Saturday, September 28, 2013

CANON OF FILM: "ADAM'S RIB"

ADAM’S RIB (1949)

Director: George Cukor
Screenplay: Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin


Of course, it’s also hard to quantify Katharine Hepburn, a woman who was way ahead of her time, and probably the best actress of all-time. This film was way ahead of it’s time. A good 20+ years before the peak of the Women’s Rights movement, “Adam’s Rib,” details the arguments for and against equality for women, all taking place in a courtroom. Like many American films that dared to touch controversial subject matter, this film is a comedy, a light-hearted screwball one at that. It’s also probably the best of the Tracy/Hepburn films. Though he was married, and she remained single all her life, Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy were Hollywood’s golden couple on and off screen from years, starting, I believe with “Woman of the Year,” and including such great films as “Pat and Mike,” (Also directed by the great George Cukor) and finally ending with supporting performances in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”, which was Tracy’s final film, and would earn Hepburn her third Oscar. (She holds the record with 4, and until passed by Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep, held the record with 12 nominations.) Tracy died in of a heart attack in Hepburn’s home just a few weeks after shooting “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”. “Adam’s Rib,” is based around a wife (Judy Holliday) who catches her philandering husband (Tom Ewell), and tries to kill him. Adam Bonner, (Tracy) is assigned to the case, which appears to be open-and-shut, but his wife Amanda (Hepburn) a noted defense lawyer decides to take the wife as her client, and the showdown is on. The trial between the two would become a circus, even at one point a strong women lifting Adam over her head, proving the women can be as strong as men, and not the weaker sex. Hepburn herself was exhibit A for the stronger sex in the film and in real life. The film is comedic froth, but incredibly funny froth. Cukor’s film uses everything from old-fashioned screen cards to convey information to home movies footage to even what at the time would have been the most updated special effects. Cukor was one of the first directors to use special effects particularly well for comedy. He also adored women, and Hepburn was probably more than anyone his muse, showcasing them in all his movies, more than any other director up to that point. Cukor's best film from the era, “The Philadelphia Story,” also a combination of Cukor and Hepburn, and there’s probably three or four other great film that’ll be entered into this canon of his later. A good director to equate with him now would be Pedro Almovodar for example. He's also considered the first great homosexual filmmaker, a fact then only known to those in Hollywood. The screenplay for “Adam’s Rib,” by husband & wife Garson Kanin and Ruth Gordon earned an Oscar nomination, and the film today might not nearly be as relevant, but remember women didn’t start burning their bras until twenty years later. The script however is pretty fair to both sexes. Judy Holliday’s character, like many of her characters is almost as flawed as her husband for having stayed around him without killing him as long as she did. She would win an Oscar a couple years later in “Born Yesterday,” for playing an even less knowledgeable dingbat. (Also a Cukor film) Ewell's became most famous for Billy Wilder's "The Seven Year Itch" with Marilyn Monroe. The one odd male character outside of Tracy, who’s as passionate about the law as Amanda is about women’s right, who’s even remotely looked at in a positive light, is a homosexual friend of Amanda's, Kip (David Wayne), who after performing the Cole Porter-penned song "Farewell, Amanda", is oddly enough in love with her, trying to take her from Tracy. It’s the one odd piece in the movie that seems too unbelievable. In the movie, he’s a songwriter, and most believe the part was based on Porter. I think in real life, he was George Cukor.      

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

MOVIE REVIEWS #74: "WAR WITCH", "CHASING ICE", "STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS", "SHADOW DANCER", "GIMME THE LOOT", "AMERICAN MARY", "SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES ME", "PAUL WILLIAMS STILL ALIVE", "CORPO CELESTE", "IN THE FAMILY", "ARTHUR CHRISTMAS", "30 MINUTES OR LESS", "7 KHOON MAAF", and MORE!

Whew! Sorry for the delay folks on this latest batch of my RANDOM WEEKLY MOVIE REVIEWS, but on top of numerous other blogpost that I'm working on and being kept busy with, the-eh, Emmys pushed this blog back, and hence, more time between Movie Review posts, the more movies I ended up having to review. This is one of the longer and largest post of this kind yet. I thought for a little bit about breaking this into two different blog, but I wanted to get it out of the way and move on, since I still have tons to do. So, hope you enjoyed my Emmy coverage, and, let's just get right back into the swing of things, shall we? Excellent!

Here's the latest edition of my "RANDOM WEEKLY MOVIE REVIEWS!" Starting with Two Oscar-nominated feature, "War Witch" and "Chasing Ice"!


WAR WITCH (2012) Director: Kim Nguyen

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"War Witch" or "Rebelle" as it's also commonly known as, earned an Oscar nomination for Canada in the Best Foreign Language film category, and while I'm recommending, and I think it was a little bit overrated as a movie. It's certainly good and powerful, I just came out of it a little more than detached than I think others were. Shot in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which many of us still think of as Zaire, young Komona (1st-time actress Rachel Mwanza) is a 12-year old girl in a never-named sub-Sahara country in Africa. She's kidnapped by enemy rebels, where she's force to kill her parents. Then, she becomes enshrined among the rebel group. There's battles, conflicts, violence, and even some more,- I was gonna say happy or happier moments, but less say, less strentuous moments of joy-like feelings. Soon, the great leader, Great Tiger (Mzinga Mwinga) considers Komona a great witch, and soon, she is on the lookout to predict where and when government soldiers might be. She also, now a witch, is worried that her parents were never given a proper burial, which is bad luck. All this, while also getting raped  and impregnated by the groups leader, and is ostracized for having not been married before getting pregnant. She and her close friend Magician (Serge Kanyinda) then make many attempts to escape the rebels and tribe, some successful, others not, and even afterwards, the position they're in is hardly a considerable improvement. I think what's ultimately troubling me about "War Witch" is that, at it's core, this film doesn't seen to be believable. Not, in the sense that none of what's happening in the film is possible, in fact it probably is based on someone's story, but 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 mention that there's never a specific country named, There's some mention of the coltan trade, which is generally associated with the Congo region I learn, but that's not made clear at all. 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 sort of troubling to me. There's something generic about this film that undermines much of the emotional impact that the film was going for. Mwanza's a natural actress and many members of the cast like her, are untrained and were quite good. This is the first film I've seen from writer/director Kim Nguyen, and he's certainly ambitious with this piece. I'm recommending it, but not as strongly as a lot of others have. There's a lot of stuff that's good, but I never really bought that everything in the film really had cohesion together, so it's a mixed review, but a respectable one.


CHASING ICE (2012) Director: Jeff Orlowski

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In some ways, it's good that a film like "Chasing Ice" exists, in that it chronicles a guy who's doing something unprecendent, essential and spectacular. On the other hand, I'd rather see more of his films than this documentary. James Balog, struggled with what exactly he wanted to do early, but soon, after working for National Geographic, he started an incredibly dangerous and ambitious project to start filming in the Arctic and photographic and videorecording ice as it's reshaping and melting away our coastlines. It's like a view from the 50-yard line of those pictures and images we saw in "An Inconvenient Truth" of the world changing. Hell, Balog was probably the one who took those images. He had to design and create, through much trial and errors cameras that cna continually record and withstand the cool, and run continuously with occasional checkups from his numerous helpers and Balog himself. He wals up so much treacherous land that his knee is giving out, and it doesn't heal correctly after surgery. Yet, some of the images he gets are spectacular. Glacier melting, at the moment of their destruction, turning into avalanches into the water. Proof that coastlines are shrinking and turning quickly. Sometimes months after returning to a location, they can't even find it when comparing pictures, not because they're lost, but the landscape is now completely unrecognizable. The film's an interesting look at Balog, although I personally find the images he produces and videos more outstanding that this 75-minute documentary. I'd personally just watch a documentary on the ice he photographs, what little is left of it. "Chasing Ice" earned an Oscar nomination, not Best Documentary, but for Best Original Song, for J. Ralph's "Before My Time" which plays over the end credits and is sung by Scarlet Johansson in that beautiful raspy female-Tom Waits thing she does, but the song is unusually forgettable; I suspect it was nominated because of Johansson's participation. Still, "Chasing Ice" is a good documentary in what's a banner year for the medium. It's just not a great one, but definitely recommending it, because you gotta the ways that Balog's goes about getting these images, as well the timelapse photos themselves and the videos he gets of these literally Earth-shattering events that- you know this misguided belief out there by the uneducated, perputrated by the corporations that global warming is either or something that isn't worth concerning about, or in the faraway future,- I mean, here's footage of continents falling into the ocean, chunk by chunk and piece by piece, happening yesterday. It's hard to ignore or forget once you've seen it, and frankly, it's amazing that we are able to see it at all, thank to James Balog.


STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS (2013) Director: J.J. Abrams

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Well, I'll say this, I did like "Star Trek Into Darkness" more than the previous film, but not by much. It was enough to recommend it, for the people who will enjoy certain parts of it, but I question whether or not those people actually like "Star Trek", at all. I'm not what anyone would consider a trekkie, but I am a fan of the franchise, but J.J. Abrams bastardization of it recently, is merely a pale imitation. He knows the words, essentially, but he doesn't know the music really, and besides that, he's playing jazz with it, or at least he things he is; he's really just making a lot of noise. The movie begins with Kirk (Chris Pine) violating about every statute of the Prime Directive to save Spock (Zachary Quinto)  from getting swallowed from a volcano.  Spock tells on him, for good reason, and his stripped of his command from the Enterprise. Then, the Starfleet Academy is soon the victim of a terrorist attack by a former Starfleet member named John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch, who imdb.com, gives away his actual character's identity, I won't.), who then smartly attacks the meeting room where every Captain of #1 in the Federation is present to discuss what to do with the attack. This propels Kirk, back in charge just as suddenly as he had lost command, as they now must go into Klingon space to destroy Harrison who's hiding out in a deserted area of a lesser-populated Klingon planet, so as not to draw much attention from the Klingons either. Also on board, 62 secret missiles that Starfleet had been working on, which of course, are not what they seem, and even cause Scotty (Simon Pegg, arguably the film's best performance) to hand in his resignation after the secretiveness of their existance/arrival on the mission. I've seen a lot of people explaining why "Star Trek Into Darkness" is a great film, while frankly, I'm not sure I even should recommend it. It's this bizarre combination of trying to bend over backwards to be faithful to the original franchise, while trying his damnedest to make it new and more emphasis on action, quick-cutting and special effects driven. Those are two problems right there. First of all, if you're gonna make it so different, why bother trying to perfectly fit in to the original franchise, like a lost piece of Star Trek scripture that only recently got discovered near the Dead Sea or something. The best sequence in the movie, and it is a good sequence, especially for those familiar with the franchise, and his one great idea, would've been ten times better, had he actually had the balls to go with the cheat ending that would've pissed off 99% of trekkies, for obvious reasons, but instead, he has to find a way out of it. I won't give it away, but it would've involved, the possible death of one of the two main characters, and if he'd gone through with it, yes there would've been pissed off fans, but it would've at least given us an actual point of view on this series, as oppose to simple homage. Why did they decide to simply revisit the original crew and franchise, and just make it different. I said before, if you're gonna tackle "Star Trek", and bring something new to it, why not go three or four years into the future, past Picard, and come up with an entirely crew and franchise, and problems and species, and really have fun with it and try to figure out what this crew would Starfleet be dealing then? The possibilities would be endless and you wouldn't have to worry about being so committed to staying true to the original, just already have the history in there. Even with the attempts at staying true to the franchise's origins, there's things that make no sense. I mean, we get it, Kirk is reckless and shoots from the gut, but I don't buy that he was this frickin' reckless? He's not Han Solo for Christ's sake. (This Kirk's always in a bar too come to think of it.) And at another point, Spock, who's relationship with Uhura (Zoe Saldana) is on the ropes by the way, another addition to the storyline I have a hard time buying, he does something when he's captatining the Enterprise at one point, that is completely illogical. Not the scenes at the end where he's back on Earth in a murderous rage chasing after Harrison; it's the callback to the most famous cameo in the previous film, which I didn't think made much sense to have there either, but he brings that character back into the plot for some exposition; I don't know how he was even able to do that by the way, but more importantly, there's no scenario or reason why Spock would do that. I'm really torn on "Star Trek Into Darkness", for what it is, I am recommending it, but the more I think about it, despite recommending  it, I can't fathom a reason for why it exists.


SHADOW DANCER (2013) Director: James Marsh

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In this post-9/11 world, there's a tendency to think of terrorists as these disenfranchised angry jihadist and infidels, who go off and leave their families to be trained in some camp somewhere. In "Shadow Dancer", the terrorist is taken by police, after she helped abandon an IRA terrorist plot, is taken into police custody, and is soon back home, caring after her two kids. This was Northern Ireland in 1993, and Collette (Andrea Riseborough), who's been a devoted IRA member since a tragic incident as a teenager. Now a single mother of two, is going to work undercover for MI-5, and be an informant on her brothers Gerry and Connor (Aiden Gillen and Domhnall Gleeson), both active IRA operative. The MI-5 agent is Mac (Clive Owen), and the IRA is in distress and disagreement with themselves as they're heading towards peace talks. However, the conflict within the IRA is mirror by the conflict by MI-5, as Kate Fletcher (Gillian Anderson) also has an informant on the inside, and is willing to see Collette asw collateral damage to protect her project. While Mac's working behind the scenes to get Collette safe and sound, while continue to be an informant, it becomes clear to the IRA head that there's an informant, and everyone in the McVeigh family is a suspect to Kevin Mulville (David Wilmot), the IRA's head of security. "Shadow Dancer" was directed by James Marsh, who's  a very skilled director, he's alternating between good thrillers lately like this film, as well as the second film in the "Red Riding Trilogy", and between really good documents, including "Project Nim", and his Oscar-winning "Man on Wire",  and what he really does well here is give us a sense of the time and place, moreso than the actual story itself, which is rather traditional actually, and honestly didn't grasp that to well, but the sense of place, as well as the performances by Riseborough and Owen are what's really what's worth the watch here. The film was written by Tom Bradby, and it's based on his novel, and he worked as a reporter in Belfast in the early '90s, this very violent and frightening time, where you could be setting dinner, and suddenly there's a firefight on the street, and you're the ones about to throw the next grenade. I admire "Shadow Dancer", but was underwhelmed overall, as this isn't really a new story, just a new setting, and generally expect better out of the director, so a mild recommendation, since this was probably the best film they could've made of this story, under the budget constraints. The film got a few Bifa nominations, which is the British equivalent of the Independent Spirit Awards, and I think the possibility exists that more could've been done here and made certain parts of the story more elaborate and explicit, but still, definitely worth seeing though. There's a lot of talent involves here, it'd just spread a little more unevenly then it probably could've been.


GIMME THE LOOT (2013) Director: Adam Leon

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In the age of people like Banksy and Shepard Fairey are major names said at Sotheby's auction houses, I'm a little surprise that there's still people out there who use graffiti simply for tagging, or bombing as it's often called in "Gimme the Loot". The film's director Adam Leon won the prestigious Someone to Watch Independent Spirit Award last year, and he definitely has an interesting New Wave style that's very attractive. The simple tale revolves around Sofia and Malcolm (Tashiana Washington and Ty Hickson) a couple taggers in the Bronx, who recently got their work screwed over by taggers from Queens, who painted over their work with a Giant replica of the famous Mets Apple in Shea Stadium. For those who don't know about the apple, in Shea Stadium, or now as it's called, CitiField, there's a giant apple with a Mets logo on it, that pops out of it's hiding place everytime the Mets hit a home run, and it's big thing there. (As a Phillies fan, I'm very familiar with that stupid friggin' apple...-) Anyway,  they decide that to get back at the Queens taggers, who lauded their work on some public access show about graffiti, which appparently exists,  they decide that their gonna find a way to tag the actual giant apple in Shea Stadium. This involves lots of intricacy, and $500 dollars to bribe a security guard they know to let them into the stadium. They try selling some pot and Sofia tries collecting money from people who owe her. Malcolm gets caught up with a rich white girl named Ginny (Zoe Lescaze) who's parents are in Nantucket that weekend. They have a tender moment that's lingered on as he delivers pot to her. He also notices the thousands of dollars of jewelry and keys just left there, and spends half the movie trying to figure out a way back into the house. Also, he left his shoes there after making out with Ginny. Sofia's more bullheaded and foul-mouthed, and certainly not someone who out looking for a man or sex, and the fact that those two hang out so much certainly leads to their fair share of jokes and rumors. There's a kind a "Bicycle Thief" feel to the film, as the two kids go around New York all weekend trying to get money running into other characters, running into more trouble than it's worth. It's a fairly thin plot and story, but you do get enough of the neighborhood sense and feel, and these characters are played incredibly well by Washington and Hickson, these are two very good young actors with few credits so far, this is Hickson's feature-film debut actually. I'm definitely interested in seeing what Leon makes in the future and with a budget and a more elaborate story. It's a minor film, but it's a good one. A good first film from a young talented director, not much more than that, but it's interesting, well-made and different enough to recommend.


AMERICAN MARY (2013) Director: Jen Soska and Sylvia Soska

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Sometimes after a week of watching about a dozen or so films, it can be hard to even remember some of the movies I've watched, but I have a hard time believing anybody's gonna forget "American Mary" so soon. It's a bloody, gory, over-the-top, sick and twisted tale about the underground world of extreme body dismorphia and God helped me, I liked it. If you don't know what body dismorphia is...- well, I don't know to how to finish that sentence, but it's a great setting for, what I guess is essentially a horror film, although for an American film, this one's a lot more influenced by the Asia Extreme movement than most horrors and slashers. Mary is Mary Mason (Katharine Isabelle), a med student studying to be a surgeon who has a Hungarian grandmother she talks to on the phone occasionally, and loads of debt and lots of talent. She has a teacher, Dr. Grant (David Lovgren) who's abusive, mentally, and eventually sexually towards her, as he roofies her during one of those parties that professors always through and students attend in films, that I've never seen occur in real life. Unluckily for him, she had just taken a job as a surgeon for some disreputable people, led by Billy Barker (Antonio Cupo), who torture people, by sometimes dismembering and reattaching there body parts. She gets a reputation pretty quickly and is soon seeked out by Beatrice (Tristan Risk) a stripper who's had several surgeries to look and sound exactly like Betty Boop. This is only the second-feature film this actress Tristan, has been in, and I've never heard of the first one, but I'll be damned, she looks and sounds like Betty Boop, and it's disturbing, especially with that weird voice of hers. Anyway, she gets Mary her first client a fashion designer named Ruby Realgirl (Paula Lindberg) who's dream is to be a doll. (I'm wondering how long I should pause before I can explain that in more detail, and let you guys think about it first) And by doll, I mean, anatomically, wanting her breasts reduced, her nipples removed, and as much of her vagina as physically possible gone, in order to look like a naked Barbie doll. Oh, this is just the beginning. Twins who wanted to switch each other's arms, heart-shaped nipples, stumps for hands, actual angel wings, the more sick and disturbing, you want, you go to "Bloody Mary", for those who simply can't express themselves and appearance through tattoos and piercings alone. (BTW, "Bloody Mary" should've been the title of the film.) The movie basically becomes a collage of dysmophia after that, and she does occasionally kill a random old professor to get even at the people who set her on this highly-profitable but unconventional surgical practice. This is the second feature film from Directors Jen and Sylvia Soska, after their cult hit "Dead Hooker in a Trunk" which I haven't seen it, but after "American Mary", I can understand the nickname they've gotten in horror circles now, "The Twisted Sisters". If you're already predetermined to liking your horror with a side of shock and occasional vomiting, "American Mary" is an entertaining bloody and disgusting film, and I had fun with it. If you're gonna do it, you better really go for it. Obsession with looks is already a great subject for horror, if anybody's seen "Dumplings", either the short version in "Three... Extremes" or the entire feature, you know the many ways this subject can be used, and these sisters don't back away from it, and to some extent, it's really refreshing. Just don't expect me to participate or seek out any experts in this sort of practice anytime soon.


SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES ME (2013) Director: Bob Byington




Somebody up there must really hate me for allowing this film to be made just for me to watch it. Okay, maybe that was a little too harsh, but "Somebody Up There Likes Me", is one of those movies that shows all the cutesy-little ways that quirky little independent films can go really, really wrong. A "comic fable," according to Netflix's description, which is code for "We don't know how the fuck else to describe it either", is based around two guys who work in a restaurant, Sal and Max. (Nick Offerman and Keith Poulson) Both men keep getting married and divorced, sometimes they get rich, usually after some idiot relative of there's dies and leaves them an inheritance, (I call them idiots, 'cause apparently they chose to leave these two their inheritance, so either they're stupid or really don't care what happens after they die.) Max sleepwalks his way through life, barely even being awake during couples' therapy sessions with his 2nd wife Lyla (Jess Walker) who has an affair on him with Max, after they've gotten rich and Sal has been set up with his poolhouse on their extensive property. This is fine for both, 'cause Max has been having an affair with a bubbly and precocious babysitter Clarissa (Stephanie Hunt), the kinda girl who asks for a boob job when she hears someone is thinking of giving away money. (She's also the kind who doesn't need one, but asks anyway, just to confuse the men she's seducing.) Not that Max is hard to seduce, but he's so deadpan and half-assed about existing in life that it doesn't really matter. His son, Lyle barely even talks until he's an adult (Jonathan Togo, as an adult). It seems like he didn't learn to talk until he was 15 or something, at least, when he knocks up Clarissa's who's now married to Max. Every so often, someone dies, unusually young, even though nobody ever exactly ages in this film. I think it's a style choice to do that, although, why exactly that's done, I couldn't tell you, so every other scene seems to take place at a cemetary near to a giant tombstone that we have a hard time believing that these people are able to afford, or are sure of how to go about buying a tombstone. Several tombstones actually. This movie's running joke is that people live life and then die, and these are about the most uninteresting of lives in the history of film. Nick Offerman's kinda okay, doing a bit of a twist on his character from "Parks and Recreation", and his real-life wife Megan Mullally makes a cameo as a therapist who couldn't be more distracted and barely there in her therapy sessions if she was doing a crossword puzzle during them. That's the problem with the film, the movie's distracted from it's own movie. There's some cutesy animation sequences that show the passage of time every five years, probably added because nobody would get that any other way, as everything looks and seems like it could've happened in the same week if we didn't know better. I kept thinking about Robert McKee's declaration in "Adaptation.", as portrayed by Brian Cox, about how you can't have a protagonist without desire, and how it doesn't work. This whole movie had no desire. None of the characters had any desire. It's almost an insult to call them characters. Maybe the writer/director Bob Byington, was going for some kind of third-rate Wes Anderson here, but there was no joy, no laughter, not one joke was funny by the way- Ugh. You know what, I don't want to talk about this film anymore, let's just move on. Next. Next movie. Next movie....


PAUL WILLIAMS STILL ALIVE (2012) Director: Stephen Kessler

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It is a surprising truth to many that most people these days don't know the name Paul Williams, yet unbeknownst to them, they probably know all of his work. If nothing else, they might remember him as Little Enos in "Smokey and the Bandit", but he had a much more higher profile back in the '60s and '70s. Known for his diminutive stature, he began his career as an actor, getting parts at age 24 that were written for ten-year-olds. He's instead went on to having one of the biggest songwriting careers ever. "We Only Just Begun" and "Rainy Days and Mondays" for the Carpenters, "An Old Fashioned Love Song" for Three Dog Night, a solo hit "Waking Up Alone", "You and Me Against the World" for Helen Reddy, not to mention the music for "Bugsy Malone", and numerous songs on David Bowie's "Hunky Dory" album. He was nominated for five Oscars, winning one with Barbra Streisand for writing the lyrics to "Evergreen", the theme song from "A Star is Born", and of course, maybe most famously, he wrote for Kermit the Frog, the classic "Rainbow Connection" that opens "The Muppet Movie". (Another film he has a small role in, no pun intended) He was also on television everywhere. Carson, "Match Game", "Circus of the Stars", guest hosting for Merv Griffith, guest acting gigs on dozens of TV shows. He was also a alcohol and drug abuser for most of his career, and soon, he seemed to fall off the face of the Earth, or at least the spotlight. Director Stephen Kessler was a huge fan of his growing up, and was shocked to find out one day that Paul Williams, was indeed, still alive. He's alive and well, and barely recognizable from his coked-up TV appearances days, but seemingly in much better shape than anyone would've imagined. "Paul Williams: Still Alive" isn't so much about his journey as it is about Kessler's fascination with him. He honestly didn't know that he was still alive, and I'll be honest frankly, if somebody challenged me to a game of "Alive or Dead" on that one, I'm not 100% I would've known the answer. Kessler seems to just start following Williams around for years as they start out rather standoffish with each other and unsure of where the film is going or even what it's about. William's is unusually knowledgeable about film and knows how to duck the camera and play to it or against it at all times. When his laryngitus is screwing up his vocal during a performance, he brings the lights down so Kessler won't be able to record him. They go to celebrity golf tournaments and they start touring the world. Even going to parts of The Philippines for a tour in parts of the country that are specifically on America's "Do Not Visit" lists for it's an Al Qaeda refuge, terrifying Kessler, although Williams, who's had way wilder nights in The Philippines than anything Al Qaeda could think up, doesn't seem disuaded, other than the amount of money he's being paid. Kessler's sometimes too intrusive, as what he really wants is for Williams to revisit those past TV clips and such, but now an counselor for recovering addicts himself, he just isn't interested in tredging up his past, and Williams is surprisingly sharp at spotting those manipulative questions Kessler tries to ask, about his supposed lost of fame. (And to Kessler's credit, he's smart enough to put them in the film those moments.) Williams has clearly become more at peace and seems more embarassed by those drug-fueled TV appearances and isn't interested in worrying about or relieving the past. He lived through the fame, something many didn't even think he did, and he's at a better place in his life than most people are during these kinds of documentaries. If anything, Kessler probably picked the worst possible moment in time to do a documentary on Paul Williams, but that struggle to connect with his hero is a surprisingly fun and entertaining film. Also, I might add, Williams himself recorded a song "Still Alive", for the film, and he's writing and singing great songs. (He should've gotten the Oscar nomination that "Chasing Ice" got for Best Song, sorry J. Ralph) Williams is also the ASCAP (Songwriters and Compuser's Union), protecting the rights of songwriters everywhere. He's definitely still alive, maybe moreso than ever.


CORPO CELESTE (2012) Director: Alice Rohrwacher

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There's a lot of good and interesting intentions in "Corpo Celeste," which translates from Italian to "Celestial Body", but it gets so bogged down in its own allegorical commentary, that you just tune out. Marta (Yle Vianello) is thirteen years old, and has been living in Switzerland most of her life, but now, her mother and sister are moving back to the Reggio Calabria section of Southern Italy, where she was born. Marta is then enrolled in catechism classes in which, well, if you've ever taken catechism of any kind, (I have) they don't really teach you an all-encompassing vision of Jesus Christ, or the Bible, and they end up going through many strange exercises and lessons, liking the class blindfolding themselves to learn what it was like for the blind man before Jesus restored his sight. Strangely, the family doesn't push marta to the church out of a strong religious ideology, but moreso out of a way to get Marta to make new friends, and associate herself with the community. This makes her even more at a loss religious-wise, right as adolescence begins reeping up on her, like getting her first period at an inappropriate time. She helps retrieve a giant cross for a priest, who seems like one of those priests that's been corrupted long ago, and has been, but when he breakdown his more intriguing depiction of Christ, Marta's surprised and somewhat inspired. The metaphors are pretty apparent, as the struggling with growing up match the struggles of the church to reach and expand it's audience, or as one parishioner points out, "The church is for old people and toddlers". It's got some interesting moments and a definite point of view from first time writer/director Alice Rohrwacher, but the film overall is so heavy-handed that it's just a little too easy to shut down during it, even as Marta begins building herself up, and rebeling and finally gaining a sense of herself and independence. It's an approach to a coming-of-age story, but it's also so downtrodden and slow, and the metahors and allegories are really just pushed a little too much; we only get very brief glimpses of Marta that seem to resemble her as a real teenager outside of this setting and in a more domesticated state, some more breaking up of this would've helped. So, I can't quite recommend it, in terms of entertainment value. It's got some interesting ideas, that I hope get more reigned in for Rohrwacher's next film, but for the time being, it's more of an chore to sit through than a joy.


IN THE FAMILY (2011) Director: Patrick Wang

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Few films have kept me so intensely absorbed at the screen this year than "In the Family". It's an intensely personal film from first-time filmmaker Patrick Wang, who also stars in the film as Joey Williams, a contractor who cares for his son Chip (Sebastian Banes) along with his partner Cody Hines (Trevor St. John). The film takes place in Tennessee, and at first, it is a little strange to see an Asian man with a surprisingly thick southern drawl, but Wang's performance is something to observe. He doesn't always keep the camera on himself, often putting his back to it and letting others talk in what at first seems like strange moments. When he meets Cody, we see in hindsight that his girlfriend was pregnant at the time, and that she died suddenly after Chip's death and he went into the arms of Joey, the likeable carpenter working on his parent's remodeling. Cody soons dies suddenly from a car crash. He isn't allowed to see him at the hospital since he isn't technically family, but worse yet, after it's revealed that the only will Cody left leaves Chip to his sister, and was written almost a decade ago, a custody battle ensues, and he's prevented from seeing Chip suddenly. This storyline's been done to death, and that's unfortunate that it is, but  a version of it is simply bound to come up gay films quite commonly, because it is still a common practice, and apart of the recent past in their history. (Another good one recently was "Any Day Now" starring Alan Cumming) but this film is different. Wang doesn't choose to focus in on the case, instead he focuses in on Joey. Living alone in that big house that his, eating a dinner that doesn't taste very good, yet always a kind of enthusiasm and joy in his voice when some of his friends bring him food and shoulders to cry on. Nobody seems to dispute his genuineness, even the lawyers who won't take his case on moral reasons, as well as some about the law itself. The way the movie ends as the case is finally brought to the deposition stage, is somewhat untraditional, and displays a false note, but it's a purposeful one, and it keeps the movie where it's strongest. It's not about the legal trickery involves in a custody dispute, or even about gay or straight and the rights thereof, but it's about Joey Williams, and when finally he speaks and says his peace, and we go through his history, he says a great deal, and we learn a lot more about him then by just studying him being kind and mannerly to other.  It reminds me in hindsight, of that beautiful confession in the peep show Harry Dean Stanton has at the end of "Paris, Texas", another film that works not because of the paths of the film, but of our interest in the character. "In the Family" gives us a surprisingly fascinating portrayal of a very human character, one of the more believable I've seen in recent American film, and he also happens to be a nice guy, and it's impressive how it snuck up on you, and despite the manipulation of the script, it works despite of it, possibly because of it even. It's also an ideal about what it means to be apart of a family.


ARTHUR CHRISTMAS (2011) Directors: Barry Cook and Sarah Smith

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Well, first things first, this should be called "Arthur Claus", not "Arthur Christmas"; I'm not quite sure why they made that decision, I guess in case people couldn't figure out that the theme of the film is Christmas, they made sure to put it in the title. I guess. Anyway, "Arthur Christmas" is another effort from the legendary Aardman Studios known most famously for Wallace & Gromit and other famous claymation pieces, but they've been spreading into CGI animation lately. They got an Oscar nomination last year for "The Pirates! Band of Misfits!" and I really enjoy they're first effort, "Flushed Away", but "Arthur Christmas" is just kinda forgettable. The story goes behind-the-scenes of the North Pole as we see all the NASA-level preparation and machines that go into having Santa Clause deliver all those millions and millions of presents. It's not much different than what we learned watching "The Santa Clause", but it's elaborate, and we also learn about how the job of Santa Clause has been passed from generation to generation, and Steve (Hugh Laurie) the current Santa's (Jim Broadbent) who runs the floor like Ed Harris in "Apollo 13" with thousands of elves at mission control, and on the modern sleigh, which bares a striking resemblance to the U.S.S. Enterprise. Arthur (James McCovoy) is Santa's other son, who mines the letters office, and is generally considered the family's black sheep. He tries hard and cares deeply about Christmas and making sure everyone gets the presents they need to, but is typical more in-the-way than he is helpful. It's a big year, and most project that Santa will be handing the reigns to Steve this year and retire like his father GrandSanta (Bill Nighy) after 60 years on the job, a job that's mostly run by high-tech special elves who are capable of breaking in unnoticed to the White House to deliver gifts. However, Santa decides to continue being Santa for another year, and Steve is upset at not getting the promotion. Meanwhile, Arthur finds that a little girl in England didn't get her gift, a new bike, perfectly wrapped by Bryony (Ashley Jenson) one of the elves in charge of giftwrapping. It somehow didn't make it's way onto the sleigh, and GrandSanta, with something to prove, decides to dust out the old sleigh and reindeer and try to help Arthur deliver the package. Granted, he probably could've used the GPS system as he has very little time, and finds himself on the wrong continent and going the wrong way, causing havoc most everywhere he goes, as the major nations worry about the potential UFO threat that seems very real, especially after they start attacking with tomatoes. "Arthur Christmas" has it's moments and it's possible that my standards are a little high, but when you're dealing with Christmas films, there's standards that everything's gonna be compared to. Frankly, I thought "Arthur Christmas" lacked in it's story, the film seemed more interested in focusing the locations and details and really the story was kind of a throwaway for most of the film. I get Christmas films don't have to be too complex, but you'd also think that considering the sheer mass of technology and the spaceship and everything, that there'd be backup systems in place for such an emergency as a present not delivered. (That did have a backup in case Christmas was cancelled like it was when there wasn't a pope for four years that one time, that was creative) I don't know, it's bright and shiny, and probably looked good in 3-D, but I just didn't think of "Arthur Christmas" as a particularly memorable film. There's not really too many really interesting characters, even Arthur's kinda forgettable. It always seems like an assembly line Christmas movie, and that's probably the worst kind. I'm on the fence, I certainly don't hate "Arthur Christmas", but-eh, I don't see a particular need to have watched it.


30 MINUTES OR LESS (2011) Director: Reuben Fleischer

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I was looking forward to Director Reuben Fleischer's follow-up to "Zombieland", one of the funniest comedies I've seen in recent years (That film made my Ten Best List). Well, but that standard, "30 Minutes or Less" is a disappointment, but that said, for a mindless and pointless little comedy, I did enjoy it. Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) delivers pizza for a living, at one of those pizza places that promises delivery in 30 minutes or less, or it's free, so he gets a lot of call from way outside of town, and he generally hates his job. His best friend and roommate Chet (Aziz Ansari) a high school teacher, have just had a falling out over Chet's sister Kate (Dilshad Vadsaria). Meanwhile, Travis and Dwayne (Nick Sworsman and Danny McBride) are frustrated with their father, The Major (Fred Ward) belittling them all the time for being complete losers. They are, but Dwayne has dreams of running a tanning salon/front for a prostitution ring, and The Major, has been spending away much of the money he won in a lottery years ago, so they hire a hitman, Chango (Michael Pena) through a stripper, Juicy (Biance Kajlich) to kill The Major, but they need to get $100,000 to pay the hitman. So, they decide, rather ingeniously, to strap a bomb to a random person's chest who doesn't know them or is able to recognize them, aka, the pizza delivery man, who will actually come to them, and force him to rob the bank, and delivery the money to the hitman, so that there not immediately implicated in any crime or fallout. -

Okay, I swore to God, I thought I finished writing this review, and I'm fairly certain I did in fact, however, for some reason, I lost it, as well as an entire review I wrote of another movie which I now have to start over. I'll start over on that other one, but frankly, I can't remember what else I had to write on "30 Minutes or Less", and while I recommending it, I don't think I want to struggle recalling it much longer, besides that, you've got the jist of it. It's a nice little comedy, not much thought require to watch it,  just funny enough to recommend, although I won't begrudge anybody who doesn't see it, and-eh, that's about it. Not sure why I lost the rest, but anyway, I gotta remember the more important movie to review, so I'm just gonna do that now.

Oh, sorry about any expectations and extra thoughts you might've expected or wanted out of me regarding "30 Minutes of Less", to borrow from Tony Kornheiser on "Pardon the Interruption", I'll try to do better the next time.


7 KHOOK MAAF (2011) Director: Vishal Bhardwaj




I'm been making a concerted effort to get more into Bollywood films lately, although with such a vast number of them in general, and since they are of an old-fashioned system structure, sometimes it can be difficult to sit through some of them, as they are too over-produced to please an audience of all tastes. Therefore, after hearing about this dark comedy, "7 Khoon Maaf", which I think translates very loosely from Hindi to "7 Killed Me", (Somebody correct me if I got that wrong) a black comedy about a woman whose seven husbands all died under mysterious circumstances, I was intrigued at what I was hoping was an anomaly. Instead, I just wished I had seen a regular Bollywood film. This was a discombobulated mess. At the beginning of a movie, Susanna (Priyanka Chopra) is found dead, and one of the detectives, seems to be telling the story in flashback, and I'm not even sure I got that right, but the rest of the film, is definitely Susanna going from bad marriage to bad marriage to bad marriage... and we hang around them for awhile, until we eventually find out how she ended up dead, from her own suicide. I once wrote/directed a short film loosely based on the Wife of Bath from "The Canterbury Tales", (Well, tried directing, it never got finished) and she was married five times and discussed all her husbands, so I actually have familiarity with this kind of stoy, and not that my unfinished work would've been some kind of masterpiece, but you have to keep it a little more entertaining than this. Here, I guess it's used to include as much of random stuff that they can, like musical numbers with actors dressed as Axl Rose, and different suspicious deaths, and romance, but the movie was simply very long and very boring for me to even care about any of the characters, including Susanna, or the guy retelling this story, Dr. Arun Kumar (Vivaan Shah) who was with her for all of these disastrous marriages. This is one of the first Bollywood movies I've seen that I truly hated, and I'm gonna just leave it at that, as I try to get those 2 1/2 strenuous, torturuous hours of watching it, blocked from my memory.

SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION (1993) Director: Fred Schepisi

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The title "Six Degrees of Separation" comes from the theory that supposedly, everybody in the world is in fact connected to each other through six different people. Nowadays, this theory really only gets mentioned when playing the Kevin Bacon game, but the play by John Guare, which he adapted to the script for this feature film, was a major hit when it came out, on stage and on film, and while I'm recommending the film, barely, it's apparent why this story clearly works best and should remain on stage. The story is told mostly in flashback by Flan and Ouisa Kittredge (Donald Sutherland and Stockard Channing), who woke up one morning, heading to one of those notorious New York evenings that upper class Manhattanites art dealers like them are famous to going to, a little shaken, but with an incredible story to tell everyone about the night before. They're entertaining a South African friend, Geoffrey Miller (Ian McKellan) about to be late for their reservation, when an unexpected visitor arrives. This is Paul (Will Smith, in his first film role) a handsome young black man, who was just mugged and even stabbed, and has nowhere to turn. He's a friend of their kids at Harvard and spins a wheel of a tale and even cooks the Kittredge's dinner once he gets settled in for the night. He claims to be the illegitimate son of Sidney Poitier, who the Kittredge's of course adore, and they spend the night fascinated by this cultured young black man, who they're helping in his time of need. Needless to say, Paul is a con artist, and a good one, something the Kittredge's soon find out, as he's gone in the morning, oddly not taking any of the extravagant art work hanging around the apartment, like the two-sided Kandinsky. As time goes on, and more New York parties come and go, the story gets told all through town and at new intervals, new information about Paul starts to get known, and the story starts getting more and more parts added on as Paul starts conning more and more people, and eventually, the story gets more and more elaborated and through this incident, the Kittredge's start to take a second look at their own lives. Stockard Channing earned an Oscar nomination for the film; it's a role she originated on Broadway in fact, and she is incredibly good here. Will Smith seems to have more suited for this part than even his one on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air", and we get a good, early performance by a young performer who we would soon realize was gonna be the biggest star in the world. The film is okay, it's flashback premise doesn't quite work too well on film. The movie was directed by Fred Schepisi, who's a good go-to director and has made some entertaining films, but I'm not sure he handled this material as well as he possibly could've but for what's good, like the dialogue and the acting, "Six Degrees of Separation" is worth watching, but it's nothing special though, and this material should probably best be seen on the stage.

I KILLED MY MOTHER (2010) Director: Xavier Dolan

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Curiously, "I Killed My Mother" seemed to have gotten two different American premieres, three years apart, one three years ago, and another one recently. It's a debut film by young Xavier Dolan, only 20 when he made the autobiographical about what it was like to being brought up with an erratic and controlling mother, while being a gay teenager. Dolan, an actor by trade, plays a variation of himself, named Hubert Minel in this film, and the movie is a barrage of typical and very realistic scenes, somewhat loosely strung together, mostly between him and his overbearing single mother, Chantale Lemming (Anne Dorval), who's the kind of mother that an emotional, confused and hormone-driven teenage boy would be frustrated with. She's not necessarily as overbearing as he thinks, although she isn't above misdirecting and disappointing her son, when its for the greater good, like taking back a promise that he'd have his own apartment, after he had gone searching with his boyfriend Antonin (Francois Armaud), a boyfriend that he's kept hidden from his mother, as well as his sexuality. She's abrasive and dismissive and reacts strongly, writing his feelings in journals that show the undeveloped mind working as he tries to express his feeling but doesn't quite have the words to do it. The movie shows quite a lot of skill for the young phenom filmmaker, but basically the film is a variation of the same scene over and over again. The emotional upheaval is apparent, and even familiar at times, but it's not fully deserved either. As good as Dorval is in the role, the mother is more caricature than character, and that makes his outbursts, slightly more hollow to us, then they may be to him. I have no doubt on the movie's point of view, nor do I dispute the authenticity of the film's realism, but in the end, when you get right down to it, it's a talented filmmaker, making a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing. (Oh, and not to give it away to anybody, but the title is misleading, intentionally so I believe, but misleading nonetheless) Xavier Dolan's really talented at certain things, maybe this film will be his "Who's That Knocking at My Door" in the future, and a lot of people think so; he's gotten acclaim and awards for other films since, but overall, "I Killed My Mother" is a talented first effort from a young filmmaker, that's still a little bit shallow and by a filmmaker who is still in need of finding himself to making a more fulfilling and complete picture. The good news is that he's telented enough that I'm sure he will find that out and soon too, if he hasn't already.

CHARLIE ST. CLOUD (2010) Director: Burr Steers




Ugh! (Rubbing top of my nose between my eyes) It's movies like "Charlie St. Cloud" that make film critics like myself, make way too many phone calls to the local suicide prevention hotline. It's soft and romantic in feel ad creepy and disturbing damn near everywhere else, and much of that is before a little kid gets killed very early in the film. The little kid is Sam (Charlie Tahan) the younger brother of Charlie St. Cloud (Zac Efron) a local legend in this Northwest port town for his sailing ability, which landed him a scholarship at Stanford. His kid brother was a huge Boston Red Sox fan, until Charlie took him for a late-night ride in a car on a rainy night, and a drunk driver killed him and left Charlie in a coma. He was supposed to go meet some friends, but his mother Claire (Kim Basinger of all people) had to work a late shift at the hospital. After the coma, and being brought back to life by the ambulance driver Florio (Ray Liotta, in another unexpectedly strange bit of casting). When dead, he gained the ability to, eh,- well, either I bounce around the obvious reference, or I just say it, so,... he gained the ability to see dead people. He's sees many of them, but everyday at sunset for the last five years, he goes into the middle of the woods, and plays catch with Max, as practice for when he'll be a great ballplayer. By the way, he passed on the scholarship, and now works in the town's cemetary, and hasn't gone sailing since, for some reason. (You'd think he'd just stay away from driving at night or something, but oh well.) Now, he's in mourning for awhile, when he begins reconnecting with his main sailing rival in high school Tess (Amanda Crew) who's preparing to go on oneof those around-the-world solo sailing trips. You know the point when you get to a movie and go "If I can guess what the next twist in the movie is gonna be; I'm gonna throw something at the screen!"? Well, I didn't do that, 'cause my screen was a small but expensive TV, and what I threw was giant lamp, and now I need spackle to fix the hole in my wall, and a whole new lamp. "Charlie St. Cloud" is creepy and sad and thinks it's romantic and youthful, in that way the Disney Channel thinks it's romantic and youthful at times, even though it isn't. Zac Efron can be a talented young actor, like in "Me and Orson Welles" for instance, but he's badly miscast here; he's good looking , with and without a shirt, and he stares blankly and without emotion long enough to remind us how good-looking he is, but that's not really a movie; he's severely underreacting to everything around him, not that the story was any good to begin with, but treating it the right way is a part of acting, and even with the bad dialogue, and the even worst exposition dialogue, he wasn't able to overcome any of that. The film was directed by Burr Steers, a former actor-turned-director, who had a very good and memorable debut film in '02, "Igby Goes Down", but since then has fallen into the generic and ordinary, and frankly some would say I'm being nice with those adjectives; they're certainly too nice to describe this godawful movie. "Charlie St. Cloud", (oh and they do say his full name quite a bit in this film btw) is just the worse kind of manipulative crap intended to get an emotional response out of an audience, and  the audience has to be the most uncultured pre-pubescents girls out there, who-. You know what, nevermind, except if you ever find one who may have enjoyed this, rent them a copy of "Ghost"; you'll be doing them a favor.

CHELSEA WALLS (2002) Director: Ethan Hawke

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"Chelsea Walls" is really an experience more than a movie. If you're familiar with the Hotel Chelsea, in New York, you might get a perverse pleasure in seeing some of the inhabitants' lives in Ethan Hawke's film, this his feature film directorial debut. I personally felt the characters were more inspired than I was. Well, that's not completely true, some of them surely, have to be considered less than inspired. One of them couldn't even be bothered enough to have sex when a naked teenage hooker/groupie was straddling on top of him. Hell, he could be bothered to wake up for that. The halls of the Chelsea have housed many artists over the years, some of the ones you may have heard of include Thomas Wolfe, Dylan Thomas, Bob Dylan, R. Crumb, Arthur C. Clarke, Andy Warhol, and maybe most famously Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungeon, the latter of whom was killed in the hotel. It's still a haven for artists for the cheap housings and the history and all that. The movie itself, well, it's a bit of a mess. At only 95 minutes, there barely enough time of consciousness to even bother keeping all 35 characters in place, much less in your mind. I recall Kris Kristofferson as a drunk novelist, barely able to spill out a novel from his bottle and two muses, his wife, played by Tuesday Weld, and his mistress, played by Natasha Richardson. Mark Ruffalo as a shy painter trying to get with a record exec's wife, Uma Thurman was tender. I remember Rosario Dawson fitting right in to this movie, as her and Mark Webber were poets and a couple struggling with paying the rent. Other than that, a lot of this was a hallucinogenic smorgabord of random scenes of artists and other irregulars in the Chelsea, without any real meaning, just slices of life, that probably happened in some form at the hotel dozens of times many years ago, and still happening. I'm actually somewhat amazed that this film was based on a play by the films screenwriter Nicole Burdette. Most of her credits are actually as an actress, including "The Sopranos", although she did co-write Rob Morrow's film on Tourette's Syndrome "Maze", although she hasn't worked much in years since. I can't imagine this film in the structure the way it is on a stage anywhere. It seems so random and disorganized in its current state, it's barely able to make a someone believeable film, it'd be weird staging this in front of an audience, unless there's a major shift in the structure of the film. I think a better approach to this material, wouldn't be to look at the Chelsea, now and all of its residents, but to a complete short film/story with different residents over different time period, show how really inspiration and important a landmark the Chelsea is, and maybe it could be somewhat more enjoyable instead of having this "check out any time you like, but you can never leave"-type experience. Hey, I like lost weekends as much as the next person, (at least I've been told I do, supposedly) but I'm not sure it's really a film, nor an experience that I have to have, or can experience better any other chemically-induced way.



Sunday, September 22, 2013

2013 EMMYS ANALYSIS! UPSETS, "...CANDELABRA", MORE UPSETS, and yes, "BREAKING BAD"!



Well, NPH was right about something, everybody lost their Emmys Pool this year. If you predicted Merritt Weaver winning, you're lying. Bullshit! I love her, I love "Nurse Jackie," I've loved Merritt Weaver since "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" but c'mon, don't lie. Nobody had her winning. Even she had nothing to say and was completely unprepared. But that said, that was the greatest speech ever!

"I gotta go, bye."

Beautiful, natural speech from a beautiful and very talented actress.

Well, let's go through my predictions real quick, ....

On second thought, let's just say I got them all right. Alright, I didn't. "Modern Family" won again, and I think we're sick and tired of it. It shouldn't have been nominated, but it won Comedy Series and Directing again, that's become the clue, in the comedy categories it seems I've noticed. Gail Mancuso, winning. Beth McCartney-Miller never winning is bullshit. So, in the saddest Emmys ever, "Modern Family" ends it on a downnote for comedy, and "Breaking Bad", finally got it's win in Best Drama Series. Congratulation, they should've won it last year. If "Modern Family" wins next year, it'll tie the record with 5, and not only 5 for a series, 5 in a row, which "Frasier" did back in the '90s, the only other show to win 5. Maybe next year "Big Bang" fans. (And "Girls" fans like me.)

That was a common theme too, the shoulda-won-it-last-years, kept winning. Heidi Klum & Tim Gunn, presenting, Bob Newhart, shoulda won it many years ago. "The Voice" shouldn't have been nominated this year, but pulled off the surprise upset over "The Amazing Race" this year. Last year, I was all about "The Voice", and thought it was spectactular and predicted it would win last year, as it should have, and then they made it more like "American Idol", they fucked the show up, and now it wins. If you're gonna do that Academy, just give it to "The Amazing Race" every year then. You're not honoring "Project Runway" the six or seven times it should've won, or "Top Chef" or "So You Think You Can Dance?", why are we giving it away to a show in a weak year, that's gonna get worst and worst unless they change back. You didn't honor "...Idol" correctly all that time,- it makes no sense to honor "The Voice" now.

Not sure why they decided to honor "The Colbert Report" upsetting it over "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart", unless they just arbitrailly decided to not give it to them this year. Maybe it was John Oliver's fault? Eh, who knows. I just wish that if the Emmys are gonna pass that Award around now, they have to give it to "Real Time with Bill Maher" instead. 29 Nominations for Maher, 0 Victories. Almost as bad as Bob Newhart not winning until last week.

Neil Patrick Harris, was very good, especially late in the show, when he teased us by not having musical numbers 'til later. I thought the opening bit was fantastic, and funny as hell, with Kevin Spacey sabotaging everyone, that was very funny, and btw, Kevin Spacey, would make an incredible Emmy host next year. They should really think about that. A lot of the other sketches were great, I didn't know about the surprise tribute to choreography, but I am in favor of it, because never has choreography become such a mainstay on network primetime television then it has in recent years, so I think there's legitimacy to that. But it was an akward show overall, one of NPH's weakest, but not fault the directing and organizing was terrible. And the tributes, ugh! So many of them, and all of them, being before the actual "In Memoriam", is just somewhat insulting to all the others who died. And as sad as it is, are you really gonna tell me that Cory Montieth's death is more worthy of a eulogized tribute, than Larry Hagman's? The rest, I understood, even Gary David Goldberg, people who don't know/realize who he was might not know, but he was incredibly important and influential, but- Montieth, over Jack Klugman, or Andy Williams, even, he had the longest-running variety show in TV history, before "Saturday Night Live" passed him, not my favorite either, in fact I didn't even know he died, but I probably shouldn't have found out on the In Memoriam at the end like that. I mean, there's ways to do that correctly, and ways to do it wrong, this multiple eulogies thing, really did it wrong, just glad we didn't focus on the musical performance during the actual tribute.

"Behind the Candelabra" was pretty much the only non-shocker however. It won over 11 total, that's close to a record actually, including Miniseries, Michael Douglas, and for Steven Soderbergh tonight.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus's win was a little unsurprising, and "Veep" did surprisingly well, and while, I still can't figure out the Academy's insistance on ignoring Amy Poehler again and again, but Louis-Dreyfus's acceptance speech with Tony Hale close by, who also pulled off a surprise Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series win, was incredibly funny and smart, to those who got it. Two in a row for her, and two in a row for writing and Actress for "Homeland". Claire Danes won again, deservingly so, she is amazing on that, but Kerry Washington will win next year. I can guarantee it. Nobody wants to piss off Diahann Carroll two years in a row. Trust me, she's pissed, and everybody's running around making sure she's never pissed off again. Trust me on that, doesn't matter how good, or bad "Scandal" is next year, Washington's winning it.

Tina Fey left with one more Emmy for "30 Rock", co-writing the show's finale with Tracey Wigfield, that's her 8th Career Emmy btw. She's 43 folks, and look 28, with two kids, and has 8 Emmys overall! She's in Cloris Leachman/Betty White territory folks! Unbelievable!

The best upset however, and I know who's gonna give me shit about this, but you know, Jeff Daniels deserved to win, more than Brayn Cranston. "The Newsroom" should've won Best Series, wasn't nominated, big screw up when that happened, but Daniels is spectacular in "The Newsroom", an incredibly complicated character, who's just layered upon layered, and I'm sorry, "Breaking Bad" it deserved to win among the nominees for Best Drama Series, but it wasn't as good as the year before. It was lacking, and basically Walter White's transformation is complete, so it isn't as deep and conflicting a performance as it has been in the past, and "The Newsroom" is the best show on television; glad excited- I screamed when he won! Seriously, I was shocked as anybody, but Jeff Daniels is one of the best actors alive, and it was the single-most deserving win of the night, and so good, 'cause it was so unexpected. Thank you Academy for that.

And screw you Academy for Sarah Paulsen, Amy Poehler, "The Office", Mayim Bialik, Ed O'Neill, "The Voice", Lena Dunham, and screw you twice, for Elisabeth Moss (Love you Laura Linney though, but still....) and Screw you Academy for every "Mad Men" acting nomination, ever! I thought John Slattery had won, once, and I was wrong, "Mad Men" is 0-31 in Acting nominations. Are you friggin' kidding me!? And btw, Vincent Kartheiser, has never been nominated! Screw you Academy!

I love Award shows for their arbitrariness and their place in pop culture, and their honoring of the true art of entertainment, and seeing people like Weaver, Anna Gunn, Daniels, Parsons, Bromell (RIP), Cannavale and Abi Morgan, Ellen Burstyn and Michael Douglas get rewarded for their artistic efforts, and it's sad to see Mamet, Spacey, Cranston, Paul, Dinklage, Campion, and many other deserving nominees go home empty handed, but still, it's nice to see such great talent winning and it's nice to see that, in this era of when too many people out there still belittle television, it's great to recognize that there truly is some amazing great and memorable television out there, and there's gonna be for awhile. There was a lot of talk of the "Golden Age" of television," tonight, well, here's the secret, every age is the golden age since there's good shows on at every age, and you're we're lucky and honored enough to watch them. The Emmys as flawed as they may sometimes be, does it's best every year to honor them. So, I know that's counter to my last statement where I told them all "Screw themselves" nine or ten times, but you know, we still watch the Emmys, because we still watch and love television, and thats why we love watching television go honored and appreciated every year at the Emmys.

See you all next year, when the Emmys screw Amy Poehler and "The Newsroom" again, folks!


Saturday, September 21, 2013

2013 PRIMETIME EMMY AWARD PREDICTIONS, THOUGHTS AND PREFERENCES!



It's become tradition that every year I give my Predictions for the Emmy Awards, although it's a little tough because, many times, not having cable, I'm often just catching up to a TV show through DVD or streaming and now they're nominated for 12 Emmys or whatever. There's so many good shows on TV as well now, and on the internet too, it takes up so much of one's time, it's hard to even cover everything if you tried. You should see my list of TV shows, I still have to add to my Netflix, it's getting to be as long as my Movie list, if you account for seasons. There's a good cracked.com article about the hard work it takes being a pop culture expert, you can see the link below:

http://www.cracked.com/blog/4-reasons-being-pop-culture-nerd-harder-than-you-think_p2/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=fanpage&utm_campaign=new+article&wa_ibsrc=fanpage

They came up with four reason, I can think of about 20, but despite that, part of the fun of Award shows is catching up on the nominees, and if not that, at least hoping that your personal and/or sentimental favorites win some Awards, and making these little guessing games and pools about who will win and who won't. It's a risk, to say something going to happen before it happens, and it's written down here, for the world so I can't change it, no matter what. So, another great year of television, another Primetimes Emmy Awards, as always we're going category-by-category, and hopefully my successive streak of choosing every major winner correct, will continue.

(LAWYER'S NOTE: David Baruffi reserves the right to change or alter any/all of these picks at any time prior to, during and/or after the 2013 Primetime Emmy Awards broadcast from now until the end of time.)

Alright, let's start with the Comedy categories.

OUTSTANDING COMEDY SERIES
The Big Bang Theory-CBS
Girls-HBO
Louie-FX Networks
Modern Family-ABC
30 Rock-NBC
Veep-HBO

I still find myself baffled by "Parks and Recreation"'s omission from this category, and truly think that "Modern Family"'s has been severely overrated by winning this Award three years straight, and is still considered by many to be the favorite in the category. Oh, in case some of you are wondering where I'll be determining favorites from, go to goldderby.com, they're the experts in giving odds for major Award shows. I still think this is the year that they're gonna be upset though, this was an unwatchable year for them, and frankly, every one of the other nominees is a better show right now. I finally watched "Veep", at least the first season recently, and I must say, I like the show, however I don't love it. I had the same reaction to Armando Ianucci's other show "In the Loop", as well as the movie that was made from that show, well-written, but it comes from such a cynical place, for a show about politics essentially, that there's no one to really cheer for. That's partly why I love "Parks and Recreation," at least we have Leslie Knope actually trying her damnedest in a system that's filled with the morality-challenged and corrupt. Anyway, that's my "Veep" rant. I'm actually more unsure of who's gonna win this year than ever before in this category. It's "30 Rock"'s final season, they're a sentimental choice, but they've already won three times before, so I'm leaning towards either "The Big Bang Theory" or "Girls" breaking "Modern Family"'s streak. Maybe "Louie" can sneak in, but it's very rare that a first-time nominee in this category can win, especially when the show's not in it's first season, so I think he's got a better shot in other categories, just like last year.
PREDICTION: "The Big Bang Theory", I actually think last year was better for them, but I think they want to honor it now, it's the #1 sitcom, it's continuously funny and growing in its fanbase, this would be the good year to honor it as a show.
PREFERENCE: "Girls"

LEAD ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Alec Baldwin-"30 Rock"-NBC
Jason Bateman-"Arrested Development"-Netflix
Louis C.K.-"Louie"-FX Networks
Don Cheadle-"House of Lies"-Showtime
Matt LeBlanc-"Episodes"-Showtime
Jim Parsons-"The Big Bang Theory"-CBS

I think this means that officially, Jon Cryer's win last year, was indeed an anomoly, 'cause "Two and a Half Men", and Cryer in particular, were pretty much shutout this year.  Larry David wasn't eligible this year, (and who knows if "Curb..." will come back or not.) so Matt LeBlanc, gets one returning spot, while the big wild card in this category is Jason Bateman for "Arrested Development". This is the test year with internet shows to see which ones will get Awards and which won't. "House of Cards" clearly did better in the drama side of the ballot, but because Bateman never won for "...Development", which the Emmys did like and honor, in fact this is the first season the show didn't get a Best Comedy Series nomination (It could've easily, I did see the season btw.) so they do like this show, and the cult fanbase has grown, it's very possible that this a long-belated honoring of his work on the show. That said, you'd think they'd also honor others like David Cross and Portia Di Rossi for instance, so he's the unpredictable factor. Cheadle, longshot at best, he's the only one who gets nominated for "House of Lies" every year. hard to see him winning it in this field. There is this stigma that Louis C.K. is essentially playing himself; I've never agreed with that thought in shows like this, but many times, it does cost certain people Emmy Awards, because of that stigma. Seinfeld never won, Cosby was never nominated for "The Cosby Show", etc. etc. So, unless this is "Louie"'s year to win everything, I think it's between Baldwin and Parsons. Both have won the Award multiple times, it's Baldwin's last year eligible, Parsons won it most recently, 6 to 1 half a dozen.
PREDICTION: Alec Baldwin-"30 Rock"
PREFERENCE-Jason Bateman-"Arrested Development"

LEAD ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Laura Dern-"Enlightened"-HBO
Lena Dunham-"Girls"-HBO
Edie Falco-"Nurse Jackie"-Showtime"
Tina Fey-"30 Rock"-NBC
Julia Louis-Dreyfus-"Veep"-HBO
Amy Poehler-"Parks and Recreation-NBC

Not many people noticed this, but Julia Louis-Dreyfus set a record this year, passing Lucille Ball for most Acting Emmy nominations as a regular in a Comedy Series. It's her 14th, being nominated 7 times for "Seinfeld," five times for "The New Adventures of Old Christine" and now twice for "Veep", and she's won at least once, for each show. Very impressive stat, and she's the favorite again this year. Laura Dern's nominated for "Enlightened," which was canceled so that's a little unlikely, but I'm always glad to see Laura Dern get appreciated. I haven't seen that show yet, but still.... There were 7 nomination last year, Melissa McCarthy, who won just two years ago, is the most interesting snub actually.  No 3-camera sitcoms in this category, which is also unusual and interesting this year. Zooey Deschanel and "New Girl" got nothing this year, and frankly that shows been too undorkably unwatchable, even last year. If it's a "Girls" year, then I think it's not outside the realm of impossibility that Lena Dunham could take it this year, but although I do think that's the best show on right now, it's polarizing to some, but it wouldn't be unreasonable for her to win here. (Sigh.) I'm desperately trying to convince myself that this will finally be Amy Poehler's year. She should win it, she should've won it at least twice now, but they just keep seeming to pass it by her.
PREDICTION: Tina Fey-"30 Rock"
PREFERENCE: Amy Poehler-"Parks and Recreation"- Prove me wrong Academy!

SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Ty Burrell-"Modern Family"-ABC
Adam Driver-"Girls"-HBO
Jesse Tyler Ferguson-"Modern Family"-ABC
Bill Hader-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Tony Hale-"Veep"-HBO
Ed O'Neill-"Modern Family"-ABC

Eric Stonestreet's conspicuous absence from the category means a new winner, but still likely a new winner from "Modern Family". Adam Driver for "Girls" is a new nominee, and I wouldn't be shocked if he pulled an upset here, he has to bring a character to life that's tough to imagine when written down, and he does an amazing job at it on "Girls", I wish I thought of him before. Tony Hale's interesting, as "Veep" got two extra acting nominations this year, also because he was eligible for "Arrested Development", but was nominated here instead oddly. (Tough call for me, I think he did both parts equally well.) Thankfully, no more Max Greenfield for "New Girl", a nomination that never made any sense to me last year, Ty Burrell, won the Award two years ago, common sense would tell you that, if you're gonna honor "Modern Family" you'd give the award to someone else from the show, but the Emmys haven't been using that notion in a while, which is particularly sad, because I think we all know, who we really do want to see win from the show, he's nominated again but, we thought that last year, and they didn't do it then, it's now just confusing. If they go for Ty Burrell again, it'll be clear that they've abandoned that notion of honoring everyone from a series, if they go for someone else, then maybe it'll be a much more entertaining and fun Emmys. Don't count out Bill Hader completely either, it's his last year of eligibility, he's been great on "SNL",
PREDICTION and PREFERENCE: Ed O'Neill-"Modern Family" Here's hoping the Emmys actually do what we want this year.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Mayim Bialik-"The Big Bang Theory"-CBS
Julie Bowen-"Modern Family"-ABC
Anna Chlumsky-"Veep"-HBO
Jane Krakowski-"30 Rock"-NBC
Jane Lynch-"Glee"-FOX
Sofia Vergara-"Modern Family"-ABC
Merritt Weaver-"Nurse Jackie"-Showtime

Whew! A new record with seven nominees in the category, and this makes it a little more up in the air, regarding who will win. Bialik and Weaver were new additions last year, very glad both of them are still in the mix. It's Jane Krakowski's last year of eligibility, it would be nice to finaly see her win the Award. She's another one who's been around forever, since "Ally McBeal" I remember her; she's a Tony-winning Triple Threat, and when you really think about it, the dialogue she, and many other cast members of "30 Rock", what they have to pull off, in the way that they do pull it off, it's a wonder they haven't won more Awards. She's the sentimental choice. Jane Lynch was not nominated last year, oddly enough, but she's back in the category this year, being the only thing bearable on "Glee" nobody will question it, but she's won before, she's a longshot this year. Anna Chlumsky's the other new one, as "Veep" is seriously looking more and more like a contender, she's gotta a tough part too. I thought last year was Sofia Vergara's year, they gave it to Julie Bowen instead, and I'm not sure why actually. This is one of those situations, where, she might not be getting votes because of how she looks. Seriously, it sounds stupid, and it is, but I think it's very possible that's an issue, that some member aren't taking her work as seriously as Julie Bowen's, she's the favorite again btw. I don't know though, I'm thinking Vergara's roles been a little tougher lately. If she wins, I won't be pissed at the "Modern Family" sweep like other years. That's the thing though, if you're gonna keep nominated practically a show's entire ensemble every year, you gotta pass the Award around, unless it's completely clear that one person's performance is in another stratosphere, and I just don't think that's the case with "Modern Family". Now, the question is, is it a "Modern Family" year, or not?
PREDICTION AND PREFERENCE: Mayim Bialik-"The Big Bang Theory", with a little bit of hope that either Vergara or Krakowski might tie with her. Probably not, but  would be nice.

GUEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Bobby Cannavale-"Nurse Jackie"-Showtime
Louis C.K.-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Will Forte-"30 Rock"-NBC
Nathan Lane-"Modern Family"-ABC
Bob Newhart-"The Big Bang Theory"-CBS
Justin Timberlake-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC

The Guest Actor/Actress awards are given out a week early at the Technical Emmys, or as Kathy Griffin likes to call them, The Schemmys, but they're always announced on the broadcast later anyway, and the winners usually present an Award or two, a nice little honor for doing a guest spot, which by the way, most guest appearance on TV shows, especially major stars who do guest appearances, are pretty damn hard to get most of the time. Most of them are blind luck that someone on the show, knows someone who knows someone who knows someone, who's willing to do them a favor by being on the show. At least that's how it used to be, sometimes major stars are lining up nowadays for some shows. Quite often too, many become welcoming recurring characters they enjoy the show so much, like Bobby Cannavale's who's being nominated for the same show in multiple years. (Mel Brooks actually won this award four times in a row for "Mad About You", once upon a time.) Well, now that they've started throwing "SNL" hosts into these categories, they've been sweeping the category in recent years though. Timberlake's already won twice and this was a great performance he had again this year. Anyway, enough of that crap, Bob Newhart HAS NEVER WON AN EMMY BEFORE! That's gotta change, and it better, 'cause that's just embarassing. I don't care if he deserved it or not, he should win it anyway, and if the Emmys have any sense at all about who we want to see win the Awards, they'll listen.
PREDICTION AND PREFERENCE: Bob Newhart-"The Big Bang Theory"
WINNER: Bob Newhart-"The Big Bang Theory
THOUGHTS: About fucking time! Congratulations Mr. Newhart! 


GUEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Dot-Marie Jones-"Glee"-FOX
Melissa Leo-"Louie"-FX Networks
Melissa McCarthy-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Molly Shannon-"Enlightened"-NBC
Elaine Stritch-"30 Rock"-NBC
Kristen Wiig-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC

God bless Elaine Stritch for still being this active and amazing, she's the favorite, she's also won this Award twice before, including once fo "30 Rock", frankly, I would've picked Kristen Schaal from "30 Rock" to win this year, but it's hard to vote against her. Partly 'cause it's somewhat likely she'll kick your ass, and that's how amazing talented she is. I think it's tempting to take Kristen Wiig as well; she never won as a regular before, despite multiple nominations. Frankly, I've always considered her slightly overrated in terms of the great "SNL" alum, but she is an original. Frankly the role that I've heard the most about this year, of the group was Melissa Leo's for "Louie", she's another TV veteran who's got famous later, and never got honored for her series work, this would be the interesting spot here for a "Louie" win here. I'm not sure I really have a preference here, so I'm just gonna go with prediction.
PREDICTION: Elaine Stritch-"30 Rock"
WINNER: Melissa Leo-"Louie"
THOUGHTS: She was my second choice, should've thought about it another minute or two. Damn. 

OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A COMEDY SERIES
Girls-"On All Fours"-Lena Dunham-HBO
Glee-"Diva"-Paris Barclay-FOX
Louie-"New Year's Eve"-Louis C.K.-FX Networks
Modern Family-"Arrested"-Gail Mancuso-ABC
30 Rock-"Hogcock!"-Beth McCartner-Miller-NBC

Well, "Glee"'s a definite long, longshot, as it's barely mentioned in any other major categories. This could be a predictor category for the rest of the night, "Modern Family"'s won this category mutliple times now, it's not uncommon for directing to be the Best Series predictor in general. That said, Louis C.K. won two writing Awards last year, he's nominated for multiple directing awards across othe categories, they could be going skill by skill with him, and they can do it considering his range. Lena Dunham's directing however, is incredible at times, she's the face of "Girls", it could be a "Girls" year. Beth McCartney-Miller's the sentimental choice, she has 8 Emmy losses in her career, no wins, and she's an amazing comedy director, it's not impossible that "30 Rock" could win in its last season.
PREDICTION: "Louie"-Louis C.K.
PREFERENCE-"Girls"-Lena Dunham

OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A COMEDY SERIES
Episodes-"Episode 209"-David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik-Showtime
Louie-"Daddy's Girlfriend (Part 1)-Louie C.K. (Story & Teleplay); Pamela Adlon (Story)-FX Networks
The Office-"Finale-Greg Daniels-NBC
30 Rock-"Hogcock!"-Jack Burditt and Robert Carlock-NBC
30 Rock-"Last Lunch"-Tina Fey and Tracey Whitfield-"NBC

No "Modern Family" for the second straight year, is somewhat curious, and no Lena Dunham in the category in hindsight is a bit odd, but last year, when 4 of the 5 nominations were from shows that weren't Best Series nominees, the category's been leaning more towards the odd anyway. It's gonna look totally different next year two, with no more "30 Rock" or "The Office", and thank god, they honored "The Office" for something, (they didn't honor it enough, but good for getting the Finale into here) and there won't be "Louie" next year either, as Louis C.K. has announced that he's taking a break from the show. (I'm not 100% on "Episodes" either) So, only "Louie" and "30 Rock" got in. Louis C.K. won last year, but his co-hort Pamela Adlon, she's his producing and writing partner, she hasn't won. She's an actress as well, she plays Pamela on the show, she's also one of the top voiceover artists in Hollywood, she actually has an Emmy for "King of the Hill" doing that, she was the voice of Bobby on that show, as well as other characters too, she's also on "Californication", would be nice to see her get an Award as well. It's more likely though that one of the finale series will take the award this year however, especially considering the other nominees.
PREDICTION: "30 Rock"-Tina Fey and Tracey Whitfield
PREFERENCE: "The Office"-Greg Daniels

Alright, let's move onto the drama categories now.

OUTSTANDING DRAMA SERIES
Breaking Bad-AMC
Downton Abbey-PBS
Game of Thrones-HBO
Homeland-Showtime
House of Cards-Netflix
Mad Men-AMC

It's weird to say this, regarding an internet series, but "House of Cards" is in the mail currently. I'll be watching it ASAP, so I'm a little in the dark on that one, but I'm fairly certain that they're a bit of an also-ran overall in this category. "Homeland" won last year, "Mad Men," the previous four years; there's still a decent chance for another "Homeland" sweep like last year, but I think most people, have figured out that it was overrated in terms of this category, the year before. Besides that, it really looks like it down to "Breaking Bad" and "Game of Thrones". Those two btw, tied for Best Drama Series at the Critics Choice Awards earlier this year. Both cult shows, with big fanbases, that are growing in popularity and respect. There isn't too many people who have seen "Breaking Bad" that don't think it's the best show on television, a lot of people have started ranking it as one of the best of all-time, as it's going into it's final season, or half-season, or whatever next year. They're the heavy favorites this year, although I'll be honest, I did think this was the year, they were just, a little off from their peak, which I think most will agree was the year before, that said, I still have a hard time voting against it as well.
PREDICTION & PREFERENCE: "Breaking Bad"

LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Hugh Bonneville-"Downton Abbey"-PBS
Bryan Cranston-"Breaking Bad"-AMC
Jeff Daniels-"The Newsroom"-HBO
Jon Hamm-"Mad Men"-AMC
Damian Lewis-"Homeland"-Showtime
Kevin Spacey-"House of Cards"-Netflix

Well, these are all deserving nominees, Lewis won last year, Cranston, ran away with the category the previous years, only not winning once, when the show wasn't eligible, and that went to Kyle Chandler for "Friday Night Lights" instead, which was really odd, even at the time. Jon Hamm, hasn't won yet, he's been nominated every year, he's the sentimental choice. Jeff Daniels, for the criminally overlooked "The Newsroom", which should be the show that's sweeping the Emmys, and Kevin Spacey for "House of Cards" are the new nominees in the category. Kevin Spacey's a bit of a wildcard, considering we just don't know how much the Emmys really like "House of Cards", compared to these other shows. Cranston's listed as the favorite, Lewis and Spacey are next at 2nd and 3rd choices, I wouldn't be shocked at all if Jeff Daniels surprises everyone and wins the Award actually. I don't quite see it happening, but they've done that occasionally with this category, honor a young show they like, but doesn't get into Best Drama Series, by honoring it's star, and he's the only nominee who's show isn't up for Best Drama Series. Kinda hard to separate a lead on "Game of Thrones" of course, so that's no real surprise. Like always, a great, big name list of actors, and names like Buscemi, Olyphant, Hall, can't into this category in a year, it shows how loaded this category really is.
PREDICTION: Bryan Cranston-"Breaking Bad"
PREFERENCE: Jeff Daniels-"The Newsroom"

LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Connie Britton-"Nashville"-ABC
Claire Danes-"Homeland"-Showtime
Michelle Dockery-"Downtown Abbey"-PBS
Vera Farmiga-"Bates Motel"-A&E
Elisabeth Moss-"Mad Men"-AMC
Kerry Washington-"Scandal"-ABC
Robin Wright-"House of Cards"-Netflix

Big changes from this category last year, four new nominees ,and  a record seven total nominees, also. Danes, won last year, she's the only one nominated who's ever won the Award in fact. Connie Britton's been nominated for other series, very shocked her name showed up for the very melodramatic "Nashville"; this might have been a nomination, partly for her other work, partly 'cause she has to sing on her show, although, that begs the question, why wouldn't you nominate, a Katherine McPhee or Megan Hilty for the now-canceled "Smash", which was a better show, granted, it did deserved to be canceled after last year. Glenn Close, was the big snub, not nominated for the last season of "Damages," she won the Award multiple times, as did Julianna Margulies for "The Good Wife", particularly insulting for her, two other network shows got nominated in this category, instead of her; last year it was only her and Kathy Bates, for the now-canceled "Harry's Law" as the only shows network TV got in. Kerry Washington, probably the fan favorite, "Scandal," is a very popular show, not a bad one either, it's just not in the league of even, the tenth best cable drama right now, she's a second choice, and the first African-American nominated in this category since Cicely Tyson for "Sweet Justice", in '95, and if you remembered that show, kudos. It's more likely Claire Danes will repeat. "Homeland"'s overrated as a show, but the acting is spectacular; it actually makes up for some of the series' issues. Dockery and Moss, the other returning nominees, they're longshots, "Mad Men" especially has been, genuinely snubbed across the acting board for awhile now, just bizarrely so too. Only John Slattery has ever won for acting in the show, and he isn't even getting nominated anymore. Farmiga's likely as also-ran, although a nice surprise to see her show up; Robin Wright, a bit of a wildcard longshot, but I just can't see the scenario where she breaks through in this field however.
PREDICTION: Claire Danes-"Homeland"
PREFERENCE: Elisabeth Moss-"Mad Men"

SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Jonathan Banks-"Breaking Bad"-AMC
Bobby Cannavale-"Boardwalk Empire"-HBO
Jim Carter-"Downtown Abbey"-PBS
Peter Dinklage-"Game of Thrones"-HBO
Mandy Patinkin-"Homeland"-HBO
Aaron Paul-"Breaking Bad"-AMC

Well, this category looks quite different from last year, as-eh, most of the actors nominated last year for their respected shows, died. (On the series anyway) Only Carter, Dinklage and Paul, are here from last year. Strangely, the odds-on favorite however is Mandy Patinkin, he's a beloved TV legend, but-eh, a little surprised to see him as the favorite here. The award is a little up in the air a bit. Haven't seen Bobby Cannavale's role on "Boardwalk Empire" but he's one of the best actors alive, it's gotta be deserved. Jonathan Banks's this is his first Emmy nomination since "Wiseguy", and he's taking the nomination spot that Giancarlo Esposito had for "Breaking Bad" last year. Hard to bet against Aaron Paul, especially when he won last year, when I think everybody thought it was going to Esposito. He's won the Award, the last two years he's been eligible. Peter Dinklage won the year he wasn't; so it's feeling to me like another "Game of Thrones" vs. "Breaking Bad" battle here. Little surprise Jim Carter's the only "Downtown Abbey" nominee here, I would've liked to have seen, Brendan Coyle get nominated again, but you can say that about members of the casts of many different dramas this year. Gut instinct, I don't think Aaron Paul's gonna win again, just not sure who's going to however.
PREDICTION: Mandy Patinkin-"Homeland"
PREFERENCE: Bobby Cannavale-"Boardwalk Empire"

SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Morena Baccarin-"Homeland"-Showtime
Christine Baranski-"The Good Wife"-CBS
Emilia Clarke-"Game of Thrones"-HBO
Anna Gunn-"Breaking Bad"-AMC
Christina Hendricks-"Mad Men"-AMC
Maggie Smith-"Downton Abbey"-PBS

Well, Maggie Smith, won last year, her second consecutive Emmy for "Downton Abbey", one as a Miniseries, another for Drama Series, after it switched categories last year. Morena Baccarin and Emilia Clarke, both newcomers in the category, both nominations might be hints on how well, the Emmy voters think of their respective shows, Clarke's nominations especially I think, might be a sign for "Game of Thrones", personally I can't make heads or tales out of 90% of the actors on that show, everyone except Peter Dinklage pretty much, but-eh, the fact that the Emmys did this year, speaks volumes. The general consensus is Maggie Smith, or Anna Gunn, pulling off the upset, possibly a signal that it's "Breaking Bad"'s year if she wins, although you could argue that for any of the nominees except for Baranski. I'm still fairly dumbfounded that Christina Hendricks hasn't been honored yet, but "Mad Men"'s on a supposed down year, it's not looking like they're gonna suddenly start stealing the acting awards unfortunately, so....
PREDICTION: Anna Gunn-"Breaking Bad"- It's looking like she has the momentum in her favor, over Maggie Smith, and that's why I think it'll break to her.
PREFERENCE: Christina Hendricks-"Mad Men"

GUEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Dan Bucatinsky-"Scandal"-ABC
Michael J. Fox-"The Good Wife"-CBS
Rupert Friend-"Homeland"-Showtime
Harry Hamlin-"Mad Men"-AMC
Nathan Lane-"The Good Wife"-CBS
Robert Morse-"Mad Men"-AMC

Well, I thought Michael J. Fox was gonna win this category last year for "The Good Wife", so they idea got blown out the water, but he's the favorite this year, Dan Bucantinsky, is probably the strongest second choice. If we're thinking conspiracy crazy, Award-giving patterns, there might be a temptation to give it to Fox, partly because he's coming back to primetime TV this year, and I'm presuming that most aren't gonna think his new show's gonna be as successful as his previous ones. Guy's one of the best actors alive, he's got a truckload of Emmys already, it's a little to vote against him under normal circumstances. Rupert Friend's also looking like a possibility. I don't really have a preference, the only performance I've seen is Fox's, and I'm kinda thinking along the lines of the experts as well here. Can't see them giving them giving it to Hamlin or Morse for "Mad Men", those votes will split. Nathan Lane's eligible in another category, but it's unlikely he'll win either. I thought the sentimental vote was going to Fox last year, so, who knows, but I think it's between him and Bucatinsky.
PREDICTION: Michael J. Fox-"The Good Wife"
WINNER: Dan Bucatinsky-"Scandal"

GUEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Linda Cardellini-"Mad Men"-AMC
Joan Cusasck-"Shameless"-Showtime
Jane Fonda-"The Newsroom"-HBO
Margo Martindale-"The Americans"-FX Networks
Carrie Preston-"The Good Wife"-CBS
Diana Rigg-"Game of Thrones"-HBO

Joan Cusack, been nominated in this category, every year "Shameless" has been on TV, which also makes this my yearly reminder to get around to watching "Shameless" eventually. (Yeah, I've been bad, I know. It's hard to get to everything.) Jane Fonda's the favorite, I'm glad she is. Margo Martindale's always well-like by the Emmys, she won Best Supporting Actress a couple years ago for "Justified", you could've argued she should've been in this category instead, so there's that, but considering that's "The Americans" only major nomination.... Just in general it's hard to vote against Jane Fonda, she was spectacular, I think it's a safe bet here.
PREDICTION and PREFERENCE: Jane Fonda-"The Newsroom"
WINNER: Carrie Preston-"The Good Wife" 
THOUGHTS: Jane Fonda was robbed! She should've won. 

OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A DRAMA SERIES
Boardwalk Empire-"Margate Sands"-Tim Van Patten-HBO
Breaking Bad-"Gliding All Over"-Michelle McLaren-AMC
Downton Abbey-"Episode 4"-Jeremy Webb-PBS
Homeland-"Q&A"-Lesli Linka Glatter-Showtime
House of Cards-"Chapter 1"-David Fincher-Netflix

While Tim Vat Patten and Lesli Linka Glatter, have to be on the shortlist of the best directors in television right now, it's a bit of a tradition to honor famous film directors who find time to direct some television, so unless there's something really unusual, this is probably the spot where "House of Games" will break through. McLaren's listed as the second choice for "Breaking Bad", I think Glatter for "Homeland" and Van Patten for "Boardwalk Empire" are the real outsiders possibilities here; I don't see Jeremy Webb sneaking in under much circumstances, but it's pretty clear Fincher is gonna win this one.
PREDICTION and PREFERENCE-"House of Cards"-David Fincher

OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A DRAMA SERIES
Breaking Bad-"Dead Freight"-George Maestras-AMC
Breaking Bad-"Say My Name"-Thomas Schnauz-AMC
Downton Abbey-"Episode 4"-Julian Fellowes-PBS
Game of Thrones-"The Rains of Castamere"-David Benioff and D.B. Weiss-HBO
Homeland-"Q&A"-Henry Bromell-Showtime

It's you think more nomination is a sign of things to come, I will remind everyone that "Mad Men" has three nominations in this category last year, and lost to "Homeland", so that's a flawed theory. "Homeland" again is the favorite, "Q&A" seems to be the episode that looks like it'll be honored here; it's the only one nominated for Directing, and that's going to Fincher, so this would be the spot here. The "Breaking Bad"'s look like they're splitting the vote. I haven't seen the "Homeland" or the "Game of Thrones" episodes yet myself, so a little hard to judge, although I'm a big David Benioff fan. He wrote the script for "25th Hour" and "The Kite Runner" two great films, particularly the former. Fellowes has won many times before, it's a down year for "Downton Abbey", hard to think he's gonna take it here. Eh, so hard to tell here.
PREDICTION: "Homeland"-Henry Bromell
PREFERENCE: "Breaking Bad"-George Maestras

Alright, now let's quickly go through the reality categories.

OUTSTANDING REALITY-COMPETITION SERIES
The Amazing Race-CBS
Dancing with the Stars-ABC
Project Runway-Lifetime
So You Think You Can Dance-FOX
Top Chef-Bravo
The Voice-NBC

Same six as last year, zero surprises. and I will never understand how "Dancing with the Stars" keeps getting in here. There's also no real prospects for an upset here, "The Amazing Race" has won the category, every year but one, when "Top Chef" pulled an upset, but that was three years ago, unlikely to happen here. It does feel wrong to some extent that it keeps winning, but it's a damn good reality show, it definitely should at least be nominated every year, including in bad years, which this last one wasn't, fair to say it's gonna win. "The Voice" might be the best shot at an upset, but if it didn't win last year, when it was a good show, before they became too much like "American Idol", then I can't foresee it winning this year, when- frankly I went from blogging and praising and loving the show, to not even watching the parts that are still good and make it deserving of the nomination. So "The Voice", really fell for me this time around.
PREDICTION: "The Amazing Race"
PREFERENCE: "Project Runway"-Just give it to them once, for Christ's sake, Academy!

OUTSTANDING HOST FOR A REALITY OR REALITY COMPETITION PROGRAM
Tom Bergeron-"Dancing with the Stars"-ABC
Anthony Bourdain-"The Taste"-ABC
Cat Deeley-"So You Think You Can Dance"-FOX
Heidi Klum, Tim Gunn-"Project Runway"-Lifetime
Ryan Seacrest-"American Idol"-FOX
Betty White-"Betty White's Off Your Rockers"-NBC

This is the first time the category's got six nominations instead of five. Phil Keoghan oddly left off; he was nominated last year, and I guess the Academy fell out of love with Jeff Probst for some reason, after he won the Award the first three years. Um, obviously this is a strange category to judge anyway, but Anthony Bourdain, nominated for the little-scene and deserved-to-be-canceled "The Taste", which I don't particularly disagree with, 'cause I did see that show, and my big issue is not whether he was a good host or not, it's whether or not he was the host, 'cause I did try watching that show for, 4 or 5 episodes, he was a judge, he had a group of chefs he mentored; I seriously didn't know he was the host. I mean, if he ever was to actually host a reality show, he could, and he'd be nominated every year, so, good for him. I love "No Reservations", and all that other stuff he does, great to see as a judge on "Top Chef" whenever he can, but.... Betty White's show was also canceled earlier this year, might come back at some point, knowing NBC's tendencies, but sentimental vote here, but she is a good host in general. People don't realize this, one of her many, many Emmys is for Game Show Hosting for a short-lived show called "Just Men", she was the first woman to win that award, and I think only Meredith Viera has won it since, so it's not a horrible choice. Bergeron won it last year, he's a heavy favorite to do so this year, and he deserves it. He is the quintessential host, in general, very talented. "Dancing..." is unwatchable, but that's not his fault. Also, glad to see Heidi Klum back in this category, as well as Tim Gunn, who should've been nominated as a co-host before, for some reason wasn't, he's quite good as well. Also, Cat Deeley, great host as well. Good show, "So You Think You Can Dance," very natural; she hosts more shows in England than she does here, insiders do know that she is as good as Bergeron is as an all-around host who can do almost anything, she's a second choice in the odds, slight shot at an upset for her here too.
PREDICTION: Tom Bergeron-"Dancing with the Stars"
PREFERENCE: Heidi Klum, Tim Gunn-"Project Runway"
WINNER: Heidi Klum, Tim Gunn-"Project Runway"
THOUGHTS: Never felt so happy to get a prediction wrong! About time "Project Runway" got something! Congrats Heidi and Tim, we love you!!!

OUTSTANDING REALITY PROGRAM
Antiques Roadshow-PBS
Deadliest Catch-Discovery Channel
Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives-Food Network
Mythbusters-Discovery Channel
Shark Tank-ABC
Undercover Boss-CBS

I certainly hope the Academy figures out how important this category really is eventually, and pushes it to the main show, 'cause I do think it's a more-than-deserving category, with, really, many quality shows over the years, being honored, and call me crazy, but with things like "Pawn Stars" and "Duck Dynasty", and some of the other popular shows over the recent years, I'd say it's just as important than the Reality-Competition category, if not moreso. The only new ones are "Deadliest Catch," which is back in the category after a hiatus the year before, and "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives", replacing "Who Do You Think You Are?" and "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution". "Undercover Boss" won the award last year, which is a good show, but it's so formulaic at this point, I tend to think it gets tiresome to watch after a while. "Deadliest Catch" has won in the past, as has "Mythbusters"; this is a category where they are known for passing the winner around a bit. Only "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" and "Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List", have won this award more than once, they both won it twice. General consensus is that, "Shark Tank" is the favorite; it should be, it is at the top of reality programming right now. Good concept, done well, marketed and packaged well by ABC; it took a few years but they got it right in that regard, and it's a fascinating show. I personally, wouldn't mind if "Antiques Roadshow" would win this at least once, (Also Mark L. Wahlberg, constantly overlooked in the Reality Host category, he should get more acclaim too.) I don't think it's this year though.
PREDICTION and PREFERENCE-"Shark Tank"
WINNER: "Undercover Boss"
THOUGHTS: Very shocked it won again, this should've been "Shark Tank"'s year.

Alright, let's get to the Variety categories!

OUTSTANDING VARIETY SERIES
The Colbert Report-Comedy Central
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart-Comedy Central
Jimmy Kimmel Live!-ABC
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon-NBC
Real Time with Bill Maher-HBO
Saturday Night Live-NBC

Little to discuss here, same six as last year, probably same deserving winner as well. I mean, as great as some of the other shows can be,- Yeah, no surprises here, not much to discuss.
PREDICTION and PREFERENCE-"The Daily Show with Jon Stewart"

OUTSTANDING VARIETY SPECIAL
The Kennedy Center Honors-CBS
Louis C.K.: Oh My God-HBO
Mel Brooks Strikes Back! With Mel Brooks and Alan Yantob-HBO
Saturday Night Live: Weekend Update Thursday (Part One)-NBC
12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief-Multiple Channels

A little surprised this category's in a coveted position, it's even on goldderby.com odds on it, and they're split btw, between "The Kennedy Center Honors" and "Louis C.K...." "Kennedy Center..." usually wins this Award, so much so that Kathy Griffin named one of her stand-up special "Kathy Griffin: Kennedy Center On Hers" to try and confuse the nomination committee, it didn't work but that's the running joke. There really should be a category just for stand-up specials anyway, there's enough of them nowadays that they should qualify for their own category really, and this is a ridiculous group anyway. The Hurricane Sandy Concert, in the same category as Mel Brooks, and the extra half-hour of "SNL", NBC puts on when they're latest attempt at a new Thursday show fails; it's a mess this category. I didn't/haven't watched all of thses, but I do watch the Kennedy Center Honors every year, it's a nice thing, but I think other similar prizes are better to watch like, when the Kennedy Center gives out the Mark Twain Prize every year, or the Library of Congress gives out the Gershwin Prize for Songwriting, those are better shows to me, in the same vein. I don't know; it's not really a big care award for me, but gut instinct, either everyone's wrong and they're gonna give it to the Sandy Concert, or they're gonna give Louis C.K. another Emmy here, in case he doesn't win one of two of his other 8 nominations.
PREDICTION and PREFERENCE: "Louis C.K.: Oh My God"
WINNER: "The Kennedy Center Honors"
THOUGHTS: It's always a good show, but Best Variety Special every year? I don't know about that.

OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A VARIETY SERIES
The Colbert Report-Opus Moreshi; Head Writer, et al.-Comedy Central
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart-Tim Carvell; Head Writer, et al.-Comedy Central
Jimmy Kimmel Live-James Kimmel; Head Writer, et. al-ABC
Portlandia-Fred Armison, Carrie Brownstein, Jonathan Krisel and Bill Oakley-IFC
Real Time with Bill Maher-Bill Maher, et. al-HBO
Saturday Night Live-Seth Meyers, et al.-NBC

Jimmy Kimmel is a new entry to this category, mostly famous nowadays for the inventive ways each shows finds to introduce all the members of their show's writers' room in a video package, and that's always fun. Sometimes "The Daily Show..." can be upset here if they want to honor someone else, but, it was an election year....
PREDICTION: "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart"
PREFERENCE: "Real Time with Bill Maher"-29 nominations Bill Maher has received, never won, so that's why I'm hoping his outside-shot can pull through.

OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A VARIETY SPECIAL
The 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards-Barry Adelman, et. al.-NBC
Louis C.K.: Oh My God-Louis C.K.-HBO
Night of Too Many Stars: America Comes Together for Autism Programs-Eric Slovin; Head Writer, et al.-Comedy Central
Saturday Night Live: Weekend Update Thursday (Part One)-Seth Meyers; Head Writer, Colin Jost, Head Writer, et. al-NBC
66th Annual Tony Awards-Dave Boone, Special Material by Paul Greenberg-CBS

They used to put these categories on the main show; I'm not so sure this year, so by the time this is posted, a winner might've already been announced. Anyway, Louis C.K. won this Award last year, could win it again, although I think they're looking for a reason to honor Award show writing, and they should as well, and I think they want to honor the Golden Globes, basically for having Tina Fey and Amy Poehler host. I guess you can do that.
PREDICTION: "The 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards"-Barry Adelman, et. al.
PREFERENCE-"66th Annual Tony Awards"-Dave Boone, Special Material by Paul Greenberg
WINNER: "Louis C.K.: Oh My God"-Louis C.K.

OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A VARIETY SERIES
The Colbert Report-"Episode 8131"-James Hoskinson-Comedy Central
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart-"Episode 17152"-Chuck O'Neill-Comedy Central
Jimmy Kimmel Live-"Episode 13-1810"-Andy Fisher-ABC
Late Show with David Letterman-"Episode 3749"-Jerry Foley-CBS
Portlandia-"Alexandria"-Jonathan Krisel-IFC
Saturday Night Live-"Host: Justin Timberlake"-Don Roy King-NBC

No real preference as you might imagine here. Might not even be given out on the main show so, it's basically a shot in the dark here, and trying to figure out whose directing here might be the toughest one to do.
PREDICTION: "Saturday Night Live"-Don Roy King

OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A VARIETY SPECIAL
The Kennedy Center Honors-Louis J. Horvitz-CBS
London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony-Bucky Gunts and Hamish Hamilton-NBC
Louis C.K.: Oh My God-Louis C.K.-HBO
The Oscars-Don Mischer-ABC
12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief-Michael Dempsey-Multiple Channels

PREDICTION: "The Kennedy Center Honors"-Louis J. Horvitz- No real reason here, I think the Emmys just like it when their isn't a clear winner to give the Award to the guy directing the Emmys.
WINNER: "The Kennedy Center Honors"-Louis J. Horvitz

Alright, one main section to go, onto Movies/Miniseries!

OUTSTANDING MINISERIES OR MOVIE
American Horror Story: Asylum-FX Networks
Behind the Candelabra-HBO
The Bible-HISTORY
Phil Spector-HBO
Political Animals-USA
Top of the Lake-Sundance Channel

Well, not having cable, I haven't seen any of these, so I'm not gonna press for too many Preferences here. Just on a guess, I would've thought "Behind the Candelabra" would be the favorite, and it is a heavy favorite. "Political Animals" is somewhat interesting as that was originally a series, that got canceled, and the producers of the show decided to put that into the Miniseries category instead, a practice I discussed at one point a few months back prior to the nomination announcements that's growing in popularity. Anyway, I can't see "AHS: Asylum", really getting in, despite the majority of nominations for that show, they're mostly in technical categories, neither does "The Bible" have much chance, that's really just filling out the category this year. If there's an upset, I suspect it could be "Top of the Lake", but unlikely.
PREDICTION: "Behind the Candelabra"

LEAD ACTOR IN A MOVIE/MINISERIES
Benedict Cumberbatch-"Parade's End"-HBO
Matt Damon-"Behind the Candelabra"-HBO
Michael Douglas-"Behind the Candelabra"-HBO
Toby Jones-"The Girl"-HBO
Al Pacino-"Phil Spector"-HBO

Yeah, "Behind the Candelabra"'s probably gonna take a lot of these categories. Douglas is the heaviest favorite in the field, he's gonna win easily, there's not really much else to go over here.
PREDICTION: Michael Douglas-"Behind the Candelabra"

LEAD ACTRESS IN A MOVIE/MINISERIES
Jessica Lange-"American Horror Story: Asylum"-FX Networks
Laura Linney-"The Big C: Hereafter"-Showtime
Helen Mirren-"Phil Spector"-HBO
Elisabeth Moss-"Top of the Lake"-Sundance Channel
Sigourney Weaver-"Political Animals"-USA

Jessica Lange won this category last year for "American Horrror Story" is a minor favorite this year as well, which begets the question of whether or not it's actually a miniseries, but then again, Laura Linney's show went from Series to Miniseries, so who knows anymore. I haven't seen this season of "The Big C," but I do like that show in general, but I don't know, I think it's a longshot. Good groups of actors in these categories, there's hardly ever names anymore where we go, "Who's that?" we just know who they are, and the bigger names are finding more creative freedom and interesting character on televison, cable especially.
PREDICTION: Elisabeth Moss-"Top of the Lake"

SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A MOVIE/MINISERIES
Scott Bakula-"Behind the Candelabra"-HBO
James Cromwell-"American Horror Story: Asylum"-FX Networks
John Benjamin Hickey-"The Big C: Hereafter"-Showtime
Peter Mullan-"Top of the Lake"-Sundance Channel
Zachary Quinto-"American Horror Story: Asylum"-FX Networks

A lot of people were a little surprised Bakula got the nomination here, as opposed to his castmate Rob Lowe for "...Candelabra", so I think that's what's taking him out of this. Glad Hickey got nominated for his work finally for "The Big C..." he was underrated. Cromwell's the favorite, I think he's the probable winner, just based on the name and reputation, he's a great actor who rarely gets these kind of accolades, so this would be a good spot here.
PREDICTION: James Cromwell-"American Horror Story: Asylum"

SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A MOVIE/MINISERIES
Ellen Burstyn-"Political Animals"-USA
Sarah Paulson-"American Horror Story: Asylum"-FX Networks
Charlotte Rampling-"Restless"-Sundance Channel
Imelda Staunton-"The Girl"-HBO
Alfre Woodard-"Steel Magnolias"-Lifetime

Sarah Paulson is the heavy favorite here; she was nominated in this category last year for "Game Change" which she amazing in, I just saw that recently. Another good list of actors though. If there's anyone I think, people might be overlooking, Alfre Woodard always has a way of sneaking into categories like these, often for a lesser work, and pulling off an upset or two, 'cause of her amazing talent. If anybody can win for a Lifetime remake of "Steel Magnolias" it'd be her, but especially with only "AHS: Asylum", getting a Best Miniseries/Movie nomination of the bunch, I think it's more likely will take it.
PREDICTION: Sarah Paulson-"American Horror Story: Asylum"- She would've also been a preference 'cause I'm an obsessed "Studio 60..." fanatic, and I always want to see them succeed.

OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A MINISERIES, MOVIE OR DRAMATIC SPECIAL
Behind the Candelabra-Richaed LaGravenese-HBO
The Hour-Abi Morgan-BBC America
Parade's End-Tom Stoppard-HBO
Phil Spector-David Mamet-HBO
Top of the Lake-Jane Campion and Gerard Lee-Sundance Channel

Whew! Good group here. Hard to ever imagine any of these legendary writers losing anything, but "The Hour" and "Parade's End" are unlikely since they didn't get into the Best Miniseries/Movie Category. Mamet is beloved, he may be the greatest playwright of our time, and don't tell that to Tom Stoppard, but "Phil Spector" was about as equally derided as it was praised. So, I think that leaves it as Jane Campion vs Richard LaGravenesse. Tempting to think Campion could take it, but I think ties are going to "...Candelabra" this year.
PREDICTION: "Behind the Candelabra"-Richard LaGravenese

OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A MINISERIES/MOVIE OR DRAMATIC SPECIAL
Allison Anders-"Ring of Fire"-Lifetime"
Jane Campion and Garth Davis-"Top of the Lake"-'Part 5'-Sundance Channel
Julian Jarrold-"The Girl"-HBO
David Mamet-"Phil Spector"-HBO
Steven Soderbergh-"Behind the Candelabra"-HBO

Whew! This could've been the Oscars ballot on certain random years. This is an-eh, all-star list of director's here, and I want to remind people that "Lincoln" was almost eligible for these categories according to Spielberg, that would've been something. Well, "Ring of Fire" and "The Girl" are clearly out for not getting Best Movie/Miniseries nominations. Mamet literally wrote the book on directing, or at least one of them. Lumet wrote the other one, but I think it's between the two Oscar winners, and I think all signs are pointing to Soderbergh, and the odds and charts seem to be agreeing with me. If there is an upset, it would be Campion & Davis, but very slim chance indeed. 
PREDICTION: Steven Soderbergh-"Behind the Candelabra"