The Award Shows Are Coming! The Award Shows Are Coming!

Critics Choice Movie Awards: (airs January 15, 2010 at 9pm EST on VH1)
I can’t genuinely speak about these awards because, for the most part, I haven’t seen the nominated films – yet! From now through the first couple of weeks in January, I’ll likely go on a movie-going blitz. Some of these films, though, have either already come out on video or will be out before the big show (read: the Oscars) so the list of what I’ll see in the theatres during this blitz is lessened a bit.

  • In the acting categories, I can comment on Meryl Streep’s performance in Julie and Julia. She was fantastic! Inarguably one of (if not the) best actors of her generation, Ms. Streep brilliantly brings Julia Child’s joie de vivre to the screen. Again, I haven’t seen her fellow nominees’ performances but based on what I know about their respective movies, I can safely say that Meryl Streep’s performance is the most light hearted.

  • In the best original screenplay category, I was thrilled to see that Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Webb were nominated for the refreshing and charming (500) Days of Summer. Summer was a much more honest look at relationships than most of its romantic comedy brethren and the fact this it boasted two lead actors (Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschannel) at the top of their games didn’t hurt, either. Summer also received a nod in the best comedy category.

Golden Globes: (airs January 17, 2010 at 8pm EST live (for the first time) on NBC)
The Golden Globes are the yummy pear, walnut and goat cheese salad appetizer to the main course, the Oscars. (Oscar nominations come out on February 2.) Like the SAG Awards, this includes both film and television. Unlike the SAG Awards, there are no ensemble awards. Unlike the SAG Awards and the Oscars, the nominating committee and voters for the Golden Globes are less then venerable. The Golden Globes are handed out by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA). Nothing against the foreign press, but included in the HFPA and therefore in the voter pool are foreign US-Weekly style tabloids. It’s also fairly well known that the HFPA likes to be wined and dined and they take this into consideration when making nominations and casting votes. (Insiders say this is what Tobey Maguire’s nomination for this year’s Brothers can be chalked up to.) This makes, in my mind, Golden Globe nominations and awards slightly dubious, but the industry takes them seriously and they’re certainly fun to watch so… on with the show! (Once again, I can’t comment on many of the movie nominees – just yet – especially in the drama categories.)

First, movies:

  • (500) Days of Summer was nominated for best comedy! This is very exciting. I thought it was a great film and I’m glad to see that you don’t have to be raunchy or schmaltzy to be nominated in the comedy category. Ditto for Julie and Julia’s nomination. I know many people thought the Julie Powell storyline, as depicted in the movie, paled terribly in comparison to Julia Child’s story (and Meryl Streep’s performance,) but I urge you to read Powell’s book. Powell is salty and smart and a great writer, and the book depicts her as a fully drawn character. (Kudos to Amy Adams (a great actor and The West Wing alum!) for doing the best she could with an underwritten part.)

  • Meryl Streep will compete against herself in the best comedic actress category. She’s nominated for her performances in It’s Complicated (which may be my Christmas Day movie) and Julie and Julia. She’ll also be competing against Julia Roberts, nominated for Duplicity – which was a terrifically fun romp. The other ladies are Sandra Bullock in The Proposal and Marion Cotillard in Nine. I haven’t seen these last two performances, but just between Meryl, Julia and Meryl this should be a tight race.

  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt was nominated for (500) Days of Summer!!! A well deserved nomination for an incredible actor who consistently turns in stellar performances (sometimes in less than stellar films). I’m also excited that such a young actor is being nominated. He’s no spring chicken – he’s 28 and has been in the business since he was playing on the jungle gym – but his fellow nominees (who are nothing to sneeze at – Matt Damon, Daniel Day-Lewis, Robert Downey, Jr. and Michael Stuhlbarg) are all in the 40+ club (or almost – Damon turns 40 in 2010) and with the exceptions of Carey Mulligan (An Education) and Gabourey Sidibe (Precious) he is the youngest nominee in the field. Check out Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s collaborative creation site, HitRECord, to see how he’s saying ‘thanks”.

  • Penelope Cruz was nominated for best supporting actress in a movie, for Nine, and while I haven’t seen the film, the HFPA digs Penelope. She has a good shot at winning and also nabbing another best supporting actress Oscar nod.

  • Martin Scorsese will receive the Cecil B. DeMille award at the Globes. On hand to present the award will be past, present and future collaborators Robert DeNiro and, a favorite of mine, Leonardo DiCaprio.
And now on to TV:

  • Julianna Margulies was nominated for The Good Wife – way to go. (See my comments in the SAG section for something more articulate!)

  • For the first year in memory, I watch all of the nominated comedy series: 30 Rock, Entourage, Glee (!!!!!), Modern Family and The Office. Of course I’m pulling for Glee, but more likely it’s a race between 30 Rock and The Office. Although, in its first season, the struggling Party of Five won at the Globes, which was boost enough to let it run for six seasons. The HFPA may be gleeks so there just might be an upset.

  • Speaking of Glee
    Lea Michele was nominated for best actress in a comedy! Way to go, lady. Take that, Tony nominating committee – you failed, miserably, for not nominating her for Spring Awakening. She’s up against Toni Collette, Courtney Cox, Edie Falco, and perennial award show favorite Tina Fey, but once again it’s great seeing a talented young actress (she’s 23) nominated.

    Matthew Morrison is playing with the big boys! Joining Alec Baldwin, Steve Carell, David Duchovny (why won’t you love me?) and Thomas Jane, Morrison is nominated in the leading actor in a comedy series category. This man is truly a triple threat. A dancer first, he can definitely bust a move. Matthew has a beautiful voice (I swoon listening to him sing Endless Love – also, Younger Than Springtime) and dude can act. His performance in the penultimate episode of The Road to Sectionals batch is better than in any other episode and proves that he’s more than just a dreamy face.

    Jane Lynch grabs a nod in the best actress in a supporting role category. Ms. Lynch is a brilliantly gifted comedic actress who is laugh out loud funny in just about everything (watch her in Best in Show and try not to laugh) and she steals every scene she’s in on Glee. I bet Sue would C this as a done deal.

  • In the best supporting actor category, we find, among the five, Neil Patrick Harris and Jeremy Piven. While I still think there was something fishy going on with his departure from Speed the Plow last season (I’ll concede that he happened to be very good, though Raul Esparza was my favorite part of the play!) he does turn in a consistently good and nuanced performance as Ari Gold on Entourage. This is Neil Patrick Harris’s year, though. Fans love him. Critics love him. I bet puppies love him, too. He plays womanizer Barney Stinson on How I Met Your Mother. This show isn’t fantastic, but Harris’s hilarious performance and seemingly endless supply of wry one-liners make it fun to watch. My vote’s for Doogie Howser.

Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards: (airs January 23, 2010 at 8pm EST on TNT and TBS)Again, I can’t speak much about the movie nominations because I have yet to see them, but Meryl Streep is nominated for her work in Julie and Julia here, too.

  • Here’s something special about the SAGs: They have an ensemble category. I love this idea. Theatre and movie making are collaborative art forms and actors need each other to feed off of. I wish the Tonys had such an award. Then a brilliant ensemble like that of last season’s The Norman Conquests or the beautiful Tribe of Hippies in Hair could be recognized for the collection of their work. Some shows clearly have stars and the “gypsies” don’t make or break the show (like Billy Elliott). But other shows, like Hair or The Norman Conquests, only work well if the entire cast is fantastic. I know the Tony nominating committee has been lobbied on this issue before but I wish they would make like politicians and listen to those lobbyists! Maybe if Equity started giving out their own awards, like SAG, there would be ensemble awards for theatre.

    (A cheeky little bonus: The ensemble SAG Award means that Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz are now nominated for their acting. (They were in Precious.) Who would have ever thought that Mariah Carey would garner an acting nomination for any award other than a razzie?)
And now on to the TV front, where I have a little more to say!
  • Kevin Kline was nominated for his performance in Cyrano de Bergerac (This was a taped performance of his Broadway performance that was aired on PBS.) I didn’t get a chance to see this in person or on TV and I really like Kevin Kline but wasn’t this on two years ago? I didn’t think this was eligible this year.

  • I was glad to see that Julianna Margulies was nominated for the new drama The Good Wife. I started watching this because Josh Charles is on it and I pretty much want to marry Dan Rydell. But I continued watching it because it’s good and, to the point, Ms. Margulies gives a subtle performance with specific and on target choices. In addition, the show received a nod in the best drama ensemble category. The Good Wife’s ensemble includes not only Julianna Margulies and Josh Charles, but also Christine Baranski, who I saw in Boeing Boeing last summer, and Graham Phillips, who I saw in the short-lived Jason Robert Brown musical 13.

  • Steve Carell and Alec Baldwin were once again nominated for The Office and 30 Rock, respectively, and either of them deserves to win. I still don’t understand Charlie Sheen’s appeal but I suppose some things will forever be a mystery.

  • Tina Fey was also nominated again for 30 Rock. While I don’t watch the other shows, the other nominated actors, Christina Applegate, Toni Collette, Edie Falco and Julia Louis-Dreyfus are all skilled – and well liked – actors, so I’m not making any predictions.

  • Scrolling down the list of individual actor nominations, I was a little disappointed to see no love for Glee. (Really, is Charlie Sheen better than Matthew Morrison?) But, order was partially restored when I saw that Glee was nominated for best comedic ensemble. Of the five shows nominated in that category, I watch four (Glee, 30 Rock, The Office and Modern Family). I don’t watch Curb but I know everyone, especially in the industry, loves it so it could eek out a win over critical darling 30 Rock.

In Tony news, while the Tonys won’t take place until June, the nominating committee gathers periodically over the season to rule on various eligibility discrepancies. Recently they handed down the ruling that the dance show Burn the Floor was eligible in the Best Musical category and Carrie Fisher’s one woman show, Wishful Drinking, was eligible in the Best Play category. The reason this was even up for discussion is because after last year, the American Theatre Wing retired the Special Theatrical Event category so shows like Burn the Floor and Wishful Drinking now have to be considered in either the Best Musical or Best Play categories. I still don’t understand why the Special Theatrical Event category was retired. And while I’m not too thrilled over the prospect of something trite like Burn the Floor competing in the same category as Memphis, I suppose I can rest easy knowing just because a show or performance is eligible in a category doesn’t mean it will be nominated – for better or worse. (Once again, a sigh for the Tony committee neglecting to nominate Aaron Tveit for Next to Normal.)