Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Katy Perry, Rihanna, and Drake Dominate this Year's VMA Nominations

Katy Perry has returned to be a major player at this award show two years in a row, this year with four nominations including Video of the Year for Wide Awake.  Rihanna had 5 nominations, while she was featured in two other videos.  Rihanna was featured in the videos of one of the other major nominees Drake who also 5 nominations.  There is no nominee with more than this, the field is evenly spread this year which highlights a lackluster crop of potential nominees.  Here is a list of all the nominees, and take a look to see some of the videos.

Katy Perry, "Wide Awake"
Gotye, "Somebody That I Used To Know"
Rihanna, "We Found Love"
Drake feat. Rihanna, "Take Care"
M.I.A., "Bad Girls"

Fun. feat. Janelle Monae, "We Are Young"
Carly Rae Jepsen, "Call Me Maybe"
Frank Ocean, "Swim Good"
One Direction, "What Makes You Beautiful"
The Wanted, "Glad You Came"

Childish Gambino, "Heartbeat"
Drake feat. Lil Wayne, "HYFR"
Kanye West feat. Pusha T, Big Sean & 2 Chainz, "Mercy"
Watch the Throne, "Paris"
Nicki Minaj feat. 2 Chainz, "Beez in the Trap"

Justin Bieber, "Boyfriend"
Frank Ocean, "Swim Good"
Drake feat. Rihanna, "Take Care"
Chris Brown, "Turn Up the Music"
Usher, "Climax"

Rihanna, "We Found Love"
Katy Perry, "Part of Me"
Beyoncé, "Love on Top"
Nicki Minaj, "Starships"
Selena Gomez & The Scene, "Love You Like a Love Song"

One Direction, "What Makes You Beautiful"
Fun. feat. Janelle Monae, "We Are Young"
Rihanna, "We Found Love"
Justin Bieber, "Boyfriend"
Maroon 5 feat. Wiz Khalifa, "Payphone"

Coldplay, "Paradise"
The Black Keys, "Lonely Boy"
Linkin Park, "BURN IT DOWN"
Jack White, "Sixteen Saltines"
Imagine Dragons, "It's Time"

Duck Sauce, "Big Bad Wolf"
Calvin Harris, "Feel So Close"
Skrillex, "First of the Year (Equinox)"
Martin Solveig, "The Night Out"
Avicii, "Le7els"

Demi Lovato, "Skyscraper"
Rise Against, "Ballad of Hollis Brown"
Kelly Clarkson, "Dark Side"
Gym Class Heroes, "The Fighter"
K'Naan feat. Nelly Furtado, "Is Anybody Out There?"
Lil Wayne, "How to Love"

Katy Perry, "Wide Awake"
Drake feat. Rihanna, "Take Care"
Lana Del Rey, "Born to Die"
Regina Spektor, "All the Rowboats"
Of Monsters & Men, "Little Talks"

Chris Brown, "Turn Up the Music"
Rihanna, "Where Have You Been"
Beyoncé, "Countdown"
Avicii, "Le7els"
Jennifer Lopez f/Pitbull, "Dance Again"

M.I.A., "Bad Girls"
Adele, "Someone Like You"
Drake feat. Rihanna, "Take Care"
Coldplay feat. Rihanna, "Princess of China"
Lana Del Rey, "Born to Die"

M.I.A., "Bad Girls"
Duck Sauce, "Big Bad Wolf"
Coldplay feat. Rihanna, "Princess of China"
Frank Ocean, "Swim Good"
Watch the Throne, "Otis"

Beyoncé, "Countdown"
A$AP Rocky, "Goldie"
Gotye, "Somebody That I Used to Know"
Watch the Throne, "Paris"
Kanye West feat. Pusha T, Big Sean and 2 Chainz, "Mercy"

Katy Perry, "Wide Awake"
Rihanna, "Where Have You Been"
David Guetta feat. Nicki Minaj, "Turn Me On"
Linkin Park, "BURN IT DOWN"

Monday, July 30, 2012

August Movies to See and to Skip

July has been the month of super heroes, namely the Spider-Man reboot, and the final chapter of the Batman reboot.  The Amazing Spider-Man showed promise for a new franchise, while The Dark Knight rises was hit with a real life tragedy the film aptly concluded the films reboot (although there may be more).  Ted which opened at the end of June carried out some big R rated numbers and made audiences laugh all the way to what will be a 200 million dollar domestic gross.  

So what's in store for August?  August is usually the month where Hollywood transitions from the bombastic summer explosions to the real transition month of September.  August always feels like the Summer leftovers, but this month has an interesting array of films that may excite movie fans.

August 3rd
Total Recall (2012)
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days

Both films seem unnecessary.  Total Recall was fine the first time, and this version with Collin Farrell, Jessica Biel, and Kate Beckinsale gets worse every time I see the preview.  The Wimpy Kid  films get bad reviews and the gross is so small, why are they making another one? Good question, but there is no good answer.  I am glad I am going to San Francisco this weekend.

August 10th
The Bourne Legacy
The Campaign
Hope Springs 

With Matt Damon stepping away from the franchise, or well not being brought back, I was hesitant about the future of these films.  The truth of the matter is that Bourne is the American James Bond; he is interchangeable or well there is a lot to do with this CIA project, and Jeremy Renner, and writer/director Tony Gilroy should meet the challenge (Gilroy wrote Supremacy-the best Bourne film).  The Campaign looks terrible, even punching a baby looks stupid.  Hope Springs will bring out Streeps hardcore mom fans, but the film looks suburban painful.

August 17th
The Expendables 2
The Odd Life of Timothy Green
Cosmopolis (limited opening NYC/LA)

What a weekend! I have to admit Expendables 2 looks fun!  I am down. Sparkle is also the last film with Whitney Houston, but the marketing has been poor on this film this will be interesting.  ParaNorman looks weird, and not in a good way.  Timothy Green looks like typical Disney films that are so sacrine and sweet it's as if you just ate a lemon.  Cosmopolis looks pretty cool, and who doesn't love a good David Cronenberg flick?

August 24th 
Premium Rush
Hit and Run

Premium rush has my main man JGL (Joseph Gordon Levitt) and a solid cast but the premise never sold me.  Hit and Run looks like one of the worst films I have ever seen.

August 31st
Lawless (Opens 8/29)
The Possession

Lawless look solid, while The Possession looks scary as hell. I am down for Lawless, but the end of August and early September are so crazy for me I will not be sad to miss either of these movies.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Comedy Series Emmy Submissions

So for those who may not know, but odds are that if you read about pop culture you do, everyone submits an episode (s) for the perspective category they are nominated for.  This is this year's comedy acting race, and some analysis on the race (so far).

30 ROCK * Season 6 * NBC
Tape A: "Idiots Are People Two!" & "Idiots Are People Three!"
Tape B: "The Tuxedo Begins" & "St. Patrick's Day"
Tape C: "Meet the Woggels!" & "Murphy Brown Lied to Us"

Tape A: "The Hawking Excitation" & "The Countdown Reflection"
Tape B: "The Russian Rocket Reaction" & "The Beta Test Initiation"
Tape C: "The Ornithophobia Diffusion" & "The Shiny Trinket Maneuver"

Tape A: "Vow of Silence" & "The Hero"
Tape B: "Palestinian Chicken" & "Car Periscope"
Tape C: "Mister Softee" & "Larry vs. Michael J. Fox"

GIRLS * Season 1 * HBO
Tape A: "Pilot" & "Vagina Panic"
Tape B: "Hannah's Diary" & "Hard Being Easy"
Tape C: "Leave Me Alone" & "She Did"

Tape A: "Door to Door" & "Aunt Mommy"
Tape B: "Leap Day" & "Baby on Board"
Tape C: "Punkin' Chunkin'" & "Egg Drop"

VEEP * Season 1 * HBO
Tape A: "Pilot" & "Catherine"
Tape B: "Nicknames" & "Baseball"
Tape C: "Full Disclosure" & "Tears"

Analysis: Comedy series seems locked up, but with these episodes, and recent developments there is always some doubt.  Modern Family has won twice, and the show is favored to win for a third time this year.  I would say that their recent contract disputes, weaker set of episodes, and lack on nominations in the writing category, which they won two years in a row, sets them back.  The biggest spoilers are HBO's Veep, Curb Your Enthusiasm and CBS's The Big Bang Theory.  Curb had an incredible season, and the show is beloved, Veep has a hip factor, and started out strong, while Big Bang harkens back to the traditional sitcom.  Curb is the biggest spoiler, but it feels too late.  Big Bang would make the most sense, because its well liked and popular. Modern Family is the most nominated series, I predict it wins one last year (this one) and is done.  30 Rock may have scored a lot of nominations, but the show is done, and I am shocked Girls made it into this category, but I do not think the average voter will get it.

1-Modern Family
2-Curb Your Enthusiasm
3-The Big Bang Theory
5-30 Rock

Alec Baldwin - 30 Rock ("Live from Studio 6H")
Don Cheadle - House of Lies ("Gods of Dangerous Financial Instruments")
Louis CK - Louie ("Duckling")
Jon Cryer - Two and a Half Men ("Frodo's Headshots")
Larry David - Curb Your Enthusiasm ("Palestinian Chicken")
Jim Parsons - The Big Bang Theory ("The Werewolf Transformation")

Analysis: This race boils down to three men, two playing themselves and one playing a geek.  At the moment my predicted front runner is hip comic Louis C.K.; he is hilarious and heat warming in his episode where he is going overseas to perform for the troops an his two daughters pack a baby duck in his suit case to keep him safe.  David picked one of his funniest episodes ever, where he goes to a Palestinian restaurant because he likes there chicken, one funny thing happens after another.  Parsons is the perennial favorites with two wins under his belt (they love repeat winners).  Parsons episode is solid.  I personally would pick David based on the tapes, but I think he's in third at the moment.  Louis C.K.'s show is more current, and hes a triple nominee, with a great tape.  Just watch out for that threepeat from Parsons!

1-Louis CK
2-Jim Parsons
3-Larry David
4-Alec Baldwin
5-Jon Cryer
6-Don Cheedle

Zooey Deschanel - New Girl ("Bad in Bed")
Lena Dunham - Girls ("She Did")
Edie Falco - Nurse Jackie ("Disneyland Sucks")
Tina Fey - 30 Rock ("The Tuxedo Begins")
Julia Louis-Dreyfus - Veep ("Tears")
Melissa McCarthy - Mike and Molly ("The Dress")
Amy Poehler - Parks and Recreation ("Win, Lose or Draw")

Seven nominees!  Lots of contenders, but two are out, the F's Fey and Falco.  The two women have their trophies.  Dunham picked a poor tape, I would say she's out.  And then there were four.  McCarthy won on a weak tape last year, but I do not think she will repeat, look for her to take Guest Actress.  Deschanel submitted well, but will the Emmy voters love her quirck enough?  My thoughts are no.  Leaving two women Poehler and and Dreyfus to battle it out.  Both have solid tapes, and are well respected, but look for Dreyfus to win out.  Dreyfus is nominee from a Best Comedy Series nominee this year, while the Emmys snubbed Parks and Recreation.  Will this matter ? Maybe.  Looking at the past winners many of these ladies shows were ignored, especially in recent years, Melissa McCarthy, Toni Collette, Julia Louis Drefus (Old Christine), and Helen Hunt for the last two years of Mad About You.  Tight race and data matters so the edge goes to Dreyfus.

1-Julia Louis Dreyfus
2-Amy Poehler
3- Zooey Deschanel 
4-Melissa McCarthy
5-Lena Dunham
6-Tina Fey
7-Edie Falco

Ty Burrell - Modern Family ("Lifetime Supply")
Jesse Tyler Ferguson - Modern Family ("Leap Day")
Max Greenfield - New Girl ("Control")
Bill Hader - Saturday Night Live ("Host: Katy Perry")
Ed O'Neill - Modern Family ("Baby on Board")
Eric Stonestreet - Modern Family ("Treehouse")

Analysis: If this were based on tape alone I would pick Max Greenfield, but the truth is that with four nominees the other Modern Family guys help each other out.  My guess is that like The West Wing the show will have every supporting male win.  With that said who stands the best shot to win next for the show?  This year the tapes are proving to be in Jesse Tyler Ferguson's favor.  Each tape seems to help him out while none really help Ed O'Neil.  Eric has a strong tape on his own, and is great in many of the other tapes so look for him as a spoiler.  Burrell's character is beloved, like Stonestreet's because their humor is more laugh out loud than dry so he could spoil as well.  Hader is out!

1-Jessie Tyler Ferguson
2-Ty Burrell
3-Eric Stonestreet
4-Max Greenfield
5-Ed O'Neil
6-Bill Hader 

Mayim Bialik - The Big Bang Theory ("The Shiny Trinket Maneuver")
Julie Bowen - Modern Family ("Go Bullfrogs!")
Kathryn Joosten - Desperate Housewives ("Finishing the Hat")
Merritt Wever - Nurse Jackie ("One-Armed Jacks")
Kristen Wiig - Saturday Night Live ("Host: Mick Jagger")
Sofia Vergara - Modern Family ("Tableau Vivant")

Analysis: Look for three women to dominate this, Vergara, Wiig, and Joosten.  Why?  Vergara has finally submitted an incredible tape, and she steals the show on Bowen's tape as well.  If they go for the best they should pick her.  Why the other two ladies? Sentimentality.  Sure Joosten and Wiig are both talented, but sentiment will play a major role here.  Wiig's swan son on SNL highlights her funniest moments and sends her off with graceful dancing so touching!  Joosten is a favorite among the Academy, and her death could have a major impact on voters.  This happens, but mainly when the performance is so out of this world like Heath Ledger or Peter Finch.

1-Kristin Wiig
2-Sofia Vergara
3-Kathryn Joosten
4-Julie Bown
5-Mayim Bialik
6-Merritt Weaver

Will Arnett - 30 Rock ("Idiots Are People Three!")
Bobby Cannavale - Nurse Jackie ("Disneyland Sucks")
Jimmy Fallon - Saturday Night Live ("Host: Jimmy Fallon")
Michael J. Fox - Curb Your Enthusiasm ("Larry vs. Michael J. Fox")
Jon Hamm - 30 Rock ("Live from Studio 6H")
Greg Kinnear - Modern Family ("Me? Jealous?")

Prediction:Jimmy Fallon vs. Michael J. Fox-This is a nail biter, but I think Fallon will win.

Elizabeth Banks - 30 Rock ("The Return of Avery Jessup")
Kathy Bates - Two and a Half Men ("Why We Gave Up Women")
Margaret Cho - 30 Rock ("The Return of Avery Jessup")
Dot-Marie Jones - Glee ("Choke")
Melissa McCarthy - Saturday Night Live ("Host: Melissa McCarthy")
Maya Rudolph - Saturday Night Live ("Host: Maya Rudolph")

Prediction-Dot Marie Jones has a shot this year, but look for Melissa McCarthy to actually make the judges laugh

BEST COMEDY WRITING:Community - Chris McKenna - "Remedial Chaos Theory"
Girls - Lena Dunham - "Pilot"
Louie - Louis CK - "Pregnant"
Parks and Recreation - Amy Poehler - "The Debate"
Parks and Recreation - Michael Schur - "Win, Lose or Draw"

Prediction-They are always the wild card group, and I think this is between Girls and Parks and Recreation, with Girls squeaking out the win for four time nominated Dunham.

BEST COMEDY DIRECTING:Curb Your Enthusiasm - Robert B. Weide - "Palestinian Chicken"
Girls - Lena Dunham - "She Did"
Louie - Louis CK - "Duckling"
New Girl - Jake Kasdan - "Pilot"
Modern Family - Steven Levitan - "Baby on Board"
Modern Family - Jason Winer - "Virgin Territory"  

Prediction: Louie vs. Curb, look for Duckling to steal their hearts and impress them with great direction.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Homeland, Louie, and Game of Thrones Dominate the Television Critics Awards (TCA)

This years award winners split things evenly (all winners listed below).  Homeland won two awards for Claire Danes (Performance Drama), and the show won Outstanding New Program.  Meanwhile on the comedy side Louie star Louis C.K. as a producer and performer for his show.  Breaking Bad took home Outstanding Achievement in Drama, but the HBO series Game of Thrones took home Program of the year.  What a great list of winners!

* Individual Achievement in Drama: Claire Danes (Homeland)
* Individual Achievement in Comedy: Louis C.K. (Louie)
* Outstanding Achievement in News and Information: 60 Minutes
* Outstanding Achievement in Reality Programming: So You Think You Can Dance
* Outstanding Achievement in Youth Programming: Switched at Birth
* Outstanding New Program: Homeland
* Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries and Specials: Downton Abbey
* Outstanding Achievement in Drama: Breaking Bad
* Outstanding Achievement in Comedy: Louie
* Career Achievement Award: David Letterman
* Heritage Award: Cheers
* Program of the Year: Game of Thrones

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Reality of Reality Television:American Idol Edition (and other Music Competition Programs), The Same Old Song

Today American Idol filled one of the vacant judge spots with superstar/singer Mariah Carey.  I have a lot of gay male friends who will tune in to watch their diva critique the contestants.  Two of the shows seats were recently vacated by Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler.  Lately the judges from American and Idol and X Factor have been making the biggest splash in the news, hence the problematic trend with these shows, but I will get to this problem.  The main problem is quantity vs. quality.  When I talk about quantity with respect to reality television I am speaking to their need to try and "compete" and have the "next big thing" on the air.

At the moment I can name five reality competition programs about singing: American Idol, The Voice, X Factor, Duets, The Glee Project, and two shows that were cancelled, The Sing Off, Going Platinum. Five is not a large number, but is there something that makes each show unique?  I have seen 3 of the five shows still on the air, I have avoided The Glee Project and Duets.  I regularly watched American Idol during the first three seasons and after that on and off until Adam Lambert lost proving this show likes washed out white male guitar players.  X Factor was Simon saying I want to go do my show I did in the UK on my own in the states, the show only had one unique factor asking, do you have the X Factor?  What does that even mean?  The Voice has swivel chairs and contestants are judged purely on their voice, until the judges see them and America votes.  I can't comment on Duets but Glee's reality program seems to be in place to provide cheap talent for the regular series.  This is the state of music competition programs today.

Let's go back to the beginning (in the States).  Although the root of the first major series in this vein is an Australian/Brit combo.  The original show in Australia was entitled Popstars, and soon after Nigel Lythgoe saw the series he brought it to Britain and renamed the show Pop Idol.  The team on Nigel Lythgoe, Simon Fuller, and Simon Cowell combined their concepts and brought the show to United States where Rupert Murdoch's daughter convinced her father to buy the show; he did, it was renamed American Idol, and it debuted in the Summer of 2002.

One thing that hooked American audiences from the start was the panel, whom all were musicians or worked as producers, or choreographers.  The first was often realistic Randy Jackson (still with the show) who was a member of Journey, and has played with Carlos Santana, and many other musicians. The next was the middle judge pop star from the 90s Paula Abdul whose positivity often seemed as though she was straight up high.  Finally American audiences fell in love with the judge in the third seat Simon Cowell whose snark combined with his accent made him hard to hate with his blunt statements.  Throw in some eager talented hopefuls eager to want to make it big, and some terrible singers thinking they could make it big.  Then of course in the first season there was also the element of the host or well hosts playing nice between the contestants and the judges Ryan Seacrest and the forgotten Brian Dunkleman.

The show produced some, not many major stars within the music industry namely Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Chris Daughtry, and Clay Aiken. These are top four selling artists from the show.  When you look at past winners and even losers their album sales are pretty pitiful.  Same thing can be said for the other winners/losers of the other reality series.  Why continue to make these shows if the artists make no money/get dropped from their labels, the ratings keep slowly dipping, and the judges keep asking for more and more money?

At the moment I would state my main gripe within this vein of reality competition programming centers on the focus on the celebrity judges.  In a good reality show the judges are the main stays, they are the returning characters season after season, but they should not be the reason you watch a show.  The contestants should matter just as much as the judges, they do not need to become as big as the judges, but the point of these shows like within The Voice is mentorship.  Yet within The Voice and American Idol, and now this season of X Factor we are focused on Christina and Adam bickering, Mariah Carey being hired, and Britney Spears judging a singing competition (I am just as puzzled on that fact as many other people are).  Then there are the hosts who are either bland, Carson Daly or stealing the spotlight themselves, Ryan Seacrest.

These shows are grasping at straws.  Duets marketing proved to try and state they did not need swivel chairs, they were different from all the other shows, and they had a former winner from one.  What was the end result, from the word of others something cool in the beginning (like The Voice) that turned out to be the same as the rest of the shows in the end.  Proving this genre needs more than a quick fix and a new judge or two.  I have been sitting on these thoughts since I decided to watch and finish this season of The Voice.  The show ended on such a low note where the winner's name escapes me, and the show flatlined from the fun originality.  Maybe America is easily distracted by a spinning chair, and shows need more than then cheap gadgets to revive a genre.  All signs point to yes.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises to Meet the Expectations of Truly Impressive Conclusion

The Dark Knights Rises (4 out of 5)
Directed by Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight, Inception, Memento)
Written by Christopher and Jonathan Nolan (Memento)
Starring: Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Gary Oldman, Marion Cotillard, Michael Caine, and Morgan Freeman

Last night I was able to experience all three Batman films from Christopher Nolan back to back. What a way to watch this "trilogy!"  Batman Begins started at 6:30, and set the pace from one of the entertaining film experiences I have ever had.  The film series has changed the face of "comic book" or pulp film, and this film is the largest undertaking for Nolan to date within this series.

The films starts eight years after The Dark Knight, Batman and Bruce Wayne have both disappeared from the public since the fall of Harvey Dent.  Batman is public enemy number one for the police, and Wayne himself has isolated himself from the outside world because he felt as though he failed at saving Gotham, and its people from the chaos the Joker imposed.  Bruce Wayne is drawn back in the world of Batman when a cat burglar named Selina Kyle (Hathaway) breaks into his home stealing his finger prints.  This thief leads way to another criminal mastermind Bane (Hardy( who wants to release Gotham from the chains of the government and take chaos to a whole new level.

Revealing any more of the plot would the pure enjoyment for audiences.  The film is epic and Christopher Nolan has taken on some mammoth productions in the past, but this films large scale ups the ante.  Nolan has tied together some modern elements of societal problems within this film like within his other films to make this world more salient.  Financial troubles are at the center of this film, and mistrust of the government.  In the current socio-political/economic climate (on a global level) there is a mistrust of those who were born with silver spoons in their mouth.  There are numerous points in the film when characters like Selina Kyle and others point out the fact that Bruce has never had to struggle financially so he does not understand the way these "villains" have built up this fierce anger and hatred toward those who have never had to fight or even work for what they needed.

As Wayne Batman have grown weaker and goes further into seclusion the League of Shadows new leader Bane becomes "Gotham's reckoning."  Hardy does not get to act in the same fashion Heath Ledger did with his version of the Joker, but the Bane villain is different.  Bane wears a mouthpiece because of something when he was younger, the apparatus on his face keeps him alive.  People are going to complain they can't understand Bane, although it was much better in this film than in the initial test screening.  Bane represents more than an agent of chaos; he wants to turn Gotham inside out, and has no fear about bringing the people of Gotham to their knees.

Selina Kyle wants to see the people of Gotham suffer too.  Kyle's cat burglar is done incredibly well; she does purr, or become overly cat like, she is more of a bad ass acrobat.  Hathaway does a great job with being sultry, and has incredible chemistry with Bale.  The character never feels out of place like I thought it would.  The other female in the film Miranda Tate (Cotillard) is the financial savior for Wayne Enterprises, the character is a bit bland throughout and has sexual encounter with Bruce Wayne that does not seem to make sense because of Kyle, but the end result is brilliant.  

Another new character on the scene is John Blake (Gordon-Levitt) a cop who becomes a detective.  Through John's eyes the story tells a sign of the hope youth have in the the symbol of someone like Batman who will come in and save the day.  Gordon-Levitt is a great addition to this film, and it fits that Gary Oldman's Commissioner Gordon (one of the best working actors) finally has a cop on his side who understands what Batman represents.

Batman himself or the broken Bruce Wayne played by Christian Bale has evolved so much.  Watching Bale in all three films yesterday have proven to show that not only has this man grown as an actor, but he truly has taken fans of this franchise on an evolutionary journey with this character.  Bale's Bruce Wayne and Batman has taken flight within this film, and this is one great performance. 

While Bale and Nolan do an incredible job within this film, there are still flaws that exist.  Some will call this film "clunky" and while I disagree with that label I can see where the boom can over power.  The opening sequence tries to replicate the introduction of the Joker, but there is no way to repeat that brilliant introduction.  Hans Zimmer's score for this film has moments where the music overpowers the dialogue or becomes to bombastic, but yet there are also the quiet moments when the score reveals some of the most wrought moments.  There were times in the beginning when Nolan seemed to be going in too many directions with too many characters, but the film filtered that, and even as the end (like in The Dark Knight) feels as though its taking too long to get there you are on the edge of your seat because of the built up with anticipation.

As a comic book reader this film hit it out the park with some of the most interesting Batman stories.  While I know Nolan wants to end the story with this film, and it feels like it could be an ending there are so many stories to explore further.  If this is the end, as Nolan states this was an incredible way to end this series, and I feel as though the closure given provides enough on an opportunity for the caped crusader to disappear into the night. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

BBC and HBO Dominate the Emmy Nominations while Mad Men, American Horror Story, Downton Abbey Lead the Nominations

Today Kerry Washington (Scandal) and Jimmy Kimmel announced the nominees for the 64th Annual Emmy Awards.  There were some great first time surprises (pleasant and not so pleasant), and some terrible snubs.

Mad Men had one it's weakest seasons but proved to have the most nominations in the drama category. Mad Men netted 17 nominations, getting a lot of of nominations in the writing, directing, and acting categories.  Downton Abbey was a close second with 16 nominations, amassing one of the largest hauls for acting nominations since The West Wing was in play during the beginning years.  Downton plays to the high brow sensibility of voters.  Breaking Bad came in at a close third with 13 nominations landing the most nominations in the shows history.  The other shows that in the drama series race were had some large tallies as well Game of Thrones (11), Boardwalk Empire (12), and Homeland (9).

This list and the the nominees within these categories showed two different fun facts no major network show was nominated for the first time ever in Emmy history (The Good Wife had the closest chance).  This is also the first year Mad Men will most likely lose within this race.  Even though the show has the most nominations look for Downton Abbey to challenge the long standing favorite.

American Horror Story landing the most nominations (17), and this proves while Ryan Murphy may have lost out on the Glee train he scored big here.  Who knows how this show would have played in the drama categories, but at this point, who cares, Murphy scored big.  Hatfield & McCoys had the second most tally with 16 nominations, closely followed by Hemingway and Gellhorn (15), Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia (13), and Game Change (12).  The winner in this category is anyone's guess, but this is best I have seen this category in a while.  This category along with the drama series has proved that BBC transferred shows are dominating these races.

The BBC series that have made it across the pond are Downton Abbey, Sherlock, and Luther.  Together these three show netted a good a mount of nominations for the network proving that American television needs to step it up or the Brits will start to take over more and more.

One place the BBC is missing is within the comedy categories.  Modern Family leads the nomination tally with 14 nominations, and 30 Rock (in its worst season) netted 13 nominations.  There are two things I see within these categories, the Emmy Awards want to be hip by including shows like Veep and Girls, but are missing the mark including 30 Rock, and not including the beautifully brilliant show Parks and Recreation or Community, although they made it in the writing category (which was the best category this year).  Overall this is a solid group of nominees, but the comedy and drama categories have some lazy and brilliant picks  I hope the winners reflect things better.

Boardwalk Empire
Breaking Bad
Downton Abbey
Game of Thrones
Mad Men

Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Kathy Bates-Harry's Bates
Glen Close-Damages
Claire Danes-Homeland
Michelle Dockery-Downton Abbey
Julianna Marguilles-The Good Wife
Elisabeth Moss-Mad Men

Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Hugh Bonneville-Downton Abbey
Steve Buscemi-Boardwalk Empire
Bryan Cranston-Breaking Bad
Michael C. Hall-Dexter
Jon Hamm-Mad Men
Damien Lewis-Homeland

Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Christine Baranski-The Good Wife
Joanne Frogatt-Downton Abbey
Anna Gunn-Breaking Bad
Christina Hendricks-Mad Men
Archie Panjabi-The Good Wife
Maggie Smith-Downton Abbey

Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Jim Carter-Downton-Downton Abbey
Brandon Coyle-Downton Abbey
Peter Dinklage-Game of Thrones
Giancarlo Esposito-Breaking Bad
Jarred Harris-Mad Men
Aaron Paul-Breaking Bad

Guest Actress in a Drama Series
Jean Smart-Harry's Law
Joan Cusack-Shameless
Loretta Devine-Grey's Anatomy
Julia Ormond-Mad Men
Martha Plimpton-The Good Wife
Uma Thurman-Smash

Guest Actor in a Drama Series
Dylan Baker-The Good Wife
Jeremy Davis-Justified
Ben Feldman-Mad Men
Michael J. Fox-The Good Wife
Mark Margolis-Breaking Bad
Jason Ritter-Parenthood

Directing in a Drama Series
Boardwalk Empire-To the Lost-Tim Van Patten
Breaking Bad-Face Off-Vince Gilligan
Downton Abbey-Episode 7-Brian Percival
Homeland-Pilot-Michael Cuesta
Mad Men-The Other Woman-Phil Abraham

Writing in a Drama Series
Downton Abbey-Episode 7-Julian Fellows
Homeland-Pilot-Alec Gansa, Howard Gordon, Gideon Raff
Mad Men-The Other Woman-Matthew Weiner, Semi Chelles
Mad Men-Far Away Places-Matthew Weiner
Mad Men-Commissions and Fees-Andre Jaquemetton and Maria Jaquemetton

Best Mini-Series/Movie
American Horror Story
Game Change
Hattfield's & McCoys
Hemingway and Gelhorn
Sherlock: Scandal in Belgravia

Lead Actor in a Mini-Series/Movie
Kevin Costner-Hattfield's and McCoys 
Benedict Cumberbatch-Sherlock: Scandal in Belgravia 
Idris Elba-Luther 
Woody Harrelson-Game Change 
Clive Owen-Hemingway and Gelhorn
Bill Paxton-Hattfield's and McCoys 

Lead Actress in a Mini-Series/Movie
Connie Britton-American Horror Story
Ashley Judd-Missing
Nicole Kidman-Hemingway and Gelhorn
Julianne Moore-Game change
Emma Thompson-The Song of Lunch

Supporting Actor in a Mini-Series/Movie
Ed Harris-Game Change
Dennis O'Hare-American Horror Story
David Straitharn-Hemingway and Gelhorn
Martin Freeman-Sherlock: Scandal in Belgravia
Tom Berenger-Hattfield's and McCoys

Supporting Actress in a Mini-Series/Movie
Frances Conroy-American Horror Story
Judy Davis-Page Eight
Jessica Lange-American Horror Story
Sarah Paulson-Game Change
Mare Winningham-Hattfield's and McCoys

Reality Host
Tom Bergeron
Cat Deely
Phill Keoghen
Ryan Seacrest
Betty White

Best Reality Series
The Amazing Race
Dancing with the Stars
Project Runway
So You Think You can Dance
The Voice

Best Variety Series
The Colbert Report
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Jimmy Kimmell Live
Jimmy Fallon
Real Time with Bill
Saturday Night Live

Best Comedy Series

The Big Bang Theory
Modern Family
30 Rock 

Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Zooey Deschanel-New Girl
Lena Dunham-Girls
Edie Falco-Nurse Jackie
Tina Fey-30 Rock
Julia Louis-Dreyfuss-Veep
Melissa McCarthy-Mike and Molly
Amy Poehler-Parks and Recreation

Best Lead Actor
Alec Baldwin-30 Rock
Don Cheedle-House of Lies
Louis C.K.-Louie
Jon Cryer-Two and a Half Men
Larry David-Curb Your Enthusiasm
Jim Parsons-The Big Bang Theory

Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Mayin Bialik-The Big Bang Theory
Julie Bowen-Modern Family
Kathryn Joosten-Desperate Housewives
Kristin Wiig-Saturday Night Live
Sofia Vergara-Modern Family
Merritt Weaver-Nurse Jackie

Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Ty Burrell-Modern Family
Jesse Tyler Fergeson-Modern Family
Max Greenfield-New Girl
Bill Hader-Saturday Night Live
Ed O'Neil-Modern Family
Eric Stonestreet-Modern Family

Guest Actress in a Comedy Series
Kathy Bates-Two and a Half Men
Elizabeth Banks-30 Rock
Margaret Cho-30 Rock
Dot Marie Jones-Glee
Melissa McCarthy-Saturday Night Live
Maya Rudolph-Saturday Night Live

Guest Actor in a Comedy Series
Will Arnett-30 Rock
Bobby Cannavale-Nurse Jackie
Jimmy Fallon-Saturday Night Live
Michael J. Fox-Curb Your Enthusiasm
John Hamm-30 Rock
Greg Kinnear-Modern Family

Directing in a Comedy Series
Curb Your Enthusiasm-Palestinian Chicken-Robert B. Weide
Girls-Pilot-Lena Dunham
Louie-Duckling-Louis C.K.
Modern Family-Baby on Board-Jason Winer
Modern Family-Virgin Territory-Steven Levitan
New Girl-Pilot-Jake Kasdan

Writing in a Comedy Series
Community-Remedial Chaos Theory-Chris McKenna
Girls-Pilot-Lena Dunham
Louie-Pregnant-Louis C.K.
Parks and Recreation-Win, Lose, or Draw-Michael Schur
Parks and Recreation-The Debate-Amy Poehler

Monday, July 16, 2012

Political Animals starts out Uneven but Finishes Strong in the end

Political Animals starts out a bit cheesy with the introduction of Elaine Hammond who is running for President, my initial thought was I hope this does not delve too much into the "soap opera" stratosphere.  Elaine is the former first lady to the former President Bud Hammond, the most popular democrat since JFK took a bullet to the head, those are Bud's words.  Elaine is running against a young idealistic Paul Garcetti, but in the opening gives a concession speech.  After the speech Elaine and Bud talk about the loss, Bud's ego forces him to blame himself for her loss, forcing her to see Bud always makes things about him; she walks away telling him she wants a divorce.  Cut to two years later and the show focusing on the now Elaine Barrish as Secretary of State.  Sound familiar?

Political Animals appears to be similar to a "what if" version of "what if Hillary left Bill Clinton?"  Many people will compare this show and Elaine or Sigourney Weaver to a Hillary Clinton like figure.  The main reason for this is because when it comes to female politicians, people cling to the familiar, and can never see other singular women (in office) for who they are, something different.  Hillary's story, and reach for power was also a harrowing journey; she worked hard to separate her own legacy from her husbands, and is the only first lady to hold an elected office, ever. Creator and EP Greg Berlanti (Brothers & Sisters) makes sure to create a line that divides the differences within Elaine, her family, and creates an interesting world around them.  Weaver is the flue that holds the show together and her terrific acting, which evolves throughout the first episode, helps sustain the the episode.

In this series Elaine has divorced her husband but is surrounded by a quirky family.  Elaine's mother played by the amazing Ellen Burstyn is a pistol who spits out hilarious comments the way Maggie Smith does in Downton Abbey.  I hope they give her more screen time because I can see great character development within her.  James Wolk plays Elaine's more "stable son" he is her chief of staff, about to get engaged, but I feel a few secrets will force this Kennedy like character perfection to be cracked.  Elaine's other son T. J. played by episode stand out Sebastian Stan is a terrific character.  Stan deals with being the first openly gay son of the first family, this strain along with a drug addiction proves to be a challenge for both T. J. and his mother's career.  Then of course there is the complicated relationship between Elaine and her ex husband Bud (Ciaran Hinds) who hits out the charm in an incredibly Clintonesque way.  After dealing with all of her family, her job, namely the President (Adrian Pasadar), Elaine also has to deal with a reporter obsessed with her family.  Susan Berg played by Carla Guigino is the reporter who covered Bud's infidelities during the White House days; she is back and her connection with Elaine is more similar than the the two realize.

Together all of these element prove strained but fascinating within the first episode of this "limited series."  Berlanti is great at deconstructing the family drama behind it all; he did this beautifully on Brothers & Sisters, and I think this will be an incredibly strong part of the series.  One of the weaker parts of the show was the writing itself.  Berlanti who wrote and directed the first episode does not have the political charge to make this West Wing like, and while I know the show is meant to be different the characters speak the dialogue (often times) as though they are void of intellect.  The first episode took on too much too soon, and much like Newsroom with its hour an a half tried to cram too much in at once.  Berlanti closed out the episode well, and made up for poor start to make this one show I will tune in week after week for.

2012 Comedy Emmy Nomination Predictions

Their is no easing the tension in these laugh filled categories, but most unlike within the drama category many of these nominees are easier to predict.  There are a few nominees that will make it in the Outstanding Comedy Series with no problem, and they are: Modern Family, 30 Rock, The Big Bang Theory, Parks and Recreation, and Curb Your Enthusiasm.  Curb could be knocked out, but with a Seinfeld pedigree, one of the funniest seasons ever this 6 time nominee (in this category) is sure to be back.  The question like within the drama category is what show takes the sixth spot?  

Here's how this shakes out:

Two nominees from last year will most likely be booted from this race, and those are both Glee, and The Office.  The Office is out, the show has only won four Emmy Awards, one writing award, one directing, and for Outstanding Comedy Series all different years.  The show is a fossil and longer holds any merit, losing credibility, and if the show gets nominated the system is a failure.  Emmy voters are smart enough to walk away.

Glee is off the mark, and no longer has the cool factor that drive Emmy voters to include this series.  The first season garnered 20 nominations, but lost out to Modern Family.  Modern Family dominated season two, and Glee fell further with 12 nominations, and won only two.  The show no longer is relevant, and has critically gone even further down hill.  If Glee makes it back in I would be shocked.

There are too many new shows, and a few in their later seasons that the Emmy Awards will want to validate, and make themselves relevant.  This list includes: Community, Girls, Louie, New Girl, and Veep.

Community has been all over the news, mostly with press about negative things.  Dan Harmon and Chevy Chase had a famous fight, with an infamous voicemail.  Dan Harmon was forced to step down as EP, and Chevy was almost given the boot.  The shows hiatus made people angry and brought back higher ratings for the show.  Community is on the low end of this list, but anything is possible.  May get a writing and directing nomination, but I doubt it scores in the comedy race.

Girls is probably too hip for these old voters, and while many people will compare this show to Sex and the City the difference is the age thing.  Viewers will not connect to this the way they did to Sex and the City.  City was about women in their late 30s and 40s who were a bit more relate able, while these characters feel like planet mars to outsiders of this culture.  On the flip side the show is a phenomenon, and Dunham is the it girl.  My thought is too polarizing and will gain a few other nominations, but not here.

Louie is similar to Curb in that it follows Louis C.K. in the midst of raising his daughters, and trying to become successful as a stand up comic.  Louie is also another hip show, and while many think voters will cling to this show (and I will admit it has a shot) I think voters may not find it as funny unless they like his work.  I would say this has the second highest chance of scoring a nomination.

If you asked me in the fall which show had the best chance of sealing up the sixth spot I would have said New Girl.  The show lost some steam as the season progressed because ratings dipped, and newer shows out shined this more traditional sitcom like series.

One show that I think will steal the sixth spot and proved brighter than any of the others is Veep.  Veep is just the kind of show that makes the Academy drool.  Dreyfus is a previous Emmy winner and creator Armando Ianucci has this way of structuring the show that makes this high brow comedy with lots of curse words one that I imagine many people will check off on their list.  This show has snob appeal, yet makes one of the highest offices so relate able.  I think this takes the sixth spot.
 Look for Julia Louis-Dreyfus to compete in the most competitive category at this year's Emmy Awards, Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, a category so crowded last year's winner may not be invited back!

Comedy Series
The Big Bang Theory
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Modern Family
Parks and Recreation
30 Rock

Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Alec Baldwin-30 Rock
Louis C.K.-Louie
Jon Cryer-Two and a Half Men
Larry David-Curb Your Enthusiasm
Johnny Galecki-The Big Bang Theory
Jim Parsons-The Big Bang Theory

Lead Actress in Comedy Series
Zooey Deschanel-New Girl
Lena Dunham-Girls
Tina Fey-30 Rock
Julia Louis-Dreyfus-Veep
Melissa McCarthy-Mike and Molly
Amy Poehler-Parks and Recreation

Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Ty Burrell-Modern Family
Jessie Tyler Ferguson-Modern Family
Tony Hale-Veep
Ed O'Neil-Modern Family
Nick Offerman-Parks and Recreation
Eric Stonestreet-Modern Family

Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Julie Bowen-Modern Family
Kathryn Joosten-Desperate Housewives
Jane Lynch-Glee
Sofia Vergara-Modern Family
Betty White-Hot in Cleveland
Kristin Wiig-Saturday Night Live