Monday, March 29, 2010

Dinner with Oscar

And now, the dishy dishes from my Oscar Party, as photographed by my beautiful girlfriend:

The Black and White Cookie Side
Two different colors, one great taste! Which is more than I can say for the film!

An Eclair
My mother wasn't keen on my ideas for An Education: bananas and/or cherries. So, when we learned that one of the guests was bringing this bunch of eclairs -- which, by the way, are absolutely my favorite edible thing on all the Earth -- I knew this wonderful British film could still have a representation! Because they go to Paris!

Fantastic Mr. Punch
My girlfriend offered this, a recipe from her cousin. It's champagne and some natural flavors: raspberries, oranges, blueberries, etc. This was the real big hit of the evening, and it was gone before Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin finished their opening dialogue.

The Hummus Locker
I can't explain it, really.

Inglorious Saurkraut [sic, but maybe on purpose?]
Sauerkraut balls, a recipe from Great-Aunt Dusty. Balls of sauerkraut which are then fried into deliciousness. They were easily the most popular food at the party.

Julie & Julia Simply Love This Pate
Surely this is self-evident. Look how delighted Meryl and Amy look.

Precious Chicken Fingers
I know what it sounds like. But she eats fried chicken, and chicken fingers were as close as we could get without completely destroying the family's diet. I also requested pig's feet, but most of the party vetoed this.

A Serious Latka [sic]
Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay
Third or fourth batch? Mom makes amazing "potato pancakes". Wish she loved the movie as much as I did.

Up with Jellybeans
So, this recipe, jellybeans on toothpicks, came from a woman's magazine my mother was reading about Oscar treats. This led to my mother wanting to try it, which led to us hosting the Oscar party. So Mom and I came up with some appetizers, Dad made the posters, and my sister puts them on standees.

Up in the Air to Get Peanuts
Like its namesake, this Oscar treat was not popular, but the party wouldn't have been complete without it.

Alas, we had no ideas when it came to Avatar, for after accidentally suggesting Hypnotiq, Mother then quickly nixed the idea. As for District 9, we just weren't going to commit to the expense of crawfish.

Any Oscar appetizers of your own you'd like to share?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Here's a Hankie, Wipe the Blood from Your Eyes

So, the new Marmaduke trailer went online.

What is this? No, seriously, what the fuck is this?

This isn't a movie. I've seen movies. I've seen good movies, bad movies, mediocre movies. I've seen awful trailers for awful-looking films, and I've seen awful trailers for truly great movies, but what is this? I thought the Beverly Hills Chihuahua trailers were an all-time low, but dear fucking God almighty, what the fuck what the fuck what the FUCK?!?

If you didn't watch the above trailer, try this: go to the kitchen. Get whatever liquid cleaner you keep under the sink. Now swallow it. That's right, swallow the whole thing. Now smother your pets as you wait for death's sweet embrace to finally take you. Also, make sure this all happens after you douse the house in gasoline and light a candle, knowing full well the fumes will eventually make their way up to that flickering flame. It's about the same feeling you get after watching that trailer.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Casting Coup Tuesdays: The Phantom Tollbooth

When I was in fifth grade, we did a unit on The Phantom Tollbooth that seemed to last the whole year. We read the book, analyzed the book, made dioramas, dressed as the characters, and even had a huge feast in which we brought in foods that related to our assigned parts. As I recall, I was part of the King's Cabinet of Dictionopolis, where language ruled, so I brought in "Synonym" Toast Crunch. I can't help but grin even now at my cleverness. God, I was smart! Though I can't for the life of me remember what I was doing the day they showed the movie, because I still haven't seen it.

I bought the book for class in fifth grade. Then I re-read it in seventh grade. Then I read it again in high school. It's one of the few books I've read over and over again, along with Moonraker and And Then There Were None. It was a Shakespearian-trained actor who once spoke to me about how children's literature often offers more depth and satisfaction than that of the grown-ups. In this case, I agree. The importance of language, of logic (math), of imagination - such lessons that book gave! The apathy of the youth is often cited as one of the significant traits of my generation. (That must have been a problem in the early 1960s as well, for where else would Norton Juster get the idea for the bored Milo?) How disappointing this is when one considers that most of my generation had to read The Phantom Tollbooth! How did they not learn the most important of lessons, that life is just fucking awesome when you realize just how fucking awesome it is? Also, Rhyme and Reason are really important.

As you all should know (and if you don't, you're probably one of the apathetic youth), the protagonist of the tale is Milo. Milo is bored by everything around him. He looks down when he walks because nothing is interesting enough to catch his attention. Learning and schoolwork are all, like, whatever, man. And then one day he comes home to find a box in his living room. It turns out to be a Tollbooth, and he drives a toy car through it...and is suddenly transported to The Lands Beyond, where he meets a number of interesting characters, rescues princesses, befriend a talking dog and a Humbug, and learns Life Lessons. It's suuuuch a great book! Anna Quindlen of The New York Times once wrote, "I read [The Phantom Tollbooth] first when I was 10. I still have the book report I wrote, which began 'This is the best book ever.'"

One of my dreams is to make a film version of this great book. Not a cartoon, like the Chuck Jones original, but a live-action one. We've got one of Alice in Wonderland (hm...bad example), and it isn't time we actually see an all-star cast in these legendary roles? And, if this story at Cinema Blend is to be believed, I may be beaten to it by Gary Ross. That talented son of a bitch.

Either way, I have a dream. And that dream is to see the following in such a movie:

Who is He: The conductor of the color orchestra. An old man with ka-razy hair, he makes sure the colors of the day are all seen properly and according to the sheet music. When he stops to take a rest at night, Milo gets hold of the baton...

My Choice: Academy Award Nominee/BAFTA Award Winner for Best Actor (The Elephant Man) and Best Supporting Actor (Midnight Cowboy), Golden Globe Winner for Best Supporting Actor (Midnight Cowboy)

John Hurt (V for Vendetta, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull)
Sometimes, you cast because you love a certain actor and feel like, hey, I haven't seen him in a while.

Who are They: Dr. Kakofonous Dischord and the smoke beast known as the Awful DYNNE are keepers of noise in the Valley of Sound. They believe the sounds are beautiful, but everyone else just hears a bunch of terrible noise.

My Choice: Well, one of them is a Golden Globe Nominee for Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy (The School of Rock)

Tenacious D (Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny, Cradle Will Rock)
A good team needs to be played by a good team. Jack Black, the more famous face, could play Dr. Dischord, while Kyle Gass could play the Awful DYNNE. Their chemistry and ear for noise-making would be put to good use here.

Who is He: The first thing Milo & Friends meet at Digitopolis. He has twelve different faces for twelve different emotions. He leads them through the Number Mines into the city, and often confuses Milo with the varying emotions and faces.

My Choice: BAFTA Award Nominee for Best Actor (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), Golden Globe Winner for Best Actor in a Drama (The Truman Show) and in a Musical/Comedy (Man on the Moon), SAG Award Nominee for Best Actor (Man on the Moon)

Jim Carrey (The Mask, A Christmas Carol)
He of the varied voices and rubber face.

Who is She: The not-so-wicked Which. Faintly was in charge of selecting words, until she went power-mad and hoarded them all. Now imprisoned, it is she who tells Milo of the disappearance of the princesses. Indeed, it is she who prompts him to speak to Azaz about it, thus inspiring them to action.

My Choice: Academy Award/SAG Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actress (American Gangster)

Ruby Dee (The Jackie Robinson Story, Jungle Fever)
Faintly is a gentle, grandmotherly type, and I've always felt there was something reassuring about Ruby Dee's eyes and smile. Lord I love this actress. How was she not nominated for A Raisin in the Sun? Or Do the Right Thing?

Who Are They: A quintet of identical men who constantly repeat each other using synonyms. They are confusing and infuriating, so of course they were my favorite characters. They are: the Duke of Definition, the Earl of Essence, the Count of Connotation, the Minister of Meaning and the Undersecretary of Understanding.

My Choice: Academy Award/Indie Spirit/SAG Award Nominee for Best Actor (The Visitor), Indie Spirit Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (Flirting with Disaster)

Richard Jenkins (The Kingdom, Dear John)
Looks great in a suit, and playing five characters gives him a chance to display his comic chops, which are intimidating.

Who is He: The lawman in Dictionopolis. He is judge, jury, cop, and attorney. He believes everyone to be guilty, and despite his small stature, he is just unpleasant to be around.

My Choice:

Warwick Davis (Return of the Jedi, Leprechaun N Da Hood)
Look at that tiny bugger! Tee-hee!

Who is He: At the base of the Castle in the Sky, he asks trivial questions that delay our heroes from rescuing the princesses as the Demons of Ignorance get closer. A withered old man stained with ink.

My Choice: Golden Globe Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (Baby Doll), Hollmann Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (The Holiday)

Eli Wallach (The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, The Godfather: Part III)

Who is She: The ruler of the Valley of Sound. Like Faintly Macabre, she went mad with power and hoards the sounds to herself. Unlike Faintly Macabre, she has no regrets about her decision, and is quite mad.

My Choice: Academy Award Winner/BAFTA Award/Golden Globe Nominee for Best Supporting Actress (Prizzi's Honor), BAFTA Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actress (Crimes and Misdemeanors, Manhattan Murder Mystery), Golden Globe Nominee for Best Actress in a Drama (The Grifters), Best Actress in a Musical/Comedy (The Addams Family, Addams Family Values) and Best Supporting Actress (The Crossing Guard), Indie Spirit Winner for Best Actress (The Grifters) and Best Supporting Actress (The Dead), SAG Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actress (The Crossing Guard)

Anjelica Huston (The Royal Tenenbaums, Choke)
Truthfully, part of this is because she looks like the illustration. But of course, the other part has to do with her formidable talent. Haven't we all seen her go from zero to crazy at one point or another?

Who is He: A faceless demon that distracts our heroes by getting them to complete pointless, impossible tasks. He wishes to keep them from rescuing Rhyme and Reason; that is, common sense.

My Choice:

Doug Jones (Pan's Labyrinth, Legion)
So, this is basically a matter of just covering his face. Which he is apparently totally down with. His build would be menacing enough with just a suit and bowler hat. Creepy.

Who is He: A repetitive little man, Milo meets him at the Land of Expectations. He kind of just stays there, due to his preoccupation of what may be and how.

My Choice:

David Cross (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, I'm Not There)
Because he is a hilarious actor with great comic timing.

Who are They: Sweet Rhyme and Pure Reason are mysterious orphans adopted by the Mathemagician and King Azaz. Without them, there can be no harmony in world. They find letters and numbers to be equally important, so of course they are banished. The saving of them drives the plot of the entire book.

My Choices: One is an Academy Award/BAFTA Award Nominee/Golden Globe Winner for Best Supporting Actress (Closer); the other is an Academy Award/Golden Globe Nominee for Best Actress [in a Musical/Comedy] (Pride & Prejudice), BAFTA Award/Golden Globe Nominee for Best Actress [in a Drama] (Atonement)

Natalie Portman as Sweet Rhyme
Keira Knightley as Pure Reason
I think Natalie comes off as more Sweet than Pure, even though Keira is less shy about showing off her body. But those cheekbones, quite honestly, are more of purity than of sweetness, and Natalie's smile is more sweet than pure. And as the princesses of common sense, you couldn't have a better pair. They resemble each other, they're beautiful, and they're known for their intelligence.

Who is He: The Ruler of Digitopolis, the Mathemagician is a man with a regal bearing and wizard's robes. He and his brother fight over whether letters or numbers are more important, and for failing to pick one over the other, Rhyme and Reason are banished. The Mathemagician is not so sure that their return is a good idea.

My Choice: Academy Award/SAG Award Winner for Best Supporting Actor (Million Dollar Baby), Golden Globe Winner for Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy (Driving Miss Daisy), Indie Spirit Winner for Best Supporting Actor (Street Smart)

Morgan Freeman (Bruce Almighty, The Big Bounce)
Obviously, his voice is the voice of a ruler. I find the Mathemagician to be less easily sympathetic than Azaz, which would be a nice switch for Freeman. And the idea of him in wizard's robes is too cool.

Who is He: The Ruler of Dictionopolis, Azaz is as large as a dictionary (ha!) with a booming voice to match. He regrets banishing Rhyme and Reason, and sends Milo and his cohorts on a mission ot rescue them.

My Choice: Academy Award Nominee for Best Actor (The Great White Hope), Indie Spirit Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (Matewan), SAG Award Nominee for Best Actor (Cry, the Beloved Country)

James Earl Jones (Coming to America, Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins)
A large, imposing man with a commanding voice, his take on complicated characters would do well with Azaz. For Azaz is a proud yet ashamed man, a complexity which an actor of Jones's brilliance could masterfully portray.

Who is He: The humbug is a beetle with very little knowledge, though that doesn't stop him from trying to be the expert on the latest subject. He is a constant brown-noser, though his flattery is what leads to Azaz putting him on the Adventure in the first place. At heart, the Humbug is a coward and a braggart, but Lord he's a lot of fun.

My Choice: Academy Award Nominee/BAFTA Award/Golden Globe Winner for Best Actor [in a Drama] (Mona Lisa), SAG Award Nominee for Best Ensemble (Nixon)

Bob Hoskins (Mrs Henderson Presents, Doomsday)
He has the build, and he has the voice. I wonder if this would be a voice-over, a mo-cap, or a heavily-made-up-by-the-team-from-District 9 type of performance. Thoughts?

Who is He: A watchdog. Literally: his body is a ticking clock, but he has the head and limbs of a dog. Tock saves Milo from the Doldrums (the town, that is), and the two form a best friendship. Tock is smart, fast (time flies, after all), and loyal. He is a great comfort to Milo and is willing to stay 'til the end.

My Choice: Obviously, some sort of CG would have to employed, but the voice actor would be a Golden Globe Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (Barton Fink)

John Goodman (The Big Lebowski, Speed Racer)
Because his voice is so reassuring and soft, and he is a great voice actor. This is a man who knows the delicate balance between seriousness and funny.

Who is He: Our hero, of course! Milo is a bored little boy who finds the tollbooth in his living room. He uses it to find adventure and imagination!

My Choice:

Nicholas Elia (White Noise, Speed Racer)
When first I saw him in Speed Racer, I thought, "There's a kid who gets it." He got the power of imagination, and how awesome kids can be. He'd have to play the bored part of course, but that's hardly a challenge, I think. The kid clearly has some great chops, and he deserves a lead like this.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Coming Soon...And It's About Time

New Casting Coup this Tuesday. I'm finally making good on my promise from, what, a year and a half ago?

The Phantom Tollbooth, but for realsies

Friday, March 12, 2010

Burton's Blunderland

As far as movie go, the new Alice in Wonderland is about as lifeless as the decapitated heads in the Red Queen's moat.

Now, I'm sorry that I had to spoil that visual, because it's one of the only truly remarkable things about this lazy adaptation of/sequel to Lewis Carroll's popular children's books. While I understand that the source material is but a series of vignettes, this didn't stop Disney from making two -- TWO -- remarkable adaptations. One is the famous cartoon, of course, while the other is the made-for-TV movie with Tina Majorino and Martin Short. I guess the third time is not the charm.

Tim Burton is one of my favorite directors. From "Vincent" to Sleepy Hollow, and everything in between, I thought he could do no wrong. Then of course came Planet of the Apes, which I realized wasn't very good, but which kept me entertained throughout most of it. (Tim Roth's performance helped, of course, and I still feel that he was snubbed for a Supporting Actor nod) But next was Big Fish, which I think is only second to Edward Scissorhands in the director's oeuvre. It wasn't until the beautiful but clearly rushed Corpse Bride that I began to worry. I loved it, but I wished the movie had been fleshed out some more. Then came Sweeney Todd, an adaptation of one of my favorite musicals. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but I couldn't help but feel a little let down. Depp and Bonham-Carter were great, and the material is perfect for Burton...but I couldn't help being a little disappointed. Maybe if he had gotten, you know, singers...

And now there's Alice, which is the last straw. Paycheck grabs are all well and good, but shouldn't this, too, be in Burton's territory? Isn't he the obvious choice for an adaptation of Alice? Why is this so lifeless?

Perhaps the obviousness of the choice is part of the problem. I've seen the lawn figures, the creepy trees, the Colleen Atwood costumes, the Depp/Bonham-Carter pairing...been there, done that. But it really seems to be the only thing Burton wants. Every scene seems like it's just marking time until we can get back to The Red Queen or The Mad Hatter. The worst offense comes at the beginning, before Wonderland, when Alice is at a garden party outside London and meets all these characters who she'll have to FINALLY CONFRONT in the end. Yet these characters remain ciphers. I have no idea who Alice's sister Margaret is until she speaks to her at the end, yet she is constantly referenced. Actually, I don't even care.

The reviews I've been reading seem to praise Mia Wasikowska's performance as Alice. What what WHAAAAT? She's got a pretty face and a nice smile, but Mia's Alice is so apathetic and lifeless, it's no wonder I can't get into the story. I find her Alice obnoxious and difficult to identify with. Her line readings are insincere, though the script certainly doesn't help by flatlining her character arc. I mean, if one is going to make the Alice story into an actual story, shouldn't they try some dramatic tension, character development, a sequence of events that makes sense? Why, when the Mad Hatter starts a rebellion in the middle of the Red Queen's court, do the Queen, her knight, and the soldier cards just sit there, watching. It's like they're just waiting for their next line.

Which is odd, because generally speaking, Helena Bonham-Carter and Crispin Glover are the only things of note in this film. Certainly not Depp, whose "madness" amounts to sometimes doing a Scottish accent. Why? Because it's mad! Or...maybe it's because Johnny likes to do accents and his bff Tim doesn't know how to say no? That seems more likely. And after the haunting John Dillinger in Public Enemies, which is my favorite Depp performance, this same "bag of tricks" approach to the Mad Hatter is more than irritating, it's disappointing. Meanwhile, Bonham-Carter and Glover are actually playing mad characters, and doing so in such a natural manner that you completely buy into it. It's a shame we're supposed to root against the Red Queen, because Bonham-Carter actually brings some depth and sympathy to the role.

It reminds me of The Devil Wears Prada. Meryl's got all her people in the conference room, and the chick from Lost mentions doing something about flowers for the Spring issue. Meryl says dismissively, "Florals? For spring? Ground breaking." Then in comes Stanley Tucci, and he's already done the work he should do, to which she replies, "Thank God somebody came to work today." That's what this is like. We've seen these parlor tricks before, but it means nothing, it's unoriginal, it's dull. Christopher Lee cameo? In a Tim Burton film? Groundbreaking. Thank God Helena Bonham-Carter came to work today.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thank God for the Test Screening


I've yet to tell you about my test-screening experience of Hot Tub Time Machine!

It was at the AMC, and of course I wouldn't normally go after the way they fucked me on The Wolfman, but it was free. And a test screening. So I went with a group of friends, including my roommate. Now, my roomie has been psyched for this movie since he heard the title. Me, I didn't care for the trailers, and thought the whole concept was stupid. But I began looking forward to it, since I really like John Cusack. And it was free.

I have to say I was disappointed...with the crowd, that is. For how could they not be laughing at every single hilarious moment of this outrageously funny film??? Ok, that's a wee hyperbolic, but I dug it. Even though I realized it wasn't stunningly original and cheated a lot (we don't have to make sense because we don't have to!), I had a great time. Craig Robinson is all right, although it sucks that they started putting his best scenes in the TV spots. John Cusack is hilarious in this, with a youthful energy that he's been missing of late. Clark Duke is funny, Chevy Chase is funny. But Rob Corddry...oh man, Corddry walks off with the show. Profane, childish, sad, and down-to-party, Corddry is the true star of the film, in terms of story as well as who you remember after.

I wasn't disappointed. It was cheesy and gross, but I loved it. The audience I was with should have loved it. And it was interesting to see an effects-heavy movie that still had green screen kinks. I loved the 1980s costumes and production design...delightfully garish! The soundtrack, of course, was awesome. And the squirrel...oh the squirrel!


Have I mentioned yet that Legion has great effects, a bombastic score, and absolutely no business existing? Seriously, how in the world do Paul Bettany, Kevin Durand and Dennis Quaid manage to sell this shit? That is incredible. I will say this: it's a damn good time. Oh, it's a terrible movie, but it is hilarious.


Mediocre. This movie has it all: listless score, jump scares, characters that are introduced and promptly forgotten, a refusal to commit to any deeper meaning, and NICK OF TIME saves...four times over. Also, it can't decide whether the "monsters" are clear-thinking or zombies. And does it really matter how close a house is to the main water supply? The plot hinges on this, yet I always assumed it didn't matter: we all get the water. It's not like the one house hordes the water for a day or two before allowing the rest of the town a taste. What a stupid movie. I hate it so much. It's not even bad enough to be funny, which is one of the most criminal moves of all.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

All Them Witches...and Vampires, Too!

Got some re-boos ready for you! If you're celebrating SHOCKTOBERFEST at your own home, tell us about it; the more the scarier....


This Danish cult flick is a silent documentary, released in 1922 after three years of an on-again, off-again shooting schedule. Presented in seven acts, Haxan presents the origins of witchcraft mythology, with an especial focus on how the beliefs of the Middle Ages made everyone susceptible to accusations of consorting with the devil. Vignettes both comic and and tragic follow: a woman uses a series of love potions to seduce a monk; two well-intentioned scientists are accused of witchcraft when they are seen performing an autopsy.

The bulk of the vignettes is devoted to the story of The Printer's household. When he is taken ill, an expert convinces his family it is the enchantment of a witch; naturally, his wife is quick to suspect the gnarled old neighbor-woman who comes asking for bread. Because this is the Middle Ages, the wife's suspicions are taken as fact, and the old woman is brutally tortured until she confesses and names names.

The film finishes off with a treatise on the similarities between the symptoms of being bewitched by the devil and the symptoms of suffering from hysteria. Therapeutic treatments are compared to Ye Olde Inquisitor's methods of torture, with an added wag of the finger for the way society tolerates a clinic for the wealthy and a sanitarium for the poor. Haxan is a condemnation of the ignoble treatment of women throughout history; the labels may change, but the effects are the same.

Of course, this is Shocktoberfest, so you better believe there were some horrifying images to take home. And I gotta hand it to Haxan: it's tough a choose a Most Disturbing Scene. The mechanical diorama of the tortures of Hell? The close-up of a malnourished, sobbing, tortured crone confessing to a lie? The montage of torture methods? The orgy featuring demon ass-kissing (literally!)? An entire convent going nuts? The appearance of the most lascivious representation of the devil I've ever seen?

Violence, nudity, disturbing images, moral outrage. Haxan has it all, and has neatly earned itself 4 out of 5 black cats in the process. Congratulations!


Once Bitten came in that glorious decade of cinema known as the 80s. And I don't mean that ironically: the 80s gave us William Hurt, Whoopi Goldberg, Indiana Jones, Back to the Future, Woody Allen's flawless Mia Farrow run, and 1987 (The Lost Boys, The Monster Squad, House II: The Second Story). Just to name a few.

Here, we get Jim Carrey as a high school senior who, after four years of dating beautiful Robin (Karin Kopins), is still a virgin! Not for lack of trying, of course, but Robin wants to wait. Until she's ready. Frustrating for Jim Carrey, but great news for aging vampire Lauren Hutton, who needs three "transfusions" of male virgin blood by All Hallow's Eve to maintain her beauty and much of her powers. She finds and bewitches him (or is it hysteria?!), and he slowly starts to transform, leading to COMIC MOMENTS.

It's a shame that whole scenes of COMIC MOMENTS are devoted to Carrey's sidekicks trying to lose their virginity, though. The movie stops dead as it trots out their tired routines, from Gay Panic to BDSM Panic to Gay Panic to...well, there's a lot of Gay Panic, and I guess after making it through 1975's almost fetishistic abuse of the word "faggot", I should be able to get through some lighter, high school-based homophobia, especially when the film's best character is Cleavon Little's gay vampire's assistant, a witty, confident creation who seems to wield more power than we would guess. But oh my God, these two nudniks aren't even funny!

Thank goodness for Little, Hutton and Kopins (Carrey is solid, as usual). Kopins especially delivers a neat transformation from virginal girlfriend to sexy protector, not only succeeding at charm and humor but squaring off with vampire Hutton in a wordless dance fight that is just exciting. It develops characters and story without stopping to let anyone say a line or tell a joke (the song already shouts the lyrics "HANDS OFF! HE'S MINE"), and it's mesmerizing.

Acting, music: YEAH! Script: Eh. I say 3 1/2 out of 5 black cats.

Now dance, ladies! DANCE!

Monday, March 8, 2010

The 2009 Hollmann Award in 2010!!!

I'm afraid I've been having a number of technical difficulties with the Hollmann Awards this year. I usually have them out before the Oscars, but between Internet problems, saving issues, and a Microsoft Word plagued by an odd virus, I'm going to have to do this a la 2007 Golden Globes - that is, just a list of nominees and winners. We'll let Judi and Maggie host next year, and hopefully I can get more of a jump on things then. My apologies to everyone.

BEST ENSEMBLE, awarded to the casting director(s)
5. Ellen Chenoweth and Rachel Tenner, A Serious Man
4. Celestia Fox, Easy Virtue
3. Justine Baddeley and Kim Davis, Whip It!
2. Sarah Crowe and Meredith Tucker, In the Loop

1. Simone Bar, Olivier Carbone, Jenny Jue and Johanna Ray, Inglourious Basterds
Bar is a German casting director whose other credits include The Reader and The White Ribbon. Olivier Carbone is a French casting director who also worked on La Vie en Rose.
Jenny Jue and Johanna Ray have worked together on the Funny Games remake, Repo! The Genetic Opera and Brian De Palma's The Black Dahlia.

BEST SOUND, awarded to whatever senior sound mixers and editors I managed to find
5. Craig Berkey, Johnna Chism and Greg Orloff, A Serious Man
4. Joseph Geisinger, Marti D. Humphrey, Chris M. Jacobson, Ryan Juggler, Paul N.J. Ottosson, Carin Rogers and Jussi Tegelman, Drag Me to Hell
3. Anna Behlmer, Peter J. Devlin, Andy Nelson, Alan Rankin and Mark Stoeckinger, Star Trek
2. Tony Lamberti, Michael Minkler, Mark Ulano and Wylie Stateman, Inglourious Basterds
1. Kristian Eidnes Andersen, Antichrist
I think the sound work in the film is incredible, and though more mixing was involved than editing, the overall effect is the same. Less really is more.

5. John DJ DesJardin, Jessica Norman, Peter G. Travers and Joel Whist, Watchmen
4. Matt Aitken, Robert Habros, Dan Kaufman and Peter Muyzers, District 9
3. Peter Brooke, Michael Eames, Sonny Gerasinowicz, Daniel Jeannette and Peter Stubbs, Where the Wild Things Are
2. Volker Engel, Mike Vezina and Marc Weigert, 2012

Richard Baneham, Joe Letteri, Andrew R. Jones and Stephen Rosenbaum, Avatar
But really, who else?

BEST...I DON'T KNOW, PRACTICAL VISUALS? This is awarded to the production designer, art director and, where credited, set decorator.
5. Dan Bishop (PD), Ian Phillips (AD) and Amy Wells (SD), A Single Man
4. Tony Noble (PD) and Hideki Arichi (AD), Moon
3. Nelson Lowry (PD) and Francesca Maxwell (AD), Fantastic Mr. Fox
2. Henry Selick (PD), Phil Brotherton (AD), Bo Henry (AD) and Tom Proost (AD), Coraline

1. Nathan Crowley (PD), Patrick Lumb (AD), William Ladd Skinner (AD) and Rosemary Brandenburg (SD), Public Enemies
Echoing the art deco style of the period, Crowley and crew got every detail, down to the little price tags on the shops. When they needed to trade in shine for dust, it was perfect.

5. Thomas Foldberg and Morten Jacobsen, Antichrist
4. Sarah Monzani, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
3. Nick Dudman and Amanda Knight, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
2. Barney Burman, Mindy Hall and Joel Harlow, Star Trek

1. Joe Dunckley, David Meng, Frances Richardson, Sarah Rubano, Richard Taylor and Leon Von Solms, District 9
Taking body horror to a new level, we got to see Weekus transform in the most grotesquely realistic manner. From nails falling out to a prawn claw replacing his hand, the effect was astounding.

5. Charlotte Walter, Easy Virtue
4. Hope Hanafin, (500) Days of Summer
3. Anna B. Sheppard, Inglourious Basterds
2. Janet Patterson, Bright Star

1. Colleen Atwood, Public Enemies
What a gorgeous fucking film. This is really the only movie where you actually notice the duds on the men...ok, the first for me, anyway. I would seriously wear anything there. And the women? Gorgeous. Don't you love the ropey look of Marion's poor red dress, compared to the fur finery of when she's dating Dillinger? Such exquisite detail.

5. Back to Tennessee, Hannah Montana: The Movie
4. Dig a Little Deeper, The Princess and the Frog
3. Never Knew I Needed, The Princess and the Frog
2. Possibility, The Twilight Saga: New Moon

1. Through the Trees, Jennifer's Body
Works as both a genuinely great "boo-hoo" song, and as a satire on such music. How does it do it?

5. Alexandre Desplat, Fantastic Mr. Fox
4. Elliot Goldenthal, Public Enemies
3. Alexandre Desplat, The Twilight Saga: New Moon
2. Alexandre Desplat, Julie & Julia
1. Abel Korzeniowski, A Single Man
I admit, I like my music big. Abel, I hope you don't mind if I say the music here reminded me of Philip Glass's work in The Hours, which I find to be the greatest score ever. The beauty of it is just so...unbelievable. Korzeniowski effortlessly evokes the 1960s. Highlights include "Swimming", "Snow" and "Drowning".

5. Roderick Jaynes, A Serious Man
4. Sally Menke, Inglourious Basterds
3. Alan Edward Bell, (500) Days of Summer
2. James Cameron, John Refoua and Stephen Rifkin, Avatar
1. Alexander Hall, The Messenger
You know, too few of these awards are given to editors of films that rely on long takes. But really, the editor cuts for dramatic emphasis, unless he needs to cut around the bullshit. So, why cut all around the place if all you need to make your point is a single long take? That's what makes sense for this movie.

5. Robert Richardson, Inglourious Basterds
4. Greig Fraser, Bright Star
3. Eduard Grau, A Single Man
2. Anthony Dod Mantle, Antichrist
1. Dion Beebe, Nine
The only truly cinematic aspect of the film. The use of the projector in "I Can't Make This Movie", the spotlights in "My Husband Makes Movies", the dreamy effect of "Guarda la Luna", the black-and-white "Take It All". All brilliant.

5. Nora Ephron, Julie & Julia
4. Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air
3. Geoffrey Fletcher, Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire
2. Dave Eggers and Spike Jonze, Where the Wild Things Are
1. Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach, Fantastic Mr. Fox
It's clever and it's funny. Little nuances, like Mrs. Fox's "tarty" background, truly develop the characters, instead of merely serving as a throwaway joke.

5. Jane Campion, Bright Star
4. Scott Neustatder and Michael H. Weber, (500) Days of Summer
3. Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds
2. James Cameron, Avatar
1. Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, A Serious Man
Probably my favorite Coen Brothers movie.

5. Stanley Tucci, Julie & Julia
4. Fred Melamed, A Serious Man
3. Colin Firth, Easy Virtue
2. Woody Harrelson, The Messenger

1. Peter Capaldi, In the Loop
I mean, this scene alone. That snap as he says, "Now fuck off." Has swearing ever seemed this natural?

5. Ben Foster, The Messenger
4. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, (500) Days of Summer
3. Colin Firth, A Single Man
2. Johnny Depp, Public Enemies

1. Sam Rockwell, Moon
A one-man show that it is impressive in it understatedness.

5. Zoe Saldana, Avatar
4. Carey Mulligan, An Education
3. Abbie Cornish, Bright Star
2. Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia

1. Gabourey Sidibe, Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire
Such a raw performance. That a first-timer can give this kind of performance is staggering.

5. Marion Cotillard, Public Enemies
4. Julianne Moore, A Single Man
3. Kristin Scott Thomas, Easy Virtue
2. Samantha Morton, The Messenger

1. Mo'Nique, Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire
An unbelievable performance from the great comedienne. Just try to wrap your head around this.

5. Jane Campion, Bright Star
4. Marc Webb, (500) Days of Summer
3. Michael Mann, Public Enemies
2. James Cameron, Avatar
1. Oren Moverman, The Messenger

5. (500) Days of Summer - Mason Novick/Jessica Tuchinsky/Mark Waters/Steven J. Wolfe
4. Fantastic Mr. Fox - Allison Abbate/Wes Anderson/Jeremy Dawson/Scott Rudin
3. Public Enemies - Michael Mann/Kevin Misher
2. Avatar - James Cameron/Jon Landau
1. The Messenger - Mark Gordon/Lawrence Inglee/Zach Miller
A strong debut from a first-timer.

[UPDATED: Producers nominated for Best Picture, as of 1/13/2017]


As far as predictions go, I did pretty well. Only seven wrong! Sandra Bullock got Best Actress instead of Gabourey Sidibe, Avatar and The Hurt Locker were vice versa as far as Cinematography and Editing went, Geoffrey Fletcher's Precious screenplay triumphed over Up in the Air. China's Unnatural Disaster lost Best Short Documentary to Music for Prudence. And both sound categories did go to one movie...but to The Hurt Locker.

So, some highlights and lowlights.

-Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin have real chemistry. Their banter didn't always work, but when it did, it was on, baby!

-The director of Oscar-winning short doc Music for Prudence, Roger Ross Williams, was giving a heartfelt thank you speech, looking genuinely touched as he took the beauty of the moment in. He was soon interrupted by a random woman who I thought must have been the other director, who upon taking the stage talked right over him, shouldered her way in front of the mic, and talked about differences and credit where credit is due. Then pointed out that Prudence was in the audience, which was neat. By that moment, however, everything was already weird, with Williams looking downright uncomfortable.

Apparently, this woman was producer Elinor Burkett, and she and Williams have been fighting since production on the film. Williams says Burkett qualified as a producer, but walked out on the film; Burkett claims that Williams has been purposely keeping her out of the loop and tried to take her Oscar glory. I think Burkett is behaving like an uppity bitch, and she should probably grow up. This was not classy, not classy at all.

-Man, I hope more people are talking about Sandy Powell's Oscar acceptance speech. Highlight if the night, for me. From the shrugging-off of, "Um, I already have two of these" to her saying that contemporary designers are unfairly overlooked, and so her Oscar belongs to them, "but I'm still taking it home with me." There was nothing about that speech I didn't like. It's the kind of thing I always want to hear from inevitable winners.

-So, they cut the Original Song performances so as to make all categories equal, right? This is what I thought. But then they have give those performances to Original Score, with a group of breakdancers tearing it up to the nominated compositions. One of my friends described it as "a messy, backalley [sic] abortion". God, what an awful, awful sight. The dancing did not go with the music at all, and this alone convinced me that Adam Shankman should never again be put in charge of the Oscars. What was this, revenge for Hairspray getting a straight snub two years ago?

-In addition to that, we had the twenty-minute actors showcase. Following last years tribute from previous winners approach, we got five actors with a connection to the nominees. Oprah, who helped to get Precious distributed, spoke to Gabourey; Forest Whitaker, who directed Hope Floats, spoke to Sandra. And it was preceded by a montage of the actors' performances. And when it was all over, in came another presenter to read out the nominees again, and finally present the statue. I thought it was tedious, and ridiculous when you consider that they only did this for the lead categories. Shankman's purported "all categories are equal" approach wasn't just smoke; it was an outright lie.

-Geoffrey Fletcher's surprise win for adapted screenplay for Precious was incredible. Not only was it a shocker, leaving Up in the Air completely empty-handed...but his speech was fantastic. True, he may not have said much, but the emotion, the heartfelt sincerity of his being humbled, was beautiful. Then when he finally apologized for drawing a blank and thanked everyone...awesome.

-Mo'Nique is now an Oscar-Winning Actress. Though inevitable, it was still a joyous moment. I love when she thanked the Academy "for making it about the performance, instead of the politics." Truth, baby, truth. My one twinge of disappointment: although she thanked "the Precious team" as a whole, she really should have thanked Lee Daniels individually. Maybe she did on the thank-you cam.

-Kathryn Bigelow became the first female to win Best Director. When The Hurt Locker also won Best Picture, we got a truly cinematic moment. For a brief second, we saw backstage as Kathryn stopped midstride and was told to go back, her movie just won! It was such a stunningly real moment.

-When the show ended at exactly midnight, Steve Martin quipped that "The show was so long, Avatar now takes place in the past." But hasn't it run much, much later before? This seemed like the most rushed Oscars on record. Too rushed, if you ask me.

-What, no visuals for Best Cinematography? Who dropped the ball on that one?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Final Predix!!!

I have a party to host, so just a quick run-down of how I think it's gonna go:

PICTURE: The Hurt Locker
DIRECTOR: Kathryn Bigelow
ACTOR: Jeff Bridges
ACTRESS: Gabourey Sidibe
SONG: The Weary Kind
COSTUME: The Young Victoria
MAKEUP: Star Trek
SOUND: Avatar gets both
FOREIGN: El secreto de sus ojos
SHORT DOC: China's Natural Disaster
SHORT LIVE: The New Tenants

Thursday, March 4, 2010

As Long As Kate Hudson Stays Away...

So, Sony Pictures Classics has acquired US distribution rights for Woody Allen's just-completed You Will Meet a Tall, Dark Stranger, slated for release this fall. The cast includes Antonio Banderas, Naomi Watts, Anthony Hopkins, Josh Brolin, Freida Pinto and Lucy Punch. That's cool and all.

Meanwhile, however, casting has begun on his next project, and hoo-boy, what a cast.

Owen Wilson? In a Woody Allen film? This is a pairing I never would have seen coming, but God knows I'm interested. I rarely see Wilson in a movie and think, "Meh." He's a talented actor with great comic instincts, but The Royal Tenenbaums had me itching to see him in a great drama. His layering of Eli Cash was subtle and intriguing.

Marion Cotillard? Well, that makes sense. Allen seems to making his way through the Nine cast -- Lucy Punch, after all, replaced Nicole Kidman. Hopefully this means we'll soon see neurotic versions of Judi Dench and Fergie. To see the beautiful Cotillard in a movie from my favorite living director would be a dream come true.

Rachel McAdams? How did she not get into one earlier? What could this movie be about, that it has two sexy screen sirens like McAdams and Cotillard? What roles would re-team the co-stars of Wedding Crashers? You have me intrigued!

Also, there's the rumor that pop star/first lady of France Carla Bruni will be in the movie as well. She also appears in You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, so it's possible.

Filming will take place in Paris, where Woody's wanted to make a movie for years.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Casting Coup Month: All About Eve

I toyed for a moment or two with just letting CCM go. A lot has been on my plate this semester, what with a premiere this Thursday, thesis classes starting, and a new 3D project being sprung on us. It's been crazy.

But then I realized that I had promised All About Eve. And dammit, I am going to deliver on that promise.

All About Eve is the definition of A Classic. Popular with critics and audiences alike, it scored a record 14 Oscar nominations, a feat not to be matched until Titanic in 1997. Based on the short story "The Wisdom of Eve" by Mary Orr, the film depicts the rise of Eve Harrington in the theatre world, as told by a theatre critic, a playwright's wife, and Broadway legend Margo Channing. Writer-director Joseph L. Mankiewicz takes the story, originally told solely through the eyes of the playwright's wife, and builds a dazzling story about aging, sexism, and the Theatre that has yet to find an equal. Really, he's a lot more understanding of women than Orr, who wrote about a bunch of back-stabbing bitches. Mankiewicz humanizes all the characters -- well, maybe not the dastardly Eve -- while upping the bitchery! A true master of the craft!

And so, instead of smug British windbag Clement Howell, we get charismatic, faithful, patient Bill Sampson, a director who has been Margo's Man for years, though they've yet to marry. Rather than having Margo meeting Eve first, Karen Richards is the one who meets Eve and introduces her to Margo as a gesture of kindness. Then, of course, there are the two characters Mankiewicz created: Margo's companion and confidante, Birdie; and the renowned theatre critic Addison DeWitt. Can anyone imagine the film without these two?

Of its 14 nominations, All About Eve went home with six Oscars, including Best Picture. Surprisingly, though it had five acting nominations, it only won Best Supporting Actor for George Sanders' career-defining portrayal of Addison DeWitt. Vote-splitting is the only reasonable cause for the losses of Bette Davis and Anne Baxter in Best Actress (Judy Holliday in Born Yesterday), and Thelma Ritter and Celeste Holm in Best Supporting Actress (Josephine Hull in Harvey). Mankiewicz won, of course, for Director and Best Writing - Screenplay. And, of course, there are the two technical wins: Best Sound Recording (Thomas T. Moulton) and Best Costume Design - Black-and-White (Edith Head and Charles le Maire). Its technical losses: Cinematography - Black-and-White (The Third Man), Editing (King Solomon's Mines), Set Direction - Black-and-White (Sunset Boulevard) and Best Music - Dramatic or Comedy Score (Sunset Boulevard).

Oh, but do you think that was the end of its run of awesome? No, no, kind sirs and madames. In 1970, Broadway herself saw the premiere of Applause, a musical based on Mankiewicz's film and Orr's short story. Updated to the then-present, the story switches out Birdie for Duane, combines the roles of Addison and producer Max Fabian into producer Howard Benedict, adds a bunch of dancers, gets Margo to a gay bar, and holy shit the FRINGE ON DISPLAY MY GOD THE FRINGE!!! Though Mankiewicz and some others, notably All About "All About Eve" author Sam Staggs, took issue with both these changes and the the sidelining of Eve in favor of more Margo, the show was a hit. And why not? It was, after all, the Broadway musical debut of Hollywood legend LAUREN FUCKING BACALL:

Yes, yes, yes! Of course, she won the Tony for Best Actress in a Musical, and the show itself won Best Musical. It was later made into a TV Movie that was basically the stage show with cut songs and larger sets. And you can watch all of it here.

And why all this attention on the musical? Because after that TV special, it was mostly forgotten. The idea of recasting All About Eve has been bandied about before by many others, including Sasha Stone at Awards Daily (she chose Streep and Amy Adams as Margo and Eve, respectively). Me, I feel it can not be touched...unless one were to adapt the musical. Because wouldn't you kill to see something like this in a movie:

And so, let the great experiment begin!

Who is She: Written for the musical, Bonnie is a dancer who meets Eve through Howard. She spends her time with other Broadway hopefuls at a restaurant where they all mingle, dreaming of making it on the Great White Way.

Songs: Applause, She's No Longer a Gypsy
That happy sound goes over you
And just like that

Everything's bright, this is your night
Love hits you right where you're at
You've had a taste of
The sound that says love
Applause, applause, applause

My Choice:

Julianne Hough ("Dancing with the Stars", Burlesque)
Can she act? Who cares? She's a dancer, she's a singer, there's not really much else required for the role, other than the ability to sell it. And I'm sure she can.

Who is This Person: Margo's assistant and confidant/e. S/he is the only person who suspects Eve of ulterior motives from the very beginning. Birdie/Duane is also sharp-tongued and quick-witted, but who isn't in this story?

Songs: Fasten Your Seat Belts, She's No Longer a Gypsy
Fasten your seat belts
It's gonna be a bumpy night
Eh, eh, eh, eh
Margo in action
Critics have called an awesome sight

Originally played by: Academy Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actress (All About Eve, The Mating Season, With a Song in My Heart, Pickup on South Street, Pillow Talk, Birdman of Alcatraz), Golden Globe Nominee for Best Supporting Actress (All About Eve, The Mating Season, Boeing (707) Boeing (707))

Thelma Ritter (Miracle on 34th Street, Rear Window)

My Choice: SAG Award Nominee for Best Ensemble (Dreamgirls)

Keith Robinson (This Christmas, Dear John)
Hell of a presence, this guy. He sings magnificently, he can dance, and imagine him palling with...but no, I won't tell you who Margo is yet.

Who is He: Benedict combines Addison and Fabian. He is a successful Broadway producer who is tired of working with Margo. He does take an interest in Eve, however, and even checks up on her story. What he learns about her is rather interesting...but he's willing ot keep quiet for a price.

Songs: Fasten Your Seat Belts
Thanks for the party
Wow what a blast

Get your coat

Where's the door

Man it's been
Eh, eh, eh, eh, eh
A bumpy night

Originally played by: Academy Award Winner/Golden Globe Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (All About Eve)

George Sanders (Village of the Damned, The Jungle Book)

Gregory Ratoff (What Price Hollywood?, I'm No Angel)

My Choice:

Martin Short (Mars Attacks!, Prince of Egypt)
Short has played the skeezy suit many, many times before this. He is also a theatre vet himself, what with that Tony Award for Little Me, touring in Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me, playing Leo Bloom in The Producers in LA, doing Godspell in Canada in 1972, with Andrea Martin, Eugene Levy and Gilda Radner. Above, he's the skinny guy; Steve Martin is the fat one.

Who is He: Buzz in the musical, Lloyd in the movie and story, Mr. Richards is a playwright. He is Karen's husband, Bill's friend, and Margo's sparring partner. Eve selects him as one of her many conquests as she climbs the ladder of success. He is a bright and kind man, but feels unappreciated.

Songs: Fasten Your Seat Belts, Inner Thoughts, Good Friends
Good friend, who could care less
If you're a failure or a success

They're there, whatever you do

They like you for you
Not your money or your gorgeousness

Originally played by:

Hugh Marlowe (Twelve O'Clock High, Come to the Stable)

My Choice: Golden Globe Nominee for Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy (Kinky Boots), Indie Spirit Winner for Best Supporting Actor (Talk to Me), SAG Award Nominee for Best Ensemble (American Gangster)

Chiwetel Ejiofor (Serenity, 2012)
Ejiofor is such a classy guy. I can see him as the frustrated smart guy who thinks he isn't being taken seriously (2012), or as the guy who is more naive than he should be (American Gangtser). Plus, I just like watching him act.

Who is She: Buzz's wife and Margo's best friend. She is the only one without a career in theatre. Karen sees Eve waiting outside the theatre, and it is she who introduces the girl to Margo. She tries to help the girl in her career and against Margo, not for any malicious reason, but because Karen is just so damn nice.

Songs: Fasten Your Seat Belts, Inner Thoughts, Good Friends

Originally played by: Academy Award/Golden Globe Winner for Best Supporting Actress (Gentleman's Agreement)

Celeste Holm (Champagne for Caesar, High Society)

My Choice: SAG Award Nominee for Best Ensemble and Hollmann Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actress (Dreamgirls)

Anika Noni Rose (From Justin to Kelly, The Princess and the Frog)
A great singer who deserved more credit than she got for Dreamgirls. This Tony Award-winning actress is usually stuck playing second banana in most of her films, and while that would also be the case here...she's just so damn good at what she does with her characters. Plus, I believe she could have chemistry with anyone, so seeing her with our Margo would be dee-lightful!

Who is He: A great director, Bill and Margo have been an item for a while...though she still refuses his marriage proposals. Bill leaves to direct a motion picture in Rome, but he returns to find Eve living as Margo's assistant, and Margo growing increasingly suspicious of her. Suspicious and drunk. Bill is younger than Margo, but that doesn't lessen his passion for her. He is often the most sensible person in the room.

Songs: Think How It's Gonna Be, Fasten Your Seat Belts, One of a Kind, Something Greater
Dry your pretty eyes, come on
And let me have a smile
Think how it's gonna be
When we're together again
I don't wanna go
But planes come back, you know
Think how it's gonna be
When we're together again

Originally played by:

Gary Merrill (Twelve O'Clock High, Mysterious Island)

My Choice: Academy Award Nominee for Best Actor (Chaplin) and Best Supporting Actor (Tropic Thunder), BAFTA Award Winner for Best Actor (Chaplin), Golden Globe Winner for Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy (Sherlock Holmes), SAG Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (Tropic Thunder) and Best Ensemble (Good Night, and Good Luck.)

Robert Downey, Jr. (Heart and Souls, Lucky You)
Downey is young enough, I think. Oh, he may not be 35, but he is still younger than our Margo and quite sexy, if I say so myself. He has a rascally charm, and though he rarely gets the opportunity to play just a nice guy, I would love to see him in this role. Really, it's either him or George Clooney, and Clooney doesn't sing. Downey does.

Who is She: Why, it's all about her! Eve shows up outside the theatre with a tale of woe: a dead husband, small-town dreams, "everything but the bloodhounds snapping at her rear end." Eve soon manages her way into Margo's life, and it is only too late that everyone realizes what a clever schemer she is. The modesty and fragility masks a ruthless woman out to become a Big Star. And hey, she gets that Tony, doesn't she?

Songs: The Best Night of My Life, One Hallowe'en
Drop dead, Daddy
Look at your little girl now!
She feels twitchy, and bitchy, and manic
Calm and collected, no sign of panic
She's alive, she's alive, so alive!

Originally played by: Academy Award/Golden Globe Winner for Best Supporting Actress (The Razor's Edge)

Anne Baxter (I Confess, The Ten Commandments)

My Choice: Academy Award/BAFTA Award/Golden Globe/SAG Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actress (Brokeback Mountain), Indie Spirit Winner for Best Ensemble (Synecdoche, NY), SAG Award Nominee for Best Ensemble (The Station Agent, Brokeback Mountain)

Michelle Williams (The Baxter, Blue Valentine)
She's beautiful, but in a way that would allow her to appear mousy. Apparently, she can sing, too. Michelle is probably the best actress under thirty working today. It's hard to believe she's as young as she is, what with her mastery of comedy, drama, and dramedy.

Who is She: The Grande Dame of Broadway. Margo is always putting on a show, whether on stage or off it. She is conscious of her aging, which causes her to erupt at Eve more flamboyantly than she should. But she also initially trusts Eve, leading her into the trap. Margo may have mood swings, but people love her anyway. And truly, what's not to love? Who the hell else would say, "You have permission to breathe!" What an awesome lady.

Songs: But Alive, Who's That Girl, Hurry Back, Fasten Your Seat Belts, Welcome to the Theatre, Inner Thoughts, Good Friends, One of a Kind, Something Greater, Finale
A theatre full of strangers adoring you blindly
There's something greater
There's something greater
The friends who know you're lonely and treat you too kindly
There's something greater
There's something greater

Originally played by: Academy Award Winner for Best Actress (Jezebel, Dangerous), BAFTA Award Nominee for Best Foreign Actress (Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?), Golden Globe Winner for Best Actress in a Drama (All About Eve, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?) and in a Musical/Comedy (Pocketful of Miracles)

Bette Davis (Of Human Bondage, The Whales of August)

My Choice: Academy Award Nominee for Best Actress (American Beauty, Being Julia) and Best Supporting Actress (The Grifters), BAFTA Award/SAG Award Winner for Best Actress (American Beauty), Golden Globe Winner for Best Actress in a Musical/Comedy (Being Julia), SAG Award Winner for Best Ensemble (American Beauty)

Annette Bening (Mars Attacks!, The Women)
Yes, Andrew, cheer away! Annette is truly the only actress of our time who could do Margo justice. She's got the spunk, the attitude, and the age. Although I've never seen the evidence myself, I hear she can sing, too - I've yet to see Love Affair, apparently she sings in The Kids Are All Right, and she was once considered for Sweeney Todd when it was a Sam Mendes project. The best thing is, there really is no such thing as Too Big with this role.

Love it? Hate it? Either way, make sure you take a look at the TV special on YouTube. It's an interesting piece...