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Oscar pools add to fun during awards show

I have to admit I was expecting a more entertaining Oscars show with Seth McFarlane handling the hosting duties. He did fine despite what the haters on Twitter said, but it’s still The Oscars, and much of the show can still be very boring. I switched over to watch “The Walking Dead” and the Showtime Sunday shows instead.

But, with the popularity of Oscar pools and betting on the winners, plenty of people were still glued to the screen waiting for the announcements. That’s not surprising, as the huge popularity of football has a lot to do with our desire to bet on sports and the exploding popularity of fantasy football.

There were plenty of surprises on Oscar night to keep everyone excited. Things got started with Christoph Waltz winning for Best Supporting Actor for Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained.” He definitely was not the favorite, with Nate Silver and others having him as the third most likely winner in the category with Tommy Lee Jones as the favorite. So right off the bat, many had a miss in their Oscar pool, while a few had a huge early win to start the evening.

Anne Hathaway and Jennifer Lawrence were favorites, so that had to reassure those who were less adventurous in their picks, but the Best Director and Best Picture results definitely had to blow up most pools. Ang Lee was a big surprise. As for “Argo,” it did pick up steam with people like Silver picking it to win, and the snub of Ben Affleck by the Academy may have even helped its cause. “Lincoln” was an excellent film, but I didn’t leave the theater thinking it was a lock for Best Picture. Daniel Day-Lewis was probably the biggest lock of the night, as his portrayal of Lincoln was inspiring.

So next year I think I’m finally going to enter a pool so it’s a little easier to sit through some of the contrived dance numbers and lame jokes.

You can follow us on Twitter @moviebuffs and on Facebook as well.

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Saturday trailer #1: “Water for Elephants”

So, Robert Pattinson turns into Hal Holbrook, but before he does, Reese Witherspoon must choose between him and a ringmaster/animal trainer played by Christoph Waltz and, I guess, an elephant. Since, as per Brad Brevet, Waltz is a nasty paranoid schizophrenic here, I guess I’d have to recommend the elephant.

But, seriously, even though the dialogue in this trailer sounds pretty trite, this might turn out to be a pretty cool old-fashioned romantic melodrama. I don’t know anything about the novel this is based on by Sara Gruen, but scripter Richard LaGravenese has written some superb screenplays, particularly his own hugely underrated “Living Out Loud,” which he directed, and “The Fisher King” with Terry Gilliam. The director is Francis Lawrence of “I Am Legend.”

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Another Saturday trailer: “The Green Hornet,” the gay panic edition

If there’s one recurring theme in Seth Rogen‘s career so far, is that he thinks that straight male friendships and straight male fears of being perceived or perceiving themselves as not so straight, not-that-there’s-anything-wrong-with-that, are hilarious. He’s right, of course, but anything can get a little old.

Fortunately, that’s not quite only the only arrow in the quiver of this latest trailer which provides us with more gadgetry, more of the very real martial arts skills of Taiwan’s Jay Chou, and a bit more of the apparent go-to-baddie of the next several years, Christoph Waltz. See what you think.

H/t Deadline where the schadenfreude brigade in comments has declared it horrible, horrible, horrible because Seth Rogen lacks abs of steel and because everything is horrible, horrible, horrible — because they said so. Not saying it’s going to be director Michel Gondry’s best, or even necessarily good, but I liked parts of this trailer a lot, particularly the gas gun gag right at the end. Also, I still think Rogen is funny, though that the internalized homophobia shtick feels forced.

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It’s your post MTV Movie Awards debacle movie news

Yes, isn’t it?

* Okay, so as I wrote in the post below, I felt slightly ill-used by the MTV Movie Awards PR apparatus. However, the question they asked Mrs. Lincoln remains: what did I think of the show? Well, when I finally watched it at home after a long drive home and an only-at-Universal-City-Walk possibility of following up a Pink’s chili dog w/sauerkruat with a Tommy’s Chili burger, I found it…okay. It was loud, vulgar — and not always in a good way — and it had excellent production values that the Oscars could learn from. I think I was as moved as everyone else by Dr. Ken Jeong’s speech about his wife’s former illness.

On the other hand, I could have done with less of the Tom Cruise dancing with Jennifer Lopez thing. The Les Grossman character was very funny, and definitely reminiscent of some real Hollywood characters, in the context of “Tropic Thunder,” but now it seems to have taken on an unneeded life of its own that is starting to creep me out and not in a funny way. But, once again, no one is listening to me and Cruise is talking about, Lord helps us, a Grossman movie. I’m starting to think he should talk more about Scientology.

Tom Cruise,Jennifer Lopez

As far as I what I felt about the actual awards and the movies and performances that were recognized…is there even the slightest point in complaining? I don’t think there’s any pretense that these awards are intended to honor good movies. Of course the “Twilight” movie was going to win. And I guess it’s somehow appropriate to know there’s at least one award Christoph Waltz just can’t get for playing Col. Hans Landa.

One thing that irked me slightly and then later amused me greatly, but not for the reason the MTV producers would have liked, was the much remarked upon proliferation of swear words. I use relatively few curse words for a modern-day American, but I’m not particularly opposed to them, especially when used in a clever or entertaining fashion. In the context of a show where the curses are to go out bleeped, however, more than one or two in a sentence can be a real problem for the audience at home that doesn’t hear it, and it really did bury many of the jokes in a volley of random silence.

Still, one comic highlight was Peter Facinelli’s acceptance speech on behalf of the rest of the “Twilight: New Moon” cast in which he apparently simply overwhelmed the person on the kill-switch with his deliberate carpet F-bombing, and several fuck-words made it through. It was a really funny moment that did not go on unnoticed by society’s killjoys who, just this once, weren’t completely in the wrong, I suppose.  I nevertheless believe that the religious fundamentalist-driven PTC should get a fucking life.

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A movie news midnight ramble.

It’s a bit late for a Friday night news dump –and most all of  you will be reading this on Saturday morning — but here’s the news…

* Chris Evans has been offered the part of Captain America, but will he accept?

* Christopher Nolan’s multi-star Philip Dick-esque new movie is generating interesting, of course.

* That word about Tim Burton doing an stop-motion version of “The Addams Family” going back to the characters’ cartoon roots struck me as a perfectly reasonable idea. Charles Addams brilliant cartoons have never really be transferred to the screen in quite the fashion they deserve, so why not take another whack, says me. I any case, the whole story appears to be premature.

adams2* Demi Moore and Nia Vardalos: Twitter heroines.

* Friday’s over now. Is Leo the Lion closer to having a new tamer?

* Speaking of lion tamers, Carl Icahn is at the Lion’s gate. (Sorry.)

* Wow, Jeff Bridges was really a lock for the Oscar. George Clooney did his classy Cary Grant thing again and voted for him. Weirdly enough, much as I just about worship Bridges, I actually think Clooney was better in his nominated role than Bridges in his.

* Christoph Waltz wowed the world as Col. Landa, but what he really wants to do, aside from being America’s new go-to bad guy, is direct, at least once. Good for him for striking while the iron is hot, and it’s very hot for him.

* Woody Allen is having second thoughts, it appears, about casting France’s first lady, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, in his new movie.

Carla-Bruni-Nicolas-1

* The ultra-hawkish rightwing’s answer to having more successful political thrillers is apparently the same as their longstanding and unchanging prescription for foreign policy: more mindless brutality, please. On the other hand, I might pay to see Gene Simmons’ head explode in a ball of flame, though I’m not advocating it.

* Which is not to say there aren’t some conservatives who don’t have something to teach us liberals. The subtly and thoughtfully right-leaning cinephile Bill Ryan, via Dennis the C,  takes apart the latest highly irritaining controversy involving the always irritaining Armond White.

* I can’t say I actually know the man really at all, but film distributor turned filmmaker turned back to film distributor Jeff Lipsky and I have a bit of history (discussed in my interview with him from 2007). His thoughts on returning to the biz are some interesting inside baseball and most of them seem to make a fair amount of sense.  His movie love is sincere, even as his tastes are quite different than mine. And it’s interesting and hopeful to see an Indie guy still excited about theatrical filmgoing. But why on earth does he feel the need to single out the aforementioned Armond White for praise? I could go on…

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“Precious” tops the Indie Spirits

Gabourey Sidibe is Precious

This hasn’t been a very good year for people who like awards surprises. And, so, this year’s most high profile indie film, say it with me — “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” –  has won the lion’s share of the more high-profile awards at Film Independent’s Independent Spirit Awards, this year hosted by Eddie Izzard.

To be specific, “Precious” nabbed “Best Feature” from a field that included the very popular “(500) Days of Summer,” Berkeley-bred Cary Joji Fukunaga’s surprisingly assured directorial debut, “Sin Nombre,” and “The Last Station.” Director Lee Daniels, whose work on “Precious” has been the single most criticized aspect of the somewhat controversial film, nevertheless beat the Coen Brothers work on “A Serious Man,” Fukunaga, James Gray of “Two Lovers,” and Michael Hoffman of “The Last Station.” “Precious” also took the Best First Screenplay. The best not-first screenplay went to Scott Neustader and Michael H. Weber of “(500) Days.”

In the acting categories, Gabourey Sidibe received the Best Female Lead for playing Precious herself and, naturally, Mo’Nique proved to own her category fully across all award shows and won the Best Supporting Female category. Among the males, Jeff Bridges, took the Best Male Lead award that is deemed pretty much his due this year for the country music drama, “Crazy Heart.”

Since the $40 million dollar budget of “Inglourious Basterds” presumably put it beyond the realm of the Spirits, Christoph Waltz was not nominated for Best Supporting Male. Instead, he cut a deal in which he collected the award anyway in return for helping the show to end early. Just kidding. Woody Harrelson in his non-zombie-thwacking mode took the award for his work in the low-key stateside wartime drama, “The Messenger.” (My sympathies to Christian McKay of “Me and Orson Welles” — so much critical praise and so few awards even when this year’s male 500 pound gorilla is safely out of the room.)

Anvil! The Story of AnvilBest Foreign Film went to a film that doesn’t feel so foreign now that England is our 52nd state, “An Education.”  Best Documentary went to one some of you might actually have seen and found fun rather than upsetting, “Anvil! The Story of Anvil” defeated a list that included the highly praised “Food, Inc.” (For whatever reason, “The Cove” was not nominated.) Roger Deakins took the cinematography award for “A Serious Man.”

Among the special awards, the John Cassevettes Award, which goes to a film with a budget of less than $500,000, went to a favorite around these parts, Lynn Shelton’s “Humpday,” edging out another film we’ve kind of taken to our breast here, “Big Fan.” The latter film looked, literally, like a million dollars to me, so kudos to the penny-saving producers on that one. “A Serious Man” won the Robert Altman award for its acting ensemble.

You can see a complete list of nominees and winners here. You can also check and see if Indiewire ever corrects their typos here.

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Another awards non-shocker: “The Hurt Locker” takes BAFTAs

Jeremy Renner in Really, the headline here tells the tale about last night’s awards from the English equivalent of our Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. “The Hurt Locker” won six awards from the Orange British Academy Film Awards (which makes me wonder what other colours British film awards are available in). As described by Indiewire’s Peter Knegt — who also kindly provides a complete list of the awards — they include Best Picture, a directing award for Kathryn Bigelow, as well as for Mark Boal’s screenplay, editing, photography, and sound –  the better part of the whole behind-the-camera British enchilada. And, no, I don’t think that sounds very appetizing, either. Not quite all of it, though. For example, “The Young Victoria” got the awards that usually go to period dramas, costumes and make-up.

Perhaps almost as predictably, the main acting awards, however, did go to more local talent. Specifically Colin Firth won for his performance as a man in mourning in “A Single Man” and Carey Mulligan for her teen learning some hard, yet kind of fun, life lessons in “An Education.” Still, the BAFTAs bowed to standard practice by giving the supporting actor awards to Mo’Nique of “Precious” and Christoph Waltz of “Inglourious Basterds,” yet again. (Also truish-to-form, Mo’Nique wasn’t there.)

Best British film went to the highly praised “Fish Tank,” which happens to feature “Basterd” secret weapon Michael Fassbender opposite Kierston Wareing and newcomer Katie Jarvis. As for the lastest from the onetime Mr. Kathryn Bigelow, “Avatar,” it met the once traditional fate of well-regarded science fiction movies at the Oscars, and only got a Best Visual Effects and Production Design awards but, of course, is only making a double gazillion dollars. Aaah. Geeks may be take some solace, however, in learning that “Outstanding Debut By A British Writer, Director Or Producer” went to Duncan Jones for his intriguing feature debut, “Moon,” a small-scale space tale like they used to make.

Sam Rockwell in

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“Inglourious Basterds” tops SAG Awards (updated)

The win for “Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture” for Quentin Tarantino‘s high-spirited war picture was the closest thing to a surprise for the Screen Actors Guild awards last night. Considering the genuinely outstanding performances “Inglourious Basterds” contains from such non-multiple award winners or nominees as Melanie Laurent, Michael Fassbender, Daniel Brühl, and Brad Pitt among others, this gives me a happy.

inglourious-basterds_pic2_m1

Otherwise, however, these awards getting almost as repetitious as our May and June weather forecasts in Southern California. (Say it with me, L.A. residents: “Late night and early morning low clouds followed by hazy sunshine in the afternoon.”)

So, guess what…The Best Supporting Actor trophy went to basterd par excellance Christoph Waltz, who at this point pretty much owns the category with his uber-first class bad-guy performance as the “Jew hunter” Colonel Hans Landa. Similarly Mo’Nique from “Precious” once again took the Best Supporting Actress for her work as the abusive mother of the title character in the lauded but controversial drama. The only thing likely to be more dramatic than her Oscar acceptance award would be the howls of disappointment if she somehow doesn’t win.

Jeff Bridges, too, is looking like a lock for a Best Actor Oscar for his performance as a down at heel country musician in “Crazy Heart,” as he picked up another trophy tonight. Apparently, everyone just decided this was Jeff Bridges’ year. It’s about time.

One award SAG has that the Oscars don’t, and probably should, is for stunt ensembles and that went to “Star Trek.” Well, that’s a refreshing change of pace.

A complete list of the SAG awards, which also covers television (three cheers for “Mad Men” and the great Betty White!), is viewable courtesy of the New York Times.

UPDATE: Oh by gosh by golly! I forgot to mention the one acting award where there will be some suspense at this year’s Oscars, and that’s Best Actress, which is shaping up to be a real battle between Meryl Streep’s interpretation of Julia Child in “Julie and Julia” and Sandra Bullock‘s red state Samaritan in “The Blind Side.”  Chalk the SAG awards as one up for Team Sandra.

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Golden Globe movie wrap-up: It’s an “Avatar,” “The Hangover” kind of a crazy, mixed-up night

First of all, I would like to thank my DVR for allowing me to watch a three hour telecast in less than 115 minutes. Also, Will Harris, you crazy Golden Globes Premium Hollywood TV live blogger, put down the Maker’s Mark and go to bed!

But, before I get carried away with paraphrasing Sandra Bullock‘s Best Actress in a Drama acceptance speech tonight, first of all let me make clear that I’m not going to attempt to one-up Mr. Harris’s live-blog extravaganza. No, I’ll simply start by linking to a complete list of tonight’s results and some (I’m thinking relatively brief) thoughts on the cinematic goings on tonight.

Okay, so here’s that link to the results courtesy of /Film and now on to the bloggy/thinky portion of tonight’s festivities.

Big deals: Clearly, the film headlines tonight are the awards that went to James Cameron’s ultimate-big-deal of a movie called “Avatar” and this year’s ultimate mega-successful modestly budget comedy, “The Hangover“. It’s the kind of comedy that never gets nominated for, much less wins, awards no matter how well constructed, and this was one incredibly well-constructed comedy. I’m delighted to see it get this kind of recognition. I truly couldn’t imagine a better movie with that premise and its success shows that you can make a male-oriented farce that respects its viewers’ intelligence and better natures. As for “Avatar,” does anyone even care what I think? It is what it is. Ask me again in a couple of months.

Biggest non-surprises of the night: The supporting actor twosome Mo’Nique from “Precious” and Christoph Waltz from “Inglourious Basterds” won, yet again, and seem about as big a lock for Oscars as you ever get. Both are sure getting a lot of practice at the art of acceptance speeches. Mo’Nique’s speech was both king of moving and way over-the-top in that actory way some folks (like Drew Barrymore, who praised it one of her typically overwhelmed acceptance speeches) just eat up with a fork. Waltz, who really does seem to be a pretty humble guy, was a bit more low key with a nice riff on the international nature of the Hollywood Foreign Press’s awards. I think we’ve got a buddy-cop movie, possibly directed by Michael Bay, with Waltz and Mo’Nique in our collective futures. “Bad Goys”?

Jeff Bridges Best Actor award is starting to edge into the same kind of category and he’s starting to look like a gigantic Oscar shoe-in. It’s as if everyone suddenly remembered how great he’s been in countless movies all at the same time. “You’re really screwing up my under appreciated status here,” he said. As well they should.

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Friday movie news dump: Critic’s Choice Awards; Hollywood helping Haiti (updated)

I’m getting off to a late start tonight, so let’s get on with it.

* Via Roger Ebert’s tweet, we have the news on the Critic’s Choice awards, which are voted on by broadcast and some internet critics. “The Hurt Locker” won best picture, and best director for Kathryn Bigelow. “Inglourious Basterds” also had an extremely good night, as did Jeff Bridges. There was a tie for best actress between Sandra Bullock and Meryl Streep. Good ol’ Nathaniel R. liveblogged the proceedings.

Christoph Waltz in And, if I was a betting man (and I sorta kinda am), I’d be tempted to head up to Vegas and bet the farm on basterd Christoph Waltz and Mo’Nique of “Precious” for the supporting role categories at the Oscars.

UPDATE: I failed to note  earlier that “Avatar” managed a near clean-sweep of the more production/technical oriented awards, though the Best Make-Up award went to “District 9.”

* In light of what’s been going in Haiti, I’ve been feeling a bit guilty on not mentioning it and focusing on what is, after all, a business that is all about diversion and distraction. So, I’m glad to be able to make tonight’s longest item a mention of the massive fundraising telethon George Clooney is organizing and cohosting, along with Wyclef Jean and Anderson Cooper, on January 22nd. Nikki Finke is also reporting that Not On Our Watch, an “international advocacy and grantmaking organization” founded by Clooney and friends Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Brad Pitt, and others has donated $1 million to emergency medical care. The super-cool Anne Thompson has some more details and links to places where you can give, and also has some additional news on good works done by show biz folks.

It’s also nice to report that the interwebs have been doing a fabulous job of fundraising but, of course, this is a really massive disaster and more will be needed for a nation that has already been long on the ropes. On the political net, DailyKos diarists are posting new rundowns of places to help each day. The Huffington Post and Rachel Maddow‘s sites have an excellent rundown of organizations that need your help. If those links are a bit too latte-sipping Blue State for your tastes, conservative blogger the Anchoress has also posted a list of many of the same organizations. I’d also like to put in a plug for the excellent Oxfam America which is already on the the ground in Haiti and has been especially active in terms of providing water and sanitation, which is going to be absolutely vital. Please click on any of these links and, especially if you can afford to an haven’t already given something, do what you can.

* The bidding, or whatever it is, on MGM is underway.

* I should probably have mentioned yesterday how Nikkie Finke’s “Toldja!” yesterday was that Disney has a new production chief with a quite interesting creative background that includes the upcoming “Tron: Legacy” and Project Greenlight. Following up on yesterday’s news, Finke points out an apparent irony.

* The extremely smart Jonah Hill to turn producer for…”21 Jump Street” with the directors of “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs“? Sure, why not?

jonah-hill-transformers-2

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