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Credit Where It’s Due: The Golden Globes are not (entirely) Irrelevant

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Credit Where It’s Due:

The Golden Globes are not (entirely) Irrelevant

It is often very easy to discredit the Golden Globes for being one thing or another, or for not being one thing or another. It is not that these are all false: the Hollywood Foreign Press Association are not cinematic or television authorities, and it is often very clear in their choices that their criteria is both highly erratic and highly suspect on most occasions. The 2009 Golden Globes were in part a testament to this particular part of their mystique, with a variety of winners which felt like they were entirely unrelated to the film or television series beside their name.

But we have to admit that there are certain points where this type of crass favouritism can actually intersect with what we as both award show viewers and as appreciators of good film and television considering to be something approaching justice. While I could easily speak to how Slumdog Millioniare’s numerous wins are a result of its international production (Always a big thing with the HFPA, see Babel defeating The Departed), or how Tina Fey’s victory is only the result of her time in the mainstream as Sarah Palin, does this really override the fact that I loved Slumdog Millionaire and that Tina Fey is a comic sensation on 30 Rock?

While the sheer cynicism with which we view the subjectivity of the Golden Globes is not wholly unique within the major awards circuit, I nonetheless feel like it is sometimes overstated in the case of the Globes for the purpose of focusing on those winners that we don’t like while choosing to view good decisions as the exception to the rule. This isn’t going to stop me from attacking the HFPA for being irrelevant with some of their choices, especially as it relates to nominees, but when it comes to the winners I think it’s safe to say that they might have actually paid attention to what they were watching in the past year.

Even if it was, per usual, for the wrong reasons in some instances.

[For a complete LiveBlog rundown of the show, click here!]

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2009 Golden Globes: TV Nominations Analysis

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2009 Golden Globe Awards: TV Nominations

December 11th, 2008

Predicting the Golden Globe awards is, quite literally, a devil’s bargain. While the Movies side is its own monster, the Television nominees are perhaps one of the most difficult to predict in all of awards-dom. Yes, the Emmy Awatds are a broken process, but they at least have a structure that allows for observant parties to analyze. With the Globes, it’s about the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s whim – it’s what they consider hype-worthy, what they wake up one morning obsessed with, and overall what about 100 obscure and oft-maligned international journalists decide people should be watching.

Which makes this more fun than anything: we can’t take it too seriously, so it’s just a fun head shaking exercise. The big question is what big new show they’re focusing their attention on (The answer: HBO’s cult hit True Blood, although not as much as they could have), which returning shows they continue to be obsessed with much to my chagrin (The answer: HBO’s Entourage), and which nominees actually sneak in to be deserving independent of their trend-driven qualities (The answer: Neil Patrick Harris).

Overall, these nominees aren’t bad, but they do little to save the show’s reputation: while often lauded as potential kingmakers for films during Oscar season, they are still content to pretend that liking HBO is still hip and cool. While they were the first to recognize Mad Men, and will good reason, there were some other cable shows this year (Breaking Bad and Sons of Anarchy, in particular) which probably could have snuck in for some attention. Unfortunately, the awards don’t quite work that way, and I guess we can’t expect them to. All we can do is sit back or, if you’re me and obsessive about award shows, delve into each individual category with critical gusto. So, let’s take a look at the madness.

Best Television Series: Drama

Dexter, House, In Treatment, Mad Men, True Blood

This category tells us a few things. First, it tells us that the HFPA are fans of both Dexter’s dark sensibilities and House’s dour but occasionally light-hearted medical mysteries, along with being big fans of the show’s eponymous performances. Second, it tells us that Mad Men is going to be a show that the HFPA continues to like: after winning last year, the show is back in the awards’ marquee category. The other two nominees are no surprise: often one to pass over great seasons of returning dramas (See: Lost) and shows which don’t have the same international appeal as others, it is no surprise that their interest in international connections, HBO series and hip new series would lead them to the low-rated but Israeli-created In Treatment and the buzzworthy vampire lust of True Blood. If there’s one show missing, it’s AMC’s Breaking Bad, but it couldn’t repeat Mad Men’s successful ascension from AMC to the interest of the HFPA (even with Cranston’s Emmy win), plus it aired quite some time ago.

Best Television Series: Comedy

30 Rock, Californication, Entourage, The Office, Weeds

While I am more than slightly annoyed that it is the uneven and kind of boring Californication and not Pushing Daisies that proved to have legs for the HFPA following their freshman frames last year, I’m more annoyed at their continued obsession with HBO’s Entourage. I just don’t see how the show belongs in this category over some other, much better, comedies. This isn’t a new sentiment for me, sure, but it warrants mentioning. I’m glad that The Office and 30 Rock have both stabilized in this category, something that is difficult for a show like The Office being in its fifth year. Similar to Entourage, Weeds is a HFPA favourite, having been the first to recognize Mary-Louise Parker for her role in the series; they’ll apparently nominate it until the cows come home. Missing shows here include any new network sitcoms (The Big Bang Theory) as well as some deserving holdovers (How I Met Your Mother, It’s Always Sunny…)

For all of the acting nominations, click below.

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Mad Men – “A Night to Remember”

“A Night to Remember”

September 14th, 2008

Describing Betty Draper to the representatives from Heineken, Duck Phillips identifies her as “well off and educated.” Now, in the context of the scene, we breeze right by it: they’re selling this pitch, so it’s not like anyone’s going to put on the brakes. However, let’s be frank: to this point, and even after the events of the episode, would anyone really consider Betty Draper to be educated?

This isn’t to say that she is not intelligent, or that she is not capable of achieving great things, but rather that her tragic flaw is her ignorance to the outside world, to the world that she is constantly being surrounded by. When she becomes the punchline of Don’s pitch to Heineken, she isn’t necessarily just reacting to Don’s use of her as a tool: rather, it’s that he knows better than she does what her role is, what demographic she’s in, and what she’s likely to buy when she goes to the grocery store.

But that’s Don’s job, as it is Peggy’s: it’s their job to tell people what they want. It’s just that, as both found out in this episode, you need to know your audience: whether your wife or the Catholic Church, there are certain rules that need to be followed if you’re going to let your role in the ad game dictate the rest of your life decisions. And, as seen with Don, Peggy and Joan, the balance between these two sides of one’s life, in whatever form they take, will eventually get the better of you.

And when that happens, as it did to Betty Draper who doesn’t even have a single role she could really latch onto in her lowest moments, it will serve as…well, you can read the title of the episode, you know where this is going.

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Season Premiere: Mad Men – “For Those Who Think Young”

“For Those Who Think Young”

July 27th, 2008

The breakout success of Mad Men has been a huge surprise – when I started watching the show last summer, it was a cable show from a network that didn’t do such shows. It had the pedigree of Matthew Weiner, and it had some positive kudos from the critics, but what person would have predicted sixteen Emmy nominations, two Golden Globes, and a cultural firestorm so powerful that it even compelled the Canadian networks with the rights to the series to air the second season premiere before the first season has even completed airing?

But the time for kudos, set visits, really fancy DVD sets and excessive hype is over: while last season’s finale seems like ages ago at this point, it’s time to see whether the emotional resonance of “The Wheel” can be rekindled as the show picks up fifteen months later and in a whole different critical context: once a show without expectation, it has become perhaps the most closely watched sophomore session of the year.

And the series is showing its age, to use the opening episode’s central theme: it is a show that allows its characters to feel all of their insecurities in a way that ages them. If we look back to each character’s trajectory, and the series’ central transportation back to another era, a lot of it is about time and the way it changes people: whether it’s Betty Draper looking back to her modeling days or Roger Sterling having an affair with Joan, the voluptuous secretary, it’s all inevitably about returning to a younger self, a younger identity.

As the show begins its second season, it strongly and intelligently hits on this note, framing a story of a Valentine’s Day where “Young” is in and where those feeling time slipping away from them are hoping to hang onto everything they can. With a large ensemble cast and a number of emotional cliffhangers to deal with, the jump forward in time brings new facial hair, new jobs, and new rumours; in the process, it’s a new season of one of television’s finest dramas.

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The Top 12+ Snubs of the Emmy Top 10s

The Top 12 Snubs of the Emmy Top 10s

This post has been delayed a bit after getting captured between my new and old computers, but I think it’s for the best. When the Emmy Nominations are announced in just over a week’s time, more names will be added to this list, but what this list allows us to do is spread out the disappointment. That these contenders won’t even have a chance in front of a panel, though, is its own tragedy, and the more time I had to embrace this fact the more I realized how much this process hurts.

And it’s not that it’s not fair: while it may not always produce results I like, the current Emmy system is perhaps as close to democracy that they could possibly achieve. The reality of popular and patronage-dominated shows performing well at the Emmys will not go away anytime soon, so we should be thankful that there were some pleasant surprises as I discussed last week. But at the same time, we can’t help but feel it: that the people who were snubbed at this end of the process deserve recognition, no matter how they get it.

So, without further delay, and in no particular order, my Top 12 2008 Emmy Snubs…and let’s hope the list doesn’t grow too greatly next week.

1. Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights)

Category: Supporting Actress, Drama Series

What more does she need to do to get noticed? Britton moved herself to the supporting category to avoid juggernauts like Sally Field or Glenn Close, but at the end of the day the category proved to be even more difficult to break into unless you’re heavily featured in a popular show or an award show veteran. She gave a fantastic performance through an uneven season, the constant rock the show could lean on. She makes weak storylines solid and good storylines great, and if that’s not a great supporting actress I don’t know what is.

2. January Jones (Mad Men)

Category: Supporting Actress, Drama Series

January Jones is the victim of her series’ plot – the show’s pilot, the episode most voters would have seen, doesn’t actually feature the character of Betty Draper, revealing her existence only at episode’s end. While someone like John Slattery was able to ride his reputation to a nomination, Jones doesn’t have the name recognition and is unfairly snubbed here. She did some amazing work embodying the 60s housewife, especially in “Shoot,” and that this portrayal won’t be seen by the judges is a disservice to the ensemble nature of the series. While I’m happy for Christina Hendricks, that was Jones’ spot.

3. Chi McBride (Pushing Daisies)

Category: Supporting Actor, Comedy Series

With all three of his primary co-stars breaking into their respective Top 10 lists, forgive me for being upset that my favourite was left off. Not known for his comic work, McBride’s Emerson Cod has been a delight. He’s a knitting private detective, for cripes sake, and he has adapted maybe best of all to the witicisms and whimsy that this world entails (albeit it through cynicism and sarcasm). The shortened season robbed him of a showcase episode (We got hints of a baity fatherhood episode), something that the other actors by comparison had, but that doesn’t mean that the show’s most consistently hilarious character should get snubbed. Here’s hoping the voters smarten up for the show’s second season.

For more snubs including performers from House, Lost and Battlestar Galactica, click on through.

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Mad Men – “Ladies Room”

“Ladies Room”

Season One, Episode Two

One of the complications of using a pilot as a piece of misdirection, in this instance not revealing Don Draper’s wife Betty until the very end of the episode, is that the need for exposition (a necessary evil in a series’ first episode) lingers on.

In that sense, this is Betty’s pilot, a chance to get a view into the life of a housewife in an era of uncertainty and confusion perpetuated by new-age psychiatry and the elusiveness of her own husband. Betty is a woman who just lost her mother and who feels as if she’s missing a side of her husband (or five) that he never shows to her, without knowing that a few of them remain hidden even to his co-workers and his mistress.

With her introduction, the narrative of Mad Men’s female characters comes fully into view, as Peggy’s struggles on the job reflect upon the challenges women faced during the era in a frank and honest perspective. When jumping into this series, you really need to get through the second episode before you can understand where Matthew Weiner is taking us, with a whole new side to the story and continued subtle hints at the stories to come.

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60th Primetime Emmy Awards Preview: Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

The biggest news to emerge from the depths of the Emmy obsessed into mainstream media this year is certainly the news that last year’s winner in this category, Katherine Heigl from Grey’s Anatomy, is not in the running. That itself is a surprise, but it was her reasoning that has sent shockwaves through Hollywood. As she first told TheEnvelope.com’s Tom O’Neill, after GoldDerby reader KellyClarksonFan discovered the omission:

“I am truly grateful for the honor that the Academy bestowed upon me last year. I did not feel that I was given the material this season to warrant an Emmy nomination and in an effort to maintain the integrity of the Academy organization, I withdrew my name from contention. In addition, I did not want to potentially take away an opportunity from an actress who was given such materials.”

Now, the AP amongst others have taken this to its logical location: it’s a clear slap in the face to the show’s writers, and yet another moment where Heigl’s mouth has made more headlines than her acting ability. For the record, I think she’s right on the money in terms of the material she was given, but this is still a bit much. However, I choose to look at the positive side of this: with last year’s (arguably undeserving) winner gone, there’s more room for some of the fantastic candidates in this category.

And there are fantastic candidates: you have multiple candidates who are due for an Emmy win after numerous nominations, a few dark horses who won’t make the Top 10 but deserve recognition, one or two who might slip in based on series hype, and plenty of room for surprises at the top. And with Heigl gone, more of these deserving contenders have a shot.

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