Category Archives: Award Shows

Snubpocrisy: The 2010 Oscar Nominations as Disappointing and Not Disappointing Enough

Snubpocrisy: The 2010 Oscar Nominations

February 2nd, 2010

There are times in this life when I realize that I can be quite cynical, which I know flies in the face of everything that Conan O’Brien instructed me to do during his final episode of the Tonight Show. However, it’s not something that can be cured overnight, and during Awards season it’s hard to resist that cynicism when it is just so damn apt.

But with the Oscars this year (whose nominees were announced this morning, and can be found here), we have pretty much the definitive litmus test. It’s the first year (in a long, long time at least) with 10 Best Picture nominees, which means that the favourite films of a large swath of viewers have made it to the dance, so to speak. You’ve got your blockbusters like Avatar, your breakout hits like The Blind Side, your art house selections like A Serious Man and An Education, and even your animated selection in Up. Combine with your intelligent science fiction like District 9 and your prestige pictures like The Hurt Locker, Up in the Air, Precious and Inglourious Basterds, and you have something for everyone.

And it makes me sick.

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A Sales Spectacular: The Honest Quest for “Buzz” at the 2010 Grammys

When the Jay Leno Show was first pitched by NBC, they claimed that it would be so topical that people wouldn’t dare tape it on their DVRs out of fear of missing something important. This was, of course, a complete lie, as the show was irrelevant from the moment it was conceived, but it raised the point that in this age there is this enigma surrounding that singular program that is so current that it must be watched live to be truly experienced.

And so we turn to last night’s Grammy Awards, the yearly spectacle where music’s biggest stars come together to celebrate their achievements. And while all awards shows are looking for ways to appeal to audiences (with flashy hosts, big production numbers, etc.), the Grammys are built for it: at the end of the day, the show is one giant concert, and in the process becomes part spectacle, part promotional tool, and part awards show (that part, frankly, is secondary).

I wonder, though, whether the show is actually DVR-proof. Let’s take, for example, Pink’s performance of “Glitter in the Air,” which in many ways stole the show for live viewers (I missed the first hour, but when I checked in with my parents it was the first thing I heard about). In the performance, she dangles from a white sheet from the ceiling, in Cirque de Soleil style, spinning and twirling while rarely missing a step in her vocal performance. She drew a standing ovation from the audience, and while I wasn’t as surprised as many (having read about this part of her Funhouse Tour in [gasp] a print magazine a few months ago), it was admittedly quite impressive when I reviewed it, on DVR, when the show ended.

Or when I viewed it, as you can now, on YouTube.

In other words, it stayed DVR-proof for about thirty minutes, at which point anyone could access it: if this is really what all the watercoolers will be buzzing about tomorrow, then YouTube has made live viewing more or less irrelevant. In the end, the Grammys are probably fine with this: combined with other performances (like Lady Gaga’s opening duet with Elton John), an online presence will create the impression that viewers won’t want to miss next year’s Grammys so that they can be one of the “first” to discover such performances (unless of course they’re on the West Coast, where clips hit YouTube before the tape delayed show even aired). And perhaps some might be bummed that they had previous knowledge of the performance before experiencing it, and would have liked to have been one of those on the front lines, going to Twitter or Facebook and throwing in a “Holy crap” or some other variation.

The Grammys are not, like the Oscars, self-important: they know that they exist to drum up sales and interest in a struggling industry, and they know that in this day and age what’s more important is engaging with an audience than actually rewarding the best music. And while I’m going to use this TV-driven analysis to justify some music-driven stuff below the jump, it’s important to note that for the Grammys the evening was a success regardless of who won or lost, and I think the way the show is designed (and how it is received by audiences) is a reflection of this. Sure, some complain about CBS using the show as a springboard for their own shows (L.L. Cool J, Chris O’Donnell, Kaley Cuoco, etc.), but considering the show itself is one big promotional tool, it fit right in for me.

And now, some stray observations about the awards themselves – I can’t help myself.

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Hope You Didn’t Take It Seriously (Ricky Didn’t): The 2010 Golden Globe Awards

Hope You Didn’t Take It Seriously (Ricky Didn’t):

The 2010 Golden Globe Awards

January 17th, 2010

I said going into the 67th Annual Golden Globes Awards that I was more excited than ever to watch the show but the least “interested” in the actual awards that I’ve ever been. And that made for an interesting viewing experience as what I was excited for most disappointed me, with Ricky Gervais’ hosting gig becoming a muddled mess from the moment he started.

However, while I’ll get into that below the jump, what’s interesting is how liberating it was to have no emotional connection with the winners: admittedly, I’m usually one of those cynical objective types when it comes to these awards, so I’m not going to be legitimately outraged, but not having been “following” the nominees in detail made the show a lot more fun. It helped me see the show more for what it is, an entertaining amalgamation of what’s popular, whats trendy, and what’s been successful with audiences. And while you could argue the show at times feels like the People’s Choice Awards and other times feels like a Hollywood roast of those who have been around the business forever, it’s never boring.

And although I thought we could have gotten a far better show out of what was on the table, I have to say that I enjoyed watching it. And let’s face it: that’s all the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is really going for.

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Team Gervais: Disinterested Predictions for the 2010 Golden Globes

I don’t think I have ever been more excited to watch the Golden Globes (Tonight at 8pm on NBC), and yet at the same time I don’t think I’ve ever been so disassociated from the actual nominees.

This likely sounds strange, but it’s true: while I have been reading about the Oscar race to some degree this year, for the most part it hasn’t caught my attention as it has in years past, and I’m not sure if I could tell you without referring to a list just who is up for one of those rather unattractive trophies this year. While I should never actually take the Golden Globes seriously, especially on the television side where they simultaneously fetishize the new and combine the supporting categories together without any semblance of logic, I usually pay more attention than I have this year.

I think the reason for this is that I don’t need to justify watching them based on some sort of hyper-critical assessment of the nominees. Instead, I can simply tell people that I desire to see Ricky Gervais stand in front of a ballroom filled with drunk or almost-drunk celebrities (or celebrities whose sobriety makes them stand out) and ridicule them for three hours. And if anyone actually questions whether that is worth their television viewing time, then I would tend to believe they are even crazier than the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

However, since I’m going to be watching the show anyways, I figured I should at least remind myself who is nominated, and since I was doing that anyways I figured I should make some predictions on the television side (along with some less-detailed predictions on the film side). So, after the break, we play the fun game of “Guess what the Hollywood Foreign Press Association will do this year!”

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Network Selfishness, the Super Bowl, and the Bizarro Emmys

When watching last night’s Survivor finale, hearing Jeff Probst announce that the next installment of Survivor (Heroes vs. Villains) was going to begin on February 11th made me extremely happy. It’s not that February 11th is my birthday, or a day that means anything to me, but rather that I knew it wasn’t the day of the Super Bowl, which meant that CBS wasn’t making the mistake of placing a venerable, and safe, franchise in the most coveted timeslot of the year.

But when I came online after Survivor, my elation turned to confusion, as CBS announced that the post-Super Bowl slot would be going to a new reality series called Undercover Boss. And while some part of me is pleased that CBS is becoming the first network in over a decade to put a new show after the big game, the content of me show makes me immediately skeptical. Launching a show via the Super Bowl has often pushed dramas and comedies into creating some really eventful television, and often those shows (like, say, Grey’s Anatomy) have built on that event in order to help establish their identity. However, pulling the pilot of a reality series that’s been done since the summer and placing it into the slot is not the same process, nor is Undercover Boss (a series about executives at major companies taking an entry-level position at said companies) a show that is ever going to evolve into something different than what its already completed season order has established.

And so I’m left lamenting that CBS has chosen a series which is designed to boost their reputation and their ratings rather than the show itself, although I shouldn’t entirely be surprised at this behaviour considering that network hubris is also the source of a rather ludicrous story emerging surrounding what I’m dubbing the “Bizarro Emmys.”

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Equal Treatment: SAG delivers Disappointing TV Nominations

The other day, I tore into the Golden Globes for being star fetishists, arguing that their choices reflect a clear lack of interest in actually honouring the best in television (when Entourage is your default, there is something very wrong). However, I think sometimes we pick on the Golden Globes so much that we forget that other award shows which actually have some shred of credibility are just as capable of proving disappointing.

And so I feel I need to provide equal treatment, and criticize the Screen Actors’ Guild for a bizarre set of nominations (click the link to read if you want to know all of the context for the below rant) which seem to indicate that they’re not actually watching television at the moment. While the rut SAG has fallen into is less egregious than that of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, its relative credibility makes its shame a definite disappointment during this end of year awards season.

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2009 Golden Globe Nominations: The Hollywood Fetishist Press Association

The Golden Globes nominations are out (Check out the TV specific list here, or the full list here), and provided you have no expectation of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association being logical in their selections they’re about what you would expect. So, in other words, they’re kind of ridiculous.

For the most part, the nominations are driven by four separate impulses, all of which are almost like fetishes that the HFPA (who are mysterious and generally not very reputable) refuses to give up year after year. Their desire, at the end of the day, is to create nominees that bring in audiences and that provide them a false sense of credibility: after all, if every A-list Hollywood star who happened to be in a movie this year gets nominated, who dares to question what the Golden Globes aren’t connected with popular culture?

Of course, when it comes to both film television there’s much more involved than popular culture, so let’s take a look at the three main impulses of the HFPA (on the TV side, at least), and then after the jump offer a bit more analysis.

The “Star” Fetish

If you’ve been on a hit show before, your chances of being nominated skyrocket. Julianna Margulies, nominated for the Good Wife, spent years on E.R. Courtney Cox, nominated for Cougar Town, was on a little show called Friends. Edie Falco, nominated for Nurse Jackie, was on another little show called The Sopranos. These aren’t always undeserving nominees (I don’t entirely disprove of any of these candidates, although Cox is not even close to the best thing about Cougar Town), but they are always there as much for their previous fame as they are for their current role.

The “New” Fetish

The HFPA wants nothing more than to be relevant, but their idea of relevancy is fetishizing the new. Yes, Glee fit into the show’s love for musicals (which, after all, kind of have their own category in the film awards), but it was also something new and shiny, which gets Lea Michele, Matthew Morrison, and Jane Lynch nominations. And Modern Family, without a single other nomination on the board, sneaks into Best Comedy Series – I’d say it’s because you just can’t separate anyone from the ensemble, but frankly it’s just because the Globes only value it for its newness.

The “HBO” Fetish

When in doubt, you can presume that a HFPA member has turned their television to HBO: the network’s pedigreed garnered a host of nominations which in some ways fly against the previous lenses, both positive (Big Love grabs three noms for series, Bill Paxton and Chloe Sevigny, Hung grabs acting nods for Thomas Jane and Jane Adams) and negative (Entourage picks up a best series not over Hung, Nurse Jackie, United States of Tara, Anna Paquin gets nominated over Katey Sagal, etc.). It’s like HBO is their default, which isn’t always a terrible thing (I really liked Hung) but does feel like a leftover impulse from the Sopranos era considering the breadth of great drama/comedy on other cable channels (Sons of Anarchy, Breaking Bad).

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Casting the Nominees: AFI and the Golden Globes

When the American Film Institute delivered their list of the Top 10 Television Series of 2009, with critics Maureen Ryan, Brian Lowry and Matt Roush on the jury with CCH Pounder and David Milch, you start to realize that any sort of representative Top 10 is about casting a diverse group of shows which offer an objective spectrum of the television world.

The result, if we look down AFI’s list, is choices which may be more representative than they are substantive, more recognizable than entirely creatively successful. And, accordingly, we could “label” each show as filling a particular niche, if not necessarily filling it as well as another show in our personal opinions.

  • “The Big Bang Theory [Newly minted “hit”]
  • “Big Love [Transcendent Season]
  • “Friday Night Lights [New business model]
  • “Glee [New series]
  • “Mad Men [Unquestionable Quality]
  • “Modern Family [New series]
  • “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency [Int’l Co-production]
  • “Nurse Jackie [Dramedy]
  • “Party Down [Underground sensation]
  • “True Blood” [Fan Favourite]

You could replace a show like Big Love with Breaking Bad, or a show like Party Down with Better Off Ted, or Modern Family with Community, or Nurse Jackie with United States of Tara, and the list would ostensibly be the same. And in some ways, when you have the huge range of great television available at the moment, this is all that a small jury can do: use their own subjective analysis to craft a list objective in its diversity, trying to capture the trends and the series which helped define the year in television. We’d all swap out a few shows here or there (as the discussion on Twitter decided, Parks and Recreation is the big name that deserves to be here), but I don’t think anyone can argue the list is a failure (especially considering the fantastic mention of Starz’s Party Down).

However, when the Golden Globes casts its nominations tomorrow morning in the television field, its choices are far more indiscernible, its criteria limited to whatever happens to strike the fancy of the mysterious Hollywood Foreign Press Association. And in most cases that is “the new,” those shows which are new and hip and tapping into the cultural zeitgeist. Combined with the existence of “Comedy and Musical” categories, Glee seems like a sure bet to break through into this year’s awards, but with such a wide range of new shows it’s hard to know which will happen to match the Globes’ casting call.

I like analyzing the Emmys because you understand the nomination process, and can delve into individual performances in predicting who might grab a nomination. However, with the Globe, there is so little logic involved that all you can do is have no expectation of quality and be glad that you live in a time zone where the awards are nominated at a decent time (or, at least that’s what I do). Daniel Fienberg at HitFix has more patience with the awards than I do, and has a detailed analysis of every category, but I just can’t bring myself to predict the unpredictable.

I can, however, bring myself to watch the nominations at 5:30 pacific (that’s 8:30 eastern, and 9:30 for me) tomorrow morning to see just what those crazy folks at the HFPA are up to this year, especially since the show itself is a must watch with Ricky Gervais hosting.

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The 2009 Golden Globes LiveBlog

globes

Open Bar. Slavish appreciation of celebrity and the cult therein. The Golden Globes are not about who wins, really, but that doesn’t mean that I would ever miss an opportunity to complain about it. Watch as I discuss the television awards with a false sense of authority, write about the movie awards with an even more false sense of authority, and gossip about celebrities with the exact amount of zero authority almost all internet commentators have on the subject.

I am not live-blogging the pre-show per se, but I have been writing some tweets, so follow me on Twitter for more fun on that front. But, really, we’re here for the judgments of the Hollywood Foreign Press – those guys are crazy.

7:49pm: First word of warning – time might jump forward an hour, I’m adjusting Atlantic Time to Eastern Time for your benefit and might occasionally screw up. Time for the pre-awards ten minutes of pre-show blogging.

7:54pm: Basics of the pre-show – NBC mindbogglingly combining people in a line so that they could get through more people, resulting in some enormously random combinations. Only real moment of any interest was Mark Wahlberg quite hilariously calling Jeremy Piven out on his mercury levels, and then Piven getting gravely serious about it, resulting in a lot of awkwardness. Otherwise, no drama of note, and I won’t attempt discuss anything related to fashion.

7:56pm: Okay, I lied – Kate Winslet looks really, really good. That is all.

7:58pm: Brooke Burke and Tiki Barber aren’t allowed to have opinions, silly Nancy O’Dell – that’s not why they’re there!

8:00pm: And here we go – wait, the Jonas Brothers are there? Oy vey.

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Emmys Add Reality TV Host Category; Seacrest Ecstatic

When it comes to Reality Competition programs and the Emmy Awards, it has been a clean sweep: The Amazing Race just refuses to lose the award. Whether it is its sweeping vistas, its willingness to let people fall apart without contrivances or twists, or the killer fatigue that the race’s events and pace take on the racers, the show just seems to click with Emmy voters on a variety of levels. However, now we get to answer a bigger question: does it also have the best host?

Zap2it: Reality Hosts Get Emmy Category

Much loved by fans of the series, TAR’s host Phil Keoghan is certainly not a household name and outside of providing voiceover narration and end of leg banter he really doesn’t do so much in terms of traditional hosting. While I am a fan of his work (No host’s eyebrows work as well as his in conveying surprise or emotion), he in no way drives the show forward. This is a category built for the people who are in command of a series, whose work makes or breaks the structure of an episode. On this parameter, it is a host like Ryan Seacrest that has the most to gain.

Regardless of one’s opinion of Idol, you have to admit that Seacrest is good at his job: while he was an absolute bomb of an Emmy host largely thanks to downright awful material (He’s not a comedian), the much more spontaneous format of American Idol suits him. Whether it’s arguing with Simon or speaking to the contestants, there is an ease about him that helps Idol flow – I’m not sure if he deserves all of the hype, per se, but below that hype I know there’s a good host there.

Seacrest’s competition for the award is limited, although fairly diverse considering. I don’t know if Keoghan’s understated performances will be capable of getting him into the fold, but the show’s success could carry him there amongst more showy MCs of sorts such as Ty Pennington for Extreme Makeover: Home Edition or Tom Bergeron, who is really quite good when it comes to the improvisational nature of his job on Dancing with the Stars. Tyra Banks and Heidi Klum each have a particularly limited yet vital role to their shows, but I don’t know if they can lay claim to it the same way that someone like Jeff Probst does, who has done great work leading tribal councils and torturing people during challenges for 16 seasons now. I’d say he’s Seacrest’s biggest competition, no question.

However, this all begs a rather important question that Seacrest needs to think about: will his own potential success not absolutely without question guarantee that his show will never win the Emmy?

I think it does.

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