SAG 2011: Reaction and Reflection

E: Ah, the SAG awards.  I’m glad you’re zippy!  You were a nice, quick (well, aside from Ernest Borgnine), peppy, and mostly forgettable award show. You certainly cemented the Oscar front runners, didn’t you?   I’ve a few thoughts to share on the show.

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SAG Awards Tonight

E: Here’s a friendly little programming note: the Screen Actors Guild Awards are given tonight, airing at 8 ET on TNT and TBS.  Don’t care about the pesky technical awards for cinematography or editing?  No bother with the plebes here; it’s just glamorous (ie, starving) famous people, gussied up, and gushing about how much more these awards mean because they come from fellow actors, yo.  Everyone tells charming little stories about how they first got their SAG card (usually doing something utterly humiliating).  There’s no bother with a host or production numbers, just lots of mindless podium talk and – I fervently hope – better speech giving than at the Golden Globes.

But, if you’re interested in the Oscars (or in tv) there’s stuff worth catching.

For example, want to see if Natalie Portman really does have a better shot at winning the Academy Award than Annette Bening?  Or is there just a weird narrative about Bening always been a bridesmaid – that she was absolutely going to win until, whoops, some young thing snuck in and stole her prize?   Each woman won her respective category at the Golden Globes; now we’ll get to see if the momentum really is with Portman, or if we have a fight on our hands.

And fights are always more interesting, don’t you think?

Of course, we can except Colin Firth to win, and Christian Bale, and that’s cool.  They both deserve it (even if the softest place in my great-performance loving heart is reserved for John Hawkes) and it’s rather nice to see people who’ve had long careers doing good, even great work, finally be recognized.   Not that the same couldn’t be said for Hawkes, of course.  In supporting actress, well, that’s interesting too.  Is Leo a lock?  She wasn’t nominated by the British Academy and costar Amy Adams was, which leads me to think Melissa L’s ascendancy has to be questioned (even if she’s got to be considered the front runner).

And then, then there’s the delicious question of Best Ensemble – SAG’s equivalent of the Best Picture award.  The Social Network, as you may know, has swept the critics awards in almost unprecedented numbers.  It won the Golden Globes. Yet, when it comes to the Guilds, The King’s Speech has the lead.  It’s stunned everyone by winning not only the Producer’s Guild, but also the Directors; everyone had been sure that David Fincher would win the directing awards no matter which flick won best picture.  So which streak will continue?  Sasha Stone, the undisputed queen of Oscar blogging, has a smart little theory about the return of the so called “Oscar” movie, harkening back to the days of Harvey Weinstein’s glory.  The implication is basically that The Social Network is too smart and too dark, too edgy and too challenging to win the top prizes at groups not populated by jaded critics; that it’s this year’s Pulp Fiction or Leaving Las Vegas.  The idea is that the award giving bodies prefer pretty, inspirations costumed dramas which feel important to gritty realism.  Now, you know if you read this space that I prefer The King’s Speech to The Social Network, though neither one is at the top of my list for 2010.  I don’t particularly find The Social Network to be more elevated or modern or relevant than The King’s Speech, or much better reviewed.  But I can’t help agreeing with her – and Dave Karger – that it’s a more palatable, accessibly enjoyable film.   Only to me, in this case, that’s a compliment.

Of course, if you judge by the number of performances nominated, the fight really ought to be between The Kings’ Speech and The Fighter.

So it will be fascinating, absolutely fascinating, to see what wins out.  Of course there’s the usual entertainment – gorgeous gowns, celebrities, trainwrecks.  The best drama on network tv (The Good Wife) could easily get lost in the rush to glorify cable’s artsiest shows, but then again, SAG really likes Julianna Margulies, so maybe she has a shot.  How will the Gleeks fare?  The work-family of Modern Family?  And of course, there’s always the question of why delightfully daffy Helena Bonham Carter comes to all these events dressed up like it’s 1985.

Check it out, and check back in tomorrow, please, to break it all down.  It’s sure to be instructive, if nothing else.  I promise to admit how many times I end up crying, and that will probably be an entertaining number, too.

Castle Review: “Knockdown”

E: Can I just say – whoa.  That’s taken me half a week to process and will certainly take more.  It was amazing and also really annoying.

I read an article which confirms it: the “serious” Castle eps are all written by the same guy.  Why do they not have someone join him to add in some actual, you know, jokes?

C: Maybe they feel it would be inappropriate to have jokes in an episode about the protagonist’s mom’s murder?

E: Sure, but still – I don’t see how you can have a comic show and then suddenly say “no one is going to make witty comments this week, okay?”  Not that everyone is equally funny all the time (and I know my writing is inconsistently amusing, certainly) but it bugs me. It’s not like death is something new for the show, and laughing in death’s face is what these people do.  I think there was what, one joke in the whole episode?

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Oscar Talk: The Fighter

E: Ah, I love a local story.  And you know I love me some true stories, too.  This one is so realistic, it’s almost frightening.

In one corner, we have the Ward/Ecklund clan, starting with boxing manager Mom Alice, mellow peacemaking husband George, seven loud, ball-busting, big-haired sisters and former boxer legend, crack addicted jail bird brother Dicky Ecklund.  On the other, we have sexy bartender Charlene Fleming and boxing coach Mickey O’Keefe and a few stand up promoters.  The prize?  Control of boxer Micky Ward, who might just be good enough to be champion of the world, if he could ever figure out who to listen to and who to trust.

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Oscar Tuesday 2011: The Nominations! The Joy! The Sorrow!

E: YES!!!!  Now, so what if I didn’t get a single category completely right.  Who cares!  Winter’s Bone made the cut!  And so did my favorite supporting performance!  Now, there were snubs, and one piece of total weirdness, but all in all, there weren’t a massive number of surprises.  No one came out of left field.

And I still did pretty well.  But even better, some movies I love did really well, too! Let the crowing, whooping and hollering commence!

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Oscar Nomination Predictions 2011

E: It’s the most wonderful time of the year!    Its a bit like getting a second Christmas; there’s just something about the days before the Oscar nominations come out.  Ah, the wild speculations!  Will there be dreadful snubs?  Shocking additions to the expected field?  Will my favorites sneak in?  Don’t get me wrong, I love the show it self, but for me, it’s all about the nominations.

So without further delay, this is what I think you’ll be hearing early tomorrow morning.

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Top Chef: We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat & Restaurant Wars

M: We’re double dipping this time, as we were not able to get to the “Bigger Boat” episode before Restaurant Wars aired.  That said, there’s a lot to talk about, so we’re going to get right to it.  Jamie’s gone….. good riddance!

E: Woohoo!  I’m sorry to say it, and I still want to try her soup, but good riddance.

M: Now, over the first half of the season, and definitely in the previous two episodes, the judges had been making decisions that we disagreed with.  In some cases they even enraged us.  The last two episodes, however, they have seemed spot on to me.  Jamie finally had to cook, and she went home.  Carla won.  Marcel was an ass, sank his whole team, and went home.  Richard won.  Seems pretty right on!

E: Totally right on.  Great challenges, great results.  Freaking fantastic.

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