It brings a tear to my eye every-time.

Martin Scorsese announced his first film to be filmed in 3-D, Hugo, and you can count on the legendary filmmaker to deliver a knock-out punch. Hugo wasn’t just an entertaining, PG-rated film about a boy in search for the right parts to fix an automaton so he could receive a message from his diseased father. It was also about the history of movies and the preservation of film. It was certainly a treat to see some of the earliest art-forms of film-making explored during the second half of Hugo. For those who aren’t familiar with this, the way Hugo dives into the process of films from the past is marvelous. There is certainly a magic that surrounds the entire film, and brilliant how Scorsese uses a new technology of 3-D to pay homage to the creation of imaginative film-making.

Finally, the last film I want to point out with an nostalgic influence is The Artist. This film with French actors and director, is a silent, black and white film that feels like it was shot from the 1930’s. It’s quite a bold move to release a film like this, with story-telling techniques that have become obsolete for so long. It’s also a wonder how it’s so damn good. The movie deals with the “out with the old, in with the new” mentality, in contrary to what is being portrayed by releasing a b&w, silent film in 2011. But that’s the beauty in it all.

Another aspect about 2011 that stood out at the end of the year was the continuation of the rise of women in the movie industry. Two films epitomized how women have turned the corner and can compete with the male-dominated world: Bridesmaids and The Help. Both films feature great female ensemble casts, both have been critically acclaimed and have grossed impressive amounts of money. Bridesmaids shows how women can be as sleazy and funny as any group of men in a raunchy comedy. Comparisons to The Hangover were inevitable because of the insane success of both films, but in my opinion Bridesmaids was the stronger film.

As for The Help, this movie really surprised me in a good way. Boasting a very talented cast of Viola Davis, Emma Stone, Octavia Spencer, and Jessica Chastain, The Help went on to win the SAG award for Best Ensemble. Without a doubt this was one of the most powerful films of the year, and can you believe there were barely any men involved. Who would’ve thought?

When 2011 was winding down, I was slightly disappointed at the fact that the year didn’t have that one movie that really “wowed” me. Last year, movies like Inception and The Social Network were two films that I will remember for the rest of my life. 2009 provided the best war movie (The Hurt Locker) in probably the past few decades, along with the biggest movie of all-time, Avatar. So what did 2011 have to offer? While I loved films like The Descendants and Drive, I’m unsure if they have the staying-power to really put 2011 on the charts of a fantastic year of film.

Well my question was answered when I finally made my way to watch A Separation. This foreign film is nominated for Best Foreign Language film, representing Iran, and blows every American film out of the water in 2011. Layered with conflict, realistic characters, and an unfamiliar setting, A Separation was a masterpiece that I could watch every single week for the next few years. Writer/director Asghar Farhadi has created one of the best family dramas that I have every watched. Blessed with such talented actors, especially Leila Hatami and Peyman Moaadi, the film jumped off the screen and made you question every problem that you have encountered in your own life. When that is accomplished, it just proves that these pieces of art are more than just a movie.

For a detailed analysis of the films broken down by each month, keep reading:

Now let’s turn the calendar back to January of 2011. Like every January, Oscar-worthy films clutter the theaters as acclaimed movies receive a wider release just in time for The Academy Awards. But there’s nothing like the releases of mindless films to counter the realistic, artsy, patience-testing films. In 2011, these films included The Green Hornet, The Dilemma, No Strings Attached, The Mechanic, and The Rite. And now you understand why I don’t look forward to films, typically until March.

February wasn’t much better. The disappointing part about the releases in February was the lack of a solid Valentine’s Day-style romantic comedy. I’m not saying I’m a fan of those chick-flick/rom-coms, but it helps when the romantic-comedy is at least watchable. This year we had Just Go With It starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston. I’m happy to report that I have yet to watch that film, but I’m sure there were a few people who enjoyed it. Other than that, February held notable releases of The Roommate, I Am Number Four, and Justin Bieber: Never Say Never. It’s safe to say that I will never watch any of those films.

March is when movies start to pick up, and 2011 was no different. The first weekend of March showcased, in my opinion, the best animated feature of the year – Rango. It also had The Adjustment Bureau, the better-than-average sci-fi thriller starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt. Other notable releases in March include Limitless, Paul, and Sucker Punch.

April combined some highly entertaining films with some complete failures, making it a very uneven month for movies. Starting strong, we had the underrated horror film, Insidious, and the very good sci-fi thriller, Source Code. But then there were some stinkers, like the unfunny Your Highness, the unimpressive Water for Elephants, and the unnecessary sequels of Scream 4 and Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil. The big story of April was the incredible Fast Five, which opened to $86 million domestically and finished with a worldwide gross of about $626 million. Impressive indeed.

May unofficially begins the summer blockbuster movie season. Thor opened things up with a mediocre showing and then more sequels flooded the movie screens with Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, The Hangover Part II, and Kung Fu Panda 2. But there was one bright spot through May and that was the phenomenon that was Bridesmaids. There was a lot of question marks surrounding this film, but the R-rated, raunchy comedy with an all-female cast stepped up to the plate and hit a home run.

June banged out a blockbuster film week-after-week with X-Men: First Class, Super 8, Green Lantern, Bad Teacher, Cars 2, and Transformers: Dark of the Moon. As you can see and probably experienced, most of these films were all flash and no essence (except the surprisingly good X-Men prequel). In addition to that, Terrance Malick’s The Tree of Life hit the theaters in America and left the majority of of viewers scratching their heads. This was the most abstract film I’ve seen since 2001: A Space Odyssey.

With July, there was more of the same nonsense, the month had the most anticipated film of the year: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. Finally, after eight movies, the Harry Potter franchise concluded in epic fashion. Clearly, the buzz around Harry Potter overpowered the rest of the films in May, such as Horrible Bosses, Zookeeper, Captain America, Friends with Benefits, and Crazy, Stupid, Love.

In August, we had two very good films and a handful of awful ones. Rise of the Planet of the Apes and The Help both went on to receive critical acclaim and make a lot of money. But the rest of the month’s films failed to do so: Final Destination 5, The Change-Up, 30 Minutes or Less, Fright Night, Colombiana, The Debt, and Our Idiot Brother.

September is usually the month that preludes to awards season, which means more movies of higher quality are released. Warrior started the ball rolling with a very engaging and emotional sports film with two brothers who find themselves in a championship MMA match. The following weekend released Drive, a throw-back film, thick on style and violence starring Ryan Gosling. The end of September had the release of Moneyball, the baseball movie that had to do with a lot more than just baseball.

While September was very strong, October took a step back with the quality of films released. The opening weekend had The Ides of March and Real Steel, both solid films for completely different audiences. The rest of the month were mainly of the horror genre such as The Thing and Paranormal Activity 3. Oh, and once again Johnny Depp starred in a bad film (The Rum Diary).

In November, awards season was in full throttle. The releases of J. Edgar, The Descendants, Hugo, and The Artist were all in the same month, and there’s no coincidence that these films will collect a fair share of Oscar nominations. Also in November, there were the releases of Jack and Jill (in contention for the worst film of the year), Happy Feet Two, Immortals, and Tower Heist.

And finally we have December. Like the other months, this had some gems and some awful films. The good: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Young Adult, Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The bad: New Year’s Eve, The Sitter, Alvin and the Chipmunks Chipwrecked, The Darkest Hour.

Overall, despite plenty of naysayers, 2011 was a very good year in movies. And even though the year was cluttered with nostalgic films, that didn’t mean films didn’t make any progress. If anything, 2011 kept pressing on that there are new and exciting things to come in the movie industry, but at the same time you cannot forget the history of how we got to where we are now.


Review: The Tourist

April 2, 2011

The Tourist (2010)
103 minutes
Rated PG-13
Directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Starring: Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie

Grade: C-

There is something terribly wrong with The Tourist and I’m astounded how no one in production of this film picked up on it. There is a lot of talent within this film. The director, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, write, directed and co-produced The Lives of Others, which went on to win the Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars (over Pan’s Labyrinth). Co-writers Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects) and Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park) have proven themselves more than worthy to write a smart, compelling screenplay. And we all know the talents of stars Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie. So what the hell went wrong?

The Tourist is a film surrounding a mystery… well a lot of mysteries. For a part of the film, we don’t know who Elise’s (Jolie) really is. We keep hearing the name Alexander Pearce, but we’re never told anything about his besides the fact he’s a criminal and that he’s Elise’s former lover. And then we meet Frank (Depp) who is the innocent ploy in Elise’s cat-and-mouse game.

But wait! The mafia is involved and they want Pearce dead. When they see Elise and Frank lock lips, they assume Frank is Pearce and chase him through the streets of Venice. Also, Elise is working for the British police! What? Who? Why? Who knows?

What we have here is a film that is confused by its own identity, which is quite ironic once you watch the film. Anyway, there are bits of a romance film between Elise and Frank, bits of an action film, a lot of mystery and crime, and a failing attempt at comedy. Depp and Jolie never share a glimpse of chemistry throughout the film and that almost made the film painful to watch. If there was anything to take away from this film, it’s the beautiful shots of Venice and Paris.

There are twists and turns throughout the whole movie, but I never became invested in the characters or the ridiculous plot to have these surprises impact me. What we have here is a very colorful and luscious film that could serve as a video-brochure for these tourist sites. Other than that, don’t waste your time with this film.


Review: Rango (2011)

March 25, 2011

Rango (2011)
107 minutes
Rated – PG
Directed by Gore Verbinski

Grade: B

An oddball, satirical, adult-friendly animated Western about a chameleon who tries to save the town of “Dirt” from their water shortage. In Rango, Verbinski and the writers pay an homage with their witty story-line mash-up, taking bits and pieces from cinema classics and fusing them into a colorful adventure.

Rango bites off more than he can chew when he accidentally offs the winged creature that bullies the town of “Dirt.” He becomes the sheriff and within a town of conspiracies and crooked characters, Rango’s inexperience puts the entire town in jeopardy. He does have a few friends though, but he soon learns that he’ll need more than that to restore justice.

Full of classic Western cliches, Rango shines on-screen and is a film for children and adults to enjoy. Animation power-houses like DreamWorks and Pixar have their hands full this year. The one scene that stands out was the high-speed chase seen that involved dozens of gun-wielding creatures, birds, and carriages as the protagonist and friends run for their lives. The shots are beautiful and exciting at the same time.

The film might be a bit too strange for the casual movie-goer, and there wasn’t much sappiness to slow its pace. Overall, Rango is a film I can see kids and people who are familiar with a number of old Western classics to enjoy the most. But even if you aren’t familiar with Westerns, it’s still a fun ride that I recommend to take apart of.


Review: Public Enemies

July 9, 2009

Public Enemies (2009)
140 minutes
Rated – R
Directed by Michael Mann
Starring:  Johhny Depp, Christian Bale, Marion Cotillard, Billy Crudup

public-enemies

Grade:  B-

Based on Bryan Burrough’s non-fiction novel of the same name, Public Enemies is a story about John Dillinger, a notorious bank robber who was applauded by the public and loathed by the police.  I don’t have much knowledge of Dillinger so I cannot comment how historically accurate Mann’s adaptation was, but it sure was fun to watch.

Set during the Depression-era, John Dillinger and crew robs banks for a living.  Played wonderfully by Johnny Depp, he is the star and soul of the film.  But there are a whole lot of other gangsters and crooks in this film and Mann didn’t do a proper job introducing.  Known for his shaky-cam style and quick cuts, those elements didn’t help make the movie any less confusing.  In a 2+ hour long film, there was time to present all the characters appropriately but instead Dillinger’s various gangs were blurred.

The movie shows how slippery of a fellow John Dillinger was.  Able to rob banks in under two minutes and escape maximum security prisons with a fake gun, it was impossible not to root for him even though you knew he was breaking the law.

The plot moves forward when FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover (Crudup) puts agent Melvin Purvis (Bale) on the job to capture Dillinger after Purvis successfully hunting down and killing Pretty Boy Floyd.  The cat-and-mouse games begin with Dillinger always a few steps ahead of Purvis.  The story thickens when Dillinger falls in love with Billie Frechette.  This allows Purvis to exploit Dillinger’s only soft spot and utilize unethical techniques to eventually track him down and kill him.

Overall, the film felt like it was lacking something important.  Whether that be a stronger plot, more insight to supporting characters, or more depth into the character study of John Dillinger (or just howabout a reason for why he is the way he is?), there was a missing element throughout.  But for what the actors were given, they exceled in their roles, giving them life and color in a very dark and shallow film.  This isn’t Michael Mann’s best, but it certainly felt more like a summer blockbuster than a serious Oscar contender.


Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter

September 25, 2008

According to Reuters, Johnny Depp has been confirmed to play the Mad Hatter in the upcoming Tim Burton project of “Alice in Wonderland.”  Read more.

This is right up Depp’s alley of strange and weird characters.  And there really shouldn’t have been much doubt that Tim Burton was going to cast Depp.  I can’t recall the last Burton wilm that didn’t have JD in it.  But with this news, I am completely pumped for this adaptation.


What is being said about The Dark Knight

September 13, 2008

 

 

Okay.  We all have seen The Dark Knight.  If you haven’t, then I cannot talk to you.  Anyway… we all know the big deal with The Dark Knight.  It broke records.  It’s the best superhero movie of all-time.  Heath Ledger gave a masterful performance before his tragic death.  Christopher Nolan is FINALLY known among casual moviegoers.  Life is good in the movie world.  So good that even though The Dark Knight was released about two months ago on July 18, it’s still the most talked about movie in the world. 

Let’s see what everyone’s been talking about lately…

 

Casey Seijas from MTV broke a rumor on September 8 that Michael Caine confirmed that Johnny Depp will play The Riddler and Philip Seymour Hoffman will play The Penguin in the next Batman film.  Read the whole article here:  http://splashpage.mtv.com/2008/09/08/dark-knight-exclusive-michael-caine-says-johnny-depp-is-the-riddler-philip-seymour-hoffman-is-the-penguin/

Following those rumors, Philip Seymour Hoffman responded to MTV saying, “No one has talked to be about it ever – never.”  Read it here:  http://splashpage.mtv.com/2008/09/09/dark-knight-update-philip-seymour-hoffman-responds-to-casting-rumor-i-dont-know-if-id-be-a-good-penguin/

Ben Child of The Guardian in UK puts the rumors to rest about the future of Harvey Dent’s character played by Aaron Eckhart.  Read more here:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2008/sep/04/darkknight

Jen Hance from the Northern Star writes about how she’s excited about the possibility of Nolan recreating the female villains such as Poison Ivy or Catwoman.  Check out what she thinks here:  http://www.northernstar.info/article/4108/

Carl DiOrio from Reuters has announced that Warner Brothers is taking the possibility of The Dark Knight destined for Oscar gold very seriously.  The Dark Knight will be re-released in January for their Oscar campaign.  Read it all here:  http://www.reuters.com/article/industryNews/idUSN1044022120080911

Brad Brevet from Rope of Silicon explains why he feels that there shouldn’t be a ‘Dark Knight’ sequel here:  http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/article/there_should_not_be_a_dark_knight_sequel

 

Aside from all of those rumors, there are some really interesting points made about The Dark Knight.  First, I love how Warner Brothers is going to campaign TDK for The Academy Awards.  As of right now, it seems that TDK has a legitimate shot at making a splash for some golden statues.  Of course, the Fall movie season just started, and things are about to get shaken up.  There are a number of movies with Oscar potential and I can only assume that’ll push TDK to the back of the line when time comes to vote in the nominees.  But with careful campaigning, starting with the re-release in January, TDK does have a shot for Best Picture.

Brad Brevet’s article was very detailed in explaining why there shouldn’t be a sequel to TDK.  He goes forth putting TDK up there among the best sequel of all-time next to The Godfather Part II and The Emptire Strikes Back.  He continues by saying how both of their third installments (The Godfather Part III and The Return of the Jedi) were good, but a disappointing follow-up to the second installment.  He also comments how Christopher Nolan wants to make other films before even considering a third Batman film.  This is something I’m excited about.  Even though the Batman films are great, I’m sure Nolan has a number of movie ideas that’ll blow everyone away like he did with The Prestige and Memento.  Finally, he dives into the initial plotline intended for the second and third Batman films, which involves a continuation of The Joker.  So Harvy Dent dies and the cliff-hanger is The Joker… but Heath Ledger is gone.  Yeah, that creates a problem.  I’m sure Nolan can think of a way around it, but that is a huge let down.

The rumors and the Batman talk won’t die down until…. well until the third installment is finally confirmed with all of its plotlines and characters.  Until then, we’ll be swimming in Gotham City Gossip.


The Golden Globes

December 14, 2007

The Golden Globes
Sunday – January 13, 2008

The nominees for the 65th Golden Globes were announced earlier today.  Before I list the nominations, let me say a few things about this award ceremony in case you’re unfamiliar with it.  Usually about a month prior to the Oscars, the Golden Globes is a dinner ceremony that awards outstanding accomplishments to television and movies.  Run by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), some consider this award ceremony as one of the biggest guides to figuring out who are the frontrunners for the Oscars.  On the other hand, others suggest that the Golden Globes is a star-studded popularity contest.  Nonetheless, here are the nominations:

MOTION PICTURES:

Picture, Drama: “American Gangster,” “Atonement,” “Eastern Promises,” “The Great Debaters,” “Michael Clayton,” “No Country for Old Men,” “There Will Be Blood.”

Actress, Drama: Cate Blanchett, “Elizabeth: The Golden Age”; Julie Christie, “Away From Her”; Jodie Foster, “The Brave One”; Angelina Jolie, “A Mighty Heart”; Kiera Knightley, “Atonement.”

Actor, Drama: George Clooney, “Michael Clayton”; Daniel Day-Lewis, “There Will Be Blood”; James McAvoy, “Atonement”; Viggo Mortensen, “Eastern Promises”; Denzel Washington, “American Gangster.”

Picture, Musical or Comedy: “Across the Universe,” “Charlie Wilson’s War,” “Hairspray,” “Juno,” “Sweeney Todd.”

Actress, Musical or Comedy: Amy Adams, “Enchanted”; Nikki Blonsky, “Hairspray”; Helena Bonham Carter, “Sweeney Todd”; Marion Cotillard, “La Vie En Rose”; Ellen Page, “Juno.”

Actor, Musical or Comedy: Johnny Depp, “Sweeney Todd”; Ryan Gosling, “Lars and the Real Girl”; Tom Hanks, “Charlie Wilson’s War”; Philip Seymour Hoffman, “The Savages”; John C. Reilly, “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.”

Supporting Actress: Cate Blanchett, “I’m Not There”; Julia Roberts, “Charlie Wilson’s War”; Saoirse Ronan, “Atonement”; Amy Ryan, “Gone Baby Gone”; Tilda Swinton, “Michael Clayton.”

Supporting Actor: Casey Affleck, “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”; Javier Bardem, “No Country for Old Men”; Philip Seymour Hoffman, “Charlie Wilson’s War”; John Travolta, “Hairspray”; Tom Wilkinson, “Michael Clayton.”

Director: Tim Burton, “Sweeney Todd”; Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, “No Country for Old Men”; Julian Schnabel, “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”; Ridley Scott, “American Gangster”; Joe Wright, “Atonement.”

Screenplay: Diablo Cody, “Juno”; Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, “No Country for Old Men”; Christopher Hampton, “Atonement”; Ronald Harwood, “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”; Aaron Sorkin, “Charlie Wilson’s War.”

Foreign Language: “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days,” Romania; “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” France and U.S.; “The Kite Runner,” U.S.; “Lust, Caution,” Taiwan; “Persepolis,” France.

Animated Film: “Bee Movie,” “Ratatouille,” “The Simpsons Movie.”

Original Score: Michael Brook, Kaki King, Eddie Edder, “Into the Wild”; Clint Eastwood, “Grace Is Gone”; Alberto Iglesias, “The Kite Runner”; Dario Marianelli, “Atonement”; Howard Shore, “Eastern Promises.”

Original Song: “Despedida” from “Love in the Time of Cholera”; “Grace Is Gone” from “Grace Is Gone”; “Guaranteed” from “Into the Wild”; “That’s How You Know” from “Enchanted”; “Walk Hard” from “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.”

TELEVISION:

Series, Drama: “Big Love,” HBO; “Damages,” FX Networks; “Grey’s Anatomy,” ABC; “House,” Fox; “Mad Men,” AMC; “The Tudors,” Showtime.

Actress, Drama: Patricia Arquette, “Medium”; Glenn Close, “Damages”; Minnie Driver, “The Riches”; Edie Falco, “The Sopranos”; Sally Field, “Brothers & Sisters”; Holly Hunter, “Saving Grace”; Kyra Sedgwick, “The Closer.”

Actor, Drama: Michael C. Hall, “Dexter”; Jon Hamm, “Mad Men”; Hugh Laurie, “House”; Jonathan Rhys Meyers, “The Tudors”; Bill Paxton, “Big Love.”

Series, Musical or Comedy: “30 Rock,” NBC; “Californication,” Showtime; “Entourage,” HBO; “Extras,” HBO; “Pushing Daisies,” ABC.

Actress, Musical or Comedy: Christina Applegate, “Samantha Who?”; America Ferrera, “Ugly Betty”; Tina Fey, “30 Rock”; Anna Friel, “Pushing Daisies”; Mary-Louise Parker, “Weeds.”

Actor, Musical or Comedy: Alec Baldwin, “30 Rock”; Steve Carell, “The Office”; David Duchovny, “Californication”; Ricky Gervais, “Extras”; Lee Pace, “Pushing Daisies.”

Miniseries or Movie: “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee,” HBO; “The Company,” TNT; “Five Days,” HBO; “Longford,” HBO; “The State Within,” BBC America.

Actress, Miniseries or Movie: Bryce Dallas Howard, “As You Like It”; Debra Messing, “The Starter Wife”; Queen Latifah, “Life Support”; Sissy Spacek, “Pictures of Hollis Woods”; Ruth Wilson, “Jane Eyre (Masterpiece Theatre).”

Actor, Miniseries or Movie: Adam Beach, “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee”; Ernest Borgnine, “A Grandpa for Christmas”; Jim Broadbent, “Longford”; Jason Isaacs, “The State Within”; James Nesbitt, “Jekyll.”

Supporting Actress, Series, Miniseries or Movie: Rose Byrne, “Damages”; Rachel Griffiths, “Brothers & Sisters”; Katherine Heigl, “Grey’s Anatomy”; Samantha Morton, “Longford”; Anna Paquin, “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee”; Jaime Pressly, “My Name Is Earl.”

Supporting Actor, Series, Miniseries or Movie: Ted Danson, “Damages”; Kevin Dillon, “Entourage”; Jeremy Piven, “Entourage”; Andy Serkis, “Longford”; William Shatner, “Boston Legal”; Donald Sutherland, “Dirty Sexy Money.”

Analysis:  (Because films kick television’s behind, I will only give my thoughts on the half of the Golden Globes that really matter)

Like usual, there were the definite shoe-ins and there were snubs for the best picture races.  The Golden Globes separate the best picture into two different categories, Drama (in which 7 nominations are presented instead of the 5 for the Oscars) and Musical/Comedy.  So with a total of 12 best picture nominations, can anything be determined from the Golden Globes that will lead up to the Oscars.  I don’t think so.

Best Picture, Drama – The two clear frontrunners thus far in the Oscar race (Atonement and No Country for Old Men) are properly listed in the Best Picture Drama race, along with highly predicted There Will Be Blood, Michael Clayton, and American Gangster.  The surprise of the race goes to Eastern Promises, which I thought was a great film with strong performances but with flaws in the script, and The Great Debaters. 
Snubs:  I cannot believe that Sean Penn’s Into the Wild didn’t make the cut.  This is evidence how the box office can prevent an independent film with lots of buzz and raving reviews from making a real impact.
Early Prediction:  In my mind, there is no better movie than No Country for Old Men, but does it have enough star-power to swing the votes their way?  Atonement with Keira Knightley and Jamez McAvoy seems more TV-friendly, along with American Gangster’s all-star cast. 

Best Picture, Musical/Comedy – The surprise of the race goes to Across the Universe.  With mixed reviews, I really didn’t think this 2-hour Beatles music video would appeal highly to the HFPA, but apparently it did.  The other 4 nominees were expected to make the cut.
Snubs:  The only film that I thought would’ve been in the top 5 instead of Across the Universe was Enchanted.  I’m still a bit surprised that it’s not there, but I’ll live.  Also, I was hoping that Apatow’s Knocked Up would make its way on the list.
Early Prediction:  This is quite a race.  Since Dreamgirls won this category last year (over Little Miss Sunshine) I have a feeling Juno and Charlie Wilson’s War are out.  I really doubt Across the Universe will win, so my guess goes to Sweeney Todd (I doubt it’ll get better reviews than Hairspray, but it’ll gross more in the box office and who would you rather see:  Johnny Depp and Tim Burton or Nikki who and Travolta without a fat suit?)

The lead acting categories are also broken down into drama and musical/comedy. 

Lead Actor, Drama – To me, there weren’t any big surprises here.  The one slightly, yet pleasant, surprise in this category was Viggo Mortensen’s nomination.  I’m very glad that Viggo got in this group of great actors instead of John Cusack.  Bravo to the HFPA.
Snubs:  There were a number of actors who could’ve made the list of nominees such as Frank Langella, John Cusack, Russell Crowe, or Josh Brolin.  But the one actor who I am a bit sad who didn’t get nominated was Emile Hirsch for his outstanding performance in Into the Wild.
Early Prediction:  George Clooney and Denzel Washington are the two big guns shooting for the award, although I feel that Daniel-Day Lewis will be able to outlast the popularity of these two and win.

Lead Actress, Drama – There was only one surprise in this category, Jodie Foster’s nomination for The Brave One. 
Snubs:  Some feel that Anamaria Marinca deserved the nomination over Jodie Foster.  Heck, Halle Berry and Ashley Judd probably deserved to be in the top five more than Foster.
Early Prediction:  Julie Christie.  Her performance in Away From Her was heartbreaking.  I cannot see her losing this award… but maybe with the right amount of buzz, Keira Knightley could steal it. 

Lead Actor, Musical/Comedy – The surprise nominee was John C. Reily’s for his hilarious portrayal of Dewey Cox in Walk Hard.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Reily, but there are a number of actors who deserved this more than him.
Snubs:  Glen Hansard in Once is a pure shocker to me.  Does this serve as more evidence how the Golden Globes don’t award the small, unattractive films? 
Early Prediction:  We have two heavyweights battling it out in this category… Tom Hanks vs. Johnny Depp.  Sure, Gosling’s an excellent actor, and so is Philip Seymour Hoffman, but this is a big boy’s race.  This is clearly an early early prediction for me, since neither movie has hit the theaters yet, but from the buzz I’ve been hearing, Charlie Wilson’s War is appreciated by a selective audience.  And I assume Sweeney Todd will more than double the gross of Charlie Wilson’s War… therefore, Johnny Depp will win.

Lead Actress, Musical/Comedy – Again, there was only one surprise nominee in the group… Helena Bonham Carter in Sweeney Todd. 
Snubs:  I would’ve predicted Laura Linney, Keri Russell, and possibly even Nicole Kidman over Carter.  But hey, now four of the five nominees sang.  Unless Ellen Page sings in Juno… hmm… I haven’t seen it yet.
Early Prediction:  With all the musical fans ganging up on each other, I expect this race to be tight, but with the young Ellen Page to take home the statue.

Supporting Actor – I’m quite content with the nominees in this category.  Some might’ve been surprised by Hoffman’s nod for his role in Charlie Wilson’s War, while others might’ve been pushing for a repeat for Sacha Baren Cohen.
Snubs:  Nope… they got it right.
Early Prediction:  As memorable as John Travolta’s speech would probably be, Javier Bardem will win for his chilling role as serial killer Anton Chigurh.

Supporting Actress – Well… I feel that this category is a bit weak.  I’m happy that Saorise Ronan got a nomination.  I’m also glad Julia Robert’s first role in three years scored her a nomination as well.
Snubs:  None.
Early Prediction:  This should be a two-way race between Cate Blanchett and Amy Ryan.  As well as Amy Ryan’s doing thus far in award season, I think Cate Blanchett will win for her outstanding performance as Bob Dylan.

Director – Now here’s a category that always seems to stem off of the best picture category, except with the Golden Globes, the directing award isn’t split.  All five nominees are definitely Best Director caliber, but the surprise, to me, was Ridley Scott’s nomination for American Gangster.  The movie was fun, action packed, and entertaining as hell, but it seems as though its box office success is leading this film to these nominations rather than the execution.
Snubs:  Sean Penn’s Into the Wild, again, gets robbed of a nomination.  I guess the fact of the matter is that no one saw this great movie.  Another snub is Paul Thomas Anderson for There Will Be Blood.  I was a bit surprised that Tim Burton got a nod over Anderson, but I guess they couldn’t have all drama-film directors, right?
Early Prediction:  This is the year for the Coen Brothers.  Nothing else matters.  The Coen Brothers should win this award… hopefully the HFPA feel the same way.

Screenplay – All of these nominees are solid.  Of course there are a number of great screenplays and to narrow it down to just 5 is too hard for me to pick.
Snubs:  Michael Clayton, There Will Be Blood, and Away from Her.
Early Prediction:  Is there enough buzz around Diablo Cody for her Juno script?  I say, the buzz rides all the way to the Golden Globes and this first time writer will win this award.

Foreign Language Film – I haven’t seen any of the nominees, nor do I plan on watching them until the DVDs are released… unless The Kite Runner conveniently runs wherever I am.  So on a totally buzz-listening aspect, these five films were the expected five nominations.
Snubs:  None.
Early Prediction:  The Kite Runner is the most popular from the best selling novel, but The Diving Bell and the Butterfly will take this one… unless again the Globes show off why it’s known as a popularity contest.

Animated Film – Bee Movie.  Ratatouille.  The Simpsons Movie.  Were there any other animated films?  Ah, Beowulf.  Glad that didn’t make the cut.
Early Prediction:  Hands down… Ratatouille.  This shouldn’t even be close.

Original Score – I don’t know much about music in movies… but I can’t believe Once isn’t nominated.

Original Song – I don’t know much about music in movies… but I can’t believe Once isn’t nominated.

So there you have it.  Atonement led all movies with 7 nominations, while Charlie Wilson’s War had 5.  Let’s see if No Country for Old Men continue their dominance during awards season. 


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