Wednesday, January 26, 2011

#10 of 2010: Greenberg

Like The Fighter, another regionally specific, humor-spiked American character study that I wouldn't trade for anything, Greenberg shows a marvelous knack for shifting a plausibly bonded calico of characters onto and off the screen, gathering them together and separating them out. Rich, consistent rewards are generated from scenes where we observe group interaction from a sufficient distance to make our own choices of whom to watch and our own surmises about the relative distance between characters. These make for subtle, savory feasts of personality revealed through behavior, but the movie is equally adept at zeroing in on single characters or pairs and digging incisively into the particulars of what makes them tick or, more often, not tick. Even more than The Fighter, Greenberg stays fresh and surprising with its dramatic choreography: it's never clear who will linger within or disappear from Roger Greenberg's ornery orbit. Characters who seem like one-offs return for tangy comedy or tough confrontation; others thread themselves in and out as semi-regular mainstays; the female lead, around whom the film opens and with whom a central relationship begins to coalesce, goes missing for a significant passage, within an astutely engineered narrative context.

The ensemble plays as richly as in a Leigh or Demme film, without abandoning that prickliness and starch that Baumbach has been perfecting. Laugh lines ("You let a mental patient go down on you?") and quiet heartbreakers (Rhys Ifans, supplying the correct name of his son) are equally within the purview of Baumbach's deepest, nimblest, most surprising ensemble so far. Roger's aggressive unapproachability is funny, poignant, and intimidating, not unlike Mark Zuckerberg's in The Social Network, but more discomfiting and even infuriating, often to himself, without topical rhetoric or simplified arcs of romantic yearning to cushion the blow of such exacting portraiture. Compare Greenberg to Coppola's Somewhere, and you see how a story of L.A.-specific drift and disappointment doesn't need to hit the same nail quite so frequently, or so fully on the head; Savides's light proves evocative and elevating of the film without feeling so obviously recruited into blunt directorial framings and conceits. Compare Greenberg to Black Swan and note that a seemingly objective camera can perform a dissection of a highly aggravated mind without resorting to hysteria, or equating fearlessness with hyperbole. Am I making Greenberg seem special only by running down its peers, framing them as reflections of this film rather than autonomous entities? Apologies; Roger makes that reflex contagious. I skipped Greenberg in theaters because the ads didn't convince me I needed to attend; since debuting on DVD, it's remained a pebble I can't get out of my mental shoe, and don't want to. (capsule review)

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Top Ten of 2010: A Cheerful Prologue

My Top Ten list of U.S. releases for 2010 encompasses five film-festival hits from 2009 that took the customary year to arrive on a rarefied number of American commercial screens; one documentary that premiered at festivals in 2008 before finally landing a micro-budgeted distribution deal last winter; a feature that bowed at Cannes in 2008 and, despite finally debuting to Chicago audiences for a week-long public run at Facets, shows no clear signs of having played New York or Los Angeles at all; and three U.S.-made releases about which no "release date" enigma exists. Even at that, though, one of those last three films, a Sundance discovery last January, and another, released in March, feel like they, too, have been out forever.

The main lesson to be drawn, however, is not that 2010 had a hard time generating its own, ready-made Top Ten material. Granted, I wouldn't be entirely strenuous in disputing that sentiment, especially given the memory of a summer that had little to furnish into anyone's time capsule beyond Toy Story 3 (which I loved), Inception (which I didn't), and the indelibly vicious take-downs of Sex and the City 2 (which I avoided). The year wasn't great, and minus the triage performed by all those slow-trickle international gems, it would clearly look much worse. But, as few "A"-level movies as I found, I gave more "B+"s to more movies I more or less cherished and would avidly watch again—and, in many cases, already have watched again—than I can remember doing in any recent year. And as I was finally moved to explain this summer, a B+ or even a B– on this site generally implies a film that I'd urge you to have a crack at. The number of movies that made a strong, wholly defensible run for the #9 or #10 spot on this list is greater than the list itself. Even though this runner-up echelon includes more Cannes-vetted entrees (Mother, Carlos, The Father of My Children, A Prophet, Secret Sunshine), pulpy humdingers imported from abroad (Animal Kingdom), and micro-mini releases (My Neighbor, My Killer), it is also impressively fat with homegrown, medium-rare, commercial entertainments that invigorated at least as much as they impressed. Inside Job, The Fighter, Let Me In, The Town, The Social Network, Green Zone, and How to Train Your Dragon, basically in that order, would be proud entrants in a year-end Best list, with October Country, The Ghost Writer, Winter's Bone, The American, and Catfish not too far behind.

Solid if highly qualified successes like Mike Leigh's Another Year, Sylvain Chomet's The Illusionist, Luca Guadagnino's I Am Love, and the deceptively tough-minded sheep-herding documentary Sweetgrass all demand a second look and imply possible gains in my estimation as I keep mulling. The best stuff in inconsistent dramas like Fair Game (great start and middle, vaporous ending), Conviction (grippingly acted, mystifyingly scripted), The Last Exorcism (blazing middle trumps the intro and the finale), and For Colored Girls (an entire gamut of the dazzling and the risible, often within the same scenes) is as good as the best stuff in a lot of better movies. Meanwhile, amongst Emma Stone and her abler abettors in Easy A, Drew Barrymore and her comic accomplices in Going the Distance, prankish documentaries Exit Through the Gift Shop and Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, and the Hope Diamond of unabashed costume jewelry that is Burlesque, I had some hearty laughs and joys at the movies this year, which mean more to me as time goes by.

Very little in the way of unpolluted greatness, then, but an exhilarating lot in the way of rich, savory outings, of which my at-last stabilized Top Ten had the most fiber and flavor. Look for those in the next blog entry, over the next few days. I'll follow that post, once it's done, with a Top Ten list by world premiere, since the abundance of top-flight holdovers on the one you're about to read means the lists have very little intersection... and to assure you, as well, that 2011 is likely to hit several high-points that festival mavens have already spotted over the last 12 months. Hooray, and stay tuned!


Final Oscar Nom Predix

I took a stab at these three months ago, and now I'm chiming in one last time, sans commentary. I will say this: I'm going to be miffed if Debra Granik's ship comes in among the Best Director nominees, only because I went out on a limb with that early in the fall, and on Nathaniel's podcast a few weeks ago, and I don't want a repeat of Almodóvar 2002, where I get the hunch before most folks, only to give it up right before the "surprise" comes to fruition. But people sure do like that stuttering king. And I'm banking on them loving that fighter, with Wahlberg upsetting Franco and Bardem, and on at least a little bit of cool settling over the Black Swan-for-everything blitz. (Screenplay? Really? No matter how many times he says, "But I'm not only casting ze White Swan"?)

These predictions tally to 11 for Inception, 9 for The King's Speech, 8 apiece for The Fighter and The Social Network, and 6 apiece for Black Swan, Toy Story 3, and True Grit. 5 for the dread Alice, and 4 for 127 Hours, despite my decisions to shut it out from the Picture, Director, Actor, and Screenplay fields. We'll see if it gets out from underneath that rock.

BEST PICTURE Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, The King's Speech, The Social Network, The Town, Toy Story 3, True Grit, Winter's Bone
Alternates: The Ghost Writer, 127 Hours, Another Year

BEST DIRECTOR Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan), David Fincher (The Social Network), Tom Hooper (The King's Speech), Christopher Nolan (Inception), David O. Russell (The Fighter)
Alternates: Debra Granik (Winter's Bone), Joel and Ethan Coen (True Grit), Roman Polanski (The Ghost Writer), Mike Leigh (Another Year)

BEST ACTRESS Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right), Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole), Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone), Natalie Portman (Black Swan), Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine)
Alternates: Julianne Moore (The Kids Are All Right), Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit), Noomi Rapace (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Lesley Manville (Another Year), Tilda Swinton (I Am Love), Hilary Swank (Conviction)

BEST ACTOR Robert Duvall (Get Low), Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network), Colin Firth (The King's Speech), Ryan Gosling (Blue Valentine), Mark Wahlberg (The Fighter)
Alternates: James Franco (127 Hours), Javier Bardem (Biutiful), Jeff Bridges (True Grit)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS Amy Adams (The Fighter), Helena Bonham Carter (The King's Speech), Melissa Leo (The Fighter), Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit), Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom)
Alternates: Mila Kunis (Black Swan), Lesley Manville (Another Year), Barbara Hershey (Black Swan)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR Christian Bale (The Fighter), John Hawkes (Winter's Bone), Jeremy Renner (The Town), Mark Ruffalo (The Kids Are All Right), Geoffrey Rush (The King's Speech)
Alternates: Andrew Garfield (The Social Network), Sam Rockwell (Conviction)

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY Another Year, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, The King's Speech
Alternates: Black Swan, Animal Kingdom, Blue Valentine, Greenberg

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY The Ghost Writer, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit, Winter's Bone
Alternates: The Town, 127 Hours, Rabbit Hole, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY 127 Hours, Black Swan, Inception, The Social Network, True Grit
Alternates: The King's Speech, Harry Potter..., Shutter Island, The Way Back

BEST FILM EDITING 127 Hours, Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Social Network
Alternates: The King's Speech, True Grit, Toy Story 3

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM Biutiful, In a Better World, Incendies, Life, Above All, Outside the Law
Alternates: Simple Simon, Dogtooth, Even the Rain, Confessions

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE How to Train Your Dragon, Tangled, Toy Story 3
Alternates: The Illusionist, Despicable Me, My Dog Tulip

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE Inside Job, Restrepo, This Way of Life, Waiting for 'Superman', Waste Land
Alternates: Precious Life, Exit Through the Gift Shop, The Tillman Story, Gasland

BEST ART DIRECTION Alice in Wonderland, Inception, The King's Speech, The Social Network, True Grit
Alternates: Shutter Island, Black Swan, Harry Potter...

BEST COSTUME DESIGN Alice in Wonderland, Burlesque, Inception, The King's Speech, True Grit
Alternates: Robin Hood, Made in Dagenham, Black Swan, The Tempest, TRON: Legacy

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE Alice in Wonderland, The Ghost Writer, Inception, The King's Speech, The Social Network
Alternates: Never Let Me Go, 127 Hours, How to Train Your Dragon, Let Me In, Robin Hood, Winter's Bone

BEST SOUND MIXING 127 Hours, Black Swan, Inception, Toy Story 3, Unstoppable
Alternates: TRON: Legacy, The Social Network, Shutter Island, True Grit, Burlesque, Salt

BEST SOUND EDITING 127 Hours, Inception, Toy Story 3, TRON: Legacy, Unstoppable
Alternates: Salt, Black Swan, The Social Network, Shutter Island

BEST ORIGINAL SONG "I See the Light," "Me and Tennessee," "Shine," "We Belong Together," "You Haven't See the Last of Me"
Alternates: "If I Rise," "Little One," "Bound to You," "There's a Place for Us," "Better Days"

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS Alice in Wonderland, Harry Potter..., Inception, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, TRON: Legacy
Alternates: Hereafter (my last change!), Iron Man 2

BEST MAKEUP Alice in Wonderland, The Way Back, The Wolf Man
Alternates: True Grit, Jonah Hex, The Fighter, Barney's Version

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Live-Blogging the 2010 Golden Globes

10:00: No one's even listening to Gervais as he makes his final comments, including his own two cents that justice was served with the Social Network victory, and his final thank you's "to God, for making me an atheist." The wide shot at this point, taken from high in the ceiling, shows that everyone's out of their seat, and no one's even looking at him. I wouldn't want to be him at any of the parties. I am, however, extremely interested in finishing this gin & tonic, the evening's great discovery. Congrats to all the winners, and thanks to everyone who kept hitting Refresh! The day-by-day graph of readership on this blog tells me I wasn't the only person who is unreasonably interested in shindigs like this. Let's band together next year and offer to host!

9:55: Oh, it's Michael Douglas. Well, I don't know that he's a surprise, either, but it's a moving moment, and it compels Alexandre Desplat to spontaneously hug somebody. Nice to see Michael showered with support and affection in this way, and nice to end a frequently testy evening on such a warm note. Douglas: "There's gotta be an easier way to get a standing ovation." Lovely.

I WANT: I can't quite make the call between Fighter and Social Network, but Russell's players seem so incredibly enthusiastic that it's impossible not to root for them.
I PREDICT: The Social Network. And it wins. Armie Hammer is a giant. He's up on stage, though Eisenberg and Garfield aren't. Scott Rudin is one of the absolute jewels of the industry, even if we're only thinking about scale of productivity and commitment to smart, ambitious projects. He's classy enough to thank everyone at Facebook, though in doing so, he stresses his thanks to Mark Zuckerberg "for allowing us to use your life as a metaphor." Hardly needs translating. Fincher visibly appreciates Rudin's praise for his direction but grits his teeth a little at the moment Rudin calls it "his best work."

9:52: Is Julie Andrews the "surprise guest" announcing Best Picture? She hasn't had another reason to be here tonight, although she's hardly been a well-veiled "surprise." Given the Eliza Dolittle connotations, is Julie's enlistment a sign of a King's Speech victory? Do you think I should hold back on speculating until it's actually made clear that Julie is the presenter?

9:48: At least Ricky knows that you can't make a dig at Sandra Bullock. She's invincible at the moment.

I WANT: Gosling, by a mile, even though I'm hugely glad that the HFPA nominated Wahlberg, which isn't an "award" performance in any obvious way.
I PREDICT: Firth, because I'm a conscious and sentient being.

Ryan Gosling and the entire King's Speech table stand to applaud for Colin. Guy Pearce is here! I've decided that Geoffrey Rush is sporting that hat because he doesn't want everyone to see his bald head and fail to understand that it's for that crazy play. Firth describes Rush as his "geisha girl," barely a moment after using the phrases "man love" and "scorching." Basically the same speech he gave at the Critics Choice Awards (yeah, I YouTubed it) but I don't think you can fairly expect these folks to have a bottomless well of material. Especially when you're literally winning every time up to bat.

9:46: Can we bring Annette back up to the dais for a third, final time, to reprise her peace-making speech at the NYFCC? The room needs it.

9:44: Funniest line of the night comes from Tina Fey, in an ad for NBC's various series. She says to camera, "Amy [Poehler] and I have been friends for such a long time, we're like Oprah and Gayle. Only, we're not denying anything."

9:40: Tom Hanks and Tim Allen have been working on how they'd get back at Gervais. It's on.

I WANT: Burlesque, even though The Kids Are All Right is a better movie. Burlesque entertains so eagerly, and voluptuously, in thick and in thin. I'd love to see it rewarded.
I PREDICT: The Kids Are All Right, which despite what I just said, is accomplished and becoming, and full of way more than its share of great scenes and moments.

Julianne and Annette could not be gladder about this outcome. We know this is a movie that was precarious enough for a long pre-production period that this must be incredibly satisfying. Everyone on stage erupts with applause for Lisa Cholodenko, while one of the three producers gives the speech. Deliciously, once we get a wide shot of the stage, we see that Julianne and Annette are standing somewhat apart from the group, arms wrapped around each other with glee. Note that if you cast a movie with multiple female leads and give one of them to Julianne, you win a Globe for Best Picture.

I WANT: Williams, because I liked her and her movie best; or Lawrence, because Winter's Bone has turned into such a great underdog success story; or Kidman, because I'm really fond of her and she's great in a tricky part; or Berry, because I'm really pulling for Frankie & Alice to be good, and I want Berry to keep getting challenging parts. Which isn't to say I'm totally down on Natalie, who increasingly impresses me in her press. She's just the least enticing prospect out of five.
I PREDICT: Which doesn't change the fact that she'll win.

Someone close to a microphone is whooping super loud for Natalie. Emma Stone and Julie Andrews both regard her with an air of serene, approving inevitability, which is just as it should be. Remarks about parents are moving. Joke about Benjamin Millepied is something we've all thought if we watched the movie in the last couple weeks. "Mila 'Sweet Lips' Kunis" is a nice touch. She comes off very nicely, as is her wont. She'll get two more chances to be this publicly moved and grateful.

9:34: Joseph Gordon-Levitt is, I think, the only actual star of a film to be recruited to intro that film. Go ahead, have a push on this button!

I WANT: Oh, not even.
I PREDICT: Gyllenhaal. He couldn't find a way to make the movie work, but it wasn't for lack of trying. I also think he's most likely to radiate a subtle sense of the category's own not-up-to-par-ness, which (shamefully) is what I really want to detect.

Halle Berry announces the award for Paul Giamatti, the only nominee with any critical excitement behind him. Paul Giamatti describes his three co-nominees as "my superiors, as actors and as people." I'm not sure he didn't just say "Rosalind Pike"; someone find out. (Ed. He didn't. My bad.) As happened when he won two years ago for John Adams, there's a whole lot of nervous looking being exchanged around the room, like Giamatti makes people uncomfortable or they're worried he's going to be inappropriate. It seems like he might have been. Halle Berry didn't fall in love with him sighing "Halle Berry...." huskily into the microphone, maybe because she's tired of embarrassing Halle's So Pretty moments, or maybe because he infelicitously happened to sigh her name immediately after saying the words "Godiva Chocolate." Truly hoping that was an accident, but let's recall, Monster's Ball made virtually the same conflation into a plot point. (Ed. This definitely happened, and sounds even worse than I thought.)

9:25: Alicia Keys walks out in a tomato-colored maternity dress, tailored just like Natalie Portman's, similar hairdo to Natalie's, same facial symmetry, same impressive air of consummate elegance and composure. It's like she's Natalie's double, and she is, in fact, intro'ing Black Swan. It's tempting to call her the Black Swan. I guess I just did it.

9:24: It's not just "Hollaback Girl." Beyoncé's "Naughty Girl" has also become an ambient track for a L'Oréal ad. Maybe in four years, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross's music will accompany an ad for Abilify.

9:22: Johnny and Angie are chatting and chuckling in the commercial break, even though it's obviously from several commercial breaks ago. No one moves that fast. Anyway, my guess is that they're saying, "Why are they so mad at us?" Owning half the world has got to be good compensation for this weird bullying. Tomorrow, I'm going to make a YouTube video to assure Johnny and Angie that truly, It gets better.

I WANT: The Big C, but only as a Linney partisan.
I PREDICT: Modern Family, but they give it to Glee again. I hope everyone is duly impressed by my batting-average on predictions tonight, which must have topped 0.050 by now. The crowd likes the co-producer's cheer for public school teachers.

I WANT: Russell, who turned The Fighter into something much more special than was written, and did very little wrong. Fincher also improved the on-the-page prospects of the script, more through transformation than elevation, so he'd be a satisfying winner...
I PREDICT: which I mean, he'll be a satisfying winner.

Aronofsky, Fincher, Hooper, and Russell all get cheers, as though the audience is full of happy Bears fans.

It's Fincher. He's happy, but studiously so, fully reliant on the 8.5 x 11" sheets that have his speech on it. Everyone from Nicole Kidman to Matthew Morrison is looking at him like, Man, I really want to work for him. Eisenberg and Armie Hammer look really chuffed, but not ecstatic-chuffed, like the Fighter table.

9:15: Megan Fox is here to sell The Tourist to us. Doubly hard for her, since The Tourist has already had a few harpoons thrown into it by the evening's host, and because she happens to be joining us right after De Niro made an airport-security joke about her naked body.

9:12: More Abilify!! "Abilify treats depression in adults, when taken with an anti-depressant." Wait, what? Honestly, isn't that a Christopher Guest line?? You know, Mountain Dew can also help a fever, potentially, if you take it with some Tylenol and water. I'm not making jokes about depression or anti-depressants, believe me. But these literally are the worst ads in history. Even now, the narrator is saying "....seizures, trouble swallowing, or declines in white blood cells..." The ad is just a catalog of miseries, real or possible. I bet Alejandro González Iñárritu made it.

9:04: You can't blame De Niro for the fact that first the Globes and then Cannes have decided to draw more attention to his career, just as it's been scraping at the ceiling of Little Fockers. It doesn't help that the tribute montage includes a regrettable moment in The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle in which he's tweely asked to lampoon his own Taxi Driver performance, when what he never does anymore, or maybe never gets asked to do, is compete with his Taxi Driver performance. But he did give the Taxi Driver performance, so I'll focus on that. Easy to do. Even easier now that he invokes the reviews of Little Fockers himself! "It's okay. We all have our jobs to do." He breaks down the Hollywood ecosystem this way: "We make the movies, and the members of the HFPA get their pictures taken with movie stars."

De Niro singles out Awakenings, somewhat surprisingly, as a personal favorite, and then moves on to other under-recognized pets: Stanley & Iris, Everybody's Fine, Frankenstein, Marvin's Room, Stone, and Jacknife. It's a weirdly self-serving moment, but my favorite question for actors in interviews is always "What movies have you made that you wish people had paid more attention to, or took a first look at?" So, this gives me my answer. The deportation jokes weren't so hot, especially once he turned them on the underpaid labor in the room, but he seems tickled by himself. And he deserves congratulations. (And Jane Fonda looks pleased about that shout-out for Stanley & Iris.)

9:02: Matt Damon proves that the HFPA has finally understood that the Cecil B. DeMille Award presentations, which used to go on for entire geological eras, badly needed shortening. Damon's is comic, not played perfectly, but successful enough. I'm stuck on other stuff: Temple Grandin is rubbing-her-eyes tired. Brad and Angie were rushing back to their seat as the De Niro tribute had already started. Then she tried to wait out the camera and surreptitiously apply some more lip gloss, but finally she couldn't wait. She just had to go for it. Furtively, speedily. She got the job done. It must have been a genuine lip-gloss emergency.

8:57: I'm dorky enough that I almost always laugh at M&Ms commercials. I think they're funny! The other ad I've just been served is for the new Matt Damon-Emily Blunt vehicle The Adjustment Bureau, which seems to have intruded into that tiny plot of thematic ground that Liam Neeson's been claiming as his own: the paranoid thriller about conspiracies I can't imagine taking seriously, in movies that just don't look very good.

I WANT: I'm about equally split on Weaver, Adams, or Leo, so I'm pretty easy to please.
I PREDICT: Weaver, actually, partly because it's what my instincts say, and partly because I think it's a risk?

That David Michôd is a handsome dude. Jeremy Irons is definitely giving a drink-lubricated announcement. Melissa Leo's first words: "My God, all that, and I get kissed by Jeremy Irons!!" Leo seems really, really excited. She's such a tough cookie in all her interviews, but she just melts when she wins something; I respect her on both counts. Scores with two great gags, one intentional (about not wanting to seem old enough to play Mark Wahlberg's and Christian Bale's mother) and one seemingly unintentional (where she unwittingly implies she slept with David O. Russell on her way to getting the role). If that was a planned double entendre, she's an even better master of tone and timing than I thought.

I guess this is where the Oscar officially becomes hers? Unless this really is 2007? I'm not sure I'd have voted for Jacki, and I might even think Melissa's better, but I keep pulling for that disarming Aussie leprechaun anyway.

8:49: It's inevitable: finally, a presenter pairing of whom I recognize neither, but I do like the gal's dress. I think I overheard that at least one of them is on The Big Bang Theory, which makes sense because...

I WANT: Steve Carell, but only for Denison-pride reasons (it's my college-in-law), and because it's his last chance.
I PREDICT: Parsons, who indeed wins. I've never seen a whit of the show, but he's been funny in two acceptance speeches in a row, in a way that makes me curious. If you don't care about this moment, you can still play Where's Waldo? with Michelle Pfeiffer in the audience. She's still there, still beautiful, not that interested. Hugh Laurie seems to be asking his wife who Jim Parsons is.

8:48: Jane Fonda's here! Always a plus for me, and I love that she's intro'ing Burlesque, which she sells the heck out of. I don't even care that she's got Cylon shoulders built into her dress. Where Jane and Burlesque intersect is their unapologetic commitment to what they're doing.

8:46: No Strings Attached ad. Anne Heche has that Special Sauce that enticed me to see an Ashton Kutcher movie. Natalie Portman's got a lot going for her, but she's not going to pull that off, at least not in my world.

8:44: I hate to follow up that sad news about Romulus Linney with the tidbit that this Food Network recipe for gin & tonics totally hits the spot, but there it is. It's a commercial break, so I've gotta seize the moment. Don't think less of me.

I WANT: Linney, who's not here because her father passed away yesterday.
I PREDICT: I'm guessing it's Linney. And it is. No mention is made of the circumstances of her not being there, but I read the news last night. My thoughts are with her (which isn't unusual for me).

8:41: Helen Mirren's here to compliment the beautiful women in the room, to sustain a lengthy conceit about the international pregnancy that bore The King's Speech as its fruit, and to remind us (not unworthily) that the UK Film Council was dissolved. The montage of The King's Speech does the same thing the trailer does, making the whole thing seem a bit more rollicking than it actually is or, in fairness, tries to be. Though I still think it might have tried.

I WANT: I Am Love, though it's pretty tacky that I do, because it's the only title I've seen.
I PREDICT: I'm calling I Am Love here, too, though I gather this is unlikely to happen. Hoping it seems Globesy. You know, opulent. ("O-p-u-l-e-n-c-e! Opulence! You own everything!" That's for my Paris Is Burning fans.)

Susanne Bier scores it, for Denmark's In a Better World! I guess it would have been a lot to ask for a reaction shot of Halle Berry, but I was still hoping.

8:35: Just finished that first glass of champagne, so I'm now moving onto my experiment of the evening, care of The Food Network: a gin & tonic where the ice cubes are frozen tonic water. Know in advance that tonic-water ice cubes get a lot bigger as they freeze! Let's see how this goes. It's totally in the spirit of the evening, as I hardly need point out.

I WANT: I like all these gals, but I'm pulling for Vergara, only because I get the impression that Jane Lynch doesn't have to push that far in any direction to keep selling all her punchlines.
I PREDICT: Vergara will finally get out from under the Lynch train.

Nope, it's still Lynch. Who is lovely, and funny: "I am nothing if not falsely humble." She and Vergara have really perfected the "I really think you deserve to win at some point" / "I honestly don't mind that you keep pipping me" embrace on Jane's way up to the podium. Lea Michele is still having the most damp-eyed experience of the evening. I'm really glad for Lynch that she gets to be in a show that mobilizes such moved and happy young fans.

8:27: Tina Fey keeps her streak running as Funniest Awards Presenter. She's like the Meryl of that imaginary category.

I WANT: The Social Network, by a mile. Even the movies I liked from this bunch didn't totally thrive on their scripts, or not consistently so. I don't think Network's is perfect, but it's a lot closer than the others.
I PREDICT: The Social Network. I'm a visionary.

Sorkin's got it. I can't tell whom I'm looking at in the audience. Is it Elijah Wood? Oh, it's Armie Hammer! The lashes threw me. Great points to Sorkin for the line about Scott Rudin being "the best living movie producer, and he gives the dead ones a run for their money, too." Huh, I've never quite heard that before—Sorkin thanks all the female nominees in the room for setting a great example of achievement for his young daughter. "See, honey, smart girls have all the fun!" This is a sweet moment, even if it not-so-subtly implies that his daughter Has a Great Personality.

8:26: Gervais sets up a gag that actually works about Carell leaving The Office and ruining their cash cow. Carell also scores with his comically over-emphatic, "Ha Ha Ha Ha! I love it! Never gets old!"

8:25: We're back, and I take it that Zac Efron is playing a Marine in his next film? He's stumping for The Kids Are All Right. Is "kid" the connecting link here? Warren Beatty says, "That's great" in response to the Kids montage.

8:21: Oh! My first chance to see one of these brusquely Kidman-less ads for Just Go With It. Do they think that, if they include her in the ad, everyone who was going to see it will suddenly think, "Wait, is there going to be a subplot where she tries to sleep with a 10-year-old?" Her omission would be the most galling thing about the commercial if it didn't include the sad spectacle of Jennifer Aniston forced to say the line, about Adam Sandler, "I'm just glad that his thing-a-ling can still ring-a-ding." Sometimes, you're just so happy that Aeschylus invented the spoken drama, aren't you? I mean, don't you find?

8:19: Almost everyone in the audience seems to be glaring at Danes. They just look so tired. Is it the season? The assault on one's stamina and nerves that an evening like this must be? Is it just The Mood in The Room? I don't think the voiceover announcer quite meant to say what he just said, which is, "Coming up, some of the biggest and best stars in the industry. Plus, Tina Fey!"

8:17: Still with Tilda, who still likes intoning The Pillars of the EARTH.

I WANT: No preference, though it would be a kick to see Jennifer Love Hewitt get it!
I PREDICT: I doubt there's any suspense here, insofar as Claire Danes has kind of been making that Mirren-in-The-Queen victory lap for what feels like two years. When the voiceover guy says this is the second win and second nomination for Claire Danes, I ask myself, by immediate reflex, did she also win last year for Temple Grandin?

8:16: Pacino might have played one Jack, but he's also become the other Jack, insofar as he's the single person in the room whom Stick Man is absolutely not going to cut off. Happily, he wraps it up before it really becomes an issue.

8:13: Tilda's here!!!! In a white Oxford button-down shirt, proving that Sharon Stone hasn't lived for nothing, and a giant off-white wrap-around skirt. She stretches The Pillars – – of the EARTH into a line reading, then does the same with The Special. RelationshiPP.

I WANT: Ramírez, obviously.
I PREDICT: Ramírez, but it goes to Pacino, who hopefully will raise his game from his Emmy speech last – whenever that was. September? I can never recall when the Emmys actually happen. Tilda's a Pacino fan. Geoffrey Rush, her co-presenter, is a hat fan. I can't quite guess why Lea Michele is misting up about Pacino's victory.

8:12: Stallone seems happy enough to be stereotyped into hawking The Fighter, but not crazy about Gervais's jab about his own limited range.

8:11: Person I'm most excited to see in the crowd: Gabby Sidibe! Can't wait till she gets up there!

8:10: (Gosh, that long Downey gag and then the award presentation gobbled up some time!) I know they've been spoiling me with all these movie categories in a row. It's gotta be TV next.

8:01: Gervais, presenting Robert Downey, Jr.: "Many of you in this room probably know him best from such facilities as the Betty Ford Clinic and Los Angeles County Jail." And Downey calls him out on it! Mitigating it slightly with his own questionably tasteful joke about sleeping with the Best Actress (Musical/Comedy) nominees. But he's talented enough to make it work. Julianne and Annette think it's funniest. Emma makes it funniest. I'm still liking Downey's description of the evening as "hugely mean-spirited with strangely sinister undertones." Not that the audience seemed to want that pointed out.

I WANT: Stone, or Moore, or Bening. I'll be really easy to please.
I PREDICT: Bening, clearly, and I'm glad the crowd whooped it up so loudly for her. Emma Stone is wearing pink and MightyTan. Everyone in the room seems to be a big fan of The Bening, but there's still something unusually subdued about this crowd. Bening looks great, like the sexy girl in Philosophy class. "I'm very proud to be in this special film, about two women who are deeply in love and are trying to keep their family together." Kissed Julianne first when she won, and thanks Julianne first, effusively but elegantly. So exciting to hear Lisa Cholodenko thanked out loud in a major awards-show speech. Thanks "Mark Ruffalo, our awesome sperm donor." And finishes by thanking "the 1962 winner of the Golden Globe for Most Promising Actor, my husband, Warren Beatty." The Bening turns out to be the first winner of the evening who holds the entire room in silence, even when she takes long pauses.

7:57: The inevitable Bieber moment, nicely countermanded by his pairing with Hailee Steinfeld, a teenaged girl who's obviously got more and better things on her mind than this Nilla Wafer. Am I sensing, in fact, that Hailee doesn't love the implication that kids=animation, and animation=kids? Or is she just nervous. Let's be honest, it's probably just B.

I WANT: Toy Story 3, but I'd be totally satisfied with a Dragon or Illusionist win.
I PREDICT: Toy Story 3. At some point, some awards body will Make a Point by not voting for Pixar, but I don't think tonight's the night. Toy Story 3 takes it, but Jennifer Love Hewitt doesn't seem unusually excited. I guess it must be hard to predict in advance whose reaction shot will be pleased or exuberant or interesting. But it must be said, they keep striking out. Matt Damon looks pleased for Unkrich; Portman looks like she's a woman expecting a baby who's been forced into high heels all evening.

I knew it! Lee Unkrich's nice-enough crack proves that Hailee is not interested in having people think of her as a young kid.

7:53: Commercial break. Anne Hathaway guffawing. (At what?) Julie Andrews giving Andrew Garfield a cheerful pat on the arm. She liked the movie? She liked the performance? He shouldn't feel too bad for having so much trouble with the word "inspiringly"? All of the above? Hard to think of anyone better to do the "Buck up, kid" thing. You can take Julie out of the nanny movies, but you can't take the nanny out of Julie.

I WANT: The Social Network. Innovative or at least hugely counter-intuitive music that functions brilliantly for the film.
I PREDICT: I don't know that the HFPA's celebrity-worship will extend to Reznor, so I'm guessing Inception.

Announcer guy pronounces Rahman the way it looks, but didn't we learn that it sounds more like "Rock-mahn?" Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross get it! Very gratifying! Did J.Lo just say "Atticus Finch?", though? I swear I heard that, but it might just be because I hear "Atticus Finch" even when I myself say "Atticus Ross." Trent Reznor is quite the distinguished gentleman. Won't the kids just be surprised to go digging around his old videos?

I WANT: A song worth getting excited about. See comments below.
I PREDICT: "You Haven't Seen the Last of Me," even though they'd go with the Tangled song if they're (sub?)consciously voting on the strength of the overall scene. Diane Warren indeed takes it, and looks breathless and hugely gratified. First-time winner? Indeed. White tuxedo jacket. Sort of Joan Jett Chic. Reveals that Cher "fought to get the song in the movie, and to keep the song in the movie." Which perhaps explains the hilariously weak diegetic motivation for the song within the film. Good for Diane for dedicating her moment to Ronni Chasen.

7:46: You'll be surprised to learn that Aaron Sorkin's face is looking awfully flushed. Maybe it's pride.

7:45: Andrew Garfield's Spidey sense tells him that The Social Network is perhaps being over-praised on the Film of a Generation flank. Fincher has been saying the same thing in interviews. Kind of funny to see the talent behind the front-runner trying to quell people's enthusiasm. I'm guessing the studio may request some kind of conference call.

7:42: Twitter reader CyCinema suggests that Gervais was just as overbearing last year. I didn't see last year's telecast, so maybe I just haven't been inoculated through past exposure.

7:41: Angelina's trying to work out some sort of kink in Brad's bowtie that seems to be making him uncomfortable. I'm laughing at myself for even being interested in moments like this.

I WANT: No preference. I just can't pretend, you guys.
I PREDICT: Boardwalk surely starts ending the awards-show gravy train for Mad Men right here. Yep. That didn't take a genius. Fun watching the movie crowd observe the TV winners float past them. The cinema types seem so uninvolved, like someone just got announced as Miss Golden Globes 2011. I'm sure they don't actually feel that way, but it's how it looks on TV.

7:38: No comments? If you live-blog into a vacuum, are you really doing it? Someone would stop me if I were making a right fool of myself, right?

I WANT: No preference, though I have a beautiful friend who will be pulling hard for Laurie, and it is sad to me that he never wins.
I PREDICT: Probably Buscemi, but truly, all five guys seem to be in play. Some kind of blue velvet situation happening with Laurie's bowtie. Buscemi does win, and a lot of people stand up. Can't tell if it's all Boardwalk people. Might be. Randomly picking her out of a room, I can tell you that Anne Hathaway feels nothing about this verdict.

7:34: The typically crushing moment with the HFPA President. I missed his name (typing), but he returns the favor of Ricky's barb. Crowd's not sure at this point whether this is all good-natured fun, or way past uncomfortable. The mood in the room seems strange tonight.

7:32: Nathaniel surely just pulled a Colfer and high-high squealed when Michelle Pfeiffer sauntered out, surprising and looking divine in rich, form-fitting blue. But then it turned out she was there to praise Alice in Wonderland. So, I'm genuinely curious: how does this balance shake out for Nathaniel? Is he more pleased, or more crushed? Will he ever recover from this perplexing duel of emotions?

I WANT: Not much invested here.
I PREDICT: Colfer, with outside shot on Stonestreet or Strathairn. I figured Colfer would have to win something eventually. All the Gleeks in the room are thrilled. Jane Krakowski looks the slightest bit puzzled, but with a smile. "I think I just dropped my heart between Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore!" I know what you mean, Chris. He's so excited and overwhelmed, his voice is somewhere between Antony & the Johnsons and Farinelli, Il Castrato. I'm sure the same thing would happen to me, so please know that I'm not ribbing. Saves his biggest pitch for "the fans of our show," whom he clearly understands to be gay kids, and tells everyone who's being bullied or made to feel that they need to change, "Well – screw that!" Globe aloft. Congrats, Colfer!

7:23: I'm just hoping that an ungraciously introduced Bruce Willis, or someone else over the course of the evening, will pull an Armond and take Gervais down a peg, or eight. (Why am I getting so steamed about him?) Willis is here to remind me with an incoherent montage why I didn't go see RED.

7:23: Okay, drowning out the winners doesn't make any sense if we then lose all this time watching people awkwardly look for the exit.

7:20: The announcer at the Globes seems to have just spilled the beans that Édgar Ramírez has already won his category? Did we know that some of these have been pre-announced, or did I just hear wrong? I'm certainly all for this outcome. (Ed. I heard this wrong; he was just talking about the nomination.) I totally can't believe how great it feels to see Olivier Assayas up there on the Golden Globes stage! Julianne and Kevin unlock their arms in order to applaud Olivier, even though the music is already playing and getting louder. The Carlos producer is taking time that the telecast already doesn't want to give him to point out how many members of his family, including his wife, are American.

7:18: Julianne, whose magenta Lanvin is a little baggier than I understood it to be on the carpet (but I still like it, and love her), gives a shout-out with Kevin Spacey to Miss Golden Globes, aka Joe Mantegna's daughter.

I WANT: Carlos, obviously. I saw the first half-hour of The Pacific, and I'm not kidding you, it was heinous. Writing, editing, camera angles, dialogue: truly unbelievable.
I PREDICT: Temple Grandin, I'm thinking? No, it's Carlos! Way to go, HFPA! Tom Hanks is speaking very emphatically at his table, but I'm going to trust that he's just trying to be heard, and not fulminating with un-Hanksy rage.

7:16: Pretty sure I just saw Jimmy Fallon miming a "Tone it down, dude!" gesture to Ricky Gervais up on the dais. I've never seen a host come out swinging so rudely, and unhumorously at that. I know people will say, "This type of narcissistic crowd/event can use some pin-pricking," but surely it's bad faith to take the gig and then be such an a**hole?

7:14: Just realized that Scarlett's presentation of Best Supporting Actor means that, once again, Mo'Nique had her own ideas about how to spend the evening. I love that gal. She's going to show up for these kinds of joints when she damn well feels like it. Christian Who, Sugar? Mo'Nique isn't feeling him right now, baby.

I WANT: Oh, sweetie, I don't care. Julianna Margulies is lovely, but I admire Katey Sagal for hanging in there all these years.
I PREDICT: Probably Margulies? But Kyra did win the Emmy. And Perabo types often take this.

Hey, get that Globe, Katey! A really satisfying moment. Her first win in five tries, apparently. People will hopefully applaud the moment enough that they won't be too hard on the neon tangerine dress. Love the reaction shot to an elated-looking Ed O'Neill. Those two done good! (Stick Man, whoever s/he is tonight, is being awfully quick on the drown-out music.)

I WANT: Bale or Renner.
I PREDICT: Bale, but Rush isn't impossible. Bale takes it. Camera manages, in two tries, to land on someone who looks totally nonplussed about his victory (that's Paul Giamatti). I love how often I'm going to get to hear that "How You Like Me Now?" music track during these ceremonies. Bale starts insulting the tacky members of the HFPA but builds to a joke that mostly clears its own hurdle of jocular impoliteness. I love that he goes out of his way not just to thank and applaud Mark Wahlberg but to explain the logic of Wahlberg's performance, which so many people have been so hard on.

7:07: "Our first presenter is beautiful, talented, and Jewish, apparently." Huh? It's Scarlett Johansson. She looks unimpressed.

7:05: It's getting worse! Closeted Scientologist joke fills the room with boos and anxiety. One actually wishes that he would stop talking. It takes him five minutes to make a remark in praise of anything (of Boardwalk Empire), and the close-up on Steve Buscemi makes clear that he's just waiting for whatever sour, corrosive zing is coming.

7:03: A heinous pair of jokes about the badness of The Tourist. Not untrue, but – oh, it's three jokes! He's already written his own reviews for tactlessness. And now an anti-Cher crack. He's lost 80% of his audience already.

7:02: The room is very Strands of Swarovski globes hanging everywhere. Ricky Gervais has brought his own large drink with him up to the podium. I can't stand Charlie Sheen jokes. Is anything more tired? Why does someone make one at every. single. telecast?

7:00: Alexa is being pressed a second time for her fashion favorites, as though the show runners don't even know what we've seen and heard or what we haven't. I have no idea why they think we want to listen to the interviewers talk to each other. It's like a brave Pinteresque spelunk into the most extreme possibilities for content-less language.

6:58: Show starts after the break! Just have to go one more round with these ads for Chuck, The Cape, and a show where Kathy Bates is sassy and carries an enormous gun. Why isn't it on TNT?

6:57: The makers of the animated lizard movie Rango are using DVD-extra footage of interviews with Johnny Depp to sell the movie in the ads. As perplexing as I find this, I also have to feel that, from what I hear, exposure to either of the performances for which Depp is nominated tonight could significantly diminish this as an advertising tactic.

6:55: Alexa Chung thinks Michelle Williams, Natalie Portman, and Olivia Wilde are the night's best dressed. She praises Olivia's dress for being broad enough that she "could hide four Cubans underneath it." I assume she doesn't mean cigars, but I kind of hate to imagine that she means otherwise. Can anyone explain why Olivia Wilde would be hiding Cubans? Or why a person would say that?

6:52: Anne Hathaway's long, backless, long-sleeved, shoulder-padded, form-fitting dress from Armani Privé looks from afar like it's made entirely of pennies that she shined in vinegar. Then you get closer and it looks more like she's borrowed all of Mariah's gold records (she's got thousands, folks, respect!) and shrunk them all down. She's incapable of being charmless, even when the Globe ushers are literally trying to push her toward the auditorium.

6:49: An ad for Anthony Hopkins's new movie The Rite, in which he plays some kind of demon-possessed, pestiferous priest. It's like he heard ten years back that De Niro was running unopposed for Least Ambitious Acting Genius and decided, Let's turn this thing into a real horse race!

6:47: Michelle Williams, whom I'm so much more partial to than I ever had been, both because she's so superb in Blue Valentine and because I've been watching a few of her interviews, and she's always so quietly impressive. She admits that living with Gosling during the BV shoot "had its good days and bad days, like any marriage." What people say about her acting is seemingly as true of her press encounters: she just can't tell a lie.

6:46: Christian Bale, continuing the pattern of Fighter talent being the most beaming talent. They love their movie.

6:44: Claire Danes is letting the hot pink of her dress do all the work, which is exactly the right choice in this case. She looks great. I don't mind telling you I am sporting the same color right now. My hot pink shirt is sort of my lucky shirt (because of you, Susie!). I haven't yet decided on whose behalf I'm hoping it to be "lucky" tonight. Jacki Weaver? Ryan Gosling? Burlesque?

6:43: Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones are the most accessible and dear they've ever been, for perfectly understandable reason. They both look super, and they seem cautiously excited about his encouraging prognosis. Very best to both of them, truly.

6:42: Helen Mirren once again in blingy Badgley-Mischka, with plenty of ice. She's talking about how relieved she is that no one saw The Tempest she gets to just attend without having a nomination to worry about.

6:40: It's officially a tradition!!! Abilify is once again advertising during the Globes. Still hawking the drug for about 30 seconds, then enumerating all the dreadful things that might happen to you if you take it, for at least 45 more seconds. "Elderly patients who take Abilify have an increased chance of stroke or death." And, as was true two years ago, you're still meant to phone your doctor if taking Abilify prompts you toward more and more thoughts of suicide. I can't believe this ad campaign survives. But I sort of adore it.

6:39: Halle Berry did waft by before the commercial break. I literally can't tell you what color her dress is. Looked velvety, and depending how much light she's catching, it's a little different. But she does look pretty breath-takingly beautiful. I'll give you a moment to absorb your shock.

6:38: Why are all the Charles Schwab commercials rotoscoped, in the manner of A Scanner Darkly?

6:37: Sofia Vergara, on the high decibel level of the red carpet: "I'm Latin. I'm used to loud." Torso section of the dress seems to lean away from her body, in a fairly structured way. She'll want to keep her eye on where the cameras are in relation to her tonight. High-angle shots are unlikely to serve her interests.

6:36: Kevin Spacey, to whom I have a more averse gut reaction than I do to almost anyone else in this crowd, is at least using his time at the mic to pay tribute to his recently deceased director, George Hickenlooper. Well played, Kevin. See, I can be big!

6:35: Colin Firth seems noticeably grayer than he did last year. Maybe the campaign season ages you? Turns out his sister is a speech therapist! Did everyone else already know this?

6:34: A woman named Randi Zuckerberg (relation?) who works at Facebook (seriously?) has been monitoring the levels of fandom and support being registered on Facebook. She says Goodfellas has over two million fans on Facebook. How would one know that? She's either pregnant or hoping desperately to be mistaken for Natalie Portman.

6:33: Robert Pattinson is a Biutiful fan, and also a Claire Danes fan. If that matters to anyone who reads this blog, I'll lose a bet with myself.

6:32: Amy Adams is still not as effervescent about the awards-show hysteria as she so obviously was in the Junebug era, but she doesn't seem as fully over it as she did while riding the Doubt train. Not that she ever seems anything less than gracious. But it's nice to see her sort of energized. Don't you just feel the waves of genuine pride and pleasure whenever any of the Fighter crowd talks about their movie?

6:30: Alexa with Jane Lynch, talking in a little box on the screen while the camera dwells on Scarlett Johansson, doing a great job with the vintage-style dress. Not wearing vintage is January Jones, never one to wear whatever outfit Jodie Foster and Judi Dench were also considering. Fire-engine dress, strangely architected. Possibly made of dyed-red vermicelli, which isn't apparent till you get really close to it.

6:29: Tina Fey, looking fetch in midnight blue, is hyperventilating with Carson Daly about how tremendous Halle Berry looks. Halle is not yet on camera; the tone Tina and Carson are taking is not quite settling whether Halle looks great or maybe sort of spazzy?

6:24: Angelina in a sparkly, long-sleeved, form-fitting emerald-jade affair. She always seems like such a kind, basically low-key person to me. I've got no joke here. She's surprised by her own nomination, having found herself "not very funny." Seems totally sincere about this, but likely to have a good time tonight.

6:22: Justin Bieber is every tool in the chest. Wearing thick, plastic, oversized purple glasses, in some kind of great joke with himself. Alexa's stock shoots way up in my book by standing by Justin's side and insisting on reading comments from online viewers for 30 seconds before she'll even deal with him. The look on Justin's face doesn't disguise the "Doesn't she know who I am?" reaction quite as capably as he might have intended. Way to go, Alexa!

6:21: Carson Daly and Christina Aguilera seem plausibly pleased to be reunited. Xtina: "Well, I've always been inspired by the beauty that is burlesque."

6:20: Jake Gyllenhaal, still bearded, and still understandably bemused by interviewers' inability not to ask him about it as though it, in itself, is interesting.

6:18: Alexa Chung, whose raspberry nanny-dress is bothering me more, and has clearly been lifted from the costume shop of a Hammer Horror remake starring Keira Knightley, doesn't realize that the camera is already rolling. She's just standing there with Matthew Morrison, both idling. But the stars actually seem to like and trust her, so I should retract the claws. Matthew doesn't have any date tonight, at all. Make of it what you will, sisters.

6:17: I just. love. Julianne. Magenta dress wrapped around a gold necklace, hair pulled back. (Why do I keep talking about the clothes and the looks?) She pitches Kids Are All Right perfectly, casually, with her usual sense of easygoing aplomb.

6:16: Jesse Eisenberg, still withstanding the hegemonic push to overdo it on the hair-care front. Carson's hair is actively shining, around the cowlick area.

6:15: I'm keeping it classy with this little Prosecco bottle. It has a metal screw-top.

6:14: "Hollaback Girl" has completed its inevitable but still-too-bad transformation into the Muzak background for a L'Oréal commercial.

6:12: Chris Colfer would like to sing more Lady Gaga on Glee, plus maybe some Scissors Sisters, and he tells us he is imploring producers to cast Julie Andrews as his grandmother. This commercial break will be helpful, because I need to check Wikipedia for info on his sexual orientation.

6:11: Oh, Sandra Bullock is here with long, heavy bangs and hair and a kind of ...ripped-looking dress. She looks sort of sad, sort of Edward Gorey. But then she talks, and you remember she's the gutsiest, funniest woman out there. She just told Carson Daly at the end of their exchange, "Wow, you're really good with these questions. That was really boring." Bisous!

6:10: As ever, Helena Bonham Carter is in Vivienne Westwood, seemingly a metal dress that has been colored with paint markers. Between the red/blue/silver dress and the familiar Helena hairdo, she looks as much as she ever does like the resident, gin-sipping beekeeper of Cold Comfort Farm. But that's part of why we love her.

6:09: Nicole Kidman always makes an immediate grasp for the Best Dressed list. Tonight, she's in a tastefully sequined, butter-colored Prada dress, long and slim. Still so jazzed by the return of the red hair. And, I'm sorry, but I take conscious pleasure in how willing Keith Urban is to be so obviously shorter than she is.

6:08: Alec Baldwin invokes Michelle Williams as the actor whom he is most eager to congratulate for her performance. My fifth-spot hunch about her is swelling. (Why is Alexa Chung in long sleeves? Did she think the Golden Globes happened in Cedar Rapids?)

6:06: Mark Wahlberg, also keeping the shades on, just name-checks Brad Pitt and Matt Damon as having been lined up to play Dickey Ward but having dropped out, "and frankly I don't think anyone could have done it as well as Christian." Is he just being honest, or is he twisting the fork a little? I assume the former. Why am I even trying to start sh**?

6:05: Alexa to Natalie Portman: "Do you find that you have to dress differently now that you're pregnant?" First genius question of the night. I personally am surprised that Natalie isn't still rocking those gray cotton shrugs and her leotard. She's really just a slave to her pregnancy, huh? (By the way, she's in a peachy thing that gathers right in the middle of her torso, where a big red rose figure has been stitched. It blooms right at her neckline. Her lipstick is similarly fire-engine red. I'm not... sure about it.)

6:03: Ricky Gervais on his plans: "It depends how drunk I am." Since he absolutely refuses to take off his sunglasses for this chit-chat, I suspect he's at least halfway there. He's with "the lovely Jane."

6:02: Popping my little 187ml bottle of Prosecco just now. Our red carpet wardens (we are bound to them!) are Carson Daly, someone named Natalie Morales, and someone else named Alexa Chung... who just saluted us?

6:00: Okay! Gotta switch over, even though I hate abandoning the Jets just after the Patriots scored a touchdown. New York's still ahead, but one hates to abandon them in their time of need. But. What if Sally Kirkland just showed up?

5:59: You know that great gag in Easy A where Emma Stone feels disdain for the Natasha Bedingfield tune in her grandma's birthday card, but then finds herself singing along to it uncontrollably? "You Haven't Seen the Last of Me" has that exact ear-worm thing going for it. Dark Lady for the win, people.

5:56: "Feelin' / broken / barely / holdin' on..." If the voters listen to Cher after taking a gander at the other four songs, or watching their Musical/Comedy screeners, they're guaranteed to identify instantaneously. "I been broooooooot down to my knees! / I can't take it!"

5:55: Oh, dear. Right there at 2:55, the track resorts to a tiny little tornado of strings to make the compulsory key-change leap. You might vote for it as the theme for your 7th-grade dance, but even then, probably not. And surely not for a Globe. (Dare I say, you might write it for your 7th-grade dance.)

5:52: Carrie Underwood track from Prince Caspian isn't flying for me at all. Even by Globe-nominee standards, the lyrics are trite, and the (dull) instrumentation is loudly competing with Underwood's belting of the necessary insipidities. And I just don't "get" her voice. There's no warmth to it at all.

5:48: Perhaps Mandy and Christina should swap songs? We could find out whether "Bound to You" works outside the idiom of big-lung bombast, and we could find out what Disney ballads sound like when delivered by someone who sounds like she's pleading for her life in front of a firing squad. Or, as happens, in front of her lover-jailer.

5:45: So I was worried about the Tangled song that, even though I saw the movie, I literally couldn't recall the song whatsoever. Now that I'm hearing it on iTunes, I'm realizing it must have been the floating-lamp ballad, so of course I was too absorbed in the gorgeous visuals. And by the fact that Rapunzel and Whatsisname had really "clicked" by that point in the movie, sorta without me noticing when that happened. By Disney standards, this is basically their "Bound to You." Lovelier, and less likely to make your paramour run in the opposite direction. But I wouldn't call it a great tune, and why so much self-quotation, Alan Menken? "If she's here / It's crystal clear" does not lead to the line, "Now I'm in a whole new world...," but you're forgiven for thinking it will.

5:40: I wonder, does she sing this in the movie while having sex for the first time with Garrett Hedlund? Is that why the back half of the song mostly comprises her stretching out the word "Hooooome," and looping the weirdly lethargic phrase "I'm finally coming..." I wasn't even trying to go there. Honestly, it wasn't even till I typed the lyric that I saw where we were headed. I just meant, she sure seems distracted by the end. But also too bummed out for this to be a boudoir song. Maybe she sings it to a vodka bottle?

5:38: Whereas the Gwyneth song from Country Strong, which is called "Coming Home," and which I haven't heard before, is pretty hooky in a pop-country lamentation way. Her vocals, which admittedly are not what voters are supposed to be adjudicating, show her to better advantage than the endlessly snippeted title song does.

5:35: Gearing up with nominated Original songs. I'd like to remind everyone that "Bound to You" is the mad torch ballad Christina wails in Burlesque just as she and Cam are at last consummating their googly eyes. "Can't you see I'm here in chains??!" is surely one of the Top 5 mid-coital interjections ever. I still can't tell whether this song is impressively snatched back from the precipice of nutso inanity or whether it plunges right over that same ledge.

4:30: You can tell the Globes are nearing, because Derek is sprinting out of the house. He likes to stick around for me and my awards shows about as much as Stella Kowalski likes to hang out through Stanley's sodden poker games. I have a hard time understanding the total lack of appeal involved in joining me, rapt in front of a ceremony he doesn't care about, devoted to movies he mostly didn't see, starring actors he frequently doesn't recognize, with me crankily disapproving of chatter and/or totally ignoring him because I'm typing. But for whatever reason, it's not his bag.

2:45: Okay, officially no Illusionist before the Globes. Must keep working, and also thinking about what I'll eat tonight. I know it's more in the spirit to wonder what I should wear, but until they nominate me (Best Critic Who Barely Ever Scratches Out a Full Review, maybe), I'm staying in sweat pants.

12:04: Reading Guy's predictions now. I actually have no willpower, at all. He thinks The Fighter will pull off the Micky Ward upset in the top category. I'd love to see it. I only worry about the Scent of a Woman-based logical analogy, because what I assume distinguishes the two cases is that I don't think the Fighter team has invited the entire HFPA for a filet mignon dinner and a meet-and-greet with the star, as is widely reported to have transpired during the '92 balloting season. Though if they invited all the foreign journos to a "Meet the Seven Sisters!" Chowder Cookoff, it's in the bag.

12:00: Six hours before the red-carpet interviews start. Busy with work, though also tempted to go catch The Illusionist, since it's the only one of tonight's nominees that I haven't seen, wish I could, and actually have available to me in the Chicago market. Plus, it's Guy Lodge's favorite of 2010, he and Tim Robey are both quoted on the poster, and Tim Brayton gave it a 10/10 review yesterday. How much more incentive does a fellow need? Especially since if I stay home, I'll be too tempted to actually read the details of Tim's review, or scour Guy's Golden Globe predictions, which I feel duty-bound to avoid for the time being, so I don't steal all of his prognosticative hunches.

Or, I could spend the time watching Alice in Wonderland, which you can rent at 7-Eleven, right next to the Slurpee machine. Or, I could Dogtooth my own jaw. Really, the only discouraging factor against seeing The Illusionist is that it's NFL Playoff day in Chicago, and I'm scared of all the hopped-up Bears fans on the El. We'll see what happens.

The Night Before: Check back here starting at 6:00pm Central Standard Time (7pm by Angelika time, 4pm at the Arclight) for the beginning of Golden Globes coverage. I've live-blogged the ceremony twice in the past, though only on the second of those occasions were we treated to a full-blown ceremony. It's almost my favorite way to enjoy this increasingly fruitcake occasion, so I hope you'll tune in. I'll post a few thoughts in the middle of Sunday afternoon, just so you know a bit about where I'm coming from. If you're feeling ambitious, of age, and strong of stomach, you can attempt Nathaniel's well-reasoned drinking game, though I myself will abstain. I think. Probably.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Top 100 of All Time, Revised

I've been enjoying the heck out of Tim Brayton's gradual roll-out of what he presently considers to be the 115 best films ever made, roughly timed to the 115th anniversary of those French workers exiting a factory before the witnessing eye of the Lumière Brothers' camera, and giving birth to cinema in the process. (That's a highly laundered and hyperbolic version of events for the purposes of ceremonial prose, but it'll do.) Tim's project also reminded me that I traditionally revise my own Best Films list every other New Year's Eve. I follow fewer rules than Tim does. For instance, I'm happy to include things I've seen as recently as the preceding calendar year, or films produced over the previous decade.

I was so distracted by other events and projects this year that I didn't remember to re-jigger my rankings until a week had passed. The same events and projects will remain my priorities for the next several months, but that makes a Top 100 countdown highly apropos as a way to keep the site quasi-lively. This time, following my edict to my own students to practice concision in their reviews, I'll supply 100-word tributes to each of my 100 titles—so, for the first time, those of you wondering how The Green Ray or The Joyless Street or Flesh found its way onto this roll-call will at least be made privy to a short, admiring murmur of context.

Eight films have dropped from the December 2008 version of this Top 100. Once I've reached the highest debut on the new list, I'll fess up about those jettisoned titles. But here's a preview: one of the debuts, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, has until now been included in the perpetually stalled Favorites Countdown, the point of which is to provide an alternate list of personal pets that supplements this more "objective" list without overlapping. Happily, one of the drops from the Top 100, Todd Haynes's Velvet Goldmine, will easily swap its way onto the upper reaches of the Favorites list, given that it's such a delirious passion of mine and a heavy-rotation title in my DVD player. Stay tuned for a long time, when we evennnntually get back to that endeavor.

For now, the first two movies I have announced for the new Top 100 are, at #100, Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen's Riddles of the Sphinx (1977) and, at #99, Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Feel free to leave comments below; I'm not making any promises about the speed or rhythm at which successive titles will be unveiled, but this will remain the hot spot for debate, suggestions, hosannas, or other comments. Starting today, on 1/11/11—or, as you prefer, 11.1.11—my Twitter feed will serve as the venue for announcing each film as I make my way back up to #1. Happy hundred, everybody!

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Sunday, January 09, 2011

Everybody Goes to Mike's, and Nathaniel's

Slow going on this blog lately; ironically, I've been quite active on other people's. Last week, Mike's site served as the headquarters for our latest entry of the Best Pictures from the Outside In series, where he, Nathaniel, and I chatted up Gentleman's Agreement, 1947's earnest exposé of anti-Semitism, and Rain Man, 1988's innovative fusion of mushy drama, luxury car ad, autism-themed PSA, leaked actor's-rehearsal footage, odd comedy, incipient Reagan-era self-critique, and inexplicably didgeridoo'd kitsch object. Please read the transcript and leave your comments at Mike's place, but come back here to vote in our Reader's Poll of your favorite Oscar champs from 1943-47 and from 1988-92.

As you already know, I tend to exploit the typically long hiatuses between Best Pictures... installments as a reason to investigate other titles from the same years as our current headliners. I made a huge dent in 1947 when all was said and done, though I still have some luscious-sounding reader recommendations like Nora Prentiss, Daisy Kenyon, and The Unsuspected to hunt down. I opted to fill out a year where I hadn't seen much, rather than round out my bulkier albeit U.S.-centric viewing history in 1988, so that remains a bit of a loose end, with the Angelopoulos, Eastwood, Kusturica, Kieślowski, and Menges titles remaining especially enticing. Also, now that Pete Postlethwaite has passed, I'm all the more eager to at least take another trip to the sad but incandescent Distant Voices, Still Lives.

Meanwhile, over at Nathaniel's recently spiffed-up site, I added my voice to the semi-regular Oscar podcasts that he convenes with Joe Reid and Katey Rich. As is true of his apartment, Nathaniel's blog remains a host-space par excellence, and it's sweet of him to keep inviting me over. In the latest conversation, divided into a Part One and a Part Two, we pore over the tea leaves of what films and performers do and don't seem bound toward Oscar nominations on January 25th. We also gloss a few favorite semi-candidates (or, in my case, a non-candidate) who ought to have been walking in the front-runners' shoes.

The onetime front-runner that Nathaniel, Katey, Joe, and I all wonder (and maybe hope?) will find itself locked out of the Best Picture race is Danny Boyle's 127 Hours—which, in a fortuitous coincidence, will also be the title of my next Best Pictures... chat with Nathaniel and Mike, given how long it will take to re-screen Laurence Olivier's Hamlet and Bernardo Bertolucci's The Last Emperor. Stay tuned, and in the meantime, a Top Ten of 2010 should follow in the next week or so, and maybe another special feature to keep things going at a steady hum in the new year....

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Thursday, January 06, 2011

My Own Medicine: Peel and Gasman

As the first exercise in my reprised course English 386: The Film Review as Genre, I've asked my students to watch two of my absolute favorite short films, Jane Campion's Peel: An Exercise in Discipline (which I've reviewed more extensively elsewhere) and Lynne Ramsay's Gasman, and write a three-sentence review of whichever film they prefer. One sentence should encapsulate the scenario or project of the film, and the other two should concisely encompass a more editorial appraisal. I figure I'll take a stab at my own game, and you can, too, since the films are screenable here and here.

Peel: "Discipline" connotes two meanings in Peel: while a young boy fulfills a comically ridiculous task assigned by his father as punishment, the film itself manages a rounded portrait of family tensions and eccentricities through bold, economical formal choices. While Campion laughs heartily at paternal discipline, which seems all the more absurd after the kid sweetly fulfills his mindless chore, her own discipline with image, sound, structure, and tone are nothing to snigger at. Indeed, with its electric color palette, tautly arranged frames, and inventively odd camera angles inside a very cramped space, Peel discloses a major young talent, all the more charming for emphasizing the humor and vitality of this family's hotheaded perversity.

Gasman: Gasman begins as a Campionesque scrapbook of bright, off-kilter images inside a small Scottish household: patent-leather pumps, toy cars plowing through mounds of sugar, the bony nape of a father's neck, though hardly any glimpses of faces. Then, as Dad takes the kids to a downmarket Christmas party, stopping along the way to pick up another pair of nervous-looking moppets, Gasman becomes looser in sound and image but darker, even heartbreaking in tone. "Get off my Dad's knee" becomes a wee lass's cri de coeur, and though Ramsay typically withholds the details of domestic secrecy, what starts as a memorable but mannered exercise concludes as a remarkably sobering snapshot of how we're sometimes forced, inside a single instant, to grow up.

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Saturday, January 01, 2011

Thanks for the Memories, 2010

You'll be able to tell from this list that I devoted quite a bit of film-rental energy this year to Best Actress nominees and to catching up with classics from the mid-1940s, while Nathaniel and Mike and I slowly advanced through our Best Pictures from the Outside In series, for which a new installment goes live any day now. (One way to counteract the frustration with early Oscar victors as tepid as Going My Way, The Lost Weekend, and Gentleman's Agreement is to use those screenings as excuses for making dates with all the superior films that coulda and shoulda been contenders.) No time for adding explanatory text, but these were my 25 favorite viewing experiences in 2010 of non-first-run films:

1. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Elia Kazan, 1945)
2. To Have and Have Not (Howard Hawks, 1944)
3. Children of Paradise (Marcel Carné, 1945)
4. Rome, Open City (Roberto Rossellini, 1945)
5. Borom sarret (Ousmane Sembene, 1963) - full review
6. Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (Elio Petri, 1970)
7. The Emigrants (Jan Troëll, 1971)
8. Dillinger (Max Nosseck, 1945)
9. A Star Is Born (George Cukor, 1954)
10. Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur, 1947)
11. No Fear, No Die (Claire Denis, 1990)
12. At Land (Maya Deren, 1944) - full review
13. The River (Tsai Ming-liang, 1997)
14. Wild River (Elia Kazan, 1960)
15. Kiss of Death (Henry Hathaway, 1947)
16. The Man I Love (Raoul Walsh, 1947)
17. Pandora's Box (G.W. Pabst, 1929) - full review
18. Red Dust (Victor Fleming, 1932)
19. This Sporting Life (Lindsay Anderson, 1963)
20. The Passenger (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1975)
21. The Abyss (James Cameron, 1989) - full review
22. Splendor in the Grass (Elia Kazan, 1961)
23. Boy! What a Girl! (Arthur C. Leonard, 1947)
24. The Nun's Story (Fred Zinnemann, 1959)
25. The Sundowners (Fred Zinnemann, 1960)

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