Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Dream Emmy Ballot 2015: Outstanding Directing and Writing in a Comedy Series

The Comeback LIsa Kudrow HBO SeasonComedic television about women, and gay men (plus Louis C.K.) rule!  I have an odd feeling
 that my dream ballot for writing and directing in a Comedy series will look nothing like the Emmy nominations, but dare to dream.  

This year The Comeback made well, a comeback to HBO.  In the final episode we see Valerie Cherish get "what she really wants."  Cherish represents different aspects of women working in the industry today, and it was in this final episode we got to see every level of her humanity.  This character's journey had a perfect climax (I hope), and the last episode of the season, maybe series, was easily the best written episode of comedic television this year.

Women were represented better than ever in comedic television this year, just look at the range of great performances that could compete in Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.  Yet there was one show that represented women better any television series this year, Jane the Virgin.  Jane and its female characters represent the depth and breadth of a variety of cultures and personalities.  There are few shows with perfect first years, but but Jane is one of them.  This show's wit, and heart channel and energy that is often missing in television.  

On a closing note Parks and Recreation was the only network television show to make this list, and not many on network TV hold a candle to this series.  Network television has made a jump in quality on the dramatic  side, but many outside of CBS have left comedy in the dirt.  Network television needs to step up their game if they would like to compete.

Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series
The Comeback-Valerie Gets What She Really Wants -Michael Patrick King
Jane the Virgin-Chapter One-Brad Siberling
Getting On-The 7th Annual Christmas Card Competition-Becky Martin
Looking-Looking for a Plot-Andrew Haigh
Parks and Recreation-Leslie and Ron-Beth McCarthy-Miller
The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt-Kimmy Goes to a Party! – Nicole Holofcener

Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series
Broad City-In Heat-Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer
The Comeback-Valerie Gets What She Really Wants -Michael Patrick King and Lisa Kudrow
Jane the Virgin-Chapter One-Jennie Snyder Urman
Louie-Bobby’s House-Louis C.K.
Parks and Recreation-Leslie and Ron-Michael Shur
The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt-Kimmy Goes on a Date-Jack Burditt and Robert Carlock

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Dream Emmy Ballot 2015: Outstanding Directing and Writing in a Drama Series

Breaking Bad left a void that needed to be filled, and it seems like another final season 
from an AMC show was up to the task.  While the first two or three episodes of Mad Men's final season were a bit off, the home stretch was of the best television this year.  Jared Harris played Lane Price in front of the camera for a few seasons, but it was his work off camera that began the major shift in tone for this season.  "Time & Life" ushered in the end the agency, and the beginning to closure for this show.  In the writing department Person to Person credited solely to series creator Matthew Weiner was one of the best series finales of all time with more closure than expected.  The finale drove me into the place I wanted to be when this show came to a close, their was heart, humor, and Don as a vulnerable human.  This show was a masterpiece, and these two episodes are shining examples of brilliant television.

As one show ends, many new shows found their groove, Better Call Saul (AMC), Empire (FOX), Daredevil (Netflix), The Affair (Showtime), and Transparent (Amazon).  This is the most new blood (show wise) I have included in my dream ballot since the year 24, Alias, Six Feet Under, and The Shield premiered.  Each of the new shows this year were special in their own way, but the show that struck the largest cord with me was Transparent.

Before I delve deeper into the emotionally complex show, about about a person fully realizing their identity, I will state that I consider Transparent a drama.  Like Orange is the  New Black last year, I will buck Emmy category placement, and say that Transparent has some funny moments, but in the in end it should be placed in the drama categories, but that's my person opinion.  Transparent is a brilliant show starring Jeffrey Tambor as Maura.  Tambor was born male with body parts, but over the course of his life starts to identify as a woman.  Tambor's journey as this character allows audiences to see the heartfelt struggle of coming out trans, while dealing with other aspects of life, like family, friends, work, love, and many other things.  I can't wait to continue this journey with Maura.

Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series
Better Call Saul-Five-O-Adam Bernstein
Daredevil-Daredevil-Steven S. DeKnight
Empire-Pilot-Lee Daniels
Mad Men-Time & Life-Jared Harris
Orange is the New Black-Thirsty Bird-Jodie Foster
Transparent-Pilot-Jill Solloway

Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series
Transparent-The Wilderness-Jill Solloway
The Americans-Stingers-Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg
The Affair-1-Sarah Treem and Hagai Levi
Mad Men-Person to Person-Matthew Weiner
Orange is the New Black-We Have Manners We’re Polite-Jenji Kohan
The Good Wife-Oppo Research-Robert and Michelle King

Thursday, April 30, 2015

2015 Daytime Emmy Ceremony Better but room for Growth Pop Network

I did not get to watch the Daytime Emmy Awards, for the first time in many years, and it felt weird.  I have not watched Soap Operas or “Daytime Dramas” in many years, but I still keep up, and like to tune in to watch, and hell I love an award show.

Last year the Daytime Emmy Awards were streaming online, but this year they ended up on Pop Network, which is the old TV Guide Channel, you remember the network that used to just tell you what was on within a small window of time, or the guide function on your remote control.  I did not get to watch the show because Pop is not something my cable provider gives me, like many.  I am glad the show was televised, but Pop refused to stream the show this year, which isolated many loyal viewers and award show fans.  Many were outraged on twitter, and here is Pop Network’s sorry response, “follow us on twitter.”  Sorry Pop, the point of an award show is to watch it, not to follow your comments, and tweets from your host from Tyra Banks.  See the comments below:

I have had to search, to find clips from winners, and it looked like Pop and the Daytime Emmy Awards put on a solid show.  It was tough to find  solid clips, I still have not been able to find Jill Farren Phelps accepting the prize when The Young and the Restless won Drama Series.  The clip I found of Chad Duell winning Supporting had no sound, which is a bummer because its his first win.  I will also gripe that there should not be a tie in Best Drama, when there are only four shows on air, and all competing, but I am happy Days of Our Lives was one of the two shows that won.

Other big moments, Anthony Geary won his 8th Emmy, the most in Daytime history for playing Luke Spencer.  Amelia Heinle became the third women to win two Supporting Actress Emmy Awards; she won for her role as Victoria Newman etc., on The Young and the Restless.  It also looked like all the nominees showed up this year, which was nice; the majority of the winners were not there to accept the prize last year.

You will never please every fan with a telecast for an award show, but at least have the decency for fans who do not have Pop and who can’t watch the show across the Globe.  Daytime Dramas are succeeding in large part to foreign markets, shouldn’t the Academy recognize this?  You have to find a middle ground, so the fans have their moment, my suggestion is that they offer a streaming option next year, it will help a great deal.

See the full list of winners from the telecast:
Outstanding Drama Series: Days of Our Lives and The Young and the Restless (TIE)
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series: Anthony Geary, General Hospital
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series: Maura West, General Hospital
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Chad Duell, General Hospital
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Amelia Heinle, The Young and the Restless
Outstanding Younger Actor in a Drama Series: Freddie Smith, Days of Our Lives
Outstanding Younger Actress in a Drama Series: Hunter King, The Young and the Restless
Outstanding Special Guest Performer in a Drama Series: Donna Mills, General Hospital; Fred Willard, The Bold and the Beautiful; Ray Wise, The Young and the Restless
Outstanding Drama Series Writing Team: The Bold and the Beautiful
Outstanding Drama Series Directing Team: The Bold and the Beautiful
Outstanding Entertainment Talk Show: The Ellen DeGeneres Show
Outstanding Entertainment Talk Show Host: Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan, Live! With Kelly & Michael
Outstanding Informative Talk Show: Steve Harvey
Outstanding Informative Talk Show Host: Mario Batali, Carla Hall, Clinton Kelly, Daphne Oz and Michael Symon, The Chew
Outstanding Entertainment News Program: Entertainment Tonight
Outstanding Culinary Program: Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics
Outstanding Game Show: Jeopardy!
Outstanding Game Show Host: Craig Ferguson, Celebrity Name Game
Outstanding Morning Program: CBS Sunday Morning
Outstanding Morning Program in Spanish: Un Nuevo Día
Lifetime Achievement Award: Betty White 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Hollywood Celebrates Themselves (Again) as Birdman wins Best Picture

Hollywood has a formula for winning Oscars. In his television show Extras, Ricky Gervais coached 

Kate Winslet toward her Oscar, do a movie about the Holocaust, and you will win; she did The Reader and won.  Mind you this formula still stands true as Ida won Best Foreign Language Film, but there is a new trope in town, and it proves how self congratulatory the Oscars have become.

Tonight Hollywood crowned Birdman with Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, and Cinematography, and the new formula to win an Oscar has become clear, make a movie about the industry, and you win an Oscar.  Over the last four years 3 of the four Best Picture winners have been about “the industry.”  The Artist was about the silent movie era. Argo was about Hollywood saving the day and rescuing hostages from Iran, but let’s be honest the Canadians were the real heroes, and Hollywood changed this to make them look better, end rant. 

Finally Birdman won last evening, which of the three is the best movie about the industry, it has some great things to say about the way super hero tent poles control things, and the way society is changing.  Birdman is not exactly bad winner, but isn’t this self-congratulatory trope getting to be a bit much?  Sadly the industry loves itself too much.

Boyhood should have won something other than Best Supporting Actress for Patricia Arquette.  Boyhood won the Globe, and the British Academy Awards (BAFTA). In the past the Golden Globes were about kissing the biggest celebrity ass, but they snubbed Unbroken, and picked Boyhood for the Best Picture Drama, and The Grand Budapest Hotel for Best Picture Musical or Comedy. BAFTA, which usually picks British films to win their top honors picked Boyhood as Best Film, a film about a typically American experience, hell even they don’t buy into their own hype. But, it’s Hollywood, and the Oscars have to kiss their own industries ass, proving the Globes and BAFTA to be more and more relevant than the Oscars..

It’s not just about Boyhood, which was my favorite film of the year.  The Grand Budapest Hotel was robbed of Best Original Screenplay.  Wes Anderson’s film got the Hugo treatment, you were fun, and a period piece, but we still don’t like you enough to win a major award.  Grand Budapest did tie for the most wins with four, winning, Best Production Design, Best Original Score, Best Costume Design, and Best Make-Up/Hairstyling.

I know there are people who will disagree with me, there are folks who loved Birdman, I liked it.  Michael Keaton should have won last night, and the same with Edward Norton, they were the best part of the film.  The acting in general in this film was great, they deserved that SAG Ensemble prize, but not Best Picture.  Birdman breaks a big Oscar statistic too, it’s the first film to win Best Picture without a Best Editing nomination, the last film to do was Ordinary People, which beat Raging Bull, which film do we talk about more?  We will talk about Boyhood a lot longer.

I think Birdman has deep messages, there some interesting moments, which discuss the modern celebrity, but that translate to everyday life.  The film is deep, but at the core Hollywood just seemed to want to pat itself on the back, once again, and they did.

Monday, February 16, 2015

If I Picked the Academy Awards...

Well I have held out long enough, I still have not seen Mommy, it was only in Boston one week. I will also not get to see Goodbye to Language in 3D in Boston, which will hamper the spirit of Goddard's film.  With that said listed below are nominees, and * would indicate my personal winners.

I have tinkered with this list for a while, and being snow bound I thought about the ten films, which impacted me the most this year.  I think there should be a basic 10 nominees, 6 directing, screenplay, and acting nominees, but maybe that's a cop out on my part, but I can make the rules here. I would also like to see the casting director get a "best ensemble" award, for putting together the best cast in a film.

Best Picture
Gone Girl
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Inherent Vice
Love is Strange
Mr. Turner
Stranger by the Lake
Two Days One Night 
Under the Skin

Best Director
Wes Anderson-The Grand Budapest Hotel
David Fincher-Gone Girl 
Ava DuVarney-Selma  
Jonathan Glazer-Under the Skin
Alain Guiraudie-Stranger by the Lake
Richard Linklater-Boyhood*

Best Actor
Ralph Fiennes-The Grand Budapest Hotel
Jake Gyllenhaal-Nightcrawler
Michael Keaton- Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
John Lithgow-Love is Strange
David Oyelwo-Selma
Timothy Spall –Mr. Turner*

Best Actress
Marion Cotillard-Two Days, One Night
Essie Davis-The Babadook   
Gugu Mbatha-Raw-Beyond the Lights
Rosamund Pike-Gone Girl*
Jenny Slate-Obvious Child
Tessa Thompson-Dear White People 

Best Supporting Actor
Riz Ahmed-Nightcrawler
Josh Brolin-Inherent Vice*
Ethan Hawke-Boyhood
Edward Norton- Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Mark Ruffalo-Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons-Whiplash

Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette-Boyhood*
Jessica Chastain-A Most Violent Year
Carrie Coon-Gone Girl
Agata Kulesza-Ida
Rene Russo-Nightcrawler
Tilda Swinton-Snowpiercer

Best Adapted Screenplay
Gone Girl –Gillian Flynn*
Inherent Vice-Paul Thomas Anderson
Snowpiercer-Joon Ho Bong, Kelly Masterson
Under the Skin-Walter Campbell
Winter Sleep-Ebru Ceylan, Nuri Bilge Ceylan

Best Original Screenplay
Boyhood-Richard Linklater
The Grand Budapest Hotel-Wes Anderson*
Love is Strange-Ira Sachs, Mauricio Zacharias
Selma-Paul Webb
Stranger by the Lake-Alain Guiraudie
Two Days, One Night-Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne

Best Foreign Language Film
Force Majeur
Stranger by the Lake*
Two Days one Night

Best Animated Feature
Big Hero Six
The Boxtrolls
The Lego Movie*
Song of the Sea
The Tale of Princess Kaguya

Best Ensemble (Casting Award)
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Gone Girl
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Inherent Vice

Best Costume Design
The Grand Budapest Hotel*
Inherent Vice
The Immigrant
Mr. Turner

Best Cinematography
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Mr. Turner*
Stranger by the Lake
Under the Skin

Best Film Editing
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Edge of Tomorrow
Gone Girl

Best Original Score
Gone Girl –Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
The Grand Budapest Hotel-Alexandre Desplat
Only Lovers Left Alive-Jim Jarmusch, Carter Logan, Shane Stoneback, Jozef van Wissem
A Most Violent Year-Alex Ebert
Under the Skin-Mica Levi*

Best Original Song
Begin Again-"Lost Stars"-Music and Lyric by Gregg Alexander and Danielle Brisebois
Beyond the Lights-"Grateful"-Music and Lyrics by Diane Warren
“Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me-"I’m Not Gonna Miss You”-Music and Lyric by Glen Campbell and Julian Raymond

The Lego Movie-"Everything is Awesome-Music and Lyrics by Shawn Patterson
Selma-"Glory"-Music and Lyrics by John Legend and Common*

Best Production Design
The Grand Budapest Hotel*
Mr. Turner
Only Lovers Left Alive

Best Sound Mixing
Guardians of the Galaxy
Into the Woods
Under the Skin*

Best Sound Editing
Guardians of the Galaxy

Best Visual Effects
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes*
Guardians of the Galaxy
X-Men: Days of Future Past