The Tables Are Being Set: Reaction to the PGAs & SAG Awards

It was interesting going into this awards season, mainly because we had no freakin’ clue who was going to win.  But it’s been a huge shock that Argo, the Ben Affleck driven film that came out in October has taken over the driver’s seat.  After all the Oscar films were released, at its highest, I would place Argo fifth or sixth, behind stronger, more artistic works of film.  Taking nothing away from Argo and it’s achievement, I personally feel there are better films out there.  But witnessing this Oscar game for years now, it’s never about the best film of the year.

But consider that title: best film of the year.  It’s such a subjective statement.  No one can tell you which film is better than the other.  We can state our opinions and list countless reasons why, but in the end of the day, it is your opinion that matters most.  But we always look at the Academy as this perfected system of voters who truly understand and appreciate the arts and the cinema.  To some degree they do.  But we must understand, most of these voters barely have time to watch all these films (hence the DVD screeners).  And they could care less about history, precedents, and all this other nonsense that comes with the politics of the Oscar race.

But that doesn’t mean the politics don’t dominate the Academy Awards.  The Academy claims that they are announcing their choices of the best work that’s come out in film for that year, but in reality, they vote the way that they please.  Rather it being a popularity contest, or voting for a film that’s least controversial.  Whichever the case may be, this political vote has clearly taken center stage this year with the way the awards season has been played out so far.  We must remember, the Academy does not set the trends, they only use the trends to vote in a particular way.  If there’s anyone to blame for this huge mess of a year, it’s the critics and the guilds.  Argo is the least controversial film of the year, BY FAR.  Where it was heading one month ago, Zero Dark Thirty was in control, winning awards left and right and being placed as the favorite, even before a nationwide release.

Then came the article about the possibility of the film being pro-torture.  And then all hell broke loose.  The Republicans were bitching around like they always do, labeling the film as a “pro-Obama” campaign, and the Democrats were bitching because it was an act against humanity, and it showcased this idea that torture does work.  Anyone who’s seen the film fully is aware that the torture, though visible and strongly present, is not what’s at center stage.  What Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal attempted was to provide a scenario where our morals and ethics are thrown out the window, and that we’ve become so disciplined with reaching our goal of finding Osama Bin Laden that we’ve somehow replaced our touch with humanity with a touch of violence.

And to some degree, it’s obviously true.  But artwork is through the eye of the beholder, and if an interpretation is misconceived by many, the responsibility falls squarely on the artist.  But in essence, ZDT was too much to vote for.  That’s why if you look at the timeline of the awards season, ZDT just stopped winning.  It wasn’t this slow transition off stage, but more of a yank of a hook.  A similar polarizing film that has been, for some crazy reason, too difficult to vote for is Lincoln.  Some people just plain out hate the film.  And I can somewhat understand why, seeing the film is all about people talking.  And like one tweeter stated, we can also say that about the Social Network.  It’s just a lot more relevant in today’s society.

This statement couldn’t be any truer.  Yes, Lincoln is a history buff’s wet dream, but we have fascinating people discussing fascinating themes during a fascinating (yet horrendous) era in the United States.  This is where artwork must transform the viewer from seeing this film as entertainment, but more for its importance.  This is the difference between the average movie-goer and the die hards, theart is just as important as the entertainment.  But Lincoln is not universally loved or adored, and the Oscars don’t want to piss anyone off, they just want to have a good night.

This is the perfect storm for Argo.  All this controversy, all this chaos about torture, racism, religion and politics has created this ideal circumstance for Argo to take over the race.  When Argo won the PGA, it made complete sense, considering two of the three producers credited include Ben Affleck and George Clooney.  I would vote for them as President and Vice President for goodness sakes.  Their charm and personality is essential for this long and grueling race.  But what shocked me was the big Screen Actors win last Sunday night.  Though the entire cast of Argo was great, but to say it was better than Silver Linings or Lincoln (considering Lincoln made history by winning the Actor for both Male and Supporting Male) is preposterous.  You don’t give two of the four main awards to the same cast, and then not reward the entire cast’s work.  Both Lincoln and Silver Linings had nominations in three out of the four categories.  Argo had none.  For it to win Best Ensemble (which is a very important factor for Best Picture) shows the current state of Hollywood and the voters throughout.  Argo is the hot pick.  Argo is the safe pick.  No one will get angry or hate us for voting Argo.  In that sense, it’s essentially the won that will win come Oscar night.

Now I’m not completely willing to throw the entire race away because we still have the DGA, WGA, BAFTA and Eddie.  And this is not the first time a film dominated some of the guilds and eventually lost (Apollo 13 and Little Miss Sunshine).  And Argo still has to overcome plenty of history  for it to win Best Picture, including the fact that Ben Affleck’s name won’t even be recognized in the Directors’ category.  And if you’re an avid follower, you know how important winning Director in terms of your chances for Best Picture.  So this is how I see things possibly playing out.

For Lincoln to win Best Picture:
1.  It must win WGA for Adapted Screenplay
2.  Must win Adapted Screenplay at Oscars
3.  Must win DGA (Steven Spielberg)
4.  Must win Best Director at Oscars

This is the only way Lincoln will win, and only because it had a late comeback and was too hot to ignore.  And Argo couldn’t overcome the Director snub.

For Silver Linings Playbook to win Best Picture (and yes, I still do consider it a contender because it’s the first film to receive four acting nominations and was nominated for Director when the DGA ignored it):
1.  Must win Director (David O. Russell) at Oscars
2.  Must win at least two out of four acting categories at Oscars (De Niro, Weaver, Lawrence and Cooper)

For Argo to win Best Picture:
1.  It must win DGA for Ben Affleck
2.  Must win Editing at Oscars
3.  Steven Spielberg cannot win Best Director at Oscars

It’s very clear that Argo has the easiest route compared to the other films.  And I’m not ignoring other films like Life of Pi (I would go crazy if Life of Pi won, in a good way), but these are the three films that are left standing in the Best Picture race.

It’s funny.  When Ben Affleck was not nominated for Best Director on nomination morning, we all proclaimed that Argo was officially out of the running.  It couldn’t win.  It just can’t.  But as we’re approximately one month away from the big night, it’s clear that Ben Affleck not receiving that all important Director nomination did more for Argo than anything else.  Who would’ve thought?!

Best Picture Race (as of 1/29/13)

1.  Argo
2.  Lincoln
3.  Silver Linings Playbook
4.  Life of Pi
5.  Amour
6.  Beasts of the Southern Wild

Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Alternate: NO ONE.

Best Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Alternate:  Emmanuelle Riva, Amour

Best Supporting Actor: Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Alternate: Robert DeNiro, Silver Linings Playbook

Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Alternate: NO ONE.

Best Original Screenplay: Mark Boal, Zero Dark Thirty
Alternate: Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained

Best Adapted Screenplay: Tony Kushner, Lincoln
Alternate: Chris Terrio, Argo (If Argo wins WGA, it is officially front-runner)

Best Director: Steven Spielberg, Lincoln (only because Affleck is not nominated)
Alternate: Honestly, if anyone else won it would not shock me.  But I’ll go with Ang Lee, Life of Pi


Screen Actors Guild Awards! ARGO Tops Off The Night With Big Win

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
DANIEL DAY-LEWIS / Abraham Lincoln – “LINCOLN”

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
TOMMY LEE JONES / Thaddeus Stevens – “LINCOLN”

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
KEVIN COSTNER / “Devil Anse” Hatfield – “HATFIELDS & McCOYS”

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series
CLAIRE DANES / Carrie Mathison – “HOMELAND”

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series
ALEC BALDWIN / Jack Donaghy – “30 ROCK”

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series
TINA FEY / Liz Lemon – “30 ROCK”

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series

ARGO Wins Producers Guild! Major Shift In The Awards Race Ready To Happen

I won’t go in depth about the big Argo win at the PGA (Producers Guild Awards) until after the SAG, which is tonight.  But considering that the PGA is the only other award that runs the preferential vote (the Oscars is the other), it’s safe to say the PGA has a strong connection.  Argo still has plenty to over come, including years and years of history, but the more it wins, the more it beholds the role of the favorite.  Here are the other winners of the evening.

Best Picture: Argo
Drama Series: Homeland
Doc Feature: Searching for Sugarman
Reality Series:
American Masters
Animated Film:
Wreck-it Ralph
Comedy Series:
Modern Family
PGA competition TV award:
Amazing Race
Best Live Talk Show: 
Stephen Colbert

Most Anticipated Films of 2013

As it being a brand new year, we can start looking forward to some of the films 2013 will be offering us.  From superheros to sci-fi, it will definitely be an exciting year for movies.  Let’s take a look at a few that I’m specifically anticipating this year.

Star Trek Into Darkness (May 17th)
There’s obviously not many reasons I need to give as to wise the next installment in the rebooted Star Trek franchise is on the list for most anticipated films of 2013.  With the entirety of the cast returning and J.J. Abrams returning as the director, there’s must to be excited for.  And then add the Benedict Cumberbatch casting, where the mysteriousness of his exact character still looming provides even more fuel to the Star Trek fire.  Like Nolan, Abrams works under extreme secrecy, which I personally adore because it provides more for the viewing experience.  Star Trek Into Darkness is sure fire hit, and we’ll all be standing in line for the midnight premiere.

Evil Dead (April 12th)
Sam Raimi, one of the masters of horror (before his Spider-Man days) is returning to his cult classic, remaking his Evil Dead franchise that was once adored by fanboys and nerds alike.  The remake for Evil Dead has taken a long road, but it finally be released this April, providing no short of blood and gore.  If you’ve seen the two red band trailers, you know what we’re in for.  I’ve personally not seen any of the Evil Deads before, but I can get a sense of what the context of the films were like from just the trailer.  It truly seems like a horrific ride, and being fan of the horror genre, it’ll definitely be an exciting time.

World War Z (June 21st)
This film has had an absolute nightmare of a production phase.  Rewrites, nine week reshoots, budget crisis.  You name it.  But that’s the thing about a film, and a great film at that.  If you can hide those pains and issues and provide some great entertainment, all is good in the industry with your film.  I’m not promising anything like that with World War Z, but having dived into the book a little bit and watching the first trailer, I’m already hooked.  It’s a new concept to the zombie genre (which is getting a little tiring, no?) as we’re given this huge epic scale in a global perspective.  The set pieces will be enormous, and if you’re a fan of zombie apocalypses then you should be marking June 21st on your calendar.

Monsters University (June 21st)
If worldwide zombie pandemonium is not your thing, you’ll have another major offering during the same weekend as the Pixar hit Monsters Inc. sequel, Monsters University, will finally be released.  Now I’m not a huge fan of Pixar going back to their fantastic films (except Cars) and given them a second run, mainly because it seems cheap and unoriginal.  And honestly, the only film I felt Pixar could do a sequel for is The Incredibles, but I’m willing to give Monsters University a shot.  It’s a great concept and provides plenty of opportunistic laughs and situations.  Though the heart of Monsters. Inc was boo and that relationship, I’m hoping their story is as great and loving as the first.

Man of Steel (June 14th)
The Zack Snyder-Christopher Nolan tandem works for me.  Yes, I had my issues and concerns with Snyder, especially his last few films, but what we’ve seen so far looks innovative and original.  Add on the Nolan universe, I’m ready to go on this new Superman journey that we’ve never seen before.  It’s an all-star cast surrounded on the life and times of Clark Kent.  It can’t be an easy life having super powers and feeling this grand responsibility to the world, but if it’s captured in the right way with some few great action sequences, it has the possibility of going down as one of the greats.

Gravity (October 4th)
I actually have no idea if this is an actually still from the film, but I’m going with it.  All I can tell you about the film is that it involves Sandra Bullock, a woman who is stuck alone in space on a spacecraft after a tragic accident that includes George Clooney.  It also has director Alfonso Cuaron, one of my favorite directors, and also includes a 17 minute scene with no cuts or edits.  Yep, it makes the list.

Kick-Ass 2 (June 28th)
Kick-Ass is hands down one of my favorite “superhero” films, relying on a great premise, smart script and one of the coolest characters ever created by man.  Now the fun continues as the plot thickens into two rivaling groups trying to kill each other in the mercy of their own hands.  Add Jim Carrey to the cast, and we’ve got something to look forward to.  Unfortunately Matthew Vaughn is not returning on the director’s chair (only as producer), but I still have faith that they’ll continue the greatness of what was Kick-Ass.

Anchorman: The Legend Continues (December 20th)
Who isn’t looking forward to this?  One of the most quotable films of all time, the sequel to Anchorman will definitely be highly anticipated.  The only disappointment I have is this late release in the year, but it shall suffice considering not only is the entire team of Channel 4 news returning, but it will also include my favorite SNL actress Kristen Wiig.  You put her with the comedic genius of Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd and Steve Carrell and you have a monster in your hands.  It’s not like we haven’t seen great original comedic films turn into busts of a sequel, but the fact that they’ve taking their time and effort in this second installment gives me hope that they want to do this right.  And let’s hope that they do.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (November 22nd)
I was a big fan of The Hunger Games.  Granted, I’m a big fan of Jennifer Lawrence, but I loved the film.  So it would make sense to anticipate the sequel.  Now I haven’t read Catching Fire yet, but I’ve heard mixed feelings about it, which means it will be just as polarizing and criticized.  That’s more my kind of film.  I’m hoping that they take advantage of the world they’ve already established, pushing the boundaries even further.  Gary Ross is not returning as director, so there is some concerns going into this second film.  Though I’m most skeptical about this film more than any other on this list, I can’t deny my excitement over Catching Fire.

Iron Man 3 (May 3rd)
I don’t think I need much explanation here but we have Shane Black, Iron Man, Guy Pearce, Ben Kingsley as Mandarin, and some pretty amazing set pieces in place.  Who hasn’t been wanting more Marvel superheros after The Avengers?  I hope Iron Man 3 continues the genius of what the entire Phase One plan has been, and that Phase Two will start off with a bang.  Not many concerns, but I just hope they avoid Iron Man 2 at all costs.

J.J. Abrams to Direct Star Wars: Episode VII!

Shocking news everyone.  J.J. Abrams, the co-founder of Bad Robot and the man that is responsible for jump starting the Star Trek franchise, is not taking the director’s chair for its rival space epic, Star Wars.  Earlier, Abrams denied reports and actually stated that he declined the job, but today it was announced that he will indeed take the role as director of Star Wars Episode VII.  WOW.  Honestly, I love the hire, but am somewhat confused considering he’s now involved in both Star Wars and Star Trek, which has to be somewhat confusing/distracting/load on his plate.  I trust his story and artistic direction, so for the film itself, I’m very excited to see where he takes the next chapter of Star Wars.  Link to Story via Collider.

Spring Breakers Official International Trailer!

I’m not exactly sure how to respond to this trailer.  When I first heard about this film in production, I already dismissed it as a major stupid flop.  Then I kept hearing great things about this film.  And then this trailer comes out and yes, I’m not sure how to react but I never want to hear James Franco say ya’ll ever again.