Any Given Sunday (1999, directed by Oliver Stone)


With Any Given Sunday, Oliver Stone set out to make the ultimate football movie and he succeeded.

Any Given Sunday is not just the story of aging coach Tony D’Amato (Al Pacino).  It’s also the story of how third-string quarterback Willie Beamon (Jamie Foxx) allows celebrity to go to his head while the injured starter, Cap Rooney (Dennis Quaid), deals with his own mortality and how, at 38, he is now over-the-hill.  It’s also about how the team doctors (represented by James Woods and Matthew Modine) are complicit in pushing the players beyond their limits and how the owners (Cameron Diaz) view those players as a commodity to be traded and toyed with.  It’s about how the Sharks represent their home city of Miami and how cynical columnists (John C. McGinley plays a character that is obviously meant to be Jim Rome) deliberately set out to inflame the anger of the team’s fans.  It’s about how politicians (Clifton Davis plays Miami’s mayor and asks everyone to “give me some love”) use professional sports to further their own corrupt careers while the often immature men who play the game are elevated into role models by the press.  It’s a film that compares football players to ancient gladiators while also showing how the game has become big business.  In typical Oliver Stone fashion, it tries to take on every aspect of football while also saying something about America as well.

In the role on Tony D, Pacino famously describes football as being “a game of inches” but you wouldn’t always know it from the way that Oliver Stone directs Any Given Sunday.  As a director, Stone has never been one to only gain an inch when he could instead grab an entire mile.  (Stone is probably the type of Madden player who attempts to have his quarterback go back and throw a hail mary on every single play.)  Tony tells his players to be methodical but Stone directs in a fashion that is sloppy, self-indulgent, and always entertaining to watch.  One minute, Al Pacino and Jim Brown are talking about how much the game has changed and the next minute, LL Cool J is doing cocaine off of a groupie’s breast while images of turn-of-the-century football players flash on the screen.  No sooner has Jamie Foxx delivered an impassioned speech about the lack of black coaches in the league then he’s suddenly starring in his own music video and singing about how “Steamin’ Willie Beamon” leaves all the ladies “creamin’.”  (It rhymes, that’s the important thing.)  When Tony invites Willie over to his house, scenes of Charlton Heston in Ben-Hur are on TV.  Later in the movie, Heston shows up as the Commissioner and says, about Cameron Diaz, “she would eat her young.”

Any Given Sunday is Oliver Stone at both his best and his worst.  The script is overwritten and overstuffed with every possible sports cliché  but the football scenes are some of the most exciting that have ever been filmed.  Only Oliver Stone could get away with both opening the film with a quote from Vince Lombardi and then having a player literally lose an eye during the big game.  Stone himself appears in the commentator’s both, saying, “I think he may have hurt his eye,” while the doctor’s in the end zone scoop up the the torn out eyeball and put it into a plastic bag.  Only Stone could get away with Jamie Foxx vomiting on the field during every game and then making amazing plays while a combination of rap, heavy metal, and techno roars in the background.  Stone regulars like James Woods and John C. McGinely make valuable appearances and while Woods may be playing a villain, he’s the only person in the film willing to call out the coaches, the players, the owners, and the fans at home as being a bunch of hypocrites.  Stone’s direction is as hyper-kinetic as always but he still has no fear of stopping the action so that Foxx can see sepia-toned images of football’s past staring at him from the stands.  Stone directs like defensive lineman on steroids, barreling his way through every obstacle to take down his target.  No matter what, the game goes on.

Any Given Sunday is the ultimate football movie and more fun than the last ten super bowls combined.

The Art Directors Guild Honors Parasite and Once Upon A Time In Hollywood


The Art Directors Guild have announced their picks for the best of 2019!

And here they are:

NOMINEES FOR EXCELLENCE IN PRODUCTION DESIGN FOR FILM

PERIOD FILM
Ford v Ferrari, Production Designer: François Audouy
The Irishman, Production Designer: Bob Shaw
Jojo Rabbit, Production Designer: Ra Vincent
Joker, Production Designer: Mark Friedberg
1917, Production Designer: Dennis Gassner
WINNER – Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, Production Designer: Barbara Ling

FANTASY FILM
Ad Astra, Production Designer: Kevin Thompson
Aladdin, Production Designer: Gemma Jackson
WINNER – Avengers: Endgame, Production Designer: Charles Wood
Dumbo, Production Designer: Rick Heinrichs
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, Production Designer: Patrick Tatopoulos
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Production Designers: Rick Carter, Kevin Jenkins

CONTEMPORARY FILM 
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Production Designer: Jade Healy
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, Production Designer: Kevin Kavanaugh
Knives Out, Production Designer: David Crank
WINNER – Parasite, Production Designer: Lee Ha-Jun
Us, Production Designer: Ruth De Jong

ANIMATED FILM
Abominable, Production Designer: Max Boas
Frozen II, Production Designer: Michael Giaimo
How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, Production Designer: Pierre-Olivier Vincent
The Lion King, Production Designer: James Chinlund
WINNER – Toy Story 4, Production Designer: Bob Pauley

NOMINEES FOR EXCELLENCE IN PRODUCTION DESIGN FOR TELEVISION

ONE-HOUR PERIOD OR FANTASY SINGLE-CAMERA SERIES
A Series of Unfortunate Events: “Penultimate Peril: Part 1,” Production Designer: Bo Welch
The Crown: “Aberfan,” Production Designer: Martin Childs
Game of Thrones: “The Bells,” Production Designer: Deborah Riley
The Mandalorian: “Chapter One,” Production Designer: Andrew L. Jones
WINNER – The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: “Ep. 305, Ep. 308,” Production Designer: Bill Groom

ONE-HOUR CONTEMPORARY SINGLE-CAMERA SERIES
Big Little Lies: “What Have They Done?” “The Bad Mother,” “I Want to Know,” Production Designer: John Paino
The Boys: “The Female of the Species,” Production Designer: Dave Blass
Euphoria: “The Trials and Tribulations of Trying to Pee While Depressed,” “And Salt the Earth Behind You,” Production Designer: Kay Lee
The Handmaid’s Tale: “Mayday,” Production Designer: Elizabeth Williams
WINNER – The Umbrella Academy: “We Only See Each Other at Weddings and  Funerals,” Production Designer: Mark Worthington

TELEVISION MOVIE OR LIMITED SERIES
Black Mirror: “Striking Vipers,” Production Designer: Anne Beauchamp
Catch-22, Production Designer: David Gropman
WINNER – Chernobyl, Production Designer: Luke Hull
Deadwood: The Movie, Production Designer: Maria Caso
Fosse/Verdon, Production Designer: Alex DiGerlando

HALF HOUR SINGLE-CAMERA SERIES
Barry: “ronny/lily,” Production Designer: Tyler B. Robinson
Fleabag: “Ep. 5,” Production Designer: Jonathan Paul Green
GLOW: “Up, Up, Up,” Production Designer: Todd Fjelsted
The Good Place: “Employee of the Bearimy,” “Help Is Other People,” Production Designer: Ian Phillips
WINNER – Russian Doll: “Nothing in This World is Easy,” Production Designer: Michael Bricker

MULTI-CAMERA SERIES
WINNER – The Big Bang Theory: “The Stockholm Syndrome,” “The Conference
Valuation,” “The Propagation Proposition,”
 Production Designer: John Shaffner

The Cool Kids: “Vegas, Baby!,” Production Designer: Stephan Olson
Family Reunion: “Remember Black Elvis?,” Production Designer: Aiyanna Trotter
No Good Nick: “The Italian Job,” Production Designer: Kristan Andrews
Will & Grace: “Family, Trip,” “The Things We Do for Love,” “Conscious
Coupling,”
 Production Designer: Glenda Rovello

SHORT FORMAT: WEB SERIES, MUSIC VIDEO OR COMMERCIAL
Apple: “It’s Tough Out There,” Production Designer: Quito Cooksey
Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus, Lana Del Rey: “Don’t Call Me Angel,” Production Designer: Emma Fairley
WINNER – MedMen: “The New Normal,” Production Designer: James Chinlund
Portal for Facebook: “A Very Muppet Portal Launch,” Production Designer: Alex DiGerlando
Taylor Swift: “Lover,” Production Designer: Kurt Gefke

VARIETY, REALITY OR EVENT SPECIAL
WINNER – Drunk History: “Are You Afraid of the Drunk?,” Production Designer: Monica Sotto
91st Oscars, Production Designer: David Korins
Rent: Live, Production Designer: Jason Sherwood
Saturday Night Live: “1764 Emma Stone,” “1762 Sandra Oh,” “1760 John  Mulaney,” Production Designers: Keith Raywood, Akira Yoshimura, Joe DeTullio,  Eugene Lee
Taylor Swift Reputation Stadium Tour, Production Designers: Tamlyn Wright, Baz Halpin

Ghosts of Sundance Past #5: Marjorie Prime (dir by Michael Almereyda)


In the year 2050, a woman (Lois Smith) sits in the living room of her beautiful house.  Through the windows, we can see that she has a view of an even more beautiful beach.  In fact, the beach is nearly too pristine.  So is the house.  Somehow, everything about the location feels both inviting and fake at the same time.  We find ourselves wondering what could possibly be lurking underneath the surface.

The woman is 85 years old.  Her name is Marjorie.  She’s talking to a very handsome and charming man named Walter (Jon Hamm).  As they talk, it becomes obvious that Walter and Marjorie are married.  Walter mentions that he proposed to her after they saw the movie My Best Friend’s Wedding.  Marjorie doesn’t remember ever seeing a movie by that name and when Walter explains the plot to her, Marjorie simply smiles and nods along.  Afterwards, she says that she wishes they had gotten married after seeing Casablanca.  She wants a better memory than the one they have.

We can’t help but notice that Walter appears to be quite a bit younger than Marjorie, despite Marjorie saying that Walter was considerably older than her when they first got married.  This is because the Walter to whom she is speaking is not the real Walter.  The real Walter died years ago.  Walter Prime is a hologram, a computer program designed to give Marjorie someone to speak to.  Marjorie is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.  When she first got Walter Prime, she specifically decided that she wanted to spend her days with the young Walter, as opposed to the old man that he became.  Sometimes, she knows that Walter is just a program and other times, she thinks that he’s real.

Living with Marjorie is her daughter, Tess (Geena Davis) and Tess’s husband, Jon (Tim Robbins).  Tess finds the hologram of her father to be somewhat creepy and she wonders why her mother treats the hologram better than she treats her own daughter.  Jon, on the other hand, feels that the hologram is just what Marjorie needs.

Time passes.  Marjorie grows closer to the hologram while Tess grows angrier and angrier over her mother’s condition.  When Tess discovers that Marjorie has been reading a bible, she has a meltdown because her mother has apparently forgotten that she was always a militant atheist.  Jon tries to keep everyone calm.  Is Jon trying to the inevitable better for everyone or is he just trying to distract himself from the pain that’s all around him?

The hologram and Jon have a meeting.  The hologram says that, even though Jon and Tess have programmed him to act, think, and talk just like the original Walter, there are still things that he hasn’t been properly programmed for.  While filling Walter Prime in on some more of Marjorie and Walter’s past, Jon reveals the family tragedy that has haunted the family for years….

Marjorie Prime is not a particularly happy movie.  It takes place over the course of several decades and we follow Marjorie, Jon, Tess, and Walter through a great deal of changes.  The only thing the remains consistent is that everyone is eventually left with only half-remembered fragments of their past.  Some of those fragments are happy and others are full of regret.  Everyone ages except for the holograms but, as becomes apparent in one particularly heart-breaking scene, a hologram is only as good as the person programming it.  A hologram can be programmed to superficially act like someone but it can never actually be that person.  As much as Jon, Tess, and Marjorie attempt to recreate the past, it can’t be done because the past can never truly be relived.

Marjorie Prime is science fiction without CGI.  It’s a film that’s designed to make you think and it succeeds.  It would also probably be unbearably depressing if not for the skills of the cast.  Lois Smith is heart-breaking and sympathetic as Marjorie while Jon Hamm does a good job of showing why Walter Prime would be so attractive in theory and so frustrating in reality.  (Walter Prime can be programmed to act like he cares but he can’t truly do it.)  Geena Davis gives an intelligent and thoughtful performance as Tess, capturing both her anger and regret and the film even makes good use of Tim Robbins’s tendency towards to smarminess.

Marjorie Prime, which was acclaimed when it premiered at Sundance in 2017, is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

Fast 9 – The Fast Saga revs things up with a trailer.


When it comes to the Fast and Furious franchise, Tokyo Drift is my favorite, followed closely by Fast Five. I thought the franchise should have ended at 7 with the death of Paul Walker, but the show went on with The Fate of the Furious. They managed to close off all of the loops between the earlier movies, After a bit of a spat between Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson, Johnson branched off with his character Luke Hobbs and Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw on their own film, Hobbs & Shaw. 

Not to be left behind, we now have the ninth entry in the franchise. F9 reunites director Justin Lin with Vin Diesel, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Michelle Rodriguez, and Nathalie Emmanuel. John Cena (Bumblebee) plays the villain this time around, as a thief with personal ties to Dominic Toretto.  With this trailer, we see a few very familiar faces, including Tokyo Drift’s Lucas Black and Sung Kang. How Kang’s character Han is still alive, I don’t know, but we’ll find out this May when the film releases.

Enjoy.

The Writers Guild Honors Parasite


Last night, the Writers Guild of America honored their picks for the best screenplays of 2019.  It was a very good night for Parasite.

Here are the winners:

SCREENPLAY NOMINEES

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

1917, Written by Sam Mendes & Krysty Wilson-Cairns; Universal Pictures

Booksmart, Written by Emily Halpern & Sarah Haskins and Susanna Fogel and Katie Silberman; United Artists Releasing

Knives Out, Written by Rian Johnson; Lionsgate

Marriage Story, Written by Noah Baumbach; Netflix

WINNER – Parasite, Screenplay by Bong Joon Ho and Han Jin Won, Story by Bong Joon Ho; Neon

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Written by Micah Fitzerman-Blue & Noah Harpster, Inspired by the Article “Can You Say…Hero?” by Tom Junod; TriStar Pictures

The Irishman, Screenplay by Steven Zaillian, Based upon the Book I Heard You Paint Houses by Charles Brandt; Netflix

WINNER – Jojo Rabbit, Screenplay by Taika Waititi, Based on the book Caging Skies by Christine Leunens; Fox Searchlight

Joker, Written by Todd Phillips & Scott Silver, Based on Characters from DC Comics; Warner Bros. Pictures

Little Women, Screenplay by Greta Gerwig, Based on the Novel by Louisa May Alcott; Sony Pictures

DOCUMENTARY SCREENPLAY

Citizen K, Written by Alex Gibney; Greenwich Entertainment

Foster, Written by Mark Jonathan Harris; HBO Documentary Films

WINNER – The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley, Written by Alex Gibney; HBO Documentary Films

Joseph Pulitzer: Voice of the People, Written by Robert Seidman & Oren Rudavsky; First Run Features

The Kingmaker, Written by Lauren Greenfield; Showtime Documentary Films

TELEVISION, NEW MEDIA, AND NEWS NOMINEES

DRAMA SERIES

The Crown, Written by James Graham, David Hancock, Peter Morgan; Netflix

The Handmaid’s Tale, Written by Marissa Jo Cerar, Yahlin Chang, Nina Fiore, Dorothy Fortenberry, Jacey Heldrich, John Herrera, Lynn Renee Maxcy, Bruce Miller, Kira Snyder, Eric Tuchman; Hulu

Mindhunter, Written by Pamela Cederquist, Joshua Donen, Marcus Gardley, Shaun Grant, Liz Hannah, Phillip Howze, Jason Johnson, Doug Jung, Colin J. Louro, Alex Metcalf, Courtenay Miles, Dominic Orlando, Joe Penhall, Ruby Rae Spiegel; Netflix

WINNER – Succession, Written by Jesse Armstrong, Alice Birch, Jon Brown, Jonathan Glatzer, Cord Jefferson, Mary Laws, Lucy Prebble, Georgia Pritchett, Tony Roche, Gary Shteyngart, Susan Soon He Stanton, Will Tracy; HBO

Watchmen, Written by Lila Byock, Nick Cuse, Christal Henry, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Cord Jefferson, Jeff Jensen, Claire Kiechel, Damon Lindelof, Janine Nabers, Stacy Osei-Kuffour, Tom Spezialy, Carly Wray; HBO

COMEDY SERIES

WINNER – Barry, Written by Alec Berg, Duffy Boudreau, Bill Hader, Emily Heller, Jason Kim, Taofik Kolade, Elizabeth Sarnoff; HBO

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Written by Kate Fodor, Noah Gardenswartz, Daniel Goldfarb, Alison Leiby, Daniel Palladino, Sono Patel, Amy Sherman-Palladino, Jordan Temple; Prime Video

PEN15, Written by Jeff Chan, Maya Erskine, Anna Konkle, Gabe Liedman, Stacy Osei-Kuffour, Andrew Rhymer, Jessica Watson, Sam Zvibleman; Hulu

Russian Doll, Written by Jocelyn Bioh, Flora Birnbaum, Cirocco Dunlap, Leslye Headland, Natasha Lyonne, Amy Poehler, Tami Sagher, Allison Silverman; Netflix

Veep, Written by Gabrielle Allan-Greenberg, Rachel Axler, Emilia Barrosse, Ted Cohen, Jennifer Crittenden, Alex Gregory, Steve Hely, Peter Huyck, Erik Kenward, Billy Kimball, David Mandel, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Dan Mintz, Lew Morton, Dan O’Keefe, Georgia Pritchett, Leila Strachan; HBO

NEW SERIES

Dead To Me, Written by Rebecca Addelman, Njeri Brown, Liz Feldman, Kelly Hutchinson, Anthony King, Emma Rathbone, Kate Robin, Abe Sylvia; Netflix

PEN15, Written by Jeff Chan, Maya Erskine, Anna Konkle, Gabe Liedman, Stacy Osei-Kuffour, Andrew Rhymer, Jessica Watson, Sam Zvibleman; Hulu

Russian Doll, Written by Jocelyn Bioh, Flora Birnbaum, Cirocco Dunlap, Leslye Headland, Natasha Lyonne, Amy Poehler, Tami Sagher, Allison Silverman; Netflix

WINNER – Watchmen, Written by Lila Byock, Nick Cuse, Christal Henry, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Cord Jefferson, Jeff Jensen, Claire Kiechel, Damon Lindelof, Janine Nabers, Stacy Osei-Kuffour, Tom Spezialy, Carly Wray; HBO

What We Do in the Shadows, Written by Jesse Armstrong, Sam Bain, Jemaine Clement, Josh Lieb, Iain Morris, Stefani Robinson, Duncan Sarkies, Marika Sawyer, Tom Scharpling, Paul Simms,Taika Waititi; FX Networks

ORIGINAL LONG FORM

WINNER – Chernobyl, Written by Craig Mazin; HBO

The Terror: Infamy, Written by Max Borenstein, Alessandra DiMona, Shannon Goss, Steven Hanna, Naomi Iizuka, Benjamin Klein, Danielle Roderick, Tony Tost, Alexander Woo; AMC

Togo, Written by Tom Flynn; Disney+

True Detective, Written by Alessandra DiMona, Graham Gordy, Gabriel Hobson, David Milch, Nic Pizzolatto; HBO

ADAPTED LONG FORM

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, Written by Vince Gilligan; Netflix

WINNER – Fosse/Verdon, Written by Debora Cahn, Joel Fields, Ike Holter, Thomas Kail, Steven Levenson, Charlotte Stoudt, Tracey Scott Wilson, Based on the book Fosse by Sam Wasson; FX Networks

The Loudest Voice, Written by John Harrington Bland, Laura Eason, Tom McCarthy, Alex Metcalf, Gabriel Sherman, Jennifer Stahl, Based on the Book The Loudest Voice in the Room and the New York Magazine Articles by Gabriel Sherman; Showtime

Unbelievable, Written by Michael Chabon, Susannah Grant, Becky Mode, Jennifer Schuur, Ayelet Waldman, Based on the Pro Publica & The Marshall Project article “An Unbelievable Story of Rape” and This American Life radio episode “Anatomy of Doubt;” Netflix

ORIGINAL SHORT FORM NEW MEDIA

After Forever, Written by Michael Slade & Kevin Spirtas; Prime Video

WINNER – Special, Written by Ryan O’Connell; Netflix

ANIMATION

“Bed, Bob & Beyond” (Bob’s Burgers), Written by Kelvin Yu; Fox

“The Gene Mile” (Bob’s Burgers), Written by Steven Davis; Fox

“Go Big or Go Homer” (The Simpsons), Written by John Frink; Fox

“A Horse Walks Into A Rehab” (BoJack Horseman), Written by Elijah Aron; Netflix

“Livin’ La Pura Vida” (The Simpsons), Written by Brian Kelley; Fox

WINNER – “Thanksgiving of Horror” (The Simpsons), Written by Dan Vebber; Fox

EPISODIC DRAMA

“407 Proxy Authentication Required” (Mr. Robot), Written by Sam Esmail; USA Network

“A Good Man is Hard to Find” (Ray Donovan), Written by Joshua Marston; Showtime

“Mirror Mirror” (The OA), Written by Dominic Orlando & Claire Kiechel; Netflix

“Moondust” (The Crown), Written by Peter Morgan; Netflix

“Our Little Island Girl” (This Is Us), Written by Eboni Freeman; NBC

WINNER – “Tern Haven” (Succession), Written by Will Tracy; HBO

EPISODIC COMEDY

“Here’s Where We Get Off” (Orange Is the New Black), Written by Jenji Kohan; Netflix

“It’s Comedy or Cabbage” (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), Written by Amy Sherman-Palladino; Prime Video

“Nice Knowing You” (Living With Yourself), Written by Timothy Greenberg; Netflix

WINNER – “Pilot” (Dead to Me), Written by Liz Feldman; Netflix

“The Stinker Thinker” (On Becoming a God in Central Florida), Written by Robert F. Funke & Matt Lutsky; Showtime

“Veep” (Veep), Written by David Mandel; HBO

COMEDY/VARIETY TALK SERIES

Conan, Head Writer: Matt O’Brien Writers: Jose Arroyo, Glenn Boozan, Daniel Cronin, Andres du Bouchet, Jessie Gaskell, Brian Kiley, Laurie Kilmartin, Todd Levin, Levi MacDougall, Conan O’Brien, Andy Richter, Frank Smiley, Mike Sweeney; TBS

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, Head Writer: Melinda Taub Writing Supervised by: Joe Grossman, Nicole Silverberg Writers: Samantha Bee, Kristen Bartlett, Pat Cassels, Sean Crespo, Mike Drucker, Mathan Erhardt, Miles Kahn, Sahar Rizvi, Special Material by: Allison Silverman; TBS

WINNER – Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Senior Writers: Dan Gurewitch, Jeff Maurer, Jill Twiss, Juli Weiner Writers: Tim Carvell, Daniel O’Brien, John Oliver, Owen Parsons, Charlie Redd, Joanna Rothkopf, Ben Silva, Seena Vali; HBO

Late Night with Seth Meyers, Head writer: Alex Baze Supervising Writers: Sal Gentile, Seth Reiss, Writers: Jermaine Affonso, Karen Chee, Bryan Donaldson, Matt Goldich, Dina Gusovsky, Jenny Hagel, Allison Hord, Mike Karnell, John Lutz, Seth Meyers, Ian Morgan, Amber Ruffin, Mike Scollins, Mike Shoemaker, Ben Warheit; NBC Universal

The Late Late Show with James Corden, Head Writers: Lauren Greenberg, Ian Karmel Writers: Demi Adejuyigbe, James Corden, Rob Crabbe, Lawrence Dai, Nate Fernald, Caroline Goldfarb, Olivia Harewood, David Javerbaum, John Kennedy, Kayleigh Lamb, James Longman, Jared Moskowitz, CeCe Pleasants, Tim Siedell, Benjamin Stout, Tom Thriveni, Louis Waymouth, Ben Winston; CBS

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Head Writers: Jay Katsir, Opus Moreschi Writers: Michael Brumm, River Clegg, Aaron Cohen, Stephen Colbert, Paul Dinello, Ariel Dumas, Glenn Eichler, Django Gold, Gabe Gronli, Greg Iwinski, Barry Julien, Daniel Kibblesmith, Eliana Kwartler, Matt Lappin, Asher Perlman, Tom Purcell, Kate Sidley, Jen Spyra, Brian Stack, John Thibodeaux; CBS

COMEDY/VARIETY SPECIALS

Desi Lydic: Abroad, Written by Devin Delliquanti, Lauren Sarver Means; Comedy Central

WINNER – Full Frontal with Samantha Bee Presents: Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner Part 2, Head Writer Melinda Taub, Writing Supervised by Joe Grossman, Nicole Silverberg, Writers Samantha Bee, Kristen Bartlett, Pat Cassels, Sean Crespo, Mike Drucker, Mathan Erhardt, Lewis Friedman, Miles Kahn, Sahar Rizvi, Special Material by Allison Silverman; TBS

The Late Late Show Carpool Karaoke Primetime Special 2019, Head Writers Lauren Greenberg, Ian Karmel, Writers Demi Adejuyigbe, James Corden, Rob Crabbe, Lawrence Dai, Nate Fernald, Caroline Goldfarb, John Kennedy, James Longman, Jared Moskowitz, CeCe Pleasants, Tim Siedell, Benjamin D. Stout, Tom Thriveni, Louis Waymouth, Ben Winston; CBS

Ramy Youssef: Feelings, Written by Ramy Youssef; HBO

COMEDY/VARIETY SKETCH SERIES

At Home with Amy Sedaris, Writers: Cole Escola, Amy Sedaris, Allison Silverman; truTV

WINNER – I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson, Writers: Jeremy Beiler, Zach Kanin, Tim Robinson, John Solomon; Netflix

Saturday Night Live, Head Writers: Michael Che, Colin Jost, Kent Sublette Supervising Writers: Anna Drezen, Fran Gillespie, Sudi Green, Streeter Seidell Senior Writer: Bryan Tucker Weekend Update Head Writer: Pete Schultz Writers: James Anderson, Neal Brennan, Andrew Briedis, Dan Bulla, Megan Callahan, Steven Castillo, Emma Clark, Andrew Dismukes, Alison Gates, Tim Herlihy, Steve Higgins, Sam Jay, Erik Kenward, Steve Koren, Rob Klein, Michael Koman, Dan Licata, Alan Linic, Eli Coyote Mandel, Dave McCary, Dennis McNicholas, Lorne Michaels, John Mulaney, Josh Patten, Jasmine Pierce, Katie Rich, Simon Rich, Gary Richardson, Marika Sawyer, Robert Smigel, Mark Steinbach, Will Stephen, Julio Torres, Bowen Yang; NBC Universal

QUIZ AND AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION

Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?, Head Writer Bret Calvert, Writers Seth Harrington, Rosemarie DiSalvo; Nickelodeon

Hollywood Game Night, Head Writers Ann Slichter, Grant Taylor, Writers Michael Agbabian, Marshall Davis, Allie Kokesh, Dwight D. Smith; NBC

Jeopardy!, Writers Matthew Caruso, John Duarte, Harry Friedman, Mark Gaberman, Debbie Griffin, Michele Loud, Robert McClenaghan, Jim Rhine, Steve D. Tamerius, Billy Wisse; ABC

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, Head Writer Stephen Melcher, Writers Kyle Beakley, Patricia A. Cotter, Ryan Hopak, Gary Lucy, James Rowley, Ann Slichter; Disney/ABC Syndication

DAYTIME DRAMA

Days of Our Lives, Writers: Lorraine Broderick, Ron Carlivati, Joanna Cohen, Carolyn Culliton, Richard Culliton, Rick Draughon, Dave Kreizman, Rebecca McCarty, Ryan Quan, Dave Ryan, Katie Schock, Betsy Snyder; NBC Universal

General Hospital, Head Writers: Shelly Altman, Christopher Van Etten, Dan O’Connor Associate Head Writer: Anna T. Cascio Writers: Barbara Bloom, Suzanne Flynn, Charlotte Gibson, Lucky Gold, Kate Hall, Elizabeth Korte, Donny Sheldon, Scott Sickles; ABC

WINNER – The Young and the Restless, Writers: Amanda L. Beall, Jeff Beldner, Sara Bibel, Matt Clifford, Annie Compton, Christopher Dunn, Sara Endsley, Janice Ferri Esser, Mellinda Hensley, Lynn Martin, Anne Schoettle, Natalie Minardi Slater, Teresa Zimmerman; CBS

CHILDREN’S EPISODIC, LONG FORM AND SPECIALS

“It’s Just… Weird” (Alexa & Katie), Written by Romi Barta; Netflix

WINNER – “Remember Black Elvis?” (Family Reunion), Written by Howard Jordan, Jr.; Netflix

“Remember How This All Started?” (Family Reunion), Written by Meg DeLoatch; Netflix

“Stupid Binder” (Alexa & Katie), Written by Nancy Cohen; Netflix

“Time to Make… My Move” (Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance), Written by Javier Grillo-Marxuach; Netflix

DOCUMENTARY SCRIPT – CURRENT EVENTS

“Coal’s Deadly Dust” (Frontline), Written by Elaine McMillion Sheldon; PBS

“The Mueller Investigation” (Frontline), Written by Michael Kirk & Mike Wiser; PBS

WINNER – “Trump’s Trade War” (Frontline), Written by Rick Young; PBS

DOCUMENTARY SCRIPT – OTHER THAN CURRENT EVENTS

“Chasing The Moon Part One: A Place Beyond The Sky” (American Experience), Written by Robert Stone; PBS

WINNER – “Right To Fail” (Frontline), Written by Tom Jennings; PBS

“Supreme Revenge” (Frontline), Written by Michael Kirk & Mike Wiser; PBS

NEWS SCRIPT – REGULARLY SCHEDULED, BULLETIN, OR BREAKING REPORT

WINNER – “Terror in America: The Massacres in El Paso and Dayton” (Special Edition of the CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell), Written by Jerry Cipriano, Joe Clines, Bob Meyer; CBS News

NEWS SCRIPT – ANALYSIS, FEATURE, OR COMMENTARY

“Atlanta, EP. 3” (A King’s Place), Written by Jessica Moulite, Ashley Velez; TheRoot.com

WINNER – “Fly Like An Eagle” (60 Minutes), Written by Katie Kerbstat Jacobson, Scott Pelley, Nicole Young; CBS News

“’Tis the Season: Here’s How Jesus Became So Widely Accepted as White,” Written by Joon Chung, Felice León, Ashley Velez; TheRoot.com

“Toxic Water Crisis Still This Haunts New York Town”, Written by Lena Jackson; HuffPost.com

DIGITAL NEWS

“A Gridiron of Their Own,” Written by Kelsey McKinney; Deadspin.com

WINNER – “Stories About My Brother,” Written by Prachi Gupta, Jezebel.com

RADIO/AUDIO NOMINEES

RADIO/AUDIO NEWS SCRIPT – REGULARLY SCHEDULED, BULLETIN, OR BREAKING REPORT

“CBS News on the Hour with Norah O’Donnell – El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio – Communities in Mourning,” Written by James Hutton; CBS News Radio

WINNER – “Hail and Farewell: Remembering Some Headline Makers,” Written by Gail Lee; CBS News Radio

“World News This Week, August 9, 2019,” Written by Stephanie Pawlowski and Jim Ryan; ABC News Radio

“World News This Week, September 13, 2019,” Written by Joan B. Harris; ABC News Radio

RADIO/AUDIO NEWS SCRIPT – ANALYSIS, FEATURE, OR COMMENTARY

WINNER – “The Enduring Legacy of Jackie Kennedy Onassis,” Written by Dianne E. James, Gail Lee; CBS News Radio

“Woodstock: Back to the Garden,” Written by Gail Lee, CBS News Radio

PROMOTIONAL WRITING NOMINEES

ON AIR PROMOTION

“CBS Promos”, Written by Molly Neylan; CBS

“Star. Kill. Evil. FBI.,” Written by Ralph Buado; CBS

WINNER – “Star Trek: Picard” and “All Rise Promos,” Written by Jessica Katzenstein; CBS

Lisa Reviews An Oscar Nominee: Great Expectations (dir by David Lean)


“My Christian name was Philip Pirrip, which I pronounced Pip….”

SHUT UP, PIP!

Seriously, there’s a lot of good things that can be said about Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations but most readers simply can’t get past the fact that the narrator insists on being called Pip.  I don’t necessarily blame them, as Pip might be a good nickname for a child but, by the time you’re 16, you should be demanding that everyone call you Phil.  That said, I’ve always liked Great Expectations.  Despite the fact that Charles Dickens could be a terribly pedantic writer, the plot of Great Expectations is genuinely interesting and the book is full of interesting characters, the majority of whom don’t demand to be known by their childhood nicknames.  Plus, I’ve always related to Estella.

The 1946 film adaptation of Great Expectations was at least the third movie to be made from the novel and it would be followed by many more.  (In 1998, there was a modernized version where Pip was wisely renamed Finn.)  Still, the 1946 adaptation is the best.  As directed by David Lean (and based on a stage version that was put together by none other than Alec Guinness), Great Expectations remains true to the source material while, at the same time, cutting away a lot of extraneous material.  As a result, Lean’s film version of the story maintains a clear narrative momentum, which is something that eluded Dickens in his sprawling original.

John Mills plays Pip, an orphan who is being raised by his wicked aunt and her husband, the simple but kind-hearted blacksmith, Joe Gargery (Bernard Miles).  One night, Pip helps out an escaped convict named Magwitch (Finlay Currie) and, though Magwitch is eventually recaptured, that one act of kindness will determine the rest of Pip’s life.

Pip is invited to visit the mansion of a recluse named Miss Havisham (Martita Hunt) and it’s there that he first meets and falls in love with the beautiful but rather cold-hearted Estella (Jean Simmons and then, after Estella grows up, Valerie Hobson).  Of course, what Pip doesn’t realize is that Miss Havisham has specifically raised Estella to destroy the hopes and dreams of every man that she meets.

Eventually, Pip grows up and discovers that he has a mysterious benefactor who feels that Pip should be transformed into a gentlemen so that he might be able to meet the “great expectations” that the benefactor has for him.  Pip, of course, assumes that it’s Miss Havisham but even those who haven’t read the book will probably suspect that there’s more to it than just that.  Pip moves to London, where he stays with Herbert Pocket (Alec Guinness), a pale young man (for that’s how Dickens described him) who teaches Pip that a gentleman does not use his knife as a fork.  Herbert was always my favorite character in the book and he’s my favorite character in the film, largely because he’s played by the totally charming Alec Guinness.

Anyway, Pip becomes a bit of a snob but eventually, he discovers the truth about his benefactor and the last few years of his life.  It causes him to not only rip down a lot of curtains but also to reconsider what it truly means to be a a gentleman.

It’s all very well-done, largely because David Lean doesn’t allow the fact that he’s making a film out of a great novel get in the way of telling a good story.  The film is well-acted by a wonderful cast of British thespians, all of whom manage to make even the most artificial of scenes and lines seem naturalistic and believable.  Even though Pip is a bit of a jerk, John Mills manage to turn him into a sympathetic character.  (Mills plays Pip as if he himself cannot stand the fact that he’s turned into such a snob.)  Both Jean Simmons and Valerie Hobson do a wonderful job of bringing the potentially problematic character of Estella to life and Bernard Miles is wonderfully empathetic in the role of the Joe Gargery.  The scene where a nervous Gargery first meets Pip after Pip has become a gentleman is a true example of great acting.

Not surprisingly, Lean also does a great job of bringing 19th century England to life.  Watching this film is a bit like stepping into a time machine and going back to the Dickensian era.  As filmed by Lean, London is as bright and vibrant as Pip’s childhood home is dark and constraining.  When Pip finds Magwitch on the beach, Lean directs the scene as if it were from a film noir.  When Pip enters the darkened home of Miss Havisham and meets the beautiful but destructive Estella, the film flirts with becoming a Rebecca-style gothic romance.  And when it’s just Pip and Herbert Pocket talking, it becomes a comedy of manners.  Not surprisingly, Great Expectations won Oscars for both its art design and its gorgeous black-and-white cinematography.

Great Expectations was also nominated for Best Picture.  However, it lost to Gentleman’s Agreement.

A Blast From The Past: Combat America (narrated by Clark Gable)


Today is the birthday of one of America’s greatest screen legends, the one and only Clark Gable!

Clark Gable was born 119 years ago today and, in honor of the birthday of this cinematic icon, we’re sharing a little blast from the past.   When in the past?  1945, to be exact.  In Combat America, Gable takes you on a tour through the world of aerial combat during World War II.  Gable joined the U.S. Army in 1943, shortly after the death of his wife, Carole Lombard.  (Lombard died in a plane crash.  She had been traveling across the country, working to build up support for the war effort.  Shortly after Lombard’s death, Gable’s co-star from Gone With The Wind, Leslie Howard, was also killed when the Germans shot down a plane in which he was traveling.)  Gable trained as an aerial gunner and flew five combat missions in 1943. Reportedly, Gable was ordered to stop flying because it was feared that the American morale at home would never recover if he was shot down.

Combat America was one of Gable’s contributions to the war effort, as well as a tribute to all the men who sacrificed their lives to defeat the Nazis.  Gable both narrates and appears on camera.

Incidentally, I know that Clark Gable will always be Rhett Butler to most people but my favorite Gable performance is his Oscar-winning work in It Happened One Night.  If I had been Claudette Colbert in that film, the Walls of Jericho would have come down very quickly.  Just saying.

 

4 Shots From 4 Films: Special John Ford Edition


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

John Ford.

The very name brings to mind sweeping vistas, the grandeur of the old west, and stories about men doing what men had to do.  John Ford began his directing career during the silent era and he continued to work through the 1960s and, along the way, he created a unique and very American sort of cinema.  Though Ford may be known for his westerns, he also directed his share of war films, historical epics, and even a classic romantic comedy.  The son of Irish immigrants, Ford made several films that took place in Ireland.  The Quiet Man featured one of the greatest fight scenes in film history.  Stagecoach introduced the world to John Wayne and The Searchers proved that he could act.  With The Grapes of Wrath, Ford provided, for future generations, the definitive look at the Great Depression.  Twenty-two years later, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance told us to always “Print the legend.”

John Ford was born 126 years ago today.  In honor of his legacy, here are 4 shots from 4 films.

4 Shots From 4 Films

Stagecoach (1939, directed by John Ford)

The Grapes of Wrath (1940, directed by John Ford)

The Searchers (1956, directed by John Ford)

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962, directed by John Ford)

Scenes That I Love: Audrey’s Dance From Twin Peaks: The Return


So, today is Sherilyn Fenn’s birthday and I figured that this would be the perfect time to share a scene that I love from Twin Peaks: The Return.  It’s also one of the most controversial scenes from the entire 18-hour film (and make no mistake, Twin Peaks: The Return is a film).  That’s saying something, considering that just about every single minute of David Lynch’s masterpiece was, at the very least, a little bit controversial.

From Twin Peaks: The Return Part 16, it’s Audrey’s Dance!

So, what’s happening here?  That Audrey has undergone a great personal trauma is obvious to anyone who compares the Audrey in Twin Peaks: The Return to the Audrey in the original series.  The original series ended with Audrey in a coma.  In between the end of the first series and the start of the second, she was raped by the Doppelganger (apparently while she was still comatose) and she subsequently gave birth to the thoroughly evil Richard Horne.  There’s a lot of horrifying things in Twin Peaks but there’s nothing as horrific as what happened to Audrey.

Where things get murky is what happened to Audrey after the birth of Richard.  According to the books that Mark Frost wrote before and after Twin Peaks: The Return aired, Audrey later became a beautician and married her business manager.  For that reason, I think we can discount the theory that Audrey is still in the coma and having a dream in this scene.  Another popular theory is that Audrey is hallucinating in a mental hospital but again, I think we can discount that because, if she’s institutionalized, how could she become a beautician and marry her business manager?

I think a far more probable theory is that the Audrey who is living in Twin Peaks is another doppelganger and the real Audrey, like the original Cooper, is trapped in one of the lodges.  I also think that it can be argued that the Road House, where Audrey dances, is itself a portal.  It’s not an actual Lodge but it does seem to have a connection to the Black Lodge.  Perhaps the master of ceremonies is like emcee from Mulholland Drive, revealing that everything is an illusion.

Who knows, right?

As for Audrey’s dance in this scene, it’s a callback to a time when Audrey had her entire future ahead of her.  What Audrey once did playfully, she now does wistfully and with regret.  And yet, there’s a lot of hope to be found in her dance, or at least there is until reality intrudes in the form of two idiots getting into a fight.  That’s when Audrey (or Audrey’s doppelganger) is reminded that the world has changed and there’s no more room for happiness.

Hopefully, things have gotten better for Audrey since we last saw her.