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Journalistic Skepticism

Tidbits from a film lover...

Updated: 2018-03-06T03:08:38.907-06:00


where best animated feature stands


2013 is well underway, so I thought it was high time to have a little discussion on one or more of the various offshoots of the big awards categories. I've decided to delve into the state of animation for 2013 to kick things off. The year has already seen at least one bonafide hit in the genre, so what's yet to come that could potentially be smiled upon by Oscar voters come next January?The major players always seem to be the studio-labeled efforts, so I'd be a fool to not count those among the highest possibilities of the year's contenders. Highest among those, in my end, is Disney's Frozen. Yes, a return-to-form princess musical didn't work out so well for Tangled, and The Princess and the Frog, despite being wonderful, was an all-around box office disappointment. But something about this take on the Snow Queen seems to scream Oscar winner. With the Lopez/Lopez songwriting team on board for the songwriting (most notably the team behind the recent Winnie the Pooh theatrical release, which had a surprisingly great soundtrack), and Broadway diva Idina Menzel in the villain role, this looks incredibly positive on paper. But of course what I perhaps should've led with was Monsters University. After a rare (in fact, one-time) miss in the category for Cars 2, the studio proved it still rules the roost by pulling off the 2012 win for Brave out from under Tim Burton. I hesitate to bank on a sequel, though, and the original didn't exactly fare well, famously beaten (in one of the true Oscar travesties of the aughts) by populist Shrek.And speaking of sequels, Universal's putting out what will surely be a massive summer tentpole, Despicable Me 2, and Sony Animation has Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. Neither of the original films managed a slot in the category, though the former surely came mighty close and would've been included had the field lengthened to five from three. And though the latter looks questionable at best based on preview material, the original was far better than anyone could've expected. The beginning of the year has additionally yielded a couple of contenders (surprisingly slim, though, considering the earning potential - though it's worked out in The Croods' box office favor). DreamWorks' cavepeople comedy has been moderately well-reviewed and has made enough money to warrant a sequel (no surprises there, come from DW). And after a long gestation Weinstein Company's Escape from Planet Earth did decent money from slim to no marketing. Rounding out the major studio efforts, Fox Animation's Epic could play well, though it gives off a Rise of the Guardians vibe, so chances are bad box office could sour its odds. DreamWorks' other annual effort, Turbo, has something of a Pixar vibe, which could bode well for its chances. The racer snail schtick also compounds the Despicable Me minion cuteness factor - always a good box office prognosticator. Finally, Pixar is selling out by throwing what was meant to be a direct-to-video companion piece to their Cars universe, Planes, in what will likely go down in flames later this summer. Don't expect it to have any kind of Oscar cache - lead voice Dane Cook should be the indicator that this was never meant to be seen by a wide audience. There are a couple of other potential contenders. If Smurfs 2 reaches eligibility, it won't have any sort of dog in this hunt, but it will at least increase the eligible films list to help make it a five-wide field. The majorest of players amongst this group is probably Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return (formerly Dorothy of Oz). Based on the promotional materials, it looks like a rather cheap production, but the musical boasts Hugh Dancy, Lea Michele and Megan Hilty amongst its cast members, so if it finds a 2013 release (which would be well-timed thanks to Oz the Great and Powerful mania), it's a possibility. Newcomers to the game are Relativity Media, which is bringing Free Birds, about time-traveling turkeys, and Open Road Films, which is bringing The Nut Job, about a squirrel taking on the big city after being banished from[...]

best of 2012: the original scores


And this is where we leave it. Time to stop living in the past, I suppose, and move on to a bright new 2013. This is the last, and one of my personal favorite, category to recap for my best of 2012 series. For such a bum year in a lot of respects, there were plentiful innovative and wonderful scores to be had, and here are my tops:1. Dan Romer & Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild2. Jonny Greenwood, The Master3. Heather McIntosh, Compliance4. Michael Giacchino, John Carter5. Dario Marianelli, Anna Karenina6. Reinhold Heil, Johnny Klimek & Tom Tykwer, Cloud Atlas7. Jon Brion, ParaNorman8. Marc Streitenfeld, Prometheus9. Henry Jackman, Wreck-It Ralph10. Fernando Velazquez, The Impossible[...]

best of 2012: the adapted screenplays


The other side of the writing spectrum is up next. Here's to the adapters! We'll venture over to music next, and then the best of 2012/LCT film awards celebration will be closed.1. Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild2. Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower3. Leslye Headland, Bachelorette4. David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook5. Chris Terrio, Argo6. Tony Kushner, Lincoln7. Philippa Boyens, Guillermo del Toro, Peter Jackson & Fran WalshThe Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey8. Zak Penn & Joss Whedon, The Avengers9. John Logan, Neal Purvis & Robert Wade, Skyfall10. Michael Bacall & Jonah Hill, 21 Jump Street[...]

best of 2012: the original screenplays


We're getting closer to the end, folks. I'll be wrapping up my best films of 2012 features with the writing and score categories. And let's be real - these are often the most fun to discuss merits-wise, as well as the most impressive in many cases. Here are the originals:1. Drew Goddard & Joss Whedon, The Cabin in the Woods2. Craig Zobel, Compliance3. Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master4. Rian Johnson, Looper5. Robbie Pickering, Natural Selection6. Rashida Jones & Will McCormack, Celeste and Jesse Forever7. Mark Boal, Zero Dark Thirty8. Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola, Moonrise Kingdom9. Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained10. Martin McDonagh, Seven Psychopaths[...]

best of 2012: the supporting actors


Rounding out the acting categories, here's the last of the best movie performances of the year. A little bit of Oscar pedigree on display here, but alas, not all the choices they made from the respective films were the right ones...1. Leonardo DiCaprio, Django Unchained2. Ezra Miller, The Perks of Being a Wallflower3. Michael Fassbender, Prometheus4. Garret Hedlund, On the Road5. Dwight Henry, Beasts of the Southern Wild6. Ben Whishaw, Cloud Atlas7. Samuel L. Jackson, Django Unchained8. Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln9. Javier Bardem, Skyfall10. Jason Clarke, Zero Dark Thirty[...]

best of 2012: the supporting actresses


The saga continues. It was a dry season for supporting actresses this year, but it made for a fun group of ladies to call upon for a top 10. Sure, Lead Actor had a much more competitive field, but these ladies were the gems of their respective movies.1. Rebel Wilson, Pitch Perfect2. Jennifer Ehle, Zero Dark Thirty3. Amy Adams, The Master4. Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables5. Emma Watson, The Perks of Being a Wallflower6. Sally Field, Lincoln7. Anne Hathaway, The Dark Knight Rises8. Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook9. Lucy Liu, Detachment10. Elizabeth Banks, The Hunger Games[...]

best of 2012: the lead actors


The top 10s continue, now with my favorite lead actor performances of 2012. And thanks to a year with a little bit of everything, quality-wise, this list ended up being a fun genre-spanning grouping. Here goes:1. Joaquin Phoenix, The Master2. Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln3. Logan Lerman, The Perks of Being a Wallflower4. John Hawkes, The Sessions5. Sam Rockwell, Seven Psychopaths6. Martin Freeman, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey7. Matthias Schoenaerts, Rust & Bone8. Phillip Seymour Hoffman, The Master9. Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook10. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Looper[...]

best of 2012: the lead actresses


It's nearly April, so I suppose it's high time I attempt to wrap all this 2012 madness up!  Let's continue the top 10s (thought my movies list capped off at 25) with the lead actress performances of the year:1. Quvenzhane Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild2. Ann Dowd, Compliance3. Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook4. Rachael Harris, Natural Selection5. Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty6. Emmanuelle Riva, Amour7. Elizabeth Olsen, Liberal Arts8. Aubrey Plaza, Safety Not Guaranteed9. Isla Fisher, Bachelorette10. Sara Paxton, The Innkeepers[...]

the 25 best movies of 2012


Yes, I'm aware that the Oscars have come and gone, and 2013 is all the rage now that Argo has collected its prize, but I got back into the blogging game on the tail end of Oscar mania, so my best of 2012 lists are coming a tad late. To kick things off, let's start with the 25 best movies of the year that turned out to be modest in terms of "classics." Unlike the great 2007s and 2009s that came before it, 2012 was home to some nice flicks, but few gargantuan moments. Nevertheless, here is a handful of my favorites, starting, of course, with my five Best Picture nominees in ranked order...1. Beasts of the Southern Wilddir. Benh ZeitlinFox Searchlight Pictures2. The Perks of Being a Wallflowerdir. Stephen ChboskySummit Entertainment3. The Masterdir. Paul Thomas AndersonThe Weinstein Company4. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journeydir. Peter JacksonWarner Bros. Pictures5. Zero Dark Thirtydir. Kathryn BigelowColumbia / Sony Pictures6. Life of Pidir. Ang LeeFox 2000 Pictures7. Compliancedir. Craig ZobelMagnolia Pictures8. Looperdir. Rian JohnsonTriStar Pictures9. Argodir. Ben AffleckWarner Bros. Pictures10. Silver Linings Playbookdir. David O. RussellThe Weinstein Company11. Lincolndir. Steven SpielbergTouchstone Pictures12. The Cabin in the Woodsdir. Drew GoddardLionsgate13. Pitch Perfectdir. Jason MooreUniversal Pictures14. Bachelorettedir. Leslye HeadlandThe Weinstein Company15. Natural Selectiondir. Robbie PickeringThe Cinema Guild16. Django Unchaineddir. Quentin TarantinoThe Weinstein Company17. The Avengersdir. Joss WhedonWalt Disney / Paramount Pictures18. Wreck-It Ralphdir. Rich MooreWalt Disney19. Bravedir. Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman & Steve PurcellWalt Disney / Pixar20. ParaNormandir. Chris Butler & Sam FellFocus Features21. Moonrise Kingdomdir. Wes AndersonFocus Features22. Cloud Atlasdir. Tom Tykwer & Andy and Lana WachowskiWarner Bros. Pictures23. Celeste and Jesse Foreverdir. Lee Toland KriegerSony Pictures Classics24. Prometheusdir. Ridley Scott20th Century Fox25. Liberal Artsdir. Josh RadnorIFC Films[...]

madly in advance: an early take on the big six categories in the 2013 oscar race


Yes, it's a sickness. In honor of the Oscars being done and over with, why not kick things off for 2013? And with a new history of doing terribly at this (my confidence last year in now-2013 Great Gatsby and Gravity and the not-so-much Hyde Park on Hudson are clear proof of this), it's merely a fun way to spur some conversation. So have at it: here are my far-in-advance takes on the big six categories - Best Picture, Best Director, Best Lead Actress, Best Lead Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor.

2012 lct awards: lead acting nominees


The hits keep on coming! Now that we've got Best Picture out of the way, it's time to get into the acting nominees for 2012, starting with the lead performances. It was an interesting year for film - probably one of the weakest since 2005, in fact - yet a somewhat weak overall year can make for a more exciting lineup in some of these categories. Plum roles that would've gone easily unnoticed in years with plentiful bombast get their due. Here are my choices for Best Lead Actor and Actress. Best Lead ActressJessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty - After becoming the queen of ubiquity in 2011, it was only fitting that Chastain would limit herself to essentially one fantastic performance in 2012. And it could very well top anything she's done previously. As Maya, the hard-nosed, tunnel-visioned CIA operative who orchestrated the takedown of bin Laden, what she lacks in flat-out character background development, she more than makes up for in a restrained, fleshed out turn as a woman of some mystery. We don't know anything about Maya's upbringing, personal life or future, but scene after scene proves that less is more - she's full of character with a simple framed face shot - we don't need an hours-long biography to understand her.Ann Dowd, Compliance - One of the many annual unsung performances, Dowd managed a few critical notices but couldn't quite muster up the Oscar nod. And it's a real shame - the character actress's turn as Sandra, a needy and gullible fast food store manager who learns the levels of depravity she's willing to reach, is a revelation. It takes a character actress to truly understand what it means to make the most of each scene. And placing her front and center provides a big payoff. We're both disturbed and understanding of this woman - her transgressions are unnerving, yet she sells them in a completely believable fashion.Rachael Harris, Natural Selection - Often relegated to goofy background roles or providing comic relief on cable countdown shows, Harris has eked out a mini-career as someone you probably recognize but could never name. And with the indie comedy Natural Selection, she, like Dowd, is placed front and center to great effect. As a barren Christian woman who seeks out her husband's potential long-lost biological son, she's at times endearing and heartbreaking and at others frustratingly human. She injects her signature comedy throughout the sometimes serious film, but its her instinct and ability to evoke an audience feeling makes her one of the best of the year. A completely ignored gem, to be sure.Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook - Too much too soon for the young starlet? A Best Actress Oscar can often be a curse for a young twentysomething. Yet, with a killer instinct, a great attitude and a commanding screen presence, Lawrence shows off her intense star power in Silver Linings. Her interplay with older co-star Bradley Cooper is totally believable, and her self-assured performance, most notably going toe-to-toe with heavyweight Robert de Niro is an incredible feat for a virtually untested actress. Her uneven character makes for a sometimes harrowing but mostly intriguing task, and she more than delivers on David O. Russell's oftentimes promise of bringing out great performances in his films.Quvenzhane Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild - Sneaking her way into this audition despite her age turned out to be the best decision Wallis will probably ever make. The then-five-year-old understandably wowed her future director to land the lead of Hushpuppy, a girl who "lived with her daddy in the Bathtub." And the result is a stellar youth performance - hell, it's stellar by adult standards, and the voters in the Academy obviously agreed, dubbing her one of the five best of the year. And I tend to agree - she'[...]

100 best songs countdown: #100-96


First thing's first - perhaps this list should be renamed to read "The 100 Favorite Songs of Luke," as this is not meant to be a prestige list that rolls out the significant and influential tracks through the decades. In fact, there will likely be a few of those that managed to sneak on here, but truth be told, this is purely a list for fun that encompasses my musical favorites from the 20th Century and beyond. Feel free to judge my inferior tastes as much as you like. Meanwhile, I'm going to begin counting down my all-time favorites with Nos. 100 through 96...#100: "...Baby One More Time" by Britney Spears, from ...Baby One More Time (2000) - Let's just get the embarrassing one out of the way first. Of course, I kid - that should read "embarrassing one(s)," as I'm not afraid to admit I fall victim to a catchy pop top 40 song now and again. Though her public persona has fallen into some obscure antics in recent years, there's no denying the panache and vigor that was brought along with that coming out of one Ms. Spears. "...Baby One More Time" is incredibly catchy, from its slam-dunk hook to its accompanying dance moves. Turns out that though she's logged an impressive number of hit singles since, the best Britney is still the original....Baby One More Time by Britney Spears on Grooveshark#99: "People C'mon" by Delta Spirit, from Ode to Sunshine (2008) - How about an abrupt shift in tone? Well hopefully that's what you had in mind, as indie rock band Delta Spirit follows ably in Britney's wake. My No. 99 all-time favorite is "People C'mon," which blends a scorching vocal with an ever-building track that I defy you to sit through without caterwauling along. The pure grift and emotion on display in these vocals is what sets the band apart from its plentiful fellows. Get as emo as you want, but if you don't have the lyrics and the impressive vocal chops to back it up, what you got to be so emo about?People C'mon by Delta Spirit on Grooveshark#98: "Kiss from a Rose" by Seal, from Seal II (1994) - Not a single person who was young in the '90s doesn't recall a slow dance to this song. Though it had somewhat dark lyrics, the success of Seal can be tracked to this awards-magnet ditty. And it's assuredly the pinnacle of his discography (though his later single "Love's Divine" comes the closest to meeting the greatness of "Kiss from a Rose"). The looming, husky vocals, combined with the bombast of the chorus made for a perfect 1990s R&B slow jam.Kiss From a Rose by Seal on Grooveshark#97: "Open Your Heart" by Madonna, from True Blue (1986) - She's reinvented herself countless times, and though her edgy 90s transformations are perhaps the most memorable, there's something about that original pop star in the making that came out with hit after hit - and had 100 times more charisma and uniqueness than most cookie cutter young ladies of the present. "Open Your Heart" has a catchy hook and serves as a great dance anthem that transcends the often goofy tendencies of '80s music.Open Your Heart by Madonna on Grooveshark#96: "Big Girls Don't Cry" by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, from Sherry & 11 Others (1962) - My two favorite eras of music are the R&B/soul singers of the '90s and the Motown and pop of the '60s. And what screams '60s music better than Frankie Valli and his impossibly on point falsetto? There's definitely a silliness factor with this song, but its enduring appeal as a pop standard has made it indelible amongst its fellow 1960s boy band compadres.Big Girls Don't Cry by The Four Seasons on Grooveshark[...]

2012 LCT awards: best picture nominees


Sure, the Oscars have announced their nominees, but what of the LCT Awards (est. 1995), my own personal choices in the world of film, television and music? Well, to be honest, these nods were announced a few weeks ago... but via the blog, not so much! So, I give you the 2012 entrants on my best-of list, starting with the first few film categories on my roster.BEST PICTURELet's start with this - a gem of the early-year festival circuit that clearly made enough of a lasting impression to land itself in position for a few Oscars. In my book, it's one of the five best of the year, no question. From its moving father-daughter central story to its incredible performances from complete newcomers, this little experiment in filmmaking came with a huge payoff. It's visually stunning on a maddeningly tiny budget, and though the actors weren't SAG-sanctioned, they brought depth many card-carrying members probably wish they could.Next up is Peter Jackson's latest Tolkien effort, The Hobbit, which has found its lion's share of detractors with which I couldn't disagree more. Yes, there's less source material being stretched into the same amount of screen time, but the visionary efforts are still there 10 years on - Jackson has a knack for telling a fantastical story like no other working today. And it helps that he has a very able lead in Martin Freeman to head up the cast. This first entry in a new trilogy is thrilling, delightful and pleasing to the eye. And while some felt it dragged on a bit long, I left the theater with no such feelings. A brilliant effort in many regards. Ignore what you've been told about it - it really is one of the five best of the year. Speaking of divisive films, The Master was no stranger to oddly placed ill will. A harrowing glimpse at the inner workings of a charming cultish following through the eyes of a demented protagonist - what doesn't sound like film gold in that description? Joaquin Phoenix is phenomenal, and the interplay with his co-lead Phillip Seymour Hoffman is in many scenes gut-wrenching. With a slick editing technique, an artistic approach in the screenplay and triumphant performances from the lot, it's perhaps just misunderstood - and will surely develop into a future classic. Seeing it felt like encountering a truly cinematic experience. Sometimes there are movies that you've been waiting years to see. Based on a book that I cherished when reading, once I heard Perks was at last being adapted into a film, I held onto skepticism to the bitter end. I just didn't think the casting was right, and I didn't see how a movie would be able to capture the unique nuance within an atypical high school story. Oh, how wrong I was. Thanks to some careful work from its young stars and a faithful adaptation from the author himself (not to mention his own directing debut), The Perks of Being a Wallflower easily landed itself on the "best of" list and thankfully caught the attentions of many viewers who didn't necessarily come of age around the time of the book's release - the true mark of a teen fiction adaptation done right. Can't say I'm not diverse in my choices, I suppose. A strong central performance can do an awful lot to bolster a film's overall estimation. And with excellent pacing and an able director, Zero Dark Thirty outdid its helmer's predecessor by injecting a degree of tension unmatched in any of the year's blockbuster action movies. Chastain is a revelation as the central amalgamation, Maya, and her female co-stars, large parts and small, make for commanding screen presences in what is pigeonholed as a "masculine" genre. Not to say that the men, namely Jason Clarke, don't have a great deal of authority over the material. It's an all-around success in what[...]

making a comeback...


Yes, promises have been made, broken, made again, broken again even more quickly... and yet, I simply can't stay away. The film blogosphere is too wonderful and too attractive a mistress to shake. So I'm embarking once more, hopefully for a longer-term future, on Journalistic Skepticism. It's been far too long, and I need a fix. So blogging, I have returned to you with every intention of sticking around this time... for the kids. But where did we leave off? It's been many months since my last post, and the Oscar nominations have come and gone. So perhaps a fresh start in 2013 is just the ticket! Here's what you may be seeing on ye olde blog if you stick around - Valerie is begging you to!

*Madly In Advance Oscar predictions for all the major 2013 races - I'm know clairvoyant, to be sure, as evidenced by my attempt last year that yielded many nominations for The Great Gatsby and Gravity... second time's a charm?
*2013 reviews - it's a slow start to the year, but a write-up of the McCarthy/Bateman vehicle Identity Thief is coming your way.
*Continuations of old favorites will ensue - perhaps an addition or two to the Merylfest series (see right-hand column) and some resolution to my top 100 films revamp (see left-hand column).
*And boldly going where this blog hasn't gone before - Music; namely, an all-time top 100 songs countdown, for whatever that's worth, entertainment-wise.

oscars 2012: best original song


BEST ORIGINAL SONG: With the frenzy over the new Bond tune, it's only fitting that my next category set be the music ones. And though I think Adele will have a distinct shot of making it into the category, particularly thanks to the rules overhaul, the series doesn't exactly have a good track record with their more than 20 original songs through the years. Still, the notion that it shot to No. 1 upon release seems to usher in a hopefully new era for Original Song, a category that I've loved through the years despite its many many flaws. Having some legit hits on their hands could make things interesting in a potentially five-wide field of contenders.  But on to the conversation! On paper, the likeliest of nominees is the Hugh Jackman-sung "Suddenly" from Les Miserables, which to me is the film's best bet at a nomination, whether the movie tanks or not. And with a rich tradition of successes in this category, Disney/Pixar's efforts could land multiple slots, namely "Into the Open Air" and "Learn Me Right," both from Brave, with the former the likelier choice. The rules get a bit dodgy for some contenders, though, as Taylor Swift's number from The Hunger Games, I'm assuming, is out of the running, as it's the second credit song.  Though I'm not super clear on the rule revisions.  But Arcade Fire's "Abraham's Daughter" should have no trouble making it into the conversation for the blockbuster book adaptation.The hit early release The Lorax has a few options to contend with, most notably "Let it Grow," as the big group number lends itself best to Oscar's style. And though it arrived with hardly a whimper, it's worth noting that the Whitney Houston swan song "Celebrate" from Sparkle is a ballot option. It'll take branch members remembering the movie at all to get it to the top five, though. Norah Jones is featured on the Ted soundtrack, and this may be the simplest way to honor Oscar's host this year for his surprise hit. "Everybody Needs a Best Friend" is an accessible big-band-style ditty, though the Academy has skipped over previous opportunities to feature Jones's soundtrack vocals. And though Lawless will likely miss any kind of attention during awards season this year, there's a chance the legendary Willie Nelson could net it a slot in Original Song with "Midnight Run." Finally, there are some options yet to come - Disney's Wreck-it-Ralph has a handful of original works, with Owl City's "When Can I See You Again?" seeming the most plausible choice.  But to the rundown; here's where things stand, in my opinion:The Locks: Though the category is so unpredictable, it's tough to legitimately call anything a true lock, my guess is "Suddenly" (Les Miserables) and "Skyfall" seem the strongest - and with the revamp, Oscar just wouldn't be able to resist having Jackman and Adele perform at the ceremony.Strong Options: "Into the Open Air" (Brave) and "Midnight Run" (Lawless)My Current No. 5: I think the current lovefest toward Arcade Fire may nab The Hunger Games one of its nominations here for "Abraham's Daughter."Rounding Out the 10: "Let it Grow" (The Lorax), "Learn Me Right" (Brave), "When Can I See You Again?" (Wreck-It Ralph), "Celebrate" (Sparkle) and "Everybody Needs a Best Friend" (Ted)Just Outside the Ranks: "Touch the Sky" (Brave), "Open Up" (This Must Be the Place), "From Here to the Moon and Back" (Joyful Noise), Karen O's "Strange Love" (Frankenweenie), "Still Allive" (Paul Williams Still Alive), and Beck's "Looking for a Sign" (Jeff Who Lives at Home)And the Rest (In No Particular Order): "Arietty's Song" (The Secret World of Arrietty), "Deep in the Meadow" (The Hunger Games), "Rise" (Chimpanzee), Soundgarden's "Liv[...]

oscars 2012: directors, screenwriters


BEST DIRECTOR: With the Best Picture race all over the place, the directors' club is lining up its top contenders in the category.  The easiest route is to assume the top BP frontrunners will line up with the BD counterparts, which I'm thinking is a good assumption at this stage.  With Paul Thomas Anderson (The Master), David O. Russell (Silver-Linings Playbook) and Ben Affleck (Argo) cementing themselves as near-locks, it seems the final two slots are still up for grabs. And a lot depends on how their respective films land.  Wes Anderson (Moonrise Kingdom) and John Madden's (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) films have arrived and are proportionate successes, though they'd need BP nods to make it here.  And Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild) may have an uphill battle with the recent SAG announcement to do with his film.  Other possibilities hanging 'round are the major leaguers - Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Rises), Joss Whedon (The Avengers), Peter Jackson (The Hobbit) and Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained) - the latecomers - Juan Antonio Bayona (The Impossible), Sacha Gervasi (Hitchcock) and Gus Van Sant (Promised Land) - and the foreign helmers - Michael Haneke (Amour), Martin McDonagh (Seven Psychopaths) and Ben Lewin (The Sessions).  But here's where I see it as of now.All Locked Up: Paul Thomas Anderson (The Master) and David O. Russell (Silver-Linings Playbook)So Close: Ben Affleck feels like a mighty wise prediction at this point, but I'm holding out to make certain the movie is a hit with audiences as wellCurrent Final Two Slots: Steven Spielberg (Lincoln) - though I'm thinking this is a thin margin between nominated and just-miss - and Robert Zemeckis (Flight)Only If the Movie Doesn't Flop: Tom Hooper - he's a recent winner with a possibly juggernaut awardsbait in Les Miserables - and Ang Lee - Life of Pi has had some detractors on the festival circuit, but it still looks to land some nominations somewhereThe Rest of the 10: Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty), Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild) and Wes Anderson (Moonrise Kingdom)BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: While PTA's The Master is tops on the list of many predictions, I'm sitting pretty solid with the Wes Anderson/Roman Coppola-written Moonrise Kingdom as frontrunner, for a nomination at least.  This is the category that has honored such surprise hit comedies as My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Bridesmaids - seems only fitting that Moonrise leads the likelihood pack.  Coming up quickly in the buzz fest are Ben Lewin's The Sessions, John Gatins's Flight, and Martin McDonagh's Seven Psychopaths.  Aside from the most obvious choices, what of the quiet forces that could play a role with the right campaigns - such as Nicholas Jarecki (Arbitrage), Craig Zobel (Compliance) and Seth MacFarlane/Alec Sulkin/Wellesley Wild (Ted)? Perhaps voters are looking to honor their newest host. Plus commercial successes on several scales abound - Andrews/Purcell/Chapman/Mecchi (Brave), Reid Carolin (Magic Mike) and Rian Johnson (Looper).  But here's where I think the predictions line up at the moment.The Locks: The Master and Moonrise KingdomFeeling Right for Now: The Sessions, Django Unchained and FlightThe Near-Misses: Seven Psychopaths, Amour, Arbitrage and Zero Dark ThirtyCurrent No. 10: Hyde Park on HudsonBEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Like most other categories, Silver-Linings Playbook is leading the crowd rather handily here.  But with Argo looking to make a solid category sweep as well, it'll maybe be a two-way race for the win.  But what of the fellow nominees? Big-namers[...]

oscars 2012: a blight of females / an opportunity for others


The Oscar update conversation continues with the ladies, probably the most intriguing group to speak of at this point.  And not necessarily for good reasons.  With such a seemingly weak field, the agents of those first-half gals and the indie darlings need to get the word out - Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress haven't been this wide open in seven years.BEST LEAD ACTRESS: As you can tell from my choice of photo representation, I'm not buying into the Jennifer Lawrence FTW rah-rah just yet.  I can't seem to wrap my head around the up-and-comer winning so soon and for a fairly light-hearted looking performance.  But Silver-Linings Playbook has clearly cemented her as a top contender.  I'm going with Helen Mirren (Hitchcock) for the No. 1 slot today, though, as she just seems like an actress that Oscar wouldn't be afraid to double-dip for.  If she goes lead for playing the wife of the legendary director, I could see her being Lawrence's biggest competition.  And let's be honest, with a lineup this sparse, if the Silver-Linings folks wanted to, they could pull a Julianne Moore for Lawrence, stick her in supporting and she'd be a feasible possibility for The Hunger Games at this point... who thought that would actually be a possibility by year's end?  It seems to me the women who should be upping their campaign game to pounce on the sickly wildebeest that is Best Actress 2012 are Melanie Lynskey (Hello I Must Be Going), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Smashed), and Rachel Weisz (The Deep Blue Sea), all of whom have turned in lauded performances that would never be discussed period unless the possibility bank was this dry.  And really, how much fun would it be to see a wrench like that thrown into the mix?  And though Haneke's leading lady Emanuelle Riva (Amour) should surely be a possible nominee, I think in a weak field the Academy will opt for names over accolades.  Honorable mention before running down the Top 10 lineup: Kristen Wiig (Imogene) and Barbra Streisand (The Guilt Trip) both have very different comedies coming up here soon, though I doubt either will gain much traction with Oscar.Surefire Nominee: At this point, the only clear-cut one is Lawrence for Silver-LiningsNearly There: I'm thinking Helen Mirren shouldn't have too much trouble showing up here unless the movie is panned, and Keira Knightley is looking more and more like a solid bet for Anna KareninaOn-Paper...: I'm thinking Marion Cotillard could truly slip in for Rust and Bone, despite it's not traditionally Oscar-accessible premiseToday's No. 5: I'm thinking Beasts of the Southern Wild will receive a glorious year-end push, in which case I'm giving the edge to Quvenzhane Wallis at this stage, though...Nipping at Their Heels: Naomi Watts is looking more and more like a follow-up nod is finally coming for The Impossible, something I never would've seen coming even a month agoIt's a Strange Kind of Year, So: Don't be surprised to see Judi Dench (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) or Meryl Streep (Hope Springs) enter the conversation as potential spoilersRounding Out the 10: Laura Linney (Hyde Park on Hudson) and Maggie Smith (Quartet) will need some assistance with the tepid reception their respective films are receiving, but I'm guessing they're still among the top qualifiersBEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Though the field isn't quite as empty as in the leading category, the supporting females aren't looking to certain either.  To me, the clear frontrunner is Amy Adams (The Master), who's been logging away quite the nomination count in her pre-40s.  The role is just e[...]

oscars 2012: those men and their acting...


BEST LEAD ACTOR: First thing's first - let's talk about the guys waiting in the wings for the leading actor category.  Tommy Lee Jones may ride some goodwill for his co-star in Hope Springs, and Colin Farrell seems like the type of actor who'll eventually be nominated - perhaps for the so-far-well-received Seven Psychopaths. And why is it that no one seems to be talking about two-time Oscar winner Sean Penn starring in the finally released This Must Be the Place? Maybe his lack of buzz is a bad sign. Some lesser-known, stateside at least, actors might make some waves - Jean-Louis Trigninant has a plum role in Amour, and reportedly Tom Holland turns in a tour de force in the ever-rising The Impossible. His doomed romance efforts last year with Mia Wasikowska fell flat, but perhaps Gus van Sant's last-minute entry Promised Land could get Matt Damon another nod. Finally, the weekend is proving relatively positive for Looper, though can anyone see leading action star of the flick Joseph Gordon-Levitt scoring a nod here? For me, Hugh Jackman is just outside the top contenders for Les Miserables (I just don't buy the buzzy chances), leaving 10 men vying for the five spots.Surefire Nominees: John Hawkes (The Sessions) and Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)Nearly There: Joaquin Phoenix (The Master) and Denzel Washington (Flight)Today's No. 5: It's tough to say - there are a few likely candidates, but I'm going for Anthony Hopkins (Hitchcock) todayPotential Goodwill Coattail Riders: Ben Affleck (Argo) and Bradley Cooper (Silver-Linings Playbook)Spoilers: Richard Gere (Arbitrage), Brad Pitt (Killing Them Softly) and Bill Murray (Hyde Park on Hudson)BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: A lot will depend on the penchant for category misplacement here, as my frontrunner is pictured to the right (and having now seen the film he's clearly a co-lead... c'est la vie). Waiting in the wings? Dwight Henry has made an impression in Beasts of the Southern Wild, though perhaps not quite as much as his young co-star. Depends on how the film does in other categories, I suspect. Matthew McConaughey came off well with critics thanks to his mentoring role in Magic Mike, and Nate Parker has been getting best in show reviews for the surging Arbitrage. Garret Hedlund is making waves for On the Road, though I suspect he's too young to stick the landing here, and Russell Crowe could connect for Les Miserables, though his rock style may not jive with the overall feel of the movie. Lincoln's Tommy Lee Jones and Joseph Gordon-Levitt may not have the big parts they need to make the final cut, and though the chatter is minimal on the final two mentions here, John Krasinski could muster his big-screen breakthrough in Promised Land, and Ray Liotta is no stranger to awards love, particularly for his usual fare as in Killing Them Softly.Surefire Nominees: Phillip Seymour Hoffman (The Master) - though it's still unclear where he'll be campaigned - and Alan Arkin (Argo)Nearly There: Robert de Niro (Silver-Linings Playbook) - doesn't it seem like they're itching to bring him back into the fold? And when better than with a critically adored ensemble piece? - and David Strathairn (Lincoln)Today's No. 5: I'm starting to think that enough love for The Sessions could land William H. Macy here. I'm going out on a limb - thoughts?Tight Spoilers: Leonardo DiCaprio (Django Unchained) - if he makes it in, he could very easily get that long-gestating win, but I'm thinking the nomination is most of the battle - and Ewan McGregor (The Impossible) - something's telling me he's the type that may never see a nominationRounding Out the Top 10[...]

oscars 2012: where best picture stands


It's been so long since my most recent Oscar post (and I'm sure nobody out there that still reads this silly little blog is at all surprised by that) that so much has changed. So much, in fact, that it's time for an updated discussion on the big six categories. It's proving to be an exciting year, it seems (though I won't get my hopes up, as that always seems to be the case this early in the game, before one or two biggies begin to capture all the glory at the precursors), and perhaps the most exciting categories are the weakest ones. The categories with the most unclear frontrunners seem to be the female acting ones, which makes for an interesting discussion, particularly when early-year releases can now jump at that shaky Best Actress category - ladies, this is your year!BEST PICTURE: The top category of the bunch seems to boiling down to about 30 films at play, in my eyes. Sure, there are some that are stretches, but you have to account for at least a few potential spoilers in the mix. The frontrunners thus far appear to be Argo and Silver-Linings Playbook, two movies I most certainly didn't expect to see at the top of the list earlier in the year. Yet, here we are. The obvious big-ticket choices seem to be Lincoln and Les Miserables, two that could easily falter upon release - and the trailers have prognosticators worried. I'm not sold the big-budget musical will have a shot beyond a couple tech categories, but we'll see. Then there's The Master, which appears to have settled into a nomination slot despite its semi-obscure themes. It'll certainly avoid the win, but it's got a nomination all locked up here. Beyond those five, it's anyone's game at this point. Many seem to be jumping on the studio-backing bandwagon with Flight, though it remains to be seen if it can pull of a Blind Side-type crowd pleaser victory. The early releases should still be kept in the conversation, particularly in a seemingly weak year, so Moonrise Kingdom, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Beasts of the Southern Wild are still contenders for the top 5-10 spots.  And while we're at it, we might as well contend with the summer blockbusters, The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, and Brave - all of which have been a part of the discussion at some point.  But something tells me some spoilers could occur - I mean, Looper has gotten incredible reviews, and things are looking positive campaign-wise for Arbitrage. And flashy end-of-year epics The Impossible, Cloud Atlas, Anna Karenina and The Hobbit are options here.  Plus there's big talk behind Skyfall's proponents.  All in all, this is where I stand, prediction-wise:Surefire Nominees: Argo and Silver-Linings PlaybookTentative Shoo-Ins: Lincoln and Les MiserablesNearly There: The Master and Moonrise KingdomGaining Traction: The Impossible and Life of PiIf There are Nine: HitchcockMore to come this weekend![...]

oscars 2012: best supporting actress - so many options, so little oscars...


Sure, it's been a while since my last Oscar post, so call it cheating, but some things have been shaken up since.  In fact, I'm feeling with the onset of Flight mania, my Best Picture and Best Lead Actor posts are probably obsolete.  Though at least I have my Best Lead Actress post to keep me comfortable - though there's probably some obvious misstep in there too.  Luckily I took a look at the early reviews for Lawless this morning, and things aren't looking good - methinks the lovely ladies of that movie won't be making this conversation any longer.  But I digress!The Returning Winners: In this very mixed-bag field of 2012, there are several returning winners at play, including Annette Be - oh wait... wishful thinking I suppose.  But in all seriousness, we have a few professional Oscar gals in the competition.  For starters, there are the already-released Maggie Smith as the ornery wheelchair-bound senior in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Frances McDormand as the kooky mother and secret paramour in Moonrise Kingdom.  Neither lady has caused a major stir, per se, but neither can ever be counted out and both were a part of sleeper hits.Then there are a few coming up rather quickly down the pipe.  Last year's champ Octavia Spencer may have a questionably small role in the addiction drama Smashed, but the move has gotten some positive festival feedback and Sony Pictures backing, so who knows?  Then there's Holly Hunter, who based on the trailer probably has a plum little role as an administrator in the education drama Won't Back Down.  She hasn't really been in the conversation for about 10 years, but let's be real - she's definitely due.  And yes, The Paperboy has received a lot of outlandish attention, but attention nonetheless.  And Nicole Kidman reportedly goes for it - will the movie have any camp fans out there in voters, though?And then there are those that will likely see a later release this year - will they have the attention to gain traction, or will their co-stars take all the glory?  Vanessa Redgrave takes the title role in the British senior citizen choir flick Song for Marion, though it might be too light of fare for voters, and she couldn't seem to buy herself a nomination for Coriolanus.  Still, British comedy seems to connect a little more easily.  Sally Field has an obviously key role in Lincoln, though she hasn't really come close to a nomination since 1984's Places in the Heart - it seems far-fetched that she'll make a return trip.  Finally, Rachel Weisz has a supporting part in Terrence Malick's latest, but will To the Wonder be too much, too soon after Tree of Life amassed so much love last year?Those Facing Internal Competition: Though it's been said - I'm pretty sure - that this category is the easiest to find a double nomination from the same movie, it's still a tough battle for any.  Those ladies facing competition from within their own casts include the duo from Silver Linings Playbook, Jacki Weaver and Jennifer Lawrence, the former of which seems to have a nice role based on the trailer and the latter of whom could be a stretch in this particular love interest role.  Weaver probably has the edge in this battle.  Then there are the ladies from Anna Karenina, Olivia Williams and Kelly Macdonald, both of whom have had close calls with Oscars but have just missed.  A lot will depend on the overall feeling about the film.Much will definitely depend on Laura Linney's placement, bu[...]

oscars 2012: and the best lead actor nominees are... cue crickets...


Well, unlike the Best Picture and Lead Actress races, the competition for Best Lead Actor is a little dodgy thus far.  In fact, there seems to be nary a remote contender in sight as we head into August.  Have we ever seen an acting category this back-nine-loaded?  There will surely be dozens of possibilities later this year, but the first section of this write-up will certainly be a bit of a stretch as far as naming off real "contenders."  And with arguable frontrunner Leonardo DiCaprio out of the race along with the rest of The Great Gatsby, these guys are dropping to 2013 like flies.  (Perhaps you all can shed some light on potential threats from the first seven months of the year.)Long Shots - Do They Even Stand a Chance?: Well with July behind us, you'd think there'd be some clear spring and summer releases producing some Best Actor choices, but there are only two that I can remotely endorse as a possibility.  Sure, Oscar isn't nearly as kind to young actors as it is to young actresses, but Jared Gilman has at least started the 2012 conversation for his deadpan turn in the hit Moonrise Kingdom.  Contending with the older guys in this category is near impossible, though.  And if it'd had a better release, perhaps Detachment could've granted Adrien Brody his long-gestating second Oscar nod.  Alas, the film, which garnered some positive reviews, came and went without much fanfare despite a strong cast.Indie Contenders - Trifles or Heavyweights?: Every year the independent film community produces some potential nominees in the acting categories, though it seems Lead Actor isn't always the place where these folks strike it rich.  Nonetheless, John Hawkes is a major part of the conversation for The Sessions (nee The Surrogate) and is well on his way to a second Oscar nod.  Perhaps not as certain are Frank Langella, for his well-received role in the quirky robot buddy comedy Robot and Frank, and David Oyelowo, who's been logging away a widening filmography and had a role in festival fave Middle of Nowhere.  In addition, seemingly Oscar catnip Richard Gere found some fans from the financial thriller Arbitrage.Honor the Film or Honor the Actor?: There are plenty of pieces, namely ensemble films and epics, that constantly create question marks as to whether or not the actors themselves will get any love.  First off, there's Lawless, which seems to have two leads, Shia LaBeouf and Tom Hardy.  There's a pedigreed cast here to be sure, but neither have had much luck in the past, and this film could easily go by way of Public Enemies and completely miss.  In the same position is Ben Affleck, who is a true contender for directing Argo but perhaps not for acting.  He also has a shot if To the Wonder sees a release this year.  Tom Hanks is no stranger to this category but has certainly lost some of his cache.  Still, he's the biggest name out of Cloud Atlas, but how actorly the movie is remains to be seen.  Finally, The Hobbit will surely produce a multitude of tech awards, but we all remember how stingy Oscar was with Lord of the Rings' actors.  Will Martin Freeman break through with the title role?The Arguable Frontrunners: On its face, there are some men in play that seem to have the director backing, the Oscar history and the strong buzz to go the distance.  Brad Pitt has become somewhat of a fixture into his middle ages, and Killing Them Softly could be a promising prospect.  (Does an[...]

oscars 2012: the ladies' competition heats up


Now that the big Best Picture update is out of the way, let's move on to the lead actresses.  Though there are far less obvious contenders in the works in this category compared to the top prize, there are plentiful possibilities in the mix.  But will Oscar go traditional, opting for the many costume drama options, or will it step away for more indie love than the typical one-slot-for-ingenue-in-Sundance-favorite trajectory?  There are certainly no clear front-runners here, nor are there any surefire first-half contenders, but let's muse nonetheless...What We've Got So Far: Though there aren't any clear options in the first six months, there are a handful of ladies who have turned in buzz-worthy performances.  But how likely is it any of them can last through to February?  For starters, we have some Academy favorites - Michelle Williams has a decent shot for Take This Waltz.  Though the long-delayed film seems to have arrived with a soft response, the reviews were positive, and Michelle is on a hot streak.  Plus damaged relationships propelled her to a nod for Blue Valentine.  Speaking of Academy populars, Judi Dench should never be counted out, and the sleeper hit status of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel could get her some traction, particularly with a well-timed DVD release.It was virtually invisible upon release, but The Deep Blue Sea could very well get Rachel Weisz on some shortlists.  It's certainly a long shot, but she's one of the handful of moderate contenders from early releases.  A much more hot-button choice would be Jennifer Lawrence, whose adept turn in the popular The Hunger Games is certainly not Oscar's typical cup of tea, but the web is feeling pretty insistent about this one.  Don't count her out just yet.  Resting in the long-gestating camp, Rachael Harris won raves last year for quirky drama Natural Selection, but her lack of celebrite in an increasingly competitive indie sect could dash her chances.  Finally, the clearest contender from those films released thus far has to be pint-sized powerhouse Quvenzhane Wallis, whose star turn in Beasts of the Southern Wild should have no trouble finding its way onto year-end "Best of" lists.  But will she be wrongfully thrust into supporting due to her age?Will Lighter, Popcorn Fare Play a Role?: Sure, Meryl Streep has made her way onto the list with comedies before.  I mean, Devil Wears Prada was very nearly a win for the actress.  But will Hope Springs connect in the same way?  It has the elements of a potential Streep nomination, but methinks this will go by way of It's Complicated and suffer a near-miss.  And though "light" may not be the right attribution, Won't Back Down's Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal may have to ascend the hurdle of "feel-good" for their teacher drama.  The trailer doesn't look very Oscary, but who knows what could happen with Davis's recent hot streak?  And then there's Cameron Diaz, who is seemingly out to prove why she's a movie star by teaming up with Colin Firth and the Coen brothers for Gambit.  But will an action comedy ever have decent traction in a category populated by tragic PYTs?  If the reviews are right, it's definitely possible.But what of the indie comedies?  It can be a tough sell, but with proper studio push, anything's possible.  First off is Melanie Lynskey, who has been quietly assembling a long filmography on the sideli[...]

oscars 2012: can I buy a frontrunner?


With the halfway point of the year well past, it's high time I check in with the Oscar world.  Though it seems there are only a few slight contenders released thus far in the Best Picture category, the rest of the release schedule could hit or miss, depending on distribution, critical response and overall fallout/reward-reaping.  I think the late releases show much more legitimate promise than last year's lineup; then again, legitimate quality isn't always paramount for voters.  But complaining about Academy choices isn't the point at all - it's the unyielding fun that comes from predicting those choices.  And since that feat has become increasingly easy with the onslaught of precursor awards, it's best to get a jump on it.  So let's dive in!First-Half Sleepers, Underdogs and Behemoths: Though the Academy looks to the November/December crowd for many of its nominees by February, the accidental connections that kick off the January through June period (although, let's be real - we might as well toss the first two or three months of the year, outside Best Animated Feature) yield the occasional BP nominee.  But who to represent that cause for 2012?  There are a couple of obvious choices in the arthouse surprise hits (the Midnight in Paris, or to a lesser extent The Kids Are All Right, slot, if you will) in Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom and John Madden's The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The former of the two obviously carries more of the cache thanks to great box office sea legs and general mini-hysteria toward the oddball flick.And then there are the massive blockbusters with the relatively strong reviews that seem to always incite the instant "will it or won't it" attitude about its Oscar prospects.  Though there's something to it, the two highest grossing pictures of all time have managed a BP nod, it's a fine line.  And that line is The Dark Knight.  So the chances for the likes of The Hunger Games, The Avengers, and The Dark Knight Rises are questionable at best, though I see the middle entry on that list having the most legitimate shot at a nomination.  There will be plenty of technical nods to be had, to be sure, but could Avengers total 2012 dominance factor into the overall necessity of honoring "the best" by year's end?  And though critical reaction to DKR hasn't been nearly as strong as for its predecessor, can it squeak by off of a guilt trip?  I'm thinking not quite, but it will depend on the rest of the year's crop.Rounding out the early-year releases are the strong festival contenders, namely Beasts of the Southern Wild, which seems to have the seemingly best shot of any film thus far released at a BP nomination, and the moderately successful (both critically and financially) fan favorites, Magic Mike and Brave.  The former is a huge overreach, I'm guessing, considering it's stripperfied central focus, but it's tough not to keep it in the conversation considering the cultural impact it seemed to have this year.  And though Brave may not be a "fan favorite" it has fervent fans and decent receipts.  But will the Cars 2 afterglow, or afterdulling as it were, dim its chances of making a top five to 10 of 2012?Shoot 'Em Ups and Dress 'Em Ups: Trends can play a significant role in Hollywood's ultimate decision, and recent years have taught us the Academy is feeling nostalgic.  And not just for its own yesteryears but for r[...]

merritt wever, emmy nominee


I'm LOVing the sound of that.  At last!  Well done Emmy.



By now, you film buffs out there have likely already heard the news.  The delectable, devilish classic What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? is getting the remake treatment.  And while I'm generally against touching the classics - this one oddly enough being a childhood favorite of mine - I must say: It's a fun notion to think about which two screen divas could potentially get cast in this.  I'm told the director in question is hoping to get "high-pedigree" actresses to fill the shoes of legends Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, and I certainly hope he makes good on it.  I also hope that they don't cast some late-30s, early-40s "hot for now" actresses to take on the parts.  But who could take on these distinctive roles - the bitter former child star whose penchant for drinking led to her downfall and the now-wheelchair-bound actress sister who becomes Baby Jane's object of torture... hopefully the fates will be kind.  

My brother John was quick to insert his ideal casting choice - with Glenn Close in the Bette Davis role and Meryl Streep in the Joan Crawford role, and I'm inclined to agree with him.  Then again, half the fun of the original was that the real-life stars hated each other with a passion - too bad everyone's so nice in Hollywood these days... (I kid, of course.)  I'd like to step out and nominate Close (is there any more Bette Davis-like personality than Close a la 101 Dalmatians and Stepford Wives?), but I'm thinking the Crawford role could be played nicely by Anne Archer... I mean, how much perfection would it be if that infamous parakeet scene was tweaked to involve a certain pet rabbit?  What are your thoughts on the matter?