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Remember last week, when our refined, cultured ladies took a trip to an orphanage and felt humbled and grateful to have such bounty in their lives? And how they then vowed to behave themselves after they left Africa, as they had now seen the big picture and realized their quibbles were nothing more than petty and ridiculous? Remember that? Yeah, don't bother, because that vow lasted a shorter length of time than most New Year's resolutions or Kardashian marriages. Heck, Marlo couldn't even dwell on her blessings long enough to get past dinner, because she was simply too incensed that her shrimp was RAW. "Waiter! Get me properly cooked shrimp so that I might be able to feel gratitude for my privileged life! Pronto!"
BERLIN - After having spent the bulk of my Berlinale awards report complaining about the jury's curious choice of Golden Bear winner, I'm more pleased than ever that I waited until my final dispatch to dig into my three favorite films of the festival. For this year's fest, despite what you may have heard from grumpier attendees, was not one that deserved to be sent off with a sneer.
Typically uneven, but inventively programmed and shrewdly paced, it seemed less than usual like a lineup feeding off Cannes and Venice's scraps than one built to its own smaller, funkier agenda. (Yes, at least one Competition entry, Brillante Mendoza's excitingly divisive "Captive," was turned down by both Croisette and Lido selectors last year -- but more fool them, I say.) When one smart UK critic tweeted yesterday that he clearly hadn't missed anything by not attending the Berlinale this year, I couldn't resist replying, "Well, except for a number of excellent films." The success stories of Berlin this year may not have been audible from a distance, but the festival will quietly claim delayed credit as they slowly trickle through to international arthouses.
This has not been a good year for Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Tom Sherak.
Less than a year ago the Academy put on one of the most critically lambasted Oscar shows in memory. That was followed by the controversial decision to change the best picture rules after only two years of a 10 nominees system. Next came the eyebrow raising decision to hire industry infant terrible Brett Ratner as the co-executive producer of the this year's 84th Academy Awards along with the bizarre return of previous producer Don Misher. Things actually got worse after Ratner's resignation following insensitive comments at a public screening. At that point, having initially agreed to host way to quickly (at least in his own mind), Eddie Murphy saw the out he'd been looking for and ran out of Dodge. Things seemed to have calmed down once Brian Grazer replaced Ratner and old favorite Billy Crystal agreed to host the big show for the ninth time. Unfortunately, rumblings started about AMPAS opting out of their Kodak Theater contract which would find them leaving Hollywood for the more generic confines of the Nokia Theater at LA Live (shudder). Today Sherak and the Academy found themselves the subject of a major investigative article from the Los Angeles Times breaking down the organization's usually private membership details. Sherak and the Academy spoke to the paper about the findings, but this isn't the sort of story they'd like spreading through the media the week before the big show. Yep, it's been one of those years.
PBS just finished showing the second season of "Downton Abbey" (U.K. viewers saw the finale back at Christmas). I reviewed most of the season in non-specific terms in early January, and promised to weigh in with more details — and an opportunity for you to discuss the same — after it had all finished airing here in the States. That time has come, and I have various thoughts on both the finale and the season coming up just as soon as I have a loader...
A review of tonight's "The Walking Dead" coming up just as soon as I go get some flowers and candy for my prisoner...
A review of tonight's "Luck" coming up just as soon as I call eight hours ahead to push 15 minutes...
Well, were you honestly expecting anything else? Thanks to a slew of WGA ineligibilities -- notably that of Best Picture Oscar frontrunner "The Artist" -- the competition for these particular Guild awards had already been considerably narrowed, and true enough, the winners were precisely the two films that been set up to triumph here all season long. Only in one of the two screenplay categories can tonight's result be seriously considered as a bellwether for Oscar night; the other remains a virtual toss-up.
In a season heavy on veteran nominees, the Guild played along by adding to the laurels to two multiple previous honorees: Woody Allen took his fifth WGA award in the Best Original Screenplay category for "Midnight in Paris," while Alexander Payne took his third Best Adapted Screenplay gong for "The Descendants," sharing the prize with fellow writers (if not collaborators) Nat Faxon and Jim Rash.
We've had a lot of fun preparing for "The Simpsons" 500th episode over the last few days, with you guys choosing your favorite episodes, quotes and (non-Simpson family) characters. Now it's time to discuss episode 500 itself, with a quick review coming up just as soon as I spend $800 on dragon insurance...
1) Whitney Houston. Listen to this and try not to cry over what we’ve lost.
2) Adele: Really? You have to ask? We have six, shiny gold reasons.
3) Madonna: Madge lands her 38th Top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, widening her margin over the Beatles by four. Any other week that would definitely get her the top spot.
4) Grammy Awards: The Feb. 12 ceremony drew more than 41 million viewers, making it the second-most watched Grammy ceremony, ever only behind the 1984 show.
5) Dave Grohl: This rock and roll true believer gets to the heart of the matter with the Foo Fighters’ Grammy acceptance speech: “Singing into a microphone and learning to play an instrument and learning to do your craft, that's the most important thing for people to do” We're embroidering it on a pillow.
6) Nicki Minaj: Almost a week after her Grammy performance, I have only one question: What was that?
7) Chris Brown: Love him, hate him, we’re all talking about him this week, aren’t we?
8) Columbia Records: The label is rolling in the dough, as Adele continues her winning ways: Next week “21” will surpass 7 million copies in the U.S., making it the best-selling album in nearly seven years (since Carrie Underwood’s “Some Hearts”).
9) Skrillex: He's gone from who? to Mr. Three-time Grammy winner in a beat--or two.
10) Katy Perry: Her new single “Part of Me,” which she debuted on the Grammy Awards, will sell more than 400,000 in its first week of digital release, making it her biggest download week yet. But you know what really makes her a winner? She had pledged her portion of the proceeds to MusiCares, the Recording Academy’s charity that aids musicians in need. Baby, she's a firework.