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Archive for January, 2006

O Glorious Day!

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Tomorrow is one of my most very favoritest days of the year. Tomorrow is a day I hold as holiday as much as I do all those consumerist gift-giving ones. A day when I jump out of bed joyfully, eager to see what surprises the day will bring.

That’s right, friends. It’s Oscar Nomination Day.

In preparation for the big day, I’m rolling out my predictions for who’s gonna get nominated for what. These predictions are based only on what I’ve read about most of the movies, since I’ve seen so few of them, and my incredibly insightful analysis of Academy voting trends. And these aren’t necessasrily the peeps and flicks I think should be nominated, only who I think will be — big diff.

I’m not telling you yet who I think will win. For that, you’ll have to wait until a couple of days before the awards ceremony.

So hold onto your underpants… here we go:

Best Picture.

Brokeback Mountain; Capote; Crash; Good Night, and Good Luck; Walk the Line

Best Actor.

Russell Crowe, Cinderella Man; Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Capote; Terrence Howard, Hustle and Flow; Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain; Joaquin Phoenix,Walk the Line

Best Actress.

Joan Allen, The Upside of Anger; Judi Dench, Mrs. Henderson Presents; Felicity Huffman, Transamerica; Charlize Theron, North Country; Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line

Best Supporting Actor.

Don Cheadle, Crash; George Clooney, Syriana; Matt Dillon, Crash; Paul Giamatti, Cinderella Man; Jake Gyllenhaal, Brokeback Mountain

Best Supporting Actress.

Amy Adams, Junebug; Catherine Keener, Capote; Frances McDormand, North Country; Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardener; Michelle Williams, Brokeback Mountain

Best Director.

George Clooney, Good Night, and Good Luck; David Cronenberg, A History of Violence; Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain; Fernando Meirelles, The Constant Gardner; Steven Spielberg, Munich

Best Original Screenplay.

Crash; Good Night, and Good Luck; Syriana; The 40-Year Old Virgin; The Squid and the Whale

Best Adapted Screenplay.

Brokeback Mountain; Capote; Cinderella Man; A History of Violence; Munich

Check back tomorrow, both to see how far off I was (stand ready with the mocking) and for analysis of the nominations and the inevitable snubs!

Written by Allen

January 30th, 2006 at 11:04 pm

Posted in Movies,Pop Culture

Day of Corporate Munging, Take Two: Disney Buys Pixar

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Back on December 27th, I got to talking about Disney and Pixar and the rumors that The Mouse was going to buy Pixar outright rather than simply renewing their soon-to-expire distribution deal. I had some qualms, I said:

I might be less concerned if they installed John Lasseter as Almighty Inscrutable Pixar Overlord and left them alone, but I have trouble imaginging Disney buying a new toy and not wanting to play with it.

Well, the deal’s done — Pixar is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company. Steve Jobs just made himself somewhere north of $3 billion (yes, that’s billion) and finds himself the single largest shareholder in Disney (which could mean some interesting corporate synergy ‘twixt Disney and Apple, I’d imagine).

But the most important part of the buyout?

John Lasseter, the highly respected creative director at Pixar who had previously worked for Disney, will rejoin the House of Mouse as chief creative officer for the company’s combined animated studios and will also help oversee the design for new attractions at Disney theme parks.

I swear to ${god}, that sentence almost made me cry when I read it.

Not only does installing Lasseter as CCO help insure that Pixar will get to keep on keepin’ on as they have been, it also might mean a rebirth of traditional 2-D animation from Disney. Lasseter has said he’s a fan of old-school animation — might we get to see Disney return to producing new hand-drawn animated features? It doesn’t seem like it would make much sense to have two separate computer animation facilities, especially when one would so clearly outclass the other. Former CEO Michael Eisner was the oatmeal-brained idiot who decided Disney should get out of the cel-animation business; now that he’s gone and Lasseter’s in charge, maybe Lasseter can reverse that decision.

I’m sure his buddy Brad Bird wouldn’t mind. I know I sure wouldn’t.

Written by Allen

January 24th, 2006 at 10:57 pm

Posted in Movies

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Link: Yahoo! Maps Beta

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Seen the new Yahoo! Maps? Much more Google Maps-like, but with some nice twists: I like the real-time traffic updates and the navigation box in the top right showing a larger-scale view of the area you’re looking at. Even more impressive is the ability to click on a particular step of directions from one place to another and see that segment highlighted on the map — very handy. It doesn’t have the satellite views that Google Maps does, but what it does do it does pretty damn well.

Written by Allen

January 24th, 2006 at 4:29 pm

Posted in Web

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WB and UPN: Goodbye and Good Riddance

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Effective this fall, Warner Bros. and CBS are munging the WB and UPN together into one new network, to be called CW. (Yeah, makes me think “country-western,” too, but hey, they didn’t ask me for my opinion.) The best shows of each network (such as Smallville, Gilmore Girls, Veronica Mars, Everybody Hates Chris) will all wind up on CW.

I’m personally a big fan of this development for a couple of reasons. One, those two networks were something of a waste on their own, especially the terminally-wretched UPN.[1] Neither youth-skewing network ever really took off, though the WB did far, far better than UPN. Combining the networks will, as Brian said when I told him about the merger, “take the decent 25% of shows on one and the decent 25% of shows on the other and make one network with 50% decent programming.” And that’s going to put it right about on par with the four major broadcast networks — and probably a better rate than NBC.

Secondly, it means I’ll actually get Gilmore Girls and Smallville at the times they’re actually shown. As it stands right now, Providence doesn’t have a WB station at all — and we have two UPN stations. Apparently we used to have one of each, but shortly before we moved here, the WB station switched over to UPN… and the other station stuck with UPN, too. One of them shows the more popular WB shows at bizarre times after they’re done with all of the shitty UPN programming. (So will both of those stations show CW programming this fall? I wonder.)

This new network might have a chance at doing what both UPN and the WB wanted to accomplish but neither could on their own: become a legitimate fifth major network.

[1] UPN does get some props, however, for picking up Buffy the Vampire Slayer after the WB let it go. Without that move, we wouldn’t have the musical episode “Once More, With Feeling,” one of the most entertaining hours of TV ever.

Written by Allen

January 24th, 2006 at 4:19 pm

Posted in Pop Culture,TV

More Kilts, Fewer Robes

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OK, maybe everyone else who’s read the Harry Potter books caught on to this fact before me, maybe I should have noticed this or thought about it more or what-have-you — Terry says she knew this somehow, but isn’t sure how or why she knows it. But I hadn’t realized that Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is located in Scotland.

Makes sense, of course, especially when you see the mountainous landscape as represented in the movies; that’s certainly not the gentle rolling hills I have in my head as making up most of England. And that train ride from King’s Cross Station to Hogsmeade sure does take a while. It had just never occured to me and kind of threw me for a bit of a conceptual loop when I saw a reference earlier today to “Hogsmeade, Scotland.”

Sort of like when I first read that Metropolis is supposedly is in Delaware. I mean, c’mon… that’s almost as bizarre as saying that Paragon City, the setting of City of Heroes, is in Rhode Island. That’s just ludicrous, right? Right?

Written by Allen

January 24th, 2006 at 12:11 am