January 14, 2008

My Golden Globe prediction strategies - and how successful they were

In the days or even weeks leading up to a major awards show, I usually have my assuredly chosen predictions in place. Friends will ask me how I can be so sure, and the answer is simple: both the Academy and the Hollywood Foreign Press Assocation exhibit some very predictable patterns. The Golden Globes, which aired Sunday night in a speedy half-hour press conference due to the writers' strike, copy a lot of their award patterns from the Oscars, but have some distinct ones as well. My friend and I have made a tradition of betting a quarter on each category at these awards shows, and I am proud to report that this year I walked away with a stellar 75 cents (meaning I got three more right than he did). Here's how my theories panned out - take note of the good ones if you want to get quality laundry money from your friends come Oscar time!

Category: Best picture, musical or comedy
Theory: The We Heart Musicals theory.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association LOOOOVES musicals, and will give awards to them even if they aren't Best Picture contenders at the Oscars. This year, the category actually had more musicals than comedies (Sweeney Todd, Hairspray, and Across the Universe). I went with Sweeney Todd.
See also: Dreamgirls and Walk the Line winning
Successful? Yes! Tim Burton's macabre musical took home the gold.

Category: Best supporting actress in a motion picture musical or comedy
Theory: The Beautiful Actress Turned Ugly theory.
I would have applied this theory to the leading actress categories as well, but none of those nominees this year got substantially ugly enough for consideration. In the supporting category, Amy Ryan looked a bit worn-down in Gone, Baby, Gone and Julia Roberts sported a ludicrous hairdo for Charlie Wilson's War, but Cate Blanchett morphing into Bob Dylan for I'm Not There takes the cake for ugly transformations.
See also: Felicity Huffman winning for Transamerica, Helen Mirren winning for The Queen, Charlize Theron winning for Monster
Successful? Yes! Blanchett won.

Category: Best screenplay
Theory: The Reformed Sinner/Difficult Life theory.
Everyone is buzzing about Diablo Cody's debut screenplay, Juno, not only for its wit and charm, but for the fact that Cody used to be a stripper. Good heavens! What a success story! For this reason alone, I penciled her in for the win. Like Richard Gere says in Chicago, "There is one thing they can never resist, and that is a reformed sinner."
See also: "American Idol" loser Jennifer Hudson winning a Globe for Dreamgirls without previous acting experience (note: she is not a sinner - this is a different kind of rags-to-riches)
Successful? No. The Coen brothers won for the No Country for Old Men screenplay. I remain optimistic about this theory for the Oscars, however, because they separate the screenplay categories into original and adapted, and from what I hear the No Country screenplay is pretty much lifted verbatim from the novel.

Category: Best original song
Theory: The Aging Rocker Pity theory.
Come on, is anyone going to pay attention to Eddie Vedder ever again, besides the Golden Globes? They love making charity cases out of old rockers.
See also: Mick Jagger winning for the song "Old Habits Die Hard," from Alfie.
Successful? Yes! Vedder won for his song "Guaranteed," from Into the Wild.

Category: Best actress in a motion picture, musical or comedy
Theory: The Completely Left Field, Lighthearted Performance That Will Never Win an Oscar (Or Even Get Nominated) theory.
Sometimes I feel as if the Globes were like a version of the Oscars that got dropped on its head as a child. In the acting categories especially, there seems to be a tendency to veer off course and pick a winner that might even seem like a joke. For me, Amy Adams in Enchanted was that random-ass pick.
See also: Eddie Murphy winning for Dreamgirls.
Successful? No. Marion Cotillard won for La Vie En Rose. Oh well.

Category: Best foreign-language film
Theory: The Social Suffering theory.
This one is often the same at the Oscars - the award goes to whatever film features people of a foreign country experiencing the most dire sociopolitical suffering. I acknowledge that full-body paralysis (sans one eye) of the protagonist in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly sucks pretty hard, but it has nothing to do with the political climate. Even though the folks in The Kite Runner seem like they had a rough time, that film is in English, which is fucking ridiculous, so my pick was Persepolis. Women's issues in Iran - how very topical!
See also: Letters from Iwo Jima, No Man's Land, and Osama winning. I don't want to list all the nominees from those years here, but if you compare and contrast you'll agree that those films feature the most sociopolitical suffering of the crop.
Successful? No. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly won. I think I may have to change my theory for this category to films about paralysis, considering the win of the paralyzed-Javier-Bardem movie The Sea Inside in 2004.

Category: several of the TV categories
Theory: The TV ADD theory.
The HFPA seems to have an exceptionally short attention span. While the Emmys show no hesitation in giving the same awards to The Sopranos for about seven years in a row, the Golden Globes consistently go to the newest shows, and whoever stars in them.
See also: Last year, actress and comedy show awards went to newbie Ugly Betty. Desperate Housewives swept the ceremony in the year of its debut. Mary-Louise Parker won for Weeds in its first season. Lost won in its debut season, and hasn't won again since. Shall I go on?
Successful? Yes and no. The theory worked for newcomers Mad Men, Jon Hamm of Mad Men, Glenn Close of Damages and David Duchovny of Californication. Other awards went to the pre-established Extras, Tina Fey of 30 Rock, and Jeremy Piven of Entourage. This seemed like an unusual year for TV ADD, but I'm sticking with this theory.

Do you have any theories that seem to work?

January 1, 2008

The most obsessive and ridiculous post I will ever write

I have a peculiar habit of stressing or obsessing about completely inconsequential matters - things like whether or not Jesus had acne. Often, due to my interest in film, this habit extends to the wide world of cinema. Just the other day I grew terribly concerned that in Beauty and the Beast (either version), Belle and the Beast had premarital sex , which is undeniably bestiality, and yet is the subject of a children's movie! (The Disney version, anyway). After I watched Jurassic Park recently, I was consumed by the central paradox: if this guy Hammond is brilliant enough to resurrect dinosaurs, wouldn't he also be brilliant enough to know that no man-made structure could tame and contain a T-Rex? And furthermore, if he's so smart, wouldn't he also know that an island of just plant-eating dinosaurs would still be a scientific miracle, make him billions and cement his place in history without anyone getting eaten? Alas. But there's one plot hole of sorts that I haven't been able to shake for years. Something way less catastrophic and/or disturbing than the previous examples, ultimately inconsequential, and probably present in dozens of other films. And yet I can't stop thinking about it.

I refer to the 2003 film The Recruit, with Al Pacino and Colin Farrell. Haven't heard of it? Don't worry, it is overwhelmingly insignificant. I watched it passively on DVD with my dad, an action movie hound who spent my childhood trying to get me amped about movies like this (unsuccessfully). Anyway, the film features Farrell training to be a CIA agent, with Pacino as his shady mentor and Bridget Moynahan as his love interest. I barely remember anything about the film, except the following.

So Colin and Bridget are in a parking garage, heading to his car to go home after a long day at the office or whatever. They can't control their passion and start making out in the garage. Then it cuts to them making out on Colin's bed at home. That sequence probably seems fine to you - a natural cinematic progression. But all I could think about then - and now - is HOW SEXUALLY TENSE AND AWKWARD OF A CAR RIDE THAT MUST HAVE BEEN.

In 2003, when the film was released, the average American commute to work lasted 24.3 minutes, according to a press release from the U.S. Census. So let's say Colin has to drive for that long to get to Casa de Farrell. He clearly just started something serious with his lady friend in the garage - I should specify that this wasn't a delicate peck type of kiss, it was more of a "fuck me now." But they kinda have to keep a low profile, what with it being the CIA and all, so bumping uglies in the car would be a bad idea. So they have to get in the car, buckle their seatbelts, and keep their hands to themselves for 25 minutes. That sucks! I can't get over this. Here's what I believe would have transpired during that car ride.

Bridget: (panting, feeling the luck of the Irish) How close is your place to here?
Colin: 24.3 minutes.
Bridget: Aw, seriously? But baby, I want you NOW!
Colin: Me too, baby, but I can't blow my cover. I'll drive as fast as I can.
Bridget: Alright, hurry.
(Bridget grabs Colin's crotch, Colin lurches forward)
Colin: What the hell are you doing? I can't drive when you do that. You'll get us both killed.
Bridget: You're in the CIA, I thought you liked danger.
Colin: There's danger, and there's getting your balls crushed by the steering wheel!
Bridget: Baby, I'm sorry.
Colin: It's okay. Hey look, it's a red light!
(He leans over and they make out. The light changes to green but they don't notice. Someone behind them starts honking.)
Colin: Hey, fuck you! (starts driving again)
Bridget: Sooo...are we almost there?
Colin: We have 21.8 minutes to go.
Bridget: (sighs) Oh. Um...
(awkward silence)
Bridget: If you could be any kind of tree, what kind would you be?

And so it's awkward for those remaining minutes, when the two realize that short of attempting the ever-hazardous "road head" maneuver, they must remain celibate until they arrive at their destination. I wonder if filmmakers ever worry that their carelessly constructed plots will make people like me ruminate on them for years. Probably not. Then again, good ol Roger Donaldson (the director of The Recruit) would probably just be glad to know that someone thought about his movie that much in any capacity.