It may have struggled to gain a foothold this week with groups like SAG and the HFPA, but "The Master" remains a pet of the critical community that has championed it since the fall. Right after The Guardian team named it the top film of 2012, Paul Thomas Anderson's thorny character study received further good news today from the Chicago Film Critics' Association, as it led their nominations list with a whopping 10 mentions.
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My largely improvised book tour for "The Revolution Was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers and Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever" made its first stop on television this morning, as I was a guest for a segment on CNN's "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien." A good time was had by all (one of the panelists even wanted to continue the discussion during the commercial break), and it also provided me with an excuse to finally learn how to tie a half-Windsor knot. (My dad taught me the four-in-hand, and that's more or less where my tie education stopped.) If you want to see me in moving picture form, here I am:
Welcome to Oscar Talk.
In case you're new to the site and/or the podcast, Oscar Talk is a weekly kudocast, your one-stop awards chat shop between yours truly and Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood. The podcast is weekly, every Friday throughout the season, charting the ups and downs of contenders along the way. Plenty of things change en route to Oscar's stage and we're here to address it all as it unfolds.
After leading the way with nominations recently, David O. Russell's "Silver Linings Playbook" has been crowned Best Picture by the Detroit Film Critics Society. David O. Russell won Best Director and Best Screenplay, Jennifer Lawrence won Best Actress and Robert De Niro took Best Supporting Actor. Check out the full list of winners below and as always, keep track of the ups and downs of the season via The Circuit.
Pop culture mash-ups are fun. Pop culture mash-ups are easy to do. (Says the man who cooked up a "Mad Men"/"Watchmen" Tumblr in about five minutes back in the spring, then forgot it existed within days.) Doing a really great one, though, requires real creativity and attention to detail.
Two recent "Breaking Bad" -related mash-ups illustrate this. On last night's "Colbert Report," Stephen Colbert had fun with reports that Michelle Obama had requested DVDs of "Downton Abbey" season 3 so she wouldn't have to wait for the show's American premiere on January 6. As payback, he said, he recruited recent guest Vince Gilligan and "Downton" co-stars Hugh Bonneville, Jim Carter and Rob James-Collier to spoil the new season of "Breaking Bad" — or, rather, "Breaking Abbey" — for us.
Kris maintained in his Globes analysis yesterday that the somewhat surprising omission of Oscar-winning director Tom Hooper from the Best Director lineup wasn't particularly significant, but it struck me as a slight setback for a film many pundits have pegged as a potentially monolithic frontrunner -- particularly given a musical-friendly streak at the Globes that has brought nominations for Alan Parker ("Evita") and Tim Burton ("Sweeney Todd"). (It may or may not be worth noting that "Dreamgirls" helmer Bill Condon missed this hurdle in 2006, presaging an unexpected Oscar shutout.) Hooper admits to being disappointed, but feels he may have been at a disadvantage given that the category's all-drama lineup: "At least there's some logic to it, and I'm certainly in good company with David O. Russell." [Huffington Post]
Holiday episodes should be a cinch for "Glee." It's the perfect time of year to get all sentimental and romantic and musical.
But "Glee" never needs an excuse to celebrate great songs, the bonds of friendship and family, and warm and fuzzy feelings, and maybe that's why the show has paradoxically never produced a great Christmas episode. How do you make something seem special when it's what you do all the time?
"Glee, Actually" represents the third stab at a Christmas episode following Season 2's "A Very Glee Christmas" (with the sweet revelation that Brittany still believes in Santa and the infamous Sue Sylvester as the Grinch parody) and Season 3's "Extraordinary Merry Christmas" (which had some clever moments lost amidst an overall mess of an episode).
"Actually" is a definite improvement on "Extraordinary," if not quite a match for "Very." But I liked the idea and wish someone had thought of it back when the show was still working, and the characters were still worth caring about.
Since the episode was divided into five non-overlapping segments, it didn't feel so much like its supposed inspiration, "Love, Actually," than it did like a collection of short stories from the "Glee" universe. And that approach oddly made for one of "Glee's" more cohesive and consistent hours in quite some time.
Artie's "It's a Wonderful Life"-style dream sequence imagining what would've happened if the glee club never existed was the most fun the show has had since the whole cast swapped characters when Tina knocked herself out in "Props." I never thought we'd see Jessalyn Gilsig again, but there she was, nailing her cameo and clutching a fake baby as Terri Schuester. And Damian McGinty's return as Rory was an even more welcome sight -- he's an actor and singer with greater natural charm than anyone "Glee" has added to the show since.
It's too bad that director Adam Shankman couldn't figure out a way to give Kevin McHale's "Feliz Navidad" solo at least half the creativity and energy of Artie's unforgettable "Safety Dance" from Season 1, but at least we got to see McHale perform *something* on his own for the first time this season. And let's just skip over the fact that this sequence totally ignored Santana ever existed (was Naya Rivera busy this week?) and totally went *there* with Quinn (you know if the writers knew Dianna Agron was never coming back they'd love to kill Quinn off for real, just to put a period on an endlessly tortured character arc).
Meanwhile, in New York, Rachel made a brief appearance in a ridiculous outfit to say a few lines and then disappear for the rest of the hour. (Remember when Rachel and Finn were the stars of "Glee," and some fans complained about how much screen time they had even though Lea Michele and Cory Monteith were never less than completely reliable and interesting to watch?)
The real focus in New York was on Kurt and his relationships with Burt and Blaine. This is the second time Mike O'Malley has appeared this season, and the second time the show has used him to try to manufacture the sort of tear-jerking emotion that used to flow naturally from Kurt and Burt's touching father-son bond.
Burt has cancer now! Sad! But he invited Blaine to see Kurt in New York! Sweet!
The only reason the silly storyline works at all is because O'Malley, Chris Colfer and Darren Criss play it completely real. Even in its best days, "Glee" often relied on talented actors to overcome sloppy writing, and this segment stayed true to that spirit. Colfer was especially good at silently conveying Kurt's mixed emotions at seeing Blaine again, and the conflicted feelings Kurt still has about their relationship. Colfer and Criss' "White Christmas" duet was a'ight, I guess, but there was nothing in the episode that came anywhere close to Rachel's "O Holy Night" in last week's not-Christmas episode.
Oh yeah, Sam and Brittany got married. In the episode's goofiest thread, the dim-witted "soulmates" decided to make the most of the few days they had left before the inevitable 2012 apocalypse and got hitched (by Coach Bieste!). Sadly, it turned out to be a ruse. No apocalypse. No wedding.
I have to admit, I was disappointed. Since "Glee" insists on forcing these two together -- and I can't complain about any screen time for Chord Overstreet and/or Heather Morris -- why not just go totally cuckoo in classic "Glee" style and get them involved in some kind of "What Happens in Vegas" rom-com mix-up where they get married first and fall in love later? At least it would give them a believable excuse to spend time together.
Also, there was another terrible subplot for Sue (I'm really losing patience waiting for the announcement that Jane Lynch is ditching this sinking ship for good) and believable enough bonding between the Puckerman half-brothers, which ended with the promise we'll be seeing more of Mark Salling in the future. (Yay? I guess? I've always liked Salling, and the show has generally done right by Puck, even when he's involved in stupid things like sleeping with Shelby, but is he really the character most in need of extra screen time at this point?)
We also met Aisha Tyler as Jake's mom and saw more of Puck's mom (Gina Hecht) than in her previous two appearances ("Mash-Up" and "Goodbye") combined. Both actresses were perfectly fine. Maybe we'll see them again. Maybe they'll vanish. You never know with "Glee."
But I do know this: This is my last "Glee" recap for HitFix. If you've been following along with me this season, I appreciate it and I feel your pain. I didn't want to take on the task of writing about "Glee" on a weekly basis just to complain about how terrible it is. The Internet has enough of that. But I had no idea what was in store for me this season. I've lost my connection with the show, and I need to reclaim the recapping time for other endeavors. I'm thrilled I had this opportunity, and I'm sure HitFix will have someone great to pick it up in 2013.
Assuming the world doesn't end next week.
Not everyone loves the holidays. There's a reason why suicides spike at this time of year; the lonely feel a little lonelier, fragile relationships crumble. While they may be vampires and hybrids and witches (oh my!), in many ways our Mystic Falls residents are all too human, their problems played out on a larger-than-life scale. This week, more than a few of our intrepid immortals are going to be feeling a lot more isolated and alone, and another relationship is going to hit the skids. Worst of all, we have to wait until Jan. 17 to find out what happens next. Bah, humbug.
Another week, another wacky challenge, and this week is poised to be one of the wackier ones. The designers meet Carolyn at the South Street seaport "Hey, it could be a pirate challenge," thinks Josh as he observes all the ships in the dock. Oh, that would be too easy, too fun. No, it's time for the unconventional challenge, and they will be shopping at one dreadful little mall store that is not Mood. It's not even Michael's. Suffer, minions, suffer!
A quick review of tonight's "Last Resort" coming up just s soon as we're wearing matching gasmasks...
Oh, HFPA. It's Golden Globes time again and how we've missed your questionable taste. You're the only group of approximately 80 something journalists (cough) that can collectively find a way to make almost all the studios and networks happy year after year. It's really quite remarkable and comical at the same time. This year, however, on the TV side you didn't completely play the game. You stuck by your stated rules and really ruffled some feathers with an embarrassing "Mad Men" diss and a sigh worthy decision to anoint "Smash" as something of a critical player (well, at least its not "Revenge"). On the other hand, the movie nods looked as if they were practically copied out of the contenders list every awards season pundit has published for weeks (the page views are appreciated). Except for your comedy or musical categories, of course. We can't help you there. And if you think "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" is worthy of a nomination of any kind I've got some extra DVD copies of "The Tourist" you might be interested in too.