Welcome to the Oscar Travesties finals! As expected, Crash, the most egregious error of collective judgment in the long and distinguished history of the Academy of Crash Mistakes and Haggis Sciences will face off against ... wow, Crash again, in a winner-takes-all battle for the honor of being the most contentious kudos recipient since two Cro-Magnons bludgeoned each other to death with jagged rocks over a disagreement about the artistic merits of a poorly rendered cave-scrawling of a three-legged bear that earned an approving nod from a blind elder.
So, Joe Frazier beat Muhammad Ali. The Grammys did their job. Order has been maintained. What happens next? Here are my predictions: Babel will return to the top of the albums chart next week. Jay Pharoah’s inevitable yellow suit-and-headband Frank Ocean parody will be relegated to “Weekend Update,” rather than get its own stand-alone sketch, on SNL. The guy from Fun. will regret wearing capris. A jingle that sounds like The Black Keys will appear in a Radio Shack commercial. Jack White will record a new 45 with three of the models from Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love” video. And nothing that happened Sunday night will matter when it comes to how our culture ultimately judges the value (or lack thereof) of these artists, or the many other artists who made notable music that had no chance of being nominated.
Let's first focus on the important thing: As result of factors in no way related to their nominees, announced earlier this morning, the 2013 Golden Globes have a really good chance of being great. And that's because of the "Weekend Update" reunion that'll be going down in front of the hosts' podium. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, in their first Golden Globes spot!
Big up to the Principality of Lichtenstein! Against all odds, this most random of landlocked Germanic Central European states — at 62 square miles, officially the sixth-smallest country in the world — has some big music-industry doings to crow about. Namely, plucky native son Al Walser, who's clawed his way into a 2013 Best Dance Music Recording Grammy for his track "I Can't Live Without You" amid such titans as Swedish House Mafia, Avicii, and Skrillex. And the only problem is, just about no one in the EDM scene had ever heard of Walser or "I Can't Live Without You" before this nomination, and now everyone's assuming he gamed the system to nab the nom. Uh-oh!
So what the hell is going on here? Let's break it down.
Not three weeks after the debut of the first official trailer for Steven Spielberg's Lincoln, a Best Picture play so ingeniously conceived that Clint Eastwood immediately took a sledgehammer to the typewriter upon which he was outlining the unannounced third installment of his Flags of Our Fathers/Letters From Iwo Jima franchise while rasping with anguish, "Why did I have to pick that bullshit, used-up war?," DreamWorks released a newer, better, more exciting effort after last night's presidential debates.
On today's pod, Andy and I would like to thank Brad and Brad over at WME, the writers' room, our hair and makeup people who make us look beautiful every day, and our long-suffering wives ... oh, sorry, I was having another one of my "episodes." Let's try that again. On today's pod, Andy and I have a discussion about the Emmys. We ask the important questions: Was Homeland's coup of Mad Men expected? Does Modern Family's reign mean network sitcoms are back? Has anyone told NBC that? Is Tom Berenger still, spiritually and sartorially, in Romania? And what year is it there?
Following our acceptance speeches, Andy and I checked the pulse of Parks and Recreation and The Office, the former coming off an episode that saw it in full flight, full of Capra-esque sweetness, Cheers-esque joy, and Roy Hibbert, while the latter ... well, it's the last season of The Office, guys. I somehow get very emotionally worked up about Jim and Pam, by the way; I know you were all waiting for that.
At 5:40 a.m. this morning on the West Coast, Jimmy Kimmel (in pajamas) and Kerry Washington (in need of coffee) made a lot of English people very, very happy. Downton Abbey — freed from the shackles of its bizarre “miniseries” designation — not only was free to play with the big boys in the 64th Emmy Awards, but to now dominate them with 16 nominations (for those reading in London, that’s about nine quid). The rest of the nominations followed recent trends, a smooth mix of populist favorites (Jim Parsons, Melissa McCarthy) and critical validation (Lena Dunham! Louis C.K.! Gus Fring!). For those looking for axes to grind, the usual snubs were apparent (Community, Nick Offerman, the veterinarians of Luck). But the truth is, compared to its geriatric sister award shows, the Emmys continually come the closest to actually recognizing excellence.
As for those merely looking for axes, you can rest easy: Game of Thrones snagged 11 nominations of its own. (A full list of the nominees can be found here.)
Make no mistake: Awards season is a cutthroat time, when even the most normally civilized and magnanimous of Hollywood's citizens transform into rapacious hyenas fighting for the best position from which to gnaw on Oscar's gilded carcass. Do you remember how charming those adorable French people from the silent movie seemed at the Golden Globes, even inviting their canine costar onstage to share in the glory reflected from a second-tier statuette?
Before we begin, it should be stipulated that awards shows are boring. They have always been boring, and they will continue to be boring until the Earth hurtles into the sun, which will almost certainly occur during the 18th hour of 10,464th Annual Academy Awards Psychocast, finally freeing us of the curious need to complain about why we aren't more entertained by famous people trading gold statues and listing their business obligations.
Welcome to the first annual GRTFLies Awardsies. I couldn’t think of a good title, so I just added the syllable “eez” to the end of the nouns — that’s how all award shows do it, right? Anyway, since the inception of this enjoyable filter through which we view the deplorable programming known as Reality Television, there have been a slew of people, events, and sexual encounters that deserve special recognition. That last part’s actually not true. Let me rephrase: There have been a slew of people, events, and sexual encounters that would be fun to point and laugh at one more time before clicking and dragging them to the trash can on your mental desktop.
What a frenetically busy weekend it was in the handing out of shinies and sparklies and mantel-trinkets to chronically underappreciated movie people, who at other times of the year often have to survive for weeks without winning anything. Critics’ groups in Los Angeles, Boston, and San Francisco announced their honorees, as did online critics in New York; conclaves in Detroit and Houston revealed their lists; and the American Film Institute named its 10 best movies. That’s a lot of noise! All of these simultaneously live-tweeted prizelets are microtwitches in the Oscar race, and it’s true that come ballot time, no Oscar voter is going to find himself frozen in indecision, his pen hovering above his ballot as he frets, “But dare I go against Detroit?” However, it’s still possible to pull some larger trendlines from this surge of hyperbolic over-celebration of film achievement. And if it’s not, let’s pretend it is.
A couple of days ago I asked Oscarmetrics readers to tweet me the movies they wish were in the Best Picture discussion right now. I ruled out what I think is the current consensus top ten (The Artist, The Descendants, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life and War Horse). Anything else was eligible. I got an earful: Impassioned and thoughtful (within a 140-character limit) arguments for 32 different movies. And, by a landslide, the one you’d like to nudge into the discussion is the one in which Ryan Gosling kicks ass and takes names while maintaining an expression of such frozen imperturbability that a climactic twist pivots on your inability to figure out whether he’s dead or just concentrating. In any event, as the song says, he’s a real hero and a real human being (give or take), so bravo!
In thinking about the race for Best Picture this week I found myself drifting unhappily back to the 1980s, specifically to a stretch during which the Oscars reacted to an uncertain (i.e., post-Raging Bull) period in high-end American moviemaking by retreating to a safer, more virtuous and conservative definition of "prestige" films. In a period of just seven years, Best Picture Oscars were won by Chariots of Fire, Gandhi, Amadeus, Out of Africa, and The Last Emperor. Some of those movies were good, and all of them had their virtues. But collectively, all they told us about the world and times in which they were made is that apparently nobody in 1980s Hollywood wanted to think about 1980s America.
This year’s Best Picture contest is starting to feel afflicted by a similar sense of what I would call belligerent nostalgia. The two movies to win high-profile prizes so far, The Artist and Hugo, are both being hailed as odes to the early days of cinema. But really, they’re not. The Artist tells you everything it knows about the painful transition from silents to talkies in its first 10 minutes: It’s an undeniably charming but extremely slight comedy-drama that mimics the most basic elements of silents (They were black-and-white! The screen wasn’t wide!), but seems more engaged by their poignant quaintness than by the visual language, wit, beauty, complexity, or psychological richness of the movies it purports to honor. And as enchanting as it can be to enter the glittering, hermetically sealed but vividly three-dimensional toy chest/train station universe that Martin Scorsese has created in Hugo, there is something slightly self-adoring about the story it tells. Hugo is not a valentine to the dawn of movies — it’s a valentine to people who send those valentines, a halo placed lovingly atop the heads of cinephiles and film preservationists. (And, not incidentally, film critics and Oscar voters.)
The National Board of Review announced its annual movie awards today, and although this remains a deeply weird organization whose membership is opaque and whole method of selection is — to be generous about it — impenetrable, we should probably not hold it against any of the many, many movies or people that managed to win something today, so bravo to all of them. The big victors were two films that got blanked the other day by the New York Critics Circle: Hugo, which took awards for Best Picture and Best Director, and The Descendants, which won prizes for Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress (Shailene Woodley), and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Welcome to December, RazzieWatchers! We’re in the home stretch. We have to say, this is the most exciting Razzie season in years — every time we think a movie’s a shoo-in, something elsecomes along that’s even worse! Last week saw the bloody, violent birth of Razzie heavyweight Breaking Dawn, Part 1 — seemingly a lock with a 26% Tomatometer, but possibly hampered by a sort-of rave by mysterious New York Times soothsayer Manohla Dargis.