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best of 2009: tops in TV

Best Television Series of 2009
1. Mad Men (AMC)
2. Parks and Recreation (NBC)
3. The Office (NBC)
4. 30 Rock (NBC)
5. The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
6. The United States of Tara (Showtime)
7. Modern Family (ABC)
8. Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List (Bravo)
9. Nurse Jackie (Showtime)
10. Big Love (HBO)

Best Female Television Performances of 2009
1. Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation)
2. January Jones (Mad Men)
3. Mindy Kaling (The Office)
4. Jane Lynch (Glee)
5. Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men)
6. Tina Fey (30 Rock)
7. Chloe Sevigny (Big Love)
8. Toni Collette (The United States of Tara)
9. Jane Krakowski (30 Rock)
10. Merritt Wever (Nurse Jackie)

Best Male Television Performances of 2009
1. Steve Carell (The Office)
2. Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory)
3. John Krasinski (The Office)
4. Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family)
5. Ed Helms (The Office)
6. Alec Baldwin (30 Rock)
7. Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation)
8. Tracy Morgan (30 Rock)
9. Jon Hamm (Mad Men)
10. Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother)

Best Television Episodes of 2009
1. “Hunting Trip” (Parks and Recreation)
2. “Shut the Door. Have a Seat.” (Mad Men)
3. “Cafe Disco” (The Office)
4. “Niagara” (The Office)
5. “Flu Shot” (30 Rock)
6. “The Maternal Capacitance” (The Big Bang Theory)
7. “Sectionals” (Glee)
8. “Beyond Here Lies Nothin'” (True Blood)
9. “Comparative Religion” (Community)
10. “Grammy Shmammy” (Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List)
11. “The Michael Scott Paper Company” (The Office)
12. “The Gypsy and the Hobo” (Mad Men)
13. “Pawnee Zoo” (Parks and Recreation)
14. “Stress Relief” (The Office)
15. “En Garde” (Modern Family)
16. “Kathy is a Star… Kind Of” (Kathy Griffin: My Life on the…)
17. “The Adhesive Duck Deficiency” (The Big Bang Theory)
18. “The Rhodes Not Taken” (Glee)
19. “The Funcooker” (30 Rock)
20. “Old King Clancy” (How I Met Your Mother)
21. “The Practice Date” (Parks and Recreation)
22. “Norma Gay” (Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List)
23. “Alterations” (The United States of Tara)
24. “Sacrament” (Big Love)
25. “The Work Song Nanocluster” (The Big Bang Theory)
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oscars 2009: the best moments

Before I get too far along in this uber-specific Oscar recap (yes, I meticulously took notes on the most obscure and most enjoyable parts of last night’s show), I’d like to start off by saying that I managed 17 for 24 in predictions – so, not the best, but respectable. I’ll aim for a clean sweep next year. But anyway, thanks to a pretty great ceremony that was scads better than last year’s (Slumdog! Slumdog! Slumdog! Yawn.), it was an enjoyable night that the shows’ producers apparent goal was to render their viewing audience blubbering messes.


**The best presenting team of the night was hands-down Tina Fey and Robert Downey, Jr. An odd combination, yes, but their banter about the difference between writers and actors was great fun. Get these two in a movie together!

**Did anyone else laugh out loud with joy when Carey Mulligan and Zoe Saldana’s walking music was “Thank Heavens for Little Girls” from Gigi? Marc Shaiman made some inspired choices this year.

**Probably the funniest one-liners from the night’s hosts (who were awfully absent for most of the show) was Steve Martin, in fine form, comparing himself to Precious‘s Gabourey Sidibe. “In our first movies, we were both born a poor black child.” Great The Jerk reference.

**I was duly impressed with the John Hughes tribute, which, unlike most Oscar tributes, was well-pieced together and moving (and that assembly of 1980s/1990s teen stars was great fun. Watch it here.

**And the Helen Mirren Award for hottest sixtysomething in the room goes to Sigourney Weaver. And Helen Mirren.

**Is it totally wrong that my favorite speech of the night (in terms of humor) was the Animated Short winner for Logorama? He thanked the 3,000 trademarked logos for allowing him to infringe upon them. Nice touch.


**All right, as expected, Mo’Nique’s speech was as usual moving like a gospel preacher. But for me, it was the extended clip of her riveting scene from Precious that had me a hyperventilating mess for the first time of the night. Many more to follow.

**I was truly glad that the Animated Feature category was as fun as it was. Considering Barbara Walters’ interview with Coraline and Mr. Fox were better than most of her Oscar interviews is really saying something. Loved Coraline’s planned response to her mother asking her to clean if she won the Oscar. “Mom. Oscar. Seriously.”

**Biggest surprise of the night goes to an unlikely category – Adapted Screenplay – where Geoffrey Fletcher took the award (rightfully) for Precious. And to think that at that point of the night the movie was the win leader!

**Hmmm… was that extra-long tribute to the sound work in The Dark Knight the Academy’s way of saying sorry for snubbing it for Best Picture last year? Too little, too late, Oscar…

**My most pissed-off moment of the night? The point when I realized that the Twilight kids had a better seat than Kathy Bates. Seriously, they’re a couple of bland cardboard cutouts, and she’s an Oscar winner for crying out loud! They somewhat redeemed themselves when they had her present Avatar for Best Picture.

**Worst presenter of the night – Jennifer Lopez. Although it was pretty comical when she gave such a heavy accent to pronouncing Marco Beltrami in the Best Original Score category and then pronounced the nominee following him as “du-SPLAT.” And sheesh, when Sam Worthington, with his uber-thick accent, announced the winner was Michael Giacchino, did anyone else think he said Marco – as in Beltrami?


**Most confusing intro of the night – you can understand my excitement when I heard the theme from E.T. begin to play and the announcer sounded so excited you’d think she was announcing the arrival of Steven Spielberg But then – “And now… [drumroll]… preeeeeeesenting…. [drumroll]… Eliiiiiiizabeth Baaaaanks!” Umm….

**Does it bother anyone else, though I don’t even like The Hangover, that Bradley Cooper gets to present all the awards even though he was the worst of three lead men just because he looks good in a tux? Where the hell is the far-superior Ed Helms?

**Jason Bateman presented Up in the Air… and all I could hear was someone loudly slurping something into a microphone. Anyone else hear that crap?

**Pause from the ceremony to get all Super Bowl on you folks – best commercial goes to the Jimmy Kimmel / Ben Affleck / Jennifer Garner ad. Runner-Up: the teaser for this week’s Modern Family.

**Did anyone ever foretell that someone from Short Circuit would win an Oscar? Well, now Best Documentary Feature winner Fisher Stevens can fulfill that prophecy.

**Lamp shades? I don’t get it.


**On the lead acting categories, I was both glad to see the return of the previous-year, opposite-gender award hand-off – but even more, I was very pleased with the one-by-one co-worker tributes from fellow actors. Very personal and very moving. Hell, Michelle Pfeiffer even made Jeff Bridges cry!

**The best actor-to-actor tribute came from the unlikeliest of sources – Tim Robbins to Morgan Freeman?! Yeah, the “Ted, would you get me a cup of coffee” line was great fun.

**Uhh… was George Clooney toking something? First he had the weird “is her playing along or not?” death stare that he gave to the hosts during the opening monologue… and then there was the weird dance moves during the walking music for Michael Giacchino. Hmm…

**In the words of Liz Lemon, “Oh, Oprah.” Beautiful speech for Gabourey. So beautiful, in fact, she rendered the normally bubbly, giddy girl to tears. There’s something about Winfrey.

**I know there are haters out there, but that image above of Sandra Bullock holding an Oscar is one I’ve been hoping for for quite some time. Her speech was also a perfect combination of funny and moving. Her initial hug fake-out to Meryl Streep on the way to the stage was hilarious, and her tributes to Carey Mulligan (“You’re so talented… you make me sick.”) and Meryl (“She’s a great kisser.”) up on stage were expertly delivered. And her tribute to her late mother made the night for me.

**During the Quentin Tarantino director clip, I was pleasantly surprised with the great line from Brad Pitt. On Quentin’s directing, “The set is church. He is God. And no heretics allowed.”

**Tell me – did the producers want to wrap it up quickly, or was Tom Hanks plastered? Uh, Tommy… you forgot to even say the nominees! Kind of a letdown for a category that usually has so much build-up and drama. Ah well… at least he basically gave Kathryn Bigelow a panic attack from overwhelmedness since she’d barely exited the stage before she was dragged back out.

What were your favorite moments of the night?

oscars 2009: final predictions

Best Picture

Will Win: The Hurt Locker
Should Win: Up

Best Director
Will Win: Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)
Should Win: Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)

Best Actor
Will Win: Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart)
Should Win: Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker)

Best Actress
Will Win: Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side)
Should Win: Meryl Streep (Julie & Julia)

Best Supporting Actor
Will Win: Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)
Should Win: Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)

Best Supporting Actress
Will Win: Mo’Nique (Precious)
Should Win: Mo’Nique (Precious)

Best Original Screenplay
Will Win: The Hurt Locker
Should Win: Up

Best Adapted Screenplay
Will Win: Up in the Air
Should Win: Precious

Best Cinematography
Will Win: The Hurt Locker
Should Win: Inglourious Basterds

Best Editing
Will Win: The Hurt Locker
Should Win: Precious

Best Art Direction
Will Win: Avatar
Should Win: Avatar

Best Costume Design
Will Win: The Young Victoria
Should Win: The Young Victoria

Best Makeup
Will Win: The Young Victoria
Should Win: The Young Victoria

Best Original Score
Will Win: Up
Should Win: Up

Best Song
Will Win: The Weary Kind (Crazy Heart)
Should Win: Almost There (The Princess and the Frog)

Best Sound Mixing
Will Win: Avatar
Should Win: Avatar

Sound Editing
Will Win: Avatar
Should Win: Avatar

Best Visual Effects
Will Win: Avatar
Should Win: Avatar

Best Animated Feature
Will Win: Up
Should Win: Up

Best Foreign Language Film
Will Win: The Secret in Their Eyes
Should Win: N/A

Best Documentary Feature
Will Win: The Cove
Should Win: The Cove

Best Documentary Short
Will Win: China’s Unnatural Disaster
Should Win: N/A

Best Animated Short
Will Win: Wallace and Gromit
Should Win: Wallace and Gromit

Best Live Action Short
Will Win: The New Tenants
Should Win: N/A

oscars 2009: BEST ANIMATED SHORT

All right, we have to admit that most of us tend to tune during two parts of the Oscars – the speech from the Academy president and the presentation of the animated, documentary, and live action short awards. So in order to hype up the latter, here’s a rundown of the nominees for Best Animated Short. Watch them before the ceremony tonight so you know which one you’re rooting for!

French Roast, dir. Fabrice Joubert
Synopsis: A man encounters a persistent beggar and an unlikely rush with the law while sitting in a cafe for an entire day.
The Verdict: The short is at times cute and at times somewhat of a downer (or maybe it’s just European) – but mostly cute. The problem is that it seems to be attempting to be a Pixar short, which it doesn’t quite live up to.
Grade: B+
Watch it Here

Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty, dir. Nicky Phelan
Synopsis: A crotchety grandmother tells a somewhat eerie tale to her restless granddaughter, despite her insistence not to.
The Verdict: All in all, this one sort of reminded me of a DreamWorks Animation piece, meaning it’s rifled with silly laughs and not scads of originality. It is, however, one of the funnier entries here.
Grade: B-
Watch it Here

The Lady and the Reaper, dir. Javier Recio Gracia
Synopsis: An old woman goes to sleep for her final hour, ready to meet her husband in the afterlife – but things get sidetracked.
The Verdict: I rather like this one – it, like French Roast, tackled a little more serious subject (and had a rather dark undertone by the end), but it was highly enjoyable nonetheless.
Grade: A-
Watch it Here

Logorama, Francois Alaux and Herve de Crecy
Synopsis: Two Michelin men on their crime beat encounter the unlikeliest of perpetrators in a city made entirely out of popular trademarked logos.
The Verdict: At times sounding like the dialogue was taken directly out of Pulp Fiction, this one’s very visually entertaining. I can’t imagine how much time was put into inserting all of those insignia.
Grade: A-
Watch it Here and Here

Wallace and Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death, dir. Nick Park
Synopsis: Wallace and Gromit are back, running a successful bakery, but something evil’s afoot as all the area’s best bakers are dropping like flies.
The Verdict: It’s hard not to love everything Aardman Studio puts out – particularly when Wallace and Gromit are involved. Inventive, funny, adventurous – just to name a few descriptors.
Grade: A
Watch it Here

lct awards 2009: the winners

After last night’s 2009 LCT Awards ceremony (which had record attendance!), the following winners were chosen from the aforementioned nominees in Film, Television, Music, and Miniseries.

Film Winners
Best Picture: Up
Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
Best Lead Actor: Michael Stuhlbarg, A Serious Man
Best Lead Actress: Tilda Swinton, Julia
Best Supporting Actor: Stanley Tucci, Julie & Julia
Best Supporting Actress: Mo’Nique, Precious
Best Original Score: Michael Giacchino, Up
Best Adapted Screenplay: Geoffrey Fletcher, Precious
Best Original Screenplay: Pete Docter and Bob Peterson, Up
Best Original Song: “When We’re Human” from The Princess and the Frog
Best Documentary Feature: The Cove

Television Winners
Best Television Series: Mad Men
Best Lead Actor: Steve Carell, The Office
Best Lead Actress: Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation
Best Supporting Actor: Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family
Best Supporting Actress: Mindy Kaling, The Office
Best Theme Song: Parks and Recreation

Best Male Guest Appearance: Dean Winters, 30 Rock
Best Female Guest Appearance: Christine Baranski, The Big Bang Theory
Best Television Special: Kathy Griffin: She’ll Cut a Bitch
Best Reality Series: Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List
Best Animated Series: Sit Down Shut Up
Best Talk Show Host: Suze Orman, The Suze Orman Show

Music Winners
Record of the Year: “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
Album of the Year: The Fame by Lady Gaga
Best Male Artist: K’naan
Best Female Artist: Lady Gaga
Best Group: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
Best Music Video: “Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga
Best Duo/Collaboration: “Love Sex Magic” by Ciara feat. Justin Timberlake

Miniseries/TV Movie Winners
Best Miniseries/TV Movie: Grey Gardens
Best Lead Actor: Brendan Gleeson, Into the Storm
Best Lead Actress: Drew Barrymore, Grey Gardens
Best Supporting Actor: Eddie Marsan, Little Dorrit
Best Supporting Actress: Marcia Gay Harden, The Courageous Heart of…
Best Original Score: Jan A.P. Kaczmerak, The Courageous Heart of…

Stay tuned for the “Best of the Decade” extravaganza to begin very shortly!

featured column at the LAMB blog!

Hey folks. Just thought I’d let the readers know that a column of mine on the Best Original Score category at this year’s Oscars has recently been featured over at the Large Association of Movie Blogs (LAMB) site, a group of which I’ve recently become a part. Head on over to the site to check out my write-up!  It’s a part of their annual LAMB Devours the Oscars series, which I luckily got a chance to be a feature writer for.

quick thoughts on the oscar nominees

Well, the Oscar nominees were announced this morning, and I thought I’d offer up some of my thoughts on the Academy’s choices for the best of 2009. As far as my predicting went, it was merely okay, apparently – Best Picture (7 for 10), Best Director (4 for 5), Best Actor (5 for 5), Best Actress (4 for 5), Best Supporting Actor (5 for 5), and Best Supporting Actress (3 for 5). I suppose I should’ve given Crazy Heart a boost in the right places (Supporting Actress, ahem) and give more thought to the meteoric rise of The Blind Side (Best Picture?!). So though there weren’t a lot of surprises on nomination morning, I did notice a few that seemed to be upsets of some form. Of the main six categories, the acting ones offered virtually nothing surprising. The inclusions of The Blind Side and District 9 in Best Picture over precursor favorites Invictus and Nine was a somewhat surprising move. And Lee Daniels edging out Academy favorites Clint Eastwood and the Coen Bros. was a nice surprise in Best Director. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the morning, though, came from the unlikeliest of sources – Best Animated Feature. When the obscure little movie The Secret of Kells was announced instead of more popular fare such as Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs or Ponyo, it made it worth it to wake up at 7:30 for the announcement. And upon closer examination, it comes as no surprise that the two truly weird categories to predict – Makeup and Song – came in with strange entries as well, with the little seen Il Divo and Paris 36 managing slots.