First, an Oscars analysis in light of Thursday’s nominations: The Golden Globes seem to indicate that Argo still has an edge over Lincoln but that Daniel Day-Lewis and Jessica Chastain are still frontrunners in the acting category. In the Comedy/Musical category, the competition was solely between Silver Linings Playbook and Les Misérables. Anne Hathaway is closer to a lock for Best Supporting Actress, but I think the momentum for the film itself and for Hugh Jackman, ends here. The real battle seems to be developing between Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence…and I think Daniel Day-Lewis and Bradley Cooper.
Ben Affleck may win every directing nomination he’s received, and rightly so, which makes the Oscar snob all the more confusing. I get Oscar snubs are a necessary component of the process, and that this was a great year, but this is a head-scratcher. Nevertheless, he deserves the accolades. Go Ben! And Argo!
Not quite sure who was favored for Supporting Actor (perhaps Alan Arkin or Tommy Lee Jones?) but I adore Christoph Waltz, so *I* favored him. Then again, he has to contend with Robert De Niro for the Oscar, and that’s a tough race. Great performances in both. If Christoph Waltz was a surprise, Quentin Tarantino for Best Screenplay was shocking. I also think he was most deserving; I mean this is an original screenplay in a mixed category of both original and adapted. Weird category that makes much more sense separated, like at the Oscars.
Glad that pan over the audience showed I wasn’t the only one crying as her speech kept hitting different emotional beats (here’s the transcript). I was just so unprepared! Most of these achievement awards are, lets be honest, super boring. From the way she addressed her ailing mother and hints about “retirement”…it was like breaking the wall that glittery award shows put up. We like to see stars schmoozing with other stars and seeing them as “real” people. But it’s all so fake. Leave it to a notoriously private actor to shatter those expectations. We don’t know Jodie, but because of her celebrity…we do. And this swan song of sorts is affecting because of that familiarity. Fascinating, moving stuff.
The Competition for Most Distinguished Introduction to a Film
Bill Clinton for Lincoln, Jeremy Renner for Zero Dark Thirty, Christian Bale for Silver Linings Playbook, Catherine Zeta-Jones for Les Misérables, Tony Mendez and John Goodman for Argo, Jamie Foxx for Django Unchained…
Women on Television
Claire Danes: “very proud to be working in this medium, in this moment, in this company”
Lena Dunham: “This award is for every woman who felt like there wasn’t a space for her” and Girls “made me feel so much less alone in the world”
I don’t actively dislike Robert Pattinson, (he is Cedric Diggory after all) but I never give him much thought. However, I have to admit that this little GIF showing how momentarily shy and awkward he appeared to be meeting Quentin Tarantino has endeared him to me a bit:
SKYFALL and Adele win—she high-fives Daniel Craig (such delight!) and pisses off Taylor Swift
The Usual Favorites
How awesome is Jessica Chastain, seriously? So sincere. On the E! Red Carpet she stopped to tell Naomi Watts how great she is in The Impossible and how much she loved it (before being shooed away by Ryan Seacrest).
Can someone PLEASE mass publish the fact that Jennifer Lawrence was quoting The First Wives Club when she said “What does this say…I beat Meryl!” I love her more and more every time she speaks. I know how it feels to diffuse awkwardness with a movie quote only to have it sort of fall flat when no one realizes it’s a quote…
Benedict Cumberbatch (his second time at the Globes) lost to Kevin Costner. Kevin Costner winning also led to the most boring speech of the night. And Ben looked sad! Oh well…
Ewan McGregor not-so-shockingly did not win for Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, but did get to have a chat with George Clooney (that I spied) and plenty of others, probably. I just wish he was there to support The Impossible.
Eddie Redmayne looked quite dapper, of course.
If we are all being honest, a Golden Globe nomination is little more than a chance for the real Oscar contenders to continue their campaign, and for some of the kookier nominees to enjoy in the randomness of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. The SAG awards can be telling of Oscar contenders as well but it’s really all about “actors celebrating actors” and a really nice party, I’d imagine (and more campaigning). But things are looking good for some deserving folks, and I feel way more committed to this awards season than last year (ugh). Also, I can’t help but be excited for the Amy Poehler/Tina Fey power hour.
To recap, I LOVED Argo and despised The Master. Ben Affleck got a very deserving nod for a Golden Globe in the Best Director category. Alan Arkin was the only actor nominated, in a supporting role. The movie as a whole was nominated for both Best Drama and Best Screenplay, as well as Best Score. Argo is also nominated for Best Ensemble Cast at the SAGs, and I gotta say, it is tough to beat. On the other hand, while voters seem to be in agreement that The Master is not great, Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, and Philip Seymour Hoffman are still getting acting nominations. Which is okay, I guess. They did good work.
While I am championing Argo, I am full-on obsessed with Silver Linings Playbook (Golden Globe Best Comedy/Musical, SAG Best Ensemble). Bradley Cooper: best role I have ever seen him in (GG Best Actor Comedy/Musical, SAG Best Actor). Jennifer Lawrence is as fantastic as she is crazy and fragile (GG Best Actress Comedy/Musical, SAG Best Actress). And as the cleverest sort-of rom-com I’ve seen in years, it is very deserving of its GG Best Screenplay nod. However, it is shocking that the Golden Globes bypassed Robert De Niro, who gave his best performance in years; he was nominated for a SAG award, which hopefully keeps his Oscar nomination chances afloat.
The early praise for Django Unchained and Zero Dark Thirty is being supported by multiple nominations for both films. Where they fit in with Argo and Silver Linings Playbook, in my opinion, is yet to be determined but I am excited to check them out. Both are nominated in the Best Drama category for the Golden Globes and both directors, Kathryn Bigelow and Quentin Tarantino, are nominated. They also both received noms for Best Screenplay. For Django, one of my favorite people in the world, Christoph Waltz, is nominated alongside Leonardo DiCaprio. Meanwhile, another one of my favorite people, Jessica Chastain is nominated for Zero Dark Thirty, at the Golden Globes and the SAGs.
SURPRISE: For some reason, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association really felt the need to recognize Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, with a nod for Best Comedy/Musical, and acting nominations for Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor. I don’t have anything against the film, I actually own it. (I am contractually obligated by myself to own every Ewan McGregor movie so this hardly counts either). It is just one of those bizarre instances when a little talked about film from months ago pops for a run at gold. But I would much rather have Ewan nominated for his work in The Impossible at the Oscars.
- I have not seen The Sessions but I will never not be ecstatic over recognizing John Hawkes, which the HFPA and SAG both do. People claim that The Sessions is pure Oscar bait and I see where they are coming from, but John Hawkes has so many more unrecognized performances that this makes sense to me.
- Not wholly unexpected, but still surprising: Rachel Weisz snags a Best Drama Actress nod for The Deep Blue Sea. It is always nice to see her recognized (I love her) and I did like the performance (and the presence of Tom Hiddleston, naturally).
- My poor beloved Cloud Atlas is nominated for Best Score. As well it should!
- The Hour is nominated for Best Miniseries (?), hooray!! Sherlock is not; but Benedict Cumberbatch is nominated for Best Actor in a miniseries. Weird.
I stopped hoping/predicting Emmy nominations a long time ago because going down that road inevitably leads to disappointment. But foregoing your hopes and dreams allows for another thing: pleasant surprise. Yes, most of the nominations were easily predicable but more so than usual, this year is shaping up to showcase some very deserving ensembles and individuals. One thing I won’t discuss: the snubs. I fear making that list will result in insanity and depression. Forewarning: since my thoughts range from actual having an observation to just “yay!” this is a mishmash of ideas more so than an actual post. For a better breakdown of exactly how this year is surprisingly positive, check out Tim Goodman’s analysis at The Hollywood Reporter.
Downton Abbey: Having returned for a second season to PBS, it was necessary for DA to move from the miniseries category to the drama series category. It took America a year to catch Downton fever, and I am just a little bummed that it happened on a less than stellar season. Nevertheless, I am happy for it to be included. The show even garnered far more acting noms than expected: Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Maggie Smith, Joanne Froggatt, Brendan Coyle, and Jim Carter were all nominated. The Brits are already laughing at our outdated obsession.
Mad Men: What do I love about the Mad Men noms this year? Well, Jared Harris for one (who replaced John Slattery in this category). I was a huge fan of Lane this season and while I could sit here and work myself into a fit over how much I think Weiner blundered his storyline, Jared Harris was awesome throughout. He devastated me for well over a week. I was happily surprised by the nomination for Ben Feldman as Michael Ginsberg in the Guest Actor category. His scene where he describes himself as a martian to Peggy is one of the standout moments of the season. And semi-related: Jon Hamm was nominated for Don Draper but he was also nominated for Guest Actor in 30 Rock. I know he doesn’t consider himself a comedian but he never ceases to be hilarious in comedies and on SNL. He may not be able to win for Mad Men, but he was definitely a standout on the 30 Rock live episode.
American Horror Story: Due to what can be deemed downright mischievous, FX submitted AHS as a miniseries, arguing that each season is a self-contained anthology (never mind the fact this was decided after it aired). Due to a sparse field of competition, this has allowed AHS to CLEAN UP. I am very excited to see Denis O’Hare recognized in the Supporting Actor category because he’s awesome.
Sherlock: And speaking of strategies, PBS entered “A Scandal in Belgravia” into contention as an TV movie. Huh? It is a single episode in a continuous series that involves the same principal characters but okay. I can’t really complain too much because I may in fact be rooting for Benedict Cumberbatch in the Lead Actor category far more than anyone else at the ceremony. Martin Freeman also got some love in the Supporting Actor category so I can’t argue with the results of this subterfuge.
The Year of the Creator/Actor?
Girls: Not only was it nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series, but Lena Dunham got nominations for writing, directing, producing and Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.
Louie: Louis CK may have missed out on getting his actual show nominated but he successfully got nods for writing, directing and as Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. Even more impressive? He now holds the record for most nominations for an individual in a single year (7).
Max Greenfield: I know that Zooey Deschanel also got the nomination, but I have to give it up to Max Greenfield for making New Girl one of the funniest new shows on television this year. The evolution of Schmidt was a great thing to watch throughout the season and I am very glad that it was noticed.
Writing in a Comedy Series: Talk about a category that got it completely right. Girls, Parks and Recreation, Louie, and Community (The “Remedial Chaos Theory” episode!!!) all represented. I can’t wait to see what episode picks up the award but they are all so deserving.
The Hour: I just recently devoured the first season of The Hour and adored it so I am sad to see that the series was ignored (or “miniseries” I should say…er) as well as Dominic West and Ben Whishaw. However, Abi Morgan did get a nomination for Outstanding Writing.
Modern Family: I…don’t get it anymore. I watch it and it often makes me laugh but not everyone on the show needs to be nominated particularly since it wasn’t a very strong season. I would nominate Ty Burrell, that’s all folks. Instead of some of the other adults I would also nominate the kid that plays Luke, Nolan Gould, because he makes me laugh more than most of the cast combined.
I am content to sit and write about my favorite sitcom quotes from this week, what Ewan McGregor movie I have seen 500 times, and even what show decided to annoy me for the last time. But in real life, I am very interested in the role that pop culture can play in changing perceptions and informing the general public. The use of popular culture in this way is not surprising and two news items from this week help illustrate my point (and after I get sad about the world, I attempt to identify some positive utilities): North Carolina and Maurice Sendak’s Brundibár. And I shoehorn The Whistleblower in at the end.
The majority of North Carolinian voters have agreed on an amendment to their constitution that bans same-sex marriage. Sigh. I only heard about this amendment a few days leading up to it (when various tweeters got to work to motivate voters) but I wish it had been more nationally newsworthy months ago. North Carolina needed help, clearly. But no, I am not surprised about the results, which in itself speaks to one of the many problems with U.S. regional politics. Winner for most frustrating remark, Tami Fitzgerald, chairwoman for a pro-amendment group: “…you don’t rewrite the nature of God’s design for marriage based on the demands of a group of adults.”
One thing that is bothering me is the rampant disparaging remarks against “North Carolina” as if it is monolithic. It may be in part due to the fact I grew up in geographical proximity to the state, but obviously not everyone voted “Yes” to the amendment. Just think how horrible it is to love your state and yet, see that you are surrounded by people that disagree with your views on such a fundamental level. I am Virginian, I know a thing or two about this feeling.
Pop culture bright spot #1: Twitter really is a social media monster; it allows for loud, instantaneous reaction to any bit of news. Naturally, my feed was engulfed by outrage and disappointment over the results in North Carolina. Hopefully many apathetic individuals are slowly coming around to formulating their own opinions, based on outcry.
Pop culture bright spot #2: On the same day the New York Times discussed the North Carolina issue, it was also analyzing how vastly the entertainment industry has changed, in a mere decade, over portraying LGBT characters and storylines. Edward Schiappa, a professor at the University of Minnesota believes that “TV and movie representation matters.” He has found that gay characters on TV have decreased prejudice among viewers.
Pop culture bright spot #3: People like Jack Antonoff and his band fun. get to utilize success as a platform to discuss LGBT issues and highlight the optimistic romanticism of their lyrics. Seriously, seeing them live was a celebration of equal rights and diversity. They have deservingly won many fans not only in the LGBT community but from all walks of life. If their fans (and particularly the high schooler set) truly believe in the lyrics that they scream back to Nate Ruess, then we can chalk up another positive influence to kids these days.
UPDATED Overall life bright spot: President Obama has gone on record promoting marriage equality. I am impressed. It is almost Newtonian (for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction…) when viewing it with North Carolina’s vote. Never would I have dreamed this would come up before the election. So glad Obama got to finally back something he has likely been in favor of for decades. Politics.
In the wake of so many tributes to Maurice Sendak, his work with Tony Kushner on Brundibár (as a book and opera) has been mentioned a few times. Brundibár is a children’s opera originally conceived by Hans Krása at the onset of World War II. The show had begun initial performances at an orphanage in Prague before the Nazis came knocking. Being a Czech Jew, Krása was sent to the Theresienstadt (Czech: Terezín) concentration camp in1943 along with many of the children who had rehearsed for the opera. Brundibár was performed 55 times at Theresienstadt before Krása and most of the children were deported to Auschwitz; upon arrival, most of these prisoners were immediately killed.
I toured Terezín in summer 2009. It is a powerful, transformative place and it remains hard to pin down my emotions on the visit. I got to see what it meant to be a “model” concentration camp, if you pretend not to see the execution wall. The model was meant for the Red Cross, sent into the camp to investigate the treatment of the prisoners. There they found pristine looking bathrooms, a swimming pool and a cinema (with the pool and cinema being for German officers). An oasis in Central Europe during the height of World War II? Of course not, these things were for show. In fact, the bathroom was so pristine because it was never used. To avoid the look of overcrowding, many Jews were deported to Auschwitz before the tour. The Red Cross was also treated to a performance of Brundibár. In the ghetto I took a peek into the schoolhouse where the children spent their time and saw their drawings. The adults in the ghetto were dedicated to the children’s continued education despite their conditions. That night, I was a little more reckless, and embraced carpe diem as an escape. It is really difficult to wrestle with the terrors of a mere 60 years ago.
Pop culture bright spot: The opera contains many anti-Nazi sentiments and the Brundibár in the play is a stand-in for Hitler. While the opera was a vital tool in giving the Terezín children something to preoccupy their time, it also gave the adults a platform to remain resistant to their circumstances. Performances of Brundibár increasingly provide an opportunity to remember what happened at Terezín and to celebrate the lives that were lost.
A brief discussion on The Whistleblower:
This is one of the most depressing films I have seen this year. I only want to quickly mention it because I struggled with finding the bright spot here. The film is informative about human trafficking and the fallibility of organizations we put our trust in to defend universal human rights. A scant pop culture bright spot could simply be that this film exists; it is a gateway to discussion and enlightenment about injustice. But seriously, it wasn’t marketed to be a major film. It has been propelled via word of mouth, the Rachel Weisz fandom and possibly, the discount I got on renting it from Amazon Instant Video. I hope it makes the rounds because it is especially disturbing if you are committed to peacebuilding. Mismanagement and misconduct in missions is a problem facilitated by the “aid chain” and no one is close to finding a solution.
And just to lighten the mood, no, I will not neglect to mention that Benedict Cumberbatch is also in the film (the whole cast is basically Brits playing Americans, hello Liam Cunningham!). Benedict is literally in two scenes and effectively plays a douche. I got the feeling he was involved in the cover-up but the film provides no reason as to why he even exists. Maybe there are scenes on the cutting room floor? This is another issue – I have to applaud a first time female director, but the film needed polishing.
The New York Times caught up with Mr. Cumberbatch to discuss the return of Sherlock to American television and his numerous upcoming projects. I especially love how this reporter describes BC:
In person the thin and muscular Mr. Cumberbatch shares the piercing gaze and sonorous, sinister voice of his Holmes but is warmer and more irreverent. He is a self-confessed motormouth and a relentless mimic who, over the course of an hour, adopted the shrieking voice of an admiring Valley girl; the Scottish burr of his friend and colleague James McAvoy; the synthesized speech of Stephen Hawking, whom he portrayed in a British TV movie; and the rapid, adenoidal clip of both Mr. Abrams and Steven Spielberg, who directed him in “War Horse.”
And luckily for everyone, the “self-confessed motormouth” peppered his interview with a number of memorable, thoroughly delightful quotes.
On keeping secrets about Star Trek 2, The Hobbit, the Sherlock cliffhanger…: “You could stick a knife in my thigh, and I wouldn’t tell you. [But] pull the hair on my head the wrong way, and I would be on my knees begging for mercy. I have very sensitive follicles.”
and: “I’ve got to be a complete and utter tease.”
On Christmas: “We observe this little Judeo-Christian cult holiday called Christmas. Whereas, you know, some kids in this part of town” — he circled his hands in the Los Angeles air — “with their Crackberrys, don’t.”
On Sherlock, as a character:“He’s a high-functioning sociopath. He has a general disregard for standard codes of conduct, pleasantries, niceties. He wants to cut to the chase. He wants everything to be faster and better and purer.”
On Sherlock, the show: “I’m desperate for America to really take to this. It has taken it into its heart as a cult thing, but I’d love it to hit the mainstream this time. Because I just think it’s of that quality, and it belongs there.”
[Yes — Americans, rally. Because the time period between January and May was just ridiculous I have already watched the second season. But, worth it. Above and beyond the first season — and I thought that was great. I wasn’t even obsessed with BC until “A Scandal in Belgravia,” as Martin Freeman was my original draw. That episode…wow.]
On Downton Abbey’s award success: “I just looked at [the Golden Globe] and went: ‘Begone, woman. Bring it back when it says “Sherlock Holmes” or Steven Moffat or myself — someone else who’s more deserving than the second series of “Downton Abbey.” ’ ”
Speaking of The Moff, on BC: “His look is quirky. His appeal is quite intellectual. He’s not conventionally handsome — handsome by any normal human standard. But the screen is very demanding. [He is] not ever going to play an ordinary man.”
Finally, on criticisms about selling out: “[There has been] a huge blogging response to me selling out to Hollywood and dating a model and become a walking cliché. That was nice.”
What can I say Ben? HATERS GONNA HATE. You do you.
And the Oscars felt no need to talk about Kevin, highlighting only one problem among a multitude of issues. The ceremony provided little respite from the doom and gloom I have felt since the nominations were announced. The Academy Awards do tend to give out at least one surprise, or upset, if you have been following awards season closely. But the “surprise” upset came in the Best Actress category. Where one would have expected Viola Davis or even Michelle Williams. Instead Oscar gives it to the one person you would expect them to favor: Meryl Streep.
I started watching red carpet coverage around 5:30 and watched the awards to their conclusion around 11:40. And although I attempted to live blog it, I mainly followed Twitter reactions; below represents the few moments before and during the ceremony that highlight the lens I watched the ceremony through—to avoid a massive pit of utter disappointment.
6:23 The red carpet provided its first truly interesting moment: Jessica Chastain’s delight at meeting Ryan Seacrest. You could see in her face how initially absurd the moment seemed as perhaps the idea of where she actually was started to sink in. (Although how did she miss him at the SAGs?) I definitely love her. Side note: for the second year in a row, the tie breaker question for Entertainment Weekly’s Oscar pool asked you to guess the color of Michell Williams’ dress. Last year I guessed correctly with white. This year I guessed the same but she showed up in coral. So curious to know if anyone got that.
7:15 Perhaps the most memorable moment of the night came before the telecast: Sacha Baron Cohen dumping Kim Jong Il’s “ashes” all over Ryan’s suit. While people are generally describing Ryan’s reaction as “peeved,” I thought he took the entire thing in stride (well as in stride as possible) and I can certainly imagine some people who would have had a major meltdown if the same occurred to them. But as harmless as it was, I do think it was two things 1) Cruel and unnecessary: Ryan was a good enough sport to interview him in character, the dumping (especially during such a formal event) was distasteful, even for him and 2) a cop-out: Ryan was an easy target: very visible yet removed from the main ceremony. He got the attention he wanted, but he went for the easiest and safest target in the area.
8:51 21 minutes into the broadcast I spot Bret McKenzie in the audience. Would have been nice to see him interviewed but then how could the world go without a Nick Nolte interview where he mumbles along confusedly until he realizes the hard hitting question was about his pet crow. Sigh. ABC makes E! look good, and this is the world we live in.
9:09 Christian Bale comes out to deliver Best Supporting Actress and his accent sounds incredibly thicker than usual. Is he going method as usual? I also remembered The Fighter…and how much better the nominees were last year. Couldn’t wait for all of last year’s winners to come out and taunt me.
9:40 Billy Crystal’s jokes start leaving a bad taste in my mouth. I semi-tolerated the one about driving outside of Beverly Hills in order to find a black woman but ageist attacks on Christopher Plummer and Max von Sydow? Celebrated actors? Especially with Plummer as the favorite? It definitely came across as disrespectful to me; hopefully as a newly minted Oscar winner (and yes, the oldest ever for actor) these shenanigans did not ruin his win.
9:41 Robert Downey Jr. comes out to present for documentary films with Gwyneth Paltrow. While this shtick wasn’t the best I have seen from RDJ he constantly proves to be an MVP of awards shows: well spoken, good with timing, and generally entertaining. He may be too “movie star” for a hosting gig but we can add him to the list anyway.
10:01 Melissa Leo arrives on the scene to hand out the Best Supporting Actor award to Christopher Plummer. Per usual, Christopher makes special mention of Ewan McGregor, that “superb artist” and even mentions he would share it with him if he had any decency (he doesn’t but that is understandable).
10:18 Bret McKenzie wins for Best Original Song and I rejoice. He didn’t really have stiff competition but the way this telecast was going, it felt like everything was going to lead to disappointment. Hopefully we will only hear more and more from Bret, either through songwriting or acting (preferably before The Hobbit in, gulp, December). Various tweets reported that Jason Segel was crying and/or looked awkward for not being thanked (I say it’s the camera’s fault for lingering on his face as the only other recognizable presence from The Muppets).
10:30 One of the toughest categories (for me) Best Original Screenplay is given out. I had my money on Midnight in Paris (it won) but was secretly hoping for a surprise win for either Bridesmaids or Margin Call. At least I was rewarded with my first glimpse of Zachary Quinto (I guess he was also too unimportant for an interview on the red carpet? And for that matter, I really wish JC Chandor went more recognized for Margin Call).
10:41 Someone shouts Scorsese while the Bridesmaids cast is on stage (they should have hosted jointly! Oscars solved) and surprise airplane bottles of booze appear like magic. Excellent callback.
10:52 Michael Sheen appears on screen during one of the categories where Midnight in Paris is nominated and attracts my attention for a few seconds. Meanwhile I am anxious about how long this will run into the 11 o’clock hour, since I really want to catch some of The Walking Dead. Because obviously I have to watch The Talking Dead or risk missing out on my Chris Hardwick fix for the week. (Don’t worry, I pieced together most of the episode before The Talking Dead came on. Also Michael Zegen from Rescue Me and now The Walking Dead as the new guy was on the show…anyone? So glad I got to watch it live.)
11:12 Patton Oswalt appears in one of the hundred million montages. If he appeared before that clip I totally missed him but he was a refreshing face nonetheless, and a sad reminder that no one even mentioned Young Adult.
11:16 Natalie Portman awkwardly introduces nominees for Best Actor and Gary Oldman’s clip is perhaps my favorite scene from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. It also includes Benedict Cumberbatch prominently: the little things are keeping me going during this Oscars.
11:27 Colin Firth (ah, once again I am reminded how much I enjoyed last year’s winners) appears and, while all of his speeches are exquisite, you can tell his clear favorites: he waxes poetic with Meryl Streep about Mamma Mia and I love him for it. And he reminisces about working with Michelle Williams when she was 11.
11:34 I finally decide to notice that Tom Hiddleston was in TWO of the films nominated for Best Picture (Midnight in Paris and War Horse). And Benedict Cumberbatch was featured again in the War Horse clip! “Be Brave!!” Once again, the periphery presence of the likes of BC, Tom Hiddleston and Ewan McGregor help me pretend I am watching an awards show in an alternate universe where all the people I obsess over are being recognized.
11:36 The Artist wins. THE DOG?! (Yes, I know his name is Uggie) joins the producer on stage. I give up on the world. Thus endeth the 84th Academy Awards but not necessarily my Oscar streak: just because I didn’t see Best Picture doesn’t mean I didn’t predict it (like everyone else, seriously it wasn’t a shocker….unfortunately) and I learned that Hollywood loves Hollywood more than race relations. Although there will never be an acceptable explanation for how Crash won.
It’s Oscar Sunday but competing for my attention are the leaked images from the Star Trek set and a new (and surprisingly long) trailer for Game of Thrones season 2.
I am the first to admit my geekdom does not stray very far into Trekkie territory. Sure, I saw a lot of Jean-Luc Picard movies in my youth with my dad. But most of my knowledge comes from J.J. Abrams’ rebootlandia of 2009’s Star Trek. I would rather live in that timeline anyway (sorry…). All this to say, when I look at these leaked images I am not analyzing the fact Benedict Cumberbath is wearing a black Star Fleet uniform (which apparently indicates he could be from Section 31, an intelligence organization, or a cadet, or just rocking an off-duty under shirt according to some commenters) or the fact that Zachary Quinto’s Spock is performing the Famous Spock Nerve Pinch (thanks again comment section). No, I am just excited that BC is not decked out in some crazy prosthetic makeup and that these images do not disappoint. Yowza, BC was not kidding about hitting the gym. The only disappointment? That this film is coming out in May 2013.
Check out these and some more images (including Uhura) here.
Also in my emailbox today? A newsletter from HBO GO, alerting me to the new almost two minute preview of Game of Thrones!
“Sometimes those with the most power have the least grace” — Petyr Baelish.
Stannis/Renly faceoff on the battlefield! (+ Melisandre). Robb getting involved in drama that (from what I recall) we don’t discover until the third book. But judging from these scenes they are incorporating a lot more than just book two plots (my mind is mushy trying to keep straight what happened when). Best ever? Seeing Gendry in battle around the 1:38 mark.
I have to admit: I went into War Horse with fairly low expectations. Yes, Spielberg is a favorite, but after age ten I haven’t been able to get invested in films that largely revolve around an animal. I expected to go in, suffer a bit through “oh, I surely love my horse so much” parts and enjoy some quality time with Tom Hiddleston and Benedict Cumberbatch. Surprisingly for me, I gleaned much more enjoyment from the film overall than I anticipated. So here is my breakdown of the film (into its piecemeal way of storytelling) and what I liked/liked less as well as the obligatory Downton Abbey comparison. (I am talking explicit plot points here, but just in case let me say in my best pirate: THERE BE SPOILERS AHEAD.) The past few months have been steadily increasing my knowledge of the Great War, especially with Downton and Boardwalk Empire. I say, keep it coming!
Part One: When you covet thy neighbor’s colt….
…..your father foolishly outbids his landlord and pays an extravagant price for a thoroughbred when your family really needs a strong plough horse. Granted, this portion was necessary for set-up; they only stress it in a million different ways but just in case you don’t get it, “Joey” the horse is special. He’s different, stronger and smarter than the average horse. Albie (…
the racist dragon) trains him to come with a special owl call (like he read in a book about Injuns) and Joey somehow overcomes all obstacles to plow the stony field when surprise! Rain makes the earth more pliable. Other notables: Albie’s dad is an alcoholic with a gimp leg, both legacies of his time in the Boer War. Albie has a goofy-grinned best friend Andrew and a rival, David (son of their evil landlord), who is the “only boy in the village that can drive.” Unfortunately for this wunderkind, the girl he is trying to woo with his driving skills is much more impressed with Albie’s horsepower (literally) (har har). Due to a freak storm, the precious turnips are ruined and Albie’s dad goes to plan b: sell poor Joey to an army captain before he marches off to the front. DOWNTON PARALLEL: If you live in Devon (or a place that looks like Hobbiton) you get your war news via the town Paul Revere. If you are the Earl of Grantham, you can conveniently announce the news at your garden party, in front of your closest friends, relatives, and servants. Luckily for Albie, his dad sells him to the kind blue eyes of Tom Hiddleston’s Captain Nicholls who promises to return Joey to Albie at the end of the war if possible (anvil clang).
Part Two: If you are cool enough to be the horse of either Benedict Cumberbatch or Tom Hiddleston, you must, by necessity, become the best of horse friends
Finally, for me, the gears of the movie (and war) started turning. It proved to be very difficult for me to focus my energies when both Benedict and Tom were on the screen. (BC won usually). But luckily Tom had a few scenes sans Benedict’s Sergeant Jamie Stewart. What a good natured character was Tom’s Captain Nicholls! He sketches! Jamie leads the men into a German camp via a cavalry charge with disastrous consequences: honestly, I thought Jamie was sure to perish. Why? Not sure, but probably because his presence in the trailer led me to believe Tom Hiddleston had a larger role. WRONG. As the Germans reached their hidden machine guns, the recognition of their unavoidable slaughter crept into Tom’s baby blues. I can only express my sadness by listening to/watching Black Swan Song. Oh well, I have The Avengers to look forward to, this Comic-Con panel to keep me entertained, and my Thor Blu-ray. Benedict went off to POW land, never to be seen or heard from again. DOWNTON PARALLEL: The male population of the UK was absolutely decimated during the Great War. Just ask Sybil: “Sometimes it feels as if all of the men I’ve danced with are dead.”
Part Three: The guy from The Reader and his brother commit a No-No
In memory of the precious few minutes we got of the Benedict/Tom bromance, Joey and Topthorn (BC’s horse) remain together in the German camp. And because Joey is special you guys, he shows Topthorn it is okay to be harnessed, ensuring both of their survivals. The appearance of the boy from The Reader as Gunther (David Kross) resulted in me listening to his speech patterns; I was trying to decide if he actually knows English now rather than just memorizing some consonant sounds. Lucky for him, he is really good with the horses; so much so that he gets to stay behind and care for them. His 14-year-old brother gets his orders to go to the front, and despite his protests, Gunther grabs him from the line of marching men and they flee to a nearby windmill (aka the most obvious hiding spot within a 20 mile radius). It is a gamble that in the end is not worth the risk: we all know what the punishment for desertion is….DOWNTON PARALLEL: One cannot help but think of poor Mrs. Patmore’s nephew MIA and later revealed to have been shot for cowardice. TORCHWOOD PARALLEL: Poor Tosh’s out of time semi-boyfriend Tommy, who was doomed to death once he returned to his appropriate timeline because of his PTSD (or shell shock) which, in the eyes of officers, was cowardice on the battlefield, and resulted in execution.
Part Four: A Sickly Girl Meets Two Horses (Interlude)
This was probably my least favorite chapter in the story of Joey. I was truly enjoying the battlefield so to be torn away so abruptly into this farm setting was a little boring (especially if you are expecting an Inglourious Basterds type situation). A little girl, Emilie, living with her grand-père, falls in love with the two horses she magically finds in their windmill. All she wants to do is go riding, but she suffers from brittle bones.She wants to know about the death of her parents and he wants to talk about some pigeons. In the end, the horses are found when Emilie is allowed to ride Joey on her birthday and sent back into the field.
Part Five: Its 1918, Welcome to The Somme, Albie
Poor Joey and Topthorn are now employed with the wrenching work of moving heavy artillery up and down embankments. While we know this is something THE MIRACLE HORSE Joey is capable of, Topthorn is already struggling.
MEANWHILE at the Battle of the Somme we see a familiar face: Albie! As one could have guessed, no able-bodied boy from Devon could escape conscription when his age allowed (but he was probably eagerly awaiting the day he could begin the Joey search, if Captain Nicholl’s sad little sketchbook and death notice did not dissuade him too much). Andrew is alongside Albie as well as Mr. I Can Drive David. The boys raid No Man’s Land, except Andrew is in charge of giving any cowards a bayonet to the stomach. Albie saves David halfway across the stretch of war-torn land (making me search my brain for what this reminded me of: The Pacific? Of course not…ahhh yes, the Doctor Who episode where the mean popular kid becomes friends with the little scrawny Love Actually boy when they are in the Great War–and his vision from the Doctor’s fob watch allows him to save them both on the battlefield). DOWNTON PARALLEL #1: In the second season, they sure do beat us over the head about how war changes everything, war is the great equalizer, etc: Matthew: “War has a way of distinguishing between the things that matter and the things that don’t.” And similarly, the fact that David got to drive around a pretty girl and their dad’s hate each other matter a lot less to Albie in the middle of combat. Andrew cannot bayonet his friends when they scramble back into the trenches and instead he leaps onto the field to join Albie. This made me wonder: would he have been accused of cowardice himself, for refusing to kill the cowards? Time wouldn’t tell because dear old goofy Andrew succumbed to mustard gas in the enemy trenches. DOWNTON PARALLEL #2: I did half expect to see Matthew and William preparing to go out on a raid.
BACK TO JOEY. Topthorn is completely spent; he lays down and will not get back up. With fighting breaking out, Joey is able to escape, only to leap around the trenches and get stuck in No Man’s Land, caught in barbed wire. This leads to one of my favorite scenes of the film: the cooperation between the British and German soldiers who cut Joey free. That both sides would break for Christmas celebrations or football matches and other such tales is one of the most heartwarming and heart-wrenching aspects of the Great War. The British soldier wins the right to take Joey back to his camp, thus setting up….
Part Six: A boy and his horse reunited
As storytelling allows, Joey and Albie end up in the same vicinity. TWIST! Their reunion is made all the more difficult by Albie’s temporary blindness due to the mustard gas. However, the fateful owl call he taught Joey as well as his perfect description of his features spare Joey yet again. There was only one obstacle left: Joey was going back to his beginnings—the farmer’s auction. While all the soldiers chip in to help Albie, the grandfather of the little girl appears and pays an astronomical price for Joey, recognizing that the miracle horse was being sold. He has his reasons for wanting him: his granddaughter is dead, and he wants the one piece of her that the war didn’t take. (And thus the whole little interlude in the middle of the movie wasn’t a complete departure from the plot). Albie mans up and says goodbye but Joey is reluctant; the old man pulls out Albie’s father’s regimental pennant from his pocket (that traveled from Albie to Joey to the old man) and he finally realizes the horse belongs with Albie. Albie returns home with Joey to his parents and I sit in wonder at how a movie can end so happily. The father isn’t even dead? Wow, and one of my friends thought for sure Joey would be heading to “The Glue Factory” by the end.
Let’s just hope that Albie doesn’t end up like his father or poor Jimmy Darmody on Boardwalk Empire, forever haunted by his experiences.
This year, Ricky Gervais did not go for the jugular like he has in the past; that is a shame. If anything, the stars were prepared for it. Since he planned on this being his last time as host, why not take as many celebrities out as possible? And no, I don’t think Colin Firth even batted an eye at Ricky’s remarks about his evilness. George Clooney actually wins the award for comment of the night, remarking on Michael Fassbender’s…physical gifts, which elicited this wonderful reaction:
Some other thoughts:
People I feel should have been recognized: Amy Poehler, Bryan Cranston, Kelly Macdonald.
Salutes to those that I feel earned it:
Downton Abbey–Should Downton be in the mini-series category, no. But, this is the Globes. (And just for fun, this Tumblr mashes DA and Beyoncé lyrics and is awesome).
Homeland–Breaking Bad was the best drama but I think Homeland needed this extra push for public recognition; also Breaking Bad wasn’t nominated…um…okay? Claire Danes absolutely deserved that award for her amazing performance as Carrie Mathison.
Christopher Plummer for Beginners!
Best Screenply for Midnight in Paris (I feel out of the options Woody Allen should have gotten Best Director as well).
The award for interview slyness (who I didn’t even know was there, sneaky monkey) goes to:
The actual interview is available here–in written and video form.
The person that needs some awards love too (and not just as a presenter for 50/50…am I missing his connection to that? or from Christopher Plummer, although that was very nice):
The GGs are always sure to handsomely reward past favorites as well: Laura Dern, Jessica Lange, Kelsey Grammer, Kate Winslet…
- What the hell is Hugo about? I get absolutely nothing from trailers or from the clips shown at the awards. I refuse to actually look up the synopsis.
- I officially need to go back to watching Luther, find a way to get my hands on Appropriate Adult (after missing it twice on television) and give Enlightened a watch on HBO GO.
- The Hugo thing may not be the film’s fault. Who compiled these reels? The one for Midnight in Paris is completely misleading and spoilery—it gave away what happens to the private detective!
It is safe to say I have been SHERlocked by Mr. Cumberbatch. (And Mark Gatiss for his amazing script).