Thursday, December 07, 2006

Kudos season kicks off

Determined to always be the Iowa Caucus of Hollywood's awards season, the National Board of Review has jumped in first and crowned King Eastwood, but not for what you might expect.

The story line earlier this year had perhaps Marty and Clint duking it out with "The Departed" vs. "Flags of Our Fathers." Though Clint did knock out Marty in this first round, it was instead with "Letters from Iwo Jima." (And Scorsese, of course, took home the best director award .. go figure.)

Now, like most of the world, I haven't seen "Letters," but it at least has to be better than "Flags." After this marquee matchup, the awards broke down fairly predictably, and should be a good predictor of things to come.

It's been a little hard to piece together, but as far as I can tell, here are the NBR's top 10 flicks of 2006: "Letters from Iwo Jima," "The Departed," "Blood Diamond," "The Painted Veil," "Flags of Our Fathers," "The History Boys," "Little Miss Sunshine," "Notes on a Scandal," "Devil Wears Prada" and "Babel".

Huzzah to the inclusion of "Babel," which for me is still the best movie I've seen this year, but my list probably would have also included "The Queen," "The Last King of Scotland" "Thank You for Smoking" and definitely Phillip Noyce's "Catch a Fire." However, since I don't get to see all these movies so early, I won't even bother to make a definitive list until I've at least seen Del Toro's "Pan's Labyrinth."

Two definite notable exceptions: Mel Gibson's "Apocalypto," which has been predictably divisive, and "Dreamgirls," which I expect to garner the most Oscar nods unless it somehow just sucks, which I highly doubt will happen.

In the acting categories, the two correctly christened front-runners picked up more steam with victories: Helen Mirren for "The Queen" and Forest Whitaker for "The Last King of Scotland." Both of those performances are still burned on my brain, and will linger for a long time.

Pedro Almodovar's "Volver" won the prize for foreign film, Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" won for doco, and Pixar's "Cars" (boo!) nabbed the prize for animated feature.

Djimon Hounsou of "Blood Diamond" and Catherine O'Hara from "For Your Consideration" were the winners in the supporting acting categories.

I don't believe all that (Rinko Kikuchi from "Babel," for example, should definitely win the supporting actress award), but it's certainly an interesting start to the season.

Spike's got a riot goin' on

In my mind, I'd like to think Spike Lee watched the well-intentioned but simply woeful "Crash" and said "I have to do something to fix this."

It probably didn't go down like that, but no matter, because this is just good news all around. Spike will be directing "L.A. Riots," a drama framed around the racially charged days that followed the aquittal of the men in blue who battered Rodney King. John Ridley, who created "Undercover Brother," will write the script.

Now, that's what I'm talking about. I hope Spike made at least a dinghy's worth of the boatload of cash hauled in by "Inside Man," but this is what we (or at least I) need him to be doing. Even if it's a mess, it certainly won't be boring. Spike's own memories of the uprising (which, let's not forget, killed 55 people), are enlightening.

Though he was in L.A. at the time screening "Malcolm X" for Warner Bros. executives, in this case, he didn't exactly pull a Mookie.

"I went straight to LAX, and my ass was on the red eye," he said.

This just in: He's a dick

In a desperate attempt to latch onto all the good karma generated by Michael Richards' meltdown, "comedian" Andy Dick has apparently joined the idiot fringe.

The Dick apparently jumped onstage during a routine by Ian Bagg at the Improv on Saturday night and used the n-word in an apparent attempt to joke about Richards, the celebrity Web site (which is just milking the n-word angle for much more than its worth) reported.

According to TMZ, Dick had been heckling Bagg from the audience and then joined him onstage, when the two discussed Richards. When Dick exited the stage, he suddenly grabbed the microphone and shouted at the crowd, "You're all a bunch of ..."

He apparently then issued the requisite apology, but that's not what interests me. Much more fascinating have been the dichotomous reactions of two very respected black comedians, Paul Mooney and Dick Gregory.

Mooney, who made a living off throwing the word around everywhere he could as a writer for Richard Pryor and Dave Chappelle, and even moreso in his own comedy routines, has sworn to never use it again. “I am a recovering ‘n’-word-aholic,” he said.

Gregory, on the other hand, has taken a much more interesting angle. Never one to shy away from making people feel uncomfortable, he has said he'll keep using it until it (hopefully) loses all its impact. In a very good Sunday New York Times story, he described how he would start off a recent show in which he would share the stage with Mooney thusly (and mind the language from here on out):

"Calling it ‘the “n” word’ is an insult,” said Mr. Gregory, whose 1964 memoir was titled “Nigger.” “It should be just as much an insult to Jews if they started changing concentration camp to ‘the “c” word’ and swastika to ‘the “s” word.’ You just destroyed history.”

He will not be joining Mr. Mooney’s boycott. “I’m going to walk out on stage,” Mr. Gregory, 75, said, “and hand my book to a white woman in the front and say, ‘Here, madam, take this “Nigger” to bed with you.’ ”

Now, maybe it says something bad about me, but I laughed out loud when I first read that, and I still think it's very funny.

And now that the initial "shock" of all this is over, maybe it will lead to a real discussion about how we all address each other, both face-to-face and behind each other's backs. Or, just as good, a Spike Lee documentary about why one word continues to carry so much power and punch. I'd definitely pay to see that.


Anonymous said...

"Andy Dick has apparently joined the idiot fringe."

What do you mean by "apparently" and "joined?"
He's a charter member.

Anonymous said...

The NBR always leaves something to be desired--and isn't there some controversy over the lack of a "memeber's list" and the fact that they're a non-profit?
Anyway, I've been pretty disappointed with movies this year. The Departed was unnecessary. Volver was trite. Babel was worse than Amores Perros (and I hated Amores Perros). Little Children is the only film I have really connected to this year--and in a way that few other films have captivated me (History of Violence being the first in recent years to come to mind). But, I'm guessing Little Children won't even get a best adapted nom.
Ah well, if I'm pulling for a dark horse this year, its Abigail Breslin for supporting actress in Little Miss Sunshine.

Reel Fanatic said...

We'll just have to agree to disagree on some things, Jeremy ... I loved "The Departed" and "Babel," but haven't gotten the chance to see "Little Children" yet .. but I'm definitely with you on Abigail Breslin and would root loudly for another youngin for best actress, Keke Palmer, who was just great in Akeelah and the Bee (maybe not to win, but definitely as a nominee)

Marina said...

I wasn't all that impressed by the list either but I was a bit surprised to see "Letters" take the lead here. One of the most surprising category wins was Volver. It's a great film but there have been some other good ones this year and, as you mentioned, we still haven't seen "Pan"

Reel Fanatic said...

I liked Volver quite a bit, Marina, but not as much as I expected to ... I'm still waiting for Pan's Labyrinth to blow everything else away

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Anonymous said...

Granted I have never had much respect for the NBR, but I was rather surprised that Dreamgirls didn't make the list. It has had a lot of buzz about it. And I have to admit my list would have been pretty different from theirs (I haven't seen Little Miss Sunshine or The Queen yet, but Thank You For Smoking would definitely had made my list).

Mazur said...

any word on who's staring in the new Spike Lee flick?

If Denzel Washington is in it, then they will have tied Scorsese and DeNiro's streak (they have a long way to go though to catch up with Ford and Wayne, or my personal favorite; John Waters and Divine).

Smurf said...

Thanks for stopping by! Great post! Very interesting and informative! Have a great day! :)

Reel Fanatic said...

This could change of course, Mazur, but right now he says he doesn't want to have any big stars in this one ... that would seem to rule out Denzel, and would make sense since this will definitely be an ensemble drama rather than a star vehicle

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