Thursday, January 26, 2012

The 2012 Dundees: Our Alternative Oscars

Minus the divisive Tree of Life and the critically panned Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, this year's Oscar's Best Picture nominations seem even more safe and boring than last year's, when we at least had The Social Network to root for.  Worst of all, they totally snubbed my beloved Michael Fassbender.  And what's up with not nominating Drive for anything besides sound editing?  Does the Academy want to deny us Ryan Gosling dressed up in suit?  Albert Brooks and Cliff Martinez deserved nominations at least.  Oh well, at least Michelle Williams got a nomination for My Week with Marilyn (though it would have been cooler if it was for Meek's Cutoff). 

Anyway, below are my highlights of the year in Film and TV.  Think of it like the Oscars with 100 % more dreaminess (and 600% more Gosling)! 
Best Funny Movie of the YearThe TripBridesmaids is probably the most laugh-out loud funny movie, but The Trip is more profound.  The movie follows British comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon on a culinary tour of England, while both men deal with disappointments in their lives and career.  It's an interesting exploration of male friendship, but lest you think it's too serious it features some pretty funny sequences like Coogan and Brydon's dueling Michael Caine impressions.

Best Romantic ComedyFriends With Benefits.  I really liked the first part of this movie, which seemed like romantic comedy satire.  But it eventually turns into a regular rom-com at the end.  Sort of like a friend who is all cynical about love until they get a girlfriend or boyfriend and then you have tolerate their lovey-doveyness with a straight face.  However, I enjoyed the performances by Mila Kunis, Patricia Clarkson as Kunis's hippy mom, and Woody Harrelson as Justin Timberlake's coworker (who puts a whole new spin on the "gay best friend" role) enough to recommend it.

Runner-UpCrazy Stupid Love.  If this movie had just been about Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone's character, it probably would have been my favorite.  Their romance seemed sweet and naturally evolving and Emma Stone is super funny.  However, the Steve Carrell and Julianne Moore storyline, which is the bulk of the movie, seemed a little bit too contrived and treacly. 

Most Enviable Wardrobe, Male Performance:  Ryan Gosling in Crazy Stupid Love.  Speaking of Crazy Stupid Love, Gosling's Lothario character Jacob Palmer has a pretty sweet wardrobe.  Not quite as sweet as his abs though!

Most Enviable Wardrobe, Female Performance:  Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) from Parks and Recreation.  This was a close call category.  I was tempted to go with Zooey Deschanel's Jess from New Girl, because I love Zooey's quirky vintage style.  But let's face it, she's dressed that way forever.  On the more-realistic end, I pretty much wished I owned everything Erin Hannon (Ellie Kemper) wears on The Office.  She has a cute and modest business wardrobe that doesn't looked picked out by a stylist.  However, I had to give it to Leslie, who went from a boxy, Hilary Clinton-esque wardrobe to more a more structured and feminine look. Several times this season, I have thought to myself "I want that shirt," so well played Leslie! 

Best Supporting Canine:  Cosmo as Arthur in Beginners.  Sorry Uggie, but I haven't seen The Artist yet.  It's hard not to fall for shaggy Arthur, especially when he's proposing marriage to Ewan MacGregor in subtitles.


Based on director Mike Mills' real life relationship with his father, Beginners begins with a grown son, Oliver (Ewan McGregor), learning that his 75-year-old father, Hal (Christopher Plummer, just nominated for an Oscar), is gay. The storyline fluctuates between Oliver's present with his new French girlfriend Anna (Melanie Laurent) and the commitment issues they both face; his childhood with a playful, but dramatic mother Georgia (Mary Page Keller); and his recent past with his dying father. Soon after Hal comes out he is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Hal lives it up, probably for the first time in his life, while Oliver is more practical-- a side effect of Hal's admission, and the normal role flip that occurs later in life when the child becomes the parent. Oliver is not disapproving, but cautious. He then brings this caution to his relationship with Anna, which complicates things. Oliver and Anna's courtship is quirky and sweet, but inevitably encounters some uncertainty.

As the title suggests, one can always start over. The key is to recognize the chance before it's too late. Both protagonists accomplish this, which could inspire anyone watching to do the same.

Two side notes:
1. Dogs in movies aren't my thing-- I can't think of one good movie that features a dog, but I can think of many bad ones: Beethoven 1-3, Marley & Me, Marmaduke, Beverly Hills Chihuahua 1 and 2. Rest my case. BUT, Hal's dog Arthur is alright in this bunch, keeping everybody honest. He's cute, but not intrusive. 

2. Goran Visnjic, best known for his role as Dr. Luca Kovak on ER, is unlike I've ever seen him (I wasn't sure it was him at first). He plays Hal's much younger boyfriend, Andy, who is childlike and very defensive. I was glad to see Visnjic doing something a bit different and completely pulling it off.

A great movie, with great performances all around-- even the dog.
Find it in the catalog!


Monday, January 2, 2012

Best of 2011: Hollywood Hunks

Of course, we love these actors for their souls and/ or talent, but they aren't that difficult to look at either.  Below we highlight our achievements in handsomeness (or more accurately, affable nerdy charm) in TV and film.

Hunk Criteria:
  • Made a movie or appeared in a currently running TV show (sorry, Jon Hamm!) in 2011.
  • Has a decent filmography (competence is sexy!)
  • Makes interesting role choice. 
  • Handsomeness.
  • Sense of humor.

To even the playing field a bit, I'm excluding several actors that I've talked about at length before (some might say excessively).  Sadly, Paul Schneider, Andrew Garfield, Sam Rockwell, Adam Scott, and Jesse Eisenberg are excluded from the list. They are all, however, totally dreamy (seriously, call me any time guys!).

Achievements in Handsomeness Television:

5).  Zach Gilford as Matt Saracen from Friday Night Lights
I pretty much have a crush on every single guy on Friday Night Lights, it's hard to just pick one (Okay, Tim Riggins, if you twist my arm).  That being said, Matt got cuter in the last season.  Maybe it's the whole artist thing or perhaps just Zach Gilford's increasingly floppy hair.

Check out Friday Night Lights or one of Zach's films.

4).  Jake M. Johnson as Nick from New Girl
With his relaxed hipster look (Nick loves flannel shirts and hoodies), he is adorable in a guy-next-door sort of way.  Nick manages to be both a straight man to Jess (Zooey Deschanel) and Schmidt (Max Greenfield) and a jaded, neurotic mess. 

Check out New Girl, Tuesday nights at 8PM on Fox.

2).  Josh Charles as Will Gardner from the Good Wife.
Matt Czuchry as Cary Agos from the Good Wife (tie).  
It's hard to choose between these two Good Wife guys.  Will Gardner was definitely my favorite in Season 1. Partly because he's played by Josh Charles, who I've had a crush on since Sports Night, and partly because he was so sweet and lovelorn about Alicia (Julianna Margulies)- even though she was still married and he's her boss.  However, his character seems to be getting increasingly shady.  Still, he looks sharp in a suit.

Meanwhile, Cary seemed immature and conceited in season one.  But in the following two seasons, his character has gained considerable depth.  I really enjoy his relationship with Kalinda (Archie Panjabi) on the show.

Check out the Good Wife or one of Josh Charles's films.

1).  Timothy Olyphant as U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens from Justified.
Never have cowboy hats looked so good!

Check out Justified or one of Timothy Olyphant's other work on film and TV.