Archive | January 2010

lct awards 2009: the ones that just missed the cut

Every year there are a few flicks that fall by the wayside once the nominations are pared down to five. So in honor of those movies and performances that didn’t quite make the tops of the year, here are the ones that just barely missed the cut:

Best Picture
(500) Days of Summer – Drag Me To Hell – The Princess and the Frog

Best Lead Actress
Zooey Deschanel, (500) Days of Summer
Nisreen Faour, Amreeka – Meryl Streep, It’s Complicated

Best Lead Actor
Russell Crowe, State of Play – John Krasinski, Away We Go
Sam Rockwell, Moon

Best Supporting Actress
Marion Cotillard, Public Enemies – Marcia Gay Harden, Whip It
Diane Kruger, Inglourious Basterds

Best Supporting Actor
Alec Baldwin, It’s Complicated – Chris Messina, Julie & Julia
Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Road

best films: #48: THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT (1995)

Two things first come to mind when thinking about #48 on my list of the best films of all time – what ever happened to Michael Douglas‘ rebudding career in the mid-1990s, and when will Annette Bening finally win that elusive Oscar? The American President features an epic pairing of great thesps, the clearly underused Douglas, who’s never been better than in this movie, and the criminally under-awarded Bening, who’s not surprisingly a great female lead for this romantic comedy/drama. Buoyed by the deftly political writing of Aaron Sorkin, who took his affinity for presidential fiction all the way to the long-running NBC series The West Wing, this film is terribly witty and an endearing thinking person’s romance. Along with the powerful performances from its leads, it features fun sidekick turns from Martin Sheen as the president’s best friend, Michael J. Fox as the on-edge advisor, and always-fun-to-watch Anna Deavere Smith as the no-nonsense co-advisor Robin to Fox’s Louis.

Standout Performance: I’m going to go with Annette Bening on this one, as her Sydney Ellen Wade is a force, from her sensible haircut down to her politically savvy toes.

merylfest: FANTASTIC MR. FOX (2009)

As any reader of this blog knows, I’m a big proponent of any comedic stylings that Meryl Streep is willing to offer. In fact, I’m always the first to say that she should really do more of it (take a look at Death Becomes Her and Adaptation for more proof). And what little of the subset of comedy (animated voice acting) she’s done, I’ve been pretty satisfied with it. And here’s the first example of it that I’ve delved into here at Journalistic Skepticism – 2009’s quirky and sharply-written retro comedy Fantastic Mr. Fox. When I first heard about this adaptation, I was thrilled; Roald Dahl’s novels are so uniquely disturbing and absolutely magical at the same time, that they’re just begging for film adaptation. And much to my utter happiness, movies like Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, and The Witches each had their own uniquely original aesthetics and translated rather beautifully, if completely derangedly, to the big screen.

Now onto the individual Streep performance. Surrounded by drab and strangely beautiful “set design,” the stop motion visual genius that surrounds the character of Mrs. Fox sort of steals the show. Not to mention the silly side characters (namely Jason Schwartzman‘s Ash and Wally Wolodarsky‘s Kylie) that render Streep’s den mother fairly one-dimensional. So maybe you come for the Streep goodness, but you leave remembering everything but. Now don’t get me wrong, there probably is no more soothing and sigh-inducing voice in the biz (well, except for maybe the therapist-esque vocals of Morgan Freeman and Anthony Hopkins – I really think they missed their callings, there), and she does an admirable job with the limited material she’s given. But it’s clear that this one’s a boys show. And they do great work with it, so in this case, no harm no foul.

As for the rest of the flick, I honestly have never been the hugest fan of Wes Anderson’s work – sure, Royal Tenenbaums was nice enough, but it’s hard for me to appreciate work that is quirky for quirk’s sake alone – but I certainly think that Anderson may’ve found his calling in animated semi-kid flicks. Let him adapt as many Dahl books as he’d like (personally, I’d like to see George’s Marvellous Medicine next), because this deftly written script shone in a year when well-written and well-executed animated movies were of the norm.

Meryl’s Performance: B-
The Film: A-


Basing a career off of primarily silly, bubbly behavior and an uncanny knack for voice work, Miriam Margolyes is the perfect lovable British woman in just about every movie she’s taken part in.  From the portly herbology Professor Sprout in the Harry Potter movies, to the zany confidant, the nurse in Baz Luhrmann’s decadent William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet, Margolyes is great at the friendly (though sometimes self-serving) sidekick to the lead protagonist.  Speaking of, one of my favorite Miriam Margolyes performances (live action, that is) has to be as Dolly, the doting biggest fan of aging actress Julia Lambert in 2004’s Being Julia.  Her feeble attempts at spotting Ms. Lambert in the nude (as her silly obsession borders on the romantic) are pretty hysterical.

Perhaps what I am more familiar with in Ms. Margolyes’ repertoire is her scads of voice work.  Most notable of those is probably as surrogate mother to the title character sheepdog Fly in 1995’s Babe (and it’s amazing how little it seems to sound like her!).  Her other voice credits include Grandma Rosy in 1995’s Balto, the Glowworm in 1996’s James and the Giant Peach, Grandma in 2006’s Flushed Away, Mrs. Astrakhan the vocal teacher in 2006’s Happy Feet, and even, oh yes, the Matchmaker in 1998’s Mulan.  Probably the most astounding thing about this list of roles is how completely unlike the actress herself any of these characters sound.  I for one was greatly surprised to find out about the ones in Mulan and Happy Feet in particular.  She’s got some amazing capabilities.

So here’s to the Brit with the best googly-eyed, often crazy-induced stare — Miriam Margolyes.

lct awards 2009: film categories

And now we finally reach the last of the 2009 LCT Awards nominations, with the ever-important film categories (including the two new screenplay categories). To get a glimpse of the TV, Music, and TV Movie/Miniseries categories, click on the corresponding links. And eagerly await the announcements of the winners in just a matter of weeks!

Best Picture

Avatar – 1 nomination
Inglourious Basterds – 5 nominations
Precious – 4 nominations
Up – 4 nominations
Where the Wild Things Are – 4 nominations

Best Director

Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker (1st nomination)
Pete Docter & Bob Peterson, Up (2nd nominations, 0 wins)
Spike Jonze, Where the Wild Things Are (2nd nomination, 0 wins)
Sam Raimi, Drag Me To Hell (2nd nomination, 0 wins)
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds (3rd nomination, 0 wins)

Best Lead Actor in a Film

Robert Downey, Jr., Sherlock Holmes (3rd nomination, 0 wins)
Viggo Mortensen, The Road (3rd nomination, 0 wins)
Max Records, Where the Wild Things Are (1st nomination)
Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker (1st nomination)
Michael Stuhlbarg, A Serious Man (1st nomination)

Best Lead Actress in a Film

Emily Blunt, The Young Victoria (3rd nomination, 1 win)
Saoirse Ronan, The Lovely Bones (2nd nomination, 0 wins)
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious (1st nomination)
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia (13th nomination, 2 wins)
Tilda Swinton, Julia (2nd nomination, 0 wins)

Best Supporting Actor in a Film

Brian Geraghty, The Hurt Locker (1st nomination)
Anthony Mackie, The Hurt Locker (1st nomination)
Stanley Tucci, Julie & Julia (1st nomination)
Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds (1st nomination)
Aaron Wolff, A Serious Man (1st nomination)

Best Supporting Actress in a Film

Marion Cotillard, Nine (1st nomination)
Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air (1st nomination)
Melanie Laurent, Inglourious Basterds (1st nomination)
Mo’Nique, Precious (1st nomination)
Lorna Raver, Drag Me To Hell (1st nomination)

Best Original Score in a Film

Michael Giacchino, Up (3rd nomination, 0 wins)
Joe Hisaishi, Ponyo (1st nomination)
Randy Newman, The Princess and the Frog (8th nomination, 2 wins)
Sergey Yevtushenko, The Last Station (1st nomination)
Christopher Young, Drag Me To Hell (1st nomination)

Best Adapted Screenplay for a Film

Wes Anderson & Noah Baumbach, Fantastic Mr. Fox
Geoffrey Fletcher, Precious
Dave Eggers & Spike Jonze, Where the Wild Things Are
Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air
Henry Selick, Coraline

Best Original Screenplay for a Film

Pete Docter & Bob Peterson, Up
Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber, (500) Days of Summer
Aude Py & Erick Zonca, Julia
Ivan Raimi & Sam Raimi, Drag Me To Hell
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds

Best Original Song in a Film

“Almost There” from The Princess and the Frog
“Ma Belle Evangeline” from The Princess and the Frog
“Take it All” from Nine
“When We’re Human” from The Princess and the Frog
“You’ve Got Me Wrapped Around…” from An Education

Best Documentary Feature

The Cove
Food, Inc.
Good Hair
The September Issue
The Way We Get By

lct awards 2009: tv categories

Now that we’ve gotten Miniseries/TV Movie and Music categories out of the way, we’re moving on to the Television ones — which means we’re quickly on our way to the ever-important Film categories!

Best Television Series

30 Rock (NBC) – 10 nominations
The Big Bang Theory (CBS) – 3 nominations
Mad Men (AMC) – 5 nominations
The Office (NBC) – 5 nominations
Parks and Recreation (NBC) – 5 nominations

Best Lead Actor in a Television Series

Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock (3rd nomination, 1 win)
Steve Carell, The Office (6th nomination, 1 win)
Jon Hamm, Mad Men (3rd nomination, 0 wins)
John Krasinski, The Office (5th nomination, 0 wins)
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory (1st nomination)

Best Lead Actress in a Television Series

Toni Collette, United States of Tara (3rd nomination, 1 win)
Tina Fey, 30 Rock (3rd nomination, 2 wins)
January Jones, Mad Men (1st nomination)
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men (1st nomination)
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation (1st nomination)

Best Supporting Actor in a Television Series

Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother (2nd nomination, 0 wins)
Ed Helms, The Office (1st nomination)
Tracy Morgan, 30 Rock (2nd nomination, 1 win)
Chris Pratt, Parks and Recreation (1st nomination)
Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family (1st nomination)

Best Supporting Actress in a Television Series

Mindy Kaling, The Office (2nd nomination, 0 wins)
Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock (1st nomination)
Jane Lynch, Glee (1st nomination)
Chloe Sevigny, Big Love (1st nomination)
Merritt Wever, Nurse Jackie (1st nomination)

Best Television Theme Song

Mad Men
Parks and Recreation
True Blood

Best Male Guest Appearance in a TV Series

Alan Alda, 30 Rock (2nd nomination, 1 win)
Roger Bart, 30 Rock (1st nomination)
Louis C.K., Parks and Recreation (1st nomination)
Jon Hamm, 30 Rock (3rd nomination, 0 wins)
Dean Winters, 30 Rock (1st nomination)

Best Female Guest Appearance in a TV Series

Elizabeth Banks, Modern Family (1st nomination)
Christine Baranski, The Big Bang Theory (1st nomination)
Kristin Chenoweth, Glee (1st nomination)
Shelley Long, Modern Family (4th nomination, 0 wins)
Sherri Shepherd, 30 Rock (1st nomination)

Best Reality Television Series

Expedition Africa (History Channel)
The Fashion Show (Bravo)
Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List (Bravo)
The Real Housewives of New Jersey (Bravo)
Tabatha’s Salon Takeover (Bravo)

Best Animated Television Series

Family Guy (FOX)
The Mighty B! (Nickelodeon)
The Penguins of Madagascar (Nickelodeon)
The Simpsons (FOX)
Sit Down, Shut Up (FOX)

Best Talk Show Host

Stephen Colbert, The Colbert Report
Whoopi Goldberg, The View
Chelsea Handler, Chelsea Lately
Rachel Maddow, The Rachel Maddow Show
Suze Orman, The Suze Orman Show

Best Television Special

The 61st Primetime Emmy Awards (CBS)
Kathy Griffin: Balls of Steel (Bravo)
Kathy Griffin: She’ll Cut a Bitch (Bravo)
Prep and Landing (ABC)
Wanda Sykes: I’ma Be Me (HBO)

best films: #49: DEAD MAN WALKING (1995)

You’d be hard pressed to find a more deserving showcase piece for two talented actors than Dead Man Walking. Telling the true story of Sister Helen Prejean (Susan Sarandon) and her spiritual advising for Matthew Poncelet (Sean Penn), a convicted killer on death row, the movie follows Prejean’s struggle to decide whether or not to stick it out with the grisly, neo-Nazi Poncelet. It’s drama at its best, with Sarandon and Penn giving the best performances of their respective careers. Penn is terrifying and yet strangely human as the cold-blooded killer, and he commands most scenes he occupies with his disturbing thoughts on society. Sarandon is believably moving as her character struggles with her faith, and her friends and family question her decision to counsel the prisoner. Along with the showpieces from the two stars, it features great supporting turns from character actresses Margo Martindale and Roberta Maxwell, as Sarandon’s fellow nun friend and Penn’s shut-in mother, respectively.

Standout Performance: I absolutely refuse to pick just one of the two stars, so it’s simply a tie, as they are both equally moving portrayals.

lct awards 2009: music categories

Record of the Year
“Already Gone” by Kelly Clarkson
“Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
“I Look to You” by Whitney Houston
“Laughing With” by Regina Spektor
“Wavin’ Flag” by K’naan

Album of the Year
All I Ever Wanted by Kelly Clarkson
The Fame by Lady Gaga
Far by Regina Spektor
I Look to You by Whitney Houston
Troubador by K’naan

Best Male Artist
Justin Bieber
Iron & Wine
Adam Lambert
Owl City

Best Female Artist
Kelly Clarkson
A Fine Frenzy
Lady Gaga
Whitney Houston
Regina Spektor

Best Group
The Black Eyed Peas
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
Florence + The Machine
Franz Ferdinand
The Swell Season

Best Duo or Collaboration
“Don’t Stop Believing” by The Cast of Glee
“Good Girls Go Bad” by Cobra Starship & Leighton Meester
“Love Sex Magic” by Ciara & Justin Timberlake
“Relator” by Pete Yorn & Scarlett Johansson
“Run This Town” by Jay-Z, Rihanna, & Kanye West

Best Music Video
“Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga
“Blow Away” by A Fine Frenzy
“Fireflies” by Owl City
“Laughing With” by Regina Spektor
“3” by Britney Spears

lct awards 2009: miniseries/tv movie categories

At last! We’ve come to my favorite part of the year — the part in which I give out my annual “best ofs” for the past year. I’ll be revealing the nominees in a series of posts, and the winners will be posted once the official ceremony happens in a couple weeks. (Yes, this is serious, legit stuff, folks.) We’ll start with the categories in the Miniseries or TV Movie subset. Alongside the individual nominees is a history of each competitor at the LCT Awards — how many times they’ve been nominated and won, if any:

Best Television Movie or Miniseries

Grey Gardens (HBO) – 6 nominations
Into the Storm (HBO) – 4 nominations
Little Dorrit (PBS) – 9 nominations
Prayers for Bobby (Lifetime) – 3 nominations
Taking Chance (HBO) – 3 nominations

Best Lead Actor in a Miniseries/TV Movie

Kevin Bacon, Taking Chance (1st nomination)
Kenneth Branagh, Wallander (1st nomination)
Brendan Gleeson, Into the Storm (1st nomination)
Ryan Kelley, Prayers for Bobby (1st nomination)
Matthew McFadyen, Little Dorrit (1st nomination)

Best Lead Actress in a Miniseries/TV Movie

Drew Barrymore, Grey Gardens (2nd nomination, 0 wins)
Claire Foy, Little Dorrit (1st nomination)
Jessica Lange, Grey Gardens (1st nomination)
Anna Paquin, The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler (2nd nomination, 1 win)
Sigourney Weaver, Prayers for Bobby (6th nomination, 0 wins)

Best Supporting Actor in a Miniseries/TV Movie

Tom Courtenay, Little Dorrit (1st nomination)
Ken Howard, Grey Gardens (1st nomination)
Eddie Marsan, Little Dorrit (2nd nomination, 0 wins)
Andy Serkis, Little Dorrit (2nd nomination, 0 wins)
Goran Visnjic, The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler (3rd nomination, 0 wins)

Best Supporting Actress in a Miniseries/TV Movie

Marcia Gay Harden, The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler (1st nomination)
Sue Johnston, Little Dorrit (1st nomination)
Janet McTeer, Into the Storm (1st nomination)
Judy Parfitt, Little Dorrit (1st nomination)
Jeanne Tripplehorn, Grey Gardens (1st nomination)

Best Original Score in a Miniseries/TV Movie

Howard Goodall, Into the Storm (1st nomination)
Jan A.P. Kaczmarek, The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler (1st nomination)
John Lunn, Little Dorrit (1st nomination)
Rachel Portman, Grey Gardens (4th nomination, 0 wins)
Marcelo Zarvos, Taking Chance (1st nomination)

The music categories are up next, so stay tuned!

decade revisited: 2007, part 2

The Nominees: Barring the ultra-typical choice of Javier Bardem as both nominee and winner (which is still one of the most haunting and well-crafted characters I’ve yet seen), I stepped a little away from the ordinary in this particular category. Most of the Oscars’ choices I just didn’t understand the appeal to — Philip Seymour Hoffman was pretty one-note in Charlie Wilson’s War, Tom Wilkinson was majorly over-the-top in Michael Clayton, and Casey Affleck seemed pretty overrated for his performance in The Assassination of Jessie James. As for the rest of the crew, I opted for two forgotten performances in fairly lauded films — Dano and Sanders — and two forgotten performances whose films were just plain forgotten — Downey, Jr. and Zahn.

Revisions: I suppose the only one I’d consider nixing would probably be Zahn, though I think he gave a completely out-of-the-ordinary performance as the withering-away prisoner of war in Rescue Dawn. As for a replacement — I thoroughly enjoyed Hal Holbrook’s bit part in Into the Wild; Simon Pegg would be nothing without his other half, Nick Frost, in Hot Fuzz; and it surprises me that with the Juno awards attention that J.K. Simmons got completely overlooked.

The Nominees: Okay, folks, I’m proud of this category. Along with the Oscar-nominated turns from Cate Blanchett, the best Bob Dylan in I’m Not There, and Saoirse Ronan, the seemingly most surprisingly nuanced child performer of this decade, in Atonement, I managed to sneak in some great supporting performances in genre films that wouldn’t otherwise have gotten attention. For the action movie The Bourne Ultimatum, Joan Allen was great as the tentative yin to Matt Damon’s yang. For the romantic comedy Waitress, Adrienne Shelly was fantastic as the dorky best friend with a heart of gold. And for the children’s fantasy film Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Imelda Staunton was devilishly delicious as the uber-cruel professor from hell.

Revisions: Well as opposed to committing too much to any particular group of 5 ladies, I’ll simply mention the other honorable ones that missed out on the nomination in 2007: Sigourney Weaver in The TV Set, Tilda Swinton in Michael Clayton, Leslie Mann in Knocked Up, Allison Janney in Juno, Evanna Lynch in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and Kristen Thomson in Away from Her.