Thursday, September 29, 2016

MOVIE REVIEWS #124: "DEADPOOL", "ZOOTOPIA", "KNIGHT OF CUPS", "SONGS MY BROTHERS TAUGHT ME", "SPECTRE", "JOY", "ANOMALISA", "45 YEARS", "THE 100-YEAR-OLD MAN WHO CLIMBED OUT THE WINDOW AND DISAPPEARED", "SISTERS", "THE INTERN", "THE GIRL IN THE BOOK", "THE GIFT", "APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR", "EAST SIDE SUSHI", and "MAX (Yakim)" Whew!

Oh Christ,  (Deep exhale) Finally finished. Sorry for the delays everyone, but with all that time and the multiple blogs devoted to the Primetime Emmys, and still watching movies at my regular rate, and not to mention, the nine other careers and jobs I have outside of this thing that I devote my time to before I ever get to this, so, yes, we're back to movie reviews. And there's still a bunch of crap that I really should mention, but it seems like everyone else has talked about Donald Trump, so I'll keep that to my Facebook posts so that moronic toy-playing trolls can pretend to put words together and call them arguments, so let's get to the other things going on.

Yeah, I've seen Rolling Stone Magazine, Top 100 Television shows list, and I mostly found it-eh, mostly funny to be honest. It's not a bad list, in fact, I was happy that it included a few shows like "Broad City" and "Jeopardy!" and even a reality show, a terrible one, but understandable considering it's a music reality show, (Although they could've picked "The Voice" which is ten times better than "American Idol" ever was, but, oh well.) If there's anything I really hate about the list it's that the top four shows are drama series, which, no, comedy series are the ones that survive and remain relevant and popular over time, not dramas. And yeah, I stand by that "The Wire" isn't good enough to be on a Top 100 list; it's a good show, not a great one, certainly not #2. (Snorts)

I had some backlash over my Lena Dunham post, most of it, ironically enough focused more on the Facebook introduction, which, yeah, I admit, was a little convoluted. I try to keep those, creative but also interesting enough to grab everyone's attention, and I went a little too much towards the creative side on that one, admittedly. I think it still would've work conceptually, had I thought about it longer, and had other options other than just my trademark CAPITALIZATION OF WORDS, option, but yeah, in hindsight it could've been handled better, but other than that, I still find people who are still this vicious and mean-spirited and just wrong about Dunham and many other women, it's not just her not by a longshot, it's really disturbing sexism, and frankly, I'm not gonna stop calling it out. It's systematic of a bigger problem and frankly, that problem needs to be discussed and confronted.

Oh, I wrote down a note to mention something about Colin Kaepernick, um, probably had something to do with how it's stupid to actually have the national anthem at sporting events to begin with, which it is, by the way. And if you go back in history, the only reason it was ever played to begin with was because it was popular with baseball crowds, especially around wartime, and, you know, for pomp and circumstances I do get it at times, like major times, like the Super Bowl of something of that nature, but every game? Please. Sinead O'Connor once refused to play at a New Jersey arena because they required the national anthem to be played before every event there, which, A. O'Connor's from Ireland, so I can see why she got upset, but B. that's ridiculous, you don't need to do that; there's no reason to do it, and frankly there's so little reason for it, I don't get why protests by athletes during it haven't occurred more often. It's the first time I remember this happening since, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf in the '90s, and that was partially a Religious protest for him, as far as I can tell that's the only reason to have it, to protest the problems in the country. For the record, I think the Pledge of Allegiance before every class is also total bullshit, but whatever. (5-year-old pledging allegiance to a country, how the hell are we not more screwed up than we are?) I like it when it's the Olympics, at least that makes sense, since you're representing the country, but for a James Madison vs. Columbia field hockey game, or whatever, yeah, I don't know why anybody should give a damn. Anyway, I'm sure hundreds of other have already said something akin to that, so let's get to the movies I didn't get to review this week, and there were a bunch, so I'll try to be quick.

I watched "For a Woman", which I think was supposed this sorta, old-time, sweeping romance epic, eh, it was okay, I don't think it was anything special. Finally got around to "The Anniversary Party", a cute little film from Jennifer Jason Leigh and Alan Cumming, about one of the Los Angeles party nights that goes too far; probably a little too realistic for some, but I enjoyed it, it was funny and quirky, nice little independent film. I wish I could've written on Frederick Weisman's "National Gallery", he's receiving an Honorary Oscar soon for his lifetime of documentary filmmaking; I really love "At Berkeley" which I wish I had seen earlier than I did, so I could've included it for consideration for my OYL Awards and my Top Ten Lists, "National Gallery", is not that good. "At Berkeley" there was new things going on everywhere you looked, the 4 1/2 hours flew by fast, but the London National Gallery is cool, and there's some interesting behind the scenes stuff, but I still felt like I was on a tour of a museum  for most of it, and yeah, even at it's most entertaining, that can be really trying. It's not horrible or anything, I recommend it, but, yeah, be weary. "Character" was the 1997 Oscar Winner for Best Foreign Language Film, this one was from The Netherlands, but I don't think it was that good. It's one of those movie that's told to us through a conceit that, really makes no sense when you think about it. I think it would in book form, it's based on a famous Dutch novel, but as a film, you're just waiting around for what you know's gonna happen. It should've been a shorter film too, way too much sprawling. And finally, "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan", the latest from Wayne Wang, who's somebody I don't talk enough about, 'cause I really haven't seen his most noteworthy films. He's most noted for "The Joy Luck Club", and one of the few without-a-doubt Hollywood directors who's Asian-American, as in born in America, by the way, don't mention Ang Lee in the comments or something, he was the first big one to breakthrough. He's an okay filmmaker, and I like "Snow Flower..." although it is a bit of a mess at times with multiple stories all connected through the same characters narrative, it's kinda like if "The Fountain", sorta made sense and was written by Ron Bass. But, I enjoyed it, and I'll try to get to "The Joy Luck Club", one day. I-, I know I should, but I have a really low tolerance for Amy Tan sometimes, so.... God, has she ever written anything that wasn't just talking about her mother? I'm sure she has, but I'll be damned if I ever run into it.

Alright, I've held you guys up enough, with a got lots of big movie to review, films from this year, finally, Oscar winners and nominees from last year, and plenty more big films, so let's get to this supersized edition of our MOVIE REVIEWS!


DEADPOOL (2016) Director: Tim Miller (aka An Overpaid Tool)

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Oh-kay, I know I'm not a comic book guy, but who the hell is "Deadpool"?! I mean, are we just making comic book movies out of any damn thing now. I mean, no I don't and didn't exactly know every one of the Avengers, but I had heard of "The Avenger"; up until now, I've at least heard of every single one of the comic book adaptations until now. I knew who Captain America was, I knew Spider-Man of course, I know the Incredible Hulk, I knew Green Lantern, I knew of Iron Man, these are characters that have long histories and are ingrained into pop culture; this is the first time since "Daredevil" that I've honestly found myself at a loss of who the hell this superhero is! Okay, I really thought "Daredevil" was a great film, so that didn't bother me so much. Well, maybe I can go before that, "Blade" I never heard of. And apparently, "Steel" was not only a superhero, but I don't even remember that movie when it came out? Okay, maybe there's been a few ones that I was clueless on going in, but yeah, this is a Marvel film, and the first one recently that has completely left me clueless. I-, came in completely blind on it. so, what makes "Deadpool" interesting enough to have a movie in this universe?

Huh, well the opening credits seem to be some sort of weird indication that this is a little stranger than what I'm used to. (Wait, I'm "used to" these superhero movies now; that can't be the right way to put that. There's gotta be another way to say that; I'm definitely not "used to" them.) A little darker, a little more, self-aware....

(Couple hours later)

Okay, this is definitely one of the more unique films I've ever seen. Apparently "Deadpool" is Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), who I though was Troy Aikman's backup quarterback for the last few years of his career, and he is in the X-Men universe, which I hope is different from the rest of the Marvel universe, 'cause that would be stupid, praising the world of superpowers in "The Avengers" from the Mutants who are fighting for civil rights in the "X-Men", so I hope that's not a thing. (Leave your comments below, Comic Book People) okay, he's particularly murderous and violent and the movie begins with a comical fight with police and multiple flashback about how Deadpool became so. He was always a hitman of sorts, and before that he was Special Forces. Everything was fine, he had a grungy garage, he had his favorite bar, where he can be his anti-social self and occasionally pick up a chick or two or bet on who's gonna be the next person to die; I can think of some strip clubs in Vegas like that. He then falls in love with a local hooker, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) who is delightfully just as egotistical a sociopath as he is, and they engage is some wonderfully eccentric and dubious sexual practice. Deadpool likes pegging apparently, except during lent. (Apparently Deadpool is a Christian as well, huh.) As Deadpool mentions, this film is a love story. And like all great love stories, somebody gets cancer. (Wait, that "Love Story" was terrible, what the hell is he talking about? I'll stand by that, "Love Story" was terrible and "Daredevil" was damn-near great.) Anyway, with death being near, he decides to take up an experimental treatment by somebody who he clearly shouldn't have done that from,  Ajax (Ed Skrein) and it makes him, self-healing, although it also heavily deforms him and apparently what Ajax was doing is essentially inserting a mutant gene into him, to make him a mutant. (Wait, mutants are made, in this universe! Okay, hold on, I've- (Deep breath pause) I've got like a thousand questions; I thought the whole point of X-Men was that they were born mutant, that's why...- okay, you know what, I don't care.) Anyway, the movie is just strange and fun, and different. It's an R-rated, comedy and it's frankly a breath of fresh air in this wave of comic book movies that seem to never end. Yeah, it's way, way too self-aware but you know at this moment in time, I appreciate it. I don't know if I"ll feel the same like five or ten years from now, I'll admit and I don't care if Cable's in the sequel, hell I don't care if there is a sequel, although I do appreciate the John Hughesian way he informed us of that, but for the moment this is just a unique and fun little venture that I can appreciate.


ZOOTOPIA (2016) Directors: Byron Howard and Rich Moore; Co-Director: Jared Bush

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"Zootopia" takes place in a world where animals have become tamed and civilized instead of humans, because Disney is still just fucking with anybody who buys that Disney Universe theory. Wait, this is a Disney movie? Yeah, that was a Disney logo, which is weird, 'cause this movie does seem to feel and resemble more the vain of most Dreamworks movies but anyway-, the title comes from the name of the idyllic big city where all the animals predator and prey live side-by-side with each other and in their own habitat-based areas and it's where a young country rabbit, Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) wants to become the first rabbit on the police force. She achieves this, although she finds out that she's not particularly welcomed or for that matter, her work is not particularly satisfying at first. She's resorted to meter maid duty by Chief Bobo (Idris Elba) and she gets conned out of money by a conniving fox Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman, in a well-cast role this week) who is a hustler, his main one being, reselling ice cream as frozen ice pops. Not thrilled at these developments, she eventually makes her first capture and arrest as she takes out a weasel, Duke Weaselton (Alan Tudyk, doing an amazing Steve Buscemi impression) who seemed to be stealing onions from a store. This earns her enough respect from Bobo, along with some nudging from Bellweather (Jenny Slate) the Assistant to Mayor Lionheart (J.K. Simmons) who's got her back as she says, "Us small animals needs to stick together" and she gets 48 hours to investigate one of the numerous missing mammal cases that has been bogging down the police, in this case, a search for a missing young otter. There's little on the case, but she manages to get Nick to help her sort through the underworld. This leads eventually to Mr. Big (Maurice LaMarche) the local crime boss, and if you don't know the joke that's about to happen due to his name, well, congratulations on recently learning how to read. Mr. Big informs them that the Otter sudden started going crazy and attacked his limo driver, Jerry (John DiMaggio) who then himself soon starts to go through some kind of primal attack phase and attacks both Nick and Judy, seemingly without reason. However, he goes missing after they escape and are unable to turn him into the police. I'm worried, about how much I should give away from here on in, it gets into some of the stranger metaphorical aspects from here and, (Sigh) basically a debate arises about whether or not the predators are actually capable of being tamed and this causes some protests, many of them led by a famous pop singer, Gazelle (Shakira, don't think she's that important to the movie) I'd insert the arbitrary "Insert Donald Trump joke" line here, but honestly it's so blatantly obvious that I don't even think I should do that. I have no idea whether some of this was intentional and it didn't help that I watched this on the day of the first Presidential debate, but, symbolism aside, at it's core, this is actually a pretty routine and basic cop story. Judy Hopps is a good base character, but yeah, there's a lot of animal jokes and puns at the corners of the screen. This isn't a bad movie by any means, in fact, I think I would really enjoy a sequel or even a television series based on it; I suspect it would remind me of something like "Bonkers" only in a more fantastical world, which might actually be more appropriate. (Yeah, I liked "Bonkers" what about it?) That said, the villain reveal was predictable and yeah, I'm not sure we needed a story with so much subtext going on and they beat the moral into the ground, there's a lot of bad, obvious dialogue about it, and to be honest, it's way too simplistic a moral. As an animated movie, it's perfectly fine though, and it's even a decent detective story so I can't necessarily complain too much but this could've definitely been better. And I wasn't crazy about the long music sequence at the end, which, I don't know, maybe it'll get the movie a Best Song Oscar nomination although I was mostly unimpressed by it. I guess the appeal of the movie are the jokes about who does what in this animal Utopia, well, "Zootopia" and some of those I groaned at, like the sloths working at the DMV; I don't know about you, but I always going to the DMV when I'm there, but, yeah, sure, DMV is slow jokes, whatever, but enough of them do hit. I guess I'm very mixed, but it's a recommendation, but yeah, I expect a lot better from Disney.


KNIGHT OF CUPS (2016) Director: Terrence Malick

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There's a smug foreign musician character in "Knight of Cups" played by Antonio Banderas who talks about women as though they're ice cream flavors. It's not a new line, I've heard it many times before from similar characters and I was ready to dismiss it immediately as the ramblings of an egocentric womanizer, but then I thought about it for a second. Most of my closest friends are female, in fact quite a few of them are, I'm not exactly a romantic the way Rick (Christian Bale) the protagonist hero in "Knight of Cups" is, but, the analysis that, we want certain women, based on the mood were in, that's, that's not untrue I hate to say. There's certain people I'd want around me when I want to talk, or when I want to go on an adventure, or who I call for late-night booty, or who I call to just hang and have deep conversations with, and that's true of everybody, we distinguish the people in our lives in many different ways, many different parts of our lives are separated and represented by those people in our lives. I think that's ultimately what "Knight of Cups" is about. I think, at least that's what I got out of it. It's not like Malick has ever given a damn about narrative before and this time, he might as well have completely abandoned it if he in fact didn't, but there are some clues. For starters, the title, for those who aren't familiar, Knight of Cups is a tarot card. Now, I'm borrowing from Wikipedia here, I'm a little rusty on my tarot, but the knight of cups is usually described as somebody who is constantly bored, and in constant need of stimulation. He's also artistic and refined and he represents a person who is amiable, intelligent, full of high principles but he is a dreamer who can easily be persuaded or discouraged. Yeah, this is probably the tarot cards that represents most actors, performers, models, artists, musicians, etc. and if he's upright, he can represent change and new romantic excitements and if he's upside-down, he's an unreliable and reckless fraud who can't discern where truth and lies ends. (Insert your own Donald Trump joke here) That explains a lot of the actions and the character, but tarot in literature in general has a totally separate meaning, when it comes up, it's usually a sign of fraud and false prophets in general, basically, very little good comes when a tarot reader comes into a piece of literature and the person who goes to them for guidance, is usually damned by it. The movie swings widely between Los Angeles, Las Vegas, the desert, mostly experiences in Rick's life, usually with whatever woman he's hanging out at usually it involves some kind of spiritual or sexual journey, or both. Other times, it's just escapist fun. What's he escaping from? Mostly his family, a brother, Barry (Wes Bentley) who seems to mostly be lost in the world, reflecting upon Malick's own brother who committed suicide most suspect. There's also his parents, Joseph and Ruth (Brian Dennehy and Cherry Jones) as well as his job, he's a Hollywood screenwriter who seem completely disinterested in this chosen profession. Another interesting take for Malick, who has spent decades between movies at times. It's actually kinda amazing he's put out this much, three movies in the last five years, on top of a documentary and two more films in production, one's already completed. He seems to have sudden had an incredible burst of creative output and perhaps "Knight of Cups" is his explanation of what he's been doing most of the time when he spent it not making films. Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but it doesn't surprise me that it starts with quotes from "Pilgrim's Progress" and a scene at a tarot reader with another in his long line of exotic playmates, and by the end, he's in a church, talking to a priest. Does either one lead to answers, or is it all apart of the search. Either way, I found "Knight of Cups" fascinating. It's not "The Tree of Life" or even the underrated "To the Wonder", but it's pure stream of consciousness, it's thoughts and memories divided by ideas on those thoughts and memories, and just like all our they're pretty random. If you all knew about the tangents I go on when I write these reviews that I end up deleting before I publish you'd be thinking I'm going off on sound and fury signifying nothing too. Hmm, sound and fury signifying nothing, kinda like, what you're experiencing when your getting your tarot cards read?


SONGS MY BROTHERS TAUGHT ME (2016) Director: Chloe Zhao

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In some ways, "Songs My Brothers Taught Me" seems more like a mosiac of randomness than "Knight of Cups" does sometimes, although the film it probably has the most in common with is Peter Bogdanovich's "The Last Picture Show". Still though, there were a few narrative threads that the audience could grab ahold of in that film, "Songs...", is much more sporadic, although that's not a bad thing. The movie, the first feature from Writer/Director Chloe Zhao, takes place on the Lakota Reservation, although it's a bit of a stretch calling this a Native-American film since Zhao is actually Chinese-American that was born in Beijing, but then again, there's so few movies about Native Americans, that I'm more-or-less inclined to count this. The movie does have touches that make this feel more like folklore than reality. The main character is named Johnny Winters (John Reddy), it sounds like a name that could've come out of an old western; I almost feel like "Shane" might show up out of nowhere in this film. Johnny is one of 25 kids from their father who had nine wives and now, he's been killed in a fire and the kids are basically on their own, especially since Johnny's mother, Lisa (Irene Bedard) is a born-again Christian, who's barely able to take care of herself and has abandoned her family before, so basically the movie is about how the kids take care of themselves. Johnny for instance is a bootlegger and works in some other illegal activities. His girlfriend Aurelia (Taysha Fuller) is an aspiring lawyer. There's a great scene in a classroom where kids ponder who they think they'll be when they grow up. There's some other relatives and friends that come in and out of the movie, a lot of them are former convicts, few of them are rarely in the most ideal circumstances for themselves. Actually, now that I think about, the movie almost feels like Richard Linklater's "Waking Life", just drifting for one idea and one character to the next and occasionally it focuses in on something or someone it finds interesting. It's narrated by Johnny Winters at times, but that's there mostly for mood and occasionally. Some have compared it to a documentary and yeah, it could be. There's not many professional actors here, and a few people play characters similar to their real names. It's an easy way to get authenticity but it works. "Songs My Brothers Taught Me", is one of the few entries into a modern look at a struggling, dying Native American reservation, and as a film, it's a beautiful mosaic, both mythic in tone and scope, but utterly brutal in it's depiction. This is a very impressive debut feature.


SPECTRE (2015) Director: Sam Mendes

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It feels like yesterday when Daniel Craig was named as the new James Bond, but amazingly "Spectre" is now his fourth film, and it sure feels much seems it will be his last as most of the rumors and news seems to indicate, although who knows for sure. It does feel like it's the end of this reboot era of James Bond; "Spectre" can easily be confused with the most traditional James Bond film yet that Daniel Craig's done, and let's be clear, it's been a great run for James Bond and this strange attempt to reboot and start the franchise over from the literal beginning. I might argue that "Casino Royale" might be the best James Bond movie, it's right up there with "Goldfinger" in my mind, and it's interesting that they did make a somewhat unusual decision to connect all these Craig movies. "Quantum of Solace" is definitely the weakest of the bunch and not a good movie, but I can forgive it as an experimental take on the Bond franchise and with "Skyfall", another damn-near great Bond film, and another experimental one that focused also more on M than on Bond, himself, was a link movie that could conceivably be the end of the origin story of James Bond and now we come to the more to "Spectre", is this the end? Well, we get a lot of the traditional Bond tropes here, the complicated relationship with, well in this case, the new M (Joseph Fiennes) who's taken over for Dame Judi Dench, although her character is not forgotten, and we even see for the first time, the Craig Bond going to Q (Ben Winshaw) for gadgets and supplies for the next mission, which Bond is not technically supposed to be going on, but he's convinced Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) to help him out, and I love how Q is actually more of a computer and hacking expert as opposed to just being the gadget guy in think iteration, especially since the entire movie is based around the idea of privacy and a MI-6 merger, at the behest of one of the lesser villains in this film, C, (Andrew Scott) who is determined to eliminate the Double-0 program in favor of information gathering and drones. He's the weak link as there's no two sides to him. Bond gets a Bond girl too in this one that's brought along for the ride, Dr. Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux, which is about as obvious a casting choice this film could've made) the daughter of a former enemy of Bond, Mr. White, (Jesper Christiansen, who's appeared in a couple of these recent Bond films as well) who's life is in danger by "Spectre", Soon however, Bond's worldwide investigating and searching leads to Spectre,  a secret group of international supervillains, led by [CHARACTER NAME DELETED] (Christoph Waltz, in a shockingly even more obvious casting choice than Lea Seydoux's) who is pretty perfect here to be honest. If ever there was an actor who was born to be a Bond villain, it's Christoph Waltz. I'm not sure this is a special Bond film, it's definitely as intense and entertaining as the best of them, but yeah, this movie seems to be trying to have it all. It's continuing the same story from the previous films, actually making it more the focus and elaborating on it more than ever in fact, but it's also clearly, pushing the James Bond character and persona back into it's older tropes. I don't quite know what to make of it, but I enjoyed it quite a bit. It feels like a great piece of ridiculous popcorn action entertainment the way Bond movies are, so I guess it works here, and works well. Sam Mendes was always a strange choice to take over the franchise but I can't say there's anything wrong with him as a director here, but the action makes sense and continues onward, it's not simply Bond's story, there's numerous other characters on both good and evil's side that are growing and fascinating, the new characters work as well, and the action scenes are intense Craig's great stoneface reactions even during the most death-defying and comedic of moments, is quite enjoyable. It might not be the best Bond, and maybe not the way I'd like to see Craig leave, if he does, the franchise, I don't think I can ask more of a Bond movie than I got here.


JOY (2015) Director: David O. Russell

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So there's quite a few things I like to believe I'm capable or have in fact done at some point, but "inventor" is definitely not one of them. I consider myself creative and most people who know me will agree with that, but actually inventing something, a product, something that's physical, built with one's hands, um, yeah, I gotta be honest, that's something that I've never fully been able to accomplish, not even in the slightest. I can't even pretend to claim that I came up with an idea before others came up with that idea and patented it. I-eh, it's truly embarrassing the few attempts I've ever tried to make in the world of inventing, so I have a great respect for people who actually are physically able to take an abstract idea and make it a concrete reality and are willing to file all those patents and copyrights and follow through on the business side of things. So yeah, I can almost guarantee that I will never be on "Shark Tank". So, for that reason alone, I have an affection for "Joy" David O. Russell's latest feature. The film is the story of Joy Mangano (Oscar-nominee Jennifer Lawrence) the inventor of the self-wringing mop. The Miracle Mop, which allows you to wring out without having to squeeze it yourself, which is exactly the kind of idea I never would've been able to have, truly genius. She was a single mother, who's husband Tony (Edgar Ramirez) lived in their basement as he struggled away being a lounge singer, her mother Terry (Virginia Madsen, who still get enough decent work) sits at home most days taping, rewatching and being obsessed with her favorite soap operas. (Man, is it nice to see Susan Lucci on a movie screen, ain't it?) Her father, Rudy (Robert De Niro) runs a mechanic shop has also suddenly been forced to move back in after breaking up with his last girlfriend, only to dive right into another, Trudy (Isabella Rossellini). If it seems like I'm describing a different movie, uh-yeah, it does seem like a discombobulated mess at times, "Joy". Russell's always been a bit tonally-erratic in his films, even his best films, and that's the thing that makes his so special as a director, but it's also what makes him so erratic and this is one of the erratic ones. I'm recommending it, because of Lawrence's performance, as well as the performances of others and the parts that are intriguing as done really well, but it's still a bit of a mess overall. Bradley Cooper shows up, as he does in Russell movies with Lawrence now, as Neil Walker, although I don't quite understand how his character is written. After they're unable to sell the product to other mop companies or get into retailers on their own, Joy takes a shot on getting the product on a little-known cable company based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania called Quality Value Convenience. Yeah, I didn't know that's what QVC stood for either, so I made sure to write it down. Actually this look inside the early days of QVC is quite interesting, and we get some glimpse of their process, like how their early idea to have celebrities branding and selling items basically invented that empire. There's a slightly surreal cameo where we see Melissa Rivers, portraying Joan Rivers, shockingly well, and Joy's fight to get her product on the network, portrayed as she wants it done, even if that means selling it herself. There's also a fight she has with the manufacturers that could've been a whole other movie, but that gets settled quickly. Honestly, it's worth a watch, but this is a mess of a movie. The structure is all weird, the Great Grandmother (Diane Ladd) narrator feels like it was from an earlier draft and just never got written out. "Joy" is a nice little story, but it is a little story, it's enough of one for Russell and co-writer Annie Mumolo, who co-wrote "Bridesmaids" with Kristen Wiig, to take and twist using his typical eccentricities to make pop on the screen, but it's not really enough of a story to make a movie. I'm torn on this one, but I guess I'll recommend it, for mostly being good despite that issue, but yeah, this is one of Russell's weaker films. It's still a million times better than "Accidental Love" though.


ANOMALISA (2015) Directors: Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson

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I had heard that Charlie Kaufman had started working in the world of animation for awhile, he worked on the series, "Moral Oral", but until now I haven't seen his work in that medium and this introduction to it, is, well, it's definitely him and definitely unique. At first it doesn't quite seem that way, in fact for much of the movie I wondered why he was even bothering with the animation; this is a film that technically could very easily be shot and made with live-action. Technically, it could, but still, there was something going on. I didn't bother looking into the voice actors before looking into the film but I started realizing something weird about them very quickly. The main character, Richard Stone (David Thewlis) would run into or talk to people as he left the airport and checked into his Cincinnati hotel room, The Fregoli, and it was startling how, everybody seemed to sound the same. Especially the women all seemed to have the same voice. Eventually I realized what was going on, and indeed everybody sounded the same, for a reason; it was the same voice actor, (Tom Noonan) playing "Everybody Else", and this includes Richard's wife and kid, a taxi driver, a waiter, a worker at a sex shop, even an ex-girlfriend named Bella that he meets up and has a drink with, in a desperate attempt to...-, well I probably shouldn't say what he's searching for. Actually I probably couldn't say if I tried. He's in town because he's a motivational speaker 'cause he wrote some business self-help book about customer service of all things and he's surprisingly popular because of it. Still, why that choice? Well, I can think one Charlie Kaufman scene that that reminds me of, that great scene in "Being John Malkovich" where Malkovich has gone into his own portal, although there's also something else from that movie that's he's brought into here, puppets. His choice of animation is stop-motion, and yeah, that sounds about right. Everything is stop-motion, including a really surreal scene where they recreate a scene of "My Man Godfrey" that Richard watches on TV in his room for a moment. (That's really impressive when you realize that they didn't have to do that.) He eventually does leave the confines of his hotel room, and he goes and hangs out with a couple girls staying at the hotel Emily and Lisa (Jennifer Jason Leigh). Lisa, is the one that the movie is titled after and yes, she's the only other performer in the movie and it's obvious to both Richard and us that she's someone special. I won't explain why she is, but it's when the movie really shines when the two of them end up together in his room and have a sweet and sensitive flirtation that leads to their one-night stand. (And yes, it's shown, the one-night stand, this is the first R-rated movie to receive an Oscar nomination for Outstanding Animated Feature) There's a lot in this movie, a lot of implications and dreamy nightmarish surreal imagery that feel right out of the most nightmarish Kaufman scenarios he's ever come up with, and yet strangely, if you were to ask me what exactly is "Anomalisa" about, I'd probably tell you that it's basically about the moments between these two people at this exact moment when they're meeting each other and nothing else. Not even necessarily the implications that they're shared experiences entails, not even necessarily the personal demons that Richard's fighting in his mind that cause him to have the breakdown at his speaking engagement. Strangely, the movie this may actually most remind me of is Sofia Coppola's "Lost in Translation" also about two strangers in the same foreign hotel who shared their time with each other while they have the few moments together they have. That's probably what truly makes Lisa such an amazing character, especially in Richard's eyes, 'cause they simply empathize with each other, or at least, she can empathize with him and he wants desperately to empathize with her, or somebody. It actually makes sense, with how we see the world in general, everybody can essentially be blurs who we sort through and disregard until we get to the person we really want to be with and learn about. In terms of Kaufman's most famous themes, human nature and the comedy thereof, as and the constant struggles of connecting the thoughts in our mind to the realities of the world, this movie is ironically his most bare and straightforward; even the gimmicks aren't really gimmicks that he's imploring here. It's probably the animation that helps remind us just how real these missed connections and our distrustful paranoia thoughts actually are. You know, so many movies, even great movies, I can watch and experience and enjoy and they don't necessarily stick with you afterwards, but "Anomalisa" is a movie that I've done nothing but think about ever since I saw it, and whether you appreciate or even like it after seeing it, I'm pretty sure most will be thinking about it as well.


45 YEARS (2015) Director: Andrew Haigh

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I've spent a couple days now thinking back on "45 Years", the latest from Andrew Haigh, who made previously made the wonderful, "Weekend" which took place, over a weekend and gave us a glimpse into the sexual and personal escapades into a couple's life, both men and both of them, pretty young comparably, in their mid-to-late twenties. I remember liking that film, but I remember the tone of that movie more than anything else. He also has done the critically-acclaimed HBO comedy series, "Looking", which I've only seen an episode or two of and I don't really think I got a grasp of that film. It's somewhere between "Queer as Folk" and "Girls", but I couldn't tell you where on that spectrum it is. So, he is interested in the personal dynamics of relationships and, in general that's always gonna be a good place to be, there's always gonna be interesting aspect to explore there, but it's still a little strange that he jumped to looking at the relationship between a much older couple in "45 Years". (He himself, at the time of making the movie, he himself was only in his early '40s.) Kate and Geoff Mercer (Oscar-nominee Charlotte Rampling, his first nomination, which is wrong on a 100 different levels and Tom Courtenay) are celebrating their 45th Anniversary in a week, and it's a big celebration. They were supposed to have this huge party for their 40th, but it had to be cancelled because Geoff was going through a medical scare at the time, so their making up for it here. A week before, Geoff gets a letter about an ex-girlfriend, Katya. a few years before they met, Katya fell into an ice crevice off of a Swiss mountain, frozen in ice and now, they believe to have found her. Ice melting or whatever, they've found her frozen preserve body. Kate's never heard or known about Katya until now, and ever since the news, he's started reflecting on her more, and it's starting to infiltrate their marriage and giving Kate second thoughts and realizations as they inch closer to their Anniversary party in a week. Geoff's behavior starts to change. He starts seeking out old photos and writing of Katya, even old scents. He claims he's over her and is still in love with Kate, but Kate isn't so sure. Rampling's seen in every shot of the movie and it's a really good, subtle performance. The movie itself..., well, the movie it reminds me the most of is oddly, "The Dead", John Huston's last film, which was based on the James Joyce short story of the same name. That movie was also about, essentially a couple who share in a revelation one of them has after it's revealed that one of them was in love with someone else who passed before they met and they never actually go over their passing. That revelation was at the end of the movie though, here it's at the beginning and therefore it doesn't just reflect on the revelation it really dives into all the thoughts and realizations that something like that can mean, to have spent one's whole life not realizing that the person they love and have spent their entire life with was in love with someone else, or maybe was never in love with you? Or was never the person you thought they were to begin with. That's what makes "45 Years" stick with you; it's explores that thought, but still leaves us pondering it's implications, long after the party is over.


THE 100-YEAR-OLD MAN WHO CLIMBED OUT THE WINDOW AND DISAPPEARED (2015) Director: Felix Herngren

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Most of the reviews, both positive and negative I read about, (Deep breath inhale) "The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared" (Exhale), seem to be insistent on comparing the movie to "Forrest Gump". Honestly, that wasn't a movie that came to my mind when I was watching it; it actually kinda reminded me more of one of those sprawling whimsical foreign movie that maybe Lasse Hallstrom used to make, although definitely more like one of his lesser ones. I do get the comparison to "Forrest Gump" though, but that movie, say what you want about it, it never felt like it lagged, it always went from one thing to the other fairly smoothly. "The 100-Year-Old Man..." goes from one thing to another, but it's also gets sidetracked quite a bit. The centenarian is Allan Karlsson (Robert Gustafsson) who was spending his twilight years at a nursing home along with his pet dog Molotov until he was killed by a fox. He then decided to blow up the fox, which he does and then, he climbs out the window and heads for the train station. While there, he steals a suitcase and then takes the next train to where nobody in particular is and steals a suitcase that a skinhead named Bulten (Simon Sappenen) insisted he watch for him. Eventually, the police, lead by Chief Investigator Aronsson (Ralph Carlsson) eventually realize he's missing and now it's a chase movie, except it's not. It's part quirky chase movie and part faux biopic where we see Allan throughout the years, from as young as nine, and seeing his father get killed after trying to start a political movement after inventing the condom, to his fascination with dynamite that led to prison sentences and then joining the Spanish-American War where he befriended Franco (Koldo Losada) to crossing the Ocean and eventually working on the Manhattan Project, 'cause again, he's an explosion expert/enthusiast and it does go from major historical event to major historical event from there. Honestly, I found most of these ventures, interesting, I think I preferred the bumbling attempts to catch him as they chase him as opposed to these little vignettes, although they had their moments. I'm told that Robert Gustafsson is considered one of the great comedians in Sweden and this film became one of the most successful Swedish films of all-time, ranking 3rd in worldwide box office, only behind two of the "The Millennium Trilogy" movies. The movie was nominated for an Oscar for it's makeup, which is actually quite subtle and impressive, although the last time a movie got nominated most notably for making a young comic actor look like he was a thousand years old was "Bad Grandpa", so I hope to god that doesn't mean that Robert Gustafsson is Sweden's version of Johnny Knoxville. As to the movie; I was bored through most of it. There's two sides to the movie, the modern-day escape and chase and the historical comedic fumblings through life part, and neither one really fully engrasped me. Eh, maybe this works on some level better over in Europe, but the two clashing movies for me, just never really gelled.


SISTERS (2015) Director: Jason Moore

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Well, let's start with the obvious, "Sisters" is a much better movie than the previous Tina & Amy film collaboration, "Baby Mama", which, admittedly I didn't think was horrible but it certainly wasn't a special or memorable piece of comedy and didn't show either of them at their comedic best. Hell, Poehler was playing a teenage girl in that film despite being in her late thirties when the film was made and while she was talented enough and did look young enough to pull that off, it didn't seem natural and frankly that conceit works better in an "SNL" sketch than a feature film. But, here, both of them coming off multiple successful films and television shows and co-host the Golden Globes three or four times together, yeah, they basically already are "Sisters" in our mind, comedy-wise, talent-wise, backgrounds, they're pretty much paired together forever as though they are sisters. Hell, they even won the Guest Actress in a Comedy Series Emmy together this year. So just on that conceit, I'm practically already half-way to recommending "Sisters", and the movie itself is enough to put it over. This time Amy is Maura Ellis, the more adult, in terms of behavior at least of the Ellis sisters. She's a long-divorced nurse who helps with the homeless and whoever else needs it whenever she can and basically spent her life as the party mom, especially to her sister Kate (Fey) who is the fuck-up. She's had multiple jobs and homes, and none of them have ever set, and she's so barely capable of being a single parent to her much more mature daughter Haley (Madison Davenport) who herself spends all her time away from her daughter, staying at more mature friends and relatives, waiting for her to graduate college or her mother to get herself together, whichever comes first. Then, they find out that their parents, Bucky and Deana (James Brolin and Dianne Wiest) are selling their childhood home and both of them suddenly find their way home to Orlando to convince them to stop. They're already too late as they've moved into a retirement community. With a few days before the final inspections, they decide to go out with a bang, and throw one last legendary Ellis Sister party, for all their old hometown friends. Essentially, this is any movie where the parents are gone for the weekend and the teenagers throw the party that eventually destroys the house. but this is a good twist on it. You get all the great comedy actors around to play their high school friends and enemies, most of whom are well into their adult lives, and decide to spend this night to put the kids to bed early and have that one last sex, drugs and rock'n'roll night of debauchery, or as close as they can get. This is actually surprisingly fairly common when old high school classmates get together, I can say that from experience, although, no, houses don't usually get this irrevocably destroyed, but then again, I don't think there were any "Sisters" quite like these two. There's some great supporting work from Samantha Bee, Maya Rudolph, John Leguizamo, Bobby Moynihan, Rachet Dratch, Kate McKinnon, most strangely enough John Cena, again, boy after this and "Trainwreck" it's really startling just how good a comic actor Cena can be. I'm not even being facetious, I'm half-expecting to do a great job hosting the Oscars in a year or two at the rate he's going. (Shrugs) Who knew? "Sisters" isn't anything deep or great but it's certainly a lot of great fun and it's just some great comediennes at the top of their game and, well, not necessarily "having fun", 'cause it's not a "fun" movie, like an "Ocean's Eleven" or something, they take it seriously the drama and the comedy and it's just a great showcase for some of the best in the game do what they do best and doing it together, which they all do better at than anyone else as well.


THE INTERN (2015) Director: Nancy Meyers

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Wow, it's been quite a while since Nancy Meyers sprung on us her latest tightly-wrapped secret project, six years. That's by far the longest break she's ever had between films. She has a tendency to be a bit of a punchline in the same way that say, Nora Ephron was before she passed away a few years ago, and it's- it's not hard to see why. Both of them seemed to write and sometimes direct these very idyllic light comedic; "idyllic" in the sense that they usually focus on what some might consider the upper yuppie crowd of elites who don't have real problems and seem to have houses and lives that are generally way out of proportion to their occupations. They're fantasies for the most part and that's not inherently a bad thing; I myself actually quite like a lot of her films. Her last film, "It's Complicated" was a bit of a guilty pleasure for me, cause Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin and Meryl Street really sold their performances and characters, and I believe there's a lot to like about "The Holiday", it's got some problems sure, but I think it holds up pretty well. She even started off her career pretty well, getting an Oscar nomination for co-writing "Private Benjamin" with Charles Shyer among other and they collaborated on their project for a while until Meyers went into directing and is probably more accurate person to compare to Meyers. Shyer's not a bad director by any means, but you can legitimately call him a hack; he's got more than a few modern-day remakes on his resume, Decent ones, like "Alfie" and both "Father of the Bride" films, and he was a producer on Nancy Meyers's first directing project, the remake of "The Parent Trap", the one with Lindsay Lohan. So yeah, they fit together in more ways than one, and they shouldn't step too far outside of this light comedy realm, especially if you've seen Shyer's worst film, "The Affair of the Necklace", yikes. But, back to Meyers, and like I said, I don't really hate a lot of her films, but I think it wasn't until "The Intern" did I really kinda realize what her actual problem is as a writer. Well, "problem" is the wrong word, but her limitation, is that, she's not really writing drama as she is, "Adventure". I know, "Adventure films" and Nancy Meyers don't seem to go together, but think it through, "Private Benjamin" a young privileged white woman makes a rash decision to join the U.S. Army and then, things happen. Her second screenplay, "Irreconcilable Differences", a young Drew Barrymore sues her parents for emancipation and things happens, (Sometimes these films end up weirdly prophetic). "Baby Boom", A workaholic professional Diane Keaton suddenly has to deal with taking care of a baby, and things happen. About the only time she sticks to a formula is when it's basically already provided for her, like the screenplays for the "Father of the Bride" remakes. everything else is basically a situation that's extended into a film. "Something's Gotta Give" is a pretty good example, arguably her best and most famous directing work, a lot happens in that movie, and there's multiple romances and partner switching, although strangely none of it involving a Frances McDormand character that has absolutely nothing to do, not quite sure how she pulled that off, but what it's really about is this one thing that happened on a weekend, this old Jack Nicholson character had a heart attack. The whole movie revolves around that, even the Diane Keaton character writes the weekend into a play in the film, but basically the movie is a long game of "Yes, and" that seemed to be her answer to "As Good As It Gets". And then, the young doctor comes in and starts hitting on the mother, and then, she's having an affair, and then,... "The Holiday", two women switch houses for a couple weeks, Meryl Streep revels in the adventure of dating two men, they're not about conflict, like most drama and most comedy should be, they're about, going on this little journey that these characters never went on before and that's it. That can be good, but there's a reason why it's possible you've seen every movie I've mentioned that she's been apart of and this is the first time you've thought about them ever since seeing them. "The Intern" is maybe the worst iteration of this yet, it's about a retired old man, Ben (Robert De Niro), who decides, to take a job as a Senior Intern, emphasis on "Senior" at an internet startup company, more specifically working as the personal assistant to the company's boss, Jules (Anne Hathaway) a young entrepreneur who runs of those non-traditional office environments. More relaxed dress code, open space, she rides her bike all over the office to get in exercise and get from place-to-place quicker, very hands on approach, but you know, it's definitely more Zappos than it is Wall Street. And there's a lot of good potential here with this idea, there's a good deal that can come of this, on both sides and De Niro is underrated as a comic actor and Hathaway is more-than-capable of this material, and we get some, but not a lot. Mostly we end up getting a nice touching little friendship bloom, but the only real pieces of drama are about whether or not Jules will hire a CEO to help run her company. No, I'm dead serious, that's the conflict, her conflict, "Do I hire a CEO?". Well, I won't spoil whether she does or not, but that's-, I mean, I like inner conflict as much as the next guy but, holy hell, that's not dramatic. It's so not dramatic that we don't get a better sense of why this is a conflict until much later in the movie when we dig into her personal life, involving her house-husband Matt (Anders Holm) who we find out is having an affair. Ben gets a lovelife too, as he starts going with another one of the older co-workers, Fiona (Rene Russo) but that's a pretty minor subplot. There's some nice backstory about Ben that we learn about, he used to work for a phone book company for instance, and he's been bored since his wife passed, but yeah, there's nothing going on in this movie. It's a fun little adventure for Ben to peak on this world for a little bit, and make some friends and do some minor work for a new kind of company, and learn how to use a modern computer, but he doesn't really change during the movie, and it's hard to even say Jules changes too. Like I said, it's a nice little adventure, and sometimes that's enough to carry a film, you need more than this to make a good one.


THE GIRL IN THE BOOK (2015) Director: Marya Cohn

✰✰✰1/2



The strength of "The Girl in the Book" is that it's story is told well, not that it's told in any particularly different or unique way. It's flaw is that, in hindsight it feels rather simplistic. Now, that's not inherently a bad thing, but when you do break it down, it still seems like a story about a grown-up fuck-up and then we find out, why she's such a fuck-up as an adult, and of course it's something that happened to her as a kid. That's not a criticism, it's psychology more than anything else, The movie begins with Alice Harvey (Emily VanCamp) a 29-year-old junior book publisher and writer, who's mostly trying to work her way up, although it's not exactly easy for her, although she's not exactly trying hard either. She's got writer's block and she spends her nights drinking and getting laid, she's a bit of a mess, not quite Charlize Theron's character in "Young Adult", but not far off either. But then soon, someone re-enters her life, a famous author named Milan (Michael Nyqvist) who became famous years earlier for writing a novel that was based on their relationship, when she was a fifteen-year-old (Ana Mulvoy-Ten). The movie cuts back and forth between the past and the present and the thing that I felt was most interesting was the actual relationship and yeah, how the line between predator and lust in blurred to say the least. Well, actually it's not that blurry to be honest, but it is knieving. I don't think we know whether or not it was his plan all along as he befriending and started mentoring Alice as a writer but it very easily could've been, or maybe the actual fact that they were together so often and getting to know each other led to his infatuation. He's never had a more successful-selling novel since and the thing that he's most known for from that novel is how accurately he was able to portray the teenage girl, and he's constantly bombarded with questions from reporters about how he was able to do that so well. The film is the debut feature from Marya Cohn, who has one of those Imdb resumes that I'd make fun of if it wasn't for the fact that it's probably gonna look similar to mine in the future. Despite some sporadic work in the early nineties, she's spent the last twenty years as a professor at NYU and it's clear that this is a more professional-looking film than one would expect for a debut feature. I don't know however, I still feel disconnected with the movie, I'm sitting through a third time now as I write this and I just can help but think that there's more powerful films of this nature. "Blue Car" comes to mind, which is a film that took place entirely with the main character as a teenager, but there were other differences with that film, for instance, we also saw the main character's troubled home life that lead to her spending more time with, in that film it was a high school teacher, and the eventual affair was a sudden act of betrayal as much as anything else. In here, as a young girl, she's portrayed very naively and innocently. That's probably more realistic but I'm not quite sure it entirely holds up, us seeing where she was and then see who she would become. Or, at least who she is now. That still feels like a nitpick but for the most part, "The Girl in the Book" does this pretty well, and it's only in hindsight do you really start to somewhat question it as a story, as a film, it's really well-acted and well-told and does a great job at skimming over some of the more coincidental and cliched parts of the movie. I look forward to Marya Cohn's next film, to see if I can get a better grasp of her style and intent and maybe take another look at "The Girl in the Book" later and see if I can get a better appreciation of it. Still, it's quite good though for what it is.


THE GIFT (2015) Director: Joel Edgerton

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I'm a bit shocked to see such universal praise laid onto Joel Edgerton's "The Gift". I know he's an in-actor right now, and he has come up with a good film before as he wrote the screenplay for the Coen-esque Australian film noir, "The Square" which also deals with a few characters in a crime story that revolves around the past and leads to violence, but "The Gift"? This movie really highly-praised and I'm barely recommending it despite the fact that the movie really left me with a sinking feeling that I was basically watching the worst kind of despicable characters the ones who don't realize how despicable they are. Of course that might be because I'm sick of Jason Bateman playing this character. Bateman is Simon and him and his wife Robyn (Rebecca Hall) are returning to his hometown of Chicago after many years and coincidentally they run into Gordo (Edgerton) an old high school classmate of Simon. When I say that I'm tired of Bateman playing this character, I mean, this swarmy character that he plays that seems and sincere because he's nice and sincere from his image and possibly his character from "Arrested Development" but then there's been many movie roles where that percentage has been circumvented in order to make his character be more of an asshole. Here, he's an asshole. Not that, he's necessary wrong at how he's been alarmed at Gordo's behavior as they begin trying to befriend him. He's a bit of an awkward fellow, and apparently he was also somewhat like that in the past as well. After a few times he's an uninvited and sometimes invited guest and some of his actions are weird, they ask him to not be around so much. Then suddenly, they believe he has been acting out when they're not there, and some other suspicious activities that makes them call the police, but there's not much for them to be able to do. As the movie goes on, it becomes more clear, (Well, more clear to an audience who hasn't seen this shtick from Bateman recently/before) Or better, it becomes more clear, just who Bateman is, at least to his wife, who starts investigating the purported incidents that involved Simon and Gordo back in high school, and what exactly happened between them. She herself has just suffered a miscarriage and is recovering from a drug addiction, but she's seeing things clearly to know that there's a problem. Honestly, I'm debating whether to recommend this movie or not. I think it's not particularly shocking where it goes, while the revelation are interesting and how they're revealed is unique, I basically could figure out the few possible scenarios that the film could play out. I know some believe that Bateman helped this movie, and for what it's worth, it is a good performance, but I think that it was really bad casting. In fact, I think this film would've been better had Edgerton and Bateman switched roles. It would mean Edgerton would have to direct himself act, probably than he'd like or want to do but I think it would work better. You just know that he's untrustworthy from the beginning and I guess the reveal is how untrustworthy but I don't think that works as well as others think. There is a lot done well, the acting, the directing is quite skillful and the fact that he is trying something a little different with what would typically be a more traditional genre piece and for the most part he succeeds, although all I basically saw was a reminder that bullies are awful in high school and when they grow up they turn out to be awful adults. Not an untrue fact necessarily, but it's not exactly as entertaining a thing to discover as I thing Mr. Edgerton thinks it is, especially when, it's pretty clear-cut pretty early that that's what he is.


APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR (2015) Director: Desiree Akhavan

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I've seen a couple reviews of "Appropriate Behavior" immediately compare the film to Lena Dunham's "Girls", which (Shrugs) I guess isn't a terrible comparison, although I think a more appropriate comparison might be something like "(500) Days of Summer", it's a nonlinear story about Shirin (Director Desiree Akhavan), a young Persian-American Brooklynite who's struggling to get through her breakup with her loved one, Maxine, (Rebecca Henderson) while also struggling to go forward in her career. She's a not-out bisexual, at least to her traditional Persian family and the movie goes back and forth from during and after the relationship and breakup and see how during both parts, how she's a trainwreck of a person who stumbles away through her late '20s. She goes from girls to guys in terms of affairs, she's needy, she's desperate to show she's doing well even when it's clear she's not, and she's barely capable of holding down a job. She somehow manages to get one as a film teacher for five-year-olds, which itself is a bit of a yuppie thing to have, although even barely being able to make sure the kids don't break the camera, she's doing well enough to keep the job according to Ken (Scott Adsit) one of the parents of one of the kids that got her the job. Akhavan wrote and directed the film and it's more about the tone that the story, and she does an amazing job, the movie and performance, in a very different way, reminds me of Jenny Slate's in "Obvious Child" another similar movie about a lost New York 20-something. It's a mess structurally, but as an emotional journey into her mind, it's quite powerful and I never knew where the film was going next. "Appropriate Behavior" is a really strong first film from a very talented young writer/director/actress, and I can't wait to see where her career goes from her. Perhaps and HBO show would be a nice next step....


EAST SIDE SUSHI (2015) Director: Anthony Lucero

✰✰1/2



Honestly, there's not much to say about "East Side Sushi", which is infuriating for a critic like me. There's nothing really wrong with it, in fact, it's kinda cute, delightful, there's nothing in it that will in any way offend or shock anybody and it's a perfectly pleasant little film with a few really cool characters. I'm not recommending it, barely, but I'm not gonna stop anybody from watching it, it's just that, it's nothing new or special. I've seen this movie before, many times, and this is a very cute, first movie, light version of that story. And, even taking into account that it's a food movie, which, yes, I'm a foodie, I'll admit that, but I've seen this done as a foodie movie before too. It's-, well, not technically the first feature film from writer/director Anthony Lucero, he directed a documentary very early in his career, but most of his recent credits, curiously were in either editing or especially in visual effects until now. That would normally worry me, considering the last movie I saw from a guy who had little more than a visual effects background that moved to directing, (Ugh, I still get nightmares about "Snow White & the Huntsman", how the fuck did that movie get a sequel?!) but no, this guy is definitely a capable director, although some more experience behind the camera will make him better. The movie is about a single mother Mexican chef Juana (Diana Elizabeth Torres) who's struggling to get and keep work. She at first has a fruit stand, that gets robbed and in desperation for work, she starts working at a Japanese restaurant instead. At first, she and her family are unsure of what to make of it, these new tastes and flavors, but one of the restaurant's chefs, Aki (Yutaka Takeuchi) takes her under his wing, despite the admonish of Mr. Yoshida (Roji Oyama), his boss, who doesn't think a woman and a Mexican woman at that can make a good sushi chef. If you've seen one of the thousand of movies with this plot, you can pretty much guess point-by-point how this plays out, including the Sushi contest that she enters at the end, which had a nice touch of only being shown online, something surprisingly realistic for a small movie, but I was bored. Maybe if it was gone through, maybe one more draft of the script, I might recommend it, there was some dialogue that was a bit, lacking in nuance and very direct, that could've been improved upon, but I don't know, I can't be too harsh on "East Side Sushi". For what it is, it works well enough, and I can't bring myself to tell someone not to see it. If you run into it, it's a fine little indy, but I think Lucero can do better for his next film, and I've just seen this story too many times before. It's a very reluctant negative review.


MAX (2015)

✰✰



Ugh, why am I reviewing this. Oh God, okay, so, "Max". Not, "Mad Max...", just "Max". I can think of one pretty good movie called "Max", that starred John Cusack and was about Adolf Hitler's years as an artist, but that's not the film I'm talking about, this one's about a dog. A military dog actually, who was trained and fought alongside a soldier, Kyle Wincott (Robbie Amell), however his trainer gets killed during an attack and now homeside, the dog has suffered from PTSD, (Which, is apparently a thing, I looked it up.) Kyle's family, decides to take the dog, especially since he's taken a particular liking to Kyle's younger brother Justin (Josh Wiggins). Kyle doesn't quite get along with his parents, Ray and Pamela (Thomas Haden, Church and Lauren Graham-,what the hell-, ugh! Sigh, really? You remember when the whole thing of "Gilmore Girls" was that she had her kid when she was like, 15 or something, so she was clearly too young to normally have a high school-age daughter and still young enough to be a cool sex symbol, who you can easily see as a flirtatious quirky hot girl? (Sigh) Yeah, and now she's just playing a regular mother character in everything these days. God she's been so poorly typecast over the years.) who haven't really seen eye-to-eye with Kyle over the years. Kyle spends most of his day on the couch, playing and sometimes downloading video games to sell to others, and generally rebelling against the actions of his brother and his father who was a hero marine during the Kuwait War and Kyle looked up to. He now runs a storage place that Kyle should be working at, but he's not interested. After Max gets close to him however, he starts to change and gains a bit of responsibility, along with a girlfriend, Carmen (Mia Xitiall) a cousin of his friend, Chuy (Dejon LaQuake) who's a bit of an exaggerated Mexican stereotype, but he means well. (Sigh) Why am I ...- ugh,- anyway, there's also Tyler (Luke Kleintank) who is a fellow marine and Kyle's best friend, except he's a bad guy, because-, um, uh, well, because, frankly, and it's him and his actions, which mostly involve, getting his friend killed, stealing weapons before being discharged from the military and then heading home to where he sells guns and weapons to Mexican gangs, and...- why I am watching this? This kids' film about a dog, I mean, it's got a few things that's cool about it, but, I mean, why not make a movie about a military dog in the military and leave it there, make it a war movie, not this sanitized kids movie, with so many extra cliches that weren't needed. Why am I-, wait, I forgot to put who Directed this, who did direct this?

Director: Boaz Yakim

Oh no, I like him! Is that why this thing flew up my Netflix! Goddammit! (Sigh) Okay, um, I'm gonna have to back up here, Boaz Yakim is not necessarily a household, but you're probably more familiar with his work than you think. He started out as a hack screenwriter in Hollywood and fater being really frustrated with one film, he left for Paris, swearing that he wouldn't return until he had created something truly special and when he finally did, four years later, he made one of the most underrated movies of the 1990s, "Fresh", a wonderful film about an inner-city kid who ends up using his smarts and skillset learned through playing chess with a mysterious father figure in the park, to take down multiple gangs and seek revenge for their violence. It's really that should be mentioned in the same breath as "Boyz N the Hood" and "Menace II Society", but I doubt most people even remember that film. Since then, he's still made some good movies, albeit, usually under his more traditional Hollywood umbrella, most notably, he wrote and directed "Remember the Titans". which isn't anything special even for a sports movie, but it's still a pretty damn good one. He's even worked on some interesting screenplay, most recently the "Now You See Me" films. He's got an eclectic resume. but (Sigh), yeah, I normally don't bag on him, because you know, there's nothing wrong with selling out and making blockbusters and family films, and he can do them well, and yeah, I've forgiven the "From Dusk Till Dawn 2..."'s and "Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights" and "Prince of Persia: the Sands of Time" which sounds like a sequel like the other two but unfortunately wasn't, 'cause he's got one really good one, and like Orson Welles, that's all you really need, and sure, he might have his heart in the right place here, but I-eh, I know how much more talented he can be, and yeah, this might be the last straw here for me. Even in this family film subgenre he can and has done much better, on page and on screen. So yeah, Mr. Yakim, I think it might be time to take a couple years off in Paris again, just a suggestion.





Thursday, September 22, 2016

CANON OF FILM: "L.A. CONFIDENTIAL"

L.A. CONFIDENTIAL (1997)

Director: Curtis Hanson
Screenplay: Brian Helgeland and Curtis Hanson based on the novel by James Ellroy



For much of “L.A. Confidential,” the events all seem random and episodic, until we realize they’re all part of the same labyrinthian mystery, and then the three detectives begin to suspect it. It wasn’t the last film noir, but it might be last great one, and even if it isn't it might as well be. It feels like it, the same way that Clint Eastwood's "Unforgiven" feels like the last great western. Now universally accepted among cinephiles and critics alike as the best film of ’97 (While the public at large still considers it “Titanic”; [And I'd probably vote for "Good Will Hunting" myself, but it wouldn't be an easy choice) “L.A. Confidential,” feels as familiar in the film noir genre as “The Maltese Falcon,” and “Chinatown”. It feels so much like the 1940s, it’s actually odd to realize it takes place in the ‘50s. It’s also a movie that wouldn’t be made today, if nothing else the cast wouldn’t be affordable. Kevin Spacey was the biggest star in the film at the time, having won his Oscar for “The Usual Suspects,” and most of the rest of the cast money was spent on Kim Basinger for her supporting role. Everyone else, as well known as they are now, were fairly unknown at the time. The story begins with three cops, who are all completely different from one another. Jack Vincennes (Spacey) is the celebrity cop, working on a TV show, “Badge of Honor,” (Obviously, Dragnet) as a consultant. He works with scheming tabloid reporter Sid Hutcheons (Danny DeVito) to catch celebrities in compromising positions, making sure the camera is there to catch him arresting them. Bud White (Russell Crowe) is an aging, overweight but over-passionate enforcer cop. He walks a thin line between corrupt and crazy, and has a mean streak for men who beat on women. Ed Exley (Guy Pearce) is the son of a hero cop, young ambitious, and by-the-book, he makes more enemies out of the police than the criminals. The three cops’ heads first butt during a Christmas night riot in prison that has to be dealt with or covered up depending on the perspective. The next incident involves the shooting of five people at a cafĂ© called the Night Owl, suspects include African-Americans who are also involved in an unrelated rape. There’s a former cop named Buzz Meeks (Darrell Sandeen) who’s missing. He had been working as a bodyguard for Pierce Morehouse Patchett (David Strathairn), a local smut peddler who runs an exclusive escort service that specializes in hookers that look like movie stars. One of those hookers is a femme fatale named Lynn Bracken (Basinger in her Oscar-winning role), who may or may not know more than she says, and it’s impossible to tell whether she’s seducing or falling in love.

I’ve just given you random details, minor random details in fact. Like all great mysteries and detective stories, it's the process of solving the crime that’s more interesting than the actual result and why. I’ve seen this film more times than I can count, and I have a difficult time recalling every detail of the crime, and the levels upon levels of corruption and conspiracy. A few years back, the BBC aired their masterful “Red Riding Trilogy,” about police corruption in Northern England that lasted decades. The great lost of that wasn’t necessarily the corruption itself, but that it led to many crimes being unsolved and improperly investigated, the most notorious of which being the Yorkshire Ripper, who could easily have been caught if they simply did their jobs. Both "Red Riding..." and L.A. Confidential and period thrillers about police corruption, and three detectives who try to navigate through it in order to solve a crime that seemingly everyone and everything is doing their best to try to make sure they don't solve. James Ellroy’s book is based loosely on the actual corrupt L.A. Police department, but frankly, the story’s better if we don’t think about how it could’ve been real. The movie works better as style over substance, like all film noirs. The fact that it does come together so well is why master writers Hanson and Helgeland (Mystic River) won Oscars for the screenplay. 

Before his recent untimely passing, Curtis Hanson could legitimately be called one of the best directors around, but he was usually one that was too hard to pin down. He’s made other great films, most notably the overlooked “Wonder Boys,” and he’s also made some rather strange and interesting directing choices like “8 Mile,” with rap artist Eminem. He challenges himself by constantly changing genres, from psychological horror like “The Hand that Rocks the Cradle,” to adventures like “The River Wild,” to the more serene family comedy “In Her Shoes,” to the “Lucky You”, a rom-com about professional poker players, that somehow spent two years on the shelf right in the middle of the poker boom in the mid-2000s. He might occasionally make a forgettable film, but he hardly ever makes a bad one. What I suspect is the main thread that fascinates him is that they’re all about the characters at their core. While we follow the crimes in "L.A. Confidential", we learn about each detectives as they go through their own trials and tribulations and sometimes find a way to complete shock and surprise us; he's at his best when he's allowing the film to evolve and explore his characters. Few directors can create more than one fully-formed character in a film, try doing it with three, and that’s just the protagonists in this one. 



Sunday, September 18, 2016

2016 PRIMETIME EMMY AWARDS ANALYSIS! "GAME OF THRONES", O.J. SIMPSON, KATE MCKINNON GET "SNL" AN ACTING WIN! BEN MENDELSOHN UPSET, AND THROWING MARK BURNETT OFF THE ISLAND!



I'm David Baruffi, this is David Baruffi's Entertainment Views and Reviews annual Post-Emmys analysis blog, and what-the H-hell just happened!

My god, the Emmys will pull my hair out one day, I swear. Ugh. As far as predictions go.... LOLOLOLOLOL,Lololo, oh boy. As I've done this for a few years now, on this blog and many, many, many years before that, I've come to conclusion or two about the Award shows. The Oscars, even in the most uncertain years, you pretty much know what's going to happen. There's never a freaky or unexplain-able upset, and for the most, you can pretty much know the feel of how things will or could go. The Emmys are partially that and the other side is, an absolutely wild roller coaster ride where we know absolutely nothing and we're not sure what's gonna happen. Anybody who we think are out of it, could easily win and, we're just... speechless. We watch the episode submissions, we scout and poll the Academy, hell, if we know a voter, we ask a voter or two how they voted, we try to understand patterns and how they might be thinking or have thought in the pass and then. (Fart noise).

We'll go through which awards were as is and which weren't but let's take a look at the show. Um, first off Jimmy Kimmel, eh, I think he was... okay. He wasn't awful, per se, he had funny moments, but...- you know, I gotta be honest I've always been baffled by the popularity of Jimmy Kimmel, and it's not that I don't think he's funny, I actually think in the right spots and moments he can be absolutely hilarious but over a whole show, I tend to find him, just swarmy. I know people compare him to Letterman a lot, but Letterman was always sorta, apoplectic about what they're doing. I mean, the stuff at the beginning, really funny, really witty, really vicious at times. But, he let's off the vicious gear. It feels like it's supposed to be a loving jab, but it always feels like he's roasting whoever he's talking about and I get tired of it after awhile. Here, I appreciate it at that moment, but then he kept on with it at times, and he doesn't really know how to pivot away from that after awhile. Still though, I did like his job hosting, and I thought the show overall was pretty entertaining. He puts on a better show than I think he does, work as a host, that's kinda where I'm at with him. I like him in certain spots more than others. 

Okay, he was good, funny at times thoughout, great opening, I liked how he brought into the joke, other people. Matt Damon coming in, that was good. I liked the Amy Schumer joke that was good. And I'm definitely glad he got the joke in there about Mark Burnett being responsible for Donald Trump, that was genius. I just think it got old as it went on. But, we had more than enough awards craziness to make up for it. 

In Comedy, Louie Anderson pulled off the upset winning Supporting Actor for "Baskets" where he plays Zach Galifinakis's mom. I love that he thanked the FX publicity department, especially since they really earned that. "Baskets" got nothing else and it was just word of mouth + campaigning to get him to earn that win. Kudos for bringing that up.

"Master of None" pulled off another upset as the split vote between "Silicon Valley" and "Veep" and it's a bit annoying to me that now, all the "Parks and Recreation" people are winning, instead of back when the show was on. 

Then, the first shock, Kate McKinnon, not only upsetting Allison Janney, Okay, Janney losing, that's big, but McKinnon's win, is really unprecedented. That's the first time since they've been allowed to submit that a sketch comedy performer has won in a major acting category. (They had won for Guest Performances several times) So, that breaks a major Emmy prognostication rule, and it seemed everything else was just gonna go crazy. 

Well, it didn't. Jeffrey Tambor and Julia Louis-Dreyfus repeated for their lead roles in "Transparent" and "Veep" respectively and Jill Soloway won again for directing "Transparent", and eventually, "Veep" as expected won the Series prize for the second straight year. 

Also repeating, "The Voice" winning Reality series in back-to-back years, first show to ever do that not named, "The Amazing Race" which still amazes me. I wanted that to win in it's first or second seasons, but now that it's unwatchable? (Well, not unwatchable, but just "American Idol Reduxed"?)

Onto the, Let's revisit 1994, for some goddamn reason set of categories they call "Limited Series", the big upset was "The Night Manager" winning Directing as Susanne Bier, probably benefitted from the three nominated "The People v. O.J. Simpson..." directors. Does that mean she has an Oscar and an Emmy now? I guess technically her Foreign Language Oscar for "In a Better World" goes to the country of Denmark and not to her, but that's always been stupid and wrong to me.

The only other non-O.J. winner was Regina King, winning for "American Crime" for the second consecutive year for Supporting Actress. I'm not exactly crazy about that but I guess they'll never give Sarah Paulson that award for "American Horror Story". But, she finally, ended that drought when she won for playing Marcia Clark, and she brought her along for the show, she looked good. So did Paulson, who seems to be doing a Miley Cyrus in J.Lo's dress thing.

(Oh, and yeah, Claire Danes, too much spray tan. Just, sorry. You know I love you.) 

Sterling G. Brown and Courtney B. Vance also won for O.J. and the show won Limited Series. "Fargo" got shut out strangely.

Variety had a few surprising, most touching was Patton Oswalt winning the Variety-Writing Special award for his stand-up special. You can tell he was shocked and it seems like he's still dealing with the grief of his wife's passing and it's nice to see him after years of great work on television and movies finally get rewards. 

"Last Week Tonight with Jon Oliver" took over the Variety-Talk Series throne from "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and "The Colbert Report", as expected. Only four shows have won that award in the last 20 years and they're the fourth and it doesn't look like they'll give that up anytime soon.

"Grease Live" won the Directing-Variety Special, to no one's surprise there, beating Chris Rock, who's mock-angry reaction was great,  for directing the Amy Schumer stand-up special and-eh Beyonce's "Lemonade" thing, but live theater on television; yeah it was winning. "Key & Peele" in their last season, got the surprise "goodbye hug" as Gold Derby's Tom O'Neil calls it, as they won Sketch Comedy Series in their final season, and that's the first Emmy the show ever won, so it's nice to see that. I've never been their biggest fan, but they've definitely made me laugh a lot for the last few years. Hell, they were funny as hell in the first season of "Fargo". I just watched that, and boy that was weird suddenly seeing them in that! Like-eh, I guess when Cheech and Chong suddenly show up in Scorsese's "After Hours" weird. Weird, but awesome.

"Game of Thrones" as expected rule the Drama categories, winning Series and Writing and Directing, both for the "Battle of the Bastards" episode. The actors however, split the vote in both their categories. Maggie Smith, got the goodbye hug for "Downton Abbey" winning Supporting Actress, leaving that series it's final Emmy and the most shocking upset of the night, Ben Mendelsohn, a ghost, now on "Bloodline" winning for Supporting Actor for "Bloodline", that got me to just tweet his name and a hundred or so exclamation points after that shock. But the upsets in acting weren't over. Rami Malek became one of the youngest actors ever to win Lead Actor in a Drama Series with his upset win for "Mr. Robot", and then Tatiana Maslany, pulling off the really shocking upset for "Orphan Black", where she plays about 90 or 100 clones. Good performance, definitely, just tough show to get into, at least for me. "Mr. Robot", eh I'm worried about the second season, but Malek does give a great performance. This left "House of Cards" shutout, despite eight acting nominations across the six categories and it didn't win anything else either, particularly shocking considering that was a favorite to many.

But "Game of Thrones" ruled the night. 3 more awards tonight, and a total of, "Game of Thrones" has no surpassed "Frasier" and has won more Emmy awards that any other Drama or Comedy series. Amazingly only two of those are for acting, both for Peter Dinklage, but technical achievements and the last two Series wins, put it over the top. The only show left in it's way, is "Saturday Night Live", good luck with that "Game of Thrones", but I think it'll take more than dragons to take them down.

So, busy Emmy season, great Emmy show, lots of surprises, intrigue, and there's plenty of room to think about next year. Some promising new shows, although I'm not doing another Premiere Week blog but, most of them start debuting this week, so it's time to catch on next year\s Emmys now. Hell, maybe it's already started with "The Night Of" and "Stranger Things". "Game of Thrones" isn't eligible next year, and "Downton Abbey" has ended, so there will be some new winners and new nominees, and lots of potential shows on the air now and those debuting soon that could take their place. Who knows.

But, awards-wise, it's time to start preparting for Oscar season. Me-wise, I got movie to reviews, and scripts to write, lots of other busywork, but the Emmys as always a great reminder of why we love television and are fascinated by this world of film and entertainment and a great break to honor those we most adore! Or at least ones we respect the hell out of even if we don't particularly like. (Shrugs) Eh, some years that would annoy me, but this year, eh, good enough for me, I hope it is for you guys too.

Oh, and Samantha Bee was still robbed! Nominated her next year Variety Series people!

Oh, eh my results, eh, I would talk about them, but my ballot's in a 100 little pieces somewhere off the side of my balcony, so, sorry. (Shrugs) I presume I got them all right, but who knows. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

2016 PRIMETIME EMMY AWARDS PREDICTIONS, THOUGHTS AND PREFERENCES!!!!



Happy Primetime Emmys Weekend, Everyone!

I'm way behind in getting around to this, and we got a lot of categories to get through, so I won't go into too much of an opening this year. We're going through every category that they'll announce Sunday Night, as usual, and I'll go over a couple of the Emmys they gave out already at the Creative Arts Awards, which if you wear keeping an eye on the Facebook page, I made predictions for on this site, Facebook page, which you should be following, here:

https://www.facebook.com/David-Baruffis-Entertainment-Views-and-Reviews-602692689824035/?ref=bookmarks

So go follow the site, soon that, and you can just scroll down a bit and you'll find the two prediction posts I made up for the Creative Arts, so you know I'm not lying when I say which ones I got right or wrong, and as always, after the show, I will be posting our annual, Post-Mortem on the show, which we'll call our Primetime Emmy Awards Analysis, so keep an eye out for that after the show. Let's get right into my Prediction for this year, we're starting with Comedy Series nominations, let's get to my PREDICTIONS and if I have one, m PREFERENCE on who I think should win!


COMEDY SERIES

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

I'll make the call now, that this is probably "Modern Family"'s last year getting nominated, at least until they may end they're series; I can already suspect a couple shows that might break in next year and knock them off, especially. Thankfully, ABC's got a pretty good replacement with "Black-ish", but I don't expect an upset, they only got three nominations overall. In fact, only "Veep" and "Transparent" won anything during the Creative Arts Emmys, so it's not as clear-cut as it seems based on them. Gold Derby, surprising has "Silicon Valley", in 5th on their odds, they almost as many nominations as "Veep", so I'm a little shocked their behind that much; I don't think much of the show, but if there's a spoiler, I would look out for "Silicon Valley". "Veep" is, just to big a favorite though, um, maybe "Transparent" can sneak in, but I doubt it, and I will never completely rule out "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" great show, Tina Fey is brilliant, although I liked the first season a little more then the 2nd, but she's pulled it off in weird places, and she already has, like her eighth Emmy win this year, or whatever the number is; we'll get to that, later. If "Louie" has never won, and Aziz Ansari's previous show, "Parks and Recreation" could never win, then I'm not 100% sure that "Masters of None" can win either.

PREDICTION: "Veep"
PREFERENCE: "Transparent" 


LEAD ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Anthony Anderson-"Black-ish"-ABC
Aziz Ansari-"Master of None"-Netflix
Will Forte-"The Last Man on Earth"-FOX
William H. Macy-"Shameless"-Showtime
Thomas Middleditch-"Silicon Valley"-HBO
Jeffrey Tambor-"Transparent"-Amazon

Six different shows, six different networks in the category, that's weird. Um, here's the thing that's really making everybody wonder, the new voting system. that switch from a primary tape system, which required voters to see the tapes, (Which they still are supposed to do but...) to the more popular system that allows the entire eligible Academy members to vote. So the question that everybody has, "Do the tapes matter?" 'cause there's a lot of categories, acting ones especially, where we're struggling to figure out how the vote will play out. This system was in place last year, and the Academy already has a really close relationship with complacency, but it looks like, this year, may have a lot of repeat winners; more than normal. Is it the most popular nominee, the most popular show, or are they seeking through each of the tapes to really see who submitted well? We'll know more by the end, but most are predicting chalk with last year, and I can't really disagree. This wasn't Jeffrey Tambor's greatest season, although he does have a great episode, but he's vulnerable. Probably not against Forte or Macy, who lost to him last year, but Anthony Anderson is on the show on the rise, that snuck into the Series category kinda out-of-nowhere and he got into this category last year, so... Aziz Ansari and Thomas Middleditch are also knew, and Ansari; he's up for three awards, this year, I suspect he's viable in all of them, but I'm not sure exactly which one he'll win for. Middleditch, he is good on "Silicon Valley", and he's overdue; he was great on "The Office" for years before this, but first acting nomination for that series, and it's been on three years now, it wouldn't shock me, but I don't think it's likely he'll win here, but he's a good outside possibility.

PREDICTION: Jeffrey Tambor-"Amazon
PREFERENCE: Aziz Ansari-"Master of None"


LEAD ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Ellie Kemper-"Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"-Netflix
Julia Louis-Dreyfus-Veep-HBO
Laurie Metcalf-"Getting On"-HBO
Tracee Ellis Ross-"Black-ish"-ABC
Amy Schumer-"Inside Amy Schumer"-Comedy Central
Lily Tomlin-"Grace and Frankie"-Netflix

Alright, we'll pretend for a moment that Julia Louis-Dreyfus isn't winning this, (Spoilers: she's winning again, ugh, and that would be five in a row, and that would be the record; not that she needed another Emmy record to set.) and let's look around. Um, Amy Schumer, until somebody win for a Variety-Sketch Series, I'm not gonna predict it, besides she has other places to win so.... Lily Tomlin, got nominated because she's a popular Board of Directors members and I'm sorry, I'll give "Grace and Frankie" another try at some point, but man is that show disappointingly hard-to-watch. I suspect Ellie Kemper was 7th last year and should've been nominated last year, (And again, I'll explain that later.) but because of that, she's an unknown quantity on a show they Academy does seem to love, and is playing one of the more original characters among the nominees, so I'm not overlooking her, like I suspect others are; I think she might be the one that can pull this off. However, if anybody knows how to win an Emmy over Julia Louis-Dreyfus, it's Laurie Metcalf. I'm glad she finally got in for "Getting On", she's definitely the most fascinating character from that show and she beat Julia, three times a row for Supporting Actress in a Comedy, when she was on "Roseanne"; Julia never won on "Seinfeld" until after Metcalf stopped getting nominated, so Julia's never beaten Metcalf, and not that many people saw it but they seemed to like "Getting On", those who do, and really liked Laurie Metcalf this year, as she got three acting nominations this year overall. As to Tracee Ellis Ross, she's been around forever, breakout show and performance, that got Best Series, sh'es got a legitimate shot, and btw, the last time an African-American actress won this category was, Isabel Sanford in 1981 for "The Jeffersons"! Wait, really? That can't be right, didn't Phylicia Rashad win some year? No? Huh? Did anybody ever actually win for acting in "The Cosby Show"? (Searches emmys.org) Just Roscoe Lee Browne for Guest actor in '86? Wow, I'll be damned. Alright, so there's that possible history. Yeah, it's hard to get too excited though, they were giving this category to Julia back way before they changed the system, there's no reason to really think it'll change now.

PREDICTION: Julia Louis-Dreyfus-"Veep"
PREFERENCE: Ellie Kemper-"Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"


SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Louie Anderson-"Baskets"-FX Networks
Andre Braugher-"Brooklyn Nine-Nine"-FOX
Tituss Burgess-"Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"-Netflix
Ty Burrell-"Modern Family"-ABC
Tony Hale-"Veep"-HBO
Keegan-Michael Key-"Key & Peele"-Comedy Central
Mike Walsh-"Veep"-HBO

The 2% rule was enacted here leaving us seven nominations instead of six, however the only two additions from last year were Mike Walsh for "Veep", a bit of a surprise nomination there, and I can't believe I'm saying this, Louie Anderson for "Baskets". I have heard of it, I have not seen "Baskets" yet, and I am aware that he's playing a woman in the movie, um,- I've been a fan of Louie Anderson for years and I didn't think he would ever hear his name again much less, as an Emmy nominee, although he does have two Daytime Emmys, not for hosting "Family Feud" but for "Life with Louie" the animated series, which I always liked good show, and those were for Voice-Over work too, so he's shown he can win a Performance Emmy before. He's the one big unknown in this category, and I have no idea how many people saw or liked "Baskets", it's the show's only nominations, so (Shrugs). Other than that, Andre Braugher, back again as the only representative from "Brooklyn Nine-Nine", Keegan-Michael Key back again, very surprising; he should be in Lead but... also, his last season, but again, until I see a sketch comedy performer win, I'm not predicting it. Burrell's the only "Modern Family" acting nomination, and that's all that needs to be said there. Tony Hale's got competition from his own show, and that's gonna be interesting, 'cause there were cases of vote splitting throughout the Creative Arts category, particularly when it came to multiple nominees from the same series, unless something/somebody was an overwhelming heavy favorite to win, and that's what the problem is. Tony Hale's won this category twice, but not in consecutive years, and the question is, how big a favorite is he? And, if Matt Walsh can get some votes now that he's got in, and is competitive in the category, and by all account, "Veep" performers seem to be, than I'm suspecting upset, and to me, the most logical place would be Tituss Burgess getting the win. He was the favorite last year, arguably has just as good an episode, (If episodes mattered...) and is probably the second choice on most polls. I suspect this is a closer 3-way race between Anderson, Burgess and Hale than it seems.

PREDICTION/PREFERENCE; Tituss Burgess-"Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt", I'm gonna call the upset here, just to make it a little fun for me.


SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Anna Chlumsky-"Veep"-HBO
Gaby Hoffman-"Transparent"-Amazon"
Allison Janney-"Mom"-CBS
Judith Light-"Transparent"-Amazon
Kate McKinnon-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Niecy Nash-"Getting On"-HBO

So, this category went down from eight nominations, back to the standard six this year, with only Judith Light coming into the category as a new nominee, although Judith Light's been around forever so, not exactly new, although amazingly, only her second Primetime Emmy nomination, although she does have two Daytime Emmys for Lead Actress on "One Life to Live", back when those awards actually mattered. (And yes, back when she won them, they did matter.). Sketch comedy, until I see it, blah, blah, blah, but if somebody's going to win it this year, Kate McKinnon, probably has the best chance. Political year, she played Hillary Clinton in her episode and much of the year, and this is her official breakout year, so if you're looking out there upset, she makes sense. But, it's the last year for "Getting On", and Niecy Nash has been around forever and she proved last year wasn't a fluke, so she can pull it off too. Anna Chlumsky, continuous nominee, keeps running into Allison Janney, and Gaby Hoffman has the biggest problem in that she's splitting votes with her co-star, so that's an automatic worry. And the real kicker is that, "Mom" is really a good show that's gotten better and better each year, it even got into some craft categories this year, so I don't really see Allison Janney going down this year. She's the best actress around, everybody knows it, she's got a better show than the nomination count indicates, everyone knows it, and she doesn't lose even when she has competition.

PREDICTION: Allison Janney-"Mom"
PREFERENCE: Kate McKinnon-"Saturday Night Live"


OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A COMEDY SERIES
Master of None-"Parents"-Aziz Ansari-Netflix
Silicon Valley-"Daily Active Users"-Alec Berg-HBO
Silicon Valley-"Founder Friendly-Mike Judge-HBO
Transparent-"Man on the Land"-Jill Soloway-Amazon
Veep-"Kissing Your Sister"-Dave Mandel-HBO
Veep-"Morning After"-Chris Addison-HBO
Veep-"Mother"-Dan Stern-HBO

They, fine-ally, increase the Writing and Directing nominees to six each for Comedy and Drama Series, and the 2% rule came into play as now, we have, seven nominees, two from "Silicon Valley", three, from "Veep" and one each from "Master of None" and "Transparent". Yikes. So yeah, the popular voting system, they vote for the same shows they and as often as they submit it seems, in these categories. Okay, there's a huge split here across the board, but we've got "Veep"'s "Mother" episode that seems to have gotten nominated everywhere it could've been, so that's the most likely favorite, and "Man on the Land", which I think was the early favorite and still has a huge chance despite Jill Solloway winning the category last year, and the interesting nominee is Aziz Ansari for "Master of None" and his episode "Parents", and I'm trying to figure out if that episode has a better shot at Writing than Directing, but it can go either way. The vote splitting here though, is just really traumatic however. Even Mike Judge's nomination seems like an afterthought with three "Veep"'s up, are the voters really gonna sort through them to put "Mother" over, or can this be where something else can steal it? Gold Derby, is leaning towards "Mother", but it's close.

PREDICTION/PREFERENCE: "Transparent"-"Man on the Land"-Jill Soloway


OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A COMEDY SERIES
Catastrophe-"Episode 1"-Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan-Amazon
Master of None-"Parents"-Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang-Netflix
Silicon Valley-"Founder Friendly"-Dan O'Keefe-HBO
Silicon Valley-"The Uptick"-Alec Berg-HBO
Veep-"Morning After"-David Mandel-HBO
Veep-"Mother"-Alex Gregory and Peter Huyck-HBO

Okay, I have seen an episode of "Catastrophe", and it happened to be the one that snuck in this nomination, which I'm calling the "Episodes" nomination, because there's always that one weird nomination for Writing for the show "Episodes" in this category and they weren't eligible this year, so "Catastrophe" which btw, won the BAFTA award earlier this year, so don't discredit it right away, it's in the conversation, but I doubt that many Academy members have seen it. "Morning After," is probably the lesser nominee of the "Veep" noms, so "Mother" I suspect is the heavy favorite, with "Master of None" being the spoiler. I don't really think either "Silicon Valley" episode is in the running, although "Founder Friendly" is most prognosticators' third choice. "Parents", this is the probably the most likely spot where Aziz Ansari would win, especially with that episode it really is in the Writing, and I bet those who see it, especially many of the older members of the Television Academy, will probably fall in love with it's writing as well, but it would have to go one-on-one with "Mother"?

PREDICTION: "Veep"-"Mother"-David Mandel
PREFERENCE: "Master of None"-"Parents"-Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang


GUEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Larry David-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Peter MacNicol-"Veep"-HBO
Tracy Morgan-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Martin Mull-"Veep"-HBO
Bob Newhart-"The Big Bang Theory"-CBS
Peter Scolari-"Girls"-HBO*
Bradley Whitford-"Transparent"-Amazon

The Guest Actor Awards were given out at the Creative Arts already, and if you are familiar with what happened here, then you probably already have an opinion. For those who don't know however, we need to begin with the crossed-out name on the ballot, Peter MacNicol, and it's a damn shame, but you may remember that after a lot of criticism form people purportedly submitting in the wrong categories in order to improve their chances of winning an Emmy, particularly with people like Uzo Aduba, winning in Guest Actress-Comedy Series for "Orange is the New Black", despite appearing in every episode of the season, and other such anomalies, John Lithgow winning for being the villain of the season on "Dexter", is another one, they changed the rules so that Guest Performers had to have appeared in less than 50% of that season's episodes, if it's 50% or more, they must submit in Supporting (Or possibly even Lead, although I haven't seen that brash move yet). Well, Peter MacNicol, when the nominations were submitted, was eligible, but, after the entire season of "Veep" was completed, it turned out that he appeared in five of the season's ten episodes, therefore, when this revelation was discovered by Gold Derby, who then submitted the query to the Television Academy, they had no choice but to disqualify MacNicol. In case you're wondering there is precedent for this, back in 2000, Henry Winkler's nomination for Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for "Battery Park" (and, no, I don't remember that show either) was disqualified after it turned out his episode submission didn't air within the qualification period, because the show was cancelled before it's original April air date and the submitted episode didn't air until June, and he was replaced with the next highest vote-getter in the category, that year it was William H. Macy for "Sports Night" being the beneficiary, although he lost to Bruce Willis for his work on "Friends". So, that's what they did, they went back to the votes, and that's how Peter Scolari earned "Girls" only nomination this year. (Deep breath) Okay, so that happened, and now to the predictions, most figured Larry David was the favorite, and I agreed, his portrayal, somewhat surprising portrayal of Bernie Sanders; I didn't remember the-eh, crowd swell for that to happen until suddenly "SNL" did it, not the way, it was with Tina Fey and Sarah Palin, where it was just, flying off the tips of our tongues the second Palin opened her mouth, but I thought he was the favorite, the problem was that he had Tracy Morgan's comeback performance hosting "SNL" after that terrible accident. So he's a sentimental favorite, so is Martin Mull, and this is his first ever Emmy nomination, and he's been around, since "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman", and on the stand-up circuit probably longer; it's amazing he's never been nominated until now; I thought he must've gotten in at least once for "Roseanne" but... (Shrugs, Oh, and he's no longer competing against his co-star, so "Veep" votes go to him) and there's two past winners in the category with Bob Newhart, back again for his won in "The Big Bang Theory" and Bradley Whitford, who won last year for "Transparent", although, curiously for a different role this time around, so that's a bit of a questionable nomination, but Margo Martindale won for a cup of coffee last year and Whitford can probably be big enough to do the same. And Scolari, great story getting in, he's never won and he's been around forever, since "Bosom Buddies" and he and nobody else ever won for "Newhart", but yeah, he finished 7th in the original voting, he's the longest longshot in the field.

PREDICTION: Larry David-"Saturday Night Live"
PREFERENCE: Peter Scolari-"Girls"
*WINNER: Peter Scolari-"Girls"

Okay, so before I move onto the next category, yes, Scolari pulled it off. I have a theory, and this is what I was building up to, um, and it's not that he, got in and got the sentimental vote, had the comeback story, blah, blah, blah, here's the thing, I think this is proof that they aren't nominating enough people in these categories. Hear me out; I know it seems like they nominate a lot already, but the increase the Comedy/Drama series nominees to seven a few years ago, which is fine, more shows should mean more nominees in the category, I'm all for that. Except they kept all the other nominees in the genre at six, and this has never made sense to me, and this is why. I mean, just do the math, if there's enough shows to require a minimum of seven deserving nominees, not counting the 2% rule in place, which adds more nominees if they come within 2% of the votes of the last nominee, then, why are there only six actors, per category, directors/writers per category, (Which again, was five until last year) why six, everywhere else. Think of it this way, say the Academy really admired six great shows, and they decided to nominated them in every category, one nominee each, which is possible, unlikely but not impossible. Most shows can point to a male and female lead, and then they're even more likely to have many male and female supporting actors and actresses and everything else, a show can get nominated for Best Series, and literally get nothing else, and not a single nomination would go to an eighth show. So, what if, they're not nominating enough people? So I suspect Scolari should've been nominated to begin with. It actually less sense the more you realize it, that there's only six actors/category when you realize how many actually do put their names up for consideration compared to the amount of series in the category. Enough for seven shows = only enough for six of everything else? Yeah, that doesn't make sense, and if you really want proof, I can now point to Peter Scolari, who didn't get in, originally, but got a nomination due to a disqualification, and then pulled off the victory, despite not only finishing 7th in the original voting, but not even qualifying via 2% rule. And who know, who was behind him, and who was behind him that might've qualified via 2% rule! So, this isn't as weird as it looks, it just means that the accounting patterns of the Academy, need to come under advisement and make some changes; I suggest requiring all categories under a genre to have the same minimum amount of nominees for each category, whatever that number is. That's my big declaration this year.

(Deep breath) Alright, we still got a lot to do, so next category!

GUEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Christine Baranski-"The Big Bang Theory"-CBS
Tina Fey & Amy Poehler-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Melora Hardin-"Transparent"-Amazon
Melissa McCarthy-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Laurie Metcalf-"The Big Bang Theory"-CBS
Amy Schumer-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC

Oh-kay, god the Guest Actor categories this year, let's start with the obvious again, why are Tina Fey & Amy Poehler submitted as one nominee? Well, I know some disagree with this, but I actually am fine with it. Essentially they're both "Hosts" for the same episode and are therefore playing the same role, so you can't really separate them. I know, some of you are calling bullshit, but that's not my fault, but there is a precedent, just not at the Emmys. At the 2009, Tony Awards, David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik and Kini Kulish, each won the Tony for Best Actor in a Musical, for playing "Billy Elliot". I didn't agree with it then, but they all played "Billy Elliot," and they alternated days where they played the titular role, so they were nominated together and they won together. Since they're both technically playing, "Host", is kinda makes sense. To give you an Emmys example, the Reality Show Host category has gone through this situation multiple times, originally with Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio nominated together for "Top Chef" and for a few years now, both Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn were nominated as a pair, and even won a couple years ago. I'm not gonna pretend it's not questionable, but they could've not voted for them. Anyway, they're one of the three nominations nominated for "SNL" along with Amy Schumer and Melissa McCarthy against two from the same episode of "The Big Bang Theory" Christine Baranski and Laurie Metcalf, and Melora Hardin for "Transparent" who was definitely playing spoiler. So, big favorite over competiting co-stars splitting the vote, or are the votes split? Oh, um, one more thing, Amy Poehler has as of yet, not won an Emmy, although, let's all admit, it's a bit shitty that this would be how she could win her first Emmy, on the back of Tina Fey..., it's way overdue, even over Melora Hardin's amazing performance, not to mention her never getting recognized for "The Office"

PREDICTION/PREFERENCE: Tina Fey & Amy Poehler-"Saturday Night Live"
*WINNER: Tina Fey & Amy Poehler-"Saturday Night Live"-About damn time, congrats, Amy!


DRAMA SERIES

OUTSTANDING DRAMA SERIES
The Americans-FX Networks
Better Call Saul-AMC
Downton Abbey-PBS
Game of Thrones-HBO
Homeland-Showtime
House of Cards-Netflix
Mr. Robot-USA

I'm starting to finally get around to "The Americans" and after some reluctance, I'm starting to understand it's appeal. I especially think Keri Russell is great on the show, although honestly, if this is supposedly the Best Drama Series on TV the last four years, eh, I'm nowhere near that standard. I understand, but if it is right, then I suspect this is a very weak era for Drama Series. I don't think it's gonna win. If anything can beat "Game of Thrones", and that's a big "If..." um, I can see "Downton Abbey" getting votes for it's last season, although it did win for miniseries it's first year, so I don't think it's entirely got the sentimental backing behind it. "House of Cards" really underperformed at the Creative Arts, didn't win a single Guest Acting Prize, that was really shocking, it was arguably favored to win at least one, and maybe two. The cool factor show is definitely "Mr. Robot", which I also caught up on, and I liked a lot at first, but the end of the first season, totally lost me. I tend to think of it as, "If "Dexter" was a hacker" to some extent. I think it's very good, especially this season, I'm not particularly with the second so far. But these are honestly stretches however. It's "Game of Thrones" winning, honestly I'm not that crazy about any of these series this year; I actually might argue "Homeland" right now is the most interesting of the shows, if I'm being honest, and I thought that show was overrated the hell back in it's first season, when everybody was praising it to high heaven. Anyway....

PREDICTION: "Game of Thrones
PREFERENCE: "Downton Abbey"


LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Kyle Chandler-"Bloodline"-Netflix
Rami Malek-"Mr. Robot"-USA
Bob Odenkirk-"Better Call Saul"-AMC
Matthew Rhys-"The Americans"-FX Networks
Liev Schreiber-"Ray Donovan"-Showtime
Kevin Spacey-"House of Cards"-Netflix

Since Jon Hamm won the award last year, this award will actually for sure, go to somebody new, for sure. Who wins...? Hmm. This is one of the tougher categories to predict. Kevin Spacey is the obvious choice, at first, because he's the one most overdue, and also, he's the most revered of the names above; he does have two Oscars, but he's lost every Emmy nomination he's ever had. Kyle Chandler is the only person who's shown they can win this category, but I don't think anybody cares about or even likes "Bloodline" anymore; Chandler and Mendelsohn I suspect are getting nominated just on reputation and connections. Rami Malek is currently the favorite, he'd be one of the youngest winners ever in this category. Most people suspected the spoiler to be Bob Odenkirk, based on some of the Creative Arts Emmy results, I'm thinking the one's that's really being underrated is Liev Schreiber for "Ray Donovan". That show getting increased amount of nominations and they got more acting nominations than ever before, including Schreiber's second consecutive nomination. I don't think "Ray Donovan"'s got the insight track for the upset, quite yet though, maybe next year.

PREDICTION: Kevin Spacey-"House of Cards"
PREFERENCE: Liev Schreiber-"Ray Donovan"


LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Claire Danes-"Homeland"-Showtime
Viola Davis-"How to Get Away with Murder"-ABC
Taraji P. Henson-"Empire"-FOX
Tatiana Maslany-"Orphan Black"-BBC America
Keri Russell-"The Americans"-FX Networks
Robin Wright-"House of Cards"-Netflix

I finally did get around to watching an episode or two of "Orphan Black", it's-eh, okay. Maslany is incredibly talented, but other than that, I can't imagine why anybody would watch it. Viola Davis won last year, she's the only major nominee again for "How to Get Away with Murder", which-, I-eh, (Sigh) god, some of these shows, I just do not get how they're popular. She is also the only thing about the show that's sorta worth watching. "Empire" I haven't seen, but they don't seem to like that show either, and this is a popular vote. We already know they'll take Davis over Henson, although, Keri Russell is definitely the most potential spoiler; she's the one who's never been nominated before. That said, I think this is where Robin Wright will come out on top. "House of Cards" may have faltered, but it's clearly the biggest show among the nominees and arguably she's maybe a bigger character than Spacey's is on the show now. Claire Danes, can steal it, but I think they're tired of having her win. Anybody can win this though.

PREDICTION: Robin Wright-"House of Cards"
PREFERENCE: Keri Russell-"The Americans", and no, I never liked "Felicity" I just think she makes this show way better than all the other actors make there's.


SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Jonathan Banks-"Better Call Saul"-AMC
Peter Dinklage-"Game of Thrones"-HBO
Kit Harrington-"Game of Thrones"-HBO
Michael Kelly-"House of Cards"-Netflix
Ben Mendelsohn-"Bloodline"-Netflix
Jon Voight-"Ray Donovan"-Showtime

Huh. I just realized that Peter Dinklage has never beaten Jon Voight head-to-head.... Hmm... anyway, uh, not too different from last year, Kit Harrington is the major addition, and Jon Voight is back in the category after not getting in last year for some reason-, man, those "Ray Donovan" nominations out of nowhere, just keep screwing with everything. Um, Gold Derby has Harrington at a 1-2 favorite at the moment, I see where they're coming from, but I'm suspicious of it. I'm really not sold on Harrington winning this; usually when you get eh, multiple actors from an ensemble nominated, they usually, only start the practice of passing the Emmy around to different members of the cast every year, when they really just love the show and want to get everybody in, and "Game of Thrones" has never had that. In fact, this show has done terribly when it comes to acting awards. Peter Dinklage has won twice, sure, but those also happened to be the two years Aaron Paul wasn't eligible to be nominated. (And the first one was from the show's first season, I believe, maybe it's second, but I think it was it's first) so, they like Dinklage unless there's somebody better. (That's why I'm suddenly looking at Jon Voight, but-eh, I don't know, he's not as beloved, even as a veteran legend as some on the outside might think. I don't think it helps that he's a Trump supporter this year either.) If there is a split vote between the "Game of Thrones" guys the most likely scenario is that Jonathan Banks sneaks in, who most think they owe an I.O.U. to anyway, as many had him winning last year. I suspect Michael Kelly can play spoiler here, I, really think Ben Mendelsohn was just a name-check nomination, I cannot imagine the scenario where enough Emmy voters are even watching "Bloodline", (BTW, who does watch that? I tried it, I mean I guess it's not bad, but-um, yeah, I'm a bit baffled by that one to be honest. Maybe I need to look closer at it, just looks something that's trying very hard not to be a family soap opera, but yeah, it seem to just "Antigone" in Florida to me.) I mean, I'm told Harrington's character was popular, um-, I haven't seen the last few seasons, I honestly forget which one he is; which one is he? Jon Snow? Um... (Thinking pause) I-eh, I don't remember him. Which one was he again? Why are you looking at me, like I just said that? No, I really don't remember him? Like, okay, okay... So, he was important and then died, but he's alive now? OH Him, I-, No, I barely remember him. You see, this is what I was talking about, with fantasy having too many characters that nobody can care about or remember them, there's like forty or fifty or so character as is between all these families, in a made-up universe, so it's not like I can read a history book and refresh my memory, and most of them, are not distinctive enough. I'm already struggling trying to learn about the world of these movies, and now I need to remember and keep track of the live characters but now the dead ones are back!?!?!?! I like "Game of Thrones" and even though I'm behind, and only watched three seasons, I can maybe, recall, five characters if I'm really thinking about it. One of them is Tyrion Lannister, 'cause he's one of the few actually interesting ones, so I'm-, I'm not buying Harrington yet.

PREDICTION: Peter Dinklage-"Game of Thrones"
PREFERENCE: Jonathan Banks-"Better Call Saul"


SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Emilia Clarke-"Game of Thrones"-HBO
Lena Headey-"Game of Thrones"-HBO
Maggie Smith-"Downton Abbey"-PBS
Maura Tierney-"The Affair"-Showtime
Maisie Williams-"Game of Thrones"-HBO
Constance Zimmer-"UnReal"-Lifetime

I'm calling it now, "Game of Thrones" loses this category. Clarke, Headey and Williams will split the vote three ways and somebody's gonna sneak, especially since there's legitimates arguments for all three of the other nominees winning this. Maggie Smith, she's won this category before, longtime veteran, they love her, she came back into the category this year, for "Downton Abbey"- (And the only one strangely enough, I definitely expected them to do a lot better and they deserved to.) and the other two nominees, are quite possibly the most intriguing longshots out there. Maura Tierney's nominations, wasn't quite out of nowhere, but "The Affair" had done poorly at the Emmys until now, despite winning the Golden Globe in the show's first season. I watched a couple episodes of it, it's um-, hmm; I don't know whether I think it's any good or not myself, if I'm being completely honest, at least in terms of the first season, it not difficult a story, but it is a difficult show to describe. I guess the closest I can come up with, is something like, imagine "Thirtysomething" was written by Charlotte Brontes. Something along those lines. It's got a weird perspective gimmick as well. It's not bad, but television seems like the wrong for whatever this story is. Maura Tierney though, snuck into the Golden Globes earlier this year, even though they seemed sick of the show as well, won the Globe in maybe the biggest upset of the night, and I suspect snuck in here, very unexpectedly. She's one of those names I kicked myself for not predicting her to get nominated, but this was a crowded field this year, more than normal too. But she got it, and that tells that A. They are watching the show and she is good, and it reminds me that, they like and have for years; she's been working in television since "Newsradio" and she was one of the best characters on "ER" during it's later years, and she's a character actress, so I'm not ruling her out right away. However, she might not even be the big spoiler, and this leads to Constance Zimmer's nominations, maybe not as shocking, as "UnReal" is one of those breakout shows that, I thought should've gotten a Series nomination myself, (And had Shiri Appleby been nominated for Lead Actress, I'd probably be trying to trick myself into predicting she would win) and she's got a similar path, great character actress, been around forever; she's one of those people who's shown up on every great drama series you can think of as some point, finally gets a breakout character on a show people are watching, and on Lifetime, of all channel btw; I think that's the first time Lifetime got an acting nomination that wasn't in the Movie/Miniseries Category since, eh, oh god, probably Blair Brown for the last couple seasons of "The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd". and here's the kicker, she plays a flawed and somewhat sociopathetic reality show producer on the series. I'm not gonna say, why actors, might have some affection for this kind of part, but-um, let's just say I'd suspect her character is the one of these nominees that I suspect might be the most relatable to the Academy. Now as to the "Game of Thrones" girls, eh, um, Emilia Clarke's the dragon lady, right. Okay, I got that one, Lena Headey's back and.. (Search IMDB.com) Oh, is she Tyrion's sister? Okay. Sister or mother? And Maisie... how old is this girl, 19? Okay, um... yeah, I'm sold; I think they're splitting their votes.

PREDICTION/PREFERENCE: Constance Zimmer-"UnReal"


OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A DRAMA SERIES
Downton Abbey-"Episode 9"-Michael Engler-PBS
Game of Thrones-"Battle of the Bastards"-Miguel Sapochnik-HBO
Game of Thrones-"The Door"-Jack Bender-HBO
Homeland-"The Tradition of Hospitality"-Lesli Linka Glatter-Showtime
The Knick-"This Is All We Are"-Steven Soderbergh-Cinemax
Ray Donovan-"Exsuscito"-David Hollander-Showtime

Okay, that "Downton Abbey" episode is the Series Finale, so you can't discount that entirely, butlike I said, this is one of those where, vote splitting will happen, unless there's a heavy favorite and "Battle of the Bastards" like, "Veep"'s "Mother" episode on the other side, seems to be the heavy favorite, and while I don't think it's impossible for there to be a weird upset from maybe "Homeland" or from "Ray Donovan", which is a possibility, it's hard to imagine this episode losing one of these categories this year. "Game of Thrones" unlike did do well at the Creative Arts, and by the end of Sunday night, it could pass "Frasier" for most Emmy wins for a Series. It still has to catch up to "Saturday Night Live" for overall for any series, but yeah, it's probably happening unless something bizarre happens.

PREDICTION: "Game of Thrones"-"Battle of the Bastards"-Miguel Sapochnik
PREFERENCE: "The Knick"-"This Is All We Are"-Steven Soderbergh


OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A DRAMA SERIES
The Americans-"Persona Non Grata"-Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg-FX Networks
Downton Abbey-"Episode 8"-Julian Fellowes-PBS
Game of Thrones-"Battle of the Bastards"-David Benioff & D.B. Weiss-HBO
The Good Wife-"End"-Robert King and Michelle King-CBS
Mr. Robot-"esp1.0_hellofriend.mov (Pilot)-Sam Esmail-USA
UnReal-"Return"-Marti Nixon and Sarah Gertrude Shaprio-Lifetime

In case you're wondering, how do they determine which episodes specifically get nominated for some of these, and I do think there's some regulations regarding how often a person can be nominated for a show in Writing/Directing in a year, a show can submit as many or as few episodes it wants, and for instance I think "Game of Thrones" submitted only one or two, so that's why you get some years where, let's say "The Sopranos" or-eh, "NYPD Blue" of even "Hill Street Blues" if you want to go way back, they might sometimes sweep the nominations in some of these categories. But yeah, you can just put your name in, pretty much and get in. Anyway, ooh, very clever, Emmys picking "Episode 8" the episode before the finale of "Downton Abbey", which was a better written episode, although the Finale was good too, and "End" is of course, "The Good Wife"'s finale episode and the first time they've been nominated in this category in a while too, although that's about it that the show got for it's last season. Man, Margulies, Cumming, even Christine Baranaski didn't get in this year, what the hell? I don't even think much of that show, but it wasn't worth ignoring entirely. Anyway, while I suspect "The Americans" might be in the running as well, the only show that really has a shot at toppling "Battle of the Bastards" is "Mr. Robot". Gold Derby is actually predicting "Mr. Robot", and the Writers do have a tendency more than most to make a more radical pick here. I don't know if that's true in the popular vote age, but you know, I suspect there's already more of a thinking that "Battle of the Bastards" is more of a directing accomplishment than a writing one, and if you don't think Rami Malek is gonna win for acting, this would be where you'd honor "Mr. Robot". 

PREDICTION/PREFERENCE: "Mr. Robot"-"esp1.0_hellofriend.mov (Pilot)"-Sam Esmail


GUEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Mahershala Ali-"House of Cards"-Netflix
Hank Azaria-"Ray Donovan"-Showtime
Reg E. Cathay-"House of Cards"-Netflix
Michael J. Fox-"The Good Wife"-CBS
Paul Sparks-"House of Cards"-Netflix
Max von Sydow-"Game of Thrones"-HBO

Three "House of Cards" and three respected veterans nominated in this one. Reg E. Cathay won last year for "House of Cards", so he's a favorite, but the question now is, exactly how did they like him last year? It was an upset last time, and he also didn't have this much competition from his co-stars. Michael J. Fox, he keeps getting nominated for "The Good Wife" he wasn't won yet, I don't think he's suddenly gonna win now. Hank Azaria, here's that weird "Ray Donovan" nomination sneaking in again. Well, he is a beloved veteran in a split ballot year, so you never know. That said, Max von Sydow, just the idea of him on "Game of Thrones" is just, badass, in general. If there's any actor who absolutely should just be on "Game of Thrones" at some point, it's him, and shockingly he's never won anything so... well, he's won a couple things over the years but nothing major and he's eighty-something years old, so this would be the time if you were gonna give him anything.

PREDICTION/PREFERENCE: Max von Sydow-"Game of Thrones"
*WINNER-Hank Azaria-"Ray Donovan" 


GUEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Ellen Burstyn-"House of Cards"-Netflix
Allison Janney-"Masters of Sex"-Showtime
Margo Martindale-"The Americans"-FX Networks
Laurie Metcalf-"Horace and Pete"-Louisck.net
Molly Parker-"House of Cards"-Netflix
Carrie Preston-"The Good Wife"-CBS

Okay, only two "House of Cards" nominees in this category, and there is a definite favorite in Ellen Burstyn for "House of Cards". She's just an Emmy magnet, often winning and getting nominated in weird places, even once famously nominated for fourteen seconds of screen time. And in all due respect to Molly Parker, Burstyn has the material to win this year. The problem is she's up against two other Emmy magnets, and three if you want to count Laurie Metcalf, who seems like an Emmy magnet this year with three nominations, including here, getting the only nomination for Louis C.K. personal project "Horace and Pete". The Academy members should have their copies of that show, they were sent by Louis C.K. himself, at great personal expense to him, 'cause he did that entirely independently and it cost him millions so, hopefully it'll work for Ms. Metcalf, but.... Other than her, Allison Janney, has seven or eight, whatever it is now, and she's won for "Masters of Sex" before, which for some reason can't seem to get any other nominations despite being way-the-hell better than all the Series nominees, and Margo Martindale won this Emmy controversially last year for "The Americans" after winning for less than a couple minutes of screen time; she basically won for a cup of coffee, and purportedly she's even in this episode less that last year so, (Shrugs) maybe they just really like her, who knows. But they all like Carrie Preston, who has also won this category before for "The Good Wife", so three former winners, for performances in their shows in this category, and still Ellen Burstyn seems like a favorite. Most popular show among the nominees, biggest actress, biggest part... pretty inevitable.

PREDICTION: Ellen Burstyn-"House of Cards
PREFERENCE: Laurie Metcalf-"Horace and Pete"
*WINNER: Margo Martindale-"The Americans"-Alright, nevermind, they really just like Margo Martindale, and in a popular vote, the most popular person is just gonna win. Moving on, let's go to Variety.


VARIETY SERIES

OUTSTANDING VARIETY TALK SERIES
Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee-Crackle
Jimmy Kimmel Live-ABC
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver-HBO
The Late Late Show with James Corden-CBS
Real Time with Bill Maher-HBO
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon-NBC

Well, with "Full Frontal with Samantha Bee" not getting nominated, it's clear that John Oliver is the heavy favorite, if there is a potential spoiler, it's definitely James Corden; he did extremely well at the Creative Arts Emmys and his Carpool Kareoke has really caught on, although if I'm being completely honest, I don't really get it. I mean, I do, but to the extent that's become, I-, (Shrugs) eh, I don't really why it's become so hugely popular, but I like Corden, I get that he's doing something a little different a little more Graham Norton than the other talk show hosts, and he's definitely got a lot of skill and talent, but I wouldn't have nominated him, this year anyway. I do love, "Comedian in Cars Getting Coffee", and I am glad that that got in here, and one of the first time a show went from the Short-Format Non-Fiction Category, and then moved to the Long-Form Variety category and got nominated; don't think any other show has done. It's also the first streaming series to get nominated in the category, and btw, Crackle did surprisingly well overall, they didn't get a lot, but they definitely over-achieved. (Also, the nominated episode is the Barack Obama episode, so that might be why it got in)  The two Jimmy's and Bill Maher coming back into the category round up the rest, and no matter the result, this will be a new winner in the category, which doesn't have a lot of them remember. Only "The Colbert Report", "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and "The Late Show with David Letterman" have won this award in the past, like 20 years or so, so somebody new's coming up here. 

PREDICTION/PREFERENCE: "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver


OUTSTANDING VARIETY-SKETCH SERIES
Documentary Now!-IFC
Drunk History-Comedy Central
Inside Amy Schumer-Comedy Central
Key & Peele-Comedy Central
Portlandia-IFC
Saturday Night Live-NBC

I don't think they have increased the nomination total for the series for this category, so on top of the other five from last year, it seems "Documentary Now!" got in due to the 2% rule, which I'm okay with. I'm kinda surprised that show is popular enough to be honest. Parodying documentaries is-eh, that's not something you except to see much of on American television, especially nowadays. That's an idea, I think I expect more from the ancient days of television, from like Sid Caesar or someone like that back when television was a luxury and not an everyday household item that everyone has in each room of the house. "Inside Amy Schumer" won the annual category last year, and according to Gold Derby, she's the favorite to win again. It did do well at the Creative Arts, but this is "Key & Peele"'s last season, so this is last time for them to be honored, if they're gonna do it. I was gonna predict them, but eh, Amy seems to be on a roll. "SNL" could play spoiler, this is a bounceback year for them. "Portlandia" has it's fans, I'll be honest, I'm not one of them. It's not a bad show per se, but I-eh, I get what they're making fun of, but I think it's a bit limiting myself. Sorta the same with "Drunk History", they feel like gimmicks to me, where you can base sketch comedy around, but it's not necessarily, the most insightful and pointed sketch material out there.

PREDICTION/PREFERENCE: "Inside Amy Schumer"


OUTSTANDING VARIETY SPECIAL
Adele Live in New York City-NBC
Amy Schumer: Live at the Apollo-HBO
The Kennedy Center Honors-CBS
The Late Late Show Carpool Karaoke Prime Time Special-CBS
Lemonade-HBO

Tough year, Adele vs. Amy Schumer vs. Beyonce, and "The Kennedy Center Honors" usually take this category. I'm actually a bit shocked that James Corden's "...Carpool Karaoke..." special snuck in here, that was basically just, a bunch of the clips that he already played on his show shoved together, most of us can probably recreate watching that accidentally by watching the clips on Youtube if we wanted. It's been awhile since a stand-up performance has won this category and besides they can honor Amy Schumer elsewhere, so I suspect it's between Adele and Beyonce, and, I know I can't stand Beyonce, and I know there are others like me, I can't imagine there's more people who hate Adele, so just based on that, I'm going with Adele. That, and-eh Amy Schumer's special were the only ones of these nominees I sat through more than once, voluntarily so...

PREDICTION/PREFERENCE: "Adele: Live in New York City"
*WINNER: "The Late Late Show Carpool Karaoke Prime Time Special"-Wow, really? (Sigh) Well, Adele was on the best of those "Carpool Karaoke"'s so, I'm calling this half a correct prediction. Still though, that's, yeah, that's not fair. I mean it was like "SNL"'s fortieth anniversary last year, that was an actual show and even with the old sketch clips it was 40 years of something, this is honoring something that premiered yesterday. I don't get it. 


OUTSTANDING SPECIAL CLASS PROGRAM
The 73rd Annual Golden Globe Awards-NBC
Grease: Live-FOX
The Oscars-ABC
Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show-CBS
69th Annual Tony Awards-CBS

For those curious, "Special Class Programs" are for programs, usually specials, that don't originate as "exclusively made-for-television" variety events. This includes Award shows, music and dance programs, almost basically, and event that's aired live on television, but not necessarily news or sports, something that doesn't have to be aired. Huh, well that makes me more skeptical as to why "Grease: Live" is in this category, but (Shrugs) oh well.

PREDICTION/PREFERENCE: "Grease: Live"
*WINNER: "Grease: Live"

OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A VARIETY SERIES
Inside Amy Schumer-"Madonna/Whore"-Ryan McFaul-Comedy Central
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver-"Episode 303"-Paul Pennolino-HBO
The Late Late Show with James Corden-"Post-Super Bowl Episode"-Tim Mancinelli-CBS
Saturday Night Live-"Hosts: Tina Fey & Amy Poehler"-Don Roy King
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon-"Episode 325"-Dave Diomedi-NBC

Don Roy King is back in this category after not being in it, for the first time in forever. Usually he wins this 'cause it's a live show and there's a lot more moving parts that involve a lot of camera work and whatnot than say, "Last Week Tonight..." usually does; it's for all-intensive purposes a guy sitting at a desk staring at the camera, not the most difficult thing to shoot. But, there's always an exception or two, more elaborate specials and episodes like James Corden's "Post-Super Bowl" show probably has a lot going on as well.

PREDICTION/PREFERENCE: "Saturday Night Live"-Don Roy King
*WINNER: "Inside Amy Schumer"-Ryan McFaul


OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A VARIETY SPECIAL
Adele Live in New York City-Beth McCartney-Miller-NBC
Amy Schumer: Live at the Apollo-Chris Rock-HBO
58th Grammy Awards-Louis J. Horvitz-CBS
Grease Live-Thomas Kail; Live Television Direction by Alex Rudzinski-FOX
The Kennedy Center Honors-Glenn Weiss-CBS
Lemonade-Kahlil Joseph and Beyonce Knowles Carter-HBO

For those wondering, due to a weird arrangement the Television Academy made with the DGA and the WGA awhile back, they Variety Special Directing and Writing go on the main show every other year, while the Variety-Series Directing and Writing go on the main shows in the other years, so this award will be given out and it's a competitive one and actually this year, it's a fascinating category. "The Kennedy Center Honors" has struggled to win much since the switch to the popular voting system, and it's close too, since the 2% rule applied to increase the nominees to six. Louis J. Horvitz and Glenn Weiss are always favorites when they win for me, 'cause half the time one of them is directing the Emmys in the truck when they win this when it's on the main show but I don't know about this year for either of them. "Grease: Live" won the Variety Special Emmy, that's definitely the most obvious complicated live directing on the show, although the Grammy are tough too. Would be nice to see Chris Rock win for directing, but I don't think that'll happen. Beth McCartney-Miller is up for her 11th Emmy by the way for the Adele special and she's never won; so she's who I'm voting for, but man, "Grease: Live" was a juggernaut this year.

PREDICTION: "Grease: Live"-Thomas Kail; Live Television Direction by Alex Rudzinski
PREFERENCE: "Adele: Live in New York City"-Beth McCartney-Miller


OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A VARIETY SERIES
Full Frontal With Samantha Bee-Writers: Jo Miller, Samantha Bee, et. al.-TBS
Inside Amy Schumer-Writers: Amy Schumer, Michel Lawrence, et. al.-Comedy Central
Key & Peele-Writers: Jordan Peele, Keegan-Michael Key, Jay Martel, et. al.-Comedy Central
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver-Writers: John Oliver, Tim Carvell, et. al.-HBO
Portlandia-Writers: Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein, Jonathan Krisel, Graham Wagner, and Karey Dornetto-IFC
Saturday Night Live-Head Writers: Rob Klein and Bryan Tucker; Writers: James Anderson, et. al.-NBC

Wow, four sketch comedy series nominated, I know they only separated the categories, but I don't remember the last sketch show to win this category, offhand. It's been awhile, I think "SNL" won, when Tina Fey was head writing it... (Searching Emmy website) yeah, in '02, and before that, "The Chris Rock Show" in '99, but that might be changing in the future as there are more sketch shows nominated for Writing than talk shows, and one of the talk shows didn't even get into the Series category, (Which I'm still pissed off at btw, #SamanthaBeeWasRobbed!) but, eh, not this year.

PREFERENCE/PREDICTION: "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver"
*WINNER: "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver"


OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A VARIETY SPECIAL
Amy Schumer: Live at the Apollo-Amy Schumer-HBO
John Mulaney: The Comeback Kid-John Mulaney-Netflix
Patton Oswalt: Talking for Clapping-Patton Oswalt-Netflix
Tig Notaro: Boyish Girl Interrupted-Tig Notaro-HBO
Triumph's Election Special 2016-Robert Smigel, David Feldman, et. al.-Hulu/Funny or Die

So, this is basically, the-eh, well, pretty much-eh, the Emmy for Best Stand-Up Special, which should definitely be an Award now, Emmys! I know technically this includes, every kind of Special Variety program, but look at it. No award shows, no Honors or specials, it's basically stand-up specials and I guess the apple in the bag of oranges is Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, and his weird thing, which would, I believe be Hulu's first Emmy, first Primetime one at least, I think, yeah, (Checking Emmys.com again.) Yeah, Hulu didn't win it's Visual Effects nomination for-eh, "11.22.63", so this is Hulu's only shot, and they're sharing it with Funny or Die. You know, this has been the trend lately to go to the stand-ups for writing and there are, just too many of them, that I think the Academy needs to separate their own category for them, Variety-Special-Comedy, I don't know what to call it, but there's more of them than ever before, and hell that's not even counting, say stand-up series, those old HBO "Comedy Half-Hour"'s or the nine or ten other version of that that are on television nowadays. So, who's gonna win. Amy Schumer's the favorite, makes sense, it's the only thing that's up for something outside of this category, if there's a sentimental vote however, and I would not be shocked by this, Patton Oswalt. He's overdue for awards in general and with his wife's sudden passing recently, that's where the sentimental votes are going. He's funny as hell too. Tig Notaro, might also scrape in there. Um, maybe John Mulaney's funnier doing stand-up than he was on that horrible abortion of a Fox show he had, although he's almost have to be, but no, I don't see him pulling it off here.

PREDICTION: "Amy Schumer: Live at the Apollo"
PREFERENCE: "Patton Oswalt: Talking for Clapping"- I actually thought Amy's special was better, but she's gonna have a truckload of Emmys when this is over, I'd rather see Oswalt get this one.


REALITY PROGRAMS

OUTSTANDING REALITY-COMPETITION PROGRAM
The Amazing Race-CBS
American Ninja Warrior-NBC
Dancing with the Stars-ABC
Project Runway-Lifetime
Top Chef-Bravo
The Voice-NBC

Okay, eh, "American Ninja Warrior" getting in, especially over "So You Think You Can Dance", which really under-performed across the board, even Cat Deeley didn't get in, that was shocking. I guess it's hard to hate "American Ninja Warrior", there's nothing really hateful about it, and I get why it's possible, to me, it's...- actually what it really reminds me of "American Gladiators". The original one, not the horrible redo NBC tried of that. Only without the gladiators, and it's just the eliminator. It's an obstacle course, I mean, it's impressive, but (Shrugs) anyway, I have to admit that I'm not exactly about any of these particular nominees this year, I think it's between "The Voice" and "The Amazing Race", who've been going back and forth winning this award. I suspect "The Voice" is just more popular, so I think that'll win, but (Shrugs) yeah, reality competition programming, way down. I wonder if this genre is dying?

PREDICTION: "The Voice"
PREFERENCE: "Top Chef"


OUTSTANDING HOST FOR A REALITY OR REALITY-COMPETITION PROGRAM
Tom Bergeron-"Dancing with the Stars"-ABC
Steve Harvey-"Little Big Shots starring Steve Harvey"-NBC
Heidi Klum, Tim Gunn-"Project Runway"-Lifetime
Jane Lynch-"Hollywood Game Night"
RuPaul Charles-"Rupaul's Drag Race"-Logo
Ryan Seacrest-"American Idol"-FOX

Ryan Seacrest is back in for "American Idol"'s last season, although I doubt he'll win. Jane Lynch, I don't think it should be in this category; it's not a reality show, but to me, it's clearly the best of the nominees, and the won that does the most as the show's host. Good for Rupaul finally getting in, and good for Logo in general, I think this is their first big Emmy nomination, so kudos for them, and it'd be nice to see RuPaul finally win. Bergeron and Klum/Gunn are possibilities as always, and they've both won before so don't count them out but I think the Academy is more or less, "Been there/done that" when it comes to them, and they need a really good excuse to not give it to Lynch again.

PREDICTION/PREFERENCE: Jane Lynch-"Hollywood Game Night
*WINNER: RuPaul Charles-"Rupaul's Drag Race"-Wow! She's more popular than I thought, good for her. 


OUTSTANDING STRUCTURED REALITY PROGRAM
Antiques Roadshow-PBS
Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives-Food Network
Lip Sync Battle-SpikeTV
Mythbusters-Discovery Channel
Shark Tank-ABC
Undercover Boss-CBS

The only new nominee is "Lip Sync Battle", which I suspect has a decent shot at winning, lot of celebrities into it, on it. I'm more or less waiting for them to get as sick of "Shark Tank" as I've gotten so that they can finally award "Antiques Roadshow", but that's probably wishful thinking.

PREDICTION/PREFERENCE: "Antiques Roadshow"
*WINNER: "Shark Tank"


OUTSTANDING UNSTRUCTURED REALITY PROGRAM
Born This Way-A&E
Deadliest Catch-Discovery Channel
Gaycation with Ellen Page-Viceland
Intervention-A&E
Project Greenlight-HBO
United Shades of America-CNN

It's always tough to bet against "Deadliest Catch" in this category, it's got a stranglehold on it, but "Intervention" is back, they're a former winner, and "Project Greenlight" they've never won before, but everybody in the industry watches that show when they do do a season, trust me. It's about the film industry, respected in the industry, eh, they've got to be sick of "Deadliest Catch" by now, right?

PREDICTION/PREFERENCE: "Project Greenlight"
*WINNER: "Born This Way"- Okay, didn't see that coming. I'll have to watch that now. Hmm.


LIMITED SERIES/TELEVISION MOVIES

OUTSTANDING LIMITED SERIES
American Crime-ABC
Fargo-FX Networks
The Night Manager-AMC
The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story-FX Networks
Roots-HISTORY

And last but certainly this year, not least. Man, the Limited Series categories absolutely overtook everything else this year, and that's not good for me. I mentioned earlier when I did that Top Ten Miniseries list that I don't tend to get to these shows right away, and it's hurting me here. But, Limited Series and TV Movies, just took over the conversation around all the water coolers. And nothing dominated more at the Emmys and the water coolers than, O.J. Simpson. Dammit, I already lived through the damn thing once, now I gotta live through it again! Thanks Ryan Murphy (Forced smile, thumbs up) And the sad thing is, the little parts of it that I did see so far, it was really good, so.... "Fargo" and "The Night Manager" are in the conversation but... (Shakes head) Congratulations FX, you win.

PREDICTION: "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story"
PREFERENCE: "Fargo"


OUTSTANDING TELEVISION MOVIE
All the Way-HBO
Confirmation-HBO
Luther-BBC America
Sherlock: The Abominable Bride (Masterpiece)-PBS
A Very Murray Christmas-Netflix

Is it mean for me to actually want "A Very Murray Christmas" to win? Eh, alright, um, this wasn't as big as the Limited Series this year, but "All the Way" seems like the safe and expected winner, the one that actually did show up in other categories, but it went 0 for 4 at the Creative Arts and "Sherlock" actually won something, so now we got to worry about more surprise "Sherlock..." upsets now. Sigh. The fact is, nothing in the category is strong this year, so it's really just a crapshoot.

PREDICTION: "All the Way"
PREFERENCE: "Luther"


LEAD ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE
Bryan Cranston-"All the Way"-HBO
Benedict Cumberbatch-"Sherlock: The Abominable Bride (Masterpiece)-PBS
Idris Elba-"Luther"-BBC America
Cuba Gooding, Jr.-"The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story"-FX Networks
Tom Hiddleston-"The Night Manager"-AMC
Courtney B. Vance-"The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story"-FX Networks

Wow, tough category. This could go anywhere, Cumberbatch has won the category before, Idris Elba's on a role, and he won at SAG recently for "Luther" so not completely out there for him to win again, Cuba Gooding Jr., former Oscar winner, always in contention, but it's likely between Bryan Cranston and Courtney B. Vance. Just based on recent history of reprised Tony winning performances in these categories losing, Vance seems like a lock, plus he's the one with the breakthrough performance, and he's a longtime respected veteran actor, but it's Cranston and if there's a way to honor him, Hollywood will usually try to find a way. 

PREDICTION/PREFERENCE: Courtney B. Vance-"The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story"


LEAD ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE
Kirsten Dunst-"Fargo"-FX Networks
Felicity Huffman-"American Crime"-ABC
Audra McDonald-"Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill"-HBO
Sarah Paulson-"The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story"-FX Networks
Lily Taylor-"American Crime"-ABC
Kerry Washington-"Confirmation"-HBO

Sarah Paulson is once again the heavy, heavy favorite to win a Limited Series Acting race, which means, look out for upsets 'cause she's never won. And there's definitely potential for her to lose out there. Any other year and Kirsten Dunst might've walked away with this, but god this is a loaded category. Audra McDonald, also reviving a Tony winning performance, I don't know there's singing, so maybe. Kerry Washington's overdue, but I don't hear about too many people who really liked that "Confirmation" film. The two "American Crime" actresses however; it's a proven winner show, the show got even bigger this second season, Felicity Huffman is a former winner, but Lily Taylor, is a very frightening nominee if you don't think Sarah Paulson is safe. Longtime actress, been around forever, one of the best in the business, juicy as hell role in that show, this is the perfect storm of a role that could upset Paulson and that's worrisome, if she's way ahead of Felicity, then maybe, but if it's a split vote than Paulson's probably going up against Dunst.

PREDICTION/PREFERENCE: Sarah Paulson-"The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story"


SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE
Sterling K. Brown-"The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story"-FX Networks
Hugh Laurie-"The Night Manager"-AMC
Jesse Plemons-"Fargo"
David Schwimmer-"The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story"-FX Networks
John Travolta-"The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story"-FX Networks
Bokeem Woodbine-"Fargo"

3 from O.J., two from "Fargo", and if there's vote splitting and someone needs a reason to vote Hugh Laurie has never won an Emmy. Yeah, I know, I keep thinking he must've won for "House" at least once, but no, he never did. Well, Sterling K. Brown is the favorite at the moment, but how well-known is he, or does that matter 'cause they've seen the miniseries? He's got two actors from his show competing against, both bigger names, Schwimmer's never won so he's due, and Travolta was never nominated until now, despite being having a memorable Emmy moment when he-eh, accepting Diana Hyland's Emmy for "The Boy in the Plastic Bubble" after she passed away years ago. Plus, he's a movie star. Plemons is well-known too, "Fargo" is beloved, people remember him from "Breaking Bad". Man, this is a tough category. I literally think this is a throw a dart prediction to me.

PREDICTION: Sterling K. Brown-"The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story"
PREFERENCE: None


SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE
Kathy Bates-"American Horror Story: Hotel"-FX Networks
Olivia Colman-"The Night Manager"
Regina King-"American Crime"
Melissa Leo-"All the Way"-HBO
Sarah Paulson-"American Horror Story: Hotel"-FX Networks
Jean Smart-"Fargo"-FX Networks

I feel like I can safely predict that nobody from O.J. Simpson will win this category. I think. Regina King won last year, but Jean Smart is an Emmy magnet and "Fargo" is the second choice to O.J. Simpson across the board. Part of me, is weirdly thinking that Sarah Paulson could pull off the rare double-double and win both Emmys, she finally wins for "American Horror Story," granted in a weak year, but they're voting for her complete work, type of thing; she might pull off a Stockard Channing here. This is a category known for upsets and there's two people she's lost to in the category, including her cast-mate Kathy Bates. Melissa Leo's well-respected, but it just doesn't seem like a year anybody from a TV movie has a shot. Olivia Colman seems like the best shot for "The Night Manager" here though. Hmm.

PREDICTION/PREFERENCE: Jean Smart-"Fargo"


OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A LIMITED SERIES, MOVIE OR DRAMATIC SPECIAL
All the Way-Jay Roach-HBO
Fargo-"Before the Law'-Noah Hawley-FX Networks
The Night Manager-Susanne Bier-AMC
The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story-"From the Ashes of Tragedy"-Ryan Murphy-FX Networks
The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story-"Manna from Heaven"-Anthony Hemingway-FX Networks
The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story-"The Race Card"-John Singleton-FX Networks

Jay Roach has never lost this category, and Susanne Bier is a great Oscar-winning director, I wouldn't count her out. That said, the three nominations for O.J. Simpson. Good directors too, Anthony Hemingway's a good up-and-coming young filmmaker, and John Singleton, I-, I can't believe he had nothing better to do honestly; he's too talented to be a guest director for a Limited Series, but it makes sense. "Fargo" I can see, honestly, getting it's one win over O.J., here, vote splitting is gonna make this a hard prediction.

PREDICTION: "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story"-"From the Ashes of Tragedy"-Ryan Murphy
PREFERENCE: "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story"-"The Race Card"-John Singleton


OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A LIMITED SERIES, MOVIE OR DRAMATIC SPECIAL
Fargo-"Loplop"-Bob DeLaurentis-FX Networks
Fargo-"Palindrome"-Noah Hawley-FX Networks
The Night Manager-David Farr-AMC
The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story-"From the Ashes of Tragedy"-Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski-FX Networks
The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story-"Marcia, Marcia, Marcia"-D.V. DeVincentis-FX Networks
The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story-"The Race Card"-Joe Robert Cole-FX Networks

(Shrugs, sigh) I-, Yeah, I got nothing, I'm throwing darts blindly here. It's a bunch of O.J.'s a couple "Fargo"'s and "The Night Manager" sneaking in there, basically all the other categories this in the Limited Series genre, wrapped into one. Okay, I promise next year, I will get to the damn miniseries. Watch, next year, it'll all be about the sitcoms and dramas again and I would've seen none of them.

PREDICTION: "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story"-"Marcia, Marcia, Marcia"-D.V. DeVincentis
PREFERENCE: None


Alright folks, that's all the categories you need to know for Sunday night, plus a few extras. If you want to check the rest of the Creative Arts winners, you can check these links below:

http://www.emmys.com/sites/default/files/Downloads/2016-creative-arts-winners-saturday.pdf
http://www.emmys.com/sites/default/files/Downloads/2016-creative-arts-winners-sunday.pdf

Trust me, even if you think the Emmys don't care about the shows you watch, they often do, they're just not on the big show they're on the Creative Arts and often you get to see some nice winner. Congrats, "Archer" for instance! And-eh, they may give you a hint or two on how the main show might play out, so don't discard especially if you want to do well in your Emmy pools.