Last week this pundit discussed the buzz that was circling back on "Saving Mr. Banks" before its world premiere as the closing night film at the 2013 London Film Festival. And as chronicled by Guy Lodge's review and my own rundown of "Banks'" Oscar chances, the film is truly a player. Fast forward two days and in something of a surprise, another potential contender, "The Monuments Men," moves to 2014. That means we have just two unseen contenders left: "American Hustle" and "The Wolf of Wall Street."
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We crossed a line a few years ago as a culture where it became profoundly uncool, if not inviting ridicule, to suggest that a drama airing on a broadcast network belonged in the discussion of the best shows on TV. Maybe that line was crossed a couple of years ago when Emmy voters failed to nominate a single network show for Outstanding Drama Series, but whenever it was, the talking points have become set in stone: Cable dramas make fewer episodes, and can focus more on telling the best stories without having to pad things out! Network shows have to deal with censors, and with interfering executives! Cable shows don't have to worry about spoonfeeding audiences, or giving them blandly likable characters!
I've made some of those arguments in the past, including against the last network show to get one of those drama series nominations: CBS' "The Good Wife." A couple of years ago, I even suggested that the series, excellent as it was, might be improved if creators Robert and Michelle King were allowed to just do 13 episodes a year and not have to waste time on the less interesting corners of Alicia Florrick's world, like her kids' latest misadventures with social media.
"We're trying to cut off his supply of Mountain Dew," I was warned before I walked into the room to talk to Johnny Knoxville and Jackson Nicoll. For once, Knoxville was not the primary threat I would be facing.
As we discuss in the interview, Knoxville and Nicoll worked together in last year's "Fun-Size," a charming kid's comedy, and they spend pretty much the full running time of "Bad Grandpa" onscreen together. I've been chatting with Knoxville on and off for the last decade, both in formal interviews and just running into him around Los Angeles. By this point, I have a pretty solid understanding of the way these guys work together, and we're not starting from scratch when we discuss whatever the latest mutation is.
That's the way I'd describe whatever "Jackass" is. There's no single person who defines what it is. Instead, you've got Knoxville, Spike Jonze, and Jeff Tremaine, all of them equal owners of it, and when they've done the shows or the movies in the past, there has definitely been a voice to it.
While this season's murdering vagina storyline does not rank as one of my favorites (though I do think it could be the basis for an awesomely twisted romcom), I'm willing to go along with the non-stop crazy in this season's "American Horror Story." Though the grab bag of horrors can often seem slapdash and strikes about as many discordant notes as a cat walking across a piano, the good news is it's a funhouse subway ride -- wait a few minutes, and chances are the next stop will be more to your liking.
One of the things I find most exciting about performance-capture technology is watching the way it frees actors to try things that would never have been possible even ten years ago.
Benedict Cumberbatch is the actor of the moment, in demand with filmmakers for drama, genre films, television, stage… basically, everyone wants to work with this guy, and he's being offered a huge range of roles to play. He has appeared in no less than 10,000 movies this year, and in "The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug," he is playing 300 different roles.
Those numbers may be slightly off, but Cumberbatch is playing two key roles in the film, and instead of that being a matter of different make-up for each one, he is able to vanish completely into the role of Smaug thanks to performance capture. There is a time when he would have simply provided a voice, but now he can throw himself into the role, both body and soul.
"Peanuts" is headed to the big screen, with help from Paul Feig
The "Freaks and Geeks" creator will oversee Charlie Brown & Co.'s movie. "Growing up, 'Peanuts' was my 'Star Wars,'" says Feig. "Charles Schulz's characters influenced everything in my career, especially 'Freaks And Geeks.'"
Whoopi Goldberg joins "Once Upon a Time in Wonderland"
She'll lend her voice to Mrs. Rabbit.
"CSI" celebrates Episode 300
Tonight's episode will feature a lot of Easter Eggs, including 14 different references to the number 300. Plus, there will be an homage to Gil Grissom as well as the return of Marg Helgenberger. PLUS: The most memorable guest stars, and the cast picks the best episodes.
ABC buys Keenan Ivory Wayans comedy -- the whitest guy marries into a black family
Could Wayans' comedy project become the next "Modern Family"?
"SVU" isn't worried that "Scandal" is also doing an Anthony Weiner episode this week
As showrunner Warren Leight points out with a laugh, "we go first." He adds: "They're very different shows."
NBC is reviving the American Comedy Awards
The American Comedy Awards originally aired on ABC from 1987 to 2001. NBC plays to revive it in May.
"Happy Endings" alum Eliza Coupe signs on for a USA comedy pilot
She'll play a public defender in "Benched."
Lorde’s “Royals” logs its fourth week atop the Billboard Hot 100, giving the New Zealand singer the longest reign by a female artist in the top spot this year. We have to go back to last summer when Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” ruled at No. 1. for nine weeks to find a longer stint by a female.
Katy Perry, whose new album, “Prism,” came out Tuesday (23), claims two spots on the Hot 100- her former No. 1, “Roar,” is at No. 2, while new single “Unconditionally” bows at No. 54.
“Roar” switches places with Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball,” which drops to No. 3.
Avicii’s “Wake Me Up!” remains at No. 4, while Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home” (featuring Majid Jordan)” holds at No. 5, according to Billboard.
Ylvis’s “The Fox” stays at No. 6, while Eminem’s new single, “Rap God” bows on the chart at No. 7, the only new entry into the Top 10.
Otherwise, Jay Z’s “Holy Grail” (featuring Justin Timberlake) slides 7-8, Lady Gaga’s “Applause” drops 8-9 and Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” slips 9-10 in its 21st week in the Top 10.
They may not be siblings, but we bet they come up with some pretty sweet harmonies: Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones have joined together to record “Foreverly,” a 12-track collection inspired by The Everly Bros. 1958 collection, “Songs Our Daddy Taught Us.”
The Everlys’ set featured interpretations of traditional American songs, such as “Roving Gambler,” “Down In The Willow Garden,” “Long Time Gone” , That Silver Haired Daddy of Mine” and “Kentucky,” all of which Armstrong and Jones have re-recorded for “Foreverly.”
Armstrong discovered the album a few years ago and was keen to remake it, but with a female artist. “I thought of Norah because she can sing anything,” he said in a statement. “I knew her harmonies would be amazing. I thought the songs would take on a different meaning working with her.”
For her part, Jones says “Billie Joe’s enthusiasm about the songs and his low-key open approach to the music was very inviting. He wasn’t set in his ideas, which iade it fun for us both to sort of discover what felt right for us musically.”
The pair recorded the album in New York over a nine-day period with bassist Tim Luntzel, drummer Dan Rieser, fiddle player Charlie Burnham and pedal steel player Johnny Lam. “When we were done with the album, Norah looked at me and said, “I bet you didn’t think you were going to make a country record, huh?’,” Armstrong said.
“Foreverly” will come out via Reprise Records on Nov. 25. In the meantime, you can hear Armstrong and Jones’ version of “Long Time Gone” below.
"Foreverly" track listing:
"Long Time Gone"
"That Silver Haired Daddy Of Mine"
"Down In The Willow Garden"
"Who's Gonna Shoe Your Pretty Little Feet"
"Oh So Many Years"
"Rockin' Alone (In An Old Rockin' Chair"
"I'm Here To Get My Baby Out Of Jail"
"Put My Little Shoes Away"
Palme d'Or winner "Blue is the Warmest Color" may still be one of my favorite films of the year, but director Abdellatif Kechiche sure is doing his damnedest to make me sick of hearing about it. His ongoing feud with the film's stars and Palme co-winners -- in particular, Léa Seydoux -- has been a hot media topic for a couple of months now, with Kechiche rather melodramatically stating at one point that the film had been tainted and shouldn't be released. He's since retracted that particular outburst, but if you thought he was done, you thought wrong.