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A review of "The Walking Dead" mid-season finale coming up just as soon as I make assumptions about your sexual orientation based on your haircut...
The awards season has already begun to some extent, but the critics are about to add their collective voice to it: tomorrow, the New York Film Critics' Circle announce their picks for 2012's best, kicking off a long, long run of critics' awards that won't finish until January. So it's apt that Sight & Sound magazine have neatly foreshadowed this turn of events with their own annual critics' poll -- one of the largest and most internationally inclusive of the lot.
And though you may already have heard this, it's good news for "The Master" -- one of the films, as it happens, that has the most to gain from the upcoming bevy of critics' honors. Paul Thomas Anderson's remarkable Scientology-inspired dual character study has acquired a reputation for being a difficult, divisive beast -- but it still united enough opinion to score the most votes in S&S's survey of over 90 critics, academics and programmers. It wouldn't surprise me to see it emerge similarly triumphant with certain leading US critics' groups, reasserting its status as a potential Oscar player.
I'm not shocked to see mixed reactions to Judd Apatow's new film "This Is 40." At this point, Apatow is making fairly personal films, and there's a voice to these movies that isn't going to please every single audience. But that's exactly what I like about his work in general. I like how particular those choices are, how close to the edge of unlikeable he allows his characters to be. So often, people have their rough edges sanded off by studio movies, so someone's either all good or all bad, and I think any rational adult knows that simply is not the case.
Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) were stand-out character in "Knocked Up" when they first appeared, and while this isn't a direct sequel to that film, it makes sense that Judd would return to them to tell this particular story. The age of 40 is a major milestone, but I'm not sure it means what it used to mean. I'm 42 now, and I feel like my adult life is still revving up. It used to be that 40 was a shift into middle-age, but these days, people end up switching careers several times and reinventing themselves and 40 is now often an age where people are still figuring themselves out.
VALLETTA, Malta -- There’s a certain advantage to holding an awards ceremony in a different city every year: with the practical and cultural conditions of the event different each time, tradition doesn’t quite congeal into formula. This was my first trip to the European Film Awards, but this year’s Malta-set edition of the continent’s translation of the Oscars had details to surprise even seasoned attendees, whether it was the rowdy Maltese house band – a Gogol Bordello-type collective whose lead singer bore a striking resemblance to Captain Haddock – jamming on stage at regular intervals, or the venue itself, a cavernous former hospital at the sea’s edge, its dense stone walls roughened with several centuries’ worth of harder use than a mere red-carpet shindig.
If the surroundings rather humbled the awards themselves, then, that seemed appropriate in an intelligent, enjoyable ceremony that nonetheless seemed torn between honoring European film culture and reading its last rites – leaving a solemn aftertaste that coincidentally complemented a top-category sweep for Michael Haneke’s stern mortality study “Amour.”
NEW YORK -- Having just come from interviewing the cast of "Les Miserables," I can tell you there is a genuine excitement in the air. Tom Hooper's adaptation of the long-running and now classic musical was a difficult gig for everyone involved and the almost unanimous enthusiasm over the finished product has clearly lifted a weight off their shoulders (you'd have to assume Hooper's as well, but he was still in Los Angeles where he attended last night's Governors Awards).
Many moviegoers don't like to watch clips before seeing a film, but if you're still unsure what the hype is all about these four should make it incredibly clear. Hooper's decision to have his actors sing live is close to a game changer and are one reason "Les Miz" is going to be part of the Oscar discussion for quite some time. Universal Pictures was also smart in making sure each preview was over a minute long so viewers could appreciate the performances and music at work.
HOLLYWOOD -- The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored its own tonight in the fourth annual Governors Awards. A satellite ceremony dedicated to Honorary Oscar presentations (voted on by the AMPAS Board of Governors), the program was moved off the annual Academy Awards telecast in 2009 and given its own space in the middle of awards season.
This year's Honorary Oscar recipients were documentary filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker, AFI and Kennedy Center Honors founder George Stevens Jr. and stunt coordinator Hal Needham, while Jeffrey Katzenberg received the Jean Hersholt Award for his fundraising and philanthropy.
The evening began with Pennebaker's presentation, as Senator Al Franken took to the stage to assist in the introduction. "We have big issues to confront," Franken said, noting many of the pressing matters of today -- fiscal crisis, healthcare, etc. "And we can't do it unless we're willing to tell the truth…[Pennebaker's] films succeed because of his commitment to telling the truth."
1. Rihanna: It took seven albums in seven years to get there, but Rihanna finally grabs the brass ring: “Unapologetic” is her first album to land at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.
2. Michael Jackson: “Thriller” turns 30. The best-selling U.S. studio album of all time has aged remarkably gracefully. The way it makes us feel? Still thrilling after all these years.
3. Dr. Dre: He tops Forbes list of the highest-paid musicians in 2012 with $110 million. Did he achieve this feat by putting out an album or touring this year? No, he did not. He did it from selling his Beats headphone line. There’s a lesson to be learned there.
4. Adele: “21,” the British singer’s sophomore set, hits Diamond status in the U.S. for sales of more than 10 million. In a lovely bit of synchronicity, it is the 21st album to achieve that milestone since the launch of SoundScan in 1991.
5. Psy: The S. Korean rapper ponies his way to the top of YouTube as “Gangnam Style” becomes the most watched video ever on the internet channel, surpassing 830 million. Dropping to second place? Justin Bieber’s “Baby.” Oh baby, baby, baby.
6. Pussy Riot: The jailed Russian trio are up for Time’s Person of the Year. We don’t think they should win, but we certainly hope they beat fellow nominee “Shades of Grey” author E.L. James.
7. Gotye: In addition to sweeping the Australian ARIA Awards, his breakthrough hit, “Somebody That I Used to Know,” is Spotify’s top song of the year. Somebody just make an extra .95 cents in streaming royalties.
8. Rolling Stones: The Glimmer Twins, plus some Stones old and new, kick off their very limited 50th anniversary tour in London and they all are still standing...even Keef.
9. Rod Stewart: His “Merry Christmas Baby” is looking like the holiday album of the season for 60+ crowd. Now get off my lawn and pass the eggnog.
10. Swizz Beatz: The producer/recording artist announces that he will just release singles from now on instead of albums. Wait, he’s released albums before?
VALLETTA, Malta -- As predicted, it was a very big night for "Amour" at the European Film Awards, as Michael Haneke's universally revered Palme d'Or winner swept the four top awards at the ceremony: European Film of the Year and Director of the Year, plus the two acting prizes for its octogenarian leads Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva.
Neither of the actors, sadly, were in attendance (Riva, stricken with flu, is unable to travel), but Haneke was -- "jubilant" could never be the appropriate word to describe the solemn Austrian formalist's reaction to anything, but he looked close to overcome as he accept the night's final award, limiting his acceptance speech to a simple "thank you, thank you, thank you."
As "Lincoln" enters its fourth weekend at the box office, numerous commentators have noted how realistic the film is in its portrayal of politics and history. It resonates even today.
That realism didn't end with the story and performances, as the look of the film meticulously recreated a sense of time and place. Cinematographer Janusz Kaminski and production designer Rick Carter were responsible in large part for that realism. The duo, who have three Oscars and eight nominations between them, are longtime collaborators with Steven Spielberg and I recently spoke with them about their work on the film, with Spielberg and with each other.