Latest Blog Posts

<p>Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke in &quot;Before Midnight.&quot;</p>

Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke in "Before Midnight."

Credit: Sony Classics

'12 Years a Slave,' 'Before Midnight' in line for gold at Gotham Awards

Acting nominees include Matthew McConaughey and Scarlett Johansson

I guess you could say awards season has officially kicked off, with the Gotham Independent Film Awards -- as usual -- providing the race with its first slate of nominees. And to the surprise of absolutely no one, "12 Years a Slave" leads the field with three nominations -- get used to it coming out on top in pretty every nomination list for the next three months. Those nods include Best Feature (of course), and Best Breakthrough Actor for Lupita Nyong'o, while Chiwetel Ejiofor is mentioned in the newly created Best Actor category.

Its rivals for the top award include the Coen Brothers' upcoming "Inside Llewyn Davis," and three critics' favorites from earlier in the year: "Before Midnight," "Ain't Them Bodies Saints" and "Upstream Color." ("Upstream" lead Amy Seimetz has much to celebrate this morning, having scored a Best Actress nod, as well a Best Breakthrough Director nod for her first feature "Sun Don't Shine.")

Read Full Post
<p>Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Bradley Cooper in David O. Russell's &quot;American Hustle.&quot;</p>

Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Bradley Cooper in David O. Russell's "American Hustle."

Credit: Sony Pictures

Contender Countdown: Is Oscar ready to do the 'Hustle?'

Trying to avoid heartbreak in the Best Picture race

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."

Read Full Post
<p>Josh Charles and Julianna Margulies in &quot;The Good Wife.&quot;</p>

Josh Charles and Julianna Margulies in "The Good Wife."

Credit: CBS

Review: 'The Good Wife' better than ever thanks to firm civil war

Broadcast network drama's standard-bearer is on a great run

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.

Read Full Post
<p>&quot;Blue is the Warmest Color&quot;</p>

"Blue is the Warmest Color"

Credit: Sundance Selects

Roundup: Defying the NC-17 rating for 'Blue is the Warmest Color'

Also: Clooney justifies 'Monuments' delay, and is 'Captain Phillips' jingoistic?
There's been much fuss about the MPAA hobbling "Blue is the Warmest Color" with an NC-17 rating, the film's inability to screen in Idaho, and so on. In New York, however, one theater -- the IFC Center, of course -- is taking matters into their own hands by ignoring the restrictive rating. Manager John Vanco says viewers of high-school age will be admitted, stating: “This is not a movie for young children, but it is our judgment that it is not inappropriate for mature, inquiring teenagers who are looking ahead to the emotional challenges and opportunities that adulthood holds.” That strikes me as a sensible attitude, and A.O. Scott -- who has permitted his 14-year-old daughter to see the sexually explicit film twice -- agrees. [New York Times]
Read Full Post
<p>Johnny Knoxville was, of course, injured when we got together to talk about his new film 'Bad Grandpa'</p>

Johnny Knoxville was, of course, injured when we got together to talk about his new film 'Bad Grandpa'

Credit: HitFix

Johnny Knoxville and Jackson Nicoll share 'Bad Grandpa' road trip memories

Knoxville talks about one actor's near-death experience

"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.

Read Full Post
<p>This is actually from next week's &quot;Arrow,&quot; but it's a cool Black Canary pic so I'm using it anyway.</p>

This is actually from next week's "Arrow," but it's a cool Black Canary pic so I'm using it anyway.

Credit: The CW

'Arrow' teases a big DC Comics villain in 'Broken Dolls'

Which familiar name sent for Black Canary?
"Arrow" is a show that I watch every week, but only occasionally have anything to say about, but there were a few juicy tidbits in this Wednesday's (October 23) episode, so it seems like a good enough to check in, at least on the highlights.
After a first season that only tip-toed around the source material's DC Comics roots, "Arrow" has begun to dive headlong this season. Last week, we had the return of Kelly Hu's China White and the introduction of Michael Jai White as Bronze Tiger. We've slowly begun to push Colton Haynes' Roy Harper in the direction that I'm told will lead to his becoming Red Arrow. I'm also told that Summer Glau's Isabel Rochev has potentially fruitful comic book roots, if the show pushes her there.
And we're getting towards the big guns. 
Grant Gustin has been cast as Barry Allen, who will bring some superpowers to Starling City as The Flash in multiple episodes this season and then, probably, in a spinoff series next year. 
We're very tentatively getting into the Black Canary storyline that fans have been awaiting since Katie Cassidy was initially cast as Laurel Lance, though we're not there yet.
But on Wednesday, we got a pretty big hint about somebody even higher profile.
[If you don't want spoilers... avoid.]
Read Full Post
<p>Tina and Laura get the cage on Wednesday's &quot;Survivor: Blood vs. Water&quot;</p>

Tina and Laura get the cage on Wednesday's "Survivor: Blood vs. Water"

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'Survivor: Blood vs. Water' - 'One-Man Wrecking Ball'

Would a Tribal Shuffle make big waves?
Pre-credit sequence. Galang voted out Laura M last week. I barely remember that. Laura B says that it was sad to see somebody voted out first, but she's relieved that it wasn't her. "I feel like an octopus," Tina says cryptically. Aras was the only person who looked into Laura M's eye when she left and he hopes that she takes Redemption gracefully, rather than targeting Aras as a ringleader and singling him out. The next morning, Tyson and Gervase are planning for a Merge and anticipating that Aras will align with Vytas immediately, so they both agree that if they lose again, they may need to target Aras. This leads to Tyson talking about Aras' Zen beliefs which leads to Tyson's declaration, "I believe in magic. It's awesome." Tyson knows he has to tread lightly and agrees, "That's the tricky part - When to dethrone King Aras," Tyson isn't pushing Gervase too hard, but Gervase is determined he doesn't want to be viewed as a chess piece. He announced that he and Tyson are a power couple. Gervson? Tyvase? Yeah. Tyvase, for sure.
Read Full Post
"American Horror Story: Coven"

 "American Horror Story: Coven"

Credit: FX

'American Horror Story: Coven' recap: 'The Replacements'

Can Misty really fix the many, many things that ail Kyle?

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. 

Read Full Post
<p>There are so many things that go through my mind looking at this that I hardly know where to start.</p>

There are so many things that go through my mind looking at this that I hardly know where to start.

Credit: New Line Home Video

Benedict Cumberbatch throws himself into the role of Smaug for 'The Hobbit'

Check out some truly outrageous motion-capture images

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.

Read Full Post

"Peanuts" is headed to the big screen, with help from Paul Feig

"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."

Read Full Post


Lorde's 'Royals' rules at no. 1 for fourth straight week

Eminem's "Rap God" flies into Top 10

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.

Read Full Post
<p>Billie Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones, &quot;Foreverly&quot;</p>

Billie Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones, "Foreverly"

Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong's new album: Everly Brothers covers with Norah Jones

Pair reinterprets traditional songs from 1958 Everlys' classic

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:

"Roving Gambler"
"Long Time Gone"
"Lightning Express"
"That Silver Haired Daddy Of Mine"
"Down In The Willow Garden"
"Who's Gonna Shoe Your Pretty Little Feet"
"Oh So Many Years"
"Barbara Allen"
"Rockin' Alone (In An Old Rockin' Chair"
"I'm Here To Get My Baby Out Of Jail"
"Put My Little Shoes Away"

Read Full Post