Saturday, January 23, 2010

The SAGs: Tough call on best cast

Tonight, as you may know, the Screen Actors Guild Awards are on TBS and TNT. They were supposed to be Jan. 31, but some kind of scheduling conflict caused them to be moved up, and I'm not complaining. I love awards season, and the sooner we get passed No. 2 of the big three (Golden Globes and SAGs being numbers 1 and 2), the sooner we can get to the night of nights: The Oscars.

So without delay, here are my pics for the big prizes. Really no surprises in the acting categories. All are pretty much locks, except best actress which could go to either Meryl and Sandra. But the best cast (SAGs version of best picture sort of), is trickly. Avatar isn't up for it, thank god. Apparently someone with the SAGs knows what they're doing. The Hurt Locker took best picture at Critics Choice, but because the key word at SAGs is "best cast," I'm thinking perhaps voters might see the movie as being about the overall picture rather than the acting. So ... what to pick? Read on and find out.

Best Supporting Actor
Matt Damon, Invictus
Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
Christopher Plummer, The Last Station
Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

No one can take away Waltz's winning streak. He deserves it for sure, but I'm wondering how weird his speech will be tonight. They're always weird.

Best Supporting Actress
Penélope Cruz, Nine
Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air
Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
Diane Kruger, Inglourious Basterds
Mo’Nique, Precious

Hurray Mo'Nique! I have a feeling this will be her first and only time sweeping an awards season. She found the perfect role and magic happened. But I find it very unlikely another role like this will come around again.

Best Actor
Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
George Clooney, Up in the Air
Colin Firth, A Single Man
Morgan Freeman, Invictus
Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker

Poor George. Poor Colin. They were both so very good. And I'd much rather see a George speech than a Jeff one. But the stars have aligned, and it's Jeff's year.

Best Actress
Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Helen Mirren, The Last Station
Carey Mulligan, An Education
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia

If I had my way, Carey Mulligan would take home every single award this season, including Oscar. But no one seems to be talking about her except for me. The buzz surrounds Sandra Bullock for reasons I can't possibly fathom and Meryl Streep. I'd be OK with a Meryl win. When does Meryl not deserve an award, really. But another Sandra win would throw me into a fit of rage. Don't do it to me, SAGs.

Best Cast
An Education
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds

This category is such a tough call. None of them have swept in writing, directing, best ensemble or best picture categories. The Hurt Locker and Inglourious Basterds have each won awards that lead me to believe each is capable of taking this one. But because we have to look at the cast overall, and not the movie overall, I have to go with Inglourious Basterds. I don't think An Education has enough hype behind it, I don't think The Hurt Locker has the acting talent, Nine is completely out because the movie was awful, and Precious seems to only be getting attention for Mo'Nique and not much else.

We'll see what happens!

See you later, Coco

Conan Ends Tonight Show with Class, Lynyrd Skynyrd
By Matt Ufford Friday, January 22, 2010, 11:49 PM

O'Brien finished his tenure as host of "The Tonight Show" with a show that was star-studded but unconventional. He spared NBC from the ire he had directed at the network during the previous week as the network sought a solution to its late-night imbroglio. Instead, he celebrated his brief opportunity to sit behind the most famous desk in late-night television.

While longtime friends Tom Hanks (who coined O'Brien's "CoCo" nickname last spring) and Neil Young (who fittingly sang "Long May You Run") made noteworthy appearances, the most memorable statement was made by O'Brien himself near the end of the show, when he struggled to keep his composure while giving credit to NBC.

"There has been a lot of speculation in the press about what I legally can and can't say about NBC," he said. "To set the record straight, tonight I am allowed to say anything I want. And what I want to say is this: Between my time at 'Saturday Night Live,' 'The Late Night Show,' and my brief run here on 'The Tonight Show,' I have worked with NBC for over 20 years. Yes, we have our differences right now. And, yes, we're going to go our separate ways. But this company has been my home for most of my adult life. I am enormously proud of the work we have done together, and I want to thank NBC for making it all possible."

O'Brien kept his monologue cheerful but fatalistic. He opened with the statement, "Ladies and gentlemen, we have one hour to steal every single item in this studio." But the rest of his opening lacked the cheerful venom he'd aimed at NBC since the network announced its intention to put Jay Leno back at the 11:35 p.m. time slot.

Instead, the first commercial break was prefaced with a montage of highlights from Conan's "Tonight Show," set to Cheap Trick's "Surrender," the same song that accompanied his montage of moving his New York-based "Late Night" west to Los Angeles last May. As the song came to a close, an appropriate message appeared on a black screen: "TO BE CONTINUED."

He also stressed how difficult it was to leave the show before addressing his fans.

"The massive outpouring of support and passion from so many people has been overwhelming. The rallies, the signs, all the goofy, outrageous creativity on the internet, and the fact that people have traveled long distances and camped out all night in the pouring rain to be in our audience, made a sad situation joyous and inspirational."

"To all the people watching, I can never thank you enough for your kindness to me and I'll think about it for the rest of my life. All I ask of you is one thing: Please don't be cynical. I hate cynicism -- it's my least favorite quality and it doesn't lead anywhere."

"Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen."

It was then that O'Brien introduced his final guest, Will Ferrell, who wore a lengthy blond wig and launched into Lynyrd Skynyrd's classic anthem "Free Bird." Backing up Ferrell was the Tonight Show Band with noteworthy guest musicians Beck, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, and famous pedal steel guitarist Robert Randolph. And behind Ferrell, minus his tie, was Conan O'Brien on a six-string: Relaxed, loose, ready for what's next.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Avatar? Really? Are you sure, Golden Globes?

I won't stand for this. This cannot continue.

Sandra Bullock took the stage again last night for best actress in a drama for "The Blind Side," and I'm beginning to wonder if I'm the only one who saw that movie or paid attention. A story about a rich family who takes in a homeless teenager and helps him become an NFL star has to be about the EMOTIONAL journey. Bullock was one-note all the way through. There was no nuance, no subtlety. From beginning to end, you couldn't tell if she was affected at all! Same for that kid they cast. Same constipated expression on his face the whole movie. It's sort of funny that she's been making jokes during acceptance speeches about how she bets nobody ever expected to see her up there. But, actually, it's true. There's a reason that joke works -- because IT'S TRUE.


But I think my crabbiest moment was when "Avatar" took best picture, drama. I'm not denying it was quite a spectacle, and it was entertaining. But it was a formulaic action movie. Every move was predictable. The villains didn't come off as human, just black and white carbon copies of every money-hungry villain you've ever seen in B movies on the big screen.

My friend pointed out something, though. I may know movies, but perhaps I don't know contests. Maybe the people voting for these awards aren't looking for the things I'm looking for. Maybe they're just picking their favorites. Maybe their kids liked "Avatar" and told them to vote for it. Maybe when they vote for Sandy Bullock it's because they like Sandy Bullock. I don't know. I just hope Oscar is on my side with all of this.

Other winners, click here.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds critics' big choices

Something was amiss at the Critics' Choice Awards last night. Now, granted, the big three during awards season are the Golden Globes on Sunday (yay!), the Screen Actors Guild Awards, and, of course, the big one, the Oscars. But I always watch the Critics' Choice Awards because it gives me somewhat of an idea what's to come.

Well, I don't know if the actors were in a bad mood, or maybe just incredibly tired of musical numbers starting out awards shows, but poor Kristin Chenoweth, known best for her cutesy role in "Pushing Daises," was getting some pretty terrible looks when opening the show as host, and pretty much all throughout. They seemed like the elite movie actors who wouldn't dane to laugh at her little jokes, and she seemed like she just didn't belong in this VIP club. At times, it bordered on uncomfortable. I felt absolutely terrible for her! And I'm hoping we'll have more amiable actors during forthcoming awards shows. ...Jeez.

Moving on ...
Big awards that were well deserved were:
Mo'Nique for best supporting actress for "Precious." Anyone who saw that movie knows she's an absolute lock for the Oscar. IN-credible. Her speech was moving, too. You could tell this was a big moment for her, and she accepted her award gracefully.

Christopher Waltz for best supporting actor. What a great performance as the "Jew hunter" in "Inglourious Basterds." Very well deserved. His speech, however, almost makes me hope he doesn't win again. Weird. Maybe he was just nervous, but I think he said something about never having acted before and he repeated the word "choices" about 20 times as he tried to explain how he ended up at the podium. ...Just say thank you next time.

Kathryn Bigelow won best director for "The Hurt Locker," an award I hope she keeps on receiving this season. Directing awards have been a boy's club since the beginning of movies. In fact, when I watched "The Hurt Locker," I was surprised at the end to see a woman on the credits for directing. She did an amazing job. Cheers to her win.

"The Hurt Locker" also won best picture. There are several worthy of the big prize at the Oscars, but I certainly wouldn't mind if this movie was the one.

Jeff Bridges took best actor for "Crazy Heart." His speech was crazy, too, actually. This could be interesting if he keeps winning. I think he even said the director's name was Chris, when, actually, that's not his name.

My big dispute came with best actress. I heard there was a tie. And I knew that must have meant Meryl was one of them. They can't seem to NOT give Meryl awards, which, fine. She played Julia Child, she did a good job, but we had some MAJOR performances by women this year. My top choice was Carey Mulligan for "An Education." Read here to find out why. And then ... when they announced who Meryl tied with ... I gasped. Sandra Bullock. Sandra Bullock. They couldn't have said ... ? Did they actually say ... ? They said it. They did. The question remains: Did they actually see "The Blind Side" before voting? A one-note performance that left me totally cold. If that movie was supposed to be an emotional journey, perhaps they should have cast an actress who could pull it off. Unbelievable. I was horrified. If this trend continues, I will be extremely upset. Although, I must admit, Sandra gave a funny speech, saying it was bull**** she had to share the award with Meryl, and then going over and kissing her on the mouth.

Anyhow, Awards Season is in full flux. Stop back on Monday for my thoughts on the Golden Globes. I'll be sure and mention right away if Sandra took the stage again. Gah!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Runway: Season 7 ... eh

I don't know. I wasn't super excited about Thursday night's "Project Runway" kickoff. Nobody was particularly interesting, and no garment was particularly striking. Even the guy who won, Emilio, his purple appliqued cocktail length dress was constructed beautifully, but it wasn't that pretty.

A woman named Christiane was sent home for an ugly floral number. It wasn't anything like last year's first challenge monstrosity -- a sort of silver space suit bubble thing.

You know, nothing really interesting stood out to me. There wasn't really any tension among the designers. No real personalities to root for. I think I'm out this season, peeps. I need a break from the runway. But happy watching to those staying tuned.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Conan O'Brien says no way to NBC

From Conan ...

People of Earth:

In the last few days, I've been getting a lot of sympathy calls, and I want to start by making it clear that no one should waste a second feeling sorry for me. For 17 years, I've been getting paid to do what I love most and, in a world with real problems, I've been absurdly lucky. That said, I've been suddenly put in a very public predicament and my bosses are demanding an immediate decision.

Six years ago, I signed a contract with NBC to take over The Tonight Show in June of 2009. Like a lot of us, I grew up watching Johnny Carson every night and the chance to one day sit in that chair has meant everything to me. I worked long and hard to get that opportunity, passed up far more lucrative offers, and since 2004 I have spent literally hundreds of hours thinking of ways to extend the franchise long into the future. It was my mistaken belief that, like my predecessor, I would have the benefit of some time and, just as important, some degree of ratings support from the prime-time schedule. Building a lasting audience at 11:30 is impossible without both.

But sadly, we were never given that chance. After only seven months, with my Tonight Show in its infancy, NBC has decided to react to their terrible difficulties in prime-time by making a change in their long-established late night schedule.

Last Thursday, NBC executives told me they intended to move the Tonight Show to 12:05 to accommodate the Jay Leno Show at 11:35. For 60 years the Tonight Show has aired immediately following the late local news. I sincerely believe that delaying the Tonight Show into the next day to accommodate another comedy program will seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting. The Tonight Show at 12:05 simply isn't the Tonight Show. Also, if I accept this move I will be knocking the Late Night show, which I inherited from David Letterman and passed on to Jimmy Fallon, out of its long-held time slot. That would hurt the other NBC franchise that I love, and it would be unfair to Jimmy.

So it has come to this: I cannot express in words how much I enjoy hosting this program and what an enormous personal disappointment it is for me to consider losing it. My staff and I have worked unbelievably hard and we are very proud of our contribution to the legacy of The Tonight Show. But I cannot participate in what I honestly believe is its destruction. Some people will make the argument that with DVRs and the Internet a time slot doesn't matter. But with the Tonight Show, I believe nothing could matter more.

There has been speculation about my going to another network but, to set the record straight, I currently have no other offer and honestly have no idea what happens next. My hope is that NBC and I can resolve this quickly so that my staff, crew, and I can do a show we can be proud of, for a company that values our work.

Have a great day and, for the record, I am truly sorry about my hair; it's always been that way.



Saturday, January 9, 2010

Gilmore Girls!!! ...I'm a little late.

I finally got around to watching the final season of "Gilmore Girls," one of my all-time favorite shows.
I know I'm years late on this discussion, but I had to ask Gilmore-loving why so many of you (if this applies to you) didn't like the series finale? I know it wasn't planned. I read something where Lauren Graham said the whole crew was caught offguard by the abrupt cancellation, and there's so much more they would have included if they knew that episode was the end.

But didn't we get it all? Didn't everyone get to say goodbye? And didn't it end at the perfect time in their lives? The last episode included the whole town, a town meeting, a good, silly Kirk moment, the reunion of Luke and Lorelie and wonderful goodbye moments. Plus, it's ending as Rory goes off into the world. I'm wondering what you all thought was missing. I almost feel like it was better they not know it was the end so that we didn't get too maudlin, and everyone's story line didn't get sewn up so neatly at the end. This way, it's as if life is still going on in Stars Hallow.

Plus, the very end scene at Luke's was perfect. We ended as we started, over coffee at Luke's, the Gilmore girls chatting about what comes next. Seemed like perfect symmetry.

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Shuffle Function solves mystery

Such a cool story! Tim Lind and Shelley Pierce, co-hosts of "Shuffle Function," have put an end to a years-long hunt. The two have a ton of vinyl, and one day they stumbled upon a record without a band name or any other clues on the label. All they had were the songs to go off of. Well, after years of searching, they solved the mystery. Click here to read the story and see the pictures.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Fish Frye release No. 2

On Thursday night for New Year's I went with some friends to Richard's in St. Peter for a super fancy four-course dinner. It was fabulous. Really I was there to see a friend's band. Fish Frye, the band not the food, released their debut CD, Konsbruck, named after the historic hotel in which Richard's is housed. Unfortunately, a tall wall stood between my table and where the band was playing. Sounded nice! Just couldn't see anything.

So, if anyone is thinking of going out on this bitterly, bitterly cold winter's night, I'll be at Wine Cafe for the second installment of the Fish Frye CD release. Come check it out!