Parsing the Globes for ‘meaning’

The shortened Oscar season has neutered the influence? of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association to the point of irrelevancy.

Still … the search for MEANING continues.

Category by category …


Long the presumed frontrunner, Dreamgirls? has been taking its hits lately. Thats the way it works when youre in the lead unless youre Helen Mirren. Or Jennifer Hudson. Then everyone else is just happy to be nominated.?

Tonights win solidifies Dreamgirls ?place at the table. Certainly, if Little Miss Sunshine? had taken the comedy/musical category, you would have been reading scores of little-engine-that-could? stories and more about the perceived flaws of Bill Condons musical. (As if Sunshine,? itself an arty spin on National Lampoons Vacation,? is a work of art.)

As it stands and has stood since it became apparent that Academy members arent bothering to watch Clint Eastwoods Letters From Iwo Jima? its a wide-open race between Dreamgirls,? Sunshine,? The Departed,? The Queen? and the HFPAs drama winner Babel.? (I dont think much of Babel? its chances or its storytelling, for that matter.)


Forrest Whitaker remains the front-runner. Sacha Baron Cohen maybe gets a nomination. (He should. His is the most artistically daring work in the category.) But dont discount Will Smith, whose Pursuit of Happyness? is the most widely-seen and politically inoffensive (provided youre not offended by the films bland inoffensiveness) of the presumed nominees.


Helen Mirren.


Eddie Murphys win for his energetic Jackie Wilson / James Brown soul man in Dreamgirls? confirms him as the man to beat. And if an Oscar is what it takes to remind Murphy that he can entertain without debasing his considerable talent, then, by all means, give the man the statue.


Jennifer Hudson.


God, its going to feel like a punch in the gut if Martin Scorsese loses again. Can he? Sure. But with Eastwood out of the picture, whos going to beat him? Stephen Frears? Bill Condon? Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, the least of The Three Amigos?? The Sunshine? newcomers?

No, this is shaping up to be Martys year at least, until they read first-timer Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris names for Little Miss Sunshine? and the world spins off its axis, hurls itself toward the sun and God repays the Academy for all those times Scorsese got ripped off.

LAFCA: Did I mention alcohol was served?

Ive been encouraged? to file some impressions from last nights Los Angeles Film Critics soire, a simple enough task, one would think, until you factor in the amount of alcohol consumed by many at my table, which was comprised of the fun-loving folks behind the doomsday doc An Inconvenient Truth.? (Al Gore was a no-show. Apparently hes somewhere in Japan, promoting the movie or holed up at the Park Hyatt Tokyo with Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson.)

The imbibing had less to do with drowning awareness of those melting ice caps as it did with the length of awards segment of the evening. As the speeches went on and on (and, in some cases, on), it became apparent that Truth? director Davis Guggenheim and his lovely wife Elisabeth Shue would not have to worry about potty training their infant daughter. Shed be old enough to go to the bathroom by herself by the time the ceremony ground to a close.

Still, the evening had its moments. Helen Mirren thanking her husband for still wanting to have sex with her while playing Queen Elizabeth II was a good line, topped only by her perfectly timed add that maybe the whole thing fulfilled some kind of sordid little fantasy on his part.

My wife found her fave Sacha Baron Cohen and made his fianc, Isla Fisher, laugh with a joke that Im forbidden to repeat here. I enjoyed a bit of cocktail hour time with Clint Eastwood. (Did I mention that the event featured alcohol?) And, as previously mentioned, the Truth?-tellers were a good bunch, even as their numbers thinned out due to illness (producer Lawrence Bender), attention-deficit disorder (Paramount Vantage president John Lesher) or just plain boredom (producer Scott Z. Burns).

They missed the dry brilliance of Mirren, a very funny Cohen and Reese Witherspoon popping in to present the career achievement award to Robert Mulligan with a speech that somehow managed to call attention to the vast sums of money that Witherspoon makes as an A-lister and the fact that she has a very good lawyer.

Witherspoon then left via the kitchen, either to avoid the paparazzi or get her hands on a second helping of polenta. Check back for updates.

From Letterman: Top Ten Signs You’re A Gay Cowboy

10. “Your saddle is Versace.”
9. “Instead of ‘Home On The Range’, you sing ‘It’s Raining Men.'”
8. “You enjoy ridin’, ropin’, and redecoratin.'”
7. “Sold your livestock to buy tickets to ‘Mamma Mia.'”
6. “After watching reruns of ‘Gunsmoke’, you have to take a cold shower.”
5. “Native Americans refer to you as ‘Dances With Men.'”
4. “You’ve been lassoed more times than most steers.”
3. “You’re wearing chaps, yet your ‘ranch’ is in Chelsea.”
2. “Instead of a saloon you prefer a salon.”
1. “You love riding, but you don’t have a horse.”

HFPA to Spielberg: Good night and good luck

Yes, the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. threw a couple of bones to Steven Spielberg’s “Munich.” But no best picture nomination? “Munich”‘s Oscar chances aren’t as dead as those of “Memoirs of a Geisha.” Yet. But no one is calling “Munich” the front-runner any longer, either. Including Spielberg among the group’s list of six directors is hilarious. HFPA members don’t like “Munich” enough to put it among its 10 nominated pictures, but Spielberg is Spielberg and his mug on TV will boost viewership more than David Cronenberg’s. It’s all about the ratings isn’t it?


Who is Vera Farmiga????

That’s the question everyone’s asking after the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. gave her the best actress award for her haunting performance in the drug-addiction drama “Down To the Bone.”
It’s a legitimate question since “Down To the Bone” played for only two weeks in Los Angeles after opening Thanksgiving weekend.

It’s a question I doubt too many people will be asking a year from now since Farmiga has the lead actress role in Martin Scorsese’s next movie, “The Departed” and will also be prominently featured in Anthony Minghella’s heist drama “Breaking and Entering.”

For “Down to the Bone,” Farmiga won a Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 2004 (that’s how long it has taken this stark, truthful film to find distribution). She was also nominated for a lead actress Independent Spirit Award in 2005.
Those accolades stick in your mind. So when “Down To the Bone” finally made it to L.A., almost two years after its Sundance triumphs, members of LAFCA made sure to clear some time and give it a look.

If you want to do the same, “Down To the Bone” will more than likely reopen in Los Angeles on Friday at the Laemmle Monica in Santa Monica. (The uncertainty is over whether a print can be struck in time … no one from the distributor counted on Farmiga’s win. Now they see a way to rightfully capitalize on the attention.)

The movie also opens Friday in San Fransico and will play in the nation’s top 20 markets early next year. And it is continuing to do good business in New York, where it has now played for four weeks.