Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Jesus knows how I feel!

Click to enlarge.


Google Street View Catches Epic Battle

Okay, I'm now worried that I'll spend the rest of the month trolling for more of this stuff.

Thanks, Geekologie. If you've never checked out the site before, now's the time to do so.

Also: Chia Obama heads.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Oscar Nominations

It's too early to do Oscar predictions, though I felt pretty confident looking at the list that I could nail a good number of them this year. What's the goal I've set for myself? 75%? I can get there. Oscar Predictions coming in three weeks!

Ooh, that reminds me: apparently the Golden Globes are still pretty messy in terms of voting process, so it enables companies to buy up awards, because the Hollywood Foreign Press isn't the most... ethical voting group around (gasp!). So that explains victories like Anna Paquin and Gabriel Byrne. Whew. I thought everyone had just gone crazy (I talked about this in my live Golden Globes blog, which you did not read).

Instead, after Oscar noms, it's most appropriate to play "who was snubbed this year?" And the answer's pretty obvious: The Dark Knight got screwed. Garnering 8 nominations but not a Best Picture nod - almost a record - is a pretty clear indication that the Academy wanted to give them recognition but couldn't bear the thought of a comic book film being nominated for Best Picture. And there's something to be said for keeping the Oscars a place for serious, daring work - but isn't that the definition of what The Dark Knight was?

Let's do something fun for a second. Let me rank, without looking at anything, the Best Picture Nominees in order of how much I think they deserved this status:

1. Slumdog Millionaire
2. Milk

3. Frost/Nixon
4. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
5. The Reader

Now, let me list the five nominees I would have picked, in order:

1. Slumdog Millionaire

2. Milk

3. The Dark Knight
4. Wall-E
5. Frost/Nixon

Let's look at critical consensus on the five Best Picture nominees:

1. Slumdog Millionaire - 95% positive
2. Milk - 93% positive
3. Frost/Nixon -
91% postive
4. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - 77% positive
5. The Reader -
60% positive

Alright, now let's look at my Best Picture list:

1. Slumdog Millionaire
- 95% positive
2. Milk - 93% positive
3. The Dark Knight - 94% positive
4. Wall-E - 97% positive
5. Frost/Nixon
- 91% postive

Good news: I'm awesome. I was going to run the box office of this list as well, but I realized that wouldn't make a difference - a lot of these films were released to one theater at the end of the year and are just now being released wide. It's an old trick: technically release your film in 2008 to qualify for all the award shows, then release your film to all theaters after you've already been honored as one of the finest films of the year. Smaller films like Slumdog Millionaire probably need the help, since without word-of-mouth buzz, they wouldn't ever gather an audience. Either way, let me grab the two box office numbers that matter: $530 million (The Dark Knight) and $220 million (Wall-E). That's a lot of change.

To sum up: if two films with such overwhelming critical and popular buzz cannot land a Best Picture nod despite not having a strong contender to match up against for one of the final spots (critics are already calling The Reader 'the most overrated movie of the year') simply because their genres are too unrespected, than the Oscars ain't never gonna change. If The Dark Knight can't do it, than no one can.

I watched The Dark Knight again last night, and it's baffling to me how that film is not one of the five finest this year. From the performances to the cinematography to the raw energy to the breathtaking scope, it's simply one of the most completely realized epics I've ever seen.

In terms of other Oscar snubs... well, I'm willing to deal. Anyone who's arguing that Clint Eastwood/Leonardo DiCaprio/Michael Sheen/whoever deserved a nod should remember that this is probably the single best Best Actor pool we've ever had. A bigger snub is the series of Golden Globe winners who didn't land a nomination at the Oscars: Sally Hawkins' win for Best Actress in a Comedy didn't translate into an Oscar nom, though somehow Angelina Jolie snagged a bid again. And biggest of all was Golden Globe winner Bruce Springsteen missing a nomination for Best Song, though somehow Slumdog Millionaire managed to snag two of the three spots (and can someone explain why there are only three spots available in a category like this?) since the Academy changed their rules on nominations in this category from merely frustrating to full-tilt baffling.

Outside of that, there's not too much to have a beef with this year. Kudos for nominations for Robert Downey, Jr. in Tropic Thunder and France for nominating the sweeter and less-seen The Class over buzzier pieces like Let The Right One In and I've Loved You So Long - though we should point out that it's rare that anyone's debating over what French movie they loved more (weird, right?). It's also nice to see the underappreciated Richard Jenkins get some Best Actor love, and to see Milk get so many nominations after being shut out of the Golden Globes, including a Best Director nod for Gus Van Sant (though, frustratingly, they shut out badass Sam Mendes for Oscar golden boy Steven Daldry).

In the long run, not too bad a list. Though I'm a little worried that the voting might sway away from the more deserving films to honor the less-deserving Benjamin Button in every category except the one it should win: Best Director.

Check back in before the ceremony for the final lowdown.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

You wonder how many takes it took.

I really dig the promo for "One Way Out," a show I would normally never watch but am intrigued by because of this ad.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I'll post on your wall AND get a triple word score.!

I would very much like a Scrabble keyboard.

Also, since I've seen this posted everywhere and wanted to share: here's Star Wars retold by someone who's never seen it.

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The New Zeitgest

This afternoon, after a long and strenuous campaign trail that seems to have started in 1987, Barack Obama will be sworn in as President of the United States.

I've long been uncertain of Obama's track record in public office, so I've approached this day with trepidation. I don't know if Obama is the right man for the job or not, but it seems to me that a large percentage of the American public deeply, truly believes that he is. And considering where our country's mindset is right now, that may be much more important. So regardless of what his actual intentions are, the belief that his plans are good and his directions infallible may be a more important factor in jump-starting the economy and bringing a politically divided country together than whether his plans are good or how far off course he ends up. He is, it seems, the man for the hour. The best of luck to him.

But if I read one more article explaining how Obama will personally change our entire culture by virtue of his incredible awesomeness, I will slam my head into a wall and hope I black out until the press' honeymoon with Obama is over (sometime around 2014, I'm guessing). Have you noticed how many reporters are pledging that they'll treat Obama the same as Bush and will be unafraid to "ask the tough questions?" It's always that exact line. I even heard David Gregory say it, and I honestly can't imagine anything less likely than Gregory treating Obama and Bush the same. I am more likely to win a boxing match with the Jolly Green Giant this Thursday than Gregory to treat Obama the same as Bush next year.

I read an article in the same issue of EW that I was mocking earlier where they explained how Obama being president would make everyone more patriotic, more hip to culture - though comedy will probably take a hit now that there's nothing available to mock (pssst - I can think of something). It also included this remarkable quote, which I will write down verbatim and then move on past without making any commentary.
"'Bad presidents usually mean good music and vice versa,' frets Steve Martin, head of Nasty Little Man, the publicity firm that reps Radiohead and Beck. 'Reagan gave us some of the best indie rock. Nirvana's Nevermind came out during Bush [Sr]. During the Clinton years, though, we got champagne-drenched hip-hop videos, nü-metal, and electroclash. I worry abou the quality of music that may be ushered in by a positive Obama presidency.' Aside form the Dixie Chicks, there can't be a whole lot of happy country artists at the moment, either. After eight years of rocking hte base of the Republican party in power, they're now on the outside looking in. Suddenly they're the counterculture. Maybe that will make for some darker country sounds in years to come.
Speaks for itself, doesn't it?

Okay, I will make one comment: 80's music sucked. The 80's were terrible. Indie rock barely existed in the 80's, everyone was too busy playing their Aha cassettes on their Walkmans. If we have to blame Reagan for something, let's blame him for Bananarama. It happened on his watch, and we all had to deal with it.

As a corollary, I'll point out that a google search for "Barack Obama Zeitgeist" turns up 669,000 results, while "Barack Obama Zeitgest" and "Barack Obama Zeitgiest" both turn up 1.34 million.

I guess that sorta says it all right there.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Six of one...

I just discovered this one: Cute Things Falling Asleep. Oh, it's adorable and then some.

And, on the other hand, it is now economically viable and perfectly legal to send a carton of feces to someone's door.

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The 50 Sexiest Movies Ever

I was at an airport the other day and picked up a copy of Entertainment Weekly at the local Hudson News while I was waiting around. Normally, EW isn't treated as porn, but a slightly more prudish shelf stocker had jammed one of those pieces of cardboard these stores always have in front of the cover, in order to protect the sensitive.

The reason was that EW had a cover story called "The 50 Sexiest Movies Ever," with an image of Kate Winslet and Patrick Wilson sprawled across the bottom (it should be noted that both Winslet and Wilson are, if not fully quite clothed, at least quite clearly not particularly exposed). I attempted to purchase the magazine at the counter and discovered that if I had any curiosity about which employee had felt morally compromised, I need wonder no longer. The woman there clearly felt uncomfortable, not only in me purchasing such a tawdry publication, but being near someone who felt comfortable purchasing this filth. I have never, in however many years of being a consumer, been asked so many times if I wanted a bag, nor had so many customers crane their heads from other corners of the store to see what the to-do was about.

Reading the article, though, proved it to be exactly what I expected: a journalist-lite approach to suggestive subject matter by people who actually have no real desire for titillation. With the rise of gossip journalism and pop culture blogging EW is, if not flailing, than at least stumbling a bit. An issue like this reeks of desperation. And it's also not very good.

I mean, it seems to me it can't be that hard to make a good sexiest movie list if you put your mind to it, right? I wouldn't make one, of course, because I think if you read a sexiest movie list, you wouldn't want to know who made it. It'd be like watching that "Boner Jams '03" video that Paul Rudd makes in The 40-Year Old Virgin. It's just too gross to think about.

Instead, I'm going to go ahead and critique the list that's already made, because EW did a really bad job. It can't be that hard to make a sexiest movies ever list, right? Especially if you're Entertainment Weekly? I mean, you guys cover this stuff, like, every week. That's how you got your name. It's not like you're starting from scratch here.

1. Out Of Sight.
This is one of those picks that would be a great pick if it was, say 13 spots down. If you saw a top-twenty list and Out of Sight was on it, you'd say "oh, yeah, that movie was kinda hot." George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez, and the first commercial Steven Soderbergh movie before the Ocean's movies came out. It's all fun and cleverly constructed, and there's a great meet-cute in the beginning between the leads. All well and good, but it's sort of like naming Karl Malone the greatest basketball player of all time. Sure, he deserves to be on the list, I know, but... c'mon.

2. His Girl Friday.
This is the first of the automatic "old black-and-whites are, by definition, sexy" picks, and it's a terrible first choice. Sure, Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell are great in this flick, but they're almost never together, and when they do talk, it's almost always by phone. Plus, it has those infuriating sequences that old movies love where the leads are talking by phone and the male lead is simultaneously hitting on and ignoring the female lead. The sequences always go like this:

Jimmy, the Intern: Sir, I've got Ms. Spunkson on the phone.
McBrisk: Gimme that here, Jimmy! (into phone) Moxie, about time! You dropped that nobody who's been followin' you around yet?
Moxie: You never change, do you, John? Anyway, grab a pen, I've got a big lead for you.
McBrisk: (covering phone) Jimmy! Bring me some coffee in here! (returns to phone, then looks back up) And a whiskey! (grabbing pen) Alright, doll, what you got?
Moxie: Down at the courthouse, they're all calling this an open-and-shut case, but here's the thing-
McBrisk: (accepting coffee from Jimmy) Sure thing, Moxie, we'll get right on it. (covering phone) Jimmy! Make that a double! (into phone) Still a muckraker through-and-through, eh, sport? Hey, you dumped that ol' hosehound yet?
Moxie: John, this is important! Have Jimmy grab a camera and head to the deli on the corner of Main and -
McBrisk: A deli, huh? Must be a real meaty case! Ha! (covers phone) Jimmy! Get the print shop on the phone! We've gotta stop the presses! (into phone) Got it, Moxie, we're on the case. Say, what you see in that schlub, anyway? He's no good for you!
Moxie: I'm sorry to hear that, John, since we're getting married tomorrow. Now, it's the corner of Main and -
McBrisk: Married! To that so-and-so? You're crazy, kid! (slamming down phone) Jimmy! Grab your camera! We're going to City Hall!
Jimmy: I thought she said a deli.
McBrisk: She did, huh? Silly girl can't get anything straight. Well, we'll work it out on the way. (the phone rings again. McBrisk picks it up and slams it down). All these phones are making my head hurt. Let's get a drink, Jimmy. (they exit)

Just imagine a hour and a half of this and you've got all the sexiness you can handle. How, exactly, did this beat Bogie and Bacall?

All this sexiness is making my head hurt. Let's get a drink, Jimmy.

3. Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
Oh, come on! Come on! Are you kidding me? Really, Entertainment Weekly? Even US Magazine wouldn't put it this high up, and they worship at the altar of the great god Brangelina. You disgust me with your lack of taste. I vomit on your shoes, sir.

Let's skip ahead and just hit the highlights of your crapfest.

6. Don't Look Now
EW, there's one universal rule of Sexiest Movies Ever, and that's never, ever - EVER - put a Nicolas Roeg movie on the list. Definitely not one that you described as a "Venetian creepfest," and/or starring Donald Sutherland. And definitely especially one where there's even the slightest possibility that Donald Sutherland might actually really be getting it on in the movie.

Oh my God, I'm breaking into hives. Please, please, don't think about it. I'm shivering. It's so cold.

11. Once.
Once is a beautiful, lyrical movie about a love and friendship and music and having faith. There's no sex. There's no ribald dialogue. There's not even any kissing. It's just a sweet, quiet indie movie, with a sad, moving score, and you want to lump it in with the gay eroticism of Y Tu Mama Tambien. Why? Just because the two leads ended up dating afterwards, you feel it tinges the whole movie with sexual longing and hidden meanings. You have no class, EW. No class at all.

For shame.

17. Mulholland Drive.
You know what I said about Nicolas Roeg movies? That goes double for David Lynch movies. Lynch and Roeg don't make "sexy" movies. They make movies with sex scenes in them so uncomfortable it actually makes the very act of sex seem only acceptable for perverts. I have talked to people who watched these movies and felt afterwards that they would never be able to have sex, ever, so haunted were they by these movies. It's like the cinematic form of castration, only it sometimes involves baffling sequences with people dressed in rabbit suits.

19. The Notebook.
You don't think this movie belongs here, no sane person would. You just didn't have the guts to anger those 18-24 year olds who feel this movie is a metaphor for their whole life. It says something pretty awful about you when you do a list to shock the reader and spark whispered conversations, and then you don't have the guts to do anything shocking. Nick Sparks wouldn't put this movie here. Hell, Nick Sparks' mom wouldn't put this movie here.

20. Titanic.
So, while you were at it, you also decided to not piss off those 24-28 year-olds who have their own movie that's a metaphor for their whole life. And you put the movie that The Notebook endlessly ripped off one spot lower than it's imitator. Like a slap to the face, EW.

26. The English Patient.
You haven't even seen this, have you? Dull is not the new sexy. You just wanted some more Oscar cred on this list. It's like how the wedding crasher code demands that this movie be your favorite. You don't need to actually see it, you just need to convince people that you have, because that makes you deep. I mean, listen to your explanation:

"It's hard to say whether the doomed affair between Count Laszlo Almasy (Ralph Fiennes at his hottest) and Katharine Clifton (Kristen Scott Thomas, ditto) or the breathtaking cinematography (undulating Moroccan dunes!) is the bigger turn-on!"

Translation: I didn't make it past the credits before the movie got (ahem) turned off.

37. In The Mood For Love.
Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung fantasize about saying horrible things to their cheating spouses. Even the director is baffled that people warm so deeply to this movie, mentioning that people who connect so closely with the film don't seem to have noticed the viciousness of the main characters. I wonder which camp EW falls into. Maybe they couldn't figure out how to turn the subtitles on. Or maybe they just figured they needed another foreign movie on the list.

41. The Bodyguard.
At three movies, you are way, waaaaay over your Kevin Costner limit for any sexiness list.

44. King Kong.
There has never been a film into which people have added so much social commentary than the original King Kong. It's about racism. It's about sexuality. It's about the desire to control nature. It's about our deepest fears.

It's about a giant ape. In the climax, he gets shot. The end. Not sexy.


For future reference, I would be forever grateful if the following people were in no way involved in any future sexiness lists you make: Roeg (do NOT forget that one), Lynch, Donald Sutherland, Anthony Minghella, Jack Nicholson, Charlotte Rampling, and above all, Mickey Rourke. Please.

Thank you for your time.

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Aw, come on, guys.

There's an ad for Notorious that keeps playing that calls its premiere "the biggest movie event of all time." Even in the spirit of Notorious B.I.G., that's outrageous. Somewhere out there, Gone With The Wind is hella pissed.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Golden Globe Live Blog

I've never watched the Golden Globes before, so this is all pretty new to me, but I thought it might be fun to watch my picks go up in flames as the program goes along.

7:02 - The Globes does the nominees for "Best Supporting Actress," and I realize that they don't do film clips during the announcements. Weird, right? They just put a camera extremely close up to the nominee as the presenter talks about them. It's really awkward, especially since they're sitting at a table, so they don't see the camera, and then they turn around, see the camera, and start, and then try to clown around a little bit for it. It's impossibly awkward.

7:04 - Kate Winslet wins for The Reader. I'm one for one and feeling fine.

7:09 - Bruce Springsteen wins for his song for The Wrestler, unsurprising. Bruce looks like he's five years younger than he was the last time I saw him, and I don't really know how he managed it. He's not doing Pilates or eating egg white, y'know. Weird. Bill Simmons had a great bit on Springsteen being the halftime show:
As a lifelong Bruce Springsteen fan, the Super Bowl ads for his performance next month never stop flooring me. Don't they know how the man is wired? He can't bang out three songs without sprinkling one autobiographical story in there, and he certainly can't just go away without returning for an encore, right? (Note to the NFL: After Bruce finishes his set, hog-tie him to one of the uprights or else he's coming back out for three more songs. Just trust me. You don't want Bruce wandering back onto the field with his guitar like Shooter in "Hoosiers" and getting bowled over by a safety.) Look, Bruce might be telling the NFL, "Don't worry, I won't tell a story. I'll just sing my three songs and get out of there." But he won't be able to do it. You watch. We're gonna get a moment like this after the second song.

"Tampa Baaaaaaaay! (Crowd cheers.) Is anyone alive tonight??? (Crowd goes crazy.) Super Bowl Forty-Threeeeeee!!! (Crowd goes crazy as Bruce turns somber.) You know, when I was growing up, the only thing my dad hated more than me was my guitar. (Crowd hushes.) He was always saying, 'Bruce, I wish you never got that danged guitar.' So one day I was playing it in my room, my dad was watching Super Bowl Three between the Jets and … uh … uh … I think it was the Colts. Big man, was it the Colts? (Clarence says, 'Yeah, boss. The Colts.') Well, turns out my dad had a ton of money on the Colts … and they lost. But I didn't care. I was just up in my room strummin' my guitar. Then Dad came upstairs, and I remember asking, "Hey, Pop, who won the game?" And Dad got mad and broke my guitar over my head. He busted me up pretty bad, I needed 589 stitches to close the wound. From then on, I knew I needed to start watching football. And so I did. (Dramatic pause.) This is 'Darlington County.'"

7:16 - Tom Wilkinson wins for "John Adams." How did I miss that Wilkinson was nominated for this award? I think I vaguely looked at the list, saw that Piven was nominated, and said "well, he always wins." As soon as they shot a close-up on Wilkenson waiting for the announcement, I thought "aw, crud, I made the wrong pick."

7:18 - Simon Baker and Eva Longoria-Parker look very relaxed while doing their presentations on the stage, which is rare. Usually everyone just looks excited to get off the stage. It's strange how people so constantly in the limelight are often terrible at being in front of people.

7:19 - Laura Dern wins for "Recount." Hey, I got it right! That one was lucky.

7:26 - Cheadle looks a little nervous but seems to be having fun. Brad Pitt jokes! William H. Macy jokes! Doing this award show as a fake banquet instead of an awkward auditorium setting seems to relax everyone, which is nice - it feels less forced than the Oscars.

7:28 - Zac Efron is less orange than he normally is. Thank goodness. He finally doesn't look ridiculous.

7:29 - Has anyone every described Dr. House as anything but "cantakerous?" It seems like that should just be printed permanently on his character description.

7:29 - Gabriel Byrne won for "In Treatment!" It may be worth considering that "In Treatment" won so many nominations, I might have underestimated it pretty badly. Actually, so might Byrne, who didn't even bother to show up for the award show.

7:31 - Anna Paquin won for "True Blood!" She's pretty awful in that show. Wait, she's really awful in that show, and I adore Paquin. Huh. The Hollywood Foreign Press is hard to predict. And possibly pretty stupid.

7:38 - Ricky Gervais is my all-time favorite presenter. I want him to present every award in every award show I watch. Holocaust jokes! Bearded women jokes! Inner monologue jokes!

7:39 - Every time the Jonas brothers appear at any awards show, the director cuts to a shot of Miley Cyrus. In case you thought you were ever going to break free from that Disney label, Miley, you're not.

7:40 - Wall-E wins, no surprise. That one was no contest. Especially when up against Jack Black and Miley Cyrus. Woo. I'm not even proud of winning this one.

7:43 - Sally Hawkins won for Happy-Go-Lucky! I'm on a roll.

7:46 - Hawkins is weeping her way through this one. It's always nice to see someone who's truly gratified to be honored. Even by the Hollywood Foreign Press.

7:55 - John Adams gets the win for Best Mini-Series. I typed that sentence before the award was even given. I knew I wouldn't have to re-type it.

7:58 - Best Supporting Actor goes to... Heath Ledger. Oh, look, I did it again.

7:58 - Watching the actors respond to the announcement was a weird experience, though. Really weird.

8:00 - Chris Nolan calls Ledger's death "a hole ripped in the future of cinema." I like that. That sounds so right.

8:07 - Waltz With Bashir wins! I think the crowd was expecting I've Loved You So Long to take it since they cheered so loudly for it. Waltz With Bashir is an animated documentary, so you wouldn't expect it to win (but I did!).

8:09 - Is Aaron Eckhart's chin getting bigger? It's scaring the hell out of me.

8:10 - They're going through the nominees, and I'm just waiting for... "and Laura Linney wins for 'John Adams.'" Another safe bet.

8:11 - And I was right.

8:12 - Okay, while Linney's accepting, let's count up. We've gone through 12 categories, so we're about halfway through, and I've gotten... 9 of them. My goal is to do better than 14 in order to beat my best Oscar score, so I'm very close, and I've got a couple slam-dunk wins coming up, so it looks like I'm gonna break my record. I'm feeling good.

8:19 - Seth Rogen is also allowed to present at any awards show I watch. Cocaine jokes in prime time!

8:20 - Slumdog Millionaire gets the win. I have a feeling that this is gonna be the beginning of a landslide of Millionaire wins.

8:22 - Steve Carell should not be allowed to grow beards. That thing is gross.
8:22 - Woah, Tony Shalhoub's beard is even worse.

8:22 - Hey, Alec Baldwin won for Best Comedy Actor! I'm always excited to see my favorite candidate win, even if I didn't pick him. And let's be honest - was there a tougher category than this one? Outside of Kevin Connelly, I think all of the nominees had already won the award once before.

8:31 - And Paul Giamatti wins for "John Adams." Wow, this is easy when there are so many "John Adams" nominees.

8:36 - And "30 Rock" takes the the award for Best Musical or Comedy (you know, all those musical television shows are putting up a fight in this category). By the way, any time Tracy Morgan goes near a microphone on live television, stop what you're doing and pay attention, because that is craziness on par with Janet Jackson's costume malfunction waiting to happen. "I am the face of post-racial America! Deal with it, Cate Blanchett!"

8:44 - They showed a series of clips from Mamma Mia! I still have no idea how that sucker got nominated.

8:45 - And A.R. Rahman wins for Best Score! Glad I changed that one at the last second.

8:46 - Rahman thanks "the billion people from India." I'm sure they're grateful.

8:47 - Looking profoundly unhappy, David Duchovny announces from the stage "even though I didn't win, I'm very happy." Is it possible that Duchovny never looks happy, ever.

8:47 - Christina Applegate looks really healthy again! That's always good to see.

8:48 - And another acting win for Tina Fey! Isn't it bizarre that three years ago, she wasn't even really an actress? And whenever she wins, she always looks surprised to be up there. I like that.

8:53 - Alright, tallying up: Tina Fey won, Rahman won, "30 Rock" won, Giamatti won, Slumdog Millionaire won, and Duchovny lost, so that puts me at 14 out of 18. I'm killing tonight.

9:04 - Steven Spielberg is accepting the Cecil B. DeMille jokes and wisely avoiding "I'm ready for my closeup" jokes. I like watching Spielberg speak because he has an exact sense of his place in history, he's not spending the time acting as if he's falsely modest - he gives credit to the people who've brought him to this point, and never acting as if directing is the world's greatest profession. I wish more directors were like that.

9:12 - I am never going to watch the Globes again. This is the driest and least dramatic award show I've ever seen.

9:14 - We're finally doing Best Director, the only real battle this whole show. Here we go...

9:14 - Danny Boyle! I knew I should've changed my pick. I said I'd regret it.

9:15 - It's interesting to hear what names the actors in the room whoop for - Danny Boyle thanked his agent and everyone cheered wildly. I wouldn't have called that.'

9:19 - Oh my gosh, Colin Farrell won an acting award! Colin Farrell! This is insanity!

9:20 - Farrell announced from the stage "they must have been done the counting in Florida," which is exactly what I was thinking.

9:21 - If Farrell can win an award like this, I really need to see this movie, don't I?
9:22 - Y'know, four years ago, I thought Farrell was a talented actor, except I - like everyone - got blindsided by Alexander, and then, just when I thought it was safe to go back in the water, I saw Miami Vice, which - really - is physically painful to watch. But maybe it's time to let this go, huh?

9:29 - Only Sacha Baron Cohen would dare to do jokes so edgy the crowd actually boos them. I love that.

9:30 - Vicky Christina Barcelona wins Best Comedy! I'm not surprised, really, even though I didn't predict it. I have to admit that I didn't see Barcelona, so I can't really say if this is deserved or not. Anyway, the one thing we can all be proud of is the fact that - thank God - Mamma Mia! didn't win anything.

9:34 - Alright, we've got half an hour to go, and we still haven't covered Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, or Best TV Drama. I bet you they can get 15 minutes of commercials into the next 26 minutes.

9:39 - Kate Winslet wins again! Two straight! So much for not being able to win both awards.

9:40 - Winslet is on the stage and completely, adorably floundering. "I can't believe I'm here - Anne, Meryl, Julia - oh, God, who's the other one? Uh - uh - Angelina!" For as accomplished an actress Winslet is, she always seems so amazed to be winning anything.

9:43 - Rainn Wilson can also present any award at any show I watch. "Hello! We're television actors!"

9:44 - "Mad Men" wins! I'm glad they won something today.

9:51 - Woah, Mickey Rourke ended up pulling out Best Actor! Wow.

9:51 - He's getting a huge ovation in there. People are really excited for this.

9:53 - Darren Oronofsky just jokingly flicked off Mickey Rourke and they couldn't blur it in time! Awesome.

9:54 - Rourke has said "balls" at least seven times since he got up there, and awarded them to everyone except Evan Rachel Wood. Somewhere, a Globes producer is blanching.

9:54 - They're trying to play off Rourke so that they can do another round of commercials before the Best Picture announcement.

9:55 - And they succeed. More Target commercials!

9:58 - Best Picture... Slumdog Millionaire! There it is!

9:59 - I'm so glad I changed my pick.

9:59 - They're gonna run out of time - oh, how amazing would it be if this broadcast just cut off? Aw, c'mon! It'd be amazing!

10:01 - It didn't cut off. Oh, well.

10:02 - Alright, so let's tally up: I fell apart at the end and went from 14 out of 18 to 16 out of 25. Bleah. What a disaster. Still, I hit my goal! This is better than I've ever done on the Oscars.

10:03 - The new goal - to do better at the Oscars this year. 64% is a good number, but I want to do 75% for the Oscars this year. I can do it! We can build on this!


I still want to go undefeated, so:

I'm adjusting my Golden Globe selections, which were Benjamin Button heavy - I now feel that Button has failed to gather any sort of critical momentum, and won't be a major player at the Globes tonight:

Best Picture: I no longer think Slumdog Millionaire is the dark horse. I think it's now the favorite.
Best Score: A.R. Rahman, Slumdog Millionaire instead of Desplat's Benjamin Button score.

And I'm sticking with my Best Director pick of David Fincher, but I'm starting to think that Danny Boyle might be the guy. I'm probably gonna regret not switching, but I think Fincher actually was the best director this year, so I'm not dropping it.

And I thought I had my Best Actress pick locked up, but apparently Pia Zadora ruined it for me.

Also - how come the Golden Globe has "Best Film," "Best Musical or Comedy," "Best Foreign Language Film," "Best Animated Film," "Best Television Comedy," "Best Television Drama," and "Best Mini-Series," but no "Best Documentary?" Seems like an oversight.

Of course, this is the Golden Globes, which isn't a crowd that's really in favor of, um... thinking.

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Spamming has gotten creepier.

Friday, January 09, 2009

"Nobody Knows Anything," Part II

The quote in the title is from famed screenwriter William Goldman (The Princess Bride, Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid), commenting about the process of making movies. His point was that, no matter how scrupulously studio heads read scripts and make decisions, the reality is that everyone is pretty much guessing what movies are going to be huge successes and what ones are going to flop. I can rail against studios for ignoring artsy projects that get picked up by indie studios and turned into hits (a few years ago, all five Best Picture nominees had, at one time, been rejected by the same studio), but it's an impossible gig. No one really knows, for sure, what projects will be huge and what will tank. Having the Wachovski brothers, makers of the Matrix films direct a kid's film starring one of the best young actors out there, based off a very popular cartoon seems like a great idea to me, but Speed Racer was a disaster and bombed at the box office. So I can't point fingers.

The argument is, though, if the same holds true for an NBA draft. Is it really just all potluck? Were the Hawks misguided in choosing Shelden Williams over Brandon Roy? Or just unlucky? Can I really fault them for not picking Chris Paul? Or Tony Parker? Were Priest Lauderdale, and Royal Ivey bad selections - or just bad luck?

We can't know for certain, but a good test would be to see if the opposite is consistently true. If the Hawks are the worst drafting team in the NBA, what's the best drafting team? And has their organization consistently drafted well - or just occasionally gotten luck?

Well, here's the first argument that it's all luck: there aren't that many teams that draft that well in the NBA. A lot of the teams have made it through by filling their rosters through trades and free agency - with the occasional home run. Still, there are teams that have shown consistent foresight in the past ten years: Boston (Paul Pierce, Joe Johnson, Al Jefferson) has shown a real ability to spot top-tier talent in the middle of the first round, but they've also spent much of that time trying to amass mid-round picks, hoping to get lucky, and they've made a few mistakes along the way (Tony Allen over Kevin Martin, for example). Phoenix has also shown a propensity for making strong picks in the first round, whether early (Amar'e Stoudamire #4, Luol Deng #7, Shawn Marion #9) or late (Michael Finley #21, Steve Nash #16, Rajon Rondo #21). No one team, though, has drafted as consistently well in the middle of the first round as the Hornets, even late in the first round. 1996: Kobe Bryant (#13), 1998: Ricky Davis (#21), 1999: Baron Davis (#3), 2000: Jamaal Magloire (#19), 2003: David West (#16), 2004: J.R. Smith (#18), 2005: Chris Paul (#4). Wow.

Other teams have picked well despite never making the draft a priority. San Antonio has shown a propensity to trade their draft pick away at the slightest provocation, and because of their consistent winning ways, tend to pick at the very end of the first round anyway - something like 27th or 28th, usually. Even with this exceedingly large handicap, they've shown that they make every pick count - either finding All-Stars (1999: Manu Ginóbili at #57, 2001: Tony Parker at #29, ) or very solid role players (2002: John Salmons #26, Luis Scola #55, 2003: Leandro Barbosa #28, 2004: Beno Udrih #28). One of reasons the Spurs have remained a solid team, year after year, is that they continue to complement their stars with extremely well-selected draft picks.

Now we have both sides. The teams incapable of making good choices and the teams that never seem to go wrong. And everyone else is hit or miss. So, either:
a. It's all luck and some people get consistently lucky
b. It's not luck and some organizations are just impossibly terrible at it.
c. It's part luck, part skill, and the part that's skill is something the Hawks don't have any of.

I'm going for (c). But the major thing we've uncovered is this - if it's all luck, or mostly luck, then no team could have the sort of string that the Spurs, or the Hornets, or the Suns had - or the Hawks either, for that matter. It's just not possible.

So the people who excuse themselves for bad drafts as "there was no way we could know" are fooling themselves. Good drafting teams draft well - consistently. Bad drafting teams draft poorly - consistently. Luck absolutely plays a part in it, but there's a difference between Len Bias and Darko Miličić.

And unfortunately for the Hawks, there's a difference between Shelden Williams and Brandon Roy.

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Even by my already low standards...

...I still vomit at the thought. A British chip company is releasing a new flavor of crisp that tastes like squirrel.

Alright, I'm a little curious to try a bag.


Thursday, January 08, 2009

"Nobody Knows Anything" - A Study In Desperation in the NBA Draft

I was reading an article the other day where they offhandedly mentioned Andrea Bargnani, and said "it's all very disappointing for a number one pick." And I said "Bargnani was a number one pick?" That was only three years ago, but I'd already forgotten. That's how little impact he's made in his short career. Sad.

Weirder to me is that I'd so completely forgotten about Bargnani's draft position, a footnote in 2006 draft, one of five players selected before Brandon Roy. It seems we forget a lot about draft classes - we remember the strong classes (1999) and forget the weak ones (2000), we remember the truly horrendous picks (Atlanta picking Marvin Williams over Chris Paul, even though Paul - for reasons that escape us even now - wanted to go to the Hawks). But how often do we look back and study the patterns in NBA drafts? Players get traded so quickly and so often in the NBA that we lose who drafted who where, but it's fun to study and see who's been consistently good and who's never really been able to grasp what drafting is all about.

To be fair, sometimes there are regime changes - it's unfair to rail against the current Knicks for the crimes of Isaiah Thomas - but there are always organizations that make a study in futility late every June, regardless of who's in charge. Jets fans know exactly what I'm talking about.

I went back through and studied each draft from 1998 to 2008 for patterns, looking for organizations who had foresight and recognized talent. I graded well for every player selected who became a consistent starter and/or All-Star, and negatively for every player selected in a draft position where a far superior player was selected one to four spots later. Four spots was my limit (I occasionally stretched it to five or six spots if more than one superior player was selected following the pick) because it's only fair to judge teams according to how a player is rated by everyone. It's fair to ridicule the Wizards for drafting colossal bust Kwame Brown with the first overall pick in the 2001 draft instead of Pau Gasol (#3), it's less fair to knock them for missing future All-Stars Tony Parker (#29) and Gilbert Arenas (#31). A lot of other teams missed their chance, too - what's noteworthy is when you have two similarly rated players and you consistently choose the wrong one.

I graded especially harshly on teams that drafted a quality player and dealt him on draft day for a crummy player two spots down and a second round pick. This, I feel takes a special sort of lack of foresight. Occasionally, though, these trades are a steal: Dallas drafted the well-nicknamed Robert "Tractor" Traylor, then traded him for future MVP Dirk Nowitzki and a first rounder later in the draft. Even though the later round pick was Pat Garrity, that's still nice work.

Some of the results surprised me. First of all, for a team as successful as they were from 2000-2004, Detroit did not draft well. There was the obvious misstep: Darko Miličić with the number two pick over Carmelo Anthony (#3), Chris Bosh (#4), and Dwayne Wade (#5) in 2003, Rodney White (#9, who's now playing for Zhejiang Guangsha in China) over Joe Johnson (#10 by Boston, who traded him to Phoenix for Tony Delk, humiliatingly. Curse you, Rick Pitino!) in 2001, and Mateen Cleaves (#14) over Hedo Turkoglu (#16) and Jamaal Magloire (#19) in 2000 (admittedly, that draft class was a complete mess). White and Cleaves are now all out of the league and Miličić averaged 7 points a game for a less-than-stalwart Memphis team last year. On the flip side, with the exception of Turkoglu, all of those players they missed out on are All-Stars or All-NBA players.

On the flip side, some of the results utterly failed to surprise. Tops on that list? The sad and flailing Minnesota Timberwolves are just as bad at drafting as I had guessed. It's too early to judge the 2008 draft, but you've got to figure they've already got to be regretting dealing O.J. Mayo for Kevin Love, right? That's not even their worst pick. They drafted sure-thing Brandon Roy (#6) and - I hate this - traded him for Randy Foye (#7) in a five player trade that just moved flotsam and jetsam around. Who in the world is that excited to get Sebastian Telfair? Even in the worst years of pathetic Celtic ignomy, I never got excited about Sebastian Telfair, especially if it would've meant I would lose Brandon Roy. And I got excited about everyone. Even Tony Delk. And let's not forget 2005's pick of Rashad McCants (#14 - 2008 stats: nine points, two rebounds and an assist per game) over Danny Granger (#17 - 2008 stats: 26 points, five boards, five dimes, and an almost certain All-Star slot). Yeesh.

Before I reveal the worst drafting team of the past ten years, let me just point out a particular draft that's worth remembering: in 2004, the Utah Jazz - never good drafters to begin with - had perhaps the worst draft in NBA history - or in the history of sports in general. They had three first round picks (#14, #16, and #21) and they made just truly outrageously bad picks every time. At #14, they picked Kris Humphries (averaged 3.5 points in two season) and #15 was Al Jefferson (2008 stats: 23 PPG, 11 RPG, 2 blocks). At #16, they picked Kirk Snyder (now playing in China for the Zhejiang Horses), which was immediately followed by Josh Smith (#17), J.R. Smith (#18), and Jameer Nelson (#20). At #21, they picked Podkolzin, Pavel Pavel Podkolzin, and five picks later, Kevin Martin (24 PPG and rising) gets picked. To sum up, in the eight picks between #14 and #21:
a. four stars were selected
b. the Jazz had three of those picks
c. they got none of those stars, nor in fact any usable players. Ouch.

Still, they can take heart because: they are not the Atlanta Hawks. For a team with as young and talented a starting five as Atlanta has - Mike Bibby is 30, Joe Johnson 27, Josh Smith 23, and Al Horford and Marvin Williams are 22 - they've drafted remarkably poorly. Take a look:

In 2006, they drafted Shelden Williams over Brandon Roy. Williams (who has a career total of 4.8 points a game) is now basically only famous for this fact and the fact he's married to Candace Parker. If you're overshadowed by a player from the worst-paying major sports franchise in America, you're in trouble. That's not even the worst of it, though, the worst was taking Williams over Paul: Williams is averaging 14 points, 6 rebounds and one and a half assists per game, whereas Paul is the best point guard in the NBA and in competition to finish up as one of the top five guards of all time.

Plus, there's a consistent pattern of just missing out on the good players. They barely missed on Chris Duhon (#38 and top-six in assists this year) in 2004 for Royal Ivey (#37 with 3.4 points per game in three seasons). It's unsurprising though, since the year before, with the exact same pick, they went with Travis Hansen (lasted half a season before flaming out) over Steve Blake (starting at point for the playoff-bound Blazers) one pick later.

Two years before that, they drafted Pau Gasol with the number three pick and traded him to Memphis for Shareef Abdur-Rahim (admittedly, even now this is a defensible choice). But that wasn't the only problem they had that night. They later drafted Jamaal Tinsley with the 27th pick (who ended up packaged in the Abdur-Rahim trade), missing out on stars Tony Parker (#28, with 21 points and 7 assists a game this year - plus, three championship rings) and Gilbert Arenas (#31 and All-Star starter). Then, with the 34th pick, they selected Terence Morris (now playing for CSKA Moscow in the Russian League), missing out on Mehmet Okur (#38, an All-Star center averaging 17 points and 9 rebounds).

But even that's no bigger than the year before, when they picked Hanno Möttölä (#40, the first Finnish player in the NBA! He lasted two years - Wikipedia doesn't even have his stats and nobody noticed. A sad day for Finland, to say the least) instead of Michael Redd (#43 and a Redeem Team gold medalist).

But that's nothing compared to the year before, when, in possibly the strongest draft class of all time, the Hawks managed to select zero players of any impact. They picked Cal Bowdler (#17, bounced around the Italian leagues for a few years) over James Posey (#18 and one of the best sixth men in the game). They had three picks between 17 and 21 and never picked Andrei Kirilenko (an All-Star and First Team All-Defensive by 2004). Not to mention missing Manu Ginóbili at the end of the round. And the year before that, they did it again! Roshown McLeod over Ricky Davis (alright, fine, I can't blame them either, but McLeod's now an assistant college coach while Davis is still scoring points in bunches).

Struck by this alarming pattern - nine consecutive bad drafts - I decided to keep looking back further. In '97, they picked the disastrous Ed Gray (#22) over Bobby Jackson (#23). In '96, they picked the wonderfully named and minutely talented Priest Lauderdale (#28) over a number of better options. In '95 they pick Alan Henderson (#16) over future All-Stars Theo Ratliff (#18) and Michael Finley (#21). In '94 they didn't even pick 'til #34, when they foolishly selected Gaylon Nickerson over rebounding beast Michael Smith (#35). Nickerson decided to play in the CBA instead of joining the Hawks at all. You really can't blame him.

In '93 they selected a player named Doug Edwards at #15, who'd already been nicknamed "Doughboy" for a) his soft play on the court, and b) his love of Tim Horton's doughnuts (how does this not come up in a scouting report?). Edwards averaged 2.4 points a game for the Hawks, who missed their chance to draft Sam Cassell, Gheorghe Muresan, and Nick Van Exel. In '92, they selected Adam Keefe (#10, a career 5 PPG) over Robert Horry (#11, nicknamed 'Big Shot Rob' for his clutch play on the seven (!) championship teams he's been on).

In '91, they had a vague success in Stacey Augmon (#9), a defensive wiz who averaged a career 8 points a game, but they missed out on All-Stars Terrell Brandon (#11 and once the best point guard in the NBA), Dale Davis (#13), and Chris Gatling (#16). In '90, Rumeal Robinson (#10, a career 7.6 PPG) over All-Star Tyrone Hill (#11 and weirdly, now assistant coach for the Hawks).

Incredibly, we're still going. In '89 they selected Roy Marble with the 23rd pick (he scored a total of 51 points in 24 games in his NBA career) over - you guessed - another future All-Star, Vlade Divac (#26 and now a government advisor to Serbia on humanitarian issues. This guy got traded for Kobe, and if you think that trade's unfair, at least think of how bad Kobe would be as a humanitarian advisor). In '88 they didn't draft until 44th yet failed to notice the dominant streak shooter (Vernon Maxwell, #47) the NBA's all-time best 3-point shooter (Steve Kerr, #50) or - hey! - a future All-Star and All-NBA player (Anthony Mason, #53). Instead, they picked Anthony Taylor, who never made the team and lasted one year, total, in professional basketball.

We have gone back 21 years, covered 19 consecutive bad drafts, and we are still not done. In '87 they picked #20 (the wonderfully named Dallas Comegys, who never made the team), and #21 was future All-Star Reggie Lewis (who had the potential to be a Hall of Famer before his tragic death). In the disastrous '86 draft they took Billy Thompson with the 19th pick, missing All-Stars and All-NBA players Mark Price (#25) and Dennis Rodman (#27). In '85, they used the #5 pick on Jon Koncak, missing All-NBAers Chris Mullin (#7) and Detlef Schrempf (#8), not to mention Hall of Famer Karl Malone (#13). The Hawks mistakenly gave Koncak a giant contract, handcuffing them from being able to be players in free agency for years (Koncak - later nicknamed "Jon Contract" - had a higher salary than Magic or Bird).

And finally, in '84 - widely considered the best class ever drafted - our search draws to a close, as the Hawks selected All-NBA player Kevin Willis with the 11th pick.

So, to sum up: in the 24 years since Willis, the Hawks have not only managed to not draft any worthwhile players, but shown a penchant to colossally misread talent without ever even accidentally getting it right. Now that says something.

What exactly it says is a story for another day. I accidentally hit "Publish" on this a while back, so I've got to stop here and have another crack at it tomorrow, when we'll cover what exactly it looks like when a team drafts intelligently. Such a reality does, apparently, exist.

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Golden Globe Predictions

I got a new computer yesterday, so it seems that I'll finally be able to find a way to put a few posts together. I've missed blogging, but it's always so difficult to find time to post at work, and my computer had passed decrepit and moved into what I can only really call the computer form of incontinence (when you most want it to stay with you, it just goes).

Fortunately, I'm now endowed with bright, shiny new technology, capable of doing important computer-y things. So far I've used it to look at YouTube and send email, and while you can argue I'm not really getting the most out of it, those were both functions beyond the capability of my old computer.

With the Golden Globes coming up this Sunday, I thought I'd make sure to finally put together a post and give you my predictions. The end of the year is the best time to do posts about films, and amidst all the retrospectives and awards-groveling, it's the time of year when we can finally look back on the year and say, "boy, not much really happened, huh?"

For example, looking at the films nominated for Best Picture at the Globes this year, I can make a legitimate case that any of those films could win. How often is that the case? Usually by now there's a clear frontrunner - No Country For Old Men last year, The Departed and Babel the year before, Brokeback Mountain the year before that. Of the five films nominated this year, none of them has even a small jump on the others. And here's the real trick: I don't think either of the two best films of the year were nominated. Take a look:

Best Picture (Drama): The nominees are Slumdog Millionaire, The Reader, Frost/Nixon, Revolutionary Road, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Now, I think moviegoers would agree that The Dark Knight got absolutely robbed in this category, but I also think that the best film this year, bar none, was Milk. These five films are just the best-of-the-rest, though, and it's all guesswork, but I'm gonna go with Benjamin Button, with Millionaire as the wild card. Why? Just a wild hunch. That's all we get this year.

Best Actress (Drama): No big frontrunners this year, either, but logic dictates that things will work out like this (at least, my logic does): Kristen Scott Thomas did the best work this work, but it's all in French, and that weeds out voters fast (especially Globe voters, who, let's just be honest, are a pack of 40-watts). Angelina Jolie was solid but not remarkable, Meryl Streep's here by name rather than performance, and Kate Winslet's going to win Best Supporting Actress for The Reader, so she's out. So that leaves Anne Hathaway, who gets votes because she's finally put together a great performance after a career of middling work combined with flickers of occasional promise. I think she'll definitely take it here.

Best Actor (Drama): Five great nominees this year, there's really not a middling performance in this bunch. While all of these guys here are name actors, none of them are here by name recognition; particularly Mickey Rourke, who's back from the dead to win huge acclaim in this role. I'll rank them like this:
  1. Sean Penn, Milk
  2. Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
  3. Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon
  4. Brad Pitt, Benjamin Button
  5. Leonardo DiCaprio, Revolutionary Road
Best Picture (Musical Or Comedy): Do you know how bad this list is? Mamma Mia! is nominated. I saw it on a plane, and that movie just made me want to tear out my eyeballs. It's - I'm serious here - it's not even a movie. It's just a metaphor for mid-fifties women about how they should feel sexy and young and desirable. It doesn't even pretend that's not what it's doing. Menopause: The Musical had a broader appeal than this movie. I felt physically ill after watching it. Worse, Tropic Thunder is not nominated here, which should be embarassing to the Association, since it once and for all proves they value a sense of propriety over actual quality. So instead, the award'll go to the slightly underwhelming Burn After Reading, just because it's a Coen brothers movie. A better nominee list would've looked like this: Tropic Thunder, Burn After Reading, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Happy-Go-Lucky, and Role Models.

Best Actress (Musical Or Comedy): Meryl Streep is again nominated by name alone, though proper credit should be given to her about being such a sport throughout Mamma Mia! and not, at any point, looking at the camera and saying "this is complete bullshit, isn't it?" I couldn't have managed. She won't win, and if all is right with the world, Sally Hawkins will for Happy-Go-Lucky. Don't count out Emma Thompson, though, since the Association can't be trusted on this front.

Best Actor (Musical Or Comedy): Colin Farrell is, bizarrely, nominated for an award here, along with his co-lead, Brendan Gleeson. Let's discount them both and instead select from the other three. I think Dustin Hoffman takes it here, except that James Franco is nominated here for Pineapple Express and not nominated for a truly stunning turn in Milk, which was gypped across the board in these nominations. Don't discount a sympathy vote.

Supporting Actress: There's two nominees from Doubt, so they'll cancel each other out, but I think the real battle here is between Marissa Tomei and Kate Winslet, who both show their acting chops by getting completely naked. I think that even though it's famously unwise to bet on the five-times Academy snubbed Winslet, I think she takes it here.

Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger. It's not up for discussion. We may one day just call this award "The Ledger."

Best Animated Film: Lessee here, did Pixar come out with a film this year? They did. Have they ever been defeated? They have not. Was the film in question probably the pinnacle of all computer-generated movies? Almost certainly. Is there any point in continuing this paragraph as a series of questions. There is not. Wall-E wins by a landslide.

Foreign Language Film: My gut tells me it's a run-off between I've Loved You So Long and Waltz With Bashir, and I haven't seen either (I actually have't seen any of the nominees). I'm gonna go with Bashir, and I can't say why. I bet that I'm right, though.

Best Director: What David Fincher does not know about directing, I do not wish to learn. Whether or not you thought Benjamin Button was genius or an overlong, wandering tale, there's no question that Fincher combined CGI with good - damn good - performances and gave a fairy tale a surprisingly gritty, realistic twist.

Best Screenplay: I think this has to be the one area that Slumdog Millionaire finally takes home a win. Inventive screenwriting is what wins this category, and Millionaire has that in spades. Once again though, don't discount Benjamin Button.

Best Score: I think that Alexandre Desplat's Benjamin Button score is too good here, but the random Defiance nomination for James Newton Howard's makes me wonder.

Best Original Song: Bruce Springsteen, "The Wrestler." Never, ever - ever - bet against the aging rocker.

Best Show (Drama): "Mad Men" continues it's sweep. No contest.

Best Actress (Drama): It should be January Jones, especially with her "Mad Men" resume, but the experienced name always carries this. It'll be Kyra Sedgewick again.

Best Actor (Drama): I gotta figure John Hamm gets this - he won last year, and there's no reason from the past season to think that he's any less deserving.

Best Show (Comedy): "30 Rock" will always be a critic's darling, and as long as it lasts, it will always win this award.

Best Actress (Comedy): Tina Fey should win again, though Christina Applegate came back from breast cancer this year, and that deserves something.

Best Actor (Comedy): I'd be happy with either Alec Baldwin or Steve Carrell, and I'm worried it might be Tony Shalhoub again (sigh), though I'm figuring instead it'll be a repeat of David Duchovny's win for his very nuanced "Californication" performance.

Best Mini-Series or Made For TV Movie: Hey, "John Adams" is nominated! I wonder who'll win?

Best Actress (Mini-Series): Hey, Laura Linney is nominated for "John Adams!" I wonder who'll win?

Best Actor (Mini-Series): Hey, Paul Giamatti is nominated for "John Adams!" I wonder who'll win?

Supporting Actress: I dunno on this one. Laura Dern was very, very good in Recount, so I'll go with that.

Supporting Actor: Jeremy Piven always wins this, and so he'll win again. I really wish Neil Patrick Harris would win one of these at some point, though.

I guess that about covers it. I'm hoping that my accuracy on this is superior to my Oscar accuracy, and so, with... 25 categories, I'm hoping to get 14. I can do this! We can build on this this!

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