The World's End arrives in theaters this weekend to finish out the dog days of summer movie season with two things that never fail: alcohol and aliens. We decided to focus on the alcohol part this week and bring you our favorite scenes of liquid intoxication from film and TV. So pour yourself a glass of your favorite Wednesday-afternoon-appropriate beverage and join us for a casual 'Tube crawl.
Since Bachelorette premiered Monday night at Sundance, it’s been plagued with a singular obsession from the media: Is it, or is it not, like Bridesmaids? Trying to figure this out might warp your brain. Check it out:
I’d like to thank the Academy for throwing an extra mystery at those of us who treat predicting the Oscars as something between a hobby and a blood sport: This year, we have to figure out not only which movies will be nominated, but how many. After concluding that the appropriate number of Best Picture contenders was five for 65 consecutive years, and then 10 for two consecutive years, what the Academy’s board of governors has now settled on is “from five to ten.” How can we narrow that down? Well, the Academy did offer one clue by revealing that when it experimentally retabulated the ballots from 2001 through 2008, the results yielded, in different years, five, six, seven, eight, and nine nominees — but never ten.
Last night, CBS aired the 2012 People's Choice Awards, the only network-televised awards show to value the opinion of the unwashed masses over the critical and professional cabals who hand over their gilded Preciouses based on inscrutable, insidery criteria like "artistic merit." But here's the thing: The People are often wrong. The People have given us Two and a Half Men, at least three installments of Chipmunks movies, and flickering hope to a Rick Santorum presidential candidacy. And so we've taken it upon ourselves to look at some of the major PCA categories and decide who can keep their statuettes (what do they hand out, anyway? A giant crystal thumbs-up on a Big Mac base?), and which ones need to be redistributed in an attempt to correct any miscarriages of popular justice.
You know that Oscar season has probably gone on long enough when it calls to mind the war in Iraq, but, in surveying the terrain this week, I was reminded of perhaps the only useful thing that Donald Rumsfeld ever said: his distinction between “known unknowns — that is to say, we know there are some things we do not know” and “unknown unknowns — there are things we do not know we don’t know.”
There may be no Oscar category more maddening to try to handicap than writing. When it comes to editing or sound, at least we all know that we’re clueless — film editing, after all, is called “the invisible art” by the very people who do it, and if you’re aurally sophisticated enough to judge the difference between sound mixing and sound editing, you’re probably either a sound mixer or a sound editor. Good screenwriting, by contrast, is supposed to be self-evident. But everything that can make a screenplay praiseworthy — dialogue, character development, story structure, gracefulness of adaptation, or originality of concept — can play as shoddy or hackneyed when a filmmaker mishandles it. And if you think the blame is always fairly apportioned, consider how many reviews make the claim, “The talented cast and director do their best with a weak script,” and how few say, “A fine piece of writing has been undermined by haphazard directing and tepid performances.” Critics never go there, because they don’t have access to the material — the script itself — that would support that argument.
The truth is, it’s virtually impossible to separate your judgment of a screenplay from your judgment of a completed movie — even if you’re one of the screenwriters who does the nominating. During campaign season, many studios send voters printed copies or flash drives of screenplays they want considered. But those versions have been retrofitted to match the finished films; they don’t contain any scenes or constructions that you didn’t see on screen. Unless you’re a big fan of stage directions and character descriptions, they’re not exactly essential reading.
So let’s start from the premise that Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay should probably be called Movie That Suggests Most Strongly That It Was Based On A Really Good Piece Of Writing. What do we know about the predilections of the Academy’s writers’ branch?
Almost Famous, "Stairway to Heaven" Boogie Nights, "Porn Awards" Bill Simmons: Here's what I want from my "greatest deleted scene ever." It needs to stand on its own as an entertainingly rewatchable YouTube clip. It needs to come from an iconic movie, or at the very least, an iconic movie to me. It needs to take some of the characters from that movie to another level, OR, it needs to cement why I liked those characters in the first place. And it needs to make me think, "I can't believe they left that scene out of the movie, it's inexplicable."
Gloves On: Presumably tired of doing premium-cable charity work on Damages and Bored to Death, Ted Danson has signed on to replace Laurence Fishburne on CSI, as the leader of a team of graveyard-shift homicide investigators (after Tony Shaloub, Robin Williams and John Lithgow reportedly passed on the part). Let's hope CBS is paying him Ted Danson money. Grade: B+ [Deadline, EW]
Brides Paid: In Bridesmaids, Kristen Wiig poop-joked her way to the best reviews and box office of Judd Apatow's career. Now she's using her clout to make Imogene, a dark-sounding comedy (?), from American Splendor directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, about a playwright who fakes a suicide attempt to win back an ex-boyfriend, but instead winds up in the custody of her gambling-addicted mom. The movie is described as a "passion project" for Wiig, which probably means it will include fewer weddings and diarrhea attacks than her last. Still, we're looking forward to this one. Grade: A [HR]
What do auteurs Michael Bay and Terrence Malick have in common — other than that they’ve both made Megan Fox wash their cars in a bikini in lieu of auditioning for a role? (Fox got the part in Bay’s Transformers but her performance as "Celestial Dinosaur No. 3" was sadly cut from Malick's of Tree of Life.) They’ve both written letters to projectionists, advising them on how best to present their 2011 films! While the letters themselves strike differing tones (Malick terms his a "fraternal salute" to a "forgotten art" while Bay, unsurprisingly, uses capitalist logic – "your theaters invested a lot of money in this equipment" — in his plea for 3-D perfection), they are the latest missives in a trend that stretches at least as far back as noted control freak Stanley Kubrick, whose own letter re: Barry Lyndon also recently surfaced.
But this epistolary practice goes deeper than most cinephiles realize. Grantland gained access to some other recently-penned letters to projectionists from the directors of a few of summer 2011’s other prominent releases. We are proud to share excerpts of them with you now.