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I reviewed "Paul Williams Still Alive" when I was the Toronto Film Festival in 2011, and I think of the film as a 2011 release because of that. Technically, though, it's eligible for awards this year, and one of the ones they're aiming for is an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song.
Much of what you hear in the film comes from his long and remarkable career, and for many people, the film serves to connect dots they may not have known were connected at all. The Carpenters, the Muppets, commercial work… so many of his songs have sunk into our collective cultural subconscious that we know them more than we know him.
When I spoke to Williams during the Toronto Film Festival, it was one of those interviews that could have gone on another two hours, and I wouldn't have even begun to run out of things to talk to him about. I feel bad that we never made it to the subject of "Still Alive," the original song he wrote for the documentary, and I'm glad to see that the company behind the film is working hard to get it out there.
We’re here at the end of the road for this cycle of “The Voice”. NBC looked into it, but it couldn’t find a way to extend the season any further. (Lord knows the one-hour repeat hour before the finale proper demonstrates how badly this network is milking this franchise.) But that’s all for the best, as the outcome tonight looks pretty much preordained. I went on record saying this last night, but I’ll once again reiterate that it’s Cassadee Pope’s contest to lose at this point. Assuming they stagger the eliminations, we should have Pope and Terry McDermott standing alone in the final moments before the champion is crowned.
If you were to have asked me last June if 2012 was a good year for movies my answer would have been a definitive "no." Sure, "The Avengers," "Moonrise Kingdom," "Beasts of the Southern Wild" and the long delayed "Cabin the Woods" provided some refuge, but for the most part the first half of this year was full of forgettable films. This isn't necessarily anything new. The better prestige films always tend to begin their roll outs in September. By December - all of a sudden - there are seemingly enough great movies for people to champion. The difference with 2012 is that while there were a lot of very good movies, there weren't necessarily a significant number of great movies.
If there had to be any trend from my top 10 albums from 2012, the word of the year would be "lean." I admire the understated displays of self-editing. Fiona Apple's album didn't have a note or breath wasted; Miguel's tracklist was tidy, whereas Frank Ocean could learn to trim; Kendrick Lamar and Killer Mike ably balanced comedy and drama with carefully selected words; and mostly-instrumentals like Swans, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and the Dirty Three sequenced those excesses into something tangible and rare.
Other trends: I fell in love with very few country and Americana albums this year, though there will be plenty of those artists that dominate my songs lists. I did, however, fall in love with Emeli Sande, who is clearly the Real Deal. So is How to Dress Well, who broke my heart 10 different ways. I don't think Tallest Man on Earth or Grizzly Bear can make a bad album. Hundred Waters -- who were the first signees to Skrillex's label -- surprised the hell out of me and I hope the hype index of the IDM poster-child won't have a negative impact on their future successes. Matthew Dear, Goat, Burial and Diiv make dark-rooms music.
You can hear samples of most of these albums -- if not just most all of the artists -- on Immaculate Noise's 2012 Top Albums Spotify list.
Some people make great collections of songs, and some artists make albums. Here are 30 of my favorite albums from 2012, with their artists, because 30 is a nice round number...
With ballots in Academy members hands as of yesterday, the great settling is off and running. Various critics groups and top 10 lists have narrowed the pile enough that voters have a pretty good idea of the landscape in each category. More than that, "frontrunners" have staked their claim on the race, leaving precious little space for dark horses to maneuver.
When you're winning, you're winning. Daniel Day-Lewis hasn't missed a stop on the awards circuit so far this season, and the Santa Barbara International Film Festival wasn't about to be the first. It was announced today that the two-time Oscar champ will receive one of the festival's loftiest honors, the Montecito Award, both in recognition of his work in "Lincoln" and his career as a whole.
The award, which will be presented to Day-Lewis at a tribute evening on January 26, recognizes "a performer who has given a series of classic and standout performances throughout his/her career," and has been presented to Annette Bening, Naomi Watts, Javier Bardem, Kate Winslet, Julianne Moore and Geoffrey Rush since its instatement in 2005. I don't think many would deny that Day-Lewis meets the criteria.
Music video shoots are often fraught with drama, but rarely so much so as Imagine Dragons’ shoot for “Radioactive.” While the Las Vegas rock band was filming the clip in New York, the quartet came face to face with Superstorm Sandy.
In this exclusive behind-the-scenes footage below, lead singer Dan Reynolds talks about how the wacky concept for the video came about. As you know, the music video, which came out last week, features stuffed animals and puppets fighting it out in a “puppet octagon.” The losers who survive are sent to a prison, where the members of the band are being held. The clip also stars Lou “Diamond” Phillips as the evil overlord and Alexandra Daddario as a force for good. Director James Larese calls it “‘Fight Club for puppets.’”
Not only do the band members, Daddario and Phillips talk about making the clip in this exclusive footage, the victorious Pink Bear, whom Phillips refers to as “The Jackie Chan of the bear world,” also does his share of interviewing. Turns out shooting lasers out of his eyes isn’t his only talent.
About half-way through the the shoot, Sandy closed production down and after being evacuated, the band hightailed it to London to complete the shoot. Appropriately, the band realizes its trials are nothing in the grand scheme of things. “We all got stuck [In New York] for a few days, but we made it out with our health, so we count ourselves as lucky for that,” Reynolds says.
“Radioactive,” the band’s follow up to its breakthrough hit, “It’s Time,” is No. 8 with a bullet on Billboard’s Rock Songs chart. The group’s new album, “Night Visions,” bowed at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in September. The band will embark on its first headlining tour this spring. For more tour info, go here.
NEW YORK -- As the stage lights dim at the Walter Kerr Theatre, signaling an act break for "The Heiress," actress Jessica Chastain gets up off the floor and exits stage left. She sniffles back the tears she effortlessly manifested for the previous scene, preparing for the next act. Her character, Catherine, is frail, emotional, precious, and at the end of this act, burdened by the unloving eye of her father and twisted-up passion for a would-be beau. One can't help but think, "Maya would never be in this position."
Maya is Chastain's character in Kathryn Bigelow's "Zero Dark Thirty," a dense and principled account of the hunt for Osama bin Laden. She's driven, single-minded, seemingly without emotion, save for the tears she can finally shed when her mission is over. It's a fascinating foil to Catherine, who spends the entirety of "The Heiress" moving to a place of rigid, emotionless resolve. And so while on the stage Chastain is performing a fragile character's journey of clenching up, strengthening and hardening, on the screen she's performing a hardened character's journey of releasing, letting go and softening.
Dido has a voice that seems to float ethereally above the notes. It works best when it’s tethered to the ground by an opposing vocals such as on Eminem’s “Stan,” which used her song “Thank You.” *
Here, on Dido’s new song “Let Us Move On,” Kendrick Lamar’s gruff rap fills that role.
[More after the jump...]