Archive for December 12th, 2008

Actor Van Johnson: 1916-2008

Most people would recognize the face if not the name. Van Johnson was a huge star in the 40s and 50s. But like many of the era, he fell away from favor as acting styles changed and the grittier Method style became fashionable. He was actually a really good actor, and a teen heart throb before the idea became fashionable. He appeared in some lighter fare- In the Good Old Summertime with Judy Garland ( and a cameo by a toddler Liza Minelli, but I digress…), but I will remember him always as Lt. Steve Maryk, one of the lead mutineers in The Caine Mutiny. He would later go on to star across the country in regional and dinner theater productions, landing on Broadway a few times as well, and a specatcular career as a guest star on many of the best shows of the 70s and 80s. He had been out of commission for the better part of the 90s, popping up occasionally to talk about those greats he worked with on PBS and other documentaries about film history. He was one of the last to experience the real studio system, an underrated star and actor, and the film world just lost another great.

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Oscar Host Announced

Imagine my surprise while wandering about HuffPo today when I came across the news that Hugh Jackman was tapped as Oscar host. To those of us who actually watch the Tony Awards, this is awesome news, as Hugh’s previous hosting gigs were the theater honors. He can actually sing and dance, unlike some other previous hosts, but I hope that he only does in order to make fun of everyone. And he is frickin’ funny- I laughed out loud when watching the Tonys, I remember, although what made me laugh may be lost to the wind. I say brave, bold choice, Oscar. I applaud it.

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Every year this mythical group of foreign journalists who write about Hollywood deign to call up the press to announce this list of movies and actors and writers and directors they like and then a month later throw a deliciously over the top party with food and booze and hand out some knick knack. Last year they didn’t, as the writers, alas, were on strike. But this year…

Well, this year, I’m trying to figure out WTF is wrong with them. Where the hell is The Dark Knight? Christopher Nolan?  Come on, people.

Truth is, I still am trying to figure out whether the commerce of Hollywood should ever meet the true art of Hollywood, and the Golden Globes surprisingly went with the art in the nominees this year. In Bruges? Seriously, I love the movie, and the three leads were on my list of great performances before I cut it due to laziness. But three nominations? I thought maybe, MAYBE, Colin Farrell would sneak in, but really?

It was, however, to the detriment of my favorite movie this year, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which is nowhere to be found.

James Franco was going to be here, I was sure of it- for Milk. Josh Brolin is ( and the twenty minute I’ve seen of this film has a lot of Brolin in it, so I can say- wow, dude). But I truly did love his stoned slacker pot dealer in Pineapple Express, so whatever, man. I got me some F&G action on Golden Globe night. Just with Daniel, not Nick. Damn, I preferred Nick, always.

Kate The Great Winslet scores two more and god almighty, better win something. With Saint Meryl pulling in some surprising mixed reviews for Doubt, Penelope Cruz dominating the critics awards in the supporting category, Viola Davis’s Doubt role being called ten of the single greatest in recent screen history… Kate might sneak a win in the best actress category, but I’m still convinced The Reader is too flawed a film to make much impact come Oscar time.

The Mamma Mia nominations in Musical/Comedy were no suprise, as the film is an international smash in The Dark Knight proportions. $ 700 million? Not bad. Granted, I think the film itself is crap, though the music remains delightful. And Meryl was great. But with the sunny performance by Sally Hawkins garnering real buzz, I think she’s the one who’ll grab it from St. Meryl if the true mess that Mamma Mia is actually clicks in HFPA’s… okay, that was generous, even for me. HFPA has no brain.

Shocker ( but by all means, not undeserving at all, if you’ve seen it)- Tom Cruise’s nomination for Tropic Thunder. Robert Downey Jr., again, was expected ( he’s on my bloody list for this year, you know, and I said this was the better performance of the two). Also some smiles for the stars of Last Chance Harvey, Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson, who both scored nods for a film I had completely forgotten was coming ( and hence, have not seen). No love for Cate Blanchett in Benjamin Button, lost to a stunning Kristin Scott Thomas. Burn After Reading tops Sarah Marshall, Tropic Thunder and Pineapple Express? I can’t fault the other three films and I already mentioned the sheer international phenom that is ABBA, but this Coen brothers production didn’t impress me and it seems any of those three soon to be classic comedies could easily replace it.

I also predict all music awards to go to Clint Eastwood. Because he’s Clint Eastwood and those are the noms he got this year ( no best actor- i’m going to have to pour my friend Rose a stiff one. She had him as a sure thing for Grand Torino. So do I- for music. Seriously. Who else should win it- Miley Cyrus?)

The television side of it is even more predictable. Except for the fact that the show HFPA got behind was True Blood. Buffy is a way better show about vampires, I’m sorry. But they also seem fond of In Treatment, with good reason- certain episodes were unbelievably fascinating. It doesn’t always work, and some of those patients were more annoying than necessary, but I was impressed. But as you know, without my beloved Criminal Minds on the list, and me still being ambivalent about three quarters of House M.D.‘s fourth season, my money’s on Mad Men, which is simply the best show on television right now.

Except for maybe 30 Rock, which started off strong this season ( season three- I’m still shocked it got this far. Silverman has got to be president of the Tina Fey fan club). I frankly think the wrong actress for Mad Men got nominated ( Elisabeth Moss, where are you?)

Love to Neil Patrick Harris, who must win. Because he’s that fucking brilliant. I’m just saying. ( okay, profanity may not be called for but- aw, fuck it).

It’s also safe to say John Adams will sweep the TV Movie/ Miniseries categories. Again, some things are sure bets, and sometimes, sure bets are deserving of their stature.

I have only one question about the TV nominees. Just one, and then I’ll leave and get on with my life.

Why the hell is Tony Shaloub nominated again for Monk? I’m with Ken Tucker at Entertainment Weekly- Jim Parsons seems to be a better choice. I also agree with Ken about Debra Messing/ Julia Louis Dreyfus.

And with that, all, I bid adieu. My picks are in the previous Golden Globes posts in bold. I sucked last year, so it’s best not to take my choices and bet on them. Just so you know.

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