Sunday, December 2, 2007

A Look At the Race Part One

Best Performance By an Actress in a Supporting Role
A look at the Oscar Race with TheBackstage's Above the Title

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Above the Title: Cate Blanchett (for I’m Not There) is the lockiest lock that ever locked. She’s the returning nominee from last year and will be one of the approximately 50% of the nominees who are returning veterans.

For Your Speculation: I agree and I think that she’s doing what Oscar likes best. Playing someone famous. Even if it’s not really Bob Dylan, we all know it’s Bob Dylan.

AtT: She will look so cute at the Oscars pregnant!

FYS: The next sure bet is looking to be Saoirse Ronan aka “the little girl from Atonement whose name we can’t pronounce” (phonetically pronounce “sir shuh”).

AtT: Anyone who has read the book knows the gravity of the role. Since she got the lead in The Lovely Bones, she must be the second coming of Jodie Foster.

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FYS: Thank god, you said Jodie Foster and not Dakota Fanning. Aside from these two ladies, it’s anyone else’s game. You have two former winners like Marisa Tomei (Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead) and Vanessa Redgrave (Atonement), a few past nominees such as Catherine Keener (Into the Wild) and a bevy of newbies and veterans looking for their first nod.

AtT: You have the two other ladies from Atonement (Redgrave and Romola Garai), but it is very rare for three people to get in from the same film, even if it looks to be beloved by the Oscars. You have people like Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone), who got the reviews that are good enough to warrant a nomination, but will need support from a critic’s group to get the traction that she needs. And then you have a previous winner like Olympia Dukakis (Away From Her) who could bandwagon Julie Christie.

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FYS: Then you have poor Jennifer Jason Leigh (Margot at the Wedding), who at the beginning of the season, looked like she was finally going to get recognized, but now is struggling to get noticed once again. On top of that, we also have women from potential Best Picture contenders, like Kelly Macdonald as the sole female protagonist in No Country for Old Men, Jennifer Garner if Juno becomes a Little Miss Sunshine -type Best Picture and Ruby Dee, if American Gangster can become more than just a moneymaker that will no doubt get Denzel and Russell some Globe nods.

AtT: I feel like Ruby Dee is someone who they might finally want to bestow a nomination. She’s been around a lot and is very respected.

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FYS: Plus, it’s been I believe two years since her husband, Ossie Davis passed away and he also was Oscarless in his career. By honoring Ruby Dee, they could in essence be honoring both of their careers. Let’s not forget that they both won the SAG Lifetime Achievement Award as a couple. That tells us that the industry saw them as a talented working married couple that proved the test of time. I cannot imagine Tom and Katie doing that.

AtT: Julia Roberts (Charlie Wilson’s War), I think, she will get a Globe nomination, but probably nothing else beyond that. Unless her wig is nominated for a Razzie. Yikes.

FYS: Agreed. It seems that after her coronation for Best Actress, the Academy is over her and won’t go near her until she starts playing the, sigh, mother of the lead actor in some Best Picture contender.

AtT: The only elephant in the room is Helena Bonham-Carter (Sweeney Todd), if she switches her campaign from lead to support.

FYS: The other wildcard in this race is Leslie Mann. Critics loved her performance in Knocked Up and if anything besides the script survives the onslaught of prestige pictures, it could be her.

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AtT: It could end up being a Joan Cusack type of nomination. It’s not the type of performance that Oscar recognizes. They don’t go for comedy, but this was an exceptionally well-reviewed summer film. Her role had a lot of heart and her reputation makes it easier to nominate her over a Katherine Heigl or a Seth Rogen.

FYS: I agree, and I think that she needs at least one critic award and a Globe nod for it to happen. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that the Academy, if they really think about it, might not want to pass up the chance to nominate Mr. and Mrs. Judd Apatow.

AtT: We cannot count out Marisa Tomei. She is a previous winner and she already did the impossible by coming back once after a much maligned win. Plus I hear she’s naked for the first few scenes of the movie.

FYS: Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton) is also someone who I believe the industry is waiting to be recognized. Depending on who you ask, she is either a poor man’s Cate Blanchett or a thinking man’s version of Cate Blanchett.

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AtT: And now she can be nominated opposite Cate Blanchett!

FYS: So who is winning the golden guy?

AtT: I’m putting all my eggs in the Saoirse Ronan basket. I think Blanchett has won very recently to win another one. I think if this girl is all she’s cracked up to be and if she’s in a BP contender then I see no reason why it can’t be the little girl. Plus how cute is it going to look to see 70 something year old Alan Arkin present an Oscar to a 13 year old.

FYS: Oddly enough, I also think the little girl is going to win. It helps that they didn’t give it to the other little girl last year. I think that the buzz is there, we haven’t had a surprise winner here in a long while (assuming that Blanchett or someone else wins more precursors) and by far the early reviews seem to all be in her favor.

Top Contenders:

Cate Blanchett, I'm Not There
Helena Bonham-Carter, Sweeney Todd
Ruby Dee, American Gangster
Olympia Dukakis, Away From Her
Romola Garai, Atonement
Jennifer Garner, Juno
Catherine Keener, Into the Wild
Jennifer Jason Leigh, Margot at the Wedding
Kelly Macdonald, No Country for Old Men
Leslie Mann, Knocked Up
Vanessa Redgrave, Atonement
Julia Roberts, Charlie Wilson's War
Saoirse Ronan, Atonement
Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone
Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton
Marisa Tomei, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Coming Soon

Apologies for being gone for a bit. Will resume business as usual soon with Oscar predictions, film reviews and maybe if we're lucky, a guest columnist? Stay tuned.

P.S. Feist's The Reminder and Rilo Kiley's Under the Blacklight are currently duking it out for the top crown of my favorite album of the year, thus far.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Emmy Analysis: Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series:

Patricia Arquette, Medium "Be Kind, Rewind"

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Pro: Arquette is coming in with an Emmy for this role and lots of support (back-to-back Globe and SAG nods). She's the dominate lead in her submission and is essentially playing the same scenes four different times, which allows her to show off some range.

Con: Arquette failed to get nominated last year, so one has to wonder if the support for the show is still there (and NBC benched it again for mid-season). Despite a terrific season, I think another win for Arquette is probably not going to happen.

Minnie Driver, The Riches "Pilot"

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Pro: A wonderful performance from Oscar nominee Driver, that allows voters to see a new side to an actress many don't care for. Very showy, very dramatic, plus she's fighting her drug additions (Emmy bait!). Emmy voters have recently taken a shine towards past their prime movie stars doing television shows (see recent wins by Patricia Arquette and James Spader).

Con: Driver has to share her screentime with Eddie Izzard. The role might be too out of the comfort zone of Academy members (a grifter can't compare to cops, mafia wives, doctors or politicans). Driver was the show's only nod.

Edie Falco, The Sopranos "The Second Coming"

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Pro: Falco already has three Emmys for this role and this will be voters last time to reward her for it. It's a very good performance where we get to see two different sides of Carmela (remorseful over A.J.'s suicide attempt and pissed at Tony for everything). In a race of two new nominees, two former winners and one past nominee, Falco is the veteran of the category.

Con: It's a very supporting performance and some voters might know that Falco wasn't a big player this season. She also failed to get a nod last year, when she was left devasted on Tony's presumed deathbed. Maybe they're over her?

Sally Field, Brothers & Sisters "Mistakes Were Made Part Two"

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Pro: A two-time Oscar winner slumming it on a weepy ABC soap. Field began her career on television and now has returned and having a grand time as the matriarch of the Los Angeles family. It's a winning submission (much better than I remembered) and Field already has two Emmys for her previous work on tv-film Sybil and guest work on ER.

Con: A two-time Oscar winner slumming it on a weepy ABC soap. Calista Flockhart is slightly better in the same episode, so voters might not care for Field's performance.

Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit "Florida"

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Pro: Hargitay has the entire episode to herself and gives a solid performance. As the defending champion in this category, Hargitay could see herself repeat her win if voters are lazy (which they tend to be). Fans of the show will finally get some closure to Det. Benson's search for her family.

Con: It's not as overtly baity as last year's, or the one before. And even though she beat her last year, having a similar character to Kyra Sedgwick can't help. Those who have never seen the show before might be confused over her search for her family.

Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer "Slippin'"

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Pro: A recent Globe winner, Sedgwick benefits from being the clear lead of her show and submission. She has a very commanding presence on screen. It helps to work opposite Emmy-nominee Frances Sternhagen, which brings a bit of lightness to her submission.

Con: Sedgwick's submission last year was better and voters seem to like Hargitay's cop over hers. Despite the Globe win, it seems like Sedgwick is destined to be always a nominee, never a winner at the Emmys.

Final Thoughts:

This is a difficult category to nail down. Okay, so I don't think Patricia Arquette will ever win again and she had much better tapes. If Kyra Sedgwick doesn't win this year, I think that voters simply don't care for that performance. Mariska Hargitay could spoil, although I think she, like Arquette, are done collecting trophies here. Minnie Driver would have had a stronger shot if her show was more widely recognized. That leaves Sally Field and Edie Falco. I think this category is not going to come down to tapes, but more of who voters like and respect more. Falco's show is over and it's really one of Emmy's favorites. But something is telling me that Sally Field's name recognition is going to stick out with many voters and despite the lack of huge support from the industry, I think the Academy will see it more as honoring Sally Field than honoring Brothers & Sisters.

Projected Winner:

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1. Sally Field
2. Edie Falco
3. Minnie Driver
4. Mariska Hargitay
5. Kyra Sedgwick
6. Patricia Arquette

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Emmy Analysis: Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series:

Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men "Repeated Blows to His Unformed Head"

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Pro: Cryer has a lot of screentime (it helps that it is a leading role masquerading as a supporting one), so that will help, along with being on the #1 sitcom.

Con: But this is without a doubt an awful performance that will surely turn-off female voters. Lusting over a pregnant Sara Rue isn't going to get him loads of votes. Those at CBS may want to see Harris win to give a boost to that show.

Kevin Dillon, Entourage "The Resurrection"

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Pro: Dillon's got a good amount of screentime. After many years of being "Matt Dillon's brother," this has surely been a career-high role and performance. It's very sympathetic and if voters are looking for someone who is in need of a hug via an Emmy, Dillon's it.

Con: HBO may want to see Jeremy Piven win again. Plus he is kind of playing himself.

Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother "Showdown"

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Pro: Harris' storyline is pretty funny and it has some nice moments in it as well. It's a very showy, over-the-top role, the kind that voters have awarded in the past. His coming out this year may also score some votes.

Con: It feels like he has the least amount of screentime of the bucnh. The performance isn't as showy when compared to the likes of Piven or even Dillon. CBS may want a win for Cryer since his show is more successful. The show has it's fans, but does the Academy like it?

Jeremy Piven, Entourage "Manic Monday"

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Pro: Last year's winner once again received a nod from the Golden Globes and even landed a spot at the Screen Actors Guild. It's a performance and role they have liked before and Piven gives another performance that gives him plenty of time to shine. And there is usually one performer from each genre that repeats.

Con: A split vote with Dillon, particularly from those fans who think Dillon continues to grow, while Piven's character continues to annoy. The submissions last year were a little bit weaker, so can Piven outshine this year's stronger submissions?

Rainn Wilson, The Office "The Coup"

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Pro: A win for Wilson would be akin to Michael Richards winning so many times for Seinfeld. It may not be as laugh out loud funny as the others, but Wilson has screentime and the acting chops to sneak a win, particularly if the love for The Office grows.

Con: The performance might be too polarizing for voters. Plus the episode itself was not given a strong positive reaction at the earlier Emmy panels.

Final Thoughts:

This is one of the more interesting races of the night. Jon Cryer is likely the only nominee who will not win. The other four are much closer than I originally thought. I think Neil Patrick Harris might suffer from being on a little-seen show, while Kevin Dillon will be hurt by Jeremy Piven more than Piven being hurt by Dillon. Rainn Wilson could rise above if the love for The Office is there and if the HBO and CBS voting blocks split. But I think we're going to see Jeremy Piven get a repeat win here. Any of the four should be considered a worthy victor, since those four have some of the better submissions of the year.

Projected Winner:

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1. Jeremy Piven
2. Rainn Wilson
3. Neil Patrick Harris
4. Kevin Dillon
5. Jon Cryer

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Emmy Analysis: Best Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Best Lead Actor in a Comedy Series:

Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock "Hiatus"

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Pro: Well, it really helps that Baldwin is the movie star doing a tv show. Plus the Globe and the Screen Actors Guild Award (and I guess the Television Critic Award). He's the sole reason why the show is probably still on the air. He has some funny moments (like when he almost has the heart attack at dinner).

Con: Yikes, he's got very little screentime. On top of that, Elaine Stritch and Tina Fey seem to steal Baldwin's thunder in this episode. Plus Tracy Morgan's storyline is very distracting. I don't think voters will care too much about his phone call to his daughter, so if he loses, it's because he didn't submit a great submission.

Steve Carell, The Office "Business School"

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Pro: A lot of voters will see Carell as owed, after losing to Tony Shalhoub last year (a win that even made Shalhoub himself look kind of miffed). He's got a good deal of screentime and his usual antics are more subdued. Plus he shows off his acting chops (both at the school when he realizes Ryan betrayed him and later when he encourages Pam at her art show). Terrific submission.

Con: The NBC voting block may try to support a Baldwin win over Carell, which could lead to a split and allow Shalhoub to win again. Hear that collective groan again?

Ricky Gervais, Extras "Sir Ian McKellen"

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Pro: Gervais managed to get in without a big push from HBO. They must still love him for The Office. He's nominated four times this year (as a performer, producer, writer and director), so he should win something right? His screentime is pretty good.

Con: The performance is going to be very love it or hate it. I can't imagine a polarizing performance winning over bigger names with more widely appreciated roles.

Tony Shalhoub, Monk "Mr. Monk Gets a New Shrink"

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Pro: Well, he's got the screentime...again. He's got the hammy, over-the-top character...again. He's in every scene...again. Shalhoub has won three times. They clearly like this performance and this role.

Con: And yet this particular submission feels very stale. This is probably Shalhoub's weakest submission to date.

Charlie Sheen, Two and a Half Men "Who's Vod Kanockers?"

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Pro: Well, this is his second nomination. He's on the #1 sitcom on tv. He has his brief "actory" moments.

Con: Last year's submission was better and he still couldn't beat Shalhoub. Plus his storyline is lame and I think they would awarded everyone else on his show (including Angus T. Jones) before him.

Final Thoughts:

This is kind of a boring race. Charlie Sheen is completely out. I think Ricky Gervais has a better shot winning an Emmy as a producer or as a writer than as a performer. Alec Baldwin would have been a bigger contender with a better submission. This one will come down to Tony Shalhoub and Steve Carell. Shalhoub's shtick has proven time and time again to always win (and of all his submissions, I still find it odd that the one he lost with, was his best) so a win here would be unsuprising but critics, audiences and hell, Emmy ceremony attendees will all bitch and moan. Carell's submission has that great last scene, that I think will stick out to voter's minds and will let him sneak in a win here. Barely.

Projected Winner:

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1. Steve Carell
2. Tony Shalhoub
3. Alec Baldwin
4. Ricky Gervais
5. Charlie Sheen

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Oscar Prediction Charts, Round One

Since the prestige fall films will soon be unleashed upon us, I think it's time for me to post my current chart for my Oscar predictions. This chart is a ranking of who I think will end up with an Oscar nomination this year. Here goes nothing!

Best Picture:
1. Atonement (Joe Wright, Focus Features)
2. In the Valley of Elah (Paul Haggis, Warner Bros.)
3. No Country for Old Men (Joel Coen, Miramax)
4. Reservation Road (Terry George, Focus Features)
5. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson, Paramount Vantage)
6. Charlie Wilson’s War (Mike Nichols, Universal)
7. Lions for Lambs (Robert Redford, MGM/United Artists)
8. Once (John Carney, Fox Searchlight)
9. Things We Lost in the Fire (Susanne Bier, Dreamworks)
10. Sweeney Todd (Tim Burton, Dreamworks/Paramount)
11. Elizabeth: The Golden Age (Shekhar Kapur, Universal)
12. Rendition (Gavin Hood, New Line)
13. Into the Wild (Sean Penn, Paramount Vantage)
14. American Gangster (Ridley Scott, Universal)
15. Knocked Up (Judd Apatow, Universal)
16. Away from Her (Sarah Polley, Lionsgate)
17. Youth Without Youth (Francis Ford Coppola, Sony Pictures Classic)
18. The Savages (Tamara Jenkins, Fox Searchlight)
19. Cassandra’s Dream (Woody Allen, The Weinstein Company)
20. Gone Baby Gone (Ben Affleck, Miramax)

Best Director:
1. Joel Coen, No Country for Old Men
2. Joe Wright, Atonement
3. Paul Haggis, In the Valley of Elah
4. Mike Nichols, Charlie Wilson’s War
5. Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood
6. Robert Redford, Lions for Lambs
7. Terry George, Reservation Road
8. Tim Burton, Sweeney Todd
9. Francis Ford Coppola, Youth Without Youth
10. Woody Allen, Cassandra’s Dream
11. Ang Lee, Lust, Caution
12. Susanne Bier, Things We Lost in the Fire
13. John Carney, Once
14. David Cronenberg, Eastern Promises
15. Ridley Scott, American Gangster
16. Sarah Polley, Away from Her
17. Gavin Hood, Rendition
18. Todd Haynes, I’m Not There
19. Shekhar Kapur, Elizabeth: The Golden Age
20. Sean Penn, Into the Wild

Best Lead Actor:
1. Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood
2. Joaquin Phoenix, Reservation Road
3. Tommy Lee Jones, In the Valley of Elah
4. John Cusack, Grace is Gone
5. Tom Hanks, Charlie Wilson’s War
6. Benicio del Toro, Things We Lost in the Fire
7. James McAvoy, Atonement
8. Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd
9. Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men
10. Denzel Washington, American Gangster
11. Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Savages
12. Russell Crowe, American Gangster
13. Emilie Hirsch, Into the Wild
14. Ewan McGregor, Cassandra’s Dream
15. George Clooney, Michael Clayton
16. Tim Roth, Youth Without Youth
17. Christian Bale, Rescue Dawn
18. Mathieu Amalric, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
19. Viggo Mortenson, Eastern Promises
20. Richard Gere, The Hoax

Best Lead Actress:
1. Julie Christie, Away from Her
2. Keira Knightley, Atonement
3. Angelina Jolie, A Mighty Heart
4. Marion Cottillard, La Vie En Rose
5. Nicole Kidman, Margot at the Wedding
6. Halle Berry, Things We Lost in the Fire
7. Charlize Theron, In the Valley of Elah
8. Reese Witherspoon, Rendition
9. Meryl Streep, Lions for Lambs
10. Laura Linney, The Savages
11. Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth: The Golden Age
12. Jodie Foster, The Brave One
13. Helena Bonham Carter, Sweeney Todd
14. Jennifer Connelly, Reservation Road
15. Keri Russell, Waitress
16. Hilary Swank, P.S. I Love You
17. Naomi Watts, Eastern Promises
18. Ashley Judd, Bug
19. Molly Shannon, Year of the Dog
20. Amy Adams, Enchanted

Best Supporting Actor:
1. Mark Ruffalo, Reservation Road
2. Philip Bosco, The Savages
3. Gordon Pinsent, Away from Her
4. Paul Dano, There Will Be Blood
5. Josh Brolin, No Country for Old Men
6. Robert Redford, Lions for Lambs
7. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Charlie Wilson’s War
8. Paul Rudd, Knocked Up
9. Omar Metwally, Rendition
10. Alan Rickman, Sweeney Todd
11. Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton
12. Cuba Gooding Jr., American Gangster
13. Steve Zahn, Rescue Dawn
14. Ed Harris, Gone Baby Gone
15. Josh Brolin, In the Valley of Elah
16. Jack Black, Margot at the Wedding
17. Bruno Ganz, Youth Without Youth
18. David Duchovny, Things We Lost in the Fire
19. Jonathan Tucker, In the Valley of Elah
20. Alfred Molina, The Hoax

Best Supporting Actress:
1. Susan Sarandon, In the Valley of Elah
2. Jennifer Jason Leigh, Margot at the Wedding
3. Romola Garai, Atonement
4. Mira Sorvino, Reservation Road
5. Kelly Macdonald, No Country for Old Men
6. Vanessa Redgrave, Atonement
7. Saoirse Ronan, Atonement
8. Meryl Streep, Lions for Lambs
9. Julia Roberts, Charlie Wilson’s War
10. Olympia Dukakis, Away from Her
11. Abbie Cornish, Elizabeth: The Golden Age
12. Leslie Mann, Knocked Up
13. Helena Bonham Carter, Sweeney Todd
14. Hayley Atwell, Cassandra’s Dream
15. Cate Blanchett, I’m Not There
16. Meryl Streep, Rendition
17. Samantha Morton, Elizabeth: The Golden Age
18. Margo Martindale, Paris, je t’aime
19. Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton
20. Marcia Gay Harden, The Christmas Cottage, The Hoax, Into the Wild, The Invisible, The Mist, Rails & Ties

Monday, August 20, 2007

Emmy Analysis: Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series:

America Ferrera, Ugly Betty "Pilot"

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Pro: Ferrera comes into the race with wins from both the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild. Of the five, her show is the one with the most buzz (and most Emmy nominations). She also has 30 minutes of screentime (out of 44 minutes), where she not only shows her charming side, but also her vulnerable side (when her boyfriend breaks up with her and later at the fashion shoot). This is a very smart submission for Ferrera.

Con: The problem with dramedies is that, unless you're Lauren Graham (Lorelai Gilmore, we hardly knew you), it will be hard to find a scene where the character is actually laugh out loud funny as opposed to simply being charming and witty. Ferrera's performance isn't really a knee-slapper, which could hinder her in a lineup that usually tends to award more outright funny performances.

Tina Fey, 30 Rock "Up All Night"

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Pro: Fey will be seen by voters as the lineup's busy bee. Not only does she act on the show, but she also produces and writes (for which she also received nominations this year). Fey is one of the more funnier ladies, particularly with lines as "this would have worked on Ugly Betty," as we see her try to crawl out of Jack's office.

Con: Fey has the least amount of screentime of the five (9 minutes). It doesn't help that Fey's outperformed by Alec Baldwin in his storyline and the storyline revolving over the game of "Marry, Boff, Kill" will be distracting as well.

Felicity Huffman, Desperate Housewives "Bang"

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Pro: Oscar nominee Huffman has previously won for her performance (in season one). Huffman gives a fine performance balancing both comedy ("I didn't want the first four kids, but they're growing on me") and drama ("Maybe you deserved to get cheated on!"). The submission itself was one of the more memorable episodes of the season, which could also help her.

Con: With only 13 minutes of screentime, the performance isn't as commanding as say, Ferrera's. The episode not only features strong performances from Marcia Cross and Teri Hatcher, but Huffman gets overshadowed by guest star Laurie Metcalf's bold performance. It's a very ensemble submission, which would have been fine, if Huffman's co-stars were also nominated to give her a boost too.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, The New Adventures of Old Christine "Playdate with Destiny"

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Pro: Shot for shot, Louis-Dreyfus delivers the flat-out funniest performance of the five nominees. Whether it's Christine being nervous around Mr. Harris (which leads to "volume modulation control" and a "black attack") or Christine failing to learn to put the cup of soup down because it's too hot, Louis-Dreyfus gives her all in this submission. She's got a little bit of everything. Louis-Dreyfus also comes into the race with 20 minutes of screentime (out of 22 minutes) and being the category's current winner.

Con: The show is not on CBS' fall schedule (unless something bombs), which could mean that support from the network might not be there. Louis-Dreyfus managed to squeak in a win here last year because her show was the only one still on the air, which isn't the case this year.

Mary-Louise Parker, Weeds "Mrs. Botwin's Neighborhood"

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Pro: Parker spends the majority of her submission trying to figure out what to do about her competition next door and how to be a good mom to her son. This leads to many sympathetic scenes (particularly the one where she protects her son) as well as a hilarious (and campy) scene where she fights with Celia. Plus she also received a nomination this year for her work in the television movie, The Robber Bride.

Con: With 12 minutes of screentime, it's hard for Parker to leave a lasting impression on voters. Her work is probably the most dramatic of the five, which might hurt her. Also, the submission spends too much time on her co-stars.

Final Thoughts:

Tina Fey is probably completely out of this race (although expect her to win for Comedy Writing). Felicity Huffman and Mary-Louise Parker are probably too dramatic to land a win here, but it's not entirely out of the question. That leaves America Ferrera and Julia Louis-Dreyfus and they both have lots of things going for them and against them. Ferrera would not only be the first Hispanic winner in this category, but also the youngest (at age 23 she would best Mary Tyler Moore's record when she was 28). Louis-Dreyfus would be the first repeat winner since Patricia Heaton and in a lineup of heavy dramedies, her show is the only one that is still filmed in the traditional multi-camera setting. This will be very close.

Projected Winner:

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1. Julia Louis-Dreyfus
2. America Ferrera
3. Felicity Huffman
4. Mary-Louise Parker
5. Tina Fey

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Emmy Analysis: Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series:

Lorraine Bracco, The Sopranos "The Blue Comet"

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Pro: What Bracco may lack in screentime, she makes up for in packing a punch to voters. After seven years of putting up with Tony and all his lies, Dr. Melfi finally kicks him to the curb. It's a very brief performance, but it is the most impact voters will get out of all the tapes. Bracco has yet to win for this role and if voters remember that, it might help her overcome the odds.

Con: Of the six nominees, Bracco has the least amount of screentime (10 minutes). Aida Turturro might siphon votes from her that could have put her over the top to win here.

Rachel Griffiths, Brothers & Sisters "Bad News"

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Pro: Griffiths is clearly an actress that voters admire and respect (she was previously nominated for her work on Six Feet Under). She has a wonderful scene in her submission where she confronts her husband about his infidelities that lets Griffiths show off her chops. What's more, as one of two previous Academy Award nominees in this race (Bracco is the other), she brings some clout with her name status.

Con: However, in 13 minutes of screentime, Griffiths performance feels oddly incomplete. There are storylines going around her performance that seemingly come out of left field. Voters clearly like the actor, but there seems to be no love for the show.

Katherine Heigl, Grey's Anatomy "Time After Time"

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Pro: A surprisingly understated performance from Heigl (who's character is usually abrasive) will no doubt find some sympathy from voters (Izzie finds out the daughter she gave up for adoption needs a bone marrow transplant). Heigl's screentime is good enough (16 minutes) for her to show her range. A recent Golden Glob nominees, Heigl also stands to gain some newfound respect for her charming lead role in the summer hit Knocked Up.

Con: Of the six nominees, Heigl is the youngest (28) which isn't too bad, but voters here have been notorious for honoring respected veterans (see recent wins by Blythe Danner, Tyne Daly, Stockard Channing and Holland Taylor). With three ladies from Grey's Anatomy it's possible that voters can't pick just one to support.

Sandra Oh, Grey's Anatomy "From a Whisper to a Scream"

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Pro: Oh has a little bit of everything in her submission. She shows a lot of range, as we see Cristina contemplate keeping Dr. Burke's secret (with a slight nod to Lady MacBeth in the scene where she learns that Burke is going to be taking over for the Chief). This being this season's only episode where Ellen Pompeo doesn't narrate, we get to hear another side of Cristina's personality through Oh's narration. She failed to win last year, despite being heavily favored (good tape, Globe and SAG wins), which could elicit some "she was robbed" votes. Oh has the most screentime of the nominees (25 minute). And unlike the show, Oh seems to be very well-liked within the industry (this is her third nod for the show). Plus, you know they still love her for being in Sideways.

Con: Oh's biggest setback will be her direct competition from her show (Heigl and Wilson). If she can overcome them both, this looks to be a done deal for her.

Aida Turturro, The Sopranos "Soprano Home Movies"

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Pro: Turturro has a lot of screentime here (20 minutes) and she gets some choice one-liners ("Fuck the Parker Brothers!") as well as that hilarious story about her parents.

Con: But there's no lasting impression that voters will get after watching her submission. The performance doesn't feel complete, she's overshadowed by her castmates and ultimately, it feels very inconsequential. Plus, if voters want to reward a Sopranos lady, they have Bracco.

Chandra Wilson, Grey's Anatomy "Oh, the Guilt"

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Pro: A recent SAG winner, Wilson (who popped up in two scenes in Heigl's submission) gets to show her more softer side in this submission. After being berated at the M&M conference, Wilson does her best to prove that her maternal instincts won't hinder her abilities as a doctor. The Chief knocks some sense into her ("being a mother makes you a better doctor") which allows Wilson to convince another mother to go ahead with her mastectomy so she can enjoy being a mother.

Con: Wilson has 12 minutes of screentime, which might not be enough to have an impact on voters. Having two co-stars in the race could lead to vote siphoning.

Final Thoughts:

Very surprising turn of events. Despite six nominees, this feels like a very weak category. Rachel Griffiths and Aida Turturro shouldn't be expecting to win. Likewise, co-stars Katherine Heigl and Chandra Wilson are probably sitting this one out this year (and they have potential to win in the future). This race comes down to Sandra Oh and Lorraine Bracco. One has a damn-near perfect tape and the other has a very small performance, but it leaves such an impression on voters that it's hard to forget even after watching all those other submissions. Last year Oh lost to a similar performance and Bracco has been doing her best to work the industry events during voting. I think that this one will be a squeaker.

Projected Winner:

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1. Lorraine Bracco
2. Sandra Oh
3. Katherine Heigl
4. Chandra Wilson
5. Rachel Griffiths
6. Aida Turturro

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Emmy Analysis: Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series:

Michael Emerson, Lost "The Man Behind the Curtain"

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Pro: Emerson has 23 minutes of screentime in which he slowly reveals to Terry O'Quinn, the secrets of the island and himself. It culminates with a creepy scene with an invisible (or is he?) man named Jacob. Considering Emerson is a past Emmy winner for The Practice plus his ability to overcome bigger names to make the nominees' list could mean he is a potential threat to win. Also to consider is his scene-stealing performance in O'Quinn's submission.

Con: Emerson's main weakness is his role and performance. He's cold, ruthless and at times insane. It's not a sympathetic performance and even in his scenes from O'Quinn's submission, the impression that he will leave with voters is not a positive, but more a bitter one. O'Quinn has the better submission which could mean potential for a vote-split.

Michael Imperioli, The Sopranos "Walk Like A Man"

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Pro: Imperioli has a commanding 22 minutes of screentime, where the editing down of tapes, work to his advantage. His arc feels complete without any missing information or performance. He also relapses into drinking again and he pretty much confesses to Tim Daly what really happened to the girl he was involved with (Adriana, we miss you). P.S. while not in this episode, but voters know that Christopher Moltisanti is no longer with us. It's voters last chance to award Imperioli, who has previously won for this role.

Con: Despite all of that, there is no sense of urgency to reward Imperioli again. He wasn't in all of the episodes this year and he had very little screentime in the ones he did appear. Plus when he won the first time, it felt appropriate to honor Christopher along with Adriana.

T.R. Knight, Grey's Anatomy "Six Days Part One and Part Two"

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Pro: Having the most screentime of the six nominees (30 minutes), Knight has a lot more in his favor. In his submission, his father is dying of cancer in Part One and then his family says goodbye in Part Two. He has mirror scenes, one, where we see tender moments with Knight and George Dzundza as his father (Dzundza confesses running over Knight's dog when he was younger; Knight later confesses that he did beat up a neighbor when he was young). The second mirror scene is when he asks Chandra Wilson to not sugarcoat anything, but then later he lashes out at her for not telling him that his father wanted to fight the cancer. His final moment with Sandra Oh (where she bitterly invites him to the Dead Dad's Club) further cements this devastating performance.

Con: Washingtongate might hurt his chances overall. While there will be voters who will not only feel sympathy for Knight in his coming-out this year, there might be others who will resent Knight for what happened to Isaiah Washington.

Masi Oka, Heroes "Five Years Gone"

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Pro: Playing a double role allows Oka (a Globe nominee this year), to showcase two different performances. Future Hiro is strong, obssessive and confident about his powers, which constrasts with present Hiro, who is unsure of his abilities, weaker and timid.

Con: The show does not work well with the edits, which will leave voters very confused over which character's which and how the scheme of the overall timeline works. Added to that, Oka has the least amount of screentime of the six nominees (17 minutes).

Terry O'Quinn, Lost "The Man From Tallahassee"

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Pro: O'Quinn towers over Emerson in their shared performance here. With 29 minutes of screentime, O'Quinn is no slouch when compared to his competition, as his submission will also garner more sympathy than Emerson (we finally learn how Locke became paralyzed). Unlike Emerson, O'Quinn also gets more to do in his flashback sequences.

Con: If voters watch the submissions in order, it will be tricky for voters to hold viewers' attention with another action/adventure submission. Emerson, unlike O'Quinn, is a previous Emmy winner, but O'Quinn was nominated in the first season, so a vote-split could happen, but it is unlikely. More likely than not, Emerson will siphon votes from O'Quinn, which could cost him a win.

William Shatner, Boston Legal "Son of the Defender"

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Pro: Shatner's Denny Crane role has previously earned him two Emmys, which proves it's a performance that voters love. Not only does Shatner have a present-day trial he also does a flashback to when he first tried the case. It's clearly aimed at Emmy voters who love a nod to the old shows of the 50s. His final scene with James Spader is also quite touching, where he reveals that his father disowned him.

Con: However, Shatner's performance is pretty bare. It feels like there's more reactions shots to Shatner rather than any real action from him. Plus in the flashback sequences, Shatner is overshadowed by Ralph Bellamy's performance

Final Thoughts:

Masi Oka is not winning this year and with another co-star nominated, it's doubtful that Michael Emerson will be the Lost star to win this year. Unless voters are really looking to send The Sopranos off with buckets of Emmys, I also don't think Michael Imperioli is winning. That leaves three nominees. Had Lost been nominated for Drama Series, I think Terry O'Quinn could have been a bigger threat, but I think voters are starting to cool on the show. In the end I think the strength of T.R. Knight's performance will downplay the name recognition of William Shatner, which should give Grey's Anatomy its first major Emmy win.

Projected Winner:

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1. T.R. Knight
2. William Shatner
3. Terry O'Quinn
4. Michael Imperioli
5. Michael Emerson
6. Masi Oka

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Most Anticipated Films of Fall 2007, Part 3

Margot at the Wedding (Director: Noah Baumbach)

"Margot and her son Claude decide to visit Margot's sister, Pauline after she announces that she is getting married to less-than-impressive Malcolm (IMDB)."

Noah Baumbach's last effort brought us the family dramedy The Squid and the Whale, for which Baumbach received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay. Based on the trailer it looks like Margot at the Wedding will be another dramedy, but instead of a family unit, Baumbach is looking at the relationship between two sisters, Margot (Nicole Kidman) and Pauline (Jennifer Jason Leigh).

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What's interesting is that it looks like it will be the kind of performance that Kidman will receive praise for downplaying her character. There appears to be no moments of "THIS IS MY OSCAR SCENE" in the trailer, but instead we are treated to a more realistic approach from the actors. The roles Kidman has done as of late, have not particularly stretched her as an actress (I mean, Bewitched anyone?) and she just looks uncomfortable in her scenes. Here, Kidman seems to be at her most comfortable. A return to form for an actress that hasn't done all that much to show off her Oscar winning skills (Birth excluded, a fine performance that grows with repeated viewings).

Leigh (who seems a perfect choice to play Kidman's younger sister), who in real-life is married to Baumbach, has delivered many great performances that have yet to nab her the elusive attention from the Academy. Fans will remember her work in the critically respected Georgia, Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle and Last Exit to Brooklyn. But for me, she will always be Stacy Hamilton from Fast Times at Ridgemont High. This looks to be a rewarding role for Leigh, one that will remind critics and audiences (and maybe the Academy) that she is an actress that deserves attention.

On the flip-side of these two actress, we have Jack Black. I have enjoyed some of Black's work, but I am very intrigued about how he is starting to show more of his acting abilites rather than just his comic sensibilities (his performance in last year's messy The Holiday proved to be a start of his maturity as an actor). Besides having a fun line in the trailer ("Lots of people. You don't know 'em, they're not around because I punched them"), Black looks to be motivated by his co-stars to bring his A-game to the forefront. Sharing scenes with both Kidman and Leigh will no doubt make him a better actor (one would hope).

Paramount is releasing Margot at the Wedding through their Paramount Vantage studio (the same one that released Babel) in a limited release come November, which to me says that they are expecting this to be one of their prime awards magnet. They are also releasing The Coen Brothers' No Country for Old Men, Martin Scorsese's Rolling Stones documentary Shine a Light, Sean Penn's Into the Wild and Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood (all of which I am also anticipating) this fall, but Margot at the Wedding will no doubt be their go-to film to position for female acting and original screenplay attention.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Emmy Analysis: Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series:

James Gandolfini, The Sopranos "The Second Coming"

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Pro: Gandolfini enters the race with three Emmys and a powerhouse submission. In a dominating performance (he has 33 minutes of screentime), we see a different side of Tony Soprano. Instead of the mob boss we're use to, we see a caring father who saves his son from his botched suicide (try to keep your composure as Gandolfini cries "it's all right baby" as he cradles his son). Gandolfini also comes to the rescue of Meadow, in the mode of committing one of the series' most gruesome actions. Calling back to his Emmy-winning performance in "Whitecaps" he also has a fight with Carmela (although not as catastrophic). He ends his submission with an epiphany at Dr. Melfi's ("don't act surprised!" he scowels) and visiting his son at the hospital.

Con: Gandolfini has only previous lost the Emmy to Dennis Franz and to James Spader (and failed to be nominated last year). With Spader back in the running, one should keep an eye out for him, but with the show earning 15 nominations in its last year, I suspect voters are willing to send it off with a few more wins.

Hugh Laurie, House "Half-Wit"

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Pro: Hugh Laurie is his show, so the main attention in his submission should be his performance (he is in his submission for roughly 28 minutes). However...

Con: The majority of the attention in the submission will no doubt be with the storyline involving guest actors Kurtwood Smith and Dave Matthews. Laurie spends the entire episode being secretive and then his co-workers find out he has cancer, or rather, he is faking cancer to get some brand new drugs. It's not a sympathtic performance, and it will surely turn off voters.

Denis Leary, Rescue Me "Retards"

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Pro: Voters looking for lots of range, could go for Leary. Not only does he go head-to-head with is ex-wife over who suffered more over the death of their son, he also visits his dying co-worker in the hospital. But in all of his 33 minutes of screentime, Leary's big moment comes at a bar. After trying to stay sober for the past few years, Leary enters the bar and orders a drink. When the bartender learns Leary has no money, he calls security and that's when it happens. Leary begins to rage out to the guards, the bartender and the other patrons about how screwed up his life is (ex-wife is pregnant with either his or his brother's baby, son's dead, lost co-workers in 9/11, battle scars from being a firefighter). It's a passionate five minute monologue that will surely impress voters.

Con: Last year Leary had a prime Emmy tape (his son died!) and he still lost to Kiefer Sutherland. However, last year, 24 was destined to win Drama Series and on top of that Leary's tape was a bit too subtle for voters. This year, 24 is nowehere to be found on the Drama Series category.

James Spader, Boston Legal "Angel of Death"

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Pro: Spader is currently two for two, for his role as Alan Shore. This time around, Shore is down in New Orleans to help a doctor who euthanized patients who were going to die because of dehydration, starvation and every other painful way to go, thanks to Hurricane Katrina. Spader shines in his court scenes, but most in particular in his four minute closing, where he lashes out at the United State government for not being there for the victims of Katrina. It's a performance that is very similar to the win that brought him his first win for Boston Legal.

Con: The problem that Spader is going to run into this time is that he is not on screen for much of the episode. In 24 minutes, he does get that very lenghthy closing argument speech. But there are two big scenes in court where Spader is just sitting there while guest star Nia Long takes the lead. Then we have two wasted storylines about his co-workers back in Boston, who basically just want to get laid, which also distracts from Spader's performance as Denny Crane needs to get his kicks in New Orleans too. Plus he gets upstage by guest star Ann Cusack as the doctor who is on trial.

Kiefer Sutherland, 24 "Day 6: 5:00am-6:00am"

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Pro: Sutherland has two particularly great scenes. The first is when he saves his nephew (as well as letting his father die the easy way...getting bombed). And the final 6 minutes where he says goodbye to guest star Kim Raver lets him shed tears and changes from yelling everywhere to a faint whisper.

Con: Sutherland has 19 minutes of screentime, which would be fantastic...if he was in the supporting races. He's gone for stretches at a time, sharing his submission with guest Powers Boothe. Up against actors with more screentime to shine, don't expect Sutherland to repeat.

Final Thoughts:

I think Keifer Sutherland and Hugh Laurie are not winning this year. James Spader could provide a surprise attack (he's already done it twice), but this will come down to Denis Leary and James Gandolfini. And when push comes to shove, it is voter's last chance to award Tony Soprano. They're not going to pass that up.

Projected Winner:

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1. James Gandolfini
2. Denis Leary
3. James Spader
4. Hugh Laurie
5. Keifer Sutherland