As of midnight last night, it was exactly six years since my first post. It's been a tough thing to keep up with a dayjob and outside activities, and just when I think I might walk away, a valuable connection or interesting opportunity or a kind word comes my way. Thank you all for reading me.
Mia Wasikowska & Josh Hutcherson were the kids, and they're all right!
The Oscar nominees from The Kids Are All Right are speaking out on the movie's strong showing today:
"Four nominations and four kids. I am damn proud!"—Annette Bening, Best Actress
"It is with great honor and humility that I receive my Oscar nomination. I have been included with a group of top-notch actors who I respect and admire. I am humbled to be in their presence. I also would like to acknowledge the power of ensemble acting. The kind of acting that happened in this movie does not exist in a bubble. Any honor that I receive must be shared with Julianne Moore, Annette Bening, Josh Hutcherson, Mia Wasikowska, the rest of the cast, and of course the inimitable Lisa Cholodenko. Thank you to the Academy. This nomination is a win for marriage equality and that is the most I could hope for."—Mark Ruffalo, Best Supporting Actor
This is not about merit. Or rather, this is never only about merit, so don't take my observations as endorsements or write-offs.
The producers of this year's Oscars telecast may have gone way populist, hiring attractive young stars James Franco and Anne Hathaway as co-hosts, but the Academy voters have gone the opposite route, shunning a surprisingly large number of glamorous stars who actually merited consideration.
It struck me immediately as I listened to the nominees being announced this morning, the unfun lack of household names except in cases where the performance was beyond locked (Natalie Portman, Annette Bening).
Off the top of my head, major surprise snubs include (in descending order of WTF?): Andrew Garfield for The Social Network (he was the heart of that movie, has acting cred from Boy A and is the next Spider-Man), Ryan Gosling for Blue Valentine (a well-liked, extremely respected actor whose counterpart was honored), Mila Kunis for The Black Swan (she may be a newcomer to critical acclaim but she played two completely different roles, one of which was arguably the title character), Matt Damon for True Grit (an old favorite in one of the year's hardest-charging contenders to steal The Social Network's thunder), Mark Wahlberg for The Fighter (not considered a great thespian but he was responsible for the film existing and was the title character), Julianne Moore for The Kids Are All Right (she's been nominated and overlooked before, but this time was really exceptional).
People (December 27, 2010) focuses on the entertainments of the year, including polling a few celebrities on their favorite films. Matt Bomer of White Collar—who's said to be gay and raising children with his partner—chooses The Kids Are All Right. "It's just a story about a family, love and struggles," he argues, and it feels a lot like he's talking about his own family obliquely.
I love awards season; I love it and I love to hate it. I used to prepare detailed lists of all my predictions with friends and then we'd score our psychotic psychic abilities. It was bad.
Today, the Golden Globes were announced. Full list here. It was funny to be watching Sofia Coppola's Somewhere last night knowing the Globes were coming—there's a scene involving foreign journalists that's as funny as it is false (more on this interesting movie Friday).
My thoughts (and please feel free to reply, telling me where I'm crazy):
This part happens later in the post, but...I couldn't wait!
Yesterday was one of the most eventful and event-filled days I've had in a long time.
It started with a mid-day screening of I Love You Phillip Morris, a movie that should net Jim Carrey a Best Actor Oscar nomination (should, but may not; a Golden Globe nod's a fait accompli) and that is one of the few movies hyped as quirky that really is genuinely offbeat and unexpected. The broad tone seems perfect for dealing with the larger-than-life shenanigans of Steven Jay Russell (Carrey), the gay con man who fraudulently worked his way to briefly obscene wealth and who staged numerous ballsy escapes from prison, all to demonstrate his undying love for a fellow inmate, mousy, gentle Phillip Morris (no relation), played by Ewan McGregor. He was as passionate as Cry-Baby in the "Please Mr. Jailer" number!
Carrey embraces his role with gusto, never shying away from even the script's most out-there demands: Explicitly fuck a guy in the ass on screen? No problem. Slip out of maximum-security lockdown dressed in women's clothes? A piece of cake. But hijinks aside, Carrey's most impressive commitment is to the cock-eyed optimism of Russell's adoration. This movie is filled with shocking moments, but the most shocking aspect is that in spite of it all, it's a sincerely affecting love story.
The supporting cast is mostly excellent, including a soft-spoken McGregor and a convincingly flamboyant Rodrigo Santoro. Unfortunately, Leslie Mann (as Russell's wife and then ex-wife) doesn't seem quite up to portraying a well-meaning Jesus freak; she wears her disdain for the character all over her performance, something Carrey never gives in to, no matter how ridiculously short-sighted Russell's behavior becomes.
The movie's poster at Cannes
The movie never shies away from the gay angle. From the moment a pre-pubescent Russell spots a "man's weiner" in the random cloud formations overhead to the ultimate result of his insistence on spotlighting the holes in state of Texas's security (yes, we can even blame George W. Bush for Russell's fate), I Love You Phillip Morris is so about its hero's homosexuality that it almost becomes beside the point. Trying to argue it's not a film about the gay experience would be like arguing that Precious is not a film about the black experience; neither film is only about these things, nor does either pretend to encompass all aspects of these things, but neither film would make a bit of sense if the sexuality or race of its main character were altered.
The ole ball and chain
I loved you, Phillip Morris. The movie opens in limited release Friday, December 3.
The hairy club for men (though we hide it well)
Next up, I was invited to a low-key, high-class cocktail party at Bottino (10th Avenue between 24th and 25th Streets here in NYC) to celebrate the success of The Kids Are All Right, one of my favorite films of the year. The Independent Spirit Awards agree with me, having just nominated it for best film as well as recognizing its screenplay, direction and the performances of its stars Annette Bening and Mark Ruffalo. (No Julianne Moore, which was a bummer.)
As soon as I walked in to give my name, the superfriendly guy at the front recognized me and complimented me on my blog, which is a good sign things will go well since it almost never happens. Inside, a hilarious and fun Focus employee engaged me in conversation, which loosened me up and emboldened me to ask if I might get pictures with Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo. After chatting about moisturizer with Moore's charming rep, I closed on the deal and was introduced to her.
Julianne Moore is one of my favorite actresses if not my #1 favorite actress, so it was a thrill to meet and speak with her. I'd group-interviewed her twice, but this was different and better. She's gorgeous in person, too, willowy and elevated in shoes even a footwear layman like I could see were amazing. She warmly greeted me and consented to our photo—one of my best pics-with ever, thanks to my indentured photographer VJ—and I told her I'd found her great in everything since and including...Body of Evidence.
Yes, please give me balls credit for saying those words to Julianne Moore!
She laughed and said she was awful in that and remembered that director Uli Edel was so mean to her and nobody would talk to her on set. I told her if she could be good in a movie that bad, that is the mark of greatness, then went on to mention some of her presumably prouder moments on the big screen. Then we spoke for what seemed like 10 minutes (I felt like I was monopolizing her) about her co-star and my pal Josh Hutcherson, who missed out on Spider-Man (she agreed he would have been perfect and we worried about Andrew Garfield), and about the state of Broadway. We talked about how so many shows are just entertainments with nothing going on, but she did enjoy American Idiot even if it was more a concert than a proper musical with a book.
I practically blew her kisses as I tore myself away, chatting with one of Karpel Group's seemingly endless supply of cute young guys, who made me feel good by knowing quite a lot about the teen market, which is my day job.