Friday, February 20, 2009

Oscar Predictions

Oscar night is quite possibly my favorite night of the year. Some are confused by my intense love for the Oscars, but I guess you could blame it on my upbringing. The Academy Awards were always an event in my house, and now I treat Oscar season with even more reverence than I do the college football season. For one night, I am completely swept away by the glamour, the emotions and the inevitable frustrations. The Oscars may not get everything right, but they’re a celebration of Hollywood, and boy, do I love Hollywood.

So I leave you with my predictions. They’re influenced both by my own experiences with the films and by what experts and bloggers are saying. Come Oscar night, I’ll probably change a few selections, but as of Friday, this is what I think. I haven’t included the categories for shorts since I haven’t seen them and I haven’t read enough about them.

Feel free to comment! Let me know if you agree/disagree/think I’m completely brilliant. And whatever you do, please watch the Oscars on Sunday on ABC at 8 ET/7 Central. Bill Condon, the director of Dreamgirls, is producing the telecast, so it’s guaranteed to have some pizzazz. And Hugh Jackman is hosting! Jackman is a brilliant Tonys host, so I have every confidence that he will do a spectacular job on Sunday night. Enjoy the awards and make your own predictions below in the comments section!

For more information and a full list of nominees go to

Picture: Slumdog Millionaire

This is the easiest prediction of the year. Do I really have to go into detail?

Director, Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire

Hollywood’s love affair with Slumdog will earn Danny Boyle a Best Director win. Best Picture and Best Director winners usually come from the same film, except for the Crash debacle of 2005. I would say, “Poor Ang Lee,” but he still ended up with an Oscar on his mantle.

Actor: Sean Penn, Milk

This race is between Sean Penn and Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler), and it’s honestly a toss-up right now. Experts are giving the edge to Penn, but it could easily go to Rourke, one of the many comeback kids of 2008. On a personal note, I was thrilled about Richard Jenkins’ nomination for The Visitor. He had some early Oscar buzz when the film was released this summer, but the earlier in the year a film is released, the more difficult it is to get nominated. So congrats to Jenkins! He’s my sentimental favorite.

Actress: Kate Winslet, The Reader

I desperately want this to happen, and it really looks like it will. At age 33, Winslet is the youngest person to receive six Oscar nominations, but she hasn’t won yet. A loss this year would be the most painful and frustrating one yet since she is closer than ever. Her double win at the Golden Globes certainly helped. At the SAG Awards, she took home the trophy for her Oscar-nominated role in The Reader but not for her role in Revolutionary Road, which bodes well for Oscar night. Her biggest competition is Meryl Streep (Doubt), who won best actress at the SAG Awards. Actors make up the largest voting branch of the Academy, so they’ll be split with Winslet and Streep competing in the same category.

Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight

It looks like my darling Patrick Verona from 10 Things I Hate About You will actually win a posthumous award for his chilling turn as the Joker inThe Dark Knight. Right after Ledger’s death, it seemed unlikely that this win was even possible. After all, Peter Finch (Network) is the only person to ever win a posthumous acting award. But once the world saw The Dark Knight, we knew Ledger would at least garner a nomination. Now he has swept award season, and it is all but guaranteed that we will see his family accepting the Oscar on his behalf at Sunday’s ceremony. It’s a fitting tribute to my teenage crush and a fine actor that we lost too soon.

Supporting Actress: Viola Davis, Doubt

Most experts are going with Penelope Cruz (Vicky Christina Barcelona) in this category, but I’m going to stick by Viola Davis. She’s Cruz’s fiercest competition, but Davis could suffer from vote splitting since Doubt co-star Amy Adams is also nominated in this category. Davis may only appear in about 10 minutes of Doubt, but hers is the most memorable performance of the film. She actually managed to make me forget that Meryl Streep was in the scene. Cruz has an Oscar coming her way someday, especially after 2006’s Volver, but for now I just can’t shake off Davis’ performance.

Original Screenplay: Dustin Lance Black, Milk

Potential Upset: Wall-E

Adapted Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire

Slumdog dominance…

Animated Film: Wall-E

Interestingly enough, Kung Fu Panda beat out Wall-E for Best Animated Feature at the Annie Awards. But even if actual animators prefer Panda, the rest of the Academy is in love with those adorable robots.

Foreign-Language Film: Waltz with Bashir

Potential Upset: The Class

Documentary: Trouble the Water

The favorite in this category is Man on Wire, but Trouble the Water is close behind. I’ll pick the underdog just for the sake of wanting a few upsets at the Oscars.

Film Editing: Slumdog Millionaire

No stopping the momentum…

Cinematography: Slumdog Millionaire

I’m a sucker for amazing cinematography, and I truly believe this belongs to Slumdog this year. I wasn’t as fascinated by the cinematography as I was with last year’s winner, There Will Be Blood, but still add this category to Slumdog’s Oscar count.

Art Direction: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

From all this talk about Slumdog Millionaire, you wouldn’t know that Benjamin Button actually garnered the most Oscar nods at 13. The slightly overrated but visually stunning film will win in the art categories.

Costume Design: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

I’m going to foolishly break tradition and go against the period piece in this category—The Duchess. Button’s 13 nominations could influence voters to choose it in the categories it’s not competing against Slumdog.

Makeup: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

This film is extremely reliant on the makeup department, and they do a stunning job.

Score: Slumdog Millionaire

I’m starting to get tired of choosing Slumdog

Song: "Jai Ho," Slumdog Millionaire

Although I’m completely unsatisfied by this list of only three nominees, I’ll go with “Jai Ho” because it’s fun to dance to, and it’s the signature song from the film. In a perfect world, I would be choosing The Boss, but confusing voting rules that I don’t understand stopped that from happening.

Visual Effects: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Um…did you see Benjamin Button? It’s 11½ hours of visual effects.

Sound Editing: The Dark Knight

This category should be renamed “The Action Movie Award.”

Sound Mixing: The Dark Knight

Since no musical is nominated in this category, the win will certainly go to The Dark Knight. Notably absent is 20-time nominee and 20-time loser Kevin O’Connell. But since his only films in 2008 were The Ruins and Space Chimps, his odds for a nomination weren’t high. Better luck with Public Enemies in 2009, Kevin. I’m sure you also did an admirable job in Hotel for Dogs.

"Thanks for the Memory"...of your glorious strike beard

In case you missed it, tonight is Conan O’Brien’s last night hosting Late Night. Jimmy Fallon, the guy who could never keep it together in a sketch on SNL, will take over for the show starting on March 2. Meanwhile, we won’t see Conan again until he takes over for Jay Leno on the Tonight Show on June 1. Leno signs off just a few days before on May 29, but he’ll be back in the fall in prime time.

I don’t think I’m alone when I say that I’ll desperately miss Conan on Late Night. I know I can still see him an hour earlier, but his show won’t be the same. His comedy will have to be acceptable to a wider audience. A masturbating bear won’t convince my parents to switch over from Letterman to Conan as they fall asleep. So Conan will have to clean up his comedy a bit. I’m not saying that clean comedy can’t be good comedy, but Conan has gained a following by pushing the envelope and just being plain silly. I started watching Late Night in grade school (only in the summers when I had no bedtime of course) because I was drawn to his more absurd brand of comedy. Everyone has a favorite television anchor (Tom Brokaw), and everyone has a favorite late-night host. Conan is mine.

However, I’m being more negative than I should be. I’m optimistic that Conan will be able to successfully adapt his style of comedy for the earlier timeslot. Plus, I’m so proud of him for this amazing accomplishment that I can’t help but be hopeful. Conan went from relative obscurity as a Simpsons and SNL writer to taking over for David Letterman on Late Night after a controversial battle between Letterman and Leno over Carson’s spot. Sixteen years later, Conan O’Brien will be stepping into Johnny Carson’s shoes. It’s a comedian’s dream.

So I’ll stop with my dire predictions and wait until Conan actually starts the Tonight Show in June. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to Craig Ferguson reaping the benefits of Conan’s absence. I’m not planning on watching Jimmy Fallon on Late Night. I may have had a crush on him in junior high, but he was still my least favorite SNL cast member. Good job on “Weekend Update” Jimmy, but that doesn’t mean you can carry a talk show. Again, I should reserve my judgment until I actually see the show, but Fever Pitch is still too fresh in my mind.

Now I’ll have to choose between Conan and David Letterman, which is a much more difficult choice than Leno and Letterman. Even though it was a smart move for NBC, I’m not looking forward to Leno still being on the air every night. People who like Jay Leno are the same people who like Two and a Half Men. Although, that group includes my mother, so I shouldn’t be too critical.

So goodbye Late Night with Conan O’Brien! I’ll miss you and your Walker, Texas Ranger lever. See you an hour earlier in June!

Wait, I just remembered that I won’t have a TV this summer.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Why is Aaron Sorkin smiling? Because I'm a freakin' expert!

I’m just going to put this out there: I love Googling myself. I don’t do it out of vanity. I do it because I always come across a new surprise. For example, a Google search from about a year ago revealed that articles I wrote for The Observer in college were referenced in the 30 Rock and the Aaron Sorkin Wikipedia articles.

Unfortunately, the Aaron Sorkin article has been updated, and I’ve been cut. But the old article can now be found here. Here’s the info about The West Wing scribe that I am cited for writing:

His storytelling strengths lie in exploring the behind-the-scenes situations of workplace settings, such as the JAG Corps., a sports show, the White House, and lately a sketch comedy show.[71]

Did I just blow your mind? I hope so. Should I admit that I used Wikipedia for background in the first place? Yes.

Want more of my insight? Just look at what the 30 Rock article referenced me for:

30 Rock is a five-time Golden Globe Award-winning and a nine-time Primetime Emmy Award-winning American television comedy series created by Tina Fey that currently airs on NBC. The series takes place behind the scenes of a fictional live sketch comedy series depicted as airing on NBC; the name "30 Rock" refers to the GE Building where NBC Studios is located and which has the address "30 Rockefeller Plaza".[1]

Check that out! I’m the first source! Too bad I didn’t actually say all those things in my article. Way to be sloppy, Wikipedia.

After reliving my Wikipedia fame, I decided to Google myself again and see if anything new popped up. I leave you with this treat. Apparently is using an opinion piece I wrote about celebrity marriages to advance its own agenda. It’s good to know that someone out there values my opinion. I am honored to be included on a web site that thinks evolution is a hoax, calls the Virgin Mary a whore, and argues that the U.S. and Israeli governments were behind 9/11.

So go ahead and Google yourself. As you can see, you really never know what you'll find.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Look at what I'm finally watching: The Big Bang Theory edition

On the advice of some friends, I bought Season 1 of The Big Bang Theory and started watching it. I had seen the pilot when the series premiered in the fall of 2007, but I don’t remember being particularly impressed. Leading lady Kaley Cuoco annoyed me too much, so I never gave the show a second chance.

Now I wish I would have stuck with the series because it’s actually a pleasantly funny comedy. I wouldn’t put it on the same level as How I Met Your Mother or 30 Rock, but it’s enjoyable, and the ensemble works well together.

The show centers around genius roommates Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and Sheldon (Jim Parsons). Their world changes when beautiful blonde Penny (Cuoco) moves in across the hall. Well, really only Leonard’s world changes since he instantly falls for her. Sheldon is more perturbed than anything that Penny is interfering with his ordered world. Leonard and Sheldon’s best friends are the wannabe-womanizer Howard (Simon Helberg) and the timid Raj (Kunal Nayyar).

Despite the onslaught of math and science jokes, it’s an accessible show. If you made it past high school, chances are you’ll even find some of the physics jokes funny. And by the end of the first season, Cuoco started growing on me. I have to admit that she’s got some comedic chops, and I like that they haven’t turned her character into some glamorized version of a young woman living in Los Angeles. Penny is a struggling actress from Nebraska who scrapes by with her earnings from the Cheesecake Factory. The wardrobe department actually dresses her like someone who doesn’t have that much money. Let’s just say that Penny is nothing like a young Rachel Green from Friends.

I’m impressed with The Big Bang Theory because it not only managed to survive last year’s writers’ strike but also, unlike other sophomore series, its ratings get higher and higher with each passing week. Maybe I was biased at first because it’s executive produced by Chuck Lorre, the man behind the wretched and overly sexist Two and a Half Men. I guess I should have given Lorre more credit since he did do Cybill.

So if you’re looking for something to watch before How I Met Your Mother starts on Monday evenings, make sure to check out The Big Bang Theory. It’s one of the better comedies on TV right now. Thanks go out to Rachel and John for getting me to finally watch it!

Oh, and check out Chuck Lorre's vanity cards that appear at the end of every episode of Two and Half Men and The Big Bang Theory

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

My New Favorite Hat

What was my favorite non-Obama part of the inauguration? Aretha Franklin's hat. It's bold and it works. My new goal in life is to be able to pull this off someday. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Current Obsessions, Vol. 1

Kelly Clarkson's newest single, "My Life Would Suck Without You" 

I haven't wanted to dance this much to a Kelly Clarkson single since "Since You've Been Gone." Clarkson's My December wasn't the greatest (although I did love "Never Again") so if "My Life Would Suck Without You" is any indication about the quality of the rest of her album, then I can't wait until All I Ever Wanted drops on March 17. 

Listen to "My Life Would Suck Without You":

Kate Winslet

So I'm actually always obsessed with Kate Winslet, but her incredible double-win at the Golden Globes has me so happy for her, that I couldn't leave her off this list. Moments like hers on Sunday are why I watch awards shows in the first place. She managed to have me in tears twice, and she forgot Angelina Jolie's name!

Watch her acceptance speech for Best Actress in a Drama:

*Hulu videos don't entirely fit on this site. I'm trying to figure this out, but they work fine for now.

"Senor Macho Solo," 30 Rock

Last Thursday's 30 Rock made me realize how much I had missed it over Christmas Break. There was a lot to love in this episode, especially guest star Peter Dinklage, whose character Liz asked on a date to make up for the fact that she first mistook him for a child. But my favorite moment came late in the show when Kenneth was warming up the TGS studio audience. The last thing I expected in this episode was a throwaway Teen Witch reference. Top that! And watch the clip below:

"Benefits," How I Met Your Mother

Season 3's finale hinted at Barney having feelings for Robin, and the first episode of Season 4 confirmed that Barney was, in fact, in love with her. But then we didn't hear much about it throughout the season...until now. Monday's episode gave us our heaviest dose ever of Barney's unrequited love, and Neil Patrick Harris delivered both a comedic and heartbreaking performance. Watch the episode here, and pay special attention to Robin and Barney's scene toward the end of the episode. Then sigh with me.

My Long Absence a.k.a. The Week of Twilight

As excited as I was to start this blog, I've already abandoned it for over a week! Don't blame me, blame Twilight. Since I had a lengthy Christmas Break, I decided that I would finally see what every teenage girl and a good number of my peers were obsessing over. I guess the final straw came during Thanksgiving Break, when I noticed that even the 55-year-old man sitting next to me on the airplane was reading Twilight. Clearly, I was behind.

So after a whirlwind week, I am finished with all four books in the series. I hated the first book, and if it wasn't for my friends convincing me that the books got better, I would have stopped there. Thank you everyone for encouraging me to continue because New Moon was much better, and it prominently featured my favorite character, Jacob Black (that's right, I was
 totally on Team Jacob). I'm still not entirely impressed with the books, but I can see where the hype comes from. And although Edward didn't win me over until the fourth book, I can also see how a 14-year-old girl would think he's the greatest guy ever. It's probably similar to the way I felt about Shane West's character in A Walk to Remember when I was 16 (Mandy Moore made him promise not to fall in love with her, but he just didn't listen!).

That's probably enough about Twilight since I could go on and on about what I like and dislike. I also saw the movie, though, and I have to say that the only redeeming quality of that train wreck was the hotness of Robert Pattinson. 

That said, I guarantee you I will still see New Moon when it hits theaters.