Sunday, September 22, 2013

2013 Emmy Predix

Short and sweet, because that's all the time I gots.

Best Comedy Series

The Big Bang Theory
Modern Family
30 Rock
Will Win: 30 Rock
Should Win: Louie
I just can't stomach that the Emmys would let Modern Family win *again*, so I'm hoping they give it to 30 Rock's victory lap of a final season. Louie's third season was really something (c'mon, it had David Lynch), so it would get my vote just slightly ahead of pitch-perfect satire Veep

Best Lead Actress, Comedy

Laura Dern, Enlightened
Lena Dunham, Girls
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Amy Poehler, Parks and Rec
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Will Win: Laura Dern, Enlightened
Should Win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Especially since Dern's show got the ax, I see her as a frontrunner here, but there's just something so perfect about everything Julia Louis-Dreyfus does.

Best Lead Actor, Comedy

Jason Bateman, Arrested Development
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
Matt LeBlanc, Episodes
Don Cheadle, House of Lies
Louis C.K., Louie
Alex Baldwin, 30 Rock
Will Win: Jim Parsons
Should Win: Louis C.K.
I know I kind of have a love affair with Louie, but it's so singularly of a vision -- and so unique to TV in that way -- that I can't help myself. And I'd rather see pretty much anyone win this instead of Jim Parsons again, but what are you gonna do.

Best Supporting Actress, Comedy

Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory
Jane Lynch, Glee
Sofia Vergara, Modern Family
Julie Bowen, Modern Family
Merritt Wever, Nurse Jackie
Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock
Anna Chlumsky, Veep
Will Win: Mayim Bialik
Should Win: Jane Krakowski
Jane Krakowski was so, so perfect in 30 Rock, and it'd be a real shame if she didn't finally earn an Emmy for her work at the tail end of the show.

Best Supporting Actor, Comedy

Adam Driver, Girls
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family
Ed O'Neill, Modern Family
Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Bill Hader, Saturday Night Live
Tony Hale, Veep
Will Win: Ed O'Neill
Should Win: Adam Driver
Well, we finally got Eric Stonestreet out of the equation, but there are still three Modern Family actors for those blinded Emmy voters to salivate over. One of them will probably win this, O'Neill gets a sentimental vote, I guess? I'd be thrilled if they weren't so predictable and picked Adam Driver or even Tony Hale for this.

Best Directing, Comedy

Lena Dunham, "On All Fours," Girls
Paris Barclay, "Diva," Glee
Louis C.K., "New Year's Eve," Louie
Gail Macuso, "Arrested," Modern Family
Beth McCarthy-Miller, "Hogcock! / Last Lunch," 30 Rock
Will Win: Beth McCarthy-Miller
Should Win: Louis C.K.

Best Writing, Comedy Series

David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik, "Episode 209," Episodes
Louis C.K. and Pamela Adlon, "Daddy's Girlfriend (Part 1)," Louie
Greg Daniels, "Finale," The Office
Jack Burditt and Robert Carlock, "Hogcock!" 30 Rock
Tina Fey and Tracey Wright, "Last Lunch," 30 Rock
Will Win: Greg Daniels, The Office
Should Win: Greg Daniels, The Office
Look, The Office got legitimately terrible at places during its farewell season. But it knocked the Finale out of the freaking park, and it deserves this.

Best Drama Series

Breaking Bad
Downton Abbey
Game of Thrones
House of Cards
Mad Men
Will Win: House of Cards
Should Win: Game of Thrones
Okay, hear me out: The only reason I don't have Breaking Bad slotted in either will/should win is because I don't think you can or should vote on one half of a season. Next year, Breaking Bad deserves EVERY Emmy. But as for now, you have a weirdly abstract season of Mad Men, a fantastic half-season of BB, a middling-to-awful season of Homeland, and perennial bridesmaid Downton Abbey. For me, the show with the most "buzz" was House of Cards, and it lets the Emmys make a statement about "what television can and will be." But Game of Thrones was genuinely impressive for all its intricate, vast vision. It didn't top the first season, but all of its dozens of pieces finally felt like one. That kind of harmony deserves applause in this slate.

Best Lead Actress, Drama

Vera Farmiga, Bates Motel
Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey
Claire Danes, Homeland
Robin Wright, House of Cards
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men
Connie Britton, Nashville
Kerry Washington, Scandal
Will Win: Claire Danes
Should Win: Elisabeth Moss (I guess)
I didn't watch any of Bates Motel, Scandal, or Nashville, so I'm kind of unqualified here, I just see Claire Danes winning this because she's Claire Danes and the Emmys love her.

Best Lead Actor, Drama

Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Hugh Bonneville, Downton Abbey
Damian Lewis, Homeland
Kevin Spacey, House of Cards
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom
Will Win: Jeff Daniels
Should Win: Kevin Spacey
Part of me says Damian Lewis wins this again, but then I laugh and think, on what just world would that happen? Sadly though, I think Jeff Daniels's constant annoying monologuing about morality in The Newsroom will take away from Kevin Spacey's delectable creation -- I loved all his asides, I think he nails that South Carolina upcountry voice, and no one else managed to mingle text and subtext in performance quite like him last year.

Best Supporting Actor, Drama Series

Bobby Cannavale, Boardwalk Empire
Jonathan Banks, Breaking Bad
Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
Jim Carter, Downton Abbey
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Mandy Patinkin, Homeland
Will Win: Jonathan Banks
Should Win: Jonathan Banks
I guess Bobby Cannavale has a good shot at this one, but Jonathan Banks is so freaking awesome.

Best Supporting Actress, Drama

Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad
Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones
Christine Baranski, The Good Wife
Morena Baccarin, Homeland
Christina Hendricks, Mad Men
Will Win: Christine Baranski
Should Win: Emilia Clarke

Best Writing, Drama Series

George Mastras, "Dead Freight," Breaking Bad
Thomas Schnauz, "Say My Name," Breaking Bad
Julian Fellowes, "Episode 4," Downton Abbey
David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, "The Rains of Castamere," Game of Thrones
Henry Bromell, "Q&A," Homeland
Will Win: Breaking Bad ("Say My Name")
Should Win: Game of Thrones
Just please not Homeland; that was its turning point into lame 24-esque nonsense

Best Directing, Drama Series

Tim Van Patten, "Margate Sands," Boardwalk Empire
Michelle MacLaren, "Gliding Over All," Breaking Bad
Jeremy Webb, "Episode 4," Downton Abbey
Lesli Linka Glatter, "Q&A," Homeland
David Fincher, "Chapter 1," House of Cards
Will Win: David Fincher
Should Win: David Fincher

Others just predictions...

Best Miniseries: Behind the Candelabra
Best Actor, Miniseries: Michael Douglas, Behind the Candelabra
Best Actress, Miniseries: Elisabeth Moss, Top of the Lake
Best Supporting Actor, Miniseries: Zachary Quinto, American Horror Story
Best Supporting Actress, Miniseries: Ellen Burstyn, Political Animals
Best Writing, Miniseries: Richard LaGravenese, Behind the Candelabra
Best Directing, Miniseries: Steven Soderbergh, Behind the Candelabra
Best Reality Program: The Amazing Race
Best Variety Series: The Daily Show
Best Variety Special: 12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief
Best Writing for a Variety Series: The Colbert Report

Friday, May 10, 2013

A "Gatsby" worthy of greatness

"Can't repeat the past? Why, of course you can. Of course you can."

In The Great Gatsby, Nick Carraway wanders into his neighbor's opulent mansion to find a veritable orgy of color and sensation: bursts of champagne, streamers of all colors, gowns and suits crammed into every inch of space. The camera stages it perfectly--compositions arrange these figures with stunning symmetry, careening and swooping around the space to capture fleeting moments of dance, drink, and other assorted pleasures. Fueling it all is the music: a foxtrot mixed with a Beyonce song? A Top 40-esque club beat?

Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's "Great American Novel" has drawn immense criticisms that he's trying to talk down to "tween" audiences by needlessly having producer Jay-Z bring in a whole bunch of rap and pop music for this Gatsby. Sure, that's one way to look at it. But that's also incredibly dismissive. What's going on here is, I think, much deeper and more interesting, regardless of whether or not it appeals to you.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Final predictions -- 85th Oscars

Argo will win three including Best Picture; Life of Pi will win most overall; Lincoln will only win for its titular performance

Best Picture


Beasts of the Southern Wild
Django Unchained
Les Miserables
Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

Will Win: Argo

Might Win: Silver Linings Playbook
Should Win: Zero Dark Thirty
Logic: It's won everything to date, making it strong enough to buck the "no Director, no Picture" rule.

Best Director

Michael Haneke, Amour

Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Ang Lee, Life of Pi
Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook

Will Win: Ang Lee, Life of Pi

Might Win: Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Should Win: Michael Haneke, Amour
Logic: This one is still way, way wide open. I will be surprised when any of the five names are called. Most are thinking Spielberg will win, but with Lincoln only leading strong in one other category (Actor), I find it hard to back him. Instead, the more international Life of Pi should help Ang Lee over the top, although a surprise win for European legend Haneke or a left fielder for Acad-friendly Playbook is really not out of the question.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

"The last one with the dog collar" - The viewing space of 'Zero Dark Thirty'

Spoilers herein. Not a review.

As Zero Dark Thirty goes wide this weekend, the debate surrounding it will not go quietly into the night. While it's on top of the Friday box office, it will be interesting to see if America-at-large flocks to see the movie, and if they do, what their reaction will be.

As far as I can tell, the factions for/against Zero Dark Thirty can be summed up in Glenn Greenwald's lengthy piece for The Guardian, where he argues it offers "zero opposition" to torture, and Sony's Amy Pascal, who argues in tandem with director Bigelow that depiction does not equal endorsement, and that the film is protected by free speech; it is art that examines an ugly subject.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Top 20 Films of 2012

2012 in Review: Who Will Survive in America?

“About the whole ‘no guns’ thing...I’m not sure I feel as strongly as you do.”

“America’s not a country, it’s just a business. Now fucking pay me.”

“I am the President of the United States, clothed in immense power!”

“This is a protest against the future. They won’t hold off the future.”

These quotes and others dangle in my mind as I reflect on the movies that meant something to me this year, partially because they sound like a particularly chilling merger of the films we experienced and the culture surrounding them. As someone who loves studying and writing about these intersections, there were some key and wonderful texts that provoked lots of great discussions among friends and colleagues, even as the world around us seemed dreadfully precarious the entire year.

2012 was a strange year for American cinema. Just as the cultural landscape grappled with the Occupy Movement, a presidential election, and mass shootings in movie theaters and elementary schools, the movies presented alternately rousing (The Avengers) and anxiety-laden (The Dark Knight Rises) representations of that very landscape.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Title Cards and Historical Agency: Thoughts on 'Django'


An opening title card in Django Unchained alerts us we are in "1858 - Two years before the Civil War."

It inspires a double take. The Civil War officially "began" on April 12, 1861, despite the election of Abraham Lincoln and the secession of states beginning in late 1860. One can't imagine Tarantino has allowed such a silly mistake to make it all the way to the final print.

From the very beginning, Django prods our own engagement with what we have learned (and what we have not) about Southern society and its structures on the eve of the country's most horrific bloodbath (fitting, perhaps, that Tarantino's film sinks to deeply disturbing bloody cacophany in its climax). My first thought: Tarantino is in an alternate world. Just like Inglourious Basterds, he will change something about history. He will give us not only cinematic wish fulfillment (the racial role reversals blaxploitation and its brethren encourage), but will challenge cinema-as-history once again. Except, whoops, that doesn't really happen. The Civil War is never mentioned again, nor are the political tensions across the country's various regions.