Tag Archives: Matthew McConaughey

2014 Emmy Award Winners

Full disclosure:

Despite writing a film and television blog that focuses heavily on the awards season, I rarely pay much attention to the Emmy Awards. There are a number of possible reasons for this: I’ve never seen most of the nominated shows; It’s timing doesn’t coincide with the rest of awards season, and thus just doesn’t feel right; Just plain apathy. Pick any reason, and there’ll probably a little truth to it.

So I didn’t watch the Emmys last night. But they went on nevertheless. And unlike Dr. Schrödinger’s eponymous kitty, their outcome was unaffected by my observation, or lack thereof.

Looking back on the night, the big surprise turned out to be Breaking Bad beating out True Detective in every category except directing. But is it that much of a surprise, really? Yes, True Detective is one of the absolute greatest things I’ve ever seen on television, and Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson were revelatory and every bit deserving of recognition for their work. And yes, most pundits expected them – or at least McConaughey and the show itself – to get that recognition.

On the other hand, not only is Breaking Bad also one of the greatest TV shows ever made, it’s also being rewarded for it’s outstanding final season. (Personally, I’ve got about 6 episodes left to go, as of writing this.) Honestly I don’t know how you DON’T recognize that. It’s kind of like the final Lord of the Rings sweeping up every award it was nominated for at the Oscars.

Here are last night’s winners…

  • Drama: Breaking Bad
  • Comedy: Modern Family
  • Miniseries: Fargo
  • TV Movie: The Normal Heart
  • Variety Series: The Colbert Report
  • Reality: The Amazing Race
  • Actor – Comedy: Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
  • Actor – Drama: Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
  • Actor – Mini/TV: Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock
  • Actress – Comedy: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
  • Actress – Drama: Julianna Margulies
  • Actress – Mini/TV: Jessica Lange, American Horror Story
  • Supporting Actor – Drama: Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
  • Supporting Actor – Comedy: Ty Burrell, Modern Family
  • Supporting Actor – Mini/TV: Martin Freeman, Sherlock
  • Supporting Actress – Drama: Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad
  • Supporting Actress – Comedy: Allison Janney, Mom
  • Supporting Actress, Movie/Mini: Kathy Bates, American Horror Story
  • Writing – Drama: Moira Walley-Beckett, Breaking Bad, “Ozymandias”
  • Writing – Comedy: Louis C.K., Louie
  • Writing – Mini/TV: Steven Moffat, Sherlock
  • Writing – Variety Special: Sarah Silverman, We Are Miracles
  • Directing – Drama: Cary Joji Fukunaga, True Detective
  • Directing – Comedy: Gail Mancuso, Modern Family
  • Directing – Mini/TV: Colin Bucksey, Fargo
  • Directing – Variety Series: Glenn Weiss, 67th Tonys

Breaking Bad S5 screenshot

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Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar” (Trailer)

Christopher Nolan’s next mega-cast science-fiction cinematic event stars Matthew McConaughey, Michael Caine, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Casey Affleck, Ellen Burstyn, John Lithgow, Topher Grace, Wes Bentley, David Oyelowo and Matt Damon.

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True Detective’s AT&T Ad

You know those faux-adorable AT&T ads where the spokesman interviews a table full of kindergarteners? Well, what if that spokesman was Rust Cohle from True Detective

You gotta hand it to the actor – that’s a damn fine Matthew McConaughey impression.

 

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Brad Pitt in Season 2 of True Detective?

It’s far from a done deal, and may very well not happen, but it seems there’s real interest in casting Brad Pitt for True Detective’s second season.

The first season, which just wrapped up a few weeks ago, was a smash success in every instance of the word. That season’s stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson have already confirmed they will not be returning. That leave a vacuum that can only be filled with rampant speculation.

Still, if this happens, it would be excellent news. If nothing else, I believe Se7en proves he’s up to the challenge. It would also be just another sign that the film industry is recognizing the small screen’s recent knack for high quality filmmaking, as more and more big names in film are moving to TV.

Brad Pit in Se7en

Brad Pit in Se7en

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Review – True Detective, Season 1 (HBO)

true_detective_matthew_mcconaughey

If you haven’t seen True Detective yet, you owe it to yourself to address that. Don’t have HBO? Whatever. Find a friend with an HBOGO account. Find a torrent. Sign up for one of those cable promos they’re always offering and then cancel it when you’re done. I don’t care; just do what you have to.

I’m serious, I’ll wait…

OK, if you STILL haven’t watched it, I’ll keep this spoiler-free. But just know that there’s nothing I can say that will convince you more than just watching the first episode. This show gets its hooks in you quick and never lets go.

Rust Cohle and Martin Hart are cops on a 17-year quest to catch a serial killer in southern Louisiana. That’s about all you need to know about the plot going in. I don’t want to spoil the wonderful way it spools out through the 8 episodes. It’s Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson’s instantly iconic characters that draw you in.

Rust is the ultimate eccentric skeptic genius. There are shades of Spock, Locke*, and Sherlock**, but that doesn’t even begin to describe him. Ultimately he’s all McConaughey – another knockout performance in his recent “McConnaissance” win streak. This may have even influenced his recent Oscar win; several episodes aired during the voting period. Even if it didn’t, the last scene of the final episode proves how much he deserves that trophy. Harrelson, meanwhile, has been having his own “Harrelssance” of sorts. (Check out most of his work since 2009’s The Messenger.) In less deft hands, Hart could be a thankless role: the straight man to counter all the crazy. But Woody reveals a man in many ways as damaged and destructive as Rust.

As the title suggests, classic tropes of true crime and murder mystery figure heavily into the narrative. But the genre is a structure. It sets the stage for a masterful script that will surely inspire not just filmmakers and storytellers, but modern day philosophers for a long time to come. As fantastic as the actors are (and all the actors are fantastic, not just the leads), they have the benefit of expertly constructed characters to start with. The dialogue, though often hard to understand (watch with subtitles if you can), is stunningly crafted and infinitely quotable.

The technical crafts are top form as well. The cinematography is gorgeous. The soundtrack by T Bone Burnett is haunting. And from Cohle’s sparse apartment (complete with an eyeball-sized mirror) and surprisingly arranged storage unit, to the house of a demented hoarder and an overgrown labyrinthine fortress (of sorts), the set design is truly inspired.

But the real genius is that, while it transcends its genre trappings, this show never becomes so arty that it loses sight of what makes that genre so enjoyable. As dark as it gets – and make no mistake, it gets pitch black at times – it never loses that feels of excitement and anticipation and, dare I say it, yes even fun.

As I write this review it occurs to me that most of it could be used to describe another groundbreaking TV show about a murder mystery from almost 25 years ago. Actually they don’t feel all that similar. True Detective eschews the soapy melodrama that Twin Peaks revels in, and ultimately I think the newer show is a bit more accessible. But lined up side by side, there are surprising similarities.

Then again, maybe it’s simpler than that. As Rust Cohle explains, “It’s just one story, the oldest, light versus dark.”

_____
*Lost (ABC)
*Sherlock (BBC)

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The Oscars Split: 12 Years a Slave wins Picture, Gravity wins Director

Gravity-12-years-a-slave (1)

The old rule that you can’t predict a split has been broken. By and large most awards-watchers predicted 12 Years a Slave to win Best Picture and Gravity‘s Alfonso Cuarón to take Director. Many of the most seasoned and widely respected pundits said that was unlikely and impossible to predict. I almost changed my predictions to Gravity all the way, but I stuck to my guns instead. And guess what… It happened!

Gravity, due to it’s technical prowess, walked away with 7 wins overall, more than any other film this year. 12 Years a Slave, despite taking the top prize, tied with Dallas Buyers Club for a distant second place in total wins. Both won 3. Frozen and The Great Gatsby each won 2, while Her and Blue Jasmine just took 1 apiece. The rest of the Best Picture nominees all went home empty-handed, including Captain Phillips, NebraskaPhilomena, The Wolf of Wall Street, and perhaps most surprisingly, American Hustle, which had initially tied Gravity for the most nominations (10). 

See the full list of winners here.

Overall, I went 19/24 in my predictions. Honestly, for such a tight year with so many amazing films, there weren’t a lot of surprising wins. What surprises we did get were mild ones that many saw coming.

The biggest shock (aside from American Hustle‘s big ol’ goose egg) was honestly Gravity’s Editing win, which wasn’t shocking at all. Many were predicting ACE winner Captain Phillips to take it, but the major technical marvel in the race could not be ignored. Her‘s Original Screenplay win over American Hustle lowered some pundits’ scores, just as Jennifer Lawrence’s Supporting Actress loss to Lupita Nyong’o lowered mine. But to be honest both races were neck-and-neck, and either had a great chance at winning.

The only other races I missed were in Foreign and two of the Short Films. I should have seen The Great Beauty coming (and honestly almost changed my prediction this morning). It’s won more precursors, but I was convinced by some pundits who thought it too abstract and esoteric to win. I was surprised yet thrilled to see the lovely Mr. Hublot win Animated Short over the more widely seen Get a Horse! And I was disappointed to see the technically proficient but narratively flat Helium win Live Action Short over one of the best films of the year (of any length) in Just Before Losing Everything.

The show itself was a pretty good one. While not necessarily all that memorable, it moved along at a good clip and Ellen Degeneres kept it light and enjoyable throughout. The producers made some good decisions that improved on previous years. The Original Song performances were great (although U2’s sound levels could’ve been better mixed). The introductions of the Best Picture nominees were made in groups of three, which certainly saved time. Eventually I’d like to see those intros scrapped altogether, but at least it’s a small step in the right direction.

Another small step in the right direction was the vague “Heroes” theme and it’s montages. While still wholly unnecessary, at least the montages were short and few, and they didn’t seem quite as random as similar ones in recent years. The Wizard of Oz tribute was pretty random, but I liked Pink’s performance.

Something I really liked was the choice to go from In Memoriam directly into Bette Midler’s song. In the past the segment has always been followed by a commercial break, leaving the somber mood to be jarred by obnoxious local TV ads. This felt much more smooth, and also allowed for a segue into more presentations before going to another break.

The standout speeches of the night were given Jared Leto (starting the night off perfectly), Kristin Anderson-Lopez and newly crowned EGOT Robert Lopez for Frozen‘s “Let It Go,” and Lupita Nyong’o. Matthew McConaughey’s speech was odd and a little off-kilter, but ended up rather endearingly quirky. And finally, BRAVO to the producers for not being to trigger happy about having the orchestra play winners offstage. The only ones that got played off were a couple of the short film winners (who were struggling with language barriers).

Ellen’s jokes were pretty on most of the night. She’s a great comedian, and her banter with the crowd was fun. I’m not sure how I felt about pointing out that many of the actors like Amy Adams never went to college. Either she’s embarrassing them or telling the general audience that that’s ok, but there’s no middle ground and since the joke fell flat, it felt pretty awkward and uncomfortable. But I loved the “possibility” bit – “Possibility #1: 12 Years a Slave wins Best Picture. Possibility #2: You’re all racists.” That’s how to be funny and pretend edgy, without actually being edgy. That’s what the Academy was looking for, and that’s what they got.

All in all, I had a fun night. What about you? How did you like the show? What did you love? What did you hate? What was meh? Let me know in the comments or on the Facebook page.

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Top 10 Films of 2013

Tom Hanks

And here it is: my Top 10 for 2013! (In case you missed 11-20 and the rest, check it out here.) Without further ado, #10…

10. Dallas Buyers Club

One of the best films about the earlier years of the AIDS epidemic. While not a comedy, it’s surprisingly funny at times. It deftly avoids the overly sentimental treacle one often expects with this subject matter. Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto give the best performances of their respective careers.

9. Philomena

Judi Dench has still got it (as if there were ever any doubt). Steve Coogan’s script could’ve easily treated its main character as just a stupid country bumpkin, and for a while you think it does. Before long though, you realize you’re looking at a deeply complex, intelligent individual and the Coogan’s big city journalist may me the short-sighted one. It also sheds much-needed light on a horrible true past, but to say more would be giving away too much.

8. Rush

Do you think this is a sports movie? Think again. This is a hugely enjoyable character study of two Formula One drivers whose complex relationship is one of the most riveting things on screen in years. Chris Hemsworth and especially Daniel Brühl are perfectly cast.

7. Mud

McConaughey continues his amazing “McConnaisance,” but the real stand outs are Tye Sheridan as main kid, Ellis, and director Jeff Nichols who continues his run of incredibly poignant portraits of rural American south. (His last, Take Shelter, was one of the most defining films of the decade.)

6. Captain Phillips

Paul Greengrass’ greatest gift is his ability to strip the sentiment and judgment away so that the only emotion left is genuinely your own. Tom Hanks’ final scene will break you.

5. Prisoners

What looks on the surface to be an average popcorn thriller, turns out to be a deeply layered, tightly wound, and deftly directed morality play. This will haunt you for a very long time after the credits roll.

4. 12 Years a Slave

Director Steve McQueen drops the pretension of his first two films (Hunger, Shame) but keeps the artistry to create the most powerful vision of slavery ever put on film. Chiwetel Ejiofor is outstanding as always in the lead and Michael Fassbender is terrifying as his brutal owner. Beware the hanging scene – I’ll say no more.

3. Gravity

The groundbreaking visual effects make better use of 3D than any film in history. That alone would make it one of the best movies of any year. But it’s the deceptively simple structure and struggle for survival at its heart that makes it one of the greatest films ever made.

2. Nebraska

Alexander Payne’s best film since Election is the most relaxing and pleasant time I’ve spent in a movie theater all year. It’s at once measured and hilarious. Bruce Dern gives a completely lived-in performance as Woody, but the biggest stand out is June Squibb as his un-self-censored wife. (See my review here.)

 -TIE- 2. Her [UPDATE: Added 1/21/14]

Spike Jonze hits refresh on the romance genre with this love story between a man and his computer. Set in a gorgeously designed near-future, this film moves beyond the usual genre tropes to explore the very concept of relationships. (See my review here.)

1. The Wolf of Wall Street

Martin Scorsese one-ups his own legendary repertoire by taking the true life of the worst of Wall St scumbags and making it an outrageous comedy. Leonardo DiCaprio gives the best performance of his illustrious career. But don’t confuse the deceptively light tone with a lack of seriousness. The raucous chaos at the very heart of the film paints an extremely poignant vision of corporate greed and excess. (See my review here.)

Agree? Disagree? Think I missed something? Let me know in the comments!

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Review – The Wolf of Wall Street

I’ve never taken cocaine, but I imagine the effect is something like how I felt after watching The Wolf of Wall Street. It’s a hilarious 3-hour drug- and sex-fueled ride through the depths of white-collar 1-percenter debauchery. Martin Scorsese’s comedic masterpiece is controversial, and I can understand why: Jordan Belfort is a horrible human being, and Leonardo DiCaprio plays him with a raucous, joyous energy that audiences would rather associate with a character much farther on the “pro” side of “protagonist”. And make no mistake, (mild SPOILER ALERT, though it’s far from unexpected) Belfort hardly gets what he really deserves for his crimes (END SPOILER). But you’d be a fool to believe that the comic treatment is in any way condoning what’s on screen. We may be taken so far into the lions’ den that we don’t see the rabbits, but we get one hell of a graphic close-up of the claws and fangs. They’re more gruesome than most of us would expect.

DiCaprio’s performance is his best ever. He throws himself into the role of Jordan with terrifying commitment. Beyond that, he takes the physical comedy to a new level that makes me wonder why we haven’t seen this side of him before. The rest of the ensemble is fantastic across the board, but for me there was other clear standout. Matthew McConaughey – smack dab in the middle of his remarkable “McConnaisance” – appears for all of maybe 15 minutes near the beginning as Jordan’s mentor. But in one scene he breathes such life into this “minor” character that he is infused throughout the next 2 and a half hours, never shown again, but never forgotten.

A word about the length: 3 hours is a long movie, no question. But in this case you don’t feel it, not the way you’d expect anyway. The energy is super-high throughout, and you’ll never have a chance to be bored. But beyond that, Scorsese uses the very length of the film to service its theme, namely: excess. He tells the story of a monster through his own eyes. Jordan doesn’t see himself as the monster he clearly is. He sees his life as a joyous endless thrill ride, so that’s what he shows us. And in that chaotic mess is the exacting genius of a filmmaker perfectly presenting a precise vision. The separation between audience and characters on screen is nothing more or less than the conclusions we take away after the credits role. As it should be.

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