Golden Globes Live Blog

7:12: Happy Sunday, b-rollers! We’re t-minus 45(ish) minutes from the start of the Golden Globes. In honor of this evening’s host, Ricky Gervais, I have had a very large beer, so this might get interesting. I’m about to check in with the NBC pregame show – sorry, red carpet; I’ve been watching a lot of playoff football this weekend – and will start snarking in short order. Please standby.

7:20: And we’re live! I’m happy to report that I’m live-blogging from my home in New Hampshire this evening, with my parents nearby. So expect a lot of b-roll parental exchanges this evening, such as me identifying Mary J. Blige, then my Mom asking what the hell she’s doing there. (Original song, I think?) This should be fun.

7:23: The red dress worn by one of the NBC co-hosts confounds me. It is side-less. How is that possible?

7:25: A John Carter promo, starring shirtless Tim Riggins! I’m so glad I skipped E. This almost makes up for FNL not getting a single blessed nomination. ALMOST.

7:26: How many marine mammals in danger stories do we need? Didn’t A Dolphin Tale come out six minutes ago? Hollywood is so out of ideas.

7:28: Madonna still sounding slightly, strangely British. To quote Gosford Park, “Is she British, or just affected?”

7:31: My Mom’s take on Claire Danes’ dress: “It looks like one of the rejects on Project Runway.” Well, then. (She’s also officially horrified that her comments might end up on the live blog. Too late.)

7:32: A lot of shiny, chain-mail-type dresses on the red carpet tonight. Not a trend I would have foreseen, gotta say.

7:35: Thank God Leonardo DiCaprio is this good-looking, because the oral J. Edgar Hoover bio that he’s delivering is boring the everloving crap out of me. (more…)

Golden Globes Precap

Happy Thursday, b-rollers! The Golden Globes are this Sunday, and if you don’t think that I’ll be live-blogging them – gleefully – than welcome to b-roll for the very first time. This will be my first live-blog since, um, last year’s Golden Globes. So I’ll be a little rusty, maybe. Be kind.

But before the Globes get rolling (Ha! See what I…anyway…), let me tell you who I’m rooting for, and give you my initial thoughts. Here’s the complete list of nominees if you’d like to follow along at home; I was amused to discover that the HFPA (Hollywood Foreign Press Association) included hashtags* so that you can tweet about each category individually – because sometimes, you have a hankering to discuss “Best Screenplay” and nothing else – so in the spirit of the exercise, I’ll use their suggested hashtags, because I’m pretty sure no one else will. #analretentiveoverkillHFPA

*For those wondering “What the hell is a hashtag?” here is a Wikipedia cheat sheet.

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The Great Escape

Before I share my extended take (some might say “rant”) on why it’s hip to be square, 2012 Oscar edition, let’s all take a nice, deep breath and remind ourselves once again: Opinions are subjective. I’m (rhetorically) allowed to love a film you hate, and vice versa. Oscar voters aren’t infallible (howdy, Titanic, and yes, I was a hysterical teenage girl who wanted that to win at the time).

Everyone in the right frame of mind? Okay, cool. Let’s get started.

I read an interesting article by Mark Harris, the “Oscarologist” over at Grantland, a wonderful writer and film critic whom I always enjoy and generally agree with – but not right now. He posted a column last month on the mood of “belligerent nostalgia” in Hollywood, with a thesis that in troubled times, nostalgic films – Hugo, The Artist – tend to critically overwhelm movies that are set in and/or thematically more reflective of our modern era – say, the gritty The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the angsty The Descendents, or even literally with a film like Margin Call, which dramatizes the Wall Street collapse – because audiences, critics and Oscar voters would rather revel in escapist fare than reward an onscreen representation of the current climate, thus creating a “faux-nostalgia” for times that were (in our imagination, at least) easier, or more romantic.

Basically, he wants us to snap the hell out of it before the “extremely slight” (his words) The Artist runs away with the Best Picture Oscar and the more authentically now films get left in its wake.

So while we’re sharing opinions, here’s mine: Guilty. I do like to escape. And frankly, I couldn’t give a good solid damn if the movie I escape into is of the now, the then, or the maybe soon. I like good movies, and I’ll take inspiration wherever I can find it, thanks.

We (collectively) have always used the movies as escapism; it’s a treat to slip into someone else’s world for a while, never more so than when you need a break from your own. And I personally think The Artist – which not only entertains but completely alters our usual moviegoing experience¬† – is a superb way to spend ten dollars and two hours. You’re transported in so many ways; not only can you glimpse the (clearly, admittedly romanticized) silent-era Hollywood, but you get to experience a film as that era’s audience would. Think about what a difficult trick this was: a black-and-white, silent film that not only interests but captivates an iPhone-laden audience conditioned to sensory overload. And it does.

I saw The Artist and The Descendents back-to-back, as part of a New Year’s Eve movie doubleheader, and I’d pick The Artist every day of the week and twice on New Year’s. Sure, The Descendents was beautifully acted and had quietly poignant moments (not to mention one helluva scenic backdrop), but while I could appreciate how messy and purposefully dysfunctional and real the film was, I often lacked a connection to the characters themselves; I wasn’t sure that I liked them enough to internalize their problems. The actors in The Artist – soundlessly – made me care. (Especially Uggie; I’m not much of a pet person, but I’m available to adopt him at any time.)

And it’s not like sentimentality and “relevance” are mutually exclusive, either. The Descendents wistfully eulogizes a pristine, pre-luxury resort Hawaii, and The Artist (kinda spoiler alert, although if you’ve seen the trailer, not really) depicts the sad slope to depression that can follow the loss of work, wealth and dignity; call me crazy, but that message resonates, doesn’t it? The Artist seems likely to clean up once the awards start rolling, and fans of The Descendents (or Dragon Tattoo, or Moneyball) will surely argue that it’s not as real, less timely, all glitz and no substance (not to nitpick, but see above note). But it won’t be a travesty; The Artist may not be as literally of-the-moment, but it’s an achievement all its own, and it’s certainly not irrelevant.

This argument especially sticks with me because it was such a crucial (and, I thought, infuriating) element of last year’s Oscar race: The King’s Speech vs. The Social Network. The advocates of The Social Network framed it as a race between the brilliant, innovative, zeitgeisty Network (fair point) and the overblown, sentimental Speech (much less fair), and when The King’s Speech won Best Picture, they threw up their hands and said, “Typical Hollywood. In with the old, out with the new.”

I preferred The King’s Speech, and that doesn’t make me dumber, or more sentimental, or less hip or critical. I saw both movies, enjoyed them, completely appreciated how timely and fascinating The Social Network was, and I just liked The King’s Speech better.

Call me lowbrow, but I just don’t care if the best movie of the year – mine, yours or Oscar voters’ – is a right now portrait of the world in which we live.

Ironically (to me, at least), one of Harris’s favorite films of the year was War Horse, a WWI period piece that disappointed me because I found it – ready for this? – incredibly heavy-handed and manipulative (though, admittedly, stunningly photographed). If any film commanded me to cry on cue, it was War Horse; if the “war is hell” imagery doesn’t get to you, may I interest you in the separation of a sweet farm boy from his beloved horse/soulmate?

Overly sentimental? Oh, yeah. But maybe you’ll love War Horse; maybe you’ll cry, and gasp, and savor every minute. Maybe The Artist will bore you to tears. And maybe The Descendents will hit you right in the gut, and move you in ways it didn’t quite move me.

No worries; it’s your escape, your two hours. Go wherever and whenever you want.

Anyway, what say you, b-rollers? What’s your prime realism-to-escapism ratio? And, more importantly, what’s your Best Picture (so far)?

The really good movies are here! Let’s get ready to rumble…

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, b-rollers – awards season! I know it’s freaking endless, but have I mentioned I’m a fan? This is the week things really got rolling, with some initial awards – not the “let’s get drunk on television”-type awards (though we’re only 6-ish weeks away from the Ricky Gervais-hosted Golden Globes, folks!), but the critics’ choice awards designed to establish front-runners and tell us what the hell we should see before the season wraps up in August late February.

A caveat to that last point, though: I recently started reading a biography of Pauline Kael, the legendary film critic (I know, only I would be nerd enough to find this interesting), and I’ve gotten two key things from it: 1) I am pale with envy at her intellectual dexterity and incredible writing ability, and 2) One should always trust his or her own opinion when watching a film. Ironic that lesson should come from a critic, but there you go. It’s an important thing to remember this time of year, when every movie is supposed to be life-altering, and how did you not “get” it, you moron? Case in point: When the New York Film Critics Circle chose its winners earlier this week, it selected Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams as the year’s best documentary. I didn’t get to see as many docs as I wanted to this year – among others, I’m waiting for The Interrupters, Senna, Project Nim and Being Elmo to arrive on Netflix – but I can definitively say that I liked several docs a lot more than Cave of Forgotten Dreams. I’d heard that it was a 3D film that made extraordinary use of the technology; I left thinking that if I had to watch one more tracking shot of those horse drawings, I was going to break my 3D glasses over Werner Herzog’s head. I’m still waiting for someone to explain to me what I’m missing here, but if the explanation is as long as the final montage, let’s not and say we did.

So, all of this is a long way of saying that let’s just watch these movies and judge for ourselves, shall we? We can agree to disagree when we must, because we all have valuable opinions – and we can all share them on the internet, with heavy doses of sarcasm, just as God intended. Let’s reconvene here and do so.

I’ll start with my thoughts on this week’s awards news:

  • My current “haven’t yet, but must see” awards-season list (and yes, I am in some cases basing my decisions on critics’ favorites): Hugo (just won the National Board of Review top prize today), The Artist (bumped up from “that looks interesting” to “can’t wait” based on stellar reviews/early awards), My Week with Marilyn (for Michelle Williams), Shame (ditto Michael Fassbender), The Descendents (George Clooney, that is all), Margin Call (timely, and doing really well with the indie awards/nominations). I’m sure some others will pop up as well.
  • Speaking of the National Board of Review, notable on their top 10 list was The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (loved the Swedish version, cautiously optimistic) and the final Harry Potter, which was, in my opinion, a great film and the best of the series. I think it’s a worthy inclusion, but one that will surely surprise/irritate a lot of people. Also, I’m a huge Potter fan, so, context. They also included The Ides of March (which I thought was very meh – sorry, George) and excluded Moneyball, which I liked, but not necessarily in an “Oscars, here we come!” kinda way. Still, I probably would’ve flipped the two.
  • Also seeming to fall off the radar with minimal nominations/awards this week: The Help and Martha Marcy May Marlene. I liked both, but they seem to be losing momentum; here’s hoping they don’t completely stall.
  • I have not seen Tree of Life. I heard that you either love it or hate it, and if you hate it, it’s because you were bored silly. Since I have the attention span of a hummingbird – at one point last night, I watched TV while simultaneously on my laptop and iPhone – this didn’t bode well for me, so I skipped it. That may have been a mistake, but it is what it is. What the hell is this craziness about a dinosaur?
  • Much as I love The Muppets – and to reiterate, blog post upcoming, I swear to Kermit – I don’t see the movie getting recognition beyond original songs, though I know many Muppet fans are campaigning hard for more. That being said, this year the Oscars will be broadcast on (Disney-owned) ABC, so there is no way in hell we aren’t getting a consolation appearance of the entire Muppet gang singing “Life’s a Happy Song,” “Rainbow Connection” or a Glee-style mash-up of the two. Mark it down.

Thoughts? What have you seen/are dying to see? Think the Muppets have a shot? Talk to me, b-rollers.

b-rolling again

I have not been the world’s most consistent blogger this year, friends. No freaking duh, they thought, scrolling down to realize this was blog post #3 of 2011. Okay, it’s been a while. I may have needed to reset my password to gain access, and I have the same three passwords for everything. Not an awesome start to the reboot of my blogging career (or, you know, hobby).

So why am I here? I had a slight revelation today. Not surprisingly, it involved my complete obsession with entertainment and awards shows. I know that the world has gone all to hell and that I should probably turn this into a blog about #occupying something – you’re legally required to hashtag that, right? – but whatever. And so I begin, and as with all good fables, this one takes place on Twitter.

This afternoon, I was watching tweets come in – you know, as you do – and I saw one from Billy Crystal, and it’s a credit to my profound Oscar love and nostalgia that even though I’m not remotely old enough to qualify for Medicare, I follow Billy Crystal on Twitter. The tweet said, and I quote directly for posterity, “Am doing the Oscars so the young woman in the pharmacy will stop asking my name when I pick up my prescriptions. Looking forward to the show” (Also, not to harp on the age thing, but way to stay current with the kids with a prescription drug reference, Billy. Okay, I know I just made a Medicare joke. I’m a little rusty. Let’s skip ahead.)

Now, I saw the tweet as it came in, and for a few moments it seemed like no one else did. I waited for Twitter to blow up (or at least the tiny little corner of it that I follow, filled with entertainment journalists, bloggers and celebrities), but nothing happened. I actually tweeted, “Did I just hallucinate?” and “Did Billy Crystal tweet in a forest with no one around to hear?” I had a Twitter conversation with an awards blogger asking, “Is this real?” And it started spreading, a few more people noticed, and the real journalists and bloggers – I can hardly consider myself a blogger given that my last post was a Golden Globes live-blog, but hey, just saying – started confirming. And suddenly I got my “breaking news alert” email from The Hollywood Reporter and realized, “Holy crap, I knew this before The Hollywood Reporter.” And if you don’t believe me, check my timeline (or look to the right): this is all true.

I didn’t break a story or anything; I dumb luck-edly saw a tweet as it happened, and you could really attribute this to the populism of Twitter and the spread of news in the digital era more than any particular skill or work on my part. Seriously, I did nothing of any value whatsoever. But as the adrenaline rushed and I @-ed people and made sarcastic comments – my particular forte, remember, b-rollers? – I thought, “Damn, this is fun.”

I miss blogging, and having the ability to share my thoughts in larger than 140 character bites (not that that’s always a good thing, this post might wrap up by Christmas). But life gets in the way when you have a full-time job and attempt to go to the gym enough to justify the membership that you optimistically signed up for, and (in a related story) laziness takes over. So anyway, this is my mea culpa: I’ll try to do better, and be worthy of your time. And in exchange, please let me know what you’d like to read, so that I can avoid just making this a brain dump and hopefully provide something focused and valuable. I am clearly in no position to make any guarantees, but I’ll do my best, and I can promise one thing: With awards season just around the bend, I will live-blog the holy bejeesus out of it, sarcastically and joyfully.

You’ve been warned, Billy Crystal.

Golden Globes Live Blog!

6:45: Good evening, folks! My New England Patriots are giving me ulcers, so I thought I’d switch over early to E!’s red carpet coverage of the Golden Globes. Yeah, that was a great idea. Just as I switch over, Natalie Portman arrives and we get the following incisive commentary:
Giuliana: “Natalie Portman looks beautiful! Let’s get some analysis!”
Whoever’s up on a platform twenty feet above: “Giuliana, from this angle, Natalie Portman looks absolutely gorgeous!”
Well, thank God they’re here. Did you know that Natalie Portman was beautiful, both at sea level and from above? OMG, me either! Okay, I’m a little punchy. I blame Tom Brady.

6:47: Now Ryan and Giuliana have given their microphones to Julie Bowen and Jesse Tyler Ferguson from Modern Family. This is the best idea that anyone at E! has ever had. For the record, Bridalplasty was the worst, just inching out any of the eighteen shows involving the Kardashians.

6:50: And Nicole Kidman shows up, looking lovely. I read an article recently in which she said that she tried Botox once and didn’t like it, so she’s never used it again. I don’t want to be cynical and/or foulmouthed, so I shall just tell you that my reaction to this news was something akin to “male cow excrement.”

6:55: Apparently the Patriots scored a touchdown in my absence, and I’m too superstitious to break the good karma and switch back. Son of a…

6:56: Glee cast members should be required to sing in interviews, especially when they’re saying Disney princess things like, “I just loved the pink, it looked so happy and free!”

6:57: Natalie Portman is taller than Ryan Seacrest. I’ve seen her in person; she’s the height of a Cabbage Patch doll. HOW SHORT IS RYAN SEACREST?!?!

6:59: Re: the Patriots game (I know, you don’t really care), a friend just tweeted me that he felt like he was in The Shawshank Redemption: “Hope is a good thing, and a good thing never really dies.” My response: “I feel like Brooks, climbing onto the chair.”

7:01: Ryan Seacrest to Jake Gyllenhaal: “What do you like to listen to?” Jake Gyllenhaal: “Music.” Well, then…

7:03: Did Ryan really just ask Jake Gyllenhaal if he got to test drive the Viagra (for Love and Other Drugs)? Oh, dear God…

7:04: Not loving Emma Stone’s dress, what with her hair/skin tone. Also, I knew it was Calvin Klein even before she said anything; their dresses always look like jersey t-shirts that haven’t yet been hemmed at the waist.

7:05: And Scarlett Johansson arrived, fresh from a wind tunnel. Holy backwards beehive, Batman.

7:06: Giuliana: “We have so many stars lined up, it’s not even funny.” Hasn’t been for a while there, G.

7:08: I know I’m being snarky tonight, b-rollers, but the Patriots are kind of making me hate the world. Bear with me.

7:11: Oh God, it’s Justin Bieber. Apparently he’s presenting, and he’s honored – he just told Ryan that “they put it on my schedule, so I showed up.” Awesome. I feel 97 years old.

7:13: I love how Ryan was afraid to ask Jane Krakowski if she’s pregnant, even though she looks like she could give birth by the announcement of Best Actor – Comedy or Musical.

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A Golden Globes live blog? If you insist…

Happy New Year, b-rollers! That’s right, pick that jaw up off of your keyboard – I’m back! Sure, it’s been several, uh, months, but I do hope you’ll forgive my absence. All is well, I just got caught up in a perfect storm of business, laziness, and a kinda meh TV and movie season. Seriously, has anything bowled you over this fall/winter, TV or movie-wise? I mean, I liked The Social Network (the likely Oscar fave), but I didn’t walk out of the theater and think “Wow, I’m profoundly moved!” I may be crazy or just hard to please, but them’s the facts. (To be fair, I really liked The King’s Speech, and I have yet to see likely nominees Black Swan, The Fighter and Tru Grit. So I’m a bit behind.)

Anywho, loyal b-rollers know that I love to live blog me some awards shows. And no awards show is more fun to watch than The Golden Globes, right? The champagne is flowing, Ricky Gervais will be making everyone profoundly uncomfortable (God, I love British comics), and most delightfully of all, a handful of European writers will select the winners, which means that nothing will make any sense whatsoever. These are the people that nominated The Tourist for Best Comedy – and if you haven’t seen The Tourist, I’m here to tell you that the majority of the humor was unintentional. In fact, the announcement of the nomination garnered more laughs from the assembled journalists than the movie did at my opening-weekend screening. But on the upside, the twice-nominated Johnny Depp – hey, did I mention I’m a fan? – will probably be in attendance. At the Globes, that is, not at Casa b-roll (in which case, b-roomie would have to take over live blogging duties while I was resuscitated).

So I shall see you on Sunday evening, b-rollers, and together we will live blog the unexpected. We’ll have to forgo the usual red carpet coverage this time, as I’ll be spending the pre-show watching my beloved New England Patriots take on the New York Windbags Jets in a playoff game; depending on the outcome, I’ll either be ebullient or suicidal, so prepare yourselves for an interesting chat. Until then!

Emmy Live Blog! The Awards!

8:00: The only way I could love this opening more was if Matt Damon was involved. Oh. My. God.

8:03: Please bring in Conan O’Brien. Please, oh please, oh please…

8:04: TIM FREAKING GUNN!!!!!

8:06: Genius. Absolutely genius. I’m calling it – BEST OPENING EVER. Superb, Fallon.

8:07: Wow, they had that cut to Conan all ready to go! Not awkward at all…

8:09: I know I’m kinda in the minority here, but: I adore montages.

8:11: Perhaps we should just name Betty White a Queen and get it over with. It’s inevitable, right?

8:14: And supporting actor goes to: Eric Stonestreet! YES!!! I absolutely adore his Cameron. A lovely and heartfelt speech, too.

8:20: See, when you’re smart enough to spoof the Old Spice guy, you deserve an Emmy. Congrats, Modern Family writers!

8:22: The theme of the Emmys so far seems to be “zip the hell through the nominee packages.” This show should be wrapped up by 9:15 at this rate.

8:23: This award has to go to Jane Lynch, right? I mean, seriously…

8:24: Well, duh. I kinda love the Emmy orchestra’s arrangement of the Glee theme.

8:26: “I’m not a Buddhist, but they seem like a very calm people.” Best line of the night that didn’t involve Betty White.

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