Sunday, January 29, 2012

Live-Blogging the 2011 SAG Awards

I wasn't planning on watching these, as I don't have cable, but I stumbled onto some kind of Filipino livestream and tweeted up a storm. I didn't move to the blog because I hadn't advertised and wasn't sure the feed would hold out. But as Kate Winslet's come-from-behind, dark-horse trophy for Mildred Pierce shows us, miracles do happen! For anyone who was sleeping, or was only belatedly interested, or is dying to re-live the magic, I'm moving all the tweets over here. I'll add times once Twitter designates them more specifically than "1 hour ago."

7:06 PM, CST BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR No, SAG. Do NOT invite the co-stars of nominees to present their awards. Especially when they absolutely won't win. #SAG #Tackiness

7:08 Christopher Plummer is seated next to Meryl. He looks all but indifferent to her praise on his way up. But it must be an out-of-body thing.

7:09 Christopher Plummer is honored to be nominated in the same company as Jonah Hill and Armie Hammer. Thanks Cosmo. Thanks Amanda! Loves wife.

7:12 BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS Jessica Chastain has worked out the whole hair-dress situation beautifully. Stop worrying, everybody. #SAG

7:14 Octavia Spencer. First-ever name-drop of Medgar Evers at an awards show.

7:16 TV producers everywhere: there's no rule that you can ONLY cut to black people after actors from The Help win a prize. It's all freed up!

7:19 The unsung hero of this award season so far is the genial, dapper handsomeness of Kenneth Branagh. So pulled together. All smiles, always.

7:21 These ladies from The Help have mastered how to use their speeches to push back at people's condescension toward and gripes with the movie.

7:22 (I'm not saying all the gripes are undeserved. But they sure do have to hit the ball back at a lot of arrogant questions.)

7:23 TV BEST ACTOR (COMEDY) Subtle signals that even 30 Rock table thinks six, consecutively, is Enough for Alec. Similar signals from other attendees, but less subtle.

7:24 See? Jon Cryer only needs four minutes to assume his Happy For You game face. That's a professional. He's won an Emmy, people.

7:28 TV BEST ACTRESS (COMEDY) You guys. The Betty White thing. How much is enough? At some level, I realize nothing is enough. But at the prize-giving level...

7:29 Julie Bowen took what can only be called a gulp of wine after Betty bested her. She smooched Ty Burrell, in his little checkered shirt.

7:31 Jessica Chastain is here to insist serenely that there really are actors in cities besides NYC and LA. We also have doctors here! And food!

7:33 TV BEST ENSEMBLE (COMEDY) Kevin and Kyra are here to salute "the hits of a new generation." I'm not sure if this is to make the nominees seem fresh or K&K seem old. [Winner: Modern Family]

7:34 Can somebody fill me in on Jim Parsons' relationship to outness?

7:36 So will Sofia Vergara never win a solo prize, and people will go, "Lame!" Or will she win past her sell-date, and people will go, "So lame!"

7:39 Lili Taylor is doing voice-over for car ads. Am I more sad for her, or for the not-famous actor who once would have gotten that gig?

7:42 TV BEST ACTRESS (TV MOVIE) Glenn Close and Kenneth Branagh, presenting together! I can smell 1989 from here...

7:43 At what point do you vote for Diane Lane, just to thank her for sitting patiently and gorgeously through all those Winslet wins? #SAG

7:44 Kate Wins(let). She's not here, because everyone told her she had NO chance of winning. Not for this role.

7:47 The Help is about "women who would not let themselves be defined their jobs." That's their lead. (And Skeeter? Who's kinda aiming for that?)

7:47 TV BEST ACTOR (TV MOVIE) Zoe Saldana and Armie Hammer read a list of the real people these guys are nominated for playing. Don't fret, guys! We have biopics in here! [Winner: Paul Giamatti]

7:50 I would describe the mood in the room as... 60% seasonal fatigue, 10% desire to win, 30% annoyance with clapping for the same people, AGAIN.

7:53 Upon announcing the historic merger of SAG and AFTRA, which IS a big deal, the only sensible choice is to cut to Shailene Woodley. #SAG

7:55 My favorite reply to the Parsons question is @dylchap's: "Adjacent." Y'all apparently have your fingers on the pulse! I know nothing.

7:58 Shailene's spending the commercial break on her Blackberry, helping me get better residuals and a good back-end on this Twitter. #SAG

7:59 What does Rose Byrne have to do to get in on this intro?

8:01 Every time Bridesmaids is described as anything besides "the female Hangover," an angel gets its wings. And a hideous dress loses its tulle.

8:01 LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: MARY TYLER MOORE Standing ovation for Dick Van Dyke, presenting! "Hi, everybody. I'm what's left of Dick Van Dyke." Gretchen Mol ponders him, studiously.

8:02 Dick Van Dyke sounds exactly like Liza Minnelli after two cigars.

8:05 Mary Tyler Moore invented capri pants, but it was TOO MUCH for everybody. They had to mete out the capris. There were meetings about this.

8:09 Not to pull focus from MTM, but TNT just showed a double-profile shot of Tilda and Angelina, clapping, and it was like being on Mt Olympus.

8:13 Whoa. Difficult moment. Mary Tyler Moore deserves that prize 100% but it looks like it took a toll on her to be up there. Uneasy television.

8:16 The Mentalist ads have tried to pitch it as every possible genre: screwball, action, mystery, character drama. The next will be all-sung.

8:18 TV BEST ACTRESS (DRAMA) This was the Year of the Woman on television. Actresses were finally hired to be lawyers, as well as DAs. And one's a nosy neighbor!

8:19 Jessica Lange drops a pause in the middle of the phrase "upper-body ...strength" just because she can, and she got bored.

8:20 Lange: "Thanks to all the crazy... imaginative... people... who come up with this ...wild ride." #TheAromaOfAmbivalence

8:22 Dujardin has the collywobbles when he has to read from the teleprompter, but while Bejo is talking, he happily gets back to Eyebrow Acting.

TV BEST ACTOR (DRAMA) 8:23 If Steve Buscemi wins, the Bridesmaids ladies will have to take one for the team.

8:25 Cranston mimes knocking at a door! Adorable. It seems clear he is ready to conquer comedy, now that he already owns dramas and thrillers.

8:27 Announcer: "Please welcome Meryl Streep." Why didn't she just say, "Bow your heads"? Or just, "Subjects!" Or pass a tithing hat.

8:28 Put pockets and a foot-wide belt on it, and Meryl WILL wear it, sugar.

8:31 A number of the Memoriam clips have extremely awkward themes of death: Elizabeth Taylor, Clarice Taylor, Jackie Cooper crying, "I won't go!"

8:34 The advertising slogan for RuPaul's Drag Race is "Gag on the Eleganza!" They trademarked that right before War Horse got to it.

8:35 TV BEST ENSEMBLE (DRAMA) Linda Gray, Larry Hagman, and Patrick Duffy are co-presenting! Glenn and Kenneth feel like the kids on Modern Family now.

8:38 Boardwalk Empire wins Ensemble! Bottoms up, everybody.

8:41 Melissa McCarthy looks right at Kathy Bates and says, "She's awesome." Big crowd-shout for Midnight in Paris. (Okay, can we have Viola now?)

8:42 BEST ACTOR Natalie takes creamy, easygoing, voluptuous pleasure in reading the teleprompter script, just like she did at the Globes. So relaxed!

8:43 You'll literally never guess this, but for Clooney's clip, they picked that staggeringly unconvincing crying-at-her-bedside scene. #SAG

8:44 Jean Dujardin, people!!! We have got a RACE! Gag on THAT eleganza!

8:46 We're seeing a deep bench of happiness for this win. Angelina was all about it. Brad, George all smiles. Albert Nobbs table: into it.

8:48 Meanwhile, anyone born in the 90s may not know this, but eventually, Brad always morphs into his ladyfriend's spitting image. Always.

8:51 BEST ACTRESS The drivel that Ben Kingsley has to recite before presenting Best Actress is choke-worthy even by the standards of these sorts of things.

8:52 Viola's Bronx cheer sounds louder than Meryl's, but they're both impressive. Tilda's is surprisingly robust.

8:53 Tilda cringes and shrugs off her nomination, again.


8:56 Viola pays it forward to Cicely Tyson. Who NEEDS to be on anyone's shortest possible list for Lifetime Achievement next year.

8:57 BEST ENSEMBLE And The Help pulls down Best Ensemble. Cicely gets to go up there after all! 12 actors are on the official list. These are some happy gals!

9:00 Viola Davis: "We ALL of us - I don't care how ordinary you feel - can inspire a change." And with that, an Octavia whoop, and a group hug.

9:01 I would like to thank this ersatz live-feed for giving me access to the show. I have ladled piping-hot viruses into my computer, I'm sure.

9:02 As Angelina and Tilda talk passionately about who knows what (??!!), we sign off. Sorry for clogging the feeds, everybody. Come back, now!

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Best of 2011: Art Direction

You know how this is often one of the first awards Oscar doles out on the telecast? If it's good enough for him...


... for avoiding temptations to modernize but still maintaining an eerie, defamiliarizing pall, and making us feel all temperatures and textures;

... for sticking to its pop-guns, flaunting an everyone's-a-freak flag for kids and adults alike, and finding images to suit a rococo script;

The Skin I Live In (ANTXÓN GÓMEZ)
... for using color, texture, and lines brilliantly to evoke psychological atmospheres and then pouring more meanings into them than we guessed;

Sleeping Beauty (ANNIE BEAUCHAMP)
... for keying up the world's ritual and antiseptic qualities, yielding uncanny yet oddly plausible environs that buoy protagonist's alienation; and

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (MARIA DJURKOVIC)
... for what I've called a "Cinecittà of mildewed bureaucracy," a sad, post-Mod spin on Zodiac, entrancing to peer at but soul-sapping to inhabit.

Runners-Up: 3, for balancing palette, geometries, styles of décor, and evocative Berlin locations to suit its thesis on people as free-radical molecules; Albert Nobbs, for being so unpretentiously convincing in its period idiom, and specifically as a mid-grade hotel; The Artist, for duplicating some early-Hollywood touchstones and elevating others to the stature of dreams; Hugo, for being a colossal technical achievement, even if it could have stood to feel less heavy and cluttered; and Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, for marshaling locations better than any franchise movie out there, and handling everything from sandstorms to gadgets to skyscrapers just right.

For Distinguished Work with No Dinero: Beginners, for the great illustrations, and a world that passes back and forth from looking like one of Ewan's cartoons; Leap Year, for that indelible and character-revealing apartment; Like Crazy, for believable dorms and workplaces, and good indicators of when the relationship has energy and when it doesn't; Weekend, for saving lines and screentime by showing us just who these guys are, via what they own and how they live; and Win Win, not just for credible suburban living but for a vaguely pop-inflected palette that places the movie nicely between realism and fable.

For Distinguished Work with Prehistoric Technology: The proto-humans of Cave of Forgotten Dreams, whose efforts with a hunk of charcoal, some variable lines, and the curve of a cave wall led to some pretty fabulous mo-cap, and plenty of incredible trompe-l'oeil and forced perspective, putting a lot of film crews with $100 million budgets to shame. Way to go, Ayla and Og!

Films I'd Have Mentioned If I'd Seen Them in Time: War Horse

Films I Hated to Skip Before Posting: City of Life and Death, House of Pleasures, Mysteries of Lisbon

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Best Actress Birthday Party, Week 5

Another light week like last week, although this pace won't persist. I'll be dancing as fast as I can come mid-February. For now...

Born January 29–February 4:
Click here for the full list of entries

Jan 30: Vanessa Redgrave (75)
New Review: The Sea Gull (1968)
Vanessa's Best Work: Obviously, even Vanessa's second and third tiers of work would be a lot of actress's best efforts. If forced to single out her peaks, I always go back to her astonishing ingenuity in small roles in Julia (my review) and Howards End (my review, Favorite Films). Both times, she showed us the idea inside the woman and the woman inside the idea, in no time at all. I remember every beat of both performances. Her best lead performance, I think, was as Fania Fenelon, the increasingly dissipated, furious, and ambivalent concentration-camp prisoner in Playing for Time.
I've Also Seen: I've written academically on Redgrave's career, so I've seen a lot: getting her feet wet in Morgan! (Oscar ballot); opaque in Blowup (Favorite Films); so white-hot that miscasting was inevitable for a while, but especially in Camelot; taking risks, grand and garish, in Isadora; tremendous in a seemingly impossible role as a sex-crazed, hunchbacked Medieval nun in The Devils (my review); beautiful, uninhibited, but going down with the ship a bit in The Trojan Women; totally outwitted by Glenda Jackson in Mary, Queen of Scots; coasting on glamour, which is not a bad option, in Murder on the Orient Express; doing her best with odd scripts in Agatha and Yanks; saving Olive Chancellor from Henry James and from a stiff film in The Bostonians, without the easy route of making the character any comfier; very interesting as one of those impossible ciphers of David Hare's in Wetherby; very sly, if a bit overrated, in Prick Up Your Ears; a shrill, sexy, bold-stroke take on American South Gothic in Orpheus Descending (my review), and back on adjacent geography as the towering androgyne in The Ballad of the Sad Café; the raison d'être for Little Odessa, without even being in it very much; having fun in Mission: Impossible; extremely moving and unafraid of the icon in Mrs. Dalloway (my review); improbably stirring in Deep Impact; hitting another career peak, so devastating and candid is she in If These Walls Could Talk 2; soft but stalwart as Churchill's wife in The Gathering Storm; underseen, monologuing with theatrical stamina all through The Fever, directed by her son; trying her best to make Venus more than a wan Oscar play for O'Toole; doing her thing where she rides in to save a struggling film in Atonement; happy to co-sign the cause in The Whistleblower; and not as exciting to me as she was to many others, but still terrifically good, in Coriolanus
      She's also had blink-and-you-miss-her parts in A Man for All Seasons (my review); the rather moving Charge of the Light Brigade; the arch but hard-to-remember Oh! What a Lovely War; the turgid House of the Spirits, which she exits in high style; haunted in Smilla's Sense of Snow; a gaping jaw in Wilde, and again in Cradle Will Rock; institutional wisdom in Girl, Interrupted; haunted again in The Pledge; in The White Countess, nobody's favorite movie but surely a cherished memory for her; and fading away with everyone else in Evening, though her mates look appropriately awed by her.
Where To Go Next: I'm really intrigued by Laika's suggestion of Steaming and have it coming in the mail. Now that The Sea Gull has finally become available, though, I'm hoping some industrious outfit will distribute Red and Blue and especially The Sailor from Gibraltar, the two films Redgrave made early on with her then-husband Tony Richardson.

Jan 31: Jean Simmons (83; died 2010)
New Review: The Actress (1953)
Jean's Best Work: A controlled performance of a woman going in and out of control in Elmer Gantry, a film that intriguingly rides that line in every way, and allows this complicated woman a full-ish run of her dark, energetic, starchy, and ornery sides
I've Also Seen: A vague memory in Black Narcissus, but only because so much else is so overwhelmingly vivid; fine as Ophelia, a close-to-thankless part, and not well served by that track backward on the staircase in Olivier's Hamlet; fun once she's let loose in Guys and Dolls, though you can tell it's not her usual mode; not adding a lot in Spartacus; trying a bit hard at the start of The Happy Ending, but gradually quite affecting (performance review); hanging with the other ladies in How To Make an American Quilt, well after she'd virtually retired; lending a key voice to Howl's Moving Castle, well after having retired again
Where To Go Next: I'll eventually get to her Oscar-bait movies like The Robe and The Big Country, but first up will be her well-reviewed turn in Otto Preminger's acidic-sounding Angel Face. Still harboring hope I'll respond to this gal.

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Monday, January 23, 2012

I'll Take a Final Stab at This

Jan. 11: Oscar ballots are due shortly. The BFCA awards (a ridiculous enterprise, which I disdain) and Golden Globe awards (a ridiculous enterprise, which I treasure) will both play out by the end of the weekend. Plenty of signs still await us as to who might win, but I don't think we'll get any more tips about the nominations. So, I'm fixing my predictions now, albeit leaving them to acting, directing, and Best Picture for the moment. I will expand to the other categories before Jan 24 and announce the update on Twitter. (You're following, right?)

By the way, this year's Oscars are going to be awesome, because Emmanuel Lubezki is finally going to win, and for a Malick film! Anything that annoys you about the awards trudge season in the next six weeks, just think about that.

Jan. 18: Predictions in below-the-line categories added.
Jan. 23: Last switch, Beginners for 50/50 in Original Screenplay.

PICTURE: The Artist, The Descendants, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, War Horse Missed: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close 8/9!
Anything Else to Consider? Bridesmaids was my closest runner-up in my previous attempt at predicting, because the people who love it, and there are a lot of them, may well rank it first: for affection-based reasons and from a temptation to endorse career opportunities for women, especially in comedy. It's harder to leave out than it was last time, just as it's harder to leave in The Tree of Life and War Horse, but I'm sticking with the same line-up. The Malick has even more passionate devotees than The Thin Red Line did in 1998, and War Horse feels like a rallying-point for whomever pushed, you know, The Cider House Rules and The Green Mile across the line. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and, even more so, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo have suggested estimable fan bases and hit audiences at a good time for nomination recognition. They are feasible nominees, but I'm still not feeling it. Still no idea what to think about Ides of March.

DIRECTOR: Woody Allen, Michel Hazanavicius, Bennett Miller, Alexander Payne, Martin Scorsese 4/5
Anything Else to Consider? I have dropped Terrence Malick for Allen, whose nods from the Globes and the DGA bode well, as does the fact that his previous nomination was even longer ago than Malick's. I still desperately want to go out on a limb for Asghar Farhadi, especially as I now hear Separation screeners went out really early: great move, Sony Pictures Classics! I imagine, though, that Miller will draw huge support not just from Moneyball's many, many fans but from people who admire him for salvaging the project from abortive ruin, and in such an easy-breathing, audience-stroking way that still emits credible personality. If they went for him for Capote, which was colder and made a tenth as much money, why wouldn't they here? Meanwhile, Payne movies have repeatedly done less well with AMPAS than in precursor season—no script nod for About Schmidt, no Giamatti for Sideways—so I'm hoping that he's vulnerable. Even though I'm sure he isn't.

ACTRESS: Glenn Close, Viola Davis, Meryl Streep, Kristen Wiig, Michelle Williams 4/5
Anything Else to Consider? After the frontrunner trifecta, the last two spots go to some combo of Close, Rooney Mara, Tilda Swinton, and Wiig: three women who went to bat for long periods and in multiple capacities to get their movies made, plus Mara, the quasi-overnight sensation. Mara's movie dropped at the right moment, and her reviews are even stronger than the film's. Perceptions that she's been prickly or presumptuous in interviews might matter more, and without the extra force of a "Scrappy Novice Pulls Herself Up By Her Bootstraps" narrative that served Lawrence, Sidibe, et al, she looks a bit like a 1%er in a big fat studio movie. Surely more tempting to AMPAS, which is full of people in Close's age-range, to reward 30 years of project development and general fondness for an un-Oscared vet, even if they don't watch or like the movie? And easier, I think, to thank Wiig for writing herself a sensational vehicle (boy, do they love actors who do that) and for making something so profitable that a lot of other people might get more, better, and/or funnier work because of it. Between popping in a Bridesmaids screener or a Kevin screener, what would Ernest Borgnine do? Or Sid Ganis? Or indeed, Rooney Mara? (Okay, Rooney would watch both.) Or, having run out of time to watch all your screeners, you vote for the funny, bank-making bridesmaid and the five-time Oscar bridesmaid, right?

ACTOR: George Clooney, Jean Dujardin, Gary Oldman, Brad Pitt, Michael Shannon 4/5
Anything Else to Consider? I'm dropping Fassbender for Oldman. Shame is really divisive and a harder movie to get people to watch, surely, than Tinker Tailor, though both feel like modest hits in proportion to their scales. Plus, "let's make Fassbender happen" and "let's act like we've always supported Oldman" seem about even to me as narrative hooks. Shannon's hook still seems even better to me: an open-ended, all-American indie that invites you to participate in it, especially at the end, whereas the other two sort of expect you to be fine with feeling frozen out. Demián Bichir's SAG nod doesn't seem to have produced a lot of buzz, and Gosling's vehicles didn't land in a "Best Actor" way, even if he owned the year. Rescidivist, old-guard Clint-worship makes DiCaprio the only other spoiler I'm really wondering about at this point.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Bérénice Bejo, Jessica Chastain, Melissa McCarthy, Octavia Spencer, Shailene Woodley 4/5
Anything Else to Consider? I'm dropping Janet McTeer for Chastain, in a very competitive heat. Almost dropped McCarthy instead, but felt odd projecting Bridesmaids to gain heat elsewhere and lose it where it's actually had some. (Then again, only some.) With six more or less neck-and-neck performances, I'm assuming that the best-loved movies have the edge. Does anyone like Albert Nobbs as much as the Help, Descendants, Bridesmaids, and Artist factions love those show-ponies?

SUPPORTING ACTOR: Kenneth Branagh, Albert Brooks, Jonah Hill, Brad Pitt, Christopher Plummer 3/5
Anything Else to Consider? Short of Patton Oswalt or mayyyybe Ben Kingsley elbowing in on Jonah Hill's action, I just don't see a lot of movement in this race. If you don't live in New York or Los Angeles, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close still feels more like a myth, and a widely-loathed myth at that, than a movie. Obviously, those two markets are the only ones that really affect Oscar-nod outcomes, but even there, does anyone still think Max Von Sydow is happening? I wish Mortensen felt more likely, but people aren't talking much about the movie, even though it's holding up as best as can be expected (though no more than that) given the currently glutted market. Caesar and Uggie can stroke each other's fur consolingly in the corner. I know, I know, chimps have hair, not fur. Whatever. A commenter reminded me about Nick Nolte, whom I admit I'd forgotten about, and he has definitely been pulling down some nominations. But if I liked Warrior and I'm an awards geek, and I forgot about him, what does that say about the heat around his performance?

Predictions always look like one-third a plausible Oscar scenario, one-third a reflection of what idiosyncratically resonated with you about past Oscar rosters, and one-third what you're loving or hating at the moment you predict. I'm sure this is the case here.

CINEMATOGRAPHY: The Artist, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Hugo, The Tree of Life, War Horse 5/5
Anything Else to Consider? Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy feels very competitive, and Harry Potter, Drive, J. Edgar, and Moneyball are not out of the question.

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: Bill Cunningham New York, Hell and Back Again, If a Tree Falls, Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, Project Nim Missed: Pina 3/5
Anything Else to Consider? I've only seen half of those, so I'm picking a little blindly, with We Were Here, Buck, Undefeated, Jane's Journey, and others posing serious opposition.

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: The Artist, Beginners, Bridesmaids, Midnight in Paris, A Separation 4/5
Anything Else to Consider? This race feels as crammed with full-tilt possibilities as it did in 2008, when Woody Allen got blanked for Courtney Hunt and Martin McDonagh. I'd put 50/50, Take Shelter, and Win Win as the most likely spoilers, with Margin Call and Margaret after that, and Young Adult still hanging on.

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: The Descendants, The Help, The Ides of March, Moneyball, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy 4/5
Anything Else to Consider? I can't figure out whether Hugo or The Help will lose a spot to Ides of March; possibly neither of them will, but Ides just seems so Writer's Branch-friendly and the two Hs don't. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and War Horse pose outside threats, but does anything else?

ANIMATED FEATURE: The Adventures of Tintin, Arthur Christmas, Cars 2, Chico & Rita, Rango Missed: A Cat in Paris, Kung Fu Panda 2 2/5
Anything Else to Consider? Puss in Boots probably makes more sense than the more outré Chico pick, but especially when the overall field has proved uninspired, this branch has proved susceptible to Secret of Kells-style surprises of late. Winnie the Pooh, despite great reviews, and Rio, despite great box-office, haven't had any luck on these rosters so far this season.

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: Footnote, In Darkness, Pina, A Separation, SuperClásico 3/5
Anything Else to Consider? Monsieur Lazhar and Seediq Bale feel like strong plays, and people who have seen Bullhead seem quite enamored. I'm not even sure I can work out which of the three semi-finalists are the Executive Committee's pet causes. Omar Killed Me feels like the straggler to me, but after Zem's multi-faceted career, I'm pleased for him.

FILM EDITING: The Artist, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Hugo, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Moneyball 4/5
Anything Else to Consider? War Horse and Tinker Tailor are the most considerable threats outside this list, I think, but fondness for the former seems mo muffled, and the confusing plotting of the latter is surely down to the editing as much as anything. And how many quick inserts of portentous-looking faces do we need? Best Picture heavyweights should always be considered here, and the Descendants team is pushing hard for a nod. Tintin's action set-pieces might impress, too, though even in this field, animation and motion-capture have some high hurdles to clear. I'd have thought well-liked action blockbusters like Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Super 8, or Harry Potter might stake a claim here, but the A.C.E. ballot suggested no enthusiasm. They didn't for Ghost Protocol, either, but after the swell box-office and the dazzling set-pieces, can it really be ignored?

ART DIRECTION: The Artist, Harry Potter, Hugo, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, War Horse Missed: Midnight in Paris 4/5
Anything Else to Consider? Note that, without trying, I am duplicating the BAFTA list. I realize the Guild conspicuously omitted War Horse from their own nominees, and maybe I ought to take the hint, but is Spielberg really to be overlooked for the Elizabethan dioramas of Roland Emmerich's team in Anonymous, or the cool appeal of Dragon Tattoo, or the Disneyfied South of The Help? Possibly, but hard to believe.

COSTUME DESIGN: Anonymous, The Artist, Hugo, Jane Eyre, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy 4/5
Anything Else to Consider? My Week with Marilyn might get by on period setting alone, and for padding out Michelle Williams' figure, even though the costumes are nothing special. Troy Syndrome could always yield a crazy-good nod (Immortals?), a crazy-dumb one (Pirates?), or just a crazy one (W.E.?). Thor might be the most Troy-ish contender of the lot, and the Guild went for it. I thought A Dangerous Method had some of the year's best tailoring and most character-specific designs, but Oscar has never once sprung for Denise Cronenberg. J.Edgar's not impossible, but has its fan base, if it ever existed, withstood a sparkless season?

ORIGINAL SCORE: The Artist, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Hugo, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, War Horse Missed: Tintin 4/5
Anything Else to Consider? Once again, turns out I'm repeating BAFTA. First, if The Descendants qualifies here, please somebody swing by and check my pulse.

SOUND MIXING: Hugo, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Super 8, Transformers 2/5
Anything Else to Consider? I hesitate at ignoring The Artist and at suppressing my own desires to see Hanna in the mix (heh heh). War Horse, Tintin, Fast Five, Harry Potter, and Rise of the Planet of the Apes must be tempting choices for the pop crowd. Tinker Tailor and Rango certainly deserve consideration for fans of subtlety and idiosyncrasy. Girl with the Dragon Tattoo will draw at least a few votes from both factions. Moneyball scored a nod from the Cinema Audio Society; I can't work out why, but I'm glad to hear support for the movie is broad, even in unexpected quarters.

SOUND EDITING: The Adventures of Tintin, Fast Five, Hugo, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Super 8 Missed: Drive, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 1/5!
Anything Else to Consider? I'm sure I'm over-estimating the differences between the Sound Mixing and Sound Editing rosters, although the nominators in the Sound branch have been refreshingly willing to do this of late. Animation tends to do well here, and while I'm rooting for Rango to get the nod, Tintin is fresher in the mind. All those car noises in Fast Five and chimp-screeches in Apes seem tough to avoid; The Artist, for its belated but witty sound elements, and Hugo, given its loudness and density, could lend the category some Best Picture prestige. M:I-4, Pirates, Transformers, Harry Potter, Super 8, and War Horse will make major pushes to unseat one, two, three, or more of these picks. I frankly won't be stunned if I'm wrong across the board.

MAKEUP: Anonymous, Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life, The Iron Lady 1/3
Anything Else to Consider? Betting against the Best Picture front-runner is probably folly, and betting against two of them is probably... follier? I think The Artist has a much better shot than Hugo. In fact, I'd be less surprised to see Harry Potter or Albert Nobbs than Hugo. Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life is the hardest semi-finalist to gauge, since AMPAS has opted more than once for this kind of off-the-radar title when the work is good enough.

VISUAL EFFECTS: Captain America, Harry Potter, Hugo, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Transformers 4/5
Anything Else to Consider? The branch has tipped five other semi-finalists (M:I-4, Pirates, Real Steel, Tree of Life, and X-Men). The Tom Cruise box-office juggernaut could easily crash the front-runners' party. I hate leaving off the engrossing cosmogony and nanobiology in The Tree of Life, but it's the sort of Visual Effects work critics and Oscar nods love to endorse and Oscar never does. The other three I'm not particularly worried about, though not having seen Real Steel or Pirates, which made a lot of people a lot of money, I'm perhaps being cavalier.

ORIGINAL SONG: "The Keeper," "Lay Your Head Down," "Life's a Happy Song," "The Living Proof," "Man or Muppet" Missed: "Real in Rio" 1/2
Anything Else to Consider? The In the Land of Blood and Honey track? The novelty number from Captain America? The Elton John drivel? I don't enjoy thinking about this absurdly capricious category.

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Best Actress Birthday Party, Week 4

As backloaded as the the current week is, with Patricia Neal and Geena Davis coming up on the 20th and 21st, next week is even more front-loaded, with these two gals blowing out candles right away on the 22nd. I'm happy to cull your suggestions a bit early, and don't be surprised if one of these gals has to wait a day or two for her party. Consider it like President's Day Observed.

Born January 22–January 28:
Click here for the full list of entries

Jan 22: Piper Laurie (80)
New Review: Tim (1979)
Piper's Best Work: I haven't seen her tough customer in The Hustler or her demented disciple in Carrie in so long that I can't really pick between them.
I've Also Seen: Disconcerting in ways Lee Remick could barely touch in the live-TV Days of Wine and Roses; goading Jeremy Brett to action and commanding the stage in a direct-to-video staging of Macbeth; intimidated by her child's deafness and by the grown daughter's anger in Children of a Lesser God; in an ensemble of actor's actors as David Morse's mother in The Crossing Guard; bullying Toni Collette and unconcerned about self-parody in The Dead Girl
Where To Go Next: If we're insisting on a theatrical release, then I'm guessing the Capote adaptation The Grass Harp, with Sissy Spacek, Walter Matthau, and Nell Carter. If TV movies count, I'm all about Piper as Magda Goebbels, with Anthony Hopkins as Hitler, in The Bunker. She was Emmy-nominated for that, and I'm betting she did it up real big. But if any medium will do, the answer is obviously Twin Peaks. I lived in Germany the two years it ran in the U.S., and by the time I moved back, it had come and gone. Never have caught up, but obviously must.

Jan 22: Diane Lane (47)
New Review: Rumble Fish (1983)
Diane's Best Work: Sexy, accessible, and believably conflicted as she juices up the second act of her career in A Walk on the Moon, a movie seen by too few people but savored by all of them.
I've Also Seen: Young, charismatic leader of the whelps in Six Pack; as Paulette Goddard, but not such that I recall her, in Chaplin; maybe a bit bashful as Stella to Jessica Lange's Blanche and Alec Baldwin's Stanley in A Streetcar Named Desire; as good at fretful waiting as anyone could be in The Perfect Storm (my review); an appealing interview in Searching for Debra Winger; getting her nod for the commuter-train scene in Unfaithful (my review); a flattering audience surrogate and the centerpiece of light pleasures in Under the Tuscan Sun; stranded by a dumb script and stolid direction in Hollywoodland (my review), though everyone else seemed to like it; chafing, surely, under a new round of typecasting in Nights in Rodanthe
Where To Go Next: The 90s weren't the easiest decade for Diane, but I'm really eager to see Wild Bill, the no-doubt unusual biopic starring Jeff Bridges and Ellen Barkin and directed by Walter Hill. It's sitting right here on my shelf, and if it had been as short as Rumble Fish, I would have selected it.

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Best Actress Birthday Party, Week 3

Born January 15–January 21:
Click here for the full list of entries

Jan 16: Diana Wynyard (106; died 1964)
New Review: Gaslight (1940)
Diana's Best Work: Unquestionably, out of my very small sample, her take on the famously terrorized wife in the movie I just saw.
I've Also Seen: Her stiff, shaky, but nominated performance in Cavalcade (Best Pictures from the Outside In), which is not a great moment in Oscar history, especially since the transition from an Aug 1–Jul 31 eligibility calendar to the much more sensible Jan 1–Dec 31 window resulted in the 1932-33 ceremony inviting candidates from 17 months of top-flight movies. Best not to think about whom Wynyard bested on the way to her citation. Anyway, Wynyard was one of those actresses who made no bones about valuing the stage in every way above the screen, and only made 16 films in 25 years before her abrupt death at 56.
Where To Go Next: Diana has a tough task trying to elbow into a three-way Barrymore Act-a-Thon in Rasputin and the Empress. Speaking, though, of crowded rings, I gather from commenters that she makes a vivid impression as part of the large ensemble in her last film, the four-stranded Island in the Sun. (She's got the Blanchett part in the 1947 version of An Ideal Husband, but after my first two run-ins with Diana, I'm not convinced she'd import the subliminal slyness into that role that Cate so dexterously brought to it.)

Jan 20: Patricia Neal (86; died 2010)
New Review: The Fountainhead (1949)
Patricia's Best Work: Neal is one of those happy cases of a performer gleaning her Oscar for what is surely her best performance, as the aroused but worldly-wise Alma in Hud (my Favorite Films entry).
I've Also Seen: Extremely savvy and emotionally layered in A Face in the Crowd; sensual and moneyed in Breakfast at Tiffany's, like Nina Foch in An American in Paris; nominated for bearing up with a querulous husband, a war-scarred son, and whatever weighs on her own soul in The Subject Was Roses; and a miniature, late-in-life delight in Robert Altman's Cookie's Fortune
Where To Go Next: I'm most curious to beat a path to the sci-fi classic The Day the Earth Stood Still. Otherwise, beyond her two Reagan vehicles from the same year as The Fountainhead, especially the Oscar-nominated The Hasty Heart, I've heard some good things—including from you guys—about The Breaking Point, Bright Leaf, Three Secrets, and the immediately pre-stroke Psyche 59. How Glenda Jackson ever found her way into starring in The Patricia Neal Story is fathomless to me but a mystery for another time.

Jan 21: Geena Davis (56)
New Review: The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)
Geena's Best Work: If all she'd ever shown us was dizzy, irked, fun-chasing, assaulted, recklessly emancipated Thelma in Thelma & Louise, she'd belong in the pantheon.
I've Also Seen: From a surprisingly not-enormous filmography, a goofy-sexy cameo in Tootsie, formidably intelligent and emotionally rich in The Fly; a good fit for Burton's whimsy in Beetlejuice; winning her Oscar as Anne Tyler's warmly offbeat dog-walker in The Accidental Tourist (my review), where she memorably puts paid to William Hurt's fickleness and unwitting condescension; and trying to resuscitate Irene Dunne in Speechless. Also, the episode of The Geena Davis Show where she teaches the kids The Hustle, and the one of Commander in Chief where she gets the gig.
Where To Go Next: As several commenters rightly pointed out, there is no excuse for me to have not seen A League of Their Own by now. Earth Girls Are Easy will probably come after that, but I can usually watch Davis in anything.

As always, propose your own favorites in the Comments, and respond to the reviews as they appear!

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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Live-Blogging the 2011 Golden Globes

As events played out, the most recent entries appeared on the top of the page, so readers could simply hit Reload and see the newest stuff. This is also the easiest way for me to write and publish. Now, for clarity, I've switched the order, so that you can follow the whole transcript from chronological beginning to end.

11:45: Morning preparations for the Golden Globes officially commence with the pouring of tonic water into the ice-cube trays, for later. The gin's not going to dilute itself, people, and I think this live-blog pretty much doubled as community service last year when I taught you about freezing the tonic water. That's what Clooney does. Mavis Gary, too, in her little Minneapolitan skypod.

I'll be bobbing in and out until about 6:00pm CST, when the peanut gallery will be in full voice. Between now and then, we'll be listening to the nominated songs, and finding other ways to ask, Who is fit to inherit the mantle of The Social Network, Sharon Stone, and Keri Russell? If you don't think this is all very important, and quite a bit of fun, you're making a very grave mistake, comparable to not freezing the tonic water, and you haven't read this delightful, up-with-Globes missive from Tom Shone.

(If you're looking to kill time before the show, especially if you're new in these parts, have a poke around the blog and over at the website. Lots of exciting Best Actress action unfolding as we speak. Got a favorite Patricia Neal or Geena Davis movie? Don't be shy!)

11:56: In fact, let's squeeze in a song while we're getting ready to go to brunch. Elton John, bring it.


11:57: Hmmmm... feeling a little bit Electric Light Orchestra at the outset... Something about colors, and life being a many-splendored thing. I can mostly decipher the lyrics, beneath all the production, once again happening inside a room made of the finest sheet metal.

11:58: "Like a fly on the back of a bird"? Is that what he said? "Hello hello / My my my, what have we here?... Someone's out there, to say, Hello!" That part I'm sure about. These are the lyrics. But what this has to do with garden gnomes expressing themselves in iambic pentameter, I'll never know. (Wait, Gnomeo & Juliet is not in pentameter?)

11:59: Okay, well. It'll get better from there. Heading out to brunch, among a restaurant full of disgruntled Bears fans, still lamenting the post-season that will never be. These people are hung up on all the wrong interests, obviously.

1:45: Okay, we're listening again to that final lullaby from Albert Nobbs and thinking about what to wear tonight. Perhaps, as inspired by Janet McTeer in Nobbs, we will opt for eight layers of wool knits. We've always been Sinéad fans, ever since she rocked the 1989 Grammys in her combat boots and inked-up scalp. Sinéad was the original girl with a dragon tattoo, and she still gets to us more than Lisbeth. But this song is so airy? As Joe Reid observed, for a movie that lingered in pre-production for almost as long as I've been alive, a lot of its choices seem bizarrely vague, and the lyrics of "Lay Your Head Down" are a case in point. Who is the speaker in this song? Who is the audience? The baby at the end? Albert? In Albert's case, "lay your head down, darling," seems like a recommendation in questionable taste. What does each verse or even each line have to do with each other? Somehow the "la la la"s don't make it easier to puzzle out.

1:54: Derek feeling a little aggrieved about the $1.29 I have spent on a song from Gnomeo & Juliet. Explaining the scenario of that film induced a 60-second, gaping-mouthed, frozen closeup, while he gripped his Argo Tea. A sea of emotions. Very Nicole Kidman in Birth. I promise it was my hard-earned $1.29, not his.

1:56: So we've moved on to Madonna. "And I... can't tell you why... it hurts so much... to be in love with a masterpiece." Sort of "La Isla Bonita" after three Bufferins. "If you were the Mona Lisa, you'd be hanging in the Louvre...." I mean, I guess you can't argue with that.

1:59: This, too, feels thrown together in an almost blasé way, like something Madge put together while lying down in the third living room in the East Wing of the homestead, one leg on the couch and one off, both in slippers. "'Cause after all, nothing's indestructible." Again, who is saying this? What does this mean? Is this koan directed at W.E.'s critics? If "it hurts so much to be in love with a masterpiece," is that supposed to ameliorate the experience of being confronted with a movie that is, from what I gather, definitely not that?

2:07: Okay, I was going to space these out, but now that the usual sick thud associated with Best Original Song is overtaking me, let's soldier forward. Where is my Help DVD? Having already watched Viola walk down that tree-lined lane two times, I think I'll watch the "Living Proof" music video, advertised as a special feature.

2:10: So, doesn't it seem like the characters in The Help are always driving down that one road any time they're going anywhere? Emma pulling into town. Bryce getting liquored up on her way to tear Skeeter a new one. Even though that dirt road seems to dead-end at one big house?

2:12: So this is not a jewel of a lyric, either, but Mary J. is sort of the Viola of the reigning R&B thrushes. You can hand her some borderline pap, and she will dig out that emotional truth. Hard to separate performance from the song. Either way, it sure outclasses the other three. (Low bar.)

2:15: (Re: Mary J. Blige: you've all read this, right? One of my favorite things on the internet, even if they're a tad hard on Mary outside of T.T.L.O.A.E.J., and Mariah totally gets jacked in terms of Weight Fluctuation and Hand Gestures.)

2:19: So, we're spending another $1.29 on a cut from Machine Gun Preacher.

2:20: Is that the instrumentation from "Solsbury Hill" under Cornell's voice and lyric?

2:21: "Beauty and truth collide / Where love meets genocide...," and then something about fear. An allusion to machine-gun rounds echoing across a smoke-filled valley on fire, but I'm still hearing this daintily plucked acoustic guitar, re: A John Williams Christmas or similar. I like Chris Cornell, but...

2:23: Chris Cornell can obviously write a good song, but this song, I don't know. Would it help if I'd seen the movie? Anyway, remember when Sound Effects and Makeup used to be occasional awards at the Oscars, saved for really remarkable accomplishments? I would urge all film-awards bodies to go this route on Original Song. You hate for something like "Streets of Philadelphia" or "Things Have Changed" to get missed, and some years admittedly have pretty good rosters, but too often it is just a hot. mess.

2:25: Okay, so I'm a Mary J. Blige voter. Who would ever have seen this coming?

2:30: Back between 5:30 and 6:00 CST. Thanks for tuning in already, folks in Sherman Oaks and Mississippi, Toronto and Slough, Greece and Estonia! Enjoying the night's global theme already.

5:50: All right, we're back up! I have settled in with some of the key ingredients, including the Caesar salad, the POM juice (heart healthy!), and the whole gin & tonic situation. Also, failing my ability to procure chocolate pie, Big League chew, a cake shaped like a carrot, Hawaiian pineapple, or Carnage cobbler (née cafloutis), I am making it happen with this Golden Globe-shaped truffle from the chocolate-maker down the street. You'll notice I couldn't buy just one—could you?—but the Globe is in the back. You won't miss it.

6:00: And we're off to a good start, with no sound on the NBC feed!

6:01: Not that I don't prefer Carson Daly in silence, but are they really taunting me like this? I still can't hear a single thing.

6:02: Ricky Gervais scowling already, in his cranberry and black suit, talking to a reporter while his wife looks very much like they've just been arguing... and here's the sound! Right in on the line, "Their heads would explode!" and "If anyone's offended, I won't care."

6:03: Melissa McCarthy and her swell-looking Air Marshal, Ben! She's doing Badgley Mischka, and what looks a lot like Laura Linney's Oscar hair from '04. I have never hoped to see that again, but it's Melissa, so we love.

6:04: Carson Daly's already got Brad and Angelina. She is great at encapsulating her movie, and her attachments to the subject matter. It's a little awkward for Carson to have to hurricane right over to Brad: "Yeah, yeah, Bosnia! Totally! And what about Moneyball? How about that?"

6:05: Julianna Margulies, looking great in a sort of black-raspberry dress, has decided "They never give Golden Globes to the same performance twice," so she has no reason to be nervous. This is not strictly true, but if it's getting Julianna through The Stuff, we will let her think this. And if some sweet angel told her this just to help her out, don't tell Julianna!

6:07: We are all about the performative utterance tonight. The false but self-ratifying statement. Viz. Carson to Charlize: "Tell me about this movie and this character that absolutely everyone has responded to." So... she's supposed to talk about... Kristen in Bridesmaids? Surely he can't mean Mavis. Or that box-office juggernaut, Young Adult.

6:08: While some gal talks to Zooey Deschanel, I just have to tell you how fierce Viola Davis is looking in dark, dark mulberry, somewhere in the background. I guess we'll get to her later. So many colors tonight! Paula Patton in buttery yellow. Laura Dern in glittery jade-green. Nary a champagne gown in sight, so far!

6:10: Michelle Williams's dress is a form-fitting, high-necked, long-sleeved violet dress, with a kind of lacy material... And then there is a headband. It's Rita Hayworth meets Gold's Gym. But she's so sweet, and these sorts of events are so obviously not her rhythm—metabolically*—so we cut her slack. (*Thank you, Judy Davis, in perpetuity, for that.)

6:13: Commercial break, but picture and sound are both still being sheisty with me. We have 47 minutes to work. this. out., NBC.

6:15 The same gal who was quizzing Julianna if she no longer cares because she won last year is now asking Steve Buscemi the same thing. She has elected on an angle. She's going to play it. Don't talk to her if you didn't win last year.

6:16: "All you fashionistas out there, here is your dream woman, Nicole Richie." We have entered a surreal zone, no less so because Nicole Richie's hair ("by Suave Professionals") is an explicit homage to Bib Fortuna. And you Return of the Jedi fans know what I mean.

6:17: Elton John's here with his partner David Furnish, who I didn't realize produced Gnomeo & Juliet. "It was a labor of love, it took eleven years." He spent eleven years on Gnomeo & Juliet. You guys.

6:18: The "Since You Won Last Year" lady is talking to the head of the HFPA. "Are you allowed to tell me your favorite movie of the year?" I suspe—— whoa, Elle Macpherson. (The HFPA lady is comparing the Globes to the United Nations.)

6:20: My silence about Seth Rogen and his interview answers was conspicuous, people. And Rob Lowe is still auditioning as a natural comedian. It's fine.

6:21: Mary J. Blige is this year's torch-bearer for the annual effort to repeat Penélope Cruz's feathered-train look from the '06 Oscars. Somebody always tries this. It never goes the same way. Admittedly, no one until Mary J. has thought to pair that bottom-of-the-dress treatment with a form-fitting sequined top. Hope you've all bought her album, No More Drama, Ever, Again, Part I: The Sequel: Only the Beginning.

6:23: Octavia Spencer, whom I almost just called Octavia Butler, is looking ravishing in perfect makeup, gorgeous hairstyling, and an expertly tailored pink dress that cinches perfectly at the middle. She swats down a dumb rumor that her interviewer heard about A Total Dress Emergency!!!, and when told to enjoy the party tonight, she answers, "I already am." I assume this implies bourbon or similar, and we love her for that.

6:24: Commercial break for John Carter. WHY is this no longer called John Carter of Mars? Whom do they possibly think they are more successfully wooing with that title? Maybe The Courtship of Eddie's Father should have just been called Eddie. I wish Kill Bill had just been called Bill, so it could have made $900 million.

6:27: I will seize on this Southwest Airlines commercial to admit my deficits. I have not seen War Horse, 50/50, In the Land of Blood and Honey, most of the Animated nominees, or, um, any of the television. So you can process any smack-talking through that filter. But you know, I'm working at about 90%.

6:28: Carson: "Madonna, I just got done talking to Elton John." Madonna: "Really? Was he wearing a green dress?" Shade. She talks about how her nominated song, —

6:28: WAIT.

6:29: Is Morgan Freeman dating Frances Fisher now??? Clint's ex? How long has this been the case? Was Unforgiven secretly Jules & Jim and we didn't have any idea? (If you perceived the infrared love triangle that was playing out beneath the brown surface of Unforgiven, tell me all about it in the Comments.)

6:31: The big Nicole Richie Fan is now telling Claire Danes that last year, "You just oozed beauty onto the carpet." Keats, not even Keats could have come up with that.

6:32: More great-looking people: Amy Poehler (sparkly, interesting seams), Reese Witherspoon. Can I say Viola again?

6:33: Mila Kunis hauls out with the first black dress of the hour, which at 6:33 is pretty amazing. She says last year she was "like a young kid," but this year is totally different. Having passed through the purging fire of Friends with Benefits, she stands before us, catapulted into adulthood.

6:34: Salma Hayek, my all-time favorite announcer of the Oscar nominations. Do you remember how she lost her mind with enthusiasm for Penélope and for the fortuitous Year of All Mexicans in 2006? I don't think she'll be as rapturous giving an award to Modern Family or New Girl, but she doesn't need to be.

6:35: Leonardo DiCaprio was attracted to playing J. Edgar Hoover "because I don't really know how to define him." Sell us on that performance, Leo!

6:36: The cracks in Natalie Portman's thesping show. Under hot lights and a million cameras, in a very pretty but architecturally complicated magenta dress, she tries to ask Benjamin Millepied through a completely fixed smile, "Please stop walking so fast." Doesn't work. We can read your lips, Natalie. You both look annoyed. Benjamin sighs. He was born to move fleetly, with grace!

6:38: ABILIFY!!!!!!!!! Yes, Baby! It is the Globes! Repeat readers from past liveblogs know how much this ad means to me, every year. "Elderly patients taking Abilify have an increased risk of death or stroke." We are now up to three invocations of possible death. And this year, the commercial is animated. And the final title card wants us to know that the drug is really called Aririprazole. Abilify is just its sexy celebrity pseudonym, for TV.

6:41: The lady I've now learned to call Natalie ("You won last year," etc.) asks Matt LeBlanc what it's like to play himself on Episodes, and he shrugs off the question, obviously wanting us to know that he acts. So, her follow up is, "In real-life, are you a lot like your Joey character from Friends?" She is not feeling LeBlanc as a thespian, people. And we know she likes her questions once she's decided on them.

6:43: I feel you should all know that the gin & tonic is in my well-preserved Great Muppet Caper glass, from Burger King '82. My own little protest about whatever Anti-Muppet Fatwa went down among the song nominators.

6:44: The fashionista, the one who's not called Natalie (I think she's called Jeanie?), is talking to Emma Stone, whose dress is quite beautiful: sort of very, very deep purple, and some kind of magenta strip that's either part of a purse I can't see, or a component of the dress I don't fully comprehend. But Jeanie is having an intense case of Searching for Debra Winger Syndrome, because she is telling every one of these ladies that they are the best-dressed and they are her favorite. Does she not think they are all headed into the same room as each other? Do actresses not talk? In fairness, maybe their first topic isn't, "Hey, what'd Jeanie ask you?"

6:47: A birth-control product called Periguard is now being advertised, but you shouldn't take it if you have "certain cancers." Also "fewer than 1% of people who take Periguard are at risk of potentially life-threatening pelvic inflammations."

6:48: An ad with Ricky Gervais, where NBC once again tries to convince us that he was a Brave, Truth-Telling Comic last year, not a pretty lame a-hole who berated pretty ego-less nominees and made really, really, really cutting-edge jokes about Robert Downey Jr. in rehab, Charlie Sheen with hookers, and women in Hollywood who get plastic surgery. I really can't believe we were all so hard on his unbelievably vanguard material, but he must just be so far out in front of us that we think he's behind.

6:51: Natalie, the interviewer, not the slow-walking actress, wants to know how Glenn Close came to get an Original Song nomination. Glenn's answer—I want you to really take note here—is that the composer wrote a beautiful melody, and she wrote a lyric, and so they had a song. Good for Glenn, though, for naming so many Nobbs people by name: the composer, the wigmaker, the makeup artists, Janet McTeer. Total team player, that one.

6:52: I'm not just saying this to flatter Joe Reid, but Reese Witherspoon not only looks her best ever, in cherry red and in long, loose hair, but she pretty much vanquishes everyone else on the carpet. She looks amazing. Though no one has spoken with her.

6:53: Bryan Cranston looking great in his tux and his beard. Jeanie: "I think we're having fashion sex right now!" Cranston: "Uh, yeah, that's exactly right!"

6:55: The cast of Modern Family is like the cast of The Fighter was last year, and the way the Friends cast always was. They just all seem like they really, really, really, really like each other. My deep thought of the evening is: that's so fun.

6:56: So (commercial) one more thing about how we're going to proceed. I've already written predictions in each category, and though I won't post them till we get to each award, I won't change my mind about them during the ceremony. Not even if a colossal Ides of March sweep sets in early and just starts devouring everything in its path. I've considered that eventuality, but I will stand fast.

6:59: Natalie, when asked, says the person she was most excited to see tonight was Ricky Gervais. NBC has told their interviewers what to say.

7:00: Heeeere's Ricky. (First death glare is from Charlize, and she packs a big one.)

7:01: First joke is against NBC, and then he goes after the Globes, and Kim Kardashian. "The Oscars are to the Golden Globes what Kate Middleton is to Kim Kardashian." That's not bad.

7:02: Joke about Eddie Murphy and Norbit preceded by what feels a lot like a gay innuendo?

7:03: Jodie Foster plays along gamely with a Mel Gibson/Jodie's Beaver joke, and even thumbs-up's him through the joke until he turns on The Beaver a little. And now a Justin Bieber turkey-basting joke.

7:05: Glare count has now escalated to Amy Poehler and Elton John (burning). When Ricky gets to Bridesmaids, Melissa McCarthy looks terrified at what he might say.

7:06: Ricky pulls out Johnny Depp, who is profoundly orange. And asks him point-blank, "Have you seen The Tourist yet?" Which is a pretty good joke. But Johnny Depp gives a really nice spin to his own first line, "Awwww. He's - fun." Johnny's here to plug Hugo. This is what we're starting with?

7:07: Are those two kids gonna bop out here and present Animated Feature or something? No: Gerard Butler and Mila Kunis. Gerard still rocking the lion's mane.

I WANT: Christopher Plummer, because he was great in his movie and avoided a lot of more obvious approaches and was Mike Wallace and Captain Von Trapp and leaves these others in the dust, even Viggo and Albert.
I PREDICT: Plummer. Brooks could happen, but I don't think so. Better shot here than with Oscar, though.

Viggo Mortensen is working a Martin Luther King honorary lapel pin.

VERDICT: It's Plummer! Gerard gives him a frat-boy roar, and Mila's super excited, too. Plummer thanks his fellow nominees first, and then, "That wily Scot, Ewan - that scene-stealing [something] from the Outer Hebrides." Shout-out to Cosmo the Dog! That's Cosmo 1, Uggie 0, for the only time tonight.

7:12: Plummer is seeming more frail tonight, and certainly much slurrier, than he was at the BFCA's. Lovely tribute to his wife of 43 years.

I WANT: Amy Poehler, because she always livens up these joints in the most hilarious ways, but then never actually gets to be at the daïs. Though you know I love my Lauras.
I PREDICT: Zooey Deschanel, because the first-timers and ingénues always get a leg up from these skeezes. (Which doesn't mean the gals don't deserve it. There's just some serious B.A.A. going on, which is Babe Affirmative Action.)

VERDICT: Laura Dern! Stopping that Deschanel train. This is her third Globe in five nominations. She really pulls these down! She's the new Angelina, and I always like her speeches. I love that she's here with Mama Diane. Elle Macpherson is behind her, wondering if she can pull off another fierce runway walk off the stage, just like the one she threw down on the way out. She hasn't even noticed Ashton Kutcher, I don't think, and just try blaming her.

7:14: Meryl Streep is seated right next to Harvey Weinstein. I know she doesn't take the Celebrity Power thing at all seriously, but I'm surprised there's not someone somewhere whose job was to figure out at least a body or two to squeeze in between them. I mean, we want Meryl to have fun, right? Even if we don't think we want her to win?

7:18: A really insane blacksmith-themed Velveeta commercial, which just makes Velveeta seem even more unappealing. But then my favorite AT&T ad, with the guy checking the game while he's on a date.

7:19: Julianne!!!!!!! Still rocking emerald earrings, ten years after she first pulled 'em out. The Teleprompter people have played the hell out of Julianne and Rob Lowe. They are at an absolute loss as to what to say. But Helen Mirren loves a good snafu; she's eating this up in the audience. You will be stunned to learn that Andie MacDowell has a gorgeous daughter.

I WANT: Mildred Pierce, which I didn't love, but you know I like to see my Todd.
I PREDICT: Downton Abbey, because seriously, you people are obsessed! You internet people! You!

VERDICT: They threw the Mildred strangulation right into the preview clip! And they don't even let Julianne give the award to Todd Haynes, which sucks, because of course it goes to Downton Abbey. The cast of this joint have a weird Sopranos-y affect tonight. I am not feeling the waves of Modern Family mutual adoration.

I WANT: Emily Watson, because I've never heard her give a speech, and I was just celebrating her birthday yesterday, and we need some surprises up in this.
I PREDICT: Kate Winslet, because f'real. These people put out for her in Revolutionary Road, and if you're willing to do that, there is no turning back.

Diane, Kate, and Emily all look super! And now Julianne will get to make Todd Haynes's night.

VERDICT: Kate Winslet, stuck in the back with all the other half-citizens who do TV instead of movies, or even in addition to movies. There's a sort of one-drop rule happening. Do TV once, and move to the back row, people. Todd Haynes gets his close-up, and Kate is devoting her whole speech to him. "I learned things from you that I will remember for the rest of my life." Love her thanks to HBO, "for being absent when we needed you to be absent, and present when we needed you to be present."

Turns out you can be Kate Winslet and Stick Man will play you off. So it's definitely On tonight.

7:27: You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger vet Freida Pinto pops in to plug Midnight in Paris. She insists there's something we learn during it, and I don't think Freida would lie. Kate Capshaw bolts for the bathroom and brings Spielberg with her. Jane Lynch and Glenn Close entertain each other.

7:29: Alexandre Desplat's Birth score has been scooped for a Cadillac ad. Which makes sense from a certain POV, since it's a Cadillac among scores. But I hope he exacted the same "Oh, you like me now!" tariff that other un-nominated but brilliant scores have deserved over the years upon becoming Madison Ave staples. Kronos Quartet and Clint Mansell know exactly what I'm talking about.

7:30: I'd love one more paean to Todd Haynes before the evening's over, but I don't assume we're going to get one.

7:32: Jeremy Irons chaperones Aida Takla O'Reilly, the impresaria of the Hollywood Foreign Press, and he throws a supportive arm around her. Nicole Kidman pays her some fixed attention. Nicole is seated with Harrison Ford? Madonna does that amazingly sphinxlike thing she does where you can't tell if she's focused of if she's inwardly laughing at this woman.

7:33: Shailene Woodley is only a lukewarm Jake Gyllenhaal fan, based on applause levels. Jake's here to intro My Week with Marilyn. It took me an embarrassingly long time to make the Michelle Williams connection between this actor and this movie. Michelle Williams's headband is quite spangly, so that makes it less Gold's Gym, though I still don't get it.

7:35: William H. Macy and Madeleine Stowe, fairly impassive in the face of the Gervais. Salma Hayek actively annoyed. Paula Patton cheering up Melissa McCarthy.

I WANT: Damian Lewis, because we all have our crushes, and stop acting like we don't.
I PREDICT: Bryan Cranston, because Hugh Laurie is the only repeat winner in this category in almost 30 years, and Cranston's never copped this. Odd, since Cranston has, what, six Emmys, and Laurie has none. Grammer could also get it, based on novelty of the show—which, again, the HFPA really goes for.

VERDICT: Paula Patton's really happy for Kelsey Grammer; I take it she isn't a huge "Bryan Craston" fan. Melissa McCarthy still looks sort of... irked. But how is Kelsey Grammer already married again?

I WANT: Homeland, I guess, but only because it sounds like the smartest of the lot, based on friends' reviews. I don't really have a strong preference here.
I PREDICT: Homeland, since it seems to have the critical heat, and TV Globes are always about what's hot this. exact. second. Which is at least better than the Emmys can usually say.

VERDICT: Homeland. Paul Feig is stand-up-and-clap excited about this; Ben Kingsley's wife seems pretty outraged. Melissa McCarthy's mood is still not totally clearing. I'm really eager to check out this show. I didn't know Michael Cuesta directed it! But I did know it starred "the incandescent Claire Danes and the irrepressible Damian Lewis." I did not know Damian Lewis was "irrepressible," and I wonder what that means. Doesn't it seem unavoidably euphemistic in this context? I mean, he's not Roberto Benigni.

7:41: M.G.C. Mutual Goddess Contact: Laura Linney has pushed her way to the Apartheid Barrier that keeps the TV people from the movie people, and she kisses Charlize Theron on the cheek and mouths at least the words "You were..." I'm assuming some vigorously complimentary adjective ensues. The overseers from District 9 cruise by with their automatic pulse-rifles, a bit discomfited by this modicum of contact between the film stars and their catfood-eating underlings.

I WANT: Dragon Tattoo, which I wasn't as musically in love with as I was with Social Network, but I think it had more going on in a more creative way than Artist or (for crying out loud) Hugo
I PREDICT: The Artist, only because they don't repeat winners a lot, though I badly want to predict Korzeniowski, because I love smelling an HFPA rat, and these W.E. nominations have got "Lunch is on me, fellas! Put it on my tab!" written all over 'em.

Due credit to Jimmy Fallon's quick, incredible retinue of Mick Jagger impressions.

VERDICT: Ludovic Bource for, as Fallon says, The Arteest! Everyone claps, and then a few people pass out after Bérénice Bejo singes them with her beauty. Bource starts, "I'm sorry, I'm French."

I WANT: "The Living Proof," but not because I think it's so, so fabulous. I am excited to see Mary J. Blige become a major award winner.
I PREDICT: I think Glenn is all over this.

VERDICT: "Masterpiece"! This isn't really a defensible win in any way, but it's worth it for the camera angle that discloses Madonna as sitting three seats down from Meryl Streep, so Nathaniel won't be able to sleep tonight. Some genius operating the show cuts to Antonio Banderas as Madonna approaches the mic, and Melanie Griffith, also a genius, manages to look completely away from this camera. Mary J. Blige looks a little hurt, and Elton John looks like he is not feeling the Madge. Andrea Riseborough gets a great acknowledgment, and Madonna is steely enough to get away with calling Harvey Weinstein "The Punisher."

7:52: I'm experiencing an Ignorant American moment. A Turkish actress is here to plug the planet's collective fixation on the Golden Globes, and I have no idea who she is. As compensation, I can tell you that Jodie Foster's kids are adorable. Who's feeling well-compensated?

7:54: Mascarpone ganache. This live-blog has been brought to you by Canady Le Chocolatier. Represent, Chicagoans! South Wabash, just up from Roosevelt. You won't ever be sorry.

7:56: NBC really thinks I'm going to watch this Katharine McPhee/Debra Messing show, which I'm not going to do, even with Anjelica Huston.

7:57: And wouldn't you know, here are Debra Messing and Katharine McPhee!

I WANT: William Hurt, because he was a big-deal actor to me when I first got excited about movies, before I realized it was all about the women, and it's been nice having him back.
I PREDICT: Dominic West, out of residual affection for The Wire. But it seems like any of them could win, and I truly have no idea, or any basis to judge.

VERDICT: Idris Elba, which I'm pretty sure Nathaniel called. The offscreen announcer provides, as Idris's previous professional apex, the fact that he produced a track on Jay-Z's 2007 album. Which is great, obviously. But can I paraphrase Tess Ocean again? "He also acts, occasionally."

7:59: Brad Pitt, avec cane, like Jennifer Aniston was back when she won, is plugging The Ides of March. The Brad-George bromance is a bromance like no bromance. Will whoever wins Best Actor decide to Ving Rhames it over to the other guy?

8:00: Seth Rogen walks out with Kate Beckinsale. "Hello, I'm Seth Rogen, and I am currently trying to conceal a massive erection."

I WANT: Kristen Wiig, because even if she's not a totally polished big-screen performer yet, she wrote herself a layered part and made it funny and sobering, often mere seconds apart. Viz. "Are you f*cking kidding me??" inside the shower, straight into mauling that big cookie and losing her battle with a fondue fountain.
I PREDICT: Michelle Williams, and I'm at least interested to hear a speech from her. Have we ever heard one before?

VERDICT: Michelle Williams, even though Seth Rogen totally calls it out as "a hysterical comedy." Michelle wants to thank her daughter first, including for listening to bedtime stories for six months in a Marilyn Monroe voice. Plus, a shout-out to Marilyn's own Globe win from 1959.

8:03: Okay, so we knew that was happening. But you guys, can we talk about the huge crowd-roar for Kristen Wiig. I recognize I might be wrong about predicting her for an upset nomination in Best Actress. But am I really crazy for predicting this?

8:05: Also, really, Seth Rogen? Did we absolutely have to?

8:06: I mean, we absolutely had to?

8:07: Meanwhile, NBC has cooked up a special show to teach you that if you take a picture of your child, you are basically inviting a predator to your house. You can find out all about this ridiculous, dangerous error of yours, in an hour-long special.

I WANT: Brían O'Byrne, who is to Mildred Pierce what Patrick Wilson was to Angels in America in 2003: the best, most self-effacing actor in the trickiest part in a large-ish male ensemble, so you just know he's the one who'll never win anything, or even get nominated. Which he isn't, in this case. Phooey. Can I say 'Phooey'?
I PREDICT: Peter Dinklage, because whatever's happening with him on that show, the world is apparently in thrall.

VERDICT: Peter Dinklage. I am Cassandra! But I would rather talk about un-nominated Jesse Tyler Ferguson hilariously holding an index card that says, "Whatever..." over Eric Stonestreet's shoulder while his nomination was announced. Peter Dinklage lets us know that his mother instructed him that Guy Pearce would be winning. Why didn't she call me? I am Cassandra! (Peter ends by telling us to Google Martin Henderson.)

8:11: George Clooney walks out with Brad Pitt's cane, which Angelina Jolie finds hilarious. Oh, so of cou— yes. George is pitching Moneyball. This is all very sweet, but I enjoy that Meryl and Viola can just support each other on their own time, in subtle ways. I realize these guys are friends. I toooootally get it.

I WANT: To not have this category. Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, and Toy Story 2 all won Best Picture from this crowd. Maybe the Academy needs this ghetto category but the HFPA has proven they don't, and this lineup feels sad to me, even though I liked Rango.
I PREDICT: I think Rango will pip Tintin, unless I'm discounting the Spielberg pull too much. Based on his non-nomination for War Horse, I'm assuming that I'm not.

Channing Tatum and Jessica Alba start us off with a little bit of Affirmative Action sermonizing about how animated features seriously are totally awesome. Because everyone in this room only watches documentaries.

VERDICT: Tintin takes it, and while Kate Capshaw is absolutely delighted for him, Michelle Pfeiffer, sitting right on the other side of Kate, looks not even the slightest bit moved by this turn of events. I don't think her body temperature even changes during these things, unless she's getting to sing the virtues of Jeff Bridges for the masses. There's that, being at home with the kids and the donkeys, and there's pretty much everything else.

8:16: Katharine McPhee, crouching on the rug, is pouring her heart out to the über-maternal Michelle Williams. I'm pretty sure Paula Patton and Glenn Close are having the best times, out of everyone in the room. Charlize, I would say less so.

8:17: If I can be Lee Edelman for just a moment, does anyone else feel like we're getting even more "I'm a parent first and an actor second" / "I'm nervous because my new daughter is with a babysitter for the first time" / "Without my family nothing else matters" tonight than usual? Is it a defense mechanism against Gervais? Is everyone just super in touch with their whole-life priorities? I'm totally sympathetic to this, but sometimes the balance of the evening tips such that people seem cowed out of taking an evening to take pride in their specifically professional accomplishments. Just one audience member's reaction. I actually kind of liked Ricky Gervais's joke about how "none of your family members had anything to do with any of this!"

8:20: Ewan strolls out, immediately out-handsomes everyone, out-brogues everyone, and plugs 50/50.

8:21: Now Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman! The producers heard that I was feeling cranky and are now trying to seduce me. It is working.

I WANT: Moneyball, half for lines like "...fifty feet of crap...," and half because the other nominees are so blech.
I PREDICT: The Descendants, though I hate to. Allen's a possiblity, though. So's The Artist. So is Moneyball. You guys, I do not predict The Ides of March. Look at me go!

VERDICT: Midnight in Paris. Nicole says, "Woody wants to say thank you to the Hollywood Foreign Press," making perfectly clear that Woody has transmitted no such message.

I WANT: Jessica Lange, because of Frances. That's the rule, chirrens. Make Frances, and for the rest of your life, all other things being equal (as they are here, to me), I will always back you. Also, the person who just laughed when I said "chirrens" is a big American Horror Story fan. Make a South Carolinian happy, HFPA!
I PREDICT: Sofia Vergara, because why end the Reign of Jane Lynch and disinvite Julie Bowen if it's not all a master-plot to let Sofia finally hit a microphone?

VERDICT: Jessica Lange, also seated in outer Kandahar. This is her fifth win, so those three-peaters like Dern and Grammer and Winslet can just stop feeling special.

8:25: Jessica Lange seems happy but maybe not ecstatic, even though her speech is incredibly sweet on the subject of writers, and good writing. She has, however, absolutely won the Reaction Shot Popularity Contest of the evening so far. Streep beams at her. McTeer beams at her, as upon a faith healer. Yes, even Pfeiffer is in love with her. I still — you guys, I still miss her face, but can I say again Frances, and on top of that Sweet Dreams and Tootsie, and what if I also add, Frances. So, it's all cool. (But is American Horror Story really "beautifully written"? Y'all tell me? It's not quite the impression I'd gotten, even from its delirious fans.)

8:28: Things moved too fast for me to mention that Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy charmed the room with their harmonic duet bit, upon intro'ing the category. Won themselves a round of applause. What is Felicity up to? Why haven't Desperate Housewives and Transamerica made more things happen for her? Eventually, it's going to be her birthday, and I'm not going to be sure what to watch. Thought I'd have more options by now?

8:29: Two absolutely priceless cutaways before. In the first, Emily Watson leapt into enthusiastic applause for Lange, and then realized she was only a few feet away from Evan Rachel Wood, a non-winning nominee in the same category, and she grimaced in embarrassment. Even better: Donald Gummer, Mr. Streep, was just sitting in his seat, minding his business, and Madonna bounced over to sit closer to him, and he just shot her down. That was a look.

8:32: Madonna just got into a semi-humorous blacktop knife-fight with Ricky Gervais, but before we address that...

I WANT: A Separation, because it's great, and I'm a Farhadi fan, and no Iranian movie has ever won.
I PREDICT: I'm not 100% confident about A Separation, but what would beat it? Jolie? Are they willing to be that transparent? (Although I hear her movie's good.)

VERDICT: A Separation! Jodie Foster is a huge fan, and Madonna's right up there, too. Shailene Woodley is not feeling that any moment is taking place. Asghar Farhadi, or "Fahardi," as some offstage announcers would have it, pays tribute to the Iranian people.

I WANT: Madeleine Stowe, because welcome back, Kotter! Or, Mireille Enos, because I'm always reading people saying the meanest stuff about this series, in ways that imply to me I would like it. Plus, Patty Jenkins trickle-down.
I PREDICT: Claire Danes, because the Globes have been on her wavelength for a long time, and her reviews for this performance are kind of mind-blowing.

Dustin Hoffman looking a little frail? Madeleine Stowe looking as gorgeous as ever, which is gorgeous.

VERDICT: Claire Danes, who has vanquished such a completely Globes-friendly proposition in Madeleine Stowe that Danes must be a total juggernaut in the making. Claire's had her ups and downs, sort of, but she still takes Most Self-Possessed from just about everybody except Linney. (Although she's still only got three Globes. The Lange looks at this puny trifecta, and she sneers.)

8:39: So, the Madonna-Ricky thing. He snorted at the idea of her being "like a virgin," because again, he is the Crown Prince of fresh material, and she said, at the mic, "If I'm still like a virgin, Ricky, why don't you come over here and do something about it? I haven't kissed a girl in several years. On TV." I think I was in the same place Salma Hayek visibly was: I enjoy seeing somebody fire a slingshot at Gervais, but this seemed like ...not the thing. You can see how smoothly an exchange like this flows right into an onstage moment for Asghar Farhadi. It was silky smooth.

8:42: I'm confused how these Smash ads think they can get away with "introducing Katharine McPhee." Thank Goodness American Idol is such a microscopic, public-access show that only airs at 3:30am.

8:43: Emily Blunt looks stunning in yellow sequin, but don't you kind of wish she'd have popped out in some hideous bridesmaid's dress?

I WANT: I care so little that I think if I had a ballot here, I'd write in Nina Garcia, just for giggles. Or I'd cross out the name of the category, replace it with Biggest Asshat, and only then vote for Thomas Jane.
I PREDICT: Matt LeBlanc, because they liked the show enough to nominate it. Then again, they do enjoy the Peter Scolari Principle of propping up the under-sung co-lead to the famous guy (Jimmy Smits, Anthony Edwards, etc., though not, in fact, Peter Scolari), so maybe that looks good for Johnny Galecki.

Tina Fey and Jane Lynch have got the presenter thing so totally down.

VERDICT: Matt LeBlanc. That Natalie outside is going to be so confused that he won for this documentary! This late in the evening, you really learn whose hairstylist built their work to last. (Thomas Jane was carefully dressed by House of Toolbox.)

I WANT: Jessica Chastain, because I have no problem voting for a body-of-work nomination when we're talking about the range of accomplishments within one year.
I PREDICT: Octavia Spencer, who I liked better the second time through The Help than the first (and, in truth, Chastain a little less than the first time I saw it). Still feels like something's not working in this lineup.

VERDICT: Octavia Spencer wins, and she gets her prize in a big ol' bag full of Bradley Cooper. Everyone's clapping for her and even on her while she makes her way up: Charlize, Julianne, Latifah, Maya, Paula, Janet, Melissa. They're all into it. Drops a Martin Luther King quote, and then hits her written list pretty hard. She's still looking like the finest lady here. Melissa McCarthy is weeping in the back. The Help table, including Viola's ex-linebacker husband, practically do the wave for Octavia.

8:52: So here is a graph of daily attendance at this blog. And we've still got an hour to go! Don't all of you be disappearing on me after this, though. Seriously, we've got a Diana Wynyard tribute coming up! Where else do you want to be? You think HuffPo is gonna be on that? (NBC is airing that commercial again about how you are inviting predators into your house with your digital camera. Just stop thinking your kid is cute! Knock that off!)

8:54: Reese is here, of course, to promo The Descendants, and to get a shout-out to her new film This Means War, and to wear that dress and that hair and makeup that themselves say, "That meant war, and girls, I won before you knew it was on." But even her little précis ("...a man and his philandering wife...") reminds me of some of what I hate about that movie. I wonder if they considered just trimming it to "a man and his comatose philanderer"?

8:56: Sidney Poitier gets the evening's first Standing O, so that Morgan Freeman can get the second. Poitier thinks Spencer Tracy, Laurence Olivier, Marlon Brando, and Canada Lee would be Morgan's biggest fans if they were here.

8:57: Morgan looks incredibly moved, incredibly, to get this testimony from Sidney Poitier, but it's an emotionally challenging bit, because Poitier does not strike one as enjoying incredibly good health. Helen Mirren tries to help out, with a mostly failed comic bit about Morgan not working with her often enough. (Unfortunate side effect is reminding a lot of people watching of RED's Best Picture nomination last year.) Here comes Morgan's reel. Shawshank, of course, gets the biggest offscreen cheer.

9:00: Here's Street Smart, in which Morgan and Kathy Baker are both tremendous, and which earned his first Oscar nomination, and which he named on the red carpet as his own favorite among his films, but almost no one talks about it anymore.

9:02: Morgan Freeman as a naked vampire taking a bubble-bath inside a casket on The Electric Company is something I had no idea I would ever see.

9:03: For his coronation, they go with the Daisy music, and beaming shots of Brad and Meryl and George. And Gerard Butler and Diane Ladd. Leo is embarrassed that his phone clearly buzzed in his pocket at the exact moment the ovation started. Speech starts with a better line to Mirren than she was given to deliver to him. His thanks to Sidney Poitier is superhumanly eloquent, even by Freeman's standards.

9:05: "Hey, Elton" suddenly feels like the funniest thing anybody could say. Ben Kingsley's wife is in his lap, pulling on his tie, and coming awfully close to Courtney Stodden territory, she's so excited about the Cecil B. DeMille award.

9:07: Remember when the DeMille presentation was 19 minutes long? Life has improved since then. But maybe they could find a golden mean? Feels like we rushed through that just the slightest bit. Mirren's patter ran as long as the clips.

9:08: White mint truffle. Oh, and here's that graph.

9:10: Robert Downey, Jr., whom we still love for breaking off a piece of Gervais right there on stage last year. He's stuck with a long list of the auteurs to whom the "daring and euphoric" The Artist pays tribute. These include John Ford and Billy Wilder. Obviously.

I WANT: A recount. Honestly, people. What the hell. But if we must, we must, and it's an easy Michel Hazanavicius vote from me.
I PREDICT: Martin Scorsese, though the Globes don't split Picture and Director as much as they used to.

Angelina's doing the honors, in her sleek red/white number. Michel Hazanavicius is super stoked that she can say his name (although I would have thought an "ss" sound and not a "sh"?).

VERDICT: Martin Scorsese gets it. He thanks the HFPA for all their work on film preservation. Diane Ladd is still feeling the love, all these years after Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore. Pays tribute to one of his kids. Hits all the producers and a whole lot of the cast. His assistant director, too, which is a nice touch. Settles the SKOON-MAY-KER confusions once and for all.

I WANT: Enlightened, just to get some Dern-Ladd Rambling Rose action up there on the stage. I've only actually seen a few episodes of Modern Family, a few clips of Glee, and nada of the others, so how could I judge?
I PREDICT: Modern Family, because nobody seems to get tired of it.

Ricky fires off a "Who can understand Antonio and Salma?" joke, and Antonio hits back with a full-on tirade in Spanish. Wish I didn't have to ask, but what'd he say?

9:17: It's Modern Family. Sofia Vergara and Steve Levitan pull off the only extended gag of the evening that's really, fully worked. And then we're back to Sofia's Diet Pepsi commercial, which is practically perspiring at this point. You guys, I'm not gonna buy it.

9:21: So, what we've got left are Dujardin, Artist, Davis/Streep, Pitt/Clooney, and Descendants/Hugo/Moneyball/Help.

9:23: You guys, Nathaniel obviously produced this show. Madonna next to Meryl. Madonna on stage, twice. Pfeiffer. Julianne. Nicole. Seriously, Nat. You're playing your hand.

I WANT: Ryan Gosling, honestly. He's neck and neck with Dujardin, but his knack at comedy and his contentment within a rangy ensemble really surprised me. And again, if you're great multiple times in one year, I'm happy to give you credit for that.
I PREDICT: Jean Dujardin, who's so good in The Artist that I might start regretting what I just wrote at any moment.

Mark Wahlberg's effervescent sense of humor spills all over everybody. The room seems full of rainbows and unicorns.

9:26: VERDICT: Dujardin, of course, who lets us know that an agent once poo-poo'd his career because his face was too expressive. The camera cuts back to Charlize, who seems intent on proving that she was never turned down by an agent for precisely this problem. Seriously, when that gal wants to pull down The Mask, no one can touch her.

9:28: Julianne is still enough of a geek to be asking someone to take her photo with Colin Firth on an iPhone. I love her for this. A floating hand, connected to no body, is filling Viola's and Octavia's champagne flutes for what I'm suspecting is not the second time.

9:29: Because his face was too expressive.

9:30: I love that the other reaction shot we got for that admission was Madeleine Stowe's, who smiled widely, but was all, "Well, yeah, of course. The people who run this business have always been morons. Nothing surprises me."

9:31: And here's Queen Latifah (could it be a shout-out for The Help?) and then a pan over Table #10 (could it be a shout-out for The Help?) and then a shout-out to The Help (could it—yes.)

9:33: Is the foxy guy with Octavia Spencer or Emma Stone? He's between them, so there's no knowing. Ricky nails his first great joke about Colin Firth being a horrible racist and punching blind kittens. And Colin still ribs the host.

I WANT: Viola Davis. I've said this a million times, but Viola figured out how to suit the incongruous, Touchstone Pictures plane of the movie while still telepathically transmitting the more serious, higher-stakes movie that The Help could have been in the right circumstances. She elevated it without seeming cut off from her co-stars or her dubious script (though I'm sure she fought some battles).
I PREDICT: Davis, though Streep or Mara would not surprise me. No matter who wins in the Viola/Meryl standoff, even if that same gal repeats at SAG, I still think the Oscar is hard to call.

Serious, real-talk applause for Viola, Rooney, and Meryl. Tilda Swinton laughs at how much lower she knows her decibel level is going to be, and is.

9:35: MERYL. Mouth kisses to her husband and to Colin Firth. Great Ricky Gervais joke. SHOUT-OUT TO ADEPERO ODUYE. And to MIA WASIKOWSKA. She doesn't nail either pronunciation, but the sentiment is amazing. Thanks "everyone in England who let me come over to their country and trample all over their history."

9:39: They start playing Meryl off. The world really is going to end in 2012. She ends, abruptly, with "I love you, Viola. You're my girl."

I WANT: The Artist, which I'm eager to see again, but which enchanted me back in September, even when I could discern that it had peaks and valleys, for sure. Lotta peaks, people.
I PREDICT: The Artist, though it's exciting that Bridesmaids, which I like, and Midnight in Paris, which I don't, are really bonafide contenders and would win in a lot of years.

VERDICT: The Artist. More importantly, UGGIE IS HERE.

9:41: Piper Perabo is completely over The Artist. The woman sitting next to her goes, "Why?" Matthew Morrison makes a surprising skateboarding gesture.

9:42: A weird collision: the producer (Claude Berri's son, really??) having a big-time emotional moment, the rest of the people on stage and all the people in the audience having an Uggie moment, and the orchestra just waiting for no one. You guys, they played off Meryl.

9:43: I just want to make sure we are all clear that the hierarchy of importance goes like this: DRAMAS, LEADING MEN, COMEDIES, LEADING WOMEN. There should be no confusion about this. I'm pretty sure that when Jane Fonda came out to announce Best Picture (Musical/Comedy), she was trying to beckon Meryl back out to the mic to finish her speech.

9:46: The guy whom Tom Ripley strangled on the boat seems to be bedding everyone in Smash.

I WANT: Brad Pitt, by a landslide. I was a little cooler on Fassbender in Shame than others, I think Gosling was good in Ides but not up to his best level, and the other two I can't really deal with, Clooney even less than DiCaprio.
I PREDICT: Pitt, although a lot of arrows point to Clooney, including his insane satchel-ful of nominations in seemingly every category tonight. (Why didn't Glenn Close tip him off to write a tender ballad about calling your comatose wife a slutty bitch, but in a sensitive way?)

Natalie Portman hasn't just visibly shrunk down from last year's size. She has shrunk even since she tried on this dress. She is Nina again.

VERDICT: George Clooney, who again makes clear that he likes Brad Pitt even more than Meryl Streep likes Viola Davis, which I'm sure is very sweet. An unexpectedly graphic tribute to Michael Fassbender's appendages. ("Seriously, man, you could play golf with your hands behind your back.") Nothing for DiCaprio or Gosling, whom he directed. Guess they better start unbuttoning those flies? And then a thanks to Alexander Payne for making wonderful films.

9:52: You guys, I feel like this should have been a funnier live-blog! I am feeling like the My Week with Marilyn of live-bloggers. I was aiming for comedy, but I'm in some weird middle-zone. I think the fact that they only gave me one Abilify ad really cut into my mojo.

9:53: I have to admit I'm feeling really bummed about Brad and Viola. I know George just reminded us of the million zillion more important things in the world, but I'm still focused on these two.

I WANT: Moneyball, because the scenes have range, the direction breathes in ways you don't predict, and the shape of the whole thing is quirky without being cutesy in the slightest.
I PREDICT: The Descendants, because Yahweh is trying to capsize my unreasonable fixation on film awards. Given that Slumdog and King's Speech still didn't work, he's gonna need a bigger boat. (Yes, I know, King's Speech didn't win the Globe.)

Harrison Ford presenting, again, with his earring, because no one cherishes these events more than he does. Or indeed, cherishes this industry.

9:55: It's The Descendants, so it's official! My least favorite of the 104 new releases I saw this year is the winner of the Best Picture prize. The producers thank their "quarterback," George Clooney. The producer feels that this movie may "become a timeless movie, which it feels like to me."

9:57: They're playing off the Descendants producers, with three minutes left to go. What is the damn hurry?

9:58: As we fade out on a long, endless shot of a monumental jellyfish, which is actually a chandelier in the ballroom, Ricky tries his final line, "I hope you all enjoyed the gift-bags, and the food, and the gold—I hope that took your mind off the recession."

9:59: And after waffling on this issue alllllll night, NBC finally decides that Smash will be "introducing" Megan Hilty and Katharine McPhee.

10:00: Thanks for tuning in, everybody! Your official Quarterback and Homecoming Queen, who are also your co-Valedictorians, are still your co-Valedictorians. A Separation is still amazing. People who've won two Globes in the past still deserve a third, and the challenge is still open: explain to me in the comments what is special about The Descendants. If you can convince me, I'll tell Nathaniel, and he'll utilize his unsuspected influence to book all your favorite celebrities as next year's presenters!

10:01: Amaretto ganache.

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