Guild favorite "Argo" may be closing in on "Lincoln" in the Best Adapted Screenplay race, but even if it continues its sweep, the WGA has ensured Tony Kushner won't go home empty-handed on February 17. The "Lincoln" scribe will be presented with the group's Paul Selvin Award for the script that "best embodies the spirit of the constitutional and civil rights and liberties, which are indispensable to the survival of free writers everywhere." If that award sounds pretty much tailor-made for "Lincoln" (hey, it wasn't going to go to "Django Unchained") it isn't: last year's winner was Tate Taylor for "The Help." [Deadline]
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Tonight's episode of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" contains no fighting. I'm not joking -- no fighting at all. None. I know, hard to believe. But it does include roast chicken and Suzanne Somers, so that's something. Look, I'm really trying here, but this episode was dull as an Amish frat party. I mean, a significant part of the episode was devoted to a sixth grade graduation party. A sixth grade graduation party. I dearly hope never to attend one of these in real life, at least not without a sharp object with which to stab myself to stay awake. But let's get to it, shall we?
About a week ago, my kids walked into the office where I spend most of my time, the two of them both smiling broadly.
I knew as soon as I looked at them that they were struggling not to laugh before revealing their joke. Toshi spoke first, and he sounded completely rehearsed, like he and Allen made a plan. "Daddy, you know how you said we could ask you any question?"
"Yes," I replied, and I got scared, flat-out scared that they were about to ask me something like "What's a blow job?" On the day they do ask that, I plan to reply, "Five dollars, same as in town," and then vanish in a puff of smoke.
Thankfully, though, this was something more innocent, more fitting of the mindset of two comic-book crazy kids who are mainlining pop culture. Toshi nudged Allen, giving him his cue to ask the question, and even before Allen started speaking, he started laughing, and when he talks and laughs at the same time (which is often because he is a very silly little boy), it's like Woody Woodpecker trying to describe something to you. Waves of giggles as he struggled to ask, "When Spider-Man has to go poop, does he have to take his whole costume off?"
So of course I'm in tears from laughing, too, at this point, trying to stop, and I finally managed to answer, "Yes, but he has to leave his mask on." Because that image entertains me mightily.
Allen nodded as I spoke, satisfied with the answer, and walked away with a single "Cool." And that was that. Pleased with themselves for asking it in the first place, still trailing little flurries of self-satisfied laughter, Toshi and Allen left my office and went back to the playroom. As they pulled my office door closed, Allen's last comment to Toshi was, "I knew it. I told you."
So, tonight I'm recapping "The Bachelor" and doing battle with a cold. This means I will either have less tolerance for the high-pitched cat fighting, or I will fall asleep after the 230th time someone says, "I just want him to see the real me!" or "I need to spend one-on-one time with him!" Actually, that would happen any week. It's just that this week, I can blame the snoring on a weakened immune system.
I confess it's news to me that the costume designers of the Academy didn't already have their own separate voting branch -- instead, they've always been lumped into a single Designers' Branch with the production designers, art directors and set decorators. Yet nominees in the Best Costume Design category are often so distinctive -- several of them scoring in no other Oscar field, even Best Art Direction -- that I'd assumed they were the result of a smaller branch of peers voting.
A few quick thoughts on tonight's "The Following" coming up just as soon as I speak to people through Gothic Romanticism...
Review: Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley do exquisite work in heartfelt Sundance hit 'Spectacular Now'
PARK CITY - One of the benefits of staying longer than the opening weekend of the Sundance Film Festival is that you can catch up with films towards the end of the festival that have picked up buzz over the previous days. As soon as "The Spectacular Now" made its public premiere, it became a priority for me to see during the festival, and it more than lived up to the early word. Written by the same writers as "(500) Days Of Summer" and directed by the filmmaker behind last year's "Smashed," I think "The Spectacular Now" is better than either of those films, and it delivers a strong emotional punch in a smart overall package.
Based on a novel by Tim Tharp, "The Spectacular Now" tells the story of Sutter Keely, played here by Miles Teller, who is coasting through his high school career on a cloud of innate charm and alcohol fumes. He is the life of the party, and that's the problem. Constantly drunk, he seems to believe that there is no reason to think about the future at all. He is all about the moment, all about the sensation. As the film begins, his long-time girlfriend Cassidy (Brie Larson) has reached the breaking point, and she can't do it anymore. She knows how charming he is, but she also knows that he's dragging her down, and she wants more. There is a strong tie between the two of them, and as much as it pains her, she can't continue to let him dictate the way they both seem to be failing. Once Sutter finds himself on his own, he is rudderless, and he spends a lot of energy trying to convince himself that none of it matters, that it's okay that she left him. His mother (Jennifer Jason Leigh) has a hard time really communicating with him, and the unspoken space between them has to do with Sutter's long-absent father. His older sister (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is out of the house, married, and she married into money, doing her best to leave behind her upbringing.
After years and years as a rock chameleon -- in Fantômas, Mr. Bungle, Faith No More and Tomahawk -- Mike Patton, again, proves himself a master of mic technique on the latter's first album in five years, "Oddfellows." All at once wily, sensual, bonkers and practiced, that voice demands an equally versatile backing and a collaborative spirit to keep Tomahawk fans guessing.
Here, Patton grinds down "Oddfellows'" 13 songs with other members of Fantômas and Mr. Bungle, the Jesus Lizard's axeman Duane Denison and Battles drummer John Stanier. The result is a collection worthy of repeat listens, thought it's not always the most cohesive experience. It's right for a big speaker sound, in its happy accidents and tasteful, complicated back-and-forths between Patton and Denison's mini melody battles. The macho torrent that is "Waratorium" is countered by the perverse slink of "Baby Let's Play ______." The Nick Cave-ison lip curls of "A Thousand Eyes" burrow into an anything-goes genre mash on “Rise Up Dirty Waters,” like a heavy rock variety show fit for warm, red lights.
“Stone Letter” and “South Paw” are Tomahawk at its most conventional and – in no coincidence – the most dated-sounding songs on the set, drilling in the ‘90s hard rock rhythms ad nauseum. And ominous church bells aren't enough to save “I Can Almost See Them,” which goes nowhere.
Still, there's a lot to listen to on "Oddfellows," even when that band churns out only two minutes of punk and prog-opera sounds (see: "Typhoon"). The guitar sounds are particularly challenging and excellent, breeding as much poetry as Patton spits, like everyone's getting squeezed to death starting at the diaphragm in the best possible way.
You can hear all of "Oddfellows" streaming via Spin.
On April 2, ATO will release “The Music Is You: A Tribute To John Denver.”
Dave Matthews, My Morning Jacket, Train, Brandi Carlile, Emmylou Harris, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and Josh Ritter are among the artists paying homage to the folky musician, who died in 1997 in a plane accident.
[More after the jump...]
Happy Monday, boys and girls! Dan is back from Sundance, which means it's time for our first Firewall & Iceberg Podcast in a while, a packed episode featuring discussion of shows new ("The Americans," "House of Cards," "Do No Harm") and old (the legacy of "30 Rock," the finales of "Fringe" and "Parenthood"), plus some other miscellany (Dan's thoughts on the films he saw at Sundance, and our reaction to the end of last week's "The Office"). The lineup:
And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.
The 55th Annual Grammy Awards are Feb. 10 and this year there will be some hotly contested races. Unlike last year when Adele was the presumptive (and actual) winner in many categories, there are few clear frontrunners.
As we lead up to the ceremony, we’ll take a different category every day and evaluate the nominees. Today, we look at Best New Artist.
Best New Artist nominees:
WHO’S MISSING: First off, let’s look at who’s not here: While the field is strong, leaving out One Direction seems like a major oversight. Though she hasn’t had the same success here as she has in the U.K., Emeli Sande was also a strong contender and while she’s looking a little like a one-hit wonder right now, Carly Rae Jepsen had the pop culture hit of the year with “Call Me Maybe.”
THE PLAYERS: Instead, based on Alabama Shakes and The Lumineers, it’s clear the Grammy voters leaned toward authentic, roots-oriented rock. Both groups are known for their rambunctious, free-flowing live shows and reliance on acoustic instruments as much as for their radio hits: The Shakes with “Hold On,” and the Lumineers with the seemingly omnipresent “Ho Hey.” Both look like solid bets for artists who will have good, long careers regardless of radio support.
Neither fun. nor Frank Ocean are roots-oriented, but they represent a new standard bearer for the Grammys: Fun.’s brand of pop is commercial and wildly successful, but is also well-crafted, intelligent, well-sung and well-played. R&B artist Ocean, whose “Channel Orange” topped many best-of lists for 2012 (including mine) was a fresh voice that arrived fully formed.
Hunter Hayes may be unknown outside of his country base, but he’s a budding star within the format and Nashville’s collective voting power helped seal his nomination over some more likely pop contenders.
THE ODDS: This is a race between fun. and Ocean. In addition to best new artist, fun. ran the board: receiving nominations in the other three general categories: record, song and album of the year. Only a handful of artists, such as Norah Jones, Amy Winehouse, and Christopher Cross have ever achieved that feat. Ocean almost scored as well, landing album and record of the year nods (both artists also have nominations in other fields).
It’s almost too close to call this year. If only music critics were voting, Ocean would be the clear winner. Both acts have had great years and show tremendous promise, the question will come down to whether fun’s greater dominance at pop radio will get them more votes. It’s the first year in many that I’ve wished for a tie.
WINNER: Frank Ocean