Sunday, March 30, 2008

Gridiron Giggles

My latest NY Daily News article is a rundown of that much-beloved movie genre, football comedies. Hey, when is someone going to ask me to turn this regular feature (picking five or six flicks from the past that tie into a current feature) into a book already?

The IRA's 2008: An Historic Sweep

The 2008 IRA Awards have just been announced and it's an historic, perhaps record-setting sweep for one of the year's most acclaimed but overlooked movies.

The IRAs is an annual get-together of movie buffs that was launched by college friends 32 years ago as a counter to the more mundane Oscars. These are film fanatics who go to Film Forum and Anthology Archives and film festivals throughout America and around the world. Members have won major Oscars and worked on Oscar-winning Best Picture winners, they've written acclaimed and best-selling Hollywood biographies like Ed Sikov's Dark Victory: The Life Of Bette Davis, the definitive Oscar book (indeed the definitive awards book) Inside Oscar, worked at major magazines and newspapers covering the industry, worked at major studios and in the independent film industry or in my case just schlepped around as a freelancer and watched a lot of movies year in and year out. In other words, IRA members range from major players to avid fans.

So here are this year's winners followed by the balloting as it happened with all the top vote-getters listed and the Bronx cheers at the end of Sominex and Dramamine movies (those that put us to sleep or made us sick) and Mechanical Actor and Actress.

BEST PICTURE: The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford
BEST DIRECTOR: Andrew Dominik - The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford
BEST ACTOR: Casey Affleck - The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford
BEST ACTRESS: Marina Hands - Lady Chatterley
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Paul Schneider - The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford, Lars and the Real Girl.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Amy Ryan - Gone Baby Gone
BEST SCREENPLAY: Corneliu Porumboiu - 12:08 East Of Bucharest
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Roger Deakins - The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford, No Country For Old Men, In The Valley Of Elah
BEST SCORE: Nick Cave and Warren Ellis - The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN: Patricia Norris - The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford
BEST COSTUMES: Patricia Norris - The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford

AND HERE'S THE FULL VOTING RECORD:

BEST COSTUMES:

1. Patricia Norris - The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford 38 points
2. Marit Allen - La Vie En Rose 23 points
3. (tie) Chaiwichit Somoboon - Tears Of The Black Tiger 11 points
3. (tie) Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh - The Wind That Shakes The Barley 11 points
5. (tie) Jacqueline Durran - Atonement 8 points
5. (tie) Lai Pan - Lust, Caution 8 points

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN:

1. Patricia Norris - The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford 28 points
2. Ek lemchuen - Tears Of The Black Tiger 20 points
3. Donald Graham Burt - Zodiac 15 points
4. Laura Couderc - L'Iceberg 14 points
5. Sarah Greenwood - Atonement 12 points

BEST SCORE:

1. Nick Cave and Warren Ellis - The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford 24 points
2. (tie) Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova - Once 19 points
2. (tie) Jonny Greenwood - There Will Be Blood 19 points
4. Carter Burwell - No Country For Old Men 14 points
5. Michael Giacchino -- Ratatouille 9 points

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY:

1. Roger Deakins - The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford, No Country For Old Men, In The Valley Of Elah 42 points
2. Harris Savides - Zodiac, Margot At The Wedding, American Gangster 20 points
3. Robert Elswit - There Will Be Blood, Michael Clayton 15 points
4. Janusz Kaminski - The Diving Bell and the Butterfly 10 points
5. (tie) Peter Suschitzky - Eastern Promises 9 points
5. (tie) Sayombhu Mukdeeprom - Syndromes and a Century 9 points

BEST SCREENPLAY:

1. Corneliu Porumboiu - 12:08 East Of Bucharest 24 points
2. James Vanderbilt - Zodiac 22 points
3. Count Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck - The Lives Of Others 19 points
4. Brad Bird & Jan Pinkova & Jim Capobianco - Ratatouille 17 points
5. (tie) Todd Haynes & Oren Moverman - I'm Not There 9 points
5. (tie) Nancy Oliver - Lars and the Real Girl 9 points

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:

1. Amy Ryan - Gone Baby Gone 28 points
2. Cate Blanchett - I'm Not There 18 points
3. Emily Mortimer - Lars and the Real Girl 14 points
4. Emmanuelle Seigner - The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, La Vie En Rose 9 points
5. (tie) Leslie Mann - Knocked Up 8 points
5. (tie) Chloe Sevigny - Zodiac 8 points

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:

1. Paul Schneider - The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford, Lars and the Real Girl. 20 points
2. Robert Downey Jr. - Zodiac 14 points
3. (tie) Sam Rockwell - The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford 9 points
3. (tie) Paul Rudd - Knocked Up 9 points
3. (tie) Paul Dano - There Will Be Blood 9 points

BEST ACTRESS:

1. Marina Hands - Lady Chatterley 23 points
2. Julie Christie - Away From Her 21 points
3. Fiona Gordon - L'Iceberg 19 points
4. Julie Delpy - 2 Days In Paris 15 points
5. Kate Dickie - Red Road 14 points

BEST ACTOR:

1. Casey Affleck - The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford 41 points
2. Ulrich Muhe - The Lives Of Others 27 points
3. (tie) Viggo Mortensen - Eastern Promises 12 points
3. (tie) Joseph Gordon-Levitt - The Lookout 12 points
5. Woody Harrelson - The Walker, Nanking 10 points

BEST DIRECTOR:

1. Andrew Dominik - The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford 33 points
2. David Fincher - Zodiac 27 points
3. Brad Bird - Ratatouille 13 points
4. Todd Haynes - I'm Not There 12 points
5. (tie) Alain Resnais - Private Fears In Public Places 10 points
5. (tie) Wisit Sasanatieng - Tears Of The Black Tiger 10 points

BEST PICTURE:

1. The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford 35 points
2. Zodiac 27 points
3. (tie) L'Iceberg 10 points
3. (tie) Private Fears In Public Places 10 points
3. (tie) Tears Of The Black Tiger 10 points

SOMINEX AWARD (MOVIES THAT PUT US TO SLEEP:

1. Youth Without Youth 23 points
2. Breaking and Entering 9 points
3. Sleuth 7 points
4. (tie) Perfect Stranger 5 points
4. (tie) Starting Out In The Evening 5 points
4. (tie) Sunshine 5 points

DRAMAMINE AWARD (MOVIES THAT MADE US SICK):

1. Before The Devil Knows You're Dead 20 points
2. Into The Wild 15 points
3. There Will Be Blood 13 points
4. 300 12 points
5. Across The Universe 10 points

MECHANICAL ACTRESS AWARD:

1. Meryl Streep - Lions For Lambs, Rendition 16 points
2. Nikki Blonsky - Hairspray 15 points
3. Jennifer Garner - The Kingdom, Catch and Release 11 points
4. (tie) Diane Keaton - Because I Said So 10 points
4. (tie) Nicole Kidman - Margot At The Wedding 10 points

MECHANICAL ACTOR:

1. John Travolta - Hairspray 14 points
2. Philip Seymour Hoffman - Before The Devil Knows You're Dead 13 points
3. Hayden Christensen - Factory Girl 10 points
4. Jude Law - Sleuth, Breaking and Entering 9 points
5. (tie) Richard Gere - I'm Not There, The Hoax 7 points
5. (tie) Daniel Day-Lewis - There Will Be Blood 7 points
5. (tie) Gerard Butler - 300 7 points
5. (tie) Shia La Beouf - Transformers 7 points

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

American Idol -- The Top 10

My Huffington Post rundown of the performances from the Top 10; the theme is "songs from the year you were born."

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Synonyms, Spoofs and a Stripper

My latest bach of articles for the NY Daily News: a q and a with the author of a book about Roget's Thesaurus; a chat with actress Laura Benanti, who stars in Broadway's revival of Gypsy, and a rundown of movie spoofs like Airplane! pegged to the new comedy Superhero Movie. Oh, and here's my rundown of Tyler Perry comedies. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Monday, March 17, 2008

Adding Ghosts In The Machine

Two new pieces for the NY Daily News: a feature on the acclaimed Off Broadway musical Adding Machine and a silly roundup of movies that feature the supernatural combined with modern technology. Hey, it's a living.

And on Huffington Post, my latest DVD column, this one describing a "perfect" movie-going experience when I stumbled into a showing of The Ice Storm late one rainy fall evening.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

In Patagonia -- Where Lying Isn't So Bad

I'll happily get on my high horse about memoirists who distort the truth or out and out lie -- the news has been filled with them lately, from a half-Indian gang banger in LA who turned out to be a upper class white chick who wanted to give voice to the voiceless (and get a lovely near $100,000 advance in the process) to a Holocaust survivor who was not a Jew, not a Holocaust survivor and apparently was NOT sheltered by wolves who defended her from the Nazis. (I wonder what tipped people off?)

So here I am just finishing Bruce Chatwin's delightfully untrustworthy book "In Patagonia," which I suspected was half fabulist, half true and I couldn't care less. The tale of his travels in Patagonia (which encompasses Argentina and Chile and isn't a well-defined region -- see, even the geography is suspect), it is bursting with stories about dinosaurs, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (who cavorted in Patagonia while making half-hearted efforts to settle down), Welsh farmers who clung to their Welshness, history lessons, Germans who recreated the Rhineland, a Scotsman who had never seen Scotland but wore a kilt to dinner, seafarers, priests, mad poetry-quoting lingerie salesmen and really quite a bit more to do with dinosaurs than I expected.

I finished in a glow and read the introduction (which should always be read last, if at all, in any book) and it reassured me that in fact the book was indeed "colorful" with the truth -- Nicholas Shakespeare helpfully says, "He told not half a truth but a truth and a half." Chatwin himself did not want this posted in the travel section and freely admitted it was not a documentary of his journey, changing names of people, throwing in a fanciful detail when it felt right and so on. And that self-awareness of what he had created forgives a lot of sins. The label that Penguin uses on the back of my edition is even more succinct: "In Patagonia" is listed as "literature/travel." Indeed. And in the right order.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

American Idol -- The Top 16

Here's my Huffington Post coverage of the show. My thoughts on the men tackling Eighties night. My rundown of how the ladies did. And my recap of the results show.

Monday, March 03, 2008

And We Danced! (With the Hooters)

My latest NY Daily News feature is on 80s band the Hooters on the comeback trail. (But they've always been big in Europe!)