too early to start crowing avatar?

I’m in the process finally of making my top 20 movies for 2009. I’ll have it finalized in the next two days or so.

Today’s links:

gunning for the upset

gunning for the upset

The coronation ceremony for Avatar as Oscar’s best picture may have been a bit premature. It hasn’t added a major award since the Golden Globes in January, losing to Inglourious Basterds at the SAG awards, then losing to The Hurt Locker at the BAFTAs last night and to Hurt Locker at the Writers Guild Awards. It also lost out to Hurt Locker at the Critics Choice Awards. This could mean absolutely nothing — but it could mean people are loving the movie as a movie, but not as a work of art the way most Oscar-winning movies are considered. Rolling Stone movie critic Peter Travers brought up something interesting in his Oscar preview: Academy voters are being asked for the first time to rank their favorite movies of the year, from 1 to 10. Before now, it was always just “vote for your favorite movie.” In one sense, this could hurt Avatar because if any movie is going to see a backlash, it’s that one. People are sick of hearing about it. So that could push some people to tank it fifth or sixth, but there won’t be many people pushing The Hurt Locker to any lower than third. Same for Inglourious Basterds. On the other hand, this could also help Avatar because it’s undoubtedly the only movie every member of the Academy saw. With more than 6,000 members, you can’t convince me that even half of them took the time to watch An Education.

Maybe Hollywood suits know what they’re doing after all. Shutter Island originally had been scheduled for an Oct. 2 release to go directly up against Couples Retreat in what would have been the two most markedly different battle of islands in box office history. That weekend had been occupied by The Departed in 2006, so it seemed like the perfect date for a Scorsese movie to put it in prime position for Oscar season. Someone must have come to the grim realization that, “Umm, this isn’t an Oscar movie” and it got shifted to an open February date where people are looking for anything that might be even remotely good. Bonanza! $40 million, the best opening ever for both Scorsese and Leo DiCaprio.

Because I’m one of the people who heard The Fratellis a couple years ago and immediately asked, “I wonder if they took their name from The Goonies?” (they did), it gives me great joy to know the movie lives on today and that people plan pilgrimiges to see the original Goondox. Who didn’t want to be a Goonie growing up? It’s the ultimate movie for an 11-year-old boy then and now and the Truffle Shuffle remains a seminal moment in pre-pubescent movie comedy.

A couple weeks ago I said I didn’t think there were be any TV show pick-up announcements for at least a couple weeks because of the Olympics. But I didn’t say there wouldn’t be cancellation announcements, and we have the first big ax job of the winter season, Past Life. Never saw it because I read so much bad stuff about it, but it had one of the worst names in a while because I kept referring to it as Half Life. When your show hasn’t debuted and you’ve already got people wondering where to find it because they can’t remember its name, that’s a problem.

i finally know how frank grimes felt

i finally know how frank grimes felt

If Past Life was disappointing, then the complete opposite has been this 10-episode season of Men of a Certain Age on TNT. I was inches away from giving up on it after about three episodes, but I’m glad I stuck with it. Ray Romano, Andre Braugher and Scott Bakula have developed a pretty good chemistry together and without that, I wouldn’t be interested in their lives in the slightest. In fact, I’d probably hate them. The fact that I am interested in their lives is testament to the show’s power although I’m still thinking of them in their more familiar roles (Ray, Pembleton and Sam Beckett). It’s a fun Monday night diversion that I won’t miss for a second after tonight’s season finale until it comes back next year. I’m still trying to figure out the details of these guys, though, and it hinders my enjoyment of the show every week. Aren’t they college buddies? I’m not sure if it was implied or said straight out, but I’m pretty sure they went to Syracuse. So how did they all end up in the same small SoCal town? Owen seems to be the only one from that town, with his dad having a long-established car dealership there. So one night during a 20-inch snowstorm they’re all sitting around the off-campus house wondering what to do after graduation and Joe and Terry got sick of snow and said, “Your stories of this magical town have intrigued us. Sure, we’ll come back with you and make our lives there!” Weird. And for the crappy car salesman he’s made out to be, Owen sure seems to have the life! He lives in a palace, his wife doesn’t work, he’s got three kids and needs to sleep with complicated medical equipment to help him breathe — but he’s the second-worst car salesman at his store. I watch him and I think of when Frank Grimes came into the Simpson household (which somehow doesn’t have video available).

You have to feel for someone who walks through any airport in America and has people screaming at him, “Hey BONER!!!” Or that people walk up to you and say, “Can we get our picture taken with you, Boner?” You’re just doomed for the rest of your life, and I seriously doubt anyone thought of that when the writers made up his name. I seriously doubt anyone calls him Richard Millhouse Stabone — although I probably would. Is there any doubt that the only way he gets back in the news is by going missing? A DUI wouldn’t even have registered. Hopefully everything turns out OK and Andrew Koening ends up being found.

Of all the young actors whose careers were launched because of the American Pie movies, only two have generated soem kind of long-standing success. So why, then, would the one with the most success — Seann William Scott — want to go back to doing the American Pie movies? Can he pre-emptively fire his agent? Like, now?

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