Wednesday, July 19, 2017

CANON OF FILM: "DAISIES"

DAISIES (1967)

Director: Vera Chytillova
Screenplay: Vera Chytillova, Ester Krumbackova & Pavel Juracek; Story by Vera Chytilova



Trying to describe "Daisies" by any conventional method of filmmaking analysis and criticism is not only a useless exercise, it's entirely missing the point. "Daisies" is the single most nonsensical anarchistic cartoonish entry in the Czech New Wave, and you can through the mise en scene rulebook out with the bathwater on this one.

Okay, I'm gonna presume most of you are somewhat familiar with French New Wave, and the thing that gets forgotten is that nearly every country ever that's produced a major output of artistic cinema to the world from it's new upstart group of young filmmakers since, has been referred to as a New Wave, and there were several German New Wave brought up Wim Wenders, Werner Herzog and R.W. Fassbinder, eh, Japanese New Wave brought us Nagisa Oshima and Masaki Kobayashi, sometimes the mid-to-late '60s class of Hollywood upstarts is referred to as American New Wave, currently Romania's still in the middle of the Romanian New Wave with filmmakers like Cristi Pulu, Christian Mungiu and Corneliu Porumbolu out there, there's been a couple New Waves in Iran over the years, some arguing that they're in the middle of one now....- you get the idea. Each of these movement seems on the base level similar but there's slight difference in each one, and Czechoslovak New Wave, have a few major differences from others. For one thing, this was a country under Communist rule at the time, so their films were typically more subversive towards the establishment than others. They were also for the most part trained filmmakers as Prague was the home to FAMU the Film & TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts, which is one of the oldest Film Schools in the world and even today is often considered one of the best in the World, and many consider it the premiere film school in Europe, so they had more funding and opportunity than say the French or Germans at the time. They adapted more works from novels and stories for instance, and yet they also had some subversive anarchistic streaks in them, and the means to portray that more than others.

It's that anarchistic streak we're going after with this review, 'cause while the movement did provide us with some of the great rebels of cinema, including most notably Milos Forman, Jan Nemec and Jiri Menzel, some even note many of these films as being influential in the Prague Spring in 1968, "Daisies" is one of the more notorious and surreal than others. If I didn't know it was Czech, I probably on first glance would've looked at the film and thought it was Yugoslavian as it seems to fit closer in the vain of the works of say Dusan Makavejev at the time. The key word you have to remember is "montage" and not in the American cliche sense, much more in the Russian classical sense. The opening credits for instance , combine shots of war juxtaposed with the same continuous shot of machnery at work. Of course, by the time that ends and you're wondering about the making of weapons of mass destruction, we then come across our two, "heroines", Marie and Marie. (Ivana Karbonava and Jitka Cerhova) The blonde Marie (Karbonava) wears a Grecian wreath on her head and reminds me a bit of Jean Seberg and the brunette one, Cerhova, was her haid in pigtails and- I'm just gonna say thing, constantly seems to look like a blow-up doll. I have no idea if that's purposeful, but I wouldn't be surprised by it. They, in fact, during the first scene are basically acting like dolls, sitting on the ground, in their apartment in bikinis and even when they move it comes with the sound of mechanical dolls moving their arms and legs. They make observation, that the world is spoiled and meaningless, and if that's true, then they should also act spoiled. The rest of the movie is them, over-indulging in excess. For all intensive purposes, this movie is basically a cartoon.

I mean, sure there's serious things they do, but they're just as likely to be flouncing and hopping in a field like rabbits when not slapping and whipping each other in their apartment, in the very next shot, 'cause screw continuity editing. They walk around in the middle of other peoples performances, they find a random guy and seduce them into paying for food and drink at the most expensive places, and leave him on a train alone while the other steal all the magazines, or cause a drunken raucous everywhere they go as the color filters keep changing between every random jump cut and shot. By the way, I don't know how old these two characters are supposed to be in this, but they both seem like they could pass for jailbait if they wanted to, although it's mentioned that one of the them actually does have a proper job and only does all this on her off-hours. They do share an apartment, where they jump on the bed and each food seductively and even cut of each other's body parts with scissors, which annoys each other 'cause they then have to put them back on. (This after cutting up phallic food with them in the film's most famous scene, next to a nude scene that involves of all things butteflies in a way that makes me convinced this film was an inspiration for Peter Strickland's "The Duke of Burgundy [Oh, that scene of cutting up and devouring phallic foods comes after a scene where they set their apartment on fire, and nobody remembers that part. Or the fact that they're listening to a guy profess their love to one of them while they metaphorically castrate him and all men). They use sex, they use their bodies, mostly, they treat everything, men, clothes, war, others as though it's a joke. Even the filmmaking techniques are basically parodied and satirized to death, nothing is of relevance. The two main girls weren't trained actors, and much of the film was improvised, which only adds to the gleeful unease that anything and everything can happen.

The film's writer/director, who's name I've purposefully omitted 'til now, was believe it or not, a woman, Very Chytilova. She was by far the most Enfants Terrible of the group of Czech New Wave, the only female in her FAMU class, she one of the most ecclectic backgrounds in the group. Starting from a philosophy and architecture background, she work in ever craft behind the scenes and even worked as a fashion model at one point. Which explains the hyper editing and the occasional purposeful out-of-sync dialogue, assuming the dialogue is even related to whatever going's on in the scene. The film's been referred to as a feminist piece, which yeah, that's true enough, the fact that the two girls call themselves "Panna" is noteworthy, that's a Czech word that means both "Doll" and "Virgin", and there's a whole history of cinema examining jump from girl to woman represented by the sexualization of the person, or the sexualization of the little girl, (Thanks "Gigi" for that, you're still the worst film to win Best Picture, you sick pederast) but Chytilova calls it a "Philosophical Documentary in the Form of Farce". It's definitely a farce, since there's no other genre the film remotely fits into. The movie, Chytilova's second feature after her debut, "Something Different", which was a somewhat more conventional dual-narrative tale, got her banned in Czechoslavakia and wasn't able to work there for nine years, despite the film winning awards and acclaim at festivals across Europe. She's clearly capable of a more conventional narrative, but she Chytilova was always more fascinated with ideas instead of story, and her films therefore have a much more philosophical bent to them overall, and is not afraid to give a title like "The Inheritance of Fuckoffguysgoodday", one of her later films. She passed away a couple years ago and worked and taught all the way to the 21st Century, her last film, "Pleasant Moments" in 2006, about a psychologist and the stories of her patients.

The last scene in "Daisies" is an orgiastic food fight where a whole expensive table of food and wine is engorged and destroyed by the girls in their most inevitable and grandiose destruction of society. (Part of the reason for her and the film's banning, was food wastage) People don't always notice that there's sounds of artillery fire and horns of war played during their engorging of food. You could call it the scene that Kubrick never got to add to "Dr. Strangelove", but this wasn't government falling to it's basic primal urges at the end of the war, this was subversion satire of the society as a whole, an unparalleled destruction of the conventions and rules of the world. Food's often been a metaphoric symbol in Eastern bloc countries and the injesting of it being a sign combativeness to the oppressive regime; I don't quite know what it means to strip and dance and swing on a chandelier over your destroyed food means, but whatever it is, I guess we're to drown the spoiled brats until they clean everything up, but I doubt they're get that right anyway. And that's a good thing.


Friday, July 14, 2017

2017 PRIMETIME EMMYS NOMINATIONS ANALYSIS! THE MOST EXTENSIVE COVERAGE of ALL the MAJOR and IMPORTANT CATEGORIES! (Aka How the hell are there so many damn INTERACTIVE PROGRAM CATEGORIES!)





Okay, first off, before we even got to the nominations, I was half-pissed, 'cause Holy Fuck, this was one of the worst announcing jobs, I've ever seen for an award nominations, EVER!. Oh, good lord. Hayma "Screech" Washington, this was just unbearably awkward. I'm gonna give the new Academy CEO and Chairman a pass, barely, 'cause maybe he'll improve, but good lord, he had wishing for the vocal colloquialisms and clarity of Cheryl Boone-Isaacs! My God, I hope he improves next year and also that Shemar Moore and Anna Chlumsky were just terrible. I don't know who was Writing their stuff, or if they were ad-libbing or what, but that was terrible between those two. Just awful, and worst yet, the damn streaming didn't work, so I had to wait to see this shitty announcement show! (And I wasn't the only one either!)  So, UGH! I swear to God, this is the simplest thing, wake up two funny people, get them together, have them announce the nods, don't have the President talk if he/she isn't good at it. Just-, the simplest things, I swear. And why not announce the major Supporting categories in the morning?! I know you're on a timer-, wait, this is on the internet them all if you want! What the- UGGGGGGHHHHH!

(Sigh) Anyway, I don't make predictions for these, although I did list my Gold Derby ballot on the Facebook page, which I mostly do for fun, 'cause who can predict this damn thing, but this is a strange Emmys year to begin with. "Game of Thrones" was ineligible, so was "Orphan Black", so that's most of the Drama categories from last year and the rest of the field is just as erratic, but we're gonna look at them. The most comprehensive look at each major category, and not just the ones on the main show, we're looking at all of them.

As always, we go CATEGORY by CATEGORY, analyzing each one, and not just the big shows, 'cause I know a lot of people, who think the Emmys don't cover the shows they love, and half the time, that's just not true, and it's often those Creative Arts, where those shows are honored. So, we look at all those creative little categories, and analyze them as well. We'll start with the supposed big one, but stick, we're dig deep into the nomination press release.

So, (Long deep breath, cracks knuckles, and rubs palms, before resuming typing position.) here we go; let's start with the Comedy Series.


COMEDY SERIES

OUTSTANDING COMEDY SERIES
Atlanta-FX Networks
Black-ish-ABC
Master of None-Netflix
Modern Family-ABC
Silicon Valley-HBO
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt-Netflix
Veep-HBO

Well, we keep predicting the demise of "Modern Family," but it keeps on trucking. "Atlanta" is the only freshman entry in this category, which is interesting for a few reasons, not to mention the least of it, is that FX, has been a bit erratic when it comes to Comedy Series in the past. and they have a shot at winning, which previous FX nominees, have been longshots at best. "Veep" still leads in the major categories, then over-achieved again actually getting 17 Nominations total, more than any Comedy Series, by a lot, but "Atlanta" is on it's tail, and most everybody else did as expected, or underperformed, and speaking of under-performing, the big snub is "Transparent", falling out of the category. I didn't see that coming at all, one of the funniest shows around, and Amazon, completely fell off the map, overall, I might add. Which is a shame, 'cause they've got good shows. "Mozart in the Jungle" should've been in this category three years in a row and it never sneaks in. I don't get why, it's like the perfect Emmys show. But I guess the Emmy like hip hop comedies more than classic music ones? (Shrugs) Early predictions, it's between "Veep" repeating, with maybe "Atlanta" pulling the upset. "Black-ish", underperformed, across the board as well, so I'm putting them in the longshot category. I actually sorta suspect they might've been the seventh nominee, in hiindsight.


OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Pamela Adlon-"Better Things"-FX Networks
Jane Fonda-"Grace and Frankie"-Netflix
Allison Janney-"Mom"-CBS
Ellie Kemper-"Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"-Netflix
Julia Louis-Dreyfus-"Veep"-HBO
Tracee Ellis Ross-"Black-Ish"-ABC
Lily Tomlin-"Grace and Frankie"-Netflix

Okay, that's it! Who the hell in the Academy is still watching "Grace and Frankie"? Seriously, how-, okay, I know Lily Tomlin's on the Board of Governors, but now you suddenly decide to, not only drop her, but add Jane Fonda this year? The show got, two other nominations way below-the-line, one in Production Design, (Shrugs) okay, and one in Costumes, which, yeah, alright, but I don't know anybody passionate about this show, I certainly-, I'm just gonna be blunt here, I'm certainly not fond of it. I don't hate it or anything, but I honestly can't imagine why anybody goes out of their way for it, even with the great cast and performances. It's like the eighteenth best show on Netflix, how is it getting in here, every year? (Sigh) Anyway, the other addition's, first of all, Pamela Adlon, great to see her in, (Also great to see seven nominees, not six, so 2% rule applied) she's been Louis C.K.'s on-again/off-again love interest on "Louie" forever, and she's been around forever, on "Californication", she was on "king of the Hill", it's great to see her finally break in. Eh, also, Allison Janney, switched categories this year from Supporting to Lead Actress, which means, the showcase everyone is waiting for is Julia vs. Allison, for Queen of the Emmys, supposedly. They do win a ridiculous amount, Julia's going for her sixth straight, and two or three more Comedy records, Allison, has, by my count, seven Emmys, two already for "Mom". The last person in Comedy to jump from Supporting to Lead and win in both is Jon Cryer for "Two and a Half Men"; and before him, Michael J. Fox for "Family Ties", Allison Janney can be the first person to do that for both Drama and Comedy Series, so there's a lot on the line, and some viable options for those who might be sick of those two winning also. Tracee Ellis Ross, possible, she won the Golden Globe earlier, and it bares repeating, the last African-American to win in the category, 1981, Isabel Sanford for "The Jeffersons", so it's been awhile. Last Minority win was America Ferrara for "Ugly Betty".


OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Anthony Anderson-"Black-ish"-ABC
Aziz Ansari-"Master of None"-Netflix
Zach Galifianakis-"Baskets"-FX Networks
Donald Glover-"Atlanta"-FX Networks
William H. Macy-"Shameless"-Showtime
Jeffrey Tambor-"Transparent"-Amazon Prime

Donald Glover nominated a few places for "Atlanta" including Lead Actor, and with "Transparent" seeming like less of a player, I suspect Jeffrey Tambor's probably not gonna win this year. The last African-American to win by the way, was Robert Guillaume for "Benson" back in '84, him and Anthony Anderson are likely favorites, so is Aziz Ansari, who won for writing last year, he's up again for Writing, so is Glover, and there hasn't been a performer to pull that off since Tina Fey won for Writing and Performing for "30 Rock" in the same year. William H. Macy's snuck in again for "Shameless" which has a passion vote, and he's won the SAG Award two years in a row, so I wouldn't rule him out. Zach Galifianakis's nomination is the big shock here; last year Louie Anderson was the surprise Supporting Actor winner for "Baskets" but this year, the show got Galifianakis is, which is interesting, since other than his stand-up work, and occasionaly SNL hosting gig, he's not done well with the Emmys until now. "Bored to Death" for instance never got acclaim, so, I don't know what to make of that nominations. It only has two nominees the show has, but it only had one last year and it won that?


OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Vanessa Bayer-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Anna Chlumsky-"Veep"-HBO
Kathryn Hahn-"Transparent"-Amazon Prime
Leslie Jones-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Judith Light-"Transparent"-Amazon Prime
Kate McKinnon-"Saturday Night Live'"-NBC

Okay, we-, Emmys, we need to talk about why there isn't a Variety-Performer category anymore. Seriously, three "SNL" actors got into this category, in fact, "SNL", tied with "Westworld" for most total Emmy nominations with 22 overall. (So, yeah, spoilers, "SNL", getting the Sketch Comedy awards. Anyway, Kate McKinnon was the surprise winner last year, breaking the sketch comedy actors losing streak in the category. Strangely, while "Transparent" lost Gaby Hoffman's nomination this year, which is just bizarre, she had her best season this year, but Kathryn Hahn finally got a nomination, for "Transparent", although strangely not for "I Love Dick", although I would have to double-check to see if that was eligible. Anna Chlumsky's nominated fr the fifth year in a row, and she's yet to win, and now with no Allison Janney, the path is a little more open for her, although I have to think Kate McKinnon's still the favorite, and based on the nods, getting three "SNL" people in, I have to think one of them's gonna win. And there were other options out there. Jane Krakowski was snubbed, despite having a great season, Rita Moreno I had predicted, Bernadette Peters not in,-, yeah, we have to talk about Variety Performers getting their own acting categories back in the future, 'cause this is kinda ridiculous now.


OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Louie Anderson-"Baskets"-FX Networks
Alec Baldwin-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Tituss Burgess-"Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"-Netflix
Ty Burrell-"Modern Family"-ABC
Tony Hale-"Veep"-HBO
Matt Walsh-"Veep"-HBO

The only new nominee is Alec Baldwin, essentially replacing Andre Braugher's annual nomination, (Man, they just did not watch "Brooklyn Nine-Nine", don't know why, that's a good show), who, and this is kinda interesting, was ineligible for Guest Actor, 'cause he was in too many episodes, so he went into Supporting, which I guess, makes Alec Baldwin the most successful person to ever suddenly become a cast member of "SNL"? (Shrugs) And, he's probably the favorite considering his role, although Louie Anderson, big surprise winner last year, Tony Hale's won a couple times before, so has Ty Burrell, boy-, they keep nominating him; I really don't get why his performance on "Modern Family" supposedly outshines everybody else's but... (Shrugs) Also, Tituss Burgess comes back, and he could pull off the upset here too, he has a couple great episodes and he's due. Last African-American to win this category, coincidentally, was also Robert Guillaume for "Soap". I suspect Burrell and Walsh are also-rans in the category this year.


OUTSTANDING DIRECTING-COMEDY SERIES
Atlanta-"B.A.N."-Donald Glover-FX Networks
Silicon Valley-"Intellectual Property"-Jamie Babbit-HBO
Silicon Valley-"Server Error"-Mike Judge-HBO
Veep-"Blurb"-Morgan Sackett-HBO
Veep-"Groundbreaking"-David Mandel-HBO
Veep-"Justice"-Dale Stern-HBO

If you want to judge Series Winner, look at the Directing and Writing categories. (Sigh) Three for "Veep" two for "Silicon Valley". I genuinely don't get the popularity of either of these shows, especially with "Silicon Valley" not even getting an Acting nomination this year, why it keeps sneaking into these, but... (Shrugs). Although I'm more incline to think the upset here, this might be where they honor Donald Glover. Could be in Writing as well, but they got options there and if he isn't winning Actor, this makes sense.


OUTSTANDING WRITING-COMEDY SERIES
Atlanta-"B.A.B."-Donald Glover-FX Networks
Atlanta-"Streets on Lock"-Stephen Glover-FX Networks
Master of None-"Thanksgiving"-Aziz Ansari and Lena Waithe-Netflix
Silicon Valley-"Success Failure"-Alec Berg-HBO
Veep-"Georgia"-Billy Kimball-HBO
Veep-"Groundbreaking"-David Mandel-HBO

Don't rule out "Master of None", they won this category last year, and if there's a way to honor an individual for their Series, while not honoring their entire body of work on that show, it's lately been the Writing category. Tina Fey winning for her last season of "30 Rock", and Louis C.K.'s won this category twice for "Louie" when he gets overlooked everywhere else, and add Aziz Ansari to that list last year. The fact that "Atlanta" snuck in though with two nominations, gives me hope that perhaps "Veep" might not be the favorite for Series this time around. Still though, a "Girls" nomination for the series' last episode "Latching" would've been really nice here.


OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTRESS-COMEDY SERIES
Becky Ann Baker-"Girls"-HBO
Angela Bassett-"Master of None"-Netflix
Carrie Fisher-"Catastrophe"-Amazon Prime
Melissa McCarthy-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Wanda Sykes-"Black-ish"-ABC
Kristen Wiig-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC

Two more "SNL"'s as Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig got in for their Hosting gigs. Amy Poehler and Tina Fey won for their co-hosting gig last year but, there's some competition this time. Nice to see Wanda Sykes get, and-eh, the posthumous nomination for Carrie Fisher, for the underrated Amazon series, "Catastrophe", that got a weird Writing Nomination a couple years ago, other than that, has slipped under most people's radar, but it is a great show. I'm a bit surprised that it hasn't caught on myself. Maybe people will notice it now. Wouldn't rule anybody out off-hand, there's some good episodes submissions here. My initial gut instinct is to say Angela Bassett's the favorite, with Becky Ann Baker being the strong second choice, but I want to double-check the episodes.



OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTOR-COMEDY SERIES
Riz Ahmed-"Girls"-HBO
Dave Chappelle-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Tom Hanks-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Hugh Laurie-"Veep"-HBO
Lin-Manual Miranda-"Saturday Night Live"-
Matthew Rhys-"Girls"-HBO

Well, at least, "Girls" got a few things for it's last season. And, some smart ones too. I really wish Andrew Rannels had gotten into Supporting Actor for this season, but they were paying attention to notice the Guest Actors this year. Hell, I might have switch out Ebon Moss-Bachrach instead of Matthew Rhys, but, he did have the memorable episode. However, those two have other shots at winning, and there's some other intriguing names here. Tom Hanks, while he's won like half a dozen Emmys as a Producer, he's been nominated as an Actor until now. That's a bit surprising, and hell if Peter Scolari could win this last year, why not the other Bosom Buddy? Thing is, Hugh Laurie, has never won either. Yeah, he never won for "House", and he's overdue. Dave Chappelle I don't think has an Emmy either, and it's just nice to see him. If I were voting, I'd probably give it to Lin-Manuel Miranda myself. but this is a competitive category and a I can legitimately see any one of these six winning.


DRAMA SERIES

OUTSTANDING DRAMA SERIES
Better Call Saul-AMC
The Crown-Netflix
The Handmaid's Tale-Hulu
House of Cards-Netflix
Stranger Things-Netflix
This is Us-NBC
Westworld-HBO

Oh-kay, we have a lot to digest here. Eh, "Westworld", tied with "SNL" for most overall nominations, and it overperformed by all accounts. I didn't even Predict it for Series to be honest. It knocked out "The Americans" strangely enough. In fact, only "House of Cards" and "Better Call Saul" came back this year. There's a few reasons for that, "Downton Abbey", of course, ended this past year, also, "Game of Thrones" was ineligible this year, they didn't have a season, so that's two open slots. Also, "Homeland" fell out, probably long-past due as well, plus, "Mr. Robot", which everybody loved last year except me, 'cause I hated the ending so much that I couldn't imagine how it's second season will hold up..., well, it didn't hold up, and it didn't even get Rami Malek back in, who won the Emmy last year. "The Crown", presumably takes the "Downton Abbey" slot, but the real stories are "The Handmaid's Tale", which is Hulu's first big series to break through. And, holy shit, Network television! "This is Us", the first network drama to break into Series since "The Good Wife". And based on, just the passion behind the series, and looking at some of the other nominations, "The Handmaid's Tale" and "This is Us" are probably the favorites, with "Stranger Things" running a possible spoiler. "Westworld" does have the nominations, but they're mostly below the line, although they snuck into some acting categories, too. This is not the category to bet on the veteran series this year. Man, five first-year series got into the category. That's easily a record, you'd have to struggle to find another year with more than two possible nominees in their first seasons.


OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Viola Davis-"How to Get Away with Murder"-ABC
Claire Foy-"The Crown"-Netflix
Elisabeth Moss-"The Handmaid's Tale"-Hulu
Keri Russell-"The Americans"-FX Networks
Evan Rachel Wood-"Westworld"-HBO
Robin Wright-"House of Cards"

Oddly, I think the biggest surprise here might be Viola Davis coming back in. Apparently, as long as "How to Get Away with Murder" is still on the air, she's gonna be in the category. There are some new names and competition though, Claire Foy for "The Crown" seemed like a lock a few months back, and Evan Rachel Wood's surprise nomination, is probably what took out Claire Danes's "Homeland" streak. There were pushes for Christine Baranski and Carrie Coon to sneak in here, but that inevitably didn't go anywhere as neither show did well at all. Mandy Moore missing out is probably "This is Us"'s only real disappointment when it comes to acting nominations. Elisabeth Moss, is long overdue, and "The Handmaid's Tale" is the big show at the moment, probably a favorite for Series. I think it's between Moss and Foy, with Moss probably in the lead, since they owe her for "Mad Men", and "Top of the Lake", and "The West Wing" for that matter. That's assuming the Emmys care about such things however.....


OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Sterling K. Brown-"This Is Us"-NBC
Anthony Hopkins-"Westworld"-HBO
Bob Odenkirk-"Better Call Saul"-AMC
Matthew Rhys-"The Americans"-FX Networks
Liev Schreiber-"Ray Donovan"-Showtime
Kevin Spacey-"House of Cards"-Netflix
Milo Ventimiglia-"This is Us"

I think I'm one of the few that correctly called both Sterling K. Brown and Milo Ventimiglia from "This is Us" getting into Drama Actor. Other than that, the only real shock is Anthony Hopkins getting in for "Westworld". Still though, mostly the same people, Spacey has yet to win, so has Odenkirk, so has Schreiber, and despite "The Americans" falling out of series, they're still strong elsewhere and Rhys has a couple chances to win this year. Sterling K. Brown, is probably still the favorite overall, and he won last year for "American Crime Story", so he's fresh in everyone's mind. I think episode submission might be the tiebreaker here, but it's worth noting that Rami Malek won here last year for a first year show, so, if the trend holds, I'm looking towards the newcomers.


OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Uzo Aduba-"Orange is the New Black"-Netflix
Millie Bobby Brown-"Stranger Things"-Netflix
Ann Dowd-"The Handmaid's Tale"-Hulu
Chrissy Metx-"This is Us"-NBC
Thandie Newton-"Westworld"-HBO
Samira Wiley-"The Handmaid's Tale"-Hulu

I guess the strangest anomaly in the category is Uzo Aduba coming back in, long after anybody else really thought "Orange is the New Black" was Emmy relevant anymore. I'm not sure what to make of that wild card, but she's never loss when she's been nominated. She's up against a couple "The Handmaid's Tale" actors, I suspect Ann Dowd is the most likely of those too. Still though, just based on press and expectations I think the battle is between Millie Bobby Brown and Thandie Newton for this Award, and just because of how rare it is to give the award to a kid, Newton feels like the favorite to me.


OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Jonathan Banks-"Better Call Saul"-AMC
David Harbour-"Stranger Things"-Netflix
Ron Cephas Jones-"This is Us"-NBC
Michael Kelly-"House of Cards"-Netflix
John Lithgow-"The Crown"-Netflix
Mandy Patinkin-"Homeland"-Showtime
Jeffrey Wright-"Westworld"-HBO

A 7th nomination added here, which is what it should be in each of these acting categories! 7 Series in the Series category, should be seven minimum in the acting, don't know why that's so hard....- But I digress. Uh, Banks, Kelly and Patinkin got added back in, little surprised to see, all three of them honestly, especially Patinkin since "Homeland" otherwise really got lost in the shuffle overall. John Lithgow however had basically been given this award from the beginning; and I think he's the beloved favorite and is "The Crown"'s most likely win. If there is an upset, I suspect either Jeffrey Wright or David Harbour, but it's hard to beat Lithgow, whenever he's nominated.


OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A DRAMA SERIES
Better Call Saul-"Witness"-Vince Gilligan-AMC
The Crown-"Hyde Park Corner"-Stephen Daldry-Netflix
The Handmaid's Tale-"Offred (Pilot)"-Reed Morano-Hulu
The Handmaid's Tale-"The Bridge"-Kate Dennis-Hulu
Homeland-"America First"-Lesli Linka Glatter-"Showtime
Stranger Things-"Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers"-The Duffer Brothers-Netflix
Westworld-"The Bicameral Mind-Jonathan Nolan-HBO

Yeah, you see how split this is? Seven nominees, and six different shows, and some big names too. Stephen Daldry, Jonathan Nolan, those are some major film names. Vince Gilligan also in for "Better Call Saul". Well, "The Handmaid's Tale" looks to be the favorite here, with two nominations, but I would think this might be where "Stranger Things" or "Westworld" are most likely to win. Also, "This is Us" didn't get into Writing or Directing, but I'm of the mind that that's not a bad thing and still consider it a favorite for Series, mainly cause they submitted episodes for Writing and Directing, horribly. I don't know why they submitted the episodes they did, hopefully they selected better for the actors, but the two episodes I thought they would've been in for, they didn't even submit, in either Writing or Directing, so... they shot themselves in the foot that, and that's probably why a "Homeland" can sneak in with a 2% rule here.


OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A DRAMA SERIES
The Americans-"The Soviet Division"-Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg-FX Networks
Better Call Saul-"Chicanery"-Gordon Smith-AMC
The Crown-"Assassins"-Peter Morgan-Netflix
The Handmaid's Tale-"Offred (Pilot)"-Bruce Miller-Hulu
Stranger Things-"Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers"-The Duffer Brothers-Netflix
Westworld-"The Bicameral Mind"-Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan-HBO

There's always one that doesn't get into Series that seems to get into Drama Writing and/or Directing, and "The Americans", did this too. Other than that, this looks like the category most likely to predict Series to me, with "The Handmaid's Tale", "Stranger Things" and "Westworld" being the most likely winners since those episodes also got into Directing.


OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Alexis Bledel-"The Handmaid's Tale"-Hulu
Laverne Cox-"Orange is the New Black"-Netflix
Ann Dowd-"The Leftovers"-HBO
Shannon Purser-"Stranger Things"-Netflix
Cicely Tyson-"How to Get Away with Murder"-ABC
Alison Wright-"The Americans"-FX Networks

Us "Gilmore Girls" fans are nice to see Alexis Bledel's name pop up here. Also "The Leftovers" fans, here's your nomination! Congrats! Don't look at me, I never got that show, sorry, it just seemsed like a strange reworking of "The 4400" to me, with an admittedly much better and severely underrated theme song. Anyway, eh, Cicely Tyson's gotten her arbitrary nomination again here, but I'm not sure she's got much of a chance here. I think it's likely between, Bledel, Laverne Cox as a makeup, or Shannon Purser sneaking in for "Stranger Things". All that said, I'm still not eliminating Margo Martindale, despite the lack of nomination; I'm fairly certain she's still a favorite again.


OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Hank Azaria-"Ray Donovan"-Showtime
Brian Tyree Henry-"This is Us"-NBC
Gerald McRaney-"This is Us"-NBC
Ben Mendelsohn-"Bloodline"-Netflix
Denis O'Hare-"This is Us"-NBC
BD Wong-"Mr. Robot"-USA

Well, I'm glad if somebody got in for "Mr. Robot", it was B.D. Wong. Another great TV actor who's been doing great work for years now, since "Law & Order: SVU" and "Oz", way back when. Tricky category though, Hank Azaria, won the category last year, although he strangely didn't get into Comedy for his new show "Brockmire". Ben Mendelsohn was the surprise winner last year for "Bloodline" in Supporting Actor, that show couldn't even get Kyle Chandler in for it's last season, but Mendelsohn does survive and gets into Guest. Still though, three nominations for "This is Us', and the only Best Series nominee to get a nomination here, I think the winner's most likely in that group, and in particular, Gerald McRaney's the sentimental favorite. This is his first ever Emmy nomination, which is amazing considering just how much great TV acting he's been doing for decades, 'since the '70s with "Simon & Simon" and who doesn't love "Major Dad", and he's been a Guest Actor on every other series you can think of....- yeah, he's the favorite, and based on his episodes, he's got multiple ones out there that he can submit and win with.


VARIETY 

OUTSTANDING VARIETY-TALK SERIES
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee-TBS
Jimmy Kimmel Live-ABC
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver-HBO
The Late Late Show with James Corden"-CBS
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert"-CBS
Real Time with Bill Maher-HBO

Congratulations to Samantha Bee! After getting screwed last year, and yes, she was totally screwed last year, she has become the first female hosted Variety Series to be nominated! Also, the first time TBS has gotten in since, "Conan"'s first season, back 2011. The other big return is Stephen Colbert, who's hosting the show, but has also officially overtaken Jimmy Fallon, who was snubbed this year fort the first time in six years.  Jimmy Kimmel, still has managed to have that one special/great episode a year that gives him an admittedly deserved nomination, but yeah, I'm still not sold he belongs with the rest. The other snub is Jerry Seinfeld's "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee", which was the surprise nomination last year, and it could come back. As much as I love Bill Maher, I'm actually a bit surprised that he came returned; I suspected Trevor Noah to have finally gotten "The Daily Show" back in, especially after Maher's under controversy lately, but, I guess they'd rather have him on their side than the other, and for that, I guess I can agree. That said, it's between John Oliver and Samantha Bee, as the demon spawns of Jon Stewart that are reinventing the genre battle each other for supremacy! I'm giving a slight edge to Oliver, but it's a coin flip, don't be surprised if they may split the Writing and Series Award this year. This btw, is the first time since, 2001 that Comedy Central doesn't have a series nominated in this category.


OUTSTANDING VARIETY SKETCH SERIES
Billy on the Street-TruTV
Documentary Now-IFC
Drunk History-Comedy Central
Portlandia-IFC
Saturday Night Live-NBC
Tracey Ullman's Show-HBO

Well, we knew there was gonna be a couple new names here, with last year's winner "Key & Peele" ending and the previous year's winner "Inside Amy Schumer" taking a hiatus this year, so on top of the other four last year, we had perennial Emmy favorite Tracey Ullman, come back in, and we finally got "Billy on the Street" to be TruTV's intro into the series! Yes, to the massive acclaim of several cult fans and geeks, of-,ehhhhh-, Alright, I can't hide. I don't see what the big deal is with "Billy on the Street". I don't hate Billy Eichner, but his humor's a bit too slight, and frankly, it's-, what am I missing here, it's just him on the street. It's basically, not-as-stupid Youtube prank show, with a slightly bigger budget. Yeah, I-, look it doesn't matter, "SNL"'s winning this. Even with "Portlandia in it's final season, "SNL"'s way too strong, and they haven't won the category in this form yet, or in their old form since the early '90s. They're real competition's out, already, it's going to "SNL".


OUTSTANDING VARIETY SPECIAL
Carpool Kareoke Primetime Special 2017-CBS
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee Presents: Not the White House Correspondents' Dinner-TBS
Louis C.K. 2017-Netflix
Sarah Silverman: A Speck of Dust-Netflix
Stephen Colbert's Live Election Night Democracy's Series Finale: Who's Going to Clean Up This Shit?-Showtime

Wow! When Amy Schumer's amazing stand-up program, "The Leather Special" can't get into the category, you know we've got an unusually loaded Variety Special category, and yes, we have an unusually loaded Variety Special category. Last year's upset winner was James Corden's "Carpool Kareoke", which is a funny segment, and it's back, although how it won last year perplexed me. I mean, it was just a clip show basically, a clip of what was basically already on Youtube? I didn't get the win last year, but I don't think it's gonna win again. We have past winner's Sarah Silverman and Louis C.K. with two of their best stand-up specials, and we've got two big Political Comedy specials with Samantha Bee's "Not the White House Correspondents' Dinner" and  Stephen Colbert's Live-for-Premium Cable Election Night special, that's hard-to-watch but has felt more and more ominous and prophetic with each viewing. I'm not sure how this category is gonna play out, but it's one of the most interesting out there, and who knows if it's even gonna make the main show.


OUTSTANDING SPECIAL CLASS PROGRAM
70th Annual Tony Awards-CBS
Hairspray Live!-NBC
The Oscars-ABC
Super Bowl LI Halftime Show Starring Lady Gaga-Fox/NFL Network

Only four nominees in the Special Class category, and boy we're they in a hurry to not include The Golden Globes this year. Sorry, Jimmy Fallon, you've had a bad, bad year. I'm kind of surprised by "Hairspray Live!" getting in, and it would be nice if perhaps, something like the Independent Spirit Awards would've gotten in here instead, just to have a different Awards show in there, but these are good nominees, albeit a rather uninspired collection. Also, shouldn't the Live Musicals be put in the TV movie categories? I mean all their actors are eligible in those categories, but...- Eh!


OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A VARIETY SERIES
Drunk History-"Hamilton"-Derek Waters and Jeremy Konner-Comedy Central
Jimmy Kimmel Live-"The (RED) Show"-Andy Fisher-ABC
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver-"Multi-Level Marketing"-Paul Pennolino-HBO
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert-"Episode 0179"-Jim Hoskinson-CBS
Saturday Night Live-"Host: Jimmy Fallon"-Don Roy King-NBC

Interesting to see "Drunk History" sneak into Directing, although I can't really imagine anything other than "SNL" winning this. It is the only live series in the bunch, and there's nothing else that's an obvious directorial achievement. "Drunk History" I might actually take as the second choice here.


OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A VARIETY SPECIAL
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee Presents Not the White House Correspondents' Dinner-Paul Pennolino-TBS
The Oscars-Glenn Weiss-ABC
Stephen Colbert's Live Election Night Democracy's Series Finale: Who's Going to Clean Up This Shit?-Jim Hoskinson-Showtime
Tony Bennett Celebrates 90: The Best is Yet to Come-Jerry Foley-NBC

I'm guessing Jerry Foley's legendary status as Letterman's old director is why he got in with these other three. I would've normally thought "The Oscars", although, I'm not sure why since, you know, somebody made the biggest fuck-up of all-time at these Oscars, and that's probably partially a Director's fault, right? Yeah, I've thinking it's Samantha Bee vs. Stephen Colbert here, and I'd flip a coin.


OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A VARIETY SERIES
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee-Writers: Jo miller, Samantha Bee, et. al.- TBS
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver-Writers: John Oliver, Tim Carvell, Kevin Avery, et. al.- HBO
Late Night with Seth Meyers-Writers: Seth Meyere, Jermaine Affonso, et. al.-NBC
The Last Show with Stephen Colbert-Head Writers: Barry Julien, Jay Katsir and Opus Moreschi; Writers: Stephen Colbert, et. al.-CBS
Saturday Night Live-Head Writers: Chris Kelly, Sarah Schneider, Kent Sublette, Bryan Tucker; Weekend Update Head Writer: Pete Schultz; Writers: James Anderson, et. al.-NBC

Yeah, don't think "SNL"'s winning Sketch, it's the only Sketch show nominated for Writing and Directing, seriously, it's winning the Series Award. Kudos to Seth Meyers however, for getting into Writing out of nowhere, kudos. Still though, Bee, Oliver, Colbert, and it's likely either Bee or Oliver. I think this is a year where they show this category though, so....


OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A VARIETY SPECIAL
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee Presents: Not the White House Correspondents' Dinner-Writers: Samantha Bee, Jo Miller, et. al.-TBS
Louis C.K. 2017-Louis C.K.-Netflix
Sarah Silverman: A Speck of Dust- Sarah Silverman-Netflix
Stephen Colbert's Live Election Night Democracy's Series Finale: Who's Going to Clean Up This Shit?-Head Writers: Jay Katsir and Opus Moreschi, Writers: Stephen Colbert, et. al.-Showtime
70th Annual Tony Awards-Dave Boone; Special Material by Mike Gibbons, Lauren Greenberg, Ian Karmel, Ben Winston and Justin Shanes-CBS

Boy, normally just based on trends, I'd be thinking, "Pick the stand-up", but oh boy, we've got two these two major political special, and they're competing against two of our greatest stand-ups who've both won this category before. Yeah, Tony Awards were great, but this year, they're just not surviving the category this year. 4-man close race.


REALITY PROGRAMMING

OUTSTANDING REALITY-COMPETITION PROGRAM
The Amazing Race-CBS
American Ninja Warrior-NBC
Project Runway-Lifetime
RuPaul's Drag Race-VH1
Top Chef-Bravo
The Voice-NBC

Holy Shit! They finally kicked out "Dancing with the Stars"! I don't know why or how that finally friggin' happened, but thank God! I don't know how or why, drag queen competing in a race became more impressive to everyone else than annoying non-expert 3rd string celebrities dancing, but, hell, it's always been more entertaining to me, so I'll take it! I'm not sure "American Ninja Warrior" needs to be there, but it's entertaining, and I'm not gonna complain that they didn't bring back "So You Think You Can Dance",  since, you know what, they got rid of the bad dancing show too. Eh, I'm not sure what's gonna win here; I don't think "The Voice" is as popular or big as it was the last two years, so, I'm thinking there might be an upset here, perhaps, RuPaul, might be "The Amazing Race" coming back, I suspect "Project Runway" might finally win here? Would be nice.



OUTSTANDING STRUCTURED-REALITY PROGRAM
Antiques Roadshow-PBS
Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives-Food Network
Fixer Upper-HGTV
Lip Sync Battle-Spike TV
Shark Tank-ABC
Who Do You Think You Are?-TLC

I guess the new HGTV to fill out the category is "Fixer Upper, whatever that is. I really gotta check that channel out more thoroughly eventually. Other than that, nothing surprising, I suspect "Shark Tank" is the favorite, with "Who Do You Think You Are" and "Antiques Roadshow", which has never won strangely, competing for the second choice. Although, if "Lip Sync Battle" can pull off the upset, that would absolutely be amazing!


OUTSTANDING UNSTRUCTURED REALITY PROGRAM
Born This Way-A&E
Deadliest Catch-Discovery Channel
Gaycation with Ellen Page-Viceland
Intervention-A&E
RuPaul's Drag Race: Untucked-Youtube
United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell-CNN

Wow, Youtube got into a major category. Sure, it's a side show of an already big Reality Show, but still. One of the under-the-radar stories is how Youtube is slowly but surely putting their mark and presence on the Emmys, most of it's been in Interactive and Short Form categories, which are expanding more and more. I don't know if it can compete against the five other perennial nominees, as "Deadliest Catch", "Intervention" and "United Shades of America..." are gonna compete for the top spot here, I suspect, but good on youtube. Viceland also, for coming back with "Gaycation..." as well.


OUTSTANDING HOST FOR A REALITY OR REALITY-COMPETITION PROGRAM
Alec Baldwin-"Match Game"-ABC
W. Kamau Bell-"United States of America with W. Kamau Bell"-CNN
RuPaul Charles-"RuPaul's Drag Race"-VH1
Heidi Klum & Tim Gunn-"Project Runway"-Lifetime
Gordon Ramsay-"MasterChef Junior"-FOX
Martha Stewart & Snoop Dogg-"Martha & Snoop's Potluck Dinner Party-VH1

LOL! HA! Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Oh my God! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! You know, I almost, put Martha Stewart & Snoop Dogg on my Gold Derby ballot! I didn't do it, but I saw that on there, and I- I don't what the hell this was, btw VH1's killing it in Reality suddenly! Getting actual awards respect, for once. Good job! No more "Rock of Love!"/"I Love New York" crap from you, I hope....! But, oh, Martha Stewart & Snoop Dogg, that's-, that's worth doing this damn blog every year, finding stuff like that! (Laughing dying down) Anyway, eh, I gotta check out that Potluck dinner now. Eh, Rupaul on the category last year, Jane Lynch, the previous winner, not eligible, "Hollywood Game Night" didn't submit this year, but we got a few new people. Gordon Ramsay, finally getting nominated, in for "MasterChef Junior", I'm not a Gordon Ramsay guy, but that is the best of his shows, and he's good on it. I have W. Kamau Bell is, I'm gonna have to look that up. I did predict Alec Baldwin getting in for "Match Game", which is still, not a Reality Show, that's a game show! Same problem with Jane Lynch, just because it's in Primetime, doesn't turn a Game Show into a Reality Show! (Annoying sigh) But he's good on the show, and who doesn't love "Match Game". eh, I think it's RuPaul's to win again, maybe Martha & Snoop could sneak in there, but who knows. I can easily see Heidi & Tim winning again, so....


LIMITED SERIES/TV MOVIE

OUTSTANDING LIMITED SERIES
Big Little Lies-HBO
Fargo-FX Networks
FEUD: Bette and Joan-FX Networks
Genius-National Geographic
The Night Of-HBO

Well, the big shocker here is "Genius" sneaking in, the major nomination I can remember for NatGeo, or the National Geographic Channel. Of course, Einstein can easily attract a crowd, and it doesn't hurt that one of the series Directors was Ron Howard. I still think it's a longshot at best, especially considering the competitiveness of this category. "FEUD..." has the most nominations, so I think it's natural to presume that's the favorite. Not a bad prediction either. "Big Little Lies", "Fargo" and "The Night Of" are definitely in the mix though, but it takes a lot to beat a Hollywood story like Bette Davis and Joan Crawford.


OUTSTANDING TELEVISION MOVIE
Black Mirror: San Junipero-Netflix
Dolly Parton's Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love-NBC
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks-HBO
Sherlock: The Lying Detective (Masterpiece)-PBS
The Wizard of Lies-HBO

Well, I had taken a couple shots in the dark, predicting the "David Brent" and "Looking" movies, but-eh, I didn't have "Black Mirror" or "Dolly Parton's Christmas of Many Colors", getting in, I guess that "A Very Murray Christmas" wasn't that much of a fluke. How come these things aren't submitting themselves as Special. It's all wrong, the Christmas special should be in Special, and the Broadway musicals should be in Movies, why! Oh, whatever. Look, I've learned my lesson, I'm predicting "Sherlock..." in these categories until it loses. Yeah,  but, Oprah! Oprah didn't even get an acting nomination. But, DeNiro is Bernie Madoff! Yeah, and Cranston, was LBJ last year, he had already wona  Tony for that, it didn't help him either. I'm gonna finally check out this "Sherlock" and figure out what the fuss is about eventually.


OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE
Carrie Coon-"Fargo"-FX Networks
Felicity Huffman-"American Crime"-ABC
Nicole Kidman-"Big Little Lies"-HBO
Jessica Lange-"FEUD: Bette and Joan"-FX Networks
Reese Witherspoon-"Big Little Lies"-HBO
Susan Sarandon-"FEUD: Bette and Joan"-FX Networks

No real surprises here, Felicity Huffman's back again, despite it being "American Crime''s last go-around. Carrie Coon, in for "Fargo", no surprise, again. And both Bette and Joan, and everything else is whoever they can shove in for "Big Little Lies". Gut instinct, probably Jessica Lange, they'll find any reason to award her to begin with, and they've got a good reason here.


OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE
Riz Ahmed-"The Night Of"-HBO
Benedict Cumberbatch-"Sherlock: The Lying Detective"-PBS
Robert De Niro-"The Wizard of Lies"-HBO
Ewan McGregor-"Fargo"-FX Networks
Geoffrey Rush-"Genius"-National Geographic
John Turturro-"The Night Of"

I didn't think both from "The Night Of" would get in, but I'm glad they did. This is a bit of an open category, the favorites are "FEUD..." and "Big Little Lies" and they're not here, so it's a little tricky trying to figure out who can sneak in for the win here. I think Riz Ahmed is the most likely winner from "The Night Of", but I have to think it's always tough to beat De Niro. McGregor might sneak in too. If "Fargo" was a more assured chance to win Series, than I'd think McGregor, but that's still a longshot.


OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE
Judy Davis-"FEUD: Bette and Joan"-FX Networks
Laura Dern-"Big Little Lies"-HBO
Jackie Hoffman-"FEUD: Bette and Joan"-FX Networks
Regina King-"American Crime"-ABC
Michelle Pfeiffer-"The Wizard of Lies"-HBO
Shailene Woodley-"Big Little Lies"-HBO

Regina King's won this award a couple years in a row, so counting her out is a fool's errand, especially when everybody else might split votes against their co-stars. Sure, Michelle Pfeiffer has a shot as well, but these days it's more likely for people to win from Miniseries instead of movies. If there is somebody else, I'd be looking at either Jackie Hoffman or Shailene Woodley most likely.


OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE
Bill Camp-"The Night Of"-HBO"
Alfred Molina-"FEUD: Bette and Joan"-FX Networks
Alexander Skarsgard-"Big Little Lies"-HBO
David Thewlis-"Fargo"-FX Networks
Stanley Tucci-"FEUD: Bette and Joan"-FX Networks
Michael Kenneth Williams-"The Night Of"-HBO

Another tough category. Basically it's the same four programs getting everything, and that's understandable, but it's a little limiting. If I were to guess, I'm thinking that either Alfred Molina or Stanley Tucci, mostly 'cause of "FEUD..." being the presumptive favorite, and those are two very beloved actors who don't always get their chance to win many awards, and this is a good idea. I can see Skarsgard or Thewlis sneaking in as well; I think I'm gonna wait to see how their Limited Series and movie do at the Creative Arts before I get too sure on the acting races.


OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A LIMITED SERIES, MOVIE OR DRAMATIC SPECIAL
Big Little Lies-Jean-Marc Vallee-HBO
Fargo-The Law of Vacant Places-Noah Hawley-FX Networks
FEUD: Bette and Joan-And the Winner Is... (The Oscars of 1962)"-Ryan Murphy-FX Networks
Genius-"Einstein: Chapter One"-Ron Howard-National Geographic
The Night Of-"The Art of War"-James Marsh-HBO
The Night Of-"The Beach"-Steven Zaillian-HBO

No lack of big names here. Vallee, great film director, Howard, great director, with a TV background, Zaillian and Marsh, two very good directors, Hawley won this category recently, and Ryan Murphy has won the category in the past. I think Murphy might still be the favorite with the "FEUD...." episode also being the Oscars episodes, and Emmys love the Oscars, especially when it's a classic Hollywood film story...- man, "FEUD..." hits so much buttons. Jean-Marc Vallee, possible second choice/


OUTSTANDING WRITNG FOR A LIMITED SERIES, MOVIE OR DRAMATIC SPECIAL
Big Little Lies-David E. Kelley-HBO
Black Mirror: San Junipero-Charlie Brooker-Netflix
Fargo-"The Law of Vacant Places"-Noah Hawley-FX Networks
FEUD: Bette and Joan-"And the Winner Is... (The Oscars of 1963)"-Ryan Murphy-FX Networks
FEUD: Bette and Joan-"Pilot"-Jaffe Cohen, Michael and Ryan Murphy-FX Networks

I thought David E. Kelley's "Goliath" might've snuck in a nomination for Billy Bob Thornton, but that didn't ultimately pan out. I wouldn't be surprised if he wins here, as Writing and Directing, might make a win a little more like for a movie, or at least a singular author, and Kelley fits that, plus, he's a TV legend. This might also be a good spot for "Fargo" too, Hawley can win an Emmy in these categories, and despite's dominance, this is the perfect place where a split vote can kill it.


Other Notable Awards

ANIMATION

OUTSTANDING ANIMATED PROGRAM
Archer-"Archer Dreamland"-FX Networks
Bob's Burger's-"Bob, Actually"-FOX
Elena and the Secret of Avalor (Sofia the First)-Disney Channel
The Simpsons-"The Town"-FOX
South Park-"Member Berries"-Comedy Central

You know, I'm not exactly sure how this would be altered, or changed, but I really don't like that whole animation series have to compete with these, one-off animation special in this category. I'm sure, it's practical and there's not enough of out there for their own categories, but I mean, a "South Park" or "The Simpsons" can put out twenty episode seasons some times, but they can only submit one for Animation Program, and it's up against a special. I mean, I presume, "South Park"'s the favorite this year, 'cause that damn season of there's is up there as one of their best,  but still. I wish this was two separate category.


OUTSTANDING SHORT-FORM ANIMATED PROGRAM
Adventure Time-"Islands Part 4: Imaginary Resources"-Cartoon Network
Disney Mickey Mouse-"Split Decisions"-Disney Channel
Marvel's Rocket & Groot-"Mr. Greg"-Disney XD App
Steven Universe-"Mr. Greg"-Cartoon Network
Teen Titans Go!-"Orangins"-Cartoon Network

I've finally gotten around to a couple of these, eh, I don't get "Adventure Time". I can see, sorta appeal, but honestly I found myself bored with it. "Steven Universe" on the other hand, I can't wait to more of it. I really need to catch up on that one; I was very impressed with "Steven Universe", and that's clearly the one I'm rooting for. Well, I like Mickey Mouse too.


OUTSTANDING CHARACTER VOICE-OVER PERFORMANCE
Dee Bradley Baker-"American Dad!"-"Fight and Flight"-TBS
Nancy Cartwright-"The Simpsons"-"Looking for Mr. Goodbart"-FOX
Mo Collins-"F is for Family"-"Pray Away"-Netflix-Netflix
Kevin Kline-"Bob's Burgers"-"The Last Gingerbread House of the Left"-FOX
Seth MacFarlane-"Family Guy"-"The Boys in the Band"-FOX
Kristen Schaal-"BoJack Horseman"-"That's Too Much, Mani"-Netflix

Oh, I didn't know "American Dad!" was back. Honestly, as much as I love "Family Guy", I actually thought a lot of times that "American Dad!" was funnier, especially lately. Oh, "BoJack Horseman" fans, here's your nomination! (Sigh) I've seen a few episodes, it's funny, I don't hate. No, I don't think it's the best or greatest thing out there. I'm with the Academy on this one; I'm fairly certain it can be overlooked.


SHORT-FORM LIVE ACTION

OUTSTANDING SHORT FORM COMEDY OR DRAMA SERIES
Brown Girls-Open TV
Fear the Walking Dead: Passage-AMC.com
Hack Into Broad City-ComedyCentral.com
Los Pollos Hermanos Employee Training-AMC
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Slingshot-ABCd/ABC.com

LOL, I'm gonna have to look up "Los Pollos Hermanos Employee Training", 'cause that's gotta be funny. It's interesting that "Hack Into Broad City" got in here, "Broad City" was not eligible for Comedy Series this year, didn't have a season in the calendar year, but it's good to know that they're doing stuff to keep it in people's minds. That's one show that I suspect, is often, on the fringe of getting nominated, perhaps in Series or Writing, maybe, but never manages to push itself in. Other than that, everything else if from a known commodity, which makes "Brown Girls", the orange in the basket of apples. I wonder what Open TV even is? (Shrugs)


OUTSTANDING ACTOR IN A SHORT-FORM COMEDY OR DRAMA SERIES
Ty Burrell-"Boondoggle-ABCd/ABC.com
Kim Estes-"Dicks"-Vimeo
John Michael Higgins-"Tween Fest"-go90
Jason Ritter-"Tales of Titans"-go90
Ben Schwartz-"The Earliest Show"-FunnyOrDie
Alan Tudyk-"Con Man"-Comic-Con HQ

Man, they'll nominate Ty Burrell for anything. Uh, Comic-Con HQ, congrats on your first Emmy nomination. Congrats on Vimeo, for your second. These acting categories were only added last year, so, I don't quite know if we're gonna get a lot of repeats yet, but, we'll see.


OUTSTANDING ACTRESS IN A SHORT FORM COMEDY OR DRAMA SERIES
Lauren Lapkus-"The Earliest Show"-FunnyOrDie
Jane Lynch-"Dropping the Soap"-Amazon
Kelsey Scott-"Fear the Walking Dead: Passage"-AMC.com
Mindy Sterling-"Con Man"-Comic-Con HQ
Mindy Sterling-"secs & EXECS"-tellonfilms.com

Oh, there you are Jane Lynch. I know you had to show up somewhere. Ooh, this is rare, an actress competing against herself in the same category. Mindy Sterling is one of those who you'd recognize immediately, but not remember from what. She does a lot of voice-over work, but she's busy in general, so it's not too surprising that she gets into a couple shorts. Honestly, I don't really get "The Walking Dead", or "Fear the Walking Dead" for that matter, so these shows that are connected to other shows, they're starting to wear thin on me.


OUTSTANDING SHORT-FORM VARIETY SERIES
Behind the Voice-YouTube
The Daily Show-Between the Scenes-TheDailyShow.com
Epic Rap Battles of History-YouTube
Honest Trailers-YouTube
The Star Wars Show-YouTube

You see, this is the kind of thing I'm talking about, three Youtube shows, well, four, "Behind the Voice" might technically qualify more as a SnapChat show, believe it or not, but, and "The Daily Show" online series. So, yeah, YouTube, is making it's definite mark, and Maker Studios, DEFY Media, Lucasfilm Ltd. they're investing in this and (Sigh) well, we'll see how it goes.... I will say, that if I had a ballot, I'd probably vote for "The Daily Show", 'cause I'm honestly not big on any of these. "Honest Trailers" are okay, I think "Epic Rap Battles...." is, kinda-, pointless. I guess, if it teaches history to some, fine, but I-, I don't find the Rap battle aspect interesting. I mean, rap's been around, what, 45 years, at the most; I get the joke is anachronistic in nature, but, still, I think the joke's thin. It was funny 20 years ago on "Celebrity Deathmatch" when William Shakespeare and Busta Rhymes switched places, but I don't get it now.


OUTSTANDING SHORT FORM NONFICTION OR REALITY SERIES
Creating Saturday Night Live-NBC
FEUD: Bette and Joan: Inside Look-FX.com
Jay Leno's Garage-NBC.com
National Endoment for the Arts: United States of Arts-arts.gov
Viceland at The Women's March-Viceland

How long has "Jay Leno's Garage" been on? Seems like forever now. I mean, I know he still had "The Tonight Show", so, almost nine-or-ten years? That's a long time to be ahead of time on a format. Anyway, eh, I'm guessing either The Women's March or the NEA are the favorites, here.


DOCUMENTARY/NON-FICTION/INFORMATIVE, etc.

OUTSTANDING DOCUMENTARY OR NONFICTION SERIES
30 for 30-ESPN
American Masters-PBS
Chef's Table-Netflix
The Keepers-Netflix
Planet Earth II-BBC America

I'm personally not that sure on "Planet Earth II", I-, I'm frankly bored to death by nature docs most of the time, but the rest are pretty solid. Boy, ESPN, came out of nowhere to start to dominate the documentary market, didn't it? (Shrugs)


OUTSTANDING INFORMATIONAL SERIES OR SPECIAL
Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown-CNN
Inside the Actors Studio-Bravo
Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath-A&E
StarTalk with Neil deGrasse Tyson-National Geographic
Vice-HBO

Anthony Bourdain, is of course, typically the favorite here, although I wouldn't be shocked by say Leah Remini getting an upset win here. This is a traditionally loaded category so. And A&E btw, since "Bates Hotel" ended they're going back to an exclusively reality-documentary based lineup, from now on, so they can be a player in these categories for awhile. Speaking of networks that don't fit the programming anymore, anybody else just sad that "Inside the Actors' Studio" is still on Bravo? I mean, I mostly wish that the episodes would be more readily available to stream, in general, but yeah, it's kinda depressing now.


EXCEPTIONAL MERIT IN DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKING
Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds-HBO
LA 92-National Geographic
O.J.: Made in America-ESPN
Oklahoma City (American Experience)-PBS
The White Helmets-Netflix

Okay, now we're getting into the "Are they Movies or are they TV shows?" Documentary categories, and-, no, I don't completely understand it either. There's a bunch of these. Not all, like last time, because a few films, including the Oscar-nominated "Life, Animated", as well as "Weiner" and "The Music of Strangers: Yo-You Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble" were disqualified, you can read this Variety article, to try to figure out the differences:

http://variety.com/2017/tv/news/weiner-life-animated-emmys-disqualified-1202468255/

Why this means that an Oscar-nominated Short can compete the longest movie to ever win an Oscar, along with a special on Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds and something on the Oklahoma City Bombing, I have no fucking clue.


OUTSTANDING DOCUMENTARY OR NONFICTION SPECIAL
13th-Netflix
Amanda Knox-Netflix
The Beatles: Eight Days a Week-The Touring Years-Hulu
A House Divided (Vice Special Report)-HBO
L.A. Burning: The Riots 25 Years Later-A&E

I've given my reviews on "13th" and "The Beatles: Eight Days a Week...." earlier, I haven't gotten to these others yet, and I've heard decent stuff about "Amanda Knox", but just based on reputation I'd have to think "13th" is the favorite here.


OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A NONFICTION PROGRAM
13th-Ava DuVernay-Netflix
Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynold-Alexis Bloom and Fisher Stevens-HBO
O.J.: Made in America-"Part 3"-Ezra Edelman-ESPN
Planet Earth II-"Cities"-Fredi Devas-BBC America
Planet Earth II-"Islands"-Elizabeth White-BBC America

This is actually intriguing since part of "O.J...." is up, not the whole thing, but Ezra Edelman and Ava DuVernay, I don't think competed against each other much, as directors, so this is up in the air. I don't think anything else really has a chance, but we'll see, maybe Fisher Stevens can get in here.


OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A NONFICTION PROGRAM
13th-Ava DuVernay and Spencer Averick-Netflix
Amanda Know-Matthew Hamachek and Brian McGann-Netflix
Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown-"Houston"-Anthony Bourdain-CNN
The Beatles: Eight Days a Week-The Touring Years-Mark Monroe-Hulu
Bill Nye Saves the World-"The Sexual Spectrum"-CeCe Pleasants, Sanden Totten Mike Drucker and Flora Lichtman-Netflix


OTHER CATEGORIES OF INTEREST

OUTSTANDING NARRATOR
Laurence Fishburne-"Year Million"-"Homo Sapien 2.0"-National Geographic
Ewan McGregor-"Wild Scotland"-Nat Geo WILD
Sam Neill-"Wild New Zealand"-Nat Geo WILD
Liev Schreiber-"Muhammad Ali: Only One"-HBO
Liev Schreiber-"UConn: The March to Madness"-Episode 1"-HBO
Meryl Streep-"Five Came Back"-"The Price of Victory"-Netflix

Well, there's nobody here, who's specifcally famous for narration, so that makes it a little trick. I suspect Liev Schreiber's double-nominations are gonna cancel each other out. I think it's between Laurence Fishburne and Meryl Streep, and I would give the edge of Fishburne, since he didn't win last year for "Roots", and Meryl Streep's got a bunch of Emmys for Movies and miniseries and whatnot at this point.


OUTSTANDING CHILDREN'S PROGRAM
Girl Meets World-Disney Channel
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 90th Celebration-NBC
Once Upon a Sesame Street Christmas-HBO
School of Rock-Nickelodeon
Star Wars Rebels-Disney XD

Okay, seriously NBC? The 90th Celebration of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, that what Children are craving? Seriously? You really want to push that as a Children's Program? Why exactly is a Primetime show, the Parade takes place in the Day, doesn't it? I might have an odd definition of what I might consider a Children's Show, but-eh, yeah, the Parade, never would've occurred to me. Final season of "Girl Meets World", btw.


OUTSTANDING INTERACTIVE PROGRAM
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee Online-SamanthaBee.com
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver-HBO
The Late Late Show with James Corden-CBS
Saturday Night Live Multiplatform Experience-NBC
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon-NBC

Ah, there's Jimmy Fallon, a fifth place among your four series-nominated peers, in the Interactive Program category. That dreaded category that nobody can completely figure out what it means. (And Yes, I've looked it up, before. I still don't think anybody actually knows.)


OUTSTANDING ORIGINAL INTERACTIVE PROGRAM
Amigo to the Rescue: Disney Junior Interactive Show-iOS
Dear Angelica-Oculus
HITRECORD x ACLU: Are You there Democracy? It's Me, The Internet-The Huffington Post/YouTube
Mission: ISS-Oculus
The People's House -- Inside the White House With Barack and Michelle Obama-Samsung/Oculus

Okay, I'm gonna really have to figure this out now, 'cause, somebody must know what the hell these Interactive Programs are, 'cause the Emmys added three additional Interactive Program Emmys. This is one of them. Okay, I know what the Huffington Post and YouTube, Oculus and iOS, I had to look. Apparently they're really trying to get me to watching stuff on my Phone, it seems. That's, just not something I do, but it's still an interesting category. Nice to see Joseph Gordon-Levitt got a Producing nomination. Still, this is basically VR programming, whatever that is. I grew up in the '90s, Virtual Reality didn't turn out the way we have hoped, so I'm skeptical, but I'm the one that thought streaming would die out, so,... (Shrugs).


OUTSTANDING CREATIVE ACHIEVEMENT IN INTERACTIVE MEDIA WITHIN A SCRIPTED PROGRAM
The Man in the High Castle: Resistance Radio-Amazon Prime
The Mr. Robot Virtual Reality Experience-USA
The Simpsons: Planet of the Couches-play.google.com
Stranger Things VR Experience-Netflix
Westworld-DiscoverWestWorld.com

I'm halfway-certain that Creative Achievement in Interactive Media, within a Scripted Program is just a complicated term for "Video Game where You Don't Kill Anybody". (Shrugs) Although maybe we do kill people in some of these, who knows.


OUTSTANDING CREATIVE ACHIEVEMENT IN INTERACTIVE MEDIA WITHIN AN UNSCRIPTED PROGRAM
E! Live 360 (Red Carpet Show)-E! News Mobile App
The Oscars: All Access-Oscar.com
Stand for Rights: A Benefit for the ACLU with Tom Hanks-Facebook Live
Stand Up to Cancer: #Reasons2StandUp-standup2cancer.org
The Voice on Snapchat Show-NBC/Snapchat

Okay, I actually do understand what this is, ''cause it's mostly Live Programming, not necessarily unscripted; this is more up my alley, just a way to format the behind the scenes footage. Little surprise The Oscars got in here, this here, consider they're behind-the-scenes problems, (NO, I AM NOT GETTING OVER THAT! You have one job, give the right card to the presenter!.... UGH!)


OUTSTANDING MAIN TITLE DESIGN
American Gods-Starz
The Crown-Netflix
FEUD: Bette and Joan-FX Networks
Stranger Things-Netflix
Westworld-HBO

I don't particular care much about this category as others do, but hey, STARZ, there you go! Well, that's not fair, I do like this category although I'm kind of hoping "Feud..." doesn't get it. I'm not gone Miniseries winning this; I like to think that the best openings correlate to the best long-running and important television shows, so, I guess I'm against "FEUD..." with this one.


OUTSTANDING ORIGINAL MAIN TITLE THEME MUSIC
FEUD: Bette and Joan-Mac Quayle-FX Networks
Genius-Hans Zimmer and Lorne Balfe-National Geographic
The Good Fight-John David Buckley-CBS All Access
Stranger Things-Michael Stein and Kyle Dixon-Netflix
Victoria (Masterpiece)-Martin Phipps-PBS
Westworld-Ramin Djawadi-HBO

Ah, music category, these are for the EGOT followers among us. I mean, not me, I've got my money on Cynthia Nixon being the next one to get it in the pool. What? Look, it up, she's already got three, she just needs an Oscar, and she played Emily Dickinson in her last film; it ain't that far-fetched. Nice to "Victoria" get something. I don't know why CBS keeps that "The Good Fight" on All Access, just put it on the network if you're gonna do the damn thing. You're a real channel, it doesn't work in reverse. You don't start on TV and then go the internet.


OUTSTANDING MUSIC COMPOSITION FOR A LIMITED SERIES, MOVIE OR SPECIAL (ORIGINAL DRAMATIC SCORE)
Fargo-"Aporia"-Jeff Russo-FX Networks
FEUD: Bette and Joan"-"Pilot"-Mac Quayle-FX Networks
Five Came Back-"The Price of Victory-Jeremy Turner-Netflix
O.J.: Made in America-"Part 3"-Gary Lionelli-ESPN
Suite Francaise-Rael Jones-Lifetime
The White Helmets-Patrick Jonsson-Netflix

(Shrugs) I don't know what the hell "Suite Francaise" is either, but I never do give the scores some credit and they're tough. I wish they weren't all just Limited Series or Docs or movies, but honestly, that's kinda how it goes now. If you're a regular-running series, you have music cues normally, not actually orchestral songs. The only show I can really think that uses an orchestra to create their music from cues from scratch anymore is "Family Guy", and since they have to like, pay for things like a set, or anything of that nature, they can splurge there, but, this is a category that's gonna remain the domain of the movies and limited series for the near future.


OUTSTANDING ORIGINAL MUSIC AND LYRICS
"Letter to the Free"-13th-Music & Lyric: Common; Music: Robert Glasper and Karriem Riggins-Netflix
"We Tapped That Ass"-Crazy Ex-Girlfriend-Music/Lyric: Adam Schlesinger; Lyrics: Rachel Bloom and Jack Dolgen-CW
"Jing-A-Ling-A-Ling"-Duck the Halls: Mickey Mouse Christmas Special-Music & Lyric: Christopher Willis; Lyric: Darrick Bachman and Paul Rudish-Disney-Disney Channel
"The Ballad of Claus Jorstad (Devil Stool)"-Jimmy Kimmel Live-Music & Lyrics: Jonathan Kimmel and Gary Greenberg-ABC
"Last Christmas"-Saturday Night Live-Music: Eli Brueggermann; Lyric: Chancelor Johnathan Bennett, Kenan Thompson and Will Stephen-NBC
"Hell No"-Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt-Music: Jeff Richmond; Lyrics: Tina Fey and Sam Means.

I really wish they'd go with "Boobs in California" for "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" instead, but still, they didn't do too bad. Weird that this is Tina Fey's only nomination outside of Producing the Series, which for some reason never gets into Writing or Directing.... I don't get that.. Rachel Bloom's annual nomination's here, so is Common's nomination that he didn't get from the Oscars. I suspect he's a bit of a favorite here. Either that or "Hell No"; I don't see a really obvious winner here. Nothing from the Tonys or something that went really viral, so I suspect it's the Common song, just based on it being the most well-known, with maybe "UKS" and "CEG"'s songs sneaking in as spoilers. There's no "Bigger!" or "I'm Fucking Matt Damon" this year.


OUTSTANDING COMMERCIALS
Calling JohnMalkovich.com-"Squarespace"
Love Cam-"Ad Council: Love Has No Labels"
We Are America-"Ad Council: Love Has No Labels"
Why I March-"Women's March on Washington"
Year In Search 2016-"Google"

Oh, the Commercial category. This is always cool. Yeah, part of wants to shun it, because they have the Clio Awards, but honestly, this is a good category to have. And they have some good nominees. I'm not crazy that Google got back in for their "Year In Search" series again, but other than that. I wish they had at least one more funnier one, but Calling JohnMalkovick.com was pretty funny.

Alright, I think that covers all the Above-The-Line and Curiosities underneath. The full announcements are at the link below, if you want to check out a specialty like Cinematography or Editing or Sound categories or something. There's some surprises with some of those noms. The only category I'm kinda half-interested in there, is the Casting for a Reality Program, the first times they've given that award out. Good batch of nominees too; I'm a little sad, "Top Chef" didn't get in there, but they did have this latest run, an all-star season essentially, so, makes sense. Casting "RuPaul's Drag Race", must at the very least, be a little bit fun.

Two whole months to speculate wildly folks. It's a weird year folks, with a lot of unpredictability across nearly all the genres. Let's have some fun with it while we can.

http://www.emmys.com/events/69th-emmy-nominations-announcement








Sunday, July 9, 2017

CANON OF FILM: "SHORT CUTS"

SHORT CUTS (1993)

Director: Robert Altman
Screenplay: Robert Altman & Frank Barhydt based on the writings of Raymond Carver




It's strange how I always find comfort in the opening sequence of "Short Cuts", not because it's a great sequence, which it is, one of the greatest in cinematic history, but because it's supposedly helps to explain the movie, the fact that connects everyone and explains their actions is the fact they live in a Medfly zone. Medflies are an bug who's infestation that can occur on crops, and fighting that, California tried helicoptering DDT onto the crop, but in order to do that, it also had to drop the DDT over some L.A. neighborhoods. Supposedly, if you look at the characters in "Short Cuts" and see what they're doing and how they react when the copters come in, it's supposed to be a key into explaining their actions and behaviors throughout the rest of the movie; I've even had that taught in class to me be a professor. But, is it? Couldn't that possibly be just too simple? Or not simple enough, maybe? It can't possibly be a deus ex machina for everything that happens, and why would it be? What exactly is it supposed to explain anyway?

Mostly, it's just why these particular character do things are a little bit, for-lack-of-a-better-word, crazy, but, this is L.A. where both the sky is falling and the ground is moving beneath your feet. And, things happen. Who isn't a little bit out there?

 Robert Altman“Short Cuts,” is an absolute essential, and arguably his best work. Of course, I'm tempted to put nearly every film Altman made into this Canon the moment I see them, but "Short Cuts", might be the most Altman, Altman's ever been. Ironically, the inspiration for the film doesn't come from him. Made a year after his scathing satire on Hollywood, “The Player,” which marked his mainstream comeback of this longtime Hollywood outsider, who was once a Hollywood insider..., but instead, he created a fascinating mosaic of L.A. following twenty-two different characters, who eventually connect and collide with each other, despite geographic, social and class differences. If you wonder where P.T. Anderson came up with “Magnolia,” he’ll blatantly tell you, it’s a remake of “Short Cuts,” but where Anderson made an operatic melodrama, Altman’s film is banal, natural and truly realistic characters that he has great affection for, frailties and demons all. These stories themselves have the typical ironic turns and human revelations of Altman works, but he actually used just as fascinating a source, the short stories of Raymond Carver.

If you’ve never read one, I highly recommend them. There’s some of the most wondrous reads you can find, and they capture an incredible essence of human behavior, whether drama, comedy, sadness, tragedy, disappointment, and the unpredictability of human emotions. It's not shocking at all to see "Birdman..." use a Carver short story for it's play-within-the-film to parallel Michael Keaton's decent into madness, and I've been working more than usual in the field of short stories, and while, the ones I've been working on, aren't exactly inspired by Carver, lately, he's the one I usually think of when I think of short stories as an art form. His stories are almost ready-made for Altman to make numerous movies, but by combining all of these characters and watching them in a world where missed connections can cause chain reactions and how people who don’t get the chance to connect might have altered some human frailties and dilemmas, and show how those who do connect can still lead to results that can’t be predicted or prepared for.

As with all Altman’s multiple narratives, there’s too many to explain and go over in one small paragraph, and there really isn’t a point to. That said, one scene involves a sad death of a child, Casey (Zane Cassidy) who gets hit by a waitress's car, Doreen (Lily Tomlin). He gets up and starts walking. Doreen, shocked, tries to convince the kid to go to the hospital, but he won't get in the car  and begins walking home instead, saying that he's not allowed to get in the car with strangers. Of course, Howard and Ann (Bruce Davidson and Andie MacDowell) don't see that and never will as their child goes on life support and his doctor, Ralph, (Matthew Modine) seems more fascinated by Howard's fame as a TV reporter. Neither of course does Doreen who spends the rest of the movie reconciling with her drunkard husband, Earl (Tom Waits) unaware that she's killed a kid who seemed to be alright. Even the neighbor girl, Zoe (Lori Singer) a cellist who sees him walking back and tries to engage with him, but she let's him pass, not aware 'til later of the tragedy. Also, unaware, is a baker, Andy (Lyle Lovett) who's made a birthday cake for Casey that his parents haven't shown up to pick up. This is of course one thread, and there's several others that each intertwine. Some, tragic, some are much funnier, some are even sexual, and despite the randomness of their connections, separately they're fascinating in of themselves. Like the plumber, Jerry (Chris Penn) who's wife Lois (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is a phone sex operator, who wishes that she'd talk to him the way she talks to the guys on the other end of the phone while she's changing diapers, or the philandering cop, Gene (Tim Robbins) who pulls over a clown, Claire (Anne Archer) just to hit on her. Or the Doctor, who is calm, if distracted at his work, is near jealous-rage when his artist wife, Marian (Julianne Moore) confesses to cheating on him right before a night out and a double date with another couple.

Is it all truly connected or are we, truly connected, or is it jump coincidence, fluke and chance, that connects erroneously, or does our behavior dictates our actions, even when it all seems to be random chance. The movie begins with a human attempt to compound nature, and ends with nature fighting back, in typical Los Angeles fashion, unpredictable, and without reason or provocation, just like many of the short cuts of life in the film.


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

TELEVISION REBOOTS: DOES THIS MEAN THAT TELEVISION IS DEAD? OR, TRYING TO DIE AT LEAST?



So, I've been behind on my television for a little bit, and with Emmy season coming up, I'm only now trying to begin catching up on some television, that I've been overlooking or missing lately. "This Is Us" for instance, which is probably gonna compete with "The Handmaiden's Tale" for the Drama Series Emmys; I'm starting to get into that show. Kinda reminds me of what I always thought "Thirtysomething" should've been. Those shows, acclaim and popularity didn't totally surprise me, uh, I was a little caught offguard when I kept seeing "One Day At a Time" popping up sporadically on some Comedy Series categories and ballots however. Partially, 'cause I had totally forgotten that, they were rebooting that, and partially because, it was getting that kind of attention. I've seen one episode so far of the Netflix reboot, which Norman Lear does have a part in, and-eh, it's pretty good. It's solid, really solid. I'm a late-comer to the original series actually, only recently got around the original show, but that was a great show to begin with. Very underrated series in hindsight, and probably more ahead of it's time than we realize; I'm not ready to call this version better or equal to that yet, but it's a good reboot. It's got the same pieces as the original, but they modernized it, they change up the context enough, gave us some good variations on the characters that I wouldn't have considered before, added an ethnic element to it, that also gives it some added layers of depth, making it it's own thing. You certainly could watch this series and enjoy it immensely  without any knowledge what-so-ever of their being an original version out there.

So-eh, why that title of this post, where I talk about how television reboots might mean the death of television. Well, everybody been talking a lot about how, feature films, especially big budget Hollywood feature films, have been, in terms of the creativity department, a bit stagnant when it comes to new ideas, just a tad; a tad being three times the size of Florida. But, I think we've been laying it a little easy on television for this.

Now I planned on doing a post on television reboots for a few weeks ago, and I decided to write down every time I heard or read a piece about a reboot or a remake of a television series that was going on, or about to happen or just going signed off on. Just, in the last few weeks, "Roseanne", "Dynasty", "Animaniacs", "Twin Peaks", "The Joker's Wild", "Sister, Sister," "Fear Factor", 'That's So Raven", "MTV's Cribs", "Beach House", "Where on Earth is Carmen San Diego", "American Idol" and "The Jetsons", have all been in the news, or in the public eye, for having a television remake/reboot or whatever, and to be honest, I'm fairly certain that since, I've been a little distracted paying attention to other work I have outside of this blog, I think I've missed like thirty others that have just popped. I mean, this promo just got released today!



Yeah, they're bringing back "Will & Grace". I'm- I'm not against that in theory, and hell that show's last episode, was really, really awful, so...-, I guess why not, just to correct that, but still....  "Hawaii Five-O" had two of their cast members leave the show this week; I didn't even realize that reboot of "Hawaii Five-0" was still on the air! (Seriously, we're we actually craving for a reboot of "Hawaii Five-0", 'cause I don't remember that. I mean I liked the original fine, but other than wanting to hear the theme song once in a while, I don't think we were asking for a new one?) You know, I do hear a lot of people talking about how we're in such a golden age of television, and yet, it seems like we're more or less going back to the old golden age of television to come up with this new golden age of television. Supposedly this is the new artist's medium and everybody creating they're own original material and there's more television outlets and genres than ever, but that's kind of a hard argument to make, when, it seems like television is almost as equally devoid of modern ideas as film supposedly seems to be.

Let's think about this for a second here, the cinema is losing out more and more to television than ever before because there's more creative freedom, inventive programming, cheaper, more availability to quality programming, etc. etc. etc. More cable channels, more streaming channels that take television seriously, etc. etc., so in order to compete, with some market, and a lot of that market is overseas, they're putting all their into already popular franchises either from another medium or in remakes of previously successful films. Is it annoying, yes. Is it frustrating, yes! Do they usually not result in good films, uh- well, Michael Bay's really screwing up the average on that one, but yeah, let's say they're generally subpar, with some notable exceptions. You all love the new "Mad Max", how many of you even remember that there was a remake of "F.A.M.E."? Yeah, exactly But, from a business perspective, it's not a bad strategy and it's probably the best strategy they can do. And, let's not forget, they still work to put out top quality films under those tentpoles and say what you want about things like the Oscars being used more as a promotional advertisement for a film than an actual judgment of the film's quality, usually they're represented of more quality films, and I seriously doubt "Moonlight" would've made the box office that the latest "Transformers" made with it's advertising budget and approach, so...- Okay, let's say it makes logical sense for film, which it does? Why is television so fascinated with reboots and remaking their own work? Film, they have to, but television....

Okay, well-, first of all, even though I did include them in that, let's throw out game shows for this topic. Well, not entirely, but most game shows, have several incarnations and variations over their run. Even the big three "Jeopardy!" "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price is Right" that have been on forever decades each now with no end in sight for any of them, none of those shows are the original versions of that series, all of them are reboots or reworkings of their original series. It is a little weird now, that the networks have started to get interested again in rebooting old game shows. With the exception of "The Price is Right" and "Let's Make a Deal", (Itself a reboot of an original game show) most game show runs have been the realm of syndication or perhaps cable, and certainly they weren't primetime until now. Off the top of my head, only the failed "Let's Make a Deal", was a network reboot of a show, (At least a reboot of an old classic American game show) that's been on Primetime and had network backing, (And I guess the failed "American Gladiators" reboot too, if you want to count that as a game show, which, I consider dubious, but okay.) since the game and reality show boom back in the late '90s and early naughts. And even then, with the exception of the rebooted "Twenty-One", from that era, they were original game shows for the most part. Not necessarily good game shows, but definitely original ones. The fact that suddenly, we've got a new "Match Game", "To Tell the Truth" and "Pyramid" and they're on in Primetime to me, on network television just seems bizarre on top of everything else. I mean, sure I spend half my time when I'm not on Facebook or writing this blog on Buzzr watching old "What's My Line?" reruns, but even in an age when reality rules network television, this comes off as odd to me. Usually either a network would fill up a morning block with game shows, which the networks haven't really done since 1990, or they're syndicated and picked up by local stations across the country, and that's a successful strategy; you just have to look to "Family Feud"'s recent inexplicable longest continuous run in it's history to see that. (Yeah, I'm not a Steve Harvey guy, sorry.) But, like I said, game shows comes in spurts, and if we're in a game show revival again, why not, at least they're redoing good old game shows, and it's not like these other games have been so great. Really, it's shocking hard to come up with a new inventive game show idea, so.....

However, the other reboots? Whether they're good or bad shows, they seem very counter-productive to me, at least in terms of television place right now in the media landscape, and in terms of what's television morphing into. Yeah, I'm working on my "Where on Earth is Carmen San Diego?" spec script, but I'd still contend that you'd think this would be much more of an anomaly than it is. I'm not gonna go over, each example of a reboot and explain how why it's good or why it's bad, and there's plenty of example of both in recent years, and hell, you can just go to Nostalgia Critic's last commentary about that with films, and you can basically apply it to television, but-, like, fine, "One Day at a Time", modern-day, Cuban-American family, single mother and divorced husband being in the military, and having gone through tours of duty, etc. Okay, fine, use the format and the structure to tell a modern, relevant story, that make perfect sense; why are we getting a live-action reboot, of "The Jetsons"? Now, maybe it'll great. There's been plenty of attempts to do a live-action sitcoms that take place in the future where the only jokes is the reverse of the same joke from "The Flintstones". I can't think of any successful ones. I'm not counting "L.A.X. 2194" as a success, are you? (Holy crap, that was done that by the guys who directing the "Captain America" films. Weird. For those who aren't with that show, that was the show that almost kept Matthew Perry from doing "Friends".) Hell, "The Jetsons" was never that big a hit as a cartoon. Look it up, it never had that great a ratings.

Ratings. Well, there's an interesting topic to take a closer look at these shows through. Were these shows big ratings hit? Eh, some were. Not all. They all mostly had better ratings than anything on TV now, that's for sure. That's something else too that bugs me about this increase in television reboots that's happening. These shows, for good and bad, all were on TV at a very different era of television. For one thing, there were fewer channels and fewer shows, so the selection was limited. I think some, think that means that nowadays with more shows than ever that means we're better off, eh, yeah, with fewer networks, they were more selective of what made the air, so, a lot of what did go on was the best of the best, so I think it's a bit, it's a bit of a wash. There's just as much crap on now as there was back then, it's just that the average doesn't seem right. But more than that, because there was so little else on, a lot of those had to do something that we take for granted a bit now, and that's basically, create the language and mythos of television. The canon, of television if you will...- (No, I'm not making that a new segment on this thing. Well, not right now anyway.)

You might've noticed that when I make a television reference, I reference, something old. That's not because I can't reference newer things, I can easily do that, but the real reason is because we have a collection of the important television works and moments, and it's ingrained in our cultural lexicon, the same way, Shakespeare is now. Here, I'll show you:

"I hate spunk"
"Meathead"
"Marcia, Marcia, Marcia"
"Bang! Zoom!"
"Spongeworthy"
"I'd like to buy a vowel"
"Jumping the Shark"
"Who shot J.R.?"
"Eat My Shorts!"
"Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!...."
"Dy-no-mite!"
"Is that your final answer?"
"I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV..."
"Two thumbs up"
"Plop, plop, fizz, fizz...."
"I am the one who knocks!" (Fine, I threw in a recent one)
"Are you ready for some football!"
"Here's Johnny!"
"How 'you', doin'?"
"Book 'em, Dano"
"Lucy, you have some 'splainin' to do!"

That last one, didn't even happen. Seriously, at no point does any character in "I Love Lucy" actually use that phrase, "Lucy, you have some 'splainin' to do!", but, like "Play It Again, Sam", is for films, it's ingrained in us anyway. And most of that's just quotes. Central Perk, the 4077th, The Regal Beagle, the Soup Nazi, and Jerry Matthews as The Beaver", these are all apart of our culture, so, we know them, we don't have to explain them. Part of the reason for that, is that, we as a country watched more television, and we watched the same television, and a wide range of it, so it's recognizable, it's, apart of our culture, it's a representative of us as a people. In other words, it's nostalgia. Now, that's also why Hollywood keeps constantly remaking the same movies, however, does that work for television in this day and age?

I mean, first of all, traditional ratings are practically meaningless in today's television landscape, but today's television landscape looks nothing like when these shows were on the air originally. Now, I think it's for the worst, because it's means that audiences can narrow into their specific things they like to see, and that means they, if they want to, don't get to experience and see everything that television can be and offers, the good and the bad, but, you can make the same argument the other way, but more importantly than that, with so much television, that encompasses, hell, it barely a literal television anymore, it's streaming, it's DVDs, it's Roku, it's-, I mean, unless you've trademarked "Super Bowl", you're not getting decent ratings anymore. That's what I don't get about this reboot trend, everything about television indicates that the majority of people watching it, in whatever form, are looking for something new, something distinct. Unique ideas and voices. Sure, there's a few "Twin Peaks" and "One Day at a Time" that have gained some fandom and popularity, but they also just canceled that reboot of "The Odd Couple", which was the second attempt to do a TV reboot of "The Odd Couple". They're bringing back "Dynasty" 'cause that reboot of "Dallas" that got canceled was apparently a hit? Or not.

Look, I'm probably the biggest classic TV buff out there, but, this is not a good direction for television to go, to constantly be trying to revive the past of television, in an era, where everything else about television right, is about new. New stories, new genres, new voices, new ways to watch television, new medium for television, and here we are going to back to the times again and again and again, where it seems like they're trying to recapture that time when television was, to quote Edward R. Murrow, merely wires and lights -- in a box. And believe me, if anything of television went back to the past, I wish it was the news, and there's certainly nothing wrong with taking influence from the past, (Again, news industry), but whatever's gonna be left of television, in whatever form that takes before it's ultimately destroyed by, whatever the next generation of film and television melding together to rot our brains in quicker and quicker fashion will end up that overtakes all forms of moving pictures, it's not gonna be led on the back of shows that are from the past.

Whether that's the intention or not, with this run of television reboots, that's the impression we get from this. There's a time when that could've worked, and I can think of a few examples where it even has, (Don't think this practice is new either, it was old when "What's Happening, Now?" tried it.) but, today.... (Sigh) Movies, they have to. But television...?