Friday, July 13, 2018

70TH ANNUAL PRIMETIME EMMY AWARDS NOMINATIONS ANALYSIS!



I've had a weird feeling about television lately, at least going into this year's Emmys. Not sure entirely why, but I've had this growing sense that it's mostly been an overall, odd year. It's almost like it's an off-year election, it's critically important and major we're not quite betting on the biggest players or names so it doesn't seem like it's major. That said, it is actually a big year, there's a lot of shows that are off, but a lot that came back. And it's not that clear whether the biggest show around or the newest show is the one that's still as big as they used to be. I've watched more television at this point than I normally have, so I'm more interested than I have been in the past, but I still have a lot to get to as well... and this year, at least based on the Gold Derby odds, and my personal predictions, there were some upsets in the nominations. (Aka, really, "Stranger Things" is back?!)

As always though, I am more thorough than everybody else, and I'm gonna go through every major category, that I suspect all of the laymen, as well as the more astute and knowledgeable viewer, will have some interest in. I mean, sure we're gonna do the top sheet stuff first, but, there's a lot of other Creative Arts categories that I think more people would like the Emmys if they profiled them a little more, I will go over them as well. I'm not predicting anything just yet, way too early, and still fresh off the presses, and there's a lot to take in. That said, let's go through the categories. We'll start with the Comedy Series categories.


COMEDY SERIES

OUTSTANDING COMEDY SERIES
Atlanta-FX Networks
Barry-HBO
black-ish-ABC
Curb Your Enthusiasm-HBO
GLOW-Netflix
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel-Prime Video
Silicon Valley-HBO
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt-Netflix

The 2% rule came into effect here as a record eight shows got nominated this year. The only network show was poor "black-ish', which actually had it's best year with five nominations; it got into costumes, but still is a real longshot, and HBO, dominating as three series got in this year, and remember, their perennial winner, "Veep", wasn't even eligible this year. "Barry" is the big newcomer from them, and it overperformed expectations, with 13 nods, but "Atlanta" way over-performed from last year, getting 16, and this could be important for FX which has never won a Series Award outside of Limited Series. The other big newcomer is "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel", from Amazon, (And I still don't get why they're calling themselves Prime Video) which got 14 of their own. The other newcomer "GLOW", had a weird morning, where it got ten nominations, but missed in a few categories they thought they'd get into and got surprising nominations were they weren't expecting. As to the expected show revivals of "Will & Grace", "Roseanne" or my favorite-even-though-it's-never-a-revival, "One Day at a Time", they-eh, didn't do so well. However, "Curb Your Enthusiasm", came back in.
(Bum-bum-bum, Ba, ba-bum, ba,ba-ba,bop, bum, ba-dum....)

I kid, I like "Curb..."


OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Anthony Anderson-"black-ish"-ABC
Ted Danson-"The Good Place"-NBC
Larry David-"Curb Your Enthusiasm"-HBO
Donald Glover-"Atlanta"-FX Networks
Bill Hader-"Barry"-HBO
William H. Macy-"Shameless"-Showtime

Boy, "Shameless" really has a devoted following in the acting branch, doesn't it? I mean, I love Bill Macy, but man...- Still though, the old names are the new ones here. For all you "The Good Place" fans, Ted Danson got in this year. I do like that show; I don't think it's the greatest thing ever to be honest, but he is really good in it, and let's be fair, he's Ted Danson. BTW, Ted Danson is now the most nominated person in this category, ever; this being his 12th total nomination and his first since "Cheers". (Which means he somehow never got nominated for "Becker"? Man, he really should have more!). Anyway, with Larry David coming in, I think Zach Galifianakis is the odd one out this year, but and of course, Aziz Ansari wasn't eligible this year from last, and Jeffrey Tambor...- (sigh) oh well. Anyway, most suspect it's a two-way race between Donald Glover and Bill Hader, and there are a few two-way races with them btw, if they're named as producers on their show, that means they will be competing head-to-head with each other, in five different categories, which I won't look up personally, but I have to believe that's a record.


OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Pamela Adlon-"Better Things"-FX Networks
Rachel Brosnahan-"The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel"-Prime Video
Allison Janney-"Mom"
Tracee Ellis Ross-"black-ish"-ABC
Issa Rae-"Insecure"-HBO
Lily Tomlin-"Grace and Frankie"-Netflix

Big snubs here, Ellie Kemper, missed out for the first time in a couple years, Alison Brie, who was a SAG nominee, very shocking omission to me; I thought she had a decent shot at winning. Of course, the big person missing is Julia Louis-Dreyfus 'cause "Veep" is ineligible, and thank God for that. I know, I'm not the biggest "Veep" guy, but even without that, this was ridiculous. I hope Candice Bergan comes back and takes it from her next year. I'd get it if she absolutely was like, the only reasonable choice and there no possible way the award couldn't or shouldn't have honored others over that time, that was so, not the situation, however. Anyway, Rachel Brosnaham is the heavy favorite, although Issa Rae's nomination is a bit of a surprise. She was someone, everyone thought would get in last year, but she got in this year instead. Good for her, I like that show, and now I have an excuse to catch up on it. Glad to see Pamela Adlon get in, without having the Louis C.K. thing affect her as well. No other surprises, no seventh spot for Jane Fonda to sneak in, but Lily Tomlin's there though; she's always there.


OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Louie Anderson-"Baskets"-FX Networks
Tituss Burgess-"Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"-Netflix
Alec Baldwin-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Brian Tyree Henry-"Atlanta"-FX Networks
Tony Shalhoub-"The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel"
Kenan Thompson-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Henry Winkler-"Barry"-HBO

Ty Burrell finally left the category, and "Modern Family" in general, missed everything; thank God for that too. I know; I like the show, but it's another example of a show just winning and winning, when in reality there were other, often more deserving shows out there and they sometimes didn't even get nominated, much less win. (Not to mention, actors on "Modern Family" who kept getting snubbed for Ty Burrell or Eric Stonestreet) Glad to see Kenan Thompson break-in, he actually holds the record for most years on Television as a regular performer doing sketch comedy. Seriously, like, it's like, him and Carol Burnett, and I think he passed her. (Those of you old enough to remember "All That"....) Brian Tyree Henry was a snub last year, he's in this year, glad to see that, and also Henry Winkler, welcome back for him. Last nominated, almost two decades ago for Guest Actor on "The Practice" and has never won btw, was nominated, of course, three times for "Happy Days", and also had a nomination stripped from him, years ago, because of a rule technicality for a Guest spot on a very short-lived series called "Battery Park", it was so short it was canceled before they aired his episode, which they burned off so late it didn't air in the eligibility period, so.... Glad to see him back. The Defending winner is Alec Baldwin though-, look I love Alec Baldwin, I'm glad to see him in again, but we do have to figure something out with these sketch shows in the comedy categories. Until they figure that out though... Oh and 2% rule applied, seven nominations, glad to see Tony Shalhoub back, although you still stole that Emmy that Steve Carell should have. Yeah, I'm still bitter about that. You're really great on "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel", but seriously you robbed Steve Carell that year. Congrats on your Tony btw, on and you too Laurie Metcalf Congrats on that Tony. Speaking of her...


OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Zazie Beetz-"Atlanta"-FX Networks
Alex Borstein-"The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel"-Prime Video
Aidy Bryant-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Betty Gilpin-"GLOW"-Netflix
Leslie Jones-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Kate McKinnon-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Laurie Metcalf-"Roseanne"-ABC
Megan Mullally-"Will & Grace"-NBC

Eh, what were those talks about this not being a strong "SNL" year? it certainly doesn't seem like it in this category. Jesus Christ, 2% rule applied, we have eight in this category, 3 "SNL", for the second year in a row, this time Aidy Bryant replaces Vanessa Bayer's nomination-, Christ, remember when they were the "Not-Ready-for-Primetime Players", can we go back to that?! McKinnon and Jones are the only returning nominees btw,-, well, from last year. Megan Mullally broke in for "Will & Grace" which by some standards underperformed, Sean Hayes's snub, for instance, is particularly noticeable. A surprise return however for Laurie Metcalf, I say surprise, 'cause despite her career renaissance in recent years..., eh,- do I have to say anything else other than "Roseanne"? No? Yeah, just "Roseanne". I did actually seek out an episode of the revival, (Shrugs) it's by no means the worst thing I ever saw or anything but I had a hard time sitting through it. Alex Borstein finally gets some recognition though, and she could win this with her role in "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel". Now, I'm one of the few who actually did predict, Betty Gilpin to get in, (You can find my predictions on my GoldDerby ballot, which I published on the Facebook page, which you should all be following... at the link below:)

https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=1778807808879178&id=602692689824035

The only name I technically missed was Rita Moreno for "One Day at a Time"- which wth hasn't she been nominated for that yet....- but-eh, if you told me that Gilpin would get in but Alison Brie wouldn't I would've probably slapped you silly. Marc Maron also got snubbed for Supporting Actor too-, how did that happen? Wow. Do they really like "GLOW" or not; I can't tell. So weird.


OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A COMEDY SERIES
Atlanta-"FUBU"-Donald Glover-FX Networks
Atlanta-"Teddy Perkins"-Hiro Murai-FX Networks
Barry-"Chapter One: Make Your Mark"-Bill Hader-HBO
The Big Bang Theory-"The Bow Tie Asymmetry"-Mark Cendrowski-CBS
GLOW-"Pilot"-Jesse Peretz-Netflix
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel-"Pilot"-Amy Sherman-Palladino-Prime Video
Silicon Valley-"Initial Coin Offering"-Mike Judge-HBO

Well, this is a little more unpredictable than it has in the past. No "Veep" eating up half the nominations, but still two "Atlanta", that's probably a big clue for Series. All the nominees are from nominated series, so this is probably a decent predictor and Donald Glover won this category last year, although I suspect the "Teddy Perkins" episode is a little more preferred overall. That said, "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" is probably the heavy favorite, especially if there's a push for Amy Sherman-Palladino to get an Emmy; she's been around forever and before this, her most noted work was "Gilmore Girls" and there are definitely some fans from that show around, including myself. It's one of the few good shows I ever liked on WB/CW, at least until the last few years with "My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" and "Penn & Teller: Fool Us" came around. (Oh, and sure, I'll throw in that new revival of "Whose Line Is It Anyway?", but it's not as good as the UK or earlier US versions.) "GLOW"'s an interesting alternative but I don't see it. Oh, and-eh, they nominated Mike Judge again. I-eh, honestly I never got "Silicon Valley" either.

ADDENDUM: The Academy announced after I originally posted that they left off Mark Cendrowski's nomination for "The Big Bang Theory". This is apart of a new rule they've implemented in this category requiring at least one nominee for Comedy Series Directing, be from a multi-camera series. Cendrowski, one of the heads of the DGA, is actually the main guy who insisted the Academy implement this rule, so that's a particularly glaring error by them in that regard.


OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A COMEDY SERIES
Atlanta-"Alligator Man"-Donald Glover-FX Networks
Atlanta-"Barbershop"-Stefani Robinson-FX Networks
Barry-"Chapter One: Make Your Mark"-Alec Berg and Bill Hader-HBO
Barry-"Chapter Seven: Loud, Fast and Keep Going"-Liz Sarnoff-HBO
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel-"Pilot"-Amy Sherman-Palladino-Prime Video
Silicon Valley-"Fifty-One Percent'-Alec Berg-HBO

Oh, this is rare, Alec Berg is actually competing against himself in this category. That doesn't happen too often in this category; the last person to do that was Garry Shandling in '93, and that was for two episodes of the same show, "The Larry Sanders Show'; I don't think it's ever happened with someone getting nominated for two different shows; even Norman Lear never pulled that off, and.... yeah, I'm double-checking, but I think he's the first to do this in the Comedy Series category. Still, two "Atlanta"'s two "Barry"'s, the "...Mrs. Maisel" episode that could also win here, and the arbitrary "Silicon Valley episode. It's a bit interesting that "Atlanta" got different episodes than the Directing nominations into Writing, that to me tells me, people are watching the show and they like the show a lot to distinguish multiple episodes. They also like "Barry" a lot too though. Not every show can submit multiple episodes and get multiple ones in, some shows barely can get in only putting up one, so, it's gonna be a tight race. Curious how Netflix got nothing in this category though. Netflix actually outdid HBO in nominations this year, even with "Game of Thrones" coming back on the Drama side, but I'm not sure how those nominations will lead to wins, especially with goose-eggs in major categories like this.


OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Sterling K. Brown-"Brooklyn Nine-Nine"-FOX
Bryan Cranston-"Curb Your Enthusiasm"-HBO
Donald Glover-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Bill Hader-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Lin-Manuel Miranda-"Curb Your Enthusiasm"-HBO
Katt Williams-"Atlanta"-FX Networks

Wow, Sterling K. Brown is so beloved, they can remember to nominate him for "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" and do it in a year where they forget to nominate Andre Braugher. (That's another show that the Emmys seem to inexplicably not particularly like; not sure why on that one.)Well, if anybody can win for it... That said, two "Curb..."'s in, and two SNL hosts,- oh, there's Glover and Hader again. I kinda thought Lin-Manuel Miranda was deserving last year for "SNL", so, part of me would like to see him win this. Katt Williams is an interesting wild card too here; Dave Chappelle won last year, so if they want to give it to a famous but troubled stand-up again, that might be the place, although Chappelle was due from not winning for "Chappelle's Show" years ago; I'm not sure you can say the same about Katt  Williams.


OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Tina Fey-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Tiffany Haddish-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Jane Lynch-"The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel"-Prime Video
Maya Rudolph-"The Good Place"-NBC
Molly Shannon-"Will & Grace"-NBC
Wanda Sykes-"black-ish"-ABC

Okay, this is actually a little interesting since "SNL" actually didn't submit Tiffany Haddish, she submitted that episode on her own, which-, is typically a big no-no, you're never supposed to submit yourself it's usually either the network or the show that does, and there are rules and regulations regarding that practice as well, but once in a blue while it actually works, and I think "SNL" might've missed on that one, 'cause she's got a good shot at winning. Only two "SNL" people, with Tina Fey getting in, who can't seem to ever get into writing for "UKS" (or for that matter that really good episode of "Great News" that she wrote which should've gotten into Writing this year, despite the show getting canceled.)  Molly Shannon got in for reprising an old memorable role on "Will & Grace" that I originally thought she would've been nominated for previously but I guess she wasn't. Wanda Sykes returns for "black-ish", nice to see here,-, how half the nominees are African-American with Maya Rudolph getting in for "The Good Place. Cool. Eh, Jane Lynch has won this award a few times too and she's an Emmy favorite, and she's got a helluva of an episode;, so she's somebody I'm looking at as a favorite, but you can never count out SNL hosts in this category. (Which we should really be re-thinking, btw.)


DRAMA SERIES

OUTSTANDING DRAMA SERIES
The Americans-FX Networks
The Crown-Netflix
Game of Thrones-HBO
The Handmaid's Tale-Hulu
Stranger Things-Netflix
This is Us-NBC
Westworld-HBO

Oddly, this is actually a rather boring category this year as there's no new nominee this year. Well, no first time nominee this year, "House of Cards" and "Better Call Saul" were on hiatus this year and "Game of Thrones" was on hiatus last year, and "The Americans" got brought back, for only it's second time ever, for its final season, pulling a "Parks and Recreation", although this was a little more predictable than when "Parks..." did it. I've actually seen all these shows. Not, all their new seasons, yet, I'm behind on "The Crown", "Stranger Things", "Westworld" and "Game of Thrones", and technically I'm not finished with "The Handmaid's Tale" yet, I'm halfway through it though. And I've only seen one season of "The Americans". (Shrugs) I hear it gets better; I thought it was mostly average to be honest, although I thought Keri Russell was great in it. I've got some catching up to do I guess. I'll get right on it, for most of these...- (Shrugs)


OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Jason Bateman-"Ozark"-Netflix
Sterling K. Brown-"This is Us"-NBC
Ed Harris-"Westworld"-HBO
Matthew Rhys-"The Americans"-FX Networks
Milo Ventimiglia-"This is Us"-NBC
Jeffrey Wright-"Westworld"-HBO

So, Kit Harrington actually submitted into Lead Actor this year, instead of Supporting, his "Game of Thrones" co-star Emilia Clarke also did this btw, and both of them got snubbed strangely enough, and in Harrington's case, he got snubbed by two "Westworld" nominations. Don't feel too bad, "Game of Thrones" lead all shows with 22 total nominations, but it was close this year. "Westworld" had 21 total, tied with "Saturday Night Live" among all shows, but before you think this is a two-way race, "The Handmaid's Tale" got 20 and it way overperformed, compared to both "G.O.T." and "Westworld"'s previous eligible seasons. "The Handmaid's Tale" has a lack of Leading Actor, so "This is Us" steps up in that regard, even though, it shockingly under-performed in a lot of places, Writing and Directing most notably. That was weird. Speaking of Directing nominations, add Jason Bateman's name to the list of actors who also got nominated for directing at the Emmys as he directed "Ozark". Fun fact, he still holds the record for being the youngest person to ever be inducted into the Directors Guild of America. I bet you're wondering how I know that; remember, I did that damn post on "The Hogan Family" a little while ago...- which still haunts me....- Grrrr..... Anyway, it's a seven-race field last year, "Westworld" only got Anthony Hopkins in last year, they took him out but replaced him with Ed Harris, and Jeffrey Wright switched from Supporting to Lead this year and he pulled an Allison Janney and made the rare jump successful, unlike his fellow network's other stars. With Matthew Rhys playing the Kyle Chandler spot of finale season nomination here, this is gonna be an interesting category that could go either way.


OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Claire Foy-"The Crown"-Netflix
Tatiana Maslany-"Orphan Black"-BBC America
Elisabeth Moss-"The Handmaid's Tale"-Hulu
Sandra Oh-"Killing Eve"-BBC America
Keri Russell-"The Americans"-FX Networks
Evan Rachel Wood-"Westworld"-HBO

Congratulations to Sandra Oh, for becoming the first percent of Asian descent to be nominated in this category, and she can win this. "Killing Eve" caught on really late, but caught on strong enough for her to get in. This is a strong field though, mostly returning names, including two returning winners with Elisabeth Moss for "The Handmaid's Tale" and BBC America's other crossover hit, Tatiana Maslany coming back in for her final season; she won two years ago and wasn't eligible last year. Meanwhile, it's Keri Russell's last year for "The Americans" and she's had a long TV career that some might see due. However it's Claire Foy's last season on "The Crown"; Olivia Colman will be taking her place next season as they age the characters up a bit, so this her last chance, and she did win SAG, so she's got some momentum. And Evan Rachel Wood's back, and I know there were some who thought she came damn close to winning last year-, Jesus, this is tough category this year. And next year, it's gonna look completely different. By that, I mean Mandy Moore better fucking get in next year! (Seriously, Actors, were you not watching the show after the Super Bowl last year!?!?!? What the hell!?)

(Bites candy bar)

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau-"Game of Thrones"-HBO
Peter Dinklage-"Game of Thrones"-HBO
Joseph Fiennes-"The Handmaid's Tale"-Hulu
David Harbour-"Stranger Things"-Netflix
Mandy Patinkin-"Homeland"-Showtime
Matt Smith-"The Crown"-Netflix

Jesus Christ, somebody's still watching "Homeland" in the Academy?! (Sigh)... Anyway, with his seventh nomination, this makes Peter Dinklage, wow, the most nominated person ever, in this category. He broke a five-way tie at six Supporting Actor in a Drama Series nomination between, Ed Begley, Jr. who got six nominations for "St. Elsewhere", Will Geer, who was nominated six for "The Waltons"- holy fuck! Somebody got nominated six times for "The Waltons"!-um, sorry, eh Jimmy Smits, who was nominated six times for "L.A. Law"-, really, just-, just for "L.A. Law" in this category? (IMDB search) oh, okay he submitted in Lead for "NYPD Blue" and they counted him as Guest that one year on "Dexter", okay, and Bruce Weitz, who was nominated six times also, all for "Hill Street Blues"-, okay that one's not surprising. Wow, Peter Dinklage passed all of them, congratulations to him. He's up against his co-star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who's got his first nomination this year, so he has a lot of catching up to do. Matt Smith, switched categories the other way this year going from Lead to Supporting for "The Crown" and it worked out, although it helps that John Lithgow wasn't eligible from the show this year. David Harbour is back, the only repeat from last year, besides Patinkin that stayed in the category. The extra room left a spot for Joseph Fiennes to finally breakthrough, a male nominee for "The Handmaid's Tale", ouch. That's not a good sign for Series if you're a "Game of Thrones" or a Westworld" fan.


OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Alexis Bledel-"The Handmaid's Tale"-Hulu
Millie Bobby Brown-"Stranger Things"-Netflix
Ann Dowd-"The Handmaid's Tale"-Hulu
Lena Headey-"Game of Thrones"-HBO
Vanessa Kirby-"The Crown"-Netflix
Thandie Newton-"Westworld"-HBO
Yvonne Strahovski-"The Handmaid's Tale"-Hulu

Three nominees for "The Handmaid's Tale" in the category, and not all expected ones either, although I did call Yvonne Strahovski in my predictions. Alexis Bledel won last year for Guest Actor, she's moved up to Supporting this season, and Ann Dowd's last year's winner. 2% rule got Vanessa Kirby in for "The Crown" which, were kinda dismissing offhandedly, but it did get 13 nominations. which is an improvement from last year, and it's in Writing and Directing, so don't immediately overlook it as an also-ran show. Millie Bobby Brown and Thandie Newton return from last year, Newton was a threat to win last year, so a split vote might help her in some scenarios, Lena Headey's back from the year before. This might be a prognosticator category this year for Series.


OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A DRAMA SERIES
The Crown-"Paterfamilias"-Stephen Daldry-Netflix
Game of Thrones-"Beyond the Wall"-Alan Taylor-HBO
Game of Thrones-"The Dragon and the Wolf"-Jeremy Podeswa-HBO
The Handmaid's Tale-"After"-Kari Skogland-Hulu
Ozark-"The Toll"-Jason Bateman-Netflix
Ozark-"Tonight We Improvise"-Daniel Sackhelm-Netflix
Stranger Things-"Chapter nine: The Gate"-The Duffer Brothers-Netflix

Wow, two nominations for "Ozark"? You gotta go back to the sixties to see a show get two nominations for Drama Series Directing and not have that show get into Series; and even then, that was "CBS Playhouse" that was a Movie of the Week show, that doesn't count; it didn't submit in Drama Series and the rules were all weirder back then; the didn't separate Drama Series from Miniseries or TV Movies or Dramatic Specials or whatever...- anyway, that's really weird.  (BTW, Wikipedia's wrong on that, "Sirens" didn't get two Directing nominations in '93, one of them is for an episode of "Sisters". I don't know why I'm mentioning that; most of you are too young to remember either of those shows.) The big name of course is Stephen Daldry for "The Crown", he's a three-time Oscar nominee behind "Billy Elliot," "The Hours", "The Reader", among others, he's also a big stage director. Two "Game of Thrones" in, I think both have a decent shot here. This might be the best shot to honor "Stranger Things" if they wanted to though, but I think it's a loaded field and "The Crown", "Game of Thrones" and "The Handmaid's Tale" are gonna be fighting it out on this one. Still freaked out that "Ozark" got two in, even with seven nominees.


OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A DRAMA SERIES
The Americans-"Start"-Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg-FX Networks
The Crown-"Mystery Man"-Peter Morgan-Netflix
Game of Thrones-"The Dragon and the Wolf"-David Benioff and D.B. Weiss-HBO
The Handmaid's Tale-"June"-Bruce Miller-Hulu
Killing Eve-"Nice Face"-Phoebe Waller-Bridge-BBC America
Stranger Things-"Chapter Nine: The Gate"-The Duffer Brothers-Netflix

Oh, so that's what Phoebe Waller-Bridge has been doing since "Fleabag". Huh. I'm still not sure I liked that series, but it's promising that it got into here. Most of these shows, I think only submitted one or two episodes: I figured "This is Us" would get in since they corrected that mistake last year, but apparently the writers or directors aren't crazy about that show. Not sure why, but anyway, there's some big names here, but nothing overly surprising, Peter Morgan, David Benioff, etc. Look out for the finale of "The Americans" here though, that could be an upset; but I think gut instinct, it's between "Game of Thrones" and "The Handmaid's Tale".


OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
F. Murray Abraham-"Homeland"-Showtime
Cameron Britton-"Mindhunter"-Netflix
Matthew Goode-"The Crown"-Netflix
Ron Cephas Jones-"This is Us"-NBC
Gerald McRaney-"This is Us"-NBC
Jimmi Simpson-"Westworld"-HBO

Hey, Showtime; I know this isn't really relevant to the category that much, and I know you're sneaking into some of these acting categories and whatnot, but you had 21 nominations, total this year. "Game of Thrones" beat you! Seriously, I know you're HBO's little brother, but c'mon; you should be better than that. Your big new sitcom, "SMILF" got nothing! Completely shutout! You're lucky, "Twin Peaks", bailed you out the technical side; sure it got screwed over in the major categories that it was supposed to get into (Well, some thought it was supposed to get into those.), but still,  Hulu has one show that matters and it still got six more nominations than you. You're getting killed by Hulu, Netflix, HBO, Amazon, The Big 3, and look who's behind you with 17 nominations. The NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CHANNEL, and it's not just documentaries they're getting in with anymore either. Somebody in promotion and development better be fired over this. Fine, I like F. Murray Abraham, he's good on that show, but you guys have been stagnant for way too long, and your parent company CBS/Viacom thinks the CBS brand might be good enough to have an internet only Access option, for things that could and should easily be available on your channel instead. Seriously how is "Star Trek: Discovery" not on your channel?

(Sigh) Uh, sorry about that. Anyway, Cameron Britton is a big surprise here, "Mindhunter" was one of Netflix's under the radar shows, although it's got David Fincher's name on it, it never quite caught on until now. It's the only nomination it got, but it's something; it broke into a crowded field that Michael C. Hall couldn't get in for playing JFK. Jimmi Simpson, who I thought should've been up for "Westworld" last year. Ron Cephas Jones and Gerald McRaney are back from "This is Us", although Jones was in Supporting last year. McRaney won last year, although he's got a shot to repeat. I'm not really sure who's the favorite here, this is an interesting category.


OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Viola Davis-"Scandal"-ABC
Kelly Jenrette-"The Handmaid's Tale"-Hulu
Cherry Jones-"The Handmaid's Tale"-Hulu
Diana Rigg-"Game of Thrones"-HBO
Cicely Tyson-"How to Get Away with Murder"-ABC
Samira Wiley-"The Handmaid's Tale"-Hulu

So, Viola Davis is in here because "Scandal" had a crossover with "How to Get Away with Murder", which apparently Viola Davis is still good enough in that she can play that part anywhere and get nominated for something. Meanwhile "The Handmaid's Tale" is so big that Kelly Jenrette got nominated; I had to look her up too, she played June's husband's ex-wife, she's barely in the episode she submitted, and she somehow took the nomination for the show that I think most people thought Marisa Tomei was gonna get. Other than that, no surprised, Cicely Tyson's back in, because she's Cicely Tyson, and Diana Rigg's back in because she's Diana Rigg. I'm thinking somebody from "The Handmaid's Tale" is gonna take this, just not sure who yet, although considering Cherry Jones is an Emmy favorite, I think she's the favorite right now, but this category's up in the air.


VARIETY

OUTSTANDING VARIETY TALK SERIES
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah-Comedy Central
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

Welcome back, "The Daily Show"! It took a couple years but I think we finally got used to Trevor Noah and you know what, it's overdue. He's been good for awhile, and I guess he took "Real Time with Bill Maher"'s place. That's unfortunate: I thought Bill Maher was great this year, but he is polarizing. Other than that, nothing unusual or new; I thought Seth Meyers had a shot at breaking in, but we're back to the expected group here, and don't be too surprised if John Oliver's the expected winner. That said, this might be the year Samantha Bee could pull off the win here; I think they're closer to John Oliver than we think. Although she's up again in some of the other Variety categories like she was a couple years ago, so if they don't want to give it to her here,...


OUTSTANDING VARIETY SKETCH SERIES
At Home with Amy Sedaris-truTV
Drunk History-Comedy Central
I Love You, America with Sarah Silverman-Hulu
Portlandia-IFC
Saturday Night Live-NBC
Tracey Ullman's Show-HBO

Two of last year's nominees, "Billy on the Street" and "Documentary Now" were ineligible this year, I think most everybody had Sarah Silverman's show was getting in an ever-weaker field, but I'm surprised that truTV still managed to hang around in this category with "At Home with Amy Sedaris"; I had "Nathan for You" sneaking in, 'cause they were on a helluva promotional campaign, although personally, I've always found that show a bit iffy myself; I've never really sure who the joke is supposed to be on with that one. It's unique, but it's hard to describe, it's like Borat was not trying to find a deeper side to America? I don't know; I don't get it. Nobody else is new, but all joking aside, despite the big nomination count, I do suspect that "SNL" is vulnerable this year. "Portlandia" is in its last season and they've never won, and "Drunk History" is popular, although I'm more of a take-it-or-leave-it guy with that series too. Boy, this category can use some new blood coming into it next year.


OUTSTANDING VARIETY SPECIAL (PRE-RECORDED)
Carol Burnett Show 50th Anniversary Special-CBS
Carpool Karaoke Primetime Special 2018-CBS
Dave Chappelle: Equanimity-Netflix
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee Presents: The Great American* Puerto Rico (*It's Complicated)-TBS
Steve Martin & Martin Short: An Evening you Will Forget For the Rest of Your Life-Netflix

Goddamn, "Carpool Karaoke", again! God, it's just a clip! Christ-, anyway, uh, don't worry about the weird new parentheticals in the category name; they just decided for whatever reason to change "Special Class Program" to "Variety Special (Live)"-, I- guess "Special Class" is kinda vague, and considering how negatively we always used the term "Special Class" in school, yeah, probably not a bad idea to change its name honestly. Well, this is an interesting mix this year. A Carol Burnett special, that's awesome, a Dave Chappelle standup, that's nice to see, especially considering how much the stand-ups have overtaken the Variety Special Writing category in recent years. A Steve Martin and Martin Short evening, that sounds cool, the two good Amigos. (I'll pause to let that one sink in.) Plus, "Full Frontal..."'s got a major special revolving around Puerto Rico-, yeah, that's probably the favorite, and I hope it does win, or at least that that "Carpool Karaoke Special" doesn't. I like the bit too, but it's great the first time on Corden, we shouldn't be honoring it when they're just collecting the clips and putting them on Primetime for a night.


OUTSTANDING VARIETY SPECIAL (LIVE)
The 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards-NBC
60th Annual Grammy Awards-CBS
Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert-NBC
Night of Too Many Stars: America Unites for Autism Programs-HBO
The Oscars-ABC

Okay, somebody tell the damn Oscars to stop trying to be cool and tell them to submit under their real name, "90th Annual Academy Awards"!  You're fucking 90! Okay, one of the big over-performers this year was "Jesus Christ Superstar" which got a surprising 13 nominations overall, including several acting nominations that'll show up in the Limited Series/TV Movie categories. Because it's a live broadcast, it's not eligible for that category, but it makes it eligible here with the three Award shows and the "Night of Too Many Stars..." special. (Sigh) Have I ever talked about how much I hate "Jesus Christ Superstar" on here? No? Well, maybe I will some other time. (Sorry, short version of the story, I have a low Andrew Lloyd Webber tolerance, and "JSC" is my limit.)


OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A VARIETY SERIES
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee-"Episode 2061"-Andre Allen-TBS
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver-"Episode 421"-Paul Pennolino-HBO
The Late Late Show with James Corden-"Episode 0416"-Tim Mancinelli-CBS
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert-"Episode 438"-Jim Hoskinson-CBS
Portlandia-"Riot Spray"-Carrie Brownstein-IFC
Saturday Night Live-"Host: Donald Glover"-Don Roy King-NBC

Just as a general rule, unless there's a reason to go against Don Roy King here, got with Don Roy King. Although it should be noted that the "Full Frontal" episode that's nominated is the one where Samantha Bee calls Ivanka Trump a cunt, which was awesome and true, and she shouldn't have apologized for that.


OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A VARIETY SPECIAL
Dave Chappelle: Equanimity-Stan Lathan-Netflix
Jerry Seinfeld: Jerry Before Seinfeld-Michael Bonfiglio-Netflix
The Oscars-Glenn Weiss-ABC
Steve Martin & Martin Short: An Evening You Wil Forget for the Rest of Your Life-Marcus Raboy-Netflix
Super Bowl LII Halftime Show Starring Justin Timberlake-Hamish Hamilton-NBC

I don't remember if this is a year they put this on the main show or not, but it's interesting to see three Stand-Up special get in here. I mean Glenn Weiss always gets in and he's good too. Still, the Standup category is usually Writing, nice to see Directing getting honored here.


OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A VARIETY SERIES
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee-Head Writer: Melinda Taub; Writer Supervisors: Ashley Nicole Black and Joe Grossman; Writers: Samantha Bee; et. al.-TBS
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver-Writers: John Oliver, Tim Carvell,... et. al.-HBO
Late Night with Seth Meyers-Writers: Seth Meyers, Jermain Affonso,... et. al.-NBC
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert-Head Writers: Jay Katsir and Opus Moreschi; Writers: Stephen Colbert,... et. al.-CBS
Saturday Night Live-Head Writer: Michael Che, Colin Jost, Kent Sublette and Bryan Tucker; Writers: Lorne Michaels..., et. al.-NBC

Well, no other sketch shows go in, so this makes "SNL" the favorite for sure in Sketch Comedy Series, and Seth Meyers got in for the second straight year, which is interesting considering how he can't seem to get into Series. I suspect it's between Samantha Bee and John Oliver. You know, traditionally this category doesn't always match with Series, so upset are possible here.


OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A VARIETY SPECIAL
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee Presents: The Great American*: Puerto Rico (*It's Complicated)-Head Writer: Melinda Taub; Writer Supervisors: Ashley Nicole Black and Joe Grossman; Writers: Samantha Bee; et. al.-TBS
John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous at Radio City-John Mulaney-Netflix
Michelle Wolf: Nice Lady-Michelle Wolf-HBO
Patton Oswalt: Annihilation-Patto Oswalt-Netflix
Steve Martin and Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget For the Rest of Your Life-Steve Martin and Martin Short

Totally forgot this category when I originally posted. Sorry about that. Eh, tough category too this year. Glad to see Michelle Wolf got in, Patton Oswalt and John Mulaney are returning, Oswalt had a surprise win in this category a couple years ago, Steve Martin & Martin Short are both overdue for Emmys; I know Steve Martin hasn't won since he was a writer on "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour", and Martin Short-eh, well he won a couple years ago as a producer for "AFI Lifetime Achievement Award" special, the one they gave to Mel Brooks, and he's won as a writer for "SCTV" a couple times. I don't know, for as long as they've been around, you'd think they would more Emmys than they have. It's gonna be how much do they love "Full Frontal..." let's be blunt. If they really love it, I mean, there's four stand-up performances here and none of them got into Variety Special, and the one that did didn't sneak into Writing shockingly, so unless they really love one of these names, it's probably gonna be how much do they love Samantha Bee.  If there's an upset, probably Martin & Short.


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

Eh, nothing too surprising here, it's the same six as last year, although this might the last chance they get to honor "Project Runway". See, that show was owned by The Weinstein Corporation and-, well, let's talk business side of it, for now, basically, the sale is mostly cleared, but more than that, all of their projects are in limbo at the moment. It is technically coming back, and coming back to Bravo btw, so, that's a whole new part of that story, but-eh, this would be a good time to finally, long overdue honor it Academy! Seriously, long overdue! Oh also, I'm not gonna put it on here, but the finally created a Casting Emmy for Reality shows, which includes "RuPaul's Drag Race", "Project Runway", and "The Voice" as well as "Born This Way" and the new revival of "Queer Eye". It's worth noting I think.


OUTSTANDING STRUCTURED-REALITY PROGRAM
Antiques Roadshow-PBS
Fixer Upper-HGTV
Lip Sync Battle-Paramount Network
Queer Eye-Netflix
Shark Tank-ABC
Who Do You Think You Are?-TLC

I actually like this category and there are some interesting names among the Producers that are worth noting. Little surprised "Fixer Upper' came back, but other than that...- BTW, this is "Antiques Roadshow" sixteenth nomination, and they've yet to win; I don't know why there's a holdup on that. I mean, it's about time, isn't it? The original "Queer Eye" won years ago, "Lip Sync Battle"'s too new, "Who Do You Think You Are?"-, um actually that's never won either and it's a great show but I think I prefer "Finding Your Roots" a bit more; why not "Antiques Roadshow" one year? I don't get it. Did "Finding Your Roots" get anything? No. Ahhh. :(


OUTSTANDING UNSTRUCTURED REALITY PROGRAM
Born this Way-A&E
Deadliest Catch-Discovery Channel
Intervention-A&E
Naked and Afraid-Discovery Channel
RuPaul's Drag Race: Untucked-VH1
United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell-CNN

"Naked and Afraid" has come back into the category after "GayCation with Ellen Page" was in last year. Little afraid of "Naked and Afraid" being in this, but, oh-kay. I think 'United Shades of America..." got the Host nomination so they could seem a bit like a favorite here, but "Born This Way" has won this every year so far it's been up. Never rule out "Intervention" or "Deadliest Catch". It's actually interesting seeing A&E and Discovery Channel, they've both taken some strange routes into branding their channels into reality dens lately, and they've done pretty good jobs overall I must say. VH1 has been a reality den for awhile, it's just finally got something good, and even that originated on Logo, but you know what I mean.


OUTSTANDING HOST OF A REALITY OR REALITY-COMPETITION PROGRAM
W. Kamau Bell-"United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell"-CNN
Ellen DeGeneres-"Ellen's Game of Games"-NBC
Heidi Klum, Tim Gunn-"Project Runway"-Lifetime
Jane Lynch-"Hollywood Game Night"-NBC
RuPaul-"RuPaul's Drag Race"-VH1

Jane Lynch wasn't eligible last year, although she won the two previous years, and she's an Emmy favorite and she's probably gonna win for Guest Actress in a Comedy, (Exhale) however, RuPaul won last year and "RuPaul's Drag Race" has done really well overall. W. Kamau Bell was nominated last year as well, and his show is a favorite too. Heidi & Tim have won before as well, no Alec Baldwin or Gordon Ramsay or Martha & Snoop this year, unfortunately. That said, eh, Ellen DeGeneres, hmm. Now, she's won a ton of Emmys, but she hasn't won a Primetime Emmy in a while though; you gotta go back for when she won for her sitcom, and that was for Writing, she's won never won as a performer of any kind, so she could be a big wild card here. They do love her too, and the Television Academy, they do owe her one. She had to host two of these, including the Emmys after 9/11 that was delayed twice, so ehhhh, fine, you turned that awkward playing game bit on your talk show into a game show, (Which shouldn't be in reality shows 'cause there's a difference between game shows and reality shows,  same goes for you Jane Lynch) but-eh, I can kinda see where they might be tempted to give it to her this year.


LIMITED SERIES/TV MOVIE

OUTSTANDING LIMITED SERIES
The Alienist-TNT
The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story-FX Networks
Genius: Picasso-National Geographic
Godless-Netflix
Patrick Melrose-Showtime

Well, "Patrick Melrose" did a lot better than I thought it would. Overall this is a bit of an odd year in the Limited Series categories. Mostly though, it's gonna be "The Assassination of Gianni Versace", which leads the pack of Limited Series with 18 nominations. "Godless" came in second with 12, and "Twin Peaks" got nine, but got snubbed in Series and acting. I'd feel more sympathy for that, but I thought "Twin Peaks' sucked the first time, so...- Eh, it's Gianni Versace in most of these categories I suspect.


OUTSTANDING TELEVISION MOVIE
Fahrenheit 451-HBO
Flint-Lifetime
Paterno-HBO
The Tale-HBO
USS Callister (Black Mirror)-Netflix

Well, "Black Mirror" won this last year, and it overperformed this year getting seven nominations. Everything else is filling out the category. (Shrugs) There might be some possibility of "The tale" being in the mix though, but the Emmys have loved their technically-series-but-submitted-in-Movies series lately.


OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE
Antonio Banderas-"Genius: Picasso"-National Geographic
Darren Criss-"The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story"-FX Networks
Benedict Cumberbatch-"Patrick Melrose"-Showtime
Jeff Daniels-"The Looming Tower"-Hulu
John Legend-"Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert"-NBC
Jesse Plemons-"USS Callister (Black Mirror)"-Netflix

Even without a "Sherlock" Benedict Cumberbatch found a way in here. (BTW, what the hell was all that with the last season of that show? Boy did that thing jump the shark. I mean, sure it was on shaky ground for a bit there and Watson's wife being a spy was weird, but that should've been able to recover, right? Boy did they go in a weird direction instead? Also, "Coupling" is still Steven Moffat's best show.) Also, if John Legend wins, and he very well could, he'sd become the latest EGOT winner. He already has 10 Grammys, he won an Oscar for the song from "Glory" and he has a Tony Award for being a producer of "Jitney". He'd become the first African-American male to win it, and only second African-American overall after Whoopi Goldberg, and he'd break Robert Lopez's record for being the youngest to win it. There are other interesting names her too though. Darren Criss has to be a favorite as well, and if "Black Mirror" is really strong, it might sneak in a win for an actor like Jesse Plemons, who's a bit overdue on the TV side actually.


OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE
Jessica Biel-"The Sinner"-USA
Laura Dern-"The Tale"-HBO
Michelle Dockery-"Godless"-Netflix
Edie Falco-"Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders"-NBC
Regina King-"Seven Seconds"-Netflix
Sarah Paulson-"American Horror Story: Cult"-FX Networks

Somehow they managed to nominate Benedict Cumberbatch and Regina King again in these categories; how do you get lazy in Limited Series or Movie, but they're finding a way. Jessica Biel's a nice surprise that I actually predicted, although I did have Elisabeth Moss coming back, and apparently, I'm the only one who has affection for "Howards End". (I thought the movie was great, I'm sure the miniseries can't be too bad.Man, STARZ just cannot break in) Nice to see Sarah Paulson back; little surprised "American Horror Story" is still a thing, but okay. Really shouldn't have been that surprised that Edie Falco is still an Emmys favorite, but yeah, I'm a little surprised-, I thought we all kinda agreed to try to forget that "Law & Order True Crime" idea, as much as I had been trying to forget the Menendez Murders ever happened. Michelle Dockery's owed, for never winning for "Downton Abbey" and "Godless" seems like a decent second choice, although "The Tale" is the strong second choice for TV Movie, or they can give it to Regina King again. (Shrugs) It might be the only nomination that "Seven Seconds" got, but it is about racist cops injuring an African-American kid, so timely?


OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE
Jeff Daniels-"Godless"-Netflix
Brandon Victor Dixon-"Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert"-NBC
John Leguizamo-"Waco"-Paramount Network
Ricky Martin-"The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story"-FX Networks
Edgar Ramirez-"The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story"-FX Networks
Michael Stuhlbarg-"The Looming Tower"-Hulu
Finn Wittrock-"The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story"-FX Networks

I don't know how I pulled John Leguizamo out of my ass in my predictions, but somehow I got that 100-1 shot right on my ballot, so I'm partying on that one. (Don't worry, I predicted 9 100-1 shots, not including a flyer on Edward James Olson for "Narcos" that wasn't on Gold Derby's board, and I got one right. Hypothetically, if I really gambling I may have come out ahead because of it, but let's be clear, I didn't break the bank or anything.) Anyway, 2% rule applied and Jeff Daniels is nominated twice for two miniseries. A second "Jesus Christ Superstar..." nomination in acting, a second "The Looming Tower" nomination despite that not breaking into Series, curiously enough, and three Gianni Vercase nominees and all three would make interesting winners, although I gotta suspect Edgar Ramirez is both due and owed for not winning for "Carlos" and he's playing Gianni Versace. I mean it didn't help Cuba Gooding, Jr. playing the title character, but his character didn't have a death scene, so...


OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE
Sara Bareilles-"Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert"-NBC
Penelope Cruz-"The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story: "-FX Networks
Judith Light-"The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story: "-FX Networks
Adina Porter-"American Horror Story: Cult"-FX Networks
Merritt Wever-"Godless"-Netflix
Letitia Wright-"Black Museum (Black Mirror)"-Netflix

It's been awhile since "American Horror Story" got two into acting. Also glad to see Merritt Wever back in something, and I don't remember the last time a movie series got two nominations for two different movies in the same year. They're only allowed to submit one for Series, but "Black Mirror' got an actor in for two movies. I'm not even sure we can go back far enough to figure that out; these genre revivals really recent and you'd probably have to go back to like a "Columbo" or something and I'm not even sure the records are kept on what episodes each actor was up for from back then. Anyway, Judith Light is due, and unfortunately "Transparent"'s not really a viable option for her now, but a win here would be interesting. Sara Bareilles could be the apple in the bag of oranges here too. It's so weird these live revivals had never gotten nominations in before, at least the network ones, some of the PBS ones got people in, but this could be over nothing if Gianni Versace overtakes everything.


OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A LIMITED SERIES, MOVIE OR DRAMATIC SPECIAL
The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story-"The Man Who Would Be Vogue"-Ryan Muphy-FX Networks
Godless-Scott Frank
Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert-David Leveaux; Live Television Director: Alex Rudzinski-NBC
The Looming Tower-"9/11"-Craig Zisk-Hulu
Paterno-Barry Levinson-HBO
Patrick Melrose-Edward Berger-Showtime
Twin Peaks-David Lynch

There's some interesting names here and a very intriguing mix of directing genres as well. 2% rule applied, and I'm a little surprised Gianni Versace only got one in here. "Jesus Christ Superstar..." getting in is interesting though; this is the Variety Series Directing scenario where "Saturday Night Live" wins all the time, are they gonna give more credit to the accomplishment of directing live television over something like multi-part miniseries like "Twin Peaks", "Godless" or "Patrick Melrose" that are directed entirely by one guy? I think Barry Levinson is just in for name recognition for "Paterno"; I can't imagine that's popular enough to get in here on it's own. (Unlike the writing categories, which omits the names of the writers, the director's ballots always have the director's name on them. I think this category is up for grabs and is one of the most interesting in the bunch, and there have been recent upsets in this category here. I wouldn't be shocked if this is the category that goes away from Versace.


OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A LIMITED SERIES, MOVIE OR DRAMATIC SPECIAL
American Vandal-"Clean Up"-Kevin McManus & Matthew McManus-Netflix
The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story"-"House By the Lake"-Tom Rob Smith-FX Networks
Godless-Scott Frank-Netflix
Patrick Melrose-David Nicholls-Showtime
Twin Peaks-David Lynch and Mark Frost-Showtime
USS Callister (Black Mirror)-William Bridges and Charlie Brooker-Netflix

Kinda the same issues here, although somehow "American Vandal" ended up of in here. It's the parts or the whole, writing the whole thing vs. writing parts. Last year, "Black Mirror" won the category in an upset and they're here again. Names like Scott Frank and David Lynch though, on the other side. We'll see...


ANIMATION

OUTSTANDING ANIMATED PROGRAM
Baymax Returns (Big Hero 6: The Series)-Disney XD
Bob's Burgers-"V for Valentine-detta"-FOX
Rick and Morty-"Pickle Rick"-Adult Swim
The Simpsons-"Gone Boy"-FOX
South Park-"Put It Down"-Comedy Central

Interesting sidenote her, "Family Guy' has decided to start submitting in Animation again, instead of Comedy Series. (You're only allowed one technically.) Didn't help them this time here, but I thought that was worth noting. "Rick & Morty" returns, which knocked out "Archer", which I found surprising 'cause that did win a couple years ago, and that weird nomination that usually goes to some weird animation special usually, went to "Baymax Returns". (Shrugs) Apparently, I'm the one who didn't outright love "Big Hero 6", but it might work better there. Eh, "Bob's Burgers" won last year, "Rick & Morty" might play spoiler. I know I-, look I like it better than some of Dan Harmon's other projects, but I can only take so much of "Rick & Morty" myself. "The Simpsons" and "South Park", of course, they're "The Simpsons" and "South Park", you know they're around. Sorry "BoJack Horseman" fans, again.


OUTSTANDING SHORT-FORM ANIMATED PROGRAM
Adventure Time-"Ring of Fire"-Cartoon Network
Robot Chicken-"Freshly Baked: The Robot Chicken Santa Claus Pot Cookie Freakout Special: Special Edition"-Adult Swim
Steven Universe-"Jungle Moon"-Cartoon Network
Teen Titans Go!-"The Self-Indulgent 200th Episode Spectacular! Parts 1 and 2"-Cartoon Network
We Bare Bears-"Hurricane Hal"-Cartoon Network

I really do have to catch up on some of these. I never even heard of "We Bare Bears" until now. That said, based on what little I've seen of these, "Steven Universe" is the one I'm most interested in. "Robot Chicken" I always liked too though. That won two years ago, wasn't eligible last year and "Adventure Time" won that. Not sure if this'll be a split for like "Steven Universe" or "Teen Titans" to sneak in or not-. It's a bit unpredictable this category this year.


OUTSTANDING CHARACTER VOICE-OVER PERFORMANCE
Alex Borstein-"Family Guy"-FOX
Dan Castellaneta-"The Simpsons"-FOX
Seth MacFarlane-"American Dad!"-TBS
Seth MacFarlane-"Family Guy"-FOX
Russi Taylor-"The Scariest Story Ever: A Mickey Mouse Halloween Spooktacular"-Disney channel

Congratulations Seth MacFarlane, he's the first person to ever be nominated twice in this category in the same year. Although, remember this category's only been competitive for like, less than ten years, previously it was awarded, and not even every year, only if an Academy committee deemed it so. Also, Seth MacFarlane won this category the last two years and since they separated Narrator and Character Voice-Over into separate categories, the winner has either been from "The Simpsons" or from "Family Guy", and that's 3/5 of the nominees. The 4th is MacFarlane again. (Shrugs) Anybody know if that Mickey Mouse Halloween thing is any good.


SHORT-FORM LIVE ACTION

OUTSTANDING SHORT-FORM COMEDY OR DRAMA SERIES
aka Wyatt Cenac-TOPIC.com
An Emmy for Megan-anemmyformegan.com
Grey's Anatomy: B Team-ABC (abc.go.com)
James Corden's Next James Corden-CBS (CBS on Snapchat)
The Walking Dead: Red Machete-AMC (amc.com)

Well, I'll give James Corden this, he knows how to work modern media. I thought Wyatt Cenac had a shot at sneaking into Variety Series with his HBO show, but that's a loaded category and he's in his first year. I guess I'm not surprised more things like "An Emmy for Megan" don't show up, in that I mean not network programs, but it would be a little nice to see. BTW, what the hell happened to AMC? Man, after "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad" the Emmys have just decided to blow that network off. Wow. Hulu should be taking notes.


OUTSTANDING ACTOR IN A SHORT FORM COMEDY OR DRAMA SERIES
James Corden-"James Corden's Next James Corden"-CBS (CBS on Snapchat)
Alexis Denisof-"I Love Bekka & Lucy"-Stage13.com
Melvin Jackson Jr.-"The Eddie Murphy Role is Mine, Not Yours"-Youtube
DeStorm Power-"Caught the Series"-YouTube
Miles Tagtmeyer-"Broken"-Vimeo

Huh, a guy named Alexis, that's weird. Well, I think James Corden is the favorite but I think Melvin Jackson Jr. is probably in the running on this. Actually, it's interesting how Corden is really the only big name in this category; everybody else is an up-and-comer; it was the complete opposite last year with six nominees who's IMDB page I didn't have to look up to know who they were. I like that, these are short-forms and sure, there's some who you can argue can and should make a career in this medium, I like the idea of this category being a showcase for names trying to get their earliest breaks instead. Congrats on getting Emmy nominee on your resume guys!


OUTSTANDING ACTRESS IN A SHORT FORM COMEDY OR DRAMA SERIES

Megan Amram-"An Emmy for Megan"-anemmyformegan.com
Lee Garlington-"Broken"-Vimeo
Naomi Grossman-"Ctrl Alt Delete"-Facebook.com
Diarra Kilpatrick-"American Koko"-ABC (abc.go.com)
Kelli O'Hara-"The Accidental Wolf"-theaccidentalwolf.com
Christina Pickles-"Break a Hip"-Vimeo

Same thing basically applies to the actress category, well, mostly, but it is nice to see Christina Pickles back here; (Wow, she was only nominated once for "Friends"! Wow, she was so good in that.) Oh, and Kelli O'Hara too, I know that name. I'm sure I've seen Diarra Kilpatrick's somewhere before. Okay, I'm probably just unaware of a lot of these names and I'm way past my deadline so I'm not looking them up properly; forget everything I said about the actors; congratulations on all you guys' long overdue and overlooked industry recognition 'til now! (Shrugs) It's the Short-Form categories, I'll learn about them in the weeks to come, okay!


OUTSTANDING SHORT-FORM VARIETY SERIES
Between the Scenes-The Daily Show-Comedy Central (thedailyshow.com)
Carpool Karaoke: The Series-Apple Music
Creating Saturday Night Live-NBC (nbc.com)
Gay of Thrones-FunnyorDie
Honest Trailers-YouTube
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon-Cover Room-NBC (nbc.com)

Really, "Carpool Karaoke: The Series" got in, even. Well, last year, YouTube dominated this category, this year, everybody else got in on it. Trevor Noah, James Corden, Lorne Michaels is a nominee here, Jimmy Fallon is in as well...- and they're up against "FunnyOrDie"'s "Gay of Thrones" and "Honest Trailers" comes back again. I like "Honest Trailers" but I wish some of the Youtubers I like more would submit their names for these; I'm sure a lot of them are big enough now to get in. Hell, Angry Video Game Nerd's on Amazon now, they should submit him next year here. Although he hasn't been short-form in a while, I guess....- (Shrugs)


OUTSTANDING SHORT-FORM NONFICTION OR REALITY SERIES
The Americans: The Final Season-FX Networks
Anthony Bourdain: Explore Parts Unknown-CNN (cnn.com)
The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story: America's Obsessions-FX Networks
Jay Leno's Garage-NBC (nbc.com)
Top Chef: Last Chance Kitchen-Bravo (bravotv.com)

I'm honestly surprised "Last Chance Kitchen" came back in, considering this season was a bit of a weird one on "Top Chef". (This last season of 'Top Chef" in general actually was a bit of-, not a dud, but maybe a bit of a trip, literally, like missing a step, trip, but still landing, on your feet, but not gracefully, kinda thing?) Nothing too surprising here, a bunch of shows on network-affiliate shows. (Sigh) Anthony Bourdain's name is gonna pop up a few times here, it's gonna be sad every time and there's not much I can do about that.


DOCUMENTARY/NONFICTION/INFORMATIVE/et.al.

OUTSTANDING DOCUMENTARY OR NONFICTION SERIES
American Masters-PBS
Blue Planet II-BBC America
The Defiant Ones-HBO
The Fourth Estate-Showtime
Wild Wild Country-Netflix

I don't think I reviewed it, but I did see "The Defiant Ones"; that was quite an elaborate series. I could see that winning. "American Masters" is, of course, one of my favorites, and it's the only returning nominee here, although "Planet Earth II" won last year and now it's sister series "Blue Planet II" is up here. The Emmys seem to love these planet documentaries but honestly, something about them just rubs me the wrong way; I can figure out quite what it is especially since I normally like a lot of stuff like that. but something kinda-... I don't know, maybe I just grew up on too much "Wild Kingdom" or something. There are a few interesting names attached to these, Allen Hughes is a producer on "The Defiant Ones"  and The Duplass Brothers are EPs for "Wild West Country". There could be an upset or two, but I suspect "Blue Planet" vs. "American Masters". is the expected battle here.


OUTSTANDING INFORMATIONAL SERIES OR SPECIAL
Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown-CNN
Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath-A&E
My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman-Netflix
StarTalk with Neil deGrasse Tyson-National Geographic
Vice-HBO

Welcome back, Dave! We missed you. Last year, Leah Remini took the category from Anthony Bourdain which was a bit of an upset as we weren't quite sure how Hollywood would take to an anti-Scientology series. I'm glad they accepted it 'cause it's an amazingly addicted series, even though it is painful as Hell to sit through. I'm not sure how this'll go. "Vice" has won in the past, Bourdain's got the sentimentality vote, Leah Remini's back and the second season, Neil deGrasse Tyson's always a possibility, and Letterman's back. This category is really strong and includes some of the best television has to offer at the moment.


EXCEPTION MERIT IN DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKING
City of Ghosts-A&E
Jane-National Geographic
Strong Island-Netflix
What Haunts Us-Starz

"Strong Island" was an Oscar nominee this past year and "City of Ghosts" and "Jane" were major Oscar contenders. (As per usual, the two Academies have figure out how to deal with this at some point.) Anyway, I've seen two of these, "City of Ghosts" and "Strong Island" and I'm getting to "Jane" shortly. This is a weird category- as far as I can tell it's basically the category for documentaries that are technically theatrically released but backed by a TV network. Unless it isn't. (Sigh)


OUTSTANDING DOCUMENTARY OR NONFICTION SPECIAL
Icarus-Netflix
Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond - Featuring A Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton-Netflix
Mister Rogers: It's You I Like-PBS
Spielberg-HBO
The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling-HBO

"Icarus" is the film that won the Documentary Oscar last year, and it's a good movie, but yeah- this should not keep happening the Oscar and Emmy crossover stuff, and I'll keep complaining about it 'til it does stop btw. I also saw "Jim & Andy...", which is eye-opening- I had rumors about Jim Carrey's behavior on the set of "Man on the Moon" for years, it's really amazing to see some of it now. He definitely was a little bit too out there. Those two Netflix ones or up against Mister Rogers and Steven Spielberg, so-eh, good luck with that! Oh, and Garry Shandling as well. Judd Apatow's associated with that, as is Sheila Nevins who's recently retired from her role as head of HBO Documentary Films, it is legitimately hard to keep up with how many Emmys and Emmy nominations she has, on top of several, several, several, sev-er-al other awards. I think with this latest one, it's her 76th which is second only to Lorne Michaels all-time, with his nominations, he's up, I believe 82, and Nevins has a lot more wins btw. She is a legend.

Speaking of legends, also, Tony Clifton is nominated as a producer on "Jim & Andy...". (Shrugs) Make of that what you will.


OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A DOCUMENTARY OR NONFICTION PROGRAM
Icarus-Bryan Fogel-Netflix
Jane-Brett Morgan-National Geographic
The Vietnam War-"Episode 8: The History of the World (April 1969-May 1970)-Ken Burns and Lynn Novick-PBS
Wild Wild Country-"Part 3"-Chapman & Maclain Way-Netflix
The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling-Judd Apatow-HBO

"Icarus" the Oscar winner, up against "Jane", and the great documentarian Brett Morgan, which I don't think it ever beat in competition during the Oscar precursors, Ken Burns, that Duplass Brothers "Wild Wild Country" project that I have to look, and Judd Apatow directing a love letter to Garry Shandling. This is why I showcase these categories; there are some great interesting races here and television is so much more than just sitcoms that people are snarky about an overrated drama series that everybody thinks are the greatest things ever.


OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A NONFICTION PROGRAM
Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown-"Southern Italy"-Anthony Bourdain-CNN
The Defiant Ones-"Episode 1"-Allen Hughes, Lasse Jarvi and Doug Pray-HBO
Icarus-Bryan Fogel, Mark Monroe, and Jon Bertain-Netflix
Jane-Brett Morgan-PBS
Mister Rogers: It's You I Like"-JoAnn Young-PBS
The Vietnam War-"Episode 8: The History of the World (April 1969-May 1970)-Geoffrey C. Ward-PBS

Another loaded category. I've often called Anthony Bourdain one of the best writers on television and that was totally true. (Sigh) I already talked about him; I have no idea if he's gonna win here, or what's gonna win here. I can see a scenario where people think this Mister Rogers documentary is the same one that's in theaters now and they vote for that. Actually, I remember a great Mister Rogers documentary years ago called "Mr. Rogers & Me" which I really liked as well. People love Mr. Rogers, what can I say?


INTERACTIVE

OUTSTANDING INTERACTIVE PROGRAM
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah-Comedy Central
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee-TBS
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver-HBO
The Late Late Show with James Corden-CBS
Saturday Night Live-NBC

So the joke is that I don't what the hell this "Interactive category even is, but here's the thing, whatever it is, they last year they found reasons to add new categories to it this year.


OUTSTANDING ORIGINAL INTERACTIVE PROGRAM
Back to the Moon-Google Spotlight Stories App
Blade Runner 2049: Memory Lab-Oculus
Coco VR-Oculus
NASA JPL: Cassini's Grand Finale-YouTube
Spider-Man Homecoming VR Experience-Playstation VR App

I don't know how original "Blade Runner" and Spider-Man" can be but I guess they're interactive. Ha-ha-ha, ha, ha, kill me, kill me now.


OUTSTANDING CREATIVE ACHIEVEMENT IN INTERACTIVE MEDIA WITHIN A SCRIPTED PROGRAM
13 Reasons Why-"Talk to the Reasons"-Netflix
Mr. Robot-"Ecoin"-USA
Rick and Morty-"Virtual Rick-ality"-Adult Swim
Silicon Valley-"Interactive World: not Hotdow, VR & Twitter-Powered Pizza Drones"-HBO
Westworld-"Chaos Takes Control Interactive Experience"-HBO

At this point, I'm just posting this award here to show "Mr. Robot" and "13 Reasons Why" fans that yes indeed, they actually do remember/know your shows exist at the Academy, some part of the Academy does anyway?


OUTSTANDING CREATIVE ACHIEVEMENT IN INTERACTIVE MEDIA WITHIN AN UNSCRIPTED PROGRAM
CONAN Without Borders-TBS
The Oscars-"All Access"-ABC
RuPaul's Drag Race-"Season 10 RuVeal"-VH1
Watch What Happens Live! With Andy Cohen-Bravo

I'm not sure I'm going to include these categories in next year's post, or for that matter make any predictions on them when it's time for that to happen. Glad to see Conan got something though.


MISCELLANEOUS

OUTSTANDING NARRATION
Sir David Attenborough-"Blue Planet II"-"One Ocean"-BBC America
Charles Dance-"Savage Kingdom"-"Uprising: First Blood"-Nat Geo WILD
Morgan Freeman-"March of the Penguins 2: The Next Step"-Hulu
Carl Reiner-"If You're Not In The Obit, Eat Breakfast"-HBO
Liev Schreiber-"24/7"-"Canelo-Golovkin"-HBO

Morgan Freeman got into Narration...- Awk-ward. (BTW, did you know there was a "March of the Penguins 2...?") Liev Schreiber is the only returning nominee and they seem to like him, but he's up against Attenborough, Dance, Freeman, and TV legend Carl Reiner. This can go any way. Although, I can't help but notice the lack of female nominees here; that's conspicuous, and the second time that's happened in the category. Also, where's Ron Howard? In fact, "Arrested Development" didn't get anything, wow. Wonder if that means that we should be skeptical of bringing back series that have been canceled or ended?


OUTSTANDING CHILDREN'S PROGRAM
Alexa & Katie-Netflix
Fuller House-Netflix
The Magical Wand Chase: A Sesame Street Special-HBO
A Series of Unfortunate Events-Netflix
Star Wars Rebels-Disney XD

Is that what we're actually calling "Fuller House", a "Children's Program"? Seriously? I mean, it's not for anybody, but does that mean you say it's for children? (Sigh) Well, at least they're not trying to call the Macy's Parade as a Children's Program again. (Seriously, that was nominated last year in this category) BTW, I'm not sure how this would be fixed or anything, but these "Children's Program", all the actors in them submit their names for the Comedy or Drama Emmys; hell, Neil Patrick Harris is often listed as having an outside shot at a nomination. I guess I'm not against it in theory, but I do think this is probably clogging up more ballots than we think? Would it be that wrong to have a Children's Program Performer category or two? They do it with the Daytime Emmys, why not with the Primetime ones, especially since there are more outlets for Primetime Children's series than ever before?


OUTSTANDING MAIN TITLE DESIGN
The Alienist-TNT
Altered Carbon-Netflix
Counterpart-Starz
GLOW-Netflix
Westworld-HBO

I got into some debate with people over whether "GLOW" should be in here since they only use their Main Title Design for one or two episodes a season. I'm okay with it, especially since, they put things in here half the time that I'm amazed even have Main Title Designs  I mean, one of the first winners of this category was "NBC: The First Fifty Years-A Closer Look". I mean, they've given this category to Information specials, seriously. The Oscars have won this category before and relatively recently. So, yeah, "GLOW", is definitely in. Although up against "Westworld" again is gonna make this interesting.


OUTSTANDING ORIGINAL MAIN TITLE THEME MUSIC
Godless-Carlos Rafael Rivera-Netflix
The Last Tycoon-Mychael Danna-Prime Video
Marvel's The Defenders-John Paesano-Netflix
The Putin Interviews-Jeff Beal-Showtime
Somebody Feed Phil-Mike S. Olson, Bridget Ellen Kearney, Michael Calabrese and Rachael Price-Netflix
The Tick-Chris Bacon-Prime Video

Eh, there's a couple interesting names here like Mychael Danna, the Oscar-nominated composer, but mostly this isn't a particularly compelling field. People seem to care more about Original Songs nowadays instead of the Main Title Theme's anymore; if shows even have these sometimes.


OUTSTANDING MUSIC COMPOSITION FOR A SERIES (ORIGINAL DRAMATIC SCORE)
Game of Thrones-"The Dragon and the Wolf"-Ramin Djawadi-HBO
Marvel's Jessica Jones-"AKA Playland"-Sean Callery-Netflix
Once Upon a Time-"Leaving Storybrooke"-Mark Isham, Cindy O'Connor, and Michael Simon-ABC
SEAL Team-"Pattern of Life"-W.G. Snuffy Walden and A. Patrick Rose-CBS
Star Wars Rebels-"Family Reunion -- And Farewell"-Kevin Kiner-Disney XD
Westworld-"Akane No Mai"-Ramin Djawadi-HBO

I'm actually kinda amazed shows actually go out and get composition anymore; it's a lot cheaper to just use stock music. Anyway, Ramin Djawadi's got the rare title of competing against himself this year. There are a few other interesting names here, Mark Isham, Snuffy Walden for instance. Not sure why "Star Wars Rebels" needs to find new music scoring, but okay.


OUTSTANDING MUSIC COMPOSITION FOR A LIMITED SERIES, MOVIE OR SPECIAL (ORIGINAL DRAMATIC SCORE)
Alias Grace-"Part 1"-Mychael Danna and Jeff Danna-Netflix
The Commuter (Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams)-Harry Gregson-Williams-Prime Video
Crazy Diamond (Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams)-Cristobal De Veer-Prime Video
Godless-"Homecoming"-Carlos Rafael Rivera-Netflix
March of the Penguins 2: The Next Step-Cyril Aufort-Hul
USS Callister (Black Mirror)-Daniel Pemberton-Netflix

Wow, there are some big names here. Harry Gregson-Williams, Mychael Danna, Carlos Rafael Rivera..., this could be interesting. I wonder what that "Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams" thing is. Guess it's another anthology series of some kind.


OUTSTANDING ORIGINAL MUSIC AND LYRICS
"Totally Gay"-Big Mouth-Music & Lyrics: Mark Rivers-Netflix
"In the Market for a Miracle"-A Christmas Story Live-Music & Lyrics: Benj Pasek & Justin Paul
"High Crimes and Misdemeanors"-The Good Fight-Music & Lyrics: Jonathan Coultron-CBS (CBS All Access)
"Just Getting Started"-If You're Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast-Music: Dave Grusin; Lyrics: Alan Berman & Marilyn Bergman-HBO
"Come Back Barack"-Saturday Night Live-Music: Eli Brueggermann-NBC
"The Buddy Song"-Steve Martin & Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget For The Rest Of Your Life-Music & Lyrics: Steve Martin-Netflix

Man, I didn't even know the Bergman's were still around making music. They've been writing songs for films for decades. Interesting to see an actual live production get in here, and it not be "Jesus Christ Superstar", thank god, that thing doesn't need more music. I suspect "Come Back Barack" is gonna be big, but I wouldn't put it past the Academy to honor Steve Martin here either.


OUTSTANDING COMMERCIALS
Alexa Loses Her Voice-Amazon
Earth: Shot on iPhone-iPhone
In Real Life-Monica Lewinsky/Anti-Bullying
It's a Tide Ad-Tide
The Talk-P&G/My Black is Beautiful

I'm a little surprised the Tide ad got in, I didn't particularly like that ad. Yeah, Monica Lewinsky got in here, make your jokes, and then go see the anti-bullying ad, it's absolutely horrifying. That said, I actually am leaning towards the Alexa ad; I thought that was funny and clever.


Alright, pretty much everything left is a craft award of some kind. Cinematography, Lighting, Makeup, Costumes, Editing, etc. If you're really interested, check out the full list for those categories. Me, I'm got some TV to watch, and I'm already way late with this. Well, the Emmys are,- Oh Christ, it's NBC's year to host it, Mon-Day, September 17th, and the Creative Arts are the weekend before, I recommend watching GoldDerby's live streaming of them. Alright, I need a break, and I need to voluntarily fall asleep, preferably on a bed and not my keyboard.


Friday, July 6, 2018

MOVIE REVIEWS #150: "CALL ME BY YOUR NAME", "COCO", "LADY BIRD", "STRONGER", "MAUDIE", "LET IT FALL: LOS ANGELES 1982-1992", "MARJORIE PRIME", "MEGAN LEAVEY", "GOOK", "IN THIS CORNER OF THE WORLD", "TWO LOVERS AND A BEAR", and "HOCKNEY"!

I am so far behind, I'm not even gonna go over other films I watched during this time. Sorry, for my absence; I've been both busy and lethargic lately and it's caused me to fall seriously behind. I don't know what's going on, whether it's physiological or just a long-overdue mental check-out, but I'm starting to make it come together for me, and now I really gotta get my ass in gear.

That said, I do have one announcement I have to make and it's big one and I've been keeping it from a lot of you, although if you've seen my Twitter or Facebook pages periodically, then you're probably aware of this already, but only recently have I become able to talk about it. So, a lot of what kept me busy over the last year or so, especially when, like this edition, I've been unusually late with blog posts, particularly Movie Reviews, is that I was helping someone write a book. I was hired to be a Contributing Writer on a collection of short stories, and that was what's been taking up a great deal of my time, and for legal reasons, I couldn't expressly talk about it until now. The book is actually out now, on Amazon, as an E-Book, or as a paperback, it's called "BEHIND THE STAIRCASE", it's written by Christopher Eagan, and it's a collection of short stories done in the vain of something like "The Twilight Zone". I think it's a good collection, I was proud to have worked on it, and I hope some of you guys check it out. I think a lot of you will enjoy it.

https://www.amazon.com/Behind-Staircase-Christopher-Eagan/dp/1543931774/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1530749878&sr=8-1&keywords=Behind+the+Staircase



Alright, that's enough of me. Let's get to it, here's this, long-delayed edition of our MOVIE REVIEWS! Starting with the Oscar-winning films, "Call Me By Your Name" and "Coco"!


CALL ME BY YOUR NAME (2017) Director: Luca Guadagnino

★★★★1/2

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After I watched "Call Me By Your Name", I made a slightly half-joking tweet about me being okay with the movie, up until a scene involving a peach. Others who have seen the movie before I did knew the scene I was talking about immediately and I jumped into a conversation. That conversation thankfully evolved to other aspects of the movie, one of which was the music. I'm not familiar at all with Sufjan Stevens, at all, until this movie; I'm told he's really good, but just hearing the two most noted songs from the movie, one of which earned him an Oscar nomination, my first thought about him was that there was a lot of Paul Simon in him. This surprised some people when I said that, but I can't imagine off on that comparison musically, and that's by no means a criticism of him; I think generally we don't have enough Paul Simon influence in modern music today. I think where I was off was to compare "Call Me By Your Name" to "The Graduate" because of this; sure there are definitely music motifs that make this comparison understandable, and for as American as that movie is usually considered, it's directing style is heavily influenced by a more European directing sensibility even back then, especially Michelangelo Antonioni, one of the greatest of Italian directors of all-time and during that era. (Seriously, next time you watch "The Graduate", count how many times Benjamin Braddock goes through a door or entrance-way and you'll see just how much Antonioni's in that film)

"Call Me By Your Name" is directed by Luca Guadagnino, one of the best Italian directors working today, most notably, "I Am Love", and "A Bigger Splash", his biggest international hits. Those movies are about romance, in one way or another, however, there is a big difference between those films, as well as "The Graduate" and this film, there's no real conflict. Stakes. Those films, center around a romance that can and does have disaster and unexpected effects, in each of those, sometimes multiple romances, "Call Me By Your Name", doesn't have this conflict that we're conditioned to seeing, at least in America, but it's common in European cinema as well. It is a May-December romance, by age difference, young Elio (Timothee Chalamet) is seventeen, a Jewish-American whose family lives in Northern Italy, mostly because of his father's, Mr. Perlman (Michael Stuhlbarg) job. It's a professor job that requires a live-in graduate assistant an this is Oliver (Armie Hammer) and at first, they don't quite connect. However, he's around enough and while Elio is mostly an extrovert who takes in the scenery, both literal and metaphorical, as he flirts with the locals. they do begin to have a connection. They have similar interest and they slowly but surely start to have a relationship and that relationship grows.

For a young romance between an older, although still young guy who's seen the world and has experience, and the young inexperienced, literal teenager who's still examining who he is, and a gay relationship at that, it's amazing touching at how little else there even is to this film. The best scene actually involves a speech by Stuhlbarg late in the film, and it's the scene where you'd think there'd be conflict, but without giving too much away, it's just a touching scene, and one that really pulls the movie together. Screenwriter James Ivory became the oldest person to win a Screenwriting Oscar, long, long overdue of course, with the great career he had as a director with his Producing and real-life partner Ishmael Merchant, and perhaps it plays more idyllic, but for a classic tale about first love, maybe it's best that it's got this and not so much, some artificial conflict that wouldn't seem natural anyway. Wouldn't seem real, and so few movie flings ever do seem that way, that it's nice to see one that truly does.


COCO (2017) Director: Lee Unkrich; Co-Director: Adrian Molina

★★★★★




I must confess that I'm not as adept at my own personal family tree as I'd like to be. Perhaps it's because there's no real Italian version of the Day of the Dead celebration,- well technically, we do have "All Saints Day" and "All Souls Day", but those aren't as rich in tradition as Day of the Dead, but I don't know, for whatever reason, it's just never fascinated me as much, although thankfully my mother has preserved a family tree on geni.com for me that I don't check nearly enough and I do have a general idea much of my family, although being the firstborn of my generation in an Italian family also meant that I had a great deal of family around me, up to three generations above me for a decent chunk of my youth. So, perhaps it's just exposure that I never really quite dived into the traditions. That said, I never really thought much about remembering before. Memories, and the real fear of one day being forgotten.

That's the angle that got when it came to "Coco". I don't why or how it did and did it so well, other than to just say "Pixar magic did it," but it did it again. Consciously, I know this story isn't that different from say, "Moana", which I also happened to absolutely love, and hell, this isn't even the first computer-animated feature I've seen that's centered around the Day of the Dead, and involved a character going into the Land of the Dead, that distinction belongs to "The Book of Life", which came out a couple years ago. It was okay, but "Coco" is much better.

"Coco" is a curious title for the film, the titular Mama Coco (Ana Ofelia Marguia) is the oldest surviving family member, and is young Miguel's (Anthony Gonzalez) Great Grandmother. His family, the Rivera's have a long proud tradition of being shoemakers. However, Miguel wants to be a musician, which he discovers is not only a tradition in the family, despite their bizarre antagonistic hatred of music. It turns out that the town's great songwriter, the late great Ernesto De La Cruz (Benjamin Bratt) might be Coco's father after a picture is shown with Ernesto's head cut off and showing a framed photo of Coco's mother, Imelda (Alanna Ubach). Eventually, this leads to him trying to steal Ernesto's guitar, which brings him to the Land of the Dead, 'cause you can't disturb the belongings of the Dead, or something, and now, he needs a relative in the Land of the Dead, to give him a blessing to come back. However, his family, and Mama Imelda, in particular, are vehemently against his musical career and ambitions, so he needs to get the blessing from Ernesto. He gets some help from Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal) a musician who knows Ernesto and wants Miguel to put his photo up onto the family's ofrenda so that he can be remembered and survive. Once your picture no on a wall, you're no longer remembered, and you suffer from the ultimate death in the Land of the Dead, which is just sad and horrifying.

I love a lot about this movie. Yeah, the story is familiar and somewhat predictable, but more than any American film I've seen, the movie gets something that I've seen in some of the best Mexican films; this historic tradition of the past and the celebration of family including those who've passed. I've noticed that family heritage and narratives are often a common thread in most of my favorite Mexican and Mexican-American based films, like "My Family/Mi Familia" a multi-generational sprawling epic that tells the complete history of a family from their older roots in Mexico to when they moved up and made new roots in California. One of my favorite Mexican films is "Like Water, for Chocolate" a fantasy-realism fairy tale that also tells a multi-generational narrative and celebrates the past and where they came from. I bring those movies up in particular 'cause some smaller parts  "Coco" are played by Edward James Olmos, the narrator character in "My Family" and Alfonso Arau, the director of "Like Water for Chocolate". I particularly like the clever casting of Arau as a family matriarch as you could consider him one of the fathers of modern Mexican cinema, as both an actor and director as well as one of the first big names to break into American film. (He was in "The Wild Bunch", and he career dates back longer than that; you should look him up.) It's a small behind-the-scenes touch, but that kind of detail is shown everywhere onscreen as well. I like some of the touches of the honored dead even, with cameos from Frida Kahlo (Natalie Cordova-Buckley) and even El Santo. It might just be good cultural appropriation, but it works on me, and sure it's another Disney/Pixar film about fighting your own family's roots and traditions only to find out that they're actually apart of you all along, but when it's done well, it's inspiring. "Coco" is really inspiring and makes you think not just about Mexican familial traditions, but helps you reflect on your own past and those who came before you and everything they did, that helped you get to become who you are.

You know, I should really look at that family tree Mom put online for me more often....


LADY BIRD (2017) Director: Greta Gerwig

★★★★1/2

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At some point during, let's say high school, perhaps earlier for some, there's a moment I believe in most kids lives where there's a conflict that's in many ways created by the parents and other adults from years earlier, this thought that you can be and do anything you want, contrasting with the realities that, perhaps it's best not to go seek out the greatest and toughest of achievements. At least, I suspect a lot of my generation ran into this conflict; in the past I don't think it was as common, but at around 2002, after 9/11 and the Twin Towers and the continual effects of Reaganomics slowly crushing the Middle Class, if there is any such thing anymore, yeah, the dreams of going to your ideal college to study with the best of professors and start straining to achieve your most desired dream career, not-so-subtlely get shoved back to reality when your mother does nothing but keep pushing to you the cheaper, local state school in town that have just as good a theater program.

This complete shattering of the idealism we teach our youths and the suddenly more cautious pressuring and warnings that now come from those who had spent years earlier beating down those idealist dreams into one's head, that's what I believe "Lady Bird" is ultimately about. And to be fair, I can't think of too many movies that really deal with this issue, although is this even still a thing. I graduated in 2003, and I suspect I'm one of the last generations of people who a second thought they knew exactly what they wanted to be and began looking up out-of-state dream schools to go to, in my case, at one point somewhere in 8th or 9th grade, I thought I could be a sports broadcaster and began seriously thinking about trying to go to Syracuse because Bob Costas went there. This lasted, maybe a few delusional days. Christine (Oscar-nominee Saoirse Ronan) is a Senior in high school and it's in this shadow of seeking out college and planning on leaving one's hometown of Sacramento for somewhere out East where the culture is. (This is accurate by the way, the culture is more East) Meanwhile, her mother Marion (Oscar-nominee Laurie Metcalf) works a double-shift as a nurse and she's stressing to push her daughter to local college, especially after her father, Larry (Tracy Letts) a computer programmer gets fired from his job and struggles to get a new one, often having to compete with his son Miguel (Jordan Rodrigues) for some of the open jobs, and know that his profession is a young man's game.

Meanwhile, Lady Bird, as Christine insists on everyone calls her for some reason, has a tumultuous and moody Senior year. First, she's annoyed that she's not particularly good at math unlike her Dad and brother and she's inspired to take theater from one of the nuns, Sister Sarah Joan (Lois Smith) which she seems to like, although she's never given any prime roles and complains about that to her dumpy but cheerful best friend, Julie (Beanie Feldstein), who she usually pushes aside for some new boyfriend, or attempted boyfriend. She has one from theater class Danny (Lucas Hedges) which ends in the most predictable manner possible, and she later has another one named Kyle (Timothee Chalamet) who she loses her virginity too eventually, and that relationship ends at prom, although not in a predictable manner, but in an inevitable one. Meanwhile, she's applying to out-of-state schools on the sly and espouses about how horrible Sacramento is. Of course, by the end, she's informed about how magnificently she talks about it by a professor who she reluctantly trusts and she's pining for that city by the end, like a great local poet talks about their city like Carl Sandberg with Chicago or something. Writer/Director Greta Gerwig made this autobiographical piece is about her hometown as much as it is about her coming-of-age. I can't definitely relate to this notion and emotion, still living, basically within walking distance of my old high school....

So, there was a local news story recently about my old high school, apparently there was some particularly violent fighting going on there, and they interviewed this mother who talked about how, she couldn't imagine that our high school would have so much fighting int, and the TV news story got posted in my Graduating class's FB group, and the person who posted it, thought it was accurate but the rest of us, myself included how there was fighting constantly going on in the school. I think I mentioned somebody who I saw get in like three fights in a five months period, or something like that.... I mean, the footage was a little much that we saw, I'll grant it that, but was it once-a-year unique unusual incident, like God no, and I didn't go to like, the worst most notorious gang-ridden school or anything either, but it's a bunch of hormonal kids and teenagers stuck in an enclosed space for awhile, at some point a couple of them are either gonna fight or fuck, (Sometimes both) and eventually a few got into some fights. Anyway, I thought about that possible blindness to the perception that I suspect a lot of people in high school suffer from to some degree or another after I watched "Lady Bird", as well. I have no idea if Sacramento is the Midwest of California, although, from most of what I've heard about it, that description does sound accurate, but maybe the movie also has a lot to do with how we go through our homelife and hometown; all the growing pains and discomforts and emotional turmoils of that, only to look back upon and fondly realize how much you love such a time and place, or that, all this time, we've romanticized it so perfectly all along, and only when we go away do we realize that there's truly no place like home. Or something else corny like that, corny but true. (Shrugs)

I don't know, maybe I'm pushing it, but either I do realize that "Lady Bird" if nothing else is at least ambitious in all that it's attempting. I don't if it's the best or most perfect example of these kinds of films, we've been with some great ones lately, but I can believe this one's accurate and meaningful for Gerwig.


STRONGER (2017) Director: David Gordon Green

★★★1/2

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I'm trying to get a handle on "Stronger" and the one general through-line I seem to get from the majority of the positive reviews on the film is that this is not just your typical based-on-a-true-story inspirational narrative. (Shrugs) Well, it is, basically your typical one, but I do think it's a decent and probably better than it should be, and also probably the best film that could've been made on the subject. In this case, it's Jeff Bauman (Jake Gyllenhaal), one of the survivors of the Boston Marathon Bombing; he was at the finish line to cheer on his girlfriend Erin (Tatiana Maslany) who was running the race. Had happened to be standing much closer to the bomb than he probably wanted to; in fact, he actually helped identify the bomber, after barely surviving the explosion after a double above-the-knee amputation.

Afterwards, at least locally in the Boston, if not nationally, he became a bit of an iconic figure, a symbol of hope if you will, for the town, something that he's ultimately not that comfortable with at first, which is an understatement;..., like the guy just had his legs blown off; maybe not idolize him and have him wave the flag before a Bruins game, just an idea?! Actually, come to think of it, a lot of these ideas feel reminiscent to me of how the soldiers of Iwo Jima were treated in "Flags of Our Fathers", having to try to sell war bonds afterward. I mean, not that bad, but you must feel a sense of absurdity to this kind of fame whiplash. The problem is that it's usually not compelling as a narrative. It was in "Flags....", but it was a part of that story, while saw, to compare to another Eastwood film, there was a little too much focus on that in "Sully". There's more going on though in "Stronger" and the focus is generally more on the day-to-day pains of, well, what happens when something like this completely upends everything you know about your life. One day, you're working at CostCo and the next, you got legs. How would you react?

How would your family react, how would your on-again/off-again girlfriend react? I mean that's basically what a lot of the movie is, and I guess it's good enough to recommend. Actually, it's better than that, I'm being mean, it's formulaic, but it's formula done well. Some of it's a bit cliche, I mean, it's a Boston movie, so you get a lot of Boston figures and accents in it, especially among Bauman's family. Miranda Richardson's performance seems to be the most divisive as a caring mother who, in some ways looks at this incident as though it's the family's rare time in the spotlight and it's befuddling to her that Jeff might pass up an interview with Oprah. The best scene in the movie though, for me at least, involved a car conversation with Jeff and Erin, as they have this huge fight about everything, including Erin having to explain just how everyone else's life has changed so much, which is hard-to-say to someone who lost their legs, but as someone who watches an autistic brother all day when not pounding into a keyboard, yeah, things like that, affect everybody around you, but it is still amazingly difficult to hear. I like Gyllenhaal and Maslany's performances here, especially Maslany's. Honestly, her arc is just as interesting and I maybe wouldn't mind if say this story was told through her perspective.

The film was based on Bauman's memoir though and the film was directed by David Gordon Green an interesting and curious choice as someone who I guess has been somewhat pigeon-holed as a southern gothic writer, mainly because his earliest work was so good and so heavily ingratiated in that style, but he's actually done just as much stoner comedy, television and other mainstream projects ever since, often splitting time between critically-acclaimed indies and more mainstream traditional fare. I guess this is in the latter, although I do get why he would be chosen for this, as his work at it's best like "All the Real Girls" has always been centered around focusing in on great character studies and focuses and he's also arguably one of the best out there and creating a true sense of location for the settings of his films. I feel like this is one of those movies that works mainly because there's just enough talent there to make it work, and between Gyllenhaal, Maslany and Green's skills, I think it ultimately does even if story-wise there's probably far less there then deserving of a film.


MAUDIE (2017) Director: Aisling Walsh

★★★★1/2

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I thankfully didn't have much knowledge beforehand going into "Maudie"; obviously I try to do that with every film, but some are easier than others, but still, I genuinely had little knowledge of this movie, other than sporadic raves I've heard about, mostly centered around Sally Hawkins's performance. I'm glad I didn't, 'cause that probably helped a bit, but this is a really great film either way. The titular Maudie, (Hawkins) is Maud Lewis, a name I had heard of before, but didn't realize that's whose story was being told to me at the time. All I saw was this impish Hawkins character, that was sickly from rheumatoid arthritis and after a dispute with her family who was trying to put her in a home, she took a job offer to be a live-in maid for a rather slow but uncouth curmudgeon named Everett Lewis (Ethan Hawke). She's never worked before and she's not exactly the best maid, but he's hardly the best boss. It takes awhile, honestly, I imagine most of this story is documented from something, but Everett mostly seems like he's just as bad if not worst than Maud's family.

That's not a criticism, that's the condition. This was a couple who kinda got pushed together, essentially 'cause they were the only two emotionally crippled aging loners around. The Lewis's lived in Digby, Nova Scotia, in a house so small that it actually now resides in a museum devoted to Maud Lewis's work. But yet, she cleaned and cooked as did what she was told as Everett made money as a fishmonger. She also painted occasionally and soon those paintings actually started selling a bit, originally just greeting cards on cardboard, but it eventually expanded.

Looking at her work, it's strangely cheerful. It pops with color, almost a childlike impishness to it; some of the painting could past as establishing shots on "South Park". There's a wonderful appeal to them, there's a wit and gleefulness there that you wouldn't expect considering her life. In my notes I originally compared this couple to the Loving couple in "Loving", she's outgoing and spry, he's inward with a rough streak, and the movie itself doesn't seem story-wise like much, but then there's a lot more going on. This couple has a dynamic that draws you in and fascinates you, not necessarily; it's a weird, awkward romance, if you can even call it that. Moreso, the performances are what stand out. Hawkins work here is utterly magnificent, somehow, and I don't think entirely makeup, but she has this strange way of concocting her face and body to make her look so much and uglier then she actually is. Hawke's very good here as well, but Hawkins is a revelation, this is an astounding performance for me. I'm not too familiar with the director Aisling Walsh, she's an Irish director who's only made four feature films in 30 years, her last was 2008's "The Daisy Chain", but most of her work is in British television, perhaps most notably, a BBC adaptation of Sarah Waters's "Fingersmith", that the book that "The Handmaiden" was adapted from, and she seems quite at directing in enclosed spaces and making it fascinating. Mostly, I'm infatuated with Hawkins work more than anything here; this is an astonishing performance that I don't think too many others could pull off, and more importantly, gives us insight into the world of an artist that's about as unique and well-done that I've seen on film in a long while at least.


LET IT FALL: LOS ANGELES 1982-1992 (2017) Director: John Ridley

★★★★★



(Sigh) Well, at least it's not another documentary about Syria? (Sigh) Son-of-a-bitch.  Just when I thought I was done with depressing documentaries and films about shit I lived through; I've finally come to the start of the L.A Riots documentaries. Yes, plural, 2017 was the 25th Anniversary of them, and there were quite a few docs that aired on television about the incident and a few that got theatrical releases. "Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992" from "12 Years a Slave" screenwriter John Ridley is one that qualifies as both, with an abbreviated version airing on ABC after a short theatrical run. The best description I've seen of it so far is that it's a comprehensive oral history of the Riots, and a look at the events that built up to it, and yeah, yeah, that's about it. That's something that has been somewhat lost in all the Riots was the years of changes and actions that led to it, and it's actually quite complicated and very local. I'm not a Los Angelino so, coming at this movie as someone who knows too well the name Rodney King, and if pressured might remember Reginald Denny, but only vaguely recalls names like Soon-Ja Du and Latasha Harlins among several others, this movie is actually quite a fascinating document of a time and place and a city that's slowly-but-surely edging it's igniting itself on fire.

It's important to note that L.A. has a history of rioting long before this time period, the Watts Riots most notably in modern history, also unlike other Western big cities, L.A.'s been around long enough and is big enough to really have, not a community atmosphere, but several conflicting community atmospheres going on at once, and at some point they've all had moments that were pretty damn combustible. They're very conflicted as a town and the history of minorities in L.A. in particular, I mean, this movie touches on some of those details but there's so much going on that it's really difficult to explain all the intricacies and I'm not an L.A. expert, but there's been just as much if not more social injustice in L.A. as there's been anywhere in the South, really, it's just very backhandedly ingrained into the culture, and the law and it doesn't help when the head of the law enforcement at that time, Daryl Gates, is a bit of a....- (Sigh) how would I describe him, um, well, racist? Incompetent?

I want to start with Gates, but I think the undercurrent is that he's the head of L.A. Police in time period and it is under his vision that the culture of the modern-day negative vision of the LAPD that seems to be the big thing that puts in this motion, this dismissive, unjust and unchecked behavior of the Police, especially towards the African-American community that really is the catalyst. For instance the death of James Mincey, Jr., who was killed because of a chokehold that was applied to him by an officer after a stop purportedly because of a broken windshield. It was a technique that the LAPD were trained to do, and Gates got constant calls at the time to resign because of the Officer's use of it, Anyway, they stopped using it, and that's when the police were then encouraged to instead, beat suspects with batons.... (Sighs)

Also, Gates is a bit of a celebrity police chief at this time, which, yeah, that's stupid I know, but this is the guy famous for pioneering S.W.A.T. teams to-, well barge into Minority's houses, and also is considered one of the leading purveyors of figuring out how to attack gangs in L.A., which, at some point, just became, any time a few minorities hang around outside for a minute or two, they're a gang....- (Sigh) yeah. (Also, the movie doesn't get into this, but he started D.A.R.E. as well, which, yeah that worked in eliminating drug use forever. [You know, I won my fifth-grade D.A.R.E. essay contest. That's got nothing to do with anything, but I thought I'd mention it. I only submitted my first draft for that too. BTW, I think I'm the only person who's ever actually gone through that program and didn't take drugs afterward])

Apparently, this was supposed to be a live-action movie with Ridley even getting Spike Lee involved, but the more they dived into the complexities of the Riots, the less they were able to find a true center of the narrative and eventually Ridley decided it was best to tell the story as a documentary, interviewing anybody and everybody who was willing, alive and somehow connected to the events. There's a constant refrain in sociology that nothing ever happens in a vacuum. That's usually the narrative people want to express about major incidents that occur, but that's never true, and the L.A. Riots are no exception, it's a corrupt police force running within the bounds of a failed Justice System that ostracizes the minority, and it's years and years of daily abuses that are finally coalesced into major events after major events and all of them, slanted the wrong way and against a group of people who they should be protecting the most. I can see why documentaries and probably several of them are going to be needed to fully examine the L.A. Riots, but this is one of the best. Structurally, in how it examines and explores the effects on the community and local area as intricately as it does, it reminds me a great deal of "The Times of Harvey Milk", another documentary about a community that lead to a complete failure of the justice system, and it's overall impact on a major Metropolitan California city, that one was San Francisco, but still.... L.A. has a way of connecting everybody through situation and circumstance those towns don't always have. One kid who grew up in a nicer area of town reflected on how the only time he ever saw areas like Compton or South Central was when his family would drive through them to get to the Great Western Forum in Inglewood to watch the Lakers games, completely unaware of some of the atrocities and hells that the community deals with every day, until the worst happens and they make damn sure everybody hears about it.

"Let It Fall..." is one oft-forgotten but critically important document of recent American history that should be shown and taught for years and now that it seems more relevant than ever, hopefully, it will be. Be warned, the next riot will probably not be in Los Angeles.


MARJORIE PRIME (2017) Director: Michael Almereyda

★★★

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Michael Almereyda's one of those that I find myself utterly fascinated with and yet, just often befuddled by. I need to see more of his work, like I still have "Cymbeline" still stuck in the 120s on my Netflix queue after like, however many years it's been, which is unfortunate but that happens sometimes. Happens with him a lot though, 'cause, while he is fascinating, it's hard to call him "great", and I think it's debatable whether he's a good director. I mean, what I've seen I've liked, which isn't always the case. The first film of his I saw was this experiment indy version of "Hamlet" that he made, the one with Ethan Hawke that took place in modern-day New York. I think I'm one of the few who really likes that version of "Hamlet", but I do get why it's kinda forgettable and somewhat strange. He constantly worked before and since, although he often works in documentary and shorts, as well as sporadic TV work since, it's actually a little amazing to me how much work he's getting now, not counting docs, he's made like four feature films in five years, counting his latest completed project, "Tonight at Noon", which is about to enter the editing stages. The last film of his I saw was "Experimenter" a biopic on Stanley Milgram, which, was an interesting, but definitely an odd choice for a biopic; I mean, I'm fascinated by the Milgram Experiment and some of his other famous pop psychology experiments, but he's an odd choice to make a biopic on, and it's a weird biopic too. It's not really a biopic in the traditional sense, it's almost like an experiment itself on how entertaining one could make a movie by simply visually telling us about him and what he did and you know, not much more. I get the sense that he's talented, but I have a hard time figuring out what's he aiming at. I guess there are a couple themes that keep coming up in his work, death and inner emotions for instance, but I feel like he's mostly just interested in toying and playing with genre more than anything. I kinda have a similar complaint with most of Claude Chabrol's films, I always felt Chabrol just wanted to bait-and-switch us, which usually pissed me off, but Almereyda, I keep waiting to see what his vision is, and usually I think it's just, "Let's take a genre, and kinda toy and twist with it enough until he's come up with something-, not different per se, but just, like it's a toy that he's played with enough and then left in the middle of the room and didn't bother to put away or put back together.

Again, none of this is negative, it's just how I keep seeing him, and this latest film of his, arguably his most critically successful and noteworthy to date, "Marjorie Prime" it's-, well it's got me even more confused. It's an adaptation of a sci-fi play by Jordan Harrison, that's gotten several positive acclaims and reviews, and for the most part it feels like he didn't do too much to change it. It takes place in a near future where a form of artificial intelligence has become popular in which artificial intelligence has been designed, eh, to-eh, replicate the dead, essentially. I think it's intended as a grief mechanism but it's also to, essentially remember our loved ones who have passed by designing an A.I. that replicates them as best we can. If this kinda sounds like "Alps" meets, the ending of "A.I. Artificial Intelligence", ehh, well, yeah, but it's done like a play. At first it's a two-hander with Marjorie (Lois Smith, who originated her starring role on stage and has performed it on both coasts) who's suffering from Alzheimer's and her husband Walter (Jon Hamm) who passed away a while ago and she's now programmed into an A.I. that constantly helps remind herself about, who she is. (Yeah, it's throwing "The Notebook" into this too.) Later, we meet her daughter Tess (Geena Davis, who I swear must be doing the Brando thing and is just barely mumbling her dialogue on set and has to loop it all in ADR now,- is that me, or did I watch a stream with the sound a little awkward?) and her husband Jon (Tim Robbins). She isn't as comfortable with the A.I., although he's getting along quite well, despite the odd choice by Marjorie to make Walter in the image of his younger self, as opposed to how he was at the end. There's an occasional flashback scene as well, where a Younger Marjorie is portrayed by Hannah Gross that are pretty good.

Then the movie, takes an interesting turn, and I'm not gonna give it away, although it's not the most unpredictable even if you're familiar at all with other forms of sci-fi that involve A.I.'s usage as replacements for death but, it's done in an interesting Pinteresque or Ionnescoesque, kind of way. (Huh, the Grammarly's letting me get away with Ionnescoesque? Really? Oh-kay, even I think that seems wrong, but I'll go with it.)I don't know what exactly to make of it; which I think is an issue with most of Almereyda's work, but in this case, despite him writing the film adaptation, I don't think this one's on him. It feels accurate to the play, in fact, directing-wise, this is one of the few movies I can think of where I can actually imagine this film taking place in a theater-in-the-round kind of setting, which, I'm not sure how he did that, but that was very well-done. I just wonder if there's as much as much to the material as some may think. I guess it's supposed to feel like, what it might be like for our relatives in the future to visit our old FB profiles or something of that sort, metaphorically at least. I guess it's interesting and different enough to recommend and I suspect done well on stage, this material could be really powerful.


MEGAN LEAVEY (2017) Director: Gabriela Cowperwaithe

★★1/2

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Ah, Christ; I can see the comments now. I'm panning another movie about a relationship with a person and their dog. (Sigh) I have a bit of a history with this; I didn't like "My Dog Tulip", one of the critically-acclaimed landmark animated feature about, a dog and his owner. More than that, I'm one of the few people who not only panned but outright hated Kelly Reichardt's  "Wendy and Lucy", a movie that I've seen some serious film critics that I respect a great deal, list among the very best films of the century so far, and as much as I like Kelly Reichardt, and I do, I really get annoyed at this movie about an idiot homeless girl who, for some reason, can't seem to give up her damn dog, even when it's really clear that she's not in a good enough position to take care of her and there are other reasonable options. I mean, it's not the movie, gives us a lot of context, Wendy and Lucy show up and were supposed to suddenly really care about their relationship to each because, I don't know, dogs. (Sigh)

Well, I can't use that excuse for not liking "Megan Leavey", this film is all about the context of the relationship a human has to a dog. The titular Megan (Kate Mara) after a troubled youth and an otherwise inauspicious early adulthood, decides to sign up for the Marines. Not what I would've done during the mid-2000s, but okay, my best friend joined the Marines around that time and last time she was mad at me, she almost pulled my arm out of my socket. (Shrugs) I don't know quite what that's worth, but my shoulder's still tweaking a bit, so it's on my mind. Anyway, she gets into a bit of trouble there and gets assigned to cleaning the kennels where they keep the bomb-sniffing dogs that are trained to search for IEGs. It's apparently an Air Force run program, but she immediately desires to have a dog and join the program and just remains persistent until finally, she's given the most aggressive and hardest-to-control dog, Rex. She gets along well with Rex, and once deployed to Afghanistan, Rex actually saves her life and both of them get injured. It's a good story up to there.

Oh, Megan's also got a piece-of-work for a mother Jackie (Edie Falco) that's more-than-willing to escape from, and that stuff is pretty good; her family dynamic is interesting and that's only part of her tragic backstory. However, the main story comes when she doesn't reenlist and because of some behavior technical crap, she isn't able to adopt Rex, and she has to actually go up against the military in order to own her dog, and that's after Rex has a second tour of Afghanistan. I've never heard of this story beforehand, so I kinda was shocked that this was such a big deal that the real Megan Leavey was actually like, got news coverage of her attempts to adopt Rex and whatnot, so that threw me for a loop. I mean, I'm not surprised, I'm just befuddled. For the record there are dog movies and stories I like, hell, I gave "Marley & Me" 5 STARS, but-eh, as much as I like a lot of "Megan Leavey", yeah I can't really recommend it. It's well-made as a movie, very well-acted, but it feels hollow and very much undeveloped at worst, and at best, this is probably just not a great story to make a movie out of, to be honest. I mean, they tried valiantly, it's got talented people behind it, it's the first non-documentary feature from Gabriela Cowperwaithe who's most known for "Blackfish", but I think this was such a limited story that there's just not enough for a feature film here no matter how well it's attempted.

But maybe I just don't like dogs, so whatever. I liked how much Megan cared about Rex and why a lot more here than, say how and why Wendy cared for Lucy, but...- (Sighs) Sorry, I'm not a dog guy, I guess.


GOOK (2017) Director: Justin Chon

★★★1/2

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So, for those curious, I watch and wrote the review for "Let If Fall...", before I saw "Gook" and genuinely didn't know what it was exactly about going in. That probably opened up my thoughts and perspectives on this film, which takes place on the first day of the Riots. It begins benignly enough, with two Korean-American brothers, Justin and Daniel (Justin Chon, who also directed the film, and David So) as they run their family's shoe store in Paramount. Okay, my L.A. County is geography is a little rusty, um.... (Google search) okay, Paramount is like, next door to Compton. There's a bunch of weird little cities in L.A. County, outside of Los Angeles, and there's a lot, but anyway, Compton and Lynwood are to the West of Paramount and Paramount's it's like stuck between Downey and Long Beach...- Anyway, the important thing is that this shoe store is basically near the borders Compton, and when the riots break out, they become worried, quite reasonably that the could bleed into the town at night. That's later on, right now, it's basically, West Coasts, "Clerks", as in the Kevin Smith film. It's a low-budget film taking place over one day and night, shot in black-and-white and most of the exchanges are between the brothers and the brothers and some of the customers and there's tensions between the African-Americans who mostly populate the neighborhood and the Koreans who predominantly owned a lot of the stores.

(Sigh) Again, I just watched the damn L.A. Riots documentary, I'm not in the mood to diagram the modern histories of these tensions, but it's there, and there's also this conflicting tension between the Korean youth and the elders that are important too. For instance, Kamilla (Simone Baker) a young African-American girl, about ten or twelve who hangs out and sometimes works at the shoe store, and- it's weird, but the brothers protect her and consider her family, even if they're not crazy about why she's there and not at home or school all day, they send her over to get change from Mr. Kim (Sang Chon), the convenient store owner from across the street in order to make change for a fifty. Things escalate between them and later between Mr. Kim and the brothers. BTW, the brothers themselves are also heavily conflicted. Justin is more interested in keeping up the store to honor his father's memory while Daniel is secretly trying to work on an R&B singing career and is spending some time, not at the store, but out recording a demo.

Then the riots start breaking out and Kamilla's brother, Keith Curtiss Cook, Jr.) a violent gang member who has a grudge against the Koreans in the town, finds out she's been hanging around there, means that the light-hearted turns into one crazy night when everything gets harder and everything goes wrong in the worst ways. In that respect, the other classic of independent cinema that "Gook" is getting compared to is Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing". I'm a little torn on the film myself; I think the drama at the end is much more fulfilling and interesting that the beginning, but the movie does get a sense of the community and the conflicts that lay within them. I especially like the familial conflicts with the Korean brothers and especially with the old Mr. Kim who ran the store. The cultural shift between the immigrants who became business owners and the first generation Korean-Americans in the area, is exactly really intriguing in general, and I'm happy to see a movie like this explore this, especially one from around this time period.

Justin Chon is more known as an actor, but this is his second feature-length directorial effort, and the first one I've seen and I do think he's got interesting ideas as a storyteller and I'm curious to see what else he does. As for "Gook", I more-than-liked enough of it to recommend it; it may have too many ideas going on, but that's a minor complaint. I'm looking forward to seeing if there's more stories he can tell about this area and his culture. He grew up in this area and was the son of Korean artists, and I think there's loads of material that can still be mined for compelling films about this area and culture that mostly we haven't seen much of yet. The only other film I can think of like this is Andrew Ahn's "Spa Night", which I also enjoyed. There's unique voices and perspectives, even in the Greater Los Angeles Area still that I would like to hear more from in the future and Justin Chon is easily among them, and that mostly what I ultimately took from "Gook", and I think that's a good thing to take from a movie.


IN THIS CORNER OF THE WORLD (2017) Director: Sunao Katabuchi

★★1/2


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So, I've written on Isao Takahata's "Grave of the Fireflies" before, it's in the Canon of Film and at the link below:

http://davidbaruffi.blogspot.com/2012/04/canon-of-film-grave-of-fireflies.html

It's a great film, a masterpiece. That said, there is actually a critical backlash to the film that's prominent, regarding the perspective of the filmmaker. See, "Grave..." is an adaptation of a book that's very autobiographical and for the most part, the movie gets that right, but Takahata has said that essentially that he made the movie not so much as an empathetic anti-war narrative, but as a manipulative piece intended to scare the younger generation into respect and civility, essentially by showing what kinds of Hell their parents had gone through in their youths. Bennett "The Sage" White's review on that movie I think of as a well-done analysis of that interpretation, and to be fair, yeah, there's a lot of evidence out there that indicates the validity of that perspective. (Although that's not to say that it isn't great and that you should still at some point get to it.) Even though I don't think that way about "Grave...", I bring it up this perspective, 'cause I had a similar response to "In This Corner of the World".

I'm not too familiar with Sunao Katabuchi's work; it's the first feature of his I've seen and doesn't make too many theatrical features; this is only his third this century, although he's been busy with other projects. The story, if I can call it that, take place over the entirety of WWII essentially, although it jumps back and forth in time almost seemingly randomly and much of it takes place in Hiroshima, (Pause for effect) as well as in Kure, which WWII buffs will know as a site of a famous sea battle  so, it's not like it's hiding that we're in for a long one, but we're in a long one. Very long; a lot of the reviews I've seen, positive and negative mention the 2+ hours running time, and it takes its time. I don't mind the length, but this is one of those movies that is not-so-much plot-driven as it is, emotion-based. I suspect this might've made more sense in the original Manga it's adapted from, perhaps...- (Shrugs) Anyway, the main character is Suzu, a young woman who gets married to a Naval officer, Shusaku. Mostly, we see her working with the Grandmother's business of raising nori, but she leaves that after marriage and lives with Shasuku's family in Kure for most of the movie, and mostly between occasional back-and-forth visits and trips from town-to-town, and some devastating and at times sad run-ins with the war, we mostly hear a lot about the rationing of food.

I've seen that brought up in other Japanese films about WWII; I suspect because they devoted everything to their military that that's the part of the war that, for survivors who weren't in battle, that probably affected them the most. There's also a third man, Tetsu, another Naval sailor that's a childhood friend, and I guess you can call this a love triangle, although it's more like, what your might grandparent might say when they talk about how there were a few boys who were pining over them when they were young, or what you would think that might mean, especially if they're from this generation. Ultimately, the movie is really a ballad to the towns and people who once lived there during the war, and is giving is an approximation, probably an accurate one about how they lived. I guess there's nothing wrong with that; it's certainly less manipulative than "Grave..." might be in comparison, but I really had a hard time with this film. I can see why it's getting so much praise, but I have a very difficult time imagining people are gonna be able to backtrack in their head what happens in this film. There's a lot of characters I'm not even bringing up and there are some devastating events that happen, but to go back to "Grave...", I recall everything that happens in that movie, almost scene-by-scene without thinking too deeply about it. I don't think that's just an issue with the constant changing of the time period either; I don't think it's presented "In This Corner of the World" will beat you over the head with inevitability, but that pounding will take its toll and if just there as remembrance of things past, and not there to also tell a really compelling story about what happened, then I'm not sure that's enough. I hate to say that, 'cause it feels like there should be more to it, Pastoral Japan, local business, young people, love, youth, family, the conflict of love and responsibility, goddamn World War II on their doorstep, and yet, I get a strong sense that this movie is incomplete. Like, everything just sorta keeps starting, but then stopping, and most of it just never seems to get back up again. I guess that kinda works, 'cause much of it's told in flashback, so much of this film could very well be sparse 'cause it's more memory than anything else, but, eh, I can only go so far with that. I feel like there's a great movie in here, but this isn't it, and I really want to give it the benefit of the doubt, but I just can't imagine myself going back through this film to check that.


TWO LOVERS AND A BEAR (2016) Director: Kim Nguyen

★★★

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Well, this jumped to the top of my What-the-hell-did-I-just-watch List.

Okay, so, who is this Kim Nguyen? (IMDB check.) Okay, I've seen a film of his before, the Oscar-nominated "War Witch", about a young teenage girl who's kidnapped and impregnated by a Rebel Army in some unnamed African country. Looking over my old review of that film, I didn't quite appreciate that film as much as others had either; in fact, even in a positive review, this is what I wrote about it:

",,,the film doesn't feel like an actual place and time to me, it feels like a bunch of discombobulated parts of things thrown together.... I think if you took out the war aspects and the story was just about an adolescent girl who's in a desperate and troubling situation, the story itself, could've taken place, anywhere randomly in the world essentially, and that's sort of troubling to me." 

Well, we don't have that problem here. It's very specific about where this film actually takes place. It's the first film I can think of that takes place in Nunuvat, the newest Canadian Territory that basically carves up all the area north of the Hudson Bay and south of, well, the North Pole. The movie feels and looks like it too. It's a surreal slice-of-life romance, between, well, two lovers, Roman and Lucy (Dana DeHaan and Tatiana Maslany). Both of whom, have some issues and this makes their passion-filled romance, very rocky at times. Lucy, in particular, seems to be a tortured by a ghost of an abusive father. (John Ralston) This causes her to seemingly go back-and-forth between being scared off and terrified of love and sex to, complete and total nymph, especially when visiting her boyfriend in jail for a conjugal visit. Roman, is madly in love with her and will do anything to be with and protect her.

Also, he talks to bears. And they talk back to him. (Gordon Pinsent)

(Long pause)

This quirk and factoid, um, ironically has very little to do with anything. He can talk and understand bears, and that's just a thing. I-, I-eh, I really don't know what to make of that.

Apparently, this film's been described by some as an adult fairy tale, eh, I can kinda see that; I guess this is one of those movies that exists in a world of, magical-realism. I guess is the term; honestly though the movie that this film most reminds me of is Michael Winterbottom's "9 Songs". It does have a weirdly indy-pop/rock soundtrack to it as well, and a lot of sex. It's not quite, just that, and technically, this is a better movie, but yeah, this is a movie that goes back and forth between, the romance and the cold, cold location setting, sometimes in very contrived ways and reasons. That's not a negative, but it does emphasize it's lack of narrative. The story basically is, these two are in love, and this is their struggle to be together. And, one of them can talk to bears. (Shrugs) Romantic? I guess there are other movies like this, and considering how strange it is, I guess it's worth watching, so for that I'll recommend, but I can't help but dissect this film and think of better movies. (Well, better movies and "9 Songs'') I can appreciate the attempt, although I was some concern that I just might not be getting Kim Nguyen's work as much as others have. I think the jury's still out on him for me.


HOCKNEY (2016) Director: Randall Wright

★★★

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It's very possible that one of the reasons I've been so uninspired to write and review movies as of late is because I seem to have been watching quite a few similar movies lately. Lots of docs on Syria for instance, and this edition, I've had too inspirational true life stories, I've had two movies (And more on the way) that are about the L.A. Riots, and now, after "Maudie", this is the second film I've seen this week that's about an artist. This time, it's David Hockney, the Brit-born, L.A. based artist, who's still painting to this day. He's an eccentric, a jack of many trades although mostly known for his paintings, he burst onto the London Pop Art scene before engulfing himself in the L.A. scene. He's had an interesting life, I'll give him that. Hockney's openly gay and has had a few lovers over the years, a couple bad ones that he lost, which is funny 'cause his work is generally highly regarded because of how sunny and cheery it often is. His dyed-blonde hair makes him look like Andy Warhol, although to me, he seems to resemble Truman Capote in tone and demeanor to me, if not voice. He seems to be one of those characters who's always around and ahead of the curb on pop culture like that, and fun to have around, especially in L.A. I think if I wasn't so overwhelmed and too saturated with, unfortunately, better material lately, I probably would've enjoyed the film more, but for what it is, I enjoyed it. Oddly, I think the film was just a bit too expansive actually; it more of a talking heads documentary than it probably should be and should've mostly aimed to keep us with Hockney as much as possible. I think I had a similar issue with "Bill Cunningham New York", to give a comparison to a documentary. I suspect there's better material out there to learn about David Hockney, but I think will do as a decent introduction to him.