Get ready for some of the unsexiest nudity of the year in "Wanderlust," Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston's new comedy about suddenly unemployed urban dwellers George and Linda who unexpectedly find themselves at a hippie commune that's not only clothing optional but polyamorous. Their introduction to the clothing optional part is initially through Joe Lo Truglio's full frontal nudity (though, to be honest, the actor wears an impressive prosthetic penis throughout the film). "[Whole Lotta Penis] was the original name of the film," Rudd jokes.
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There's a stand-by in Oscar season, if you're one of us who obsesses on guessing below-the-line categories, that I learned never to forget last year: Don't bet against a Tim Burton film in the Best Art Direction category.
Last year it was "Alice in Wonderland" that took the award, when I and a number of others thought "The King's Speech" might grab it in a bit of a sweep scenario for the eventual Best Picture winner. Three years prior, it was this season's expected victor, Dante Ferretti, winning the award for Burton's "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street." Eight years before that, the inarguable work of Rick Heinrichs and his team took it for "Sleepy Hollow."
That run started, though, in 1989, when Anton Furst and Peter Young beat out James Cameron's "The Abyss," Terry Gilliam's "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen," Best Picture winner "Driving Miss Daisy" and Edward Zwick's "Glory" for their towering Gothic creations on the year's (and, to that time, the industry's) biggest hit: "Batman."
(The Oscar Guide will be your chaperone through the Academy's 24 categories awarding excellence in film. A new installment will hit every weekday in the run-up to the Oscars on February 26, with the Best Picture finale on Saturday, February 25.)
For many Oscar voters and watchers, Best Director appears to be something of a superfluous category: If you directed the best film of the year, the reasoning goes, you must be the best director of the year too. That may be true more often than not, but the Academy doesn't always distinguish between a true visionary and a safe pair of hands guiding well-chosen collaborators.
So it is that, over 83 years of Academy Awards history, the Best Picture and Best Director awards have gone to the same film 75% of the time -- and in recent years, haven't been separated since the 2005 ceremony. Last year, the Academy opted for the safe pair of hands: Tom Hooper, a comparatively untested Brit with a TV background, beat four idiosyncratic American auteurs, to the chagrin of critics everywhere. This year again sees a foreign first-time nominee pitted against a quartet of more established Yanks. (All four of them, moreover, are previous nominees -- the highest proportion in the category since 1993.) Once again, the outsider is favored to triumph, though in this case, it's for a work of more director-centered ingenuity. He's also one of four writer-directors among the nominees, a number last matched in 1995.
The nominees are...
A review of last night's "New Girl" coming up just as soon as I look like a Gypsy courtesan...
A review of last night's "Parenthood" coming up just as soon as I tell you a story about Lenny Kravitz's stinky feet...
With many grousing that the Academy's technophobia deprived Andy Serkis of an Oscar nod for "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," Matt Zoller Seitz makes a case for a compromise honor: a new Oscar category for Best Collaborative Performance, for characters created by heavily altered actors in conjunction with motion-capture artists, animators and makeup wizards. Serkis aside, performances Seitz suggests could have won here include Jeff Goldblum in "The Fly" and Brad Pitt in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" -- though his notion that anti-FX bias cost Pitt the 2008 Best Actor Oscar is an empty one when you consider his competition. Overall, It's an intelligent suggestion, though it would surely hinder the possibility of such performances cracking the main acting races. [Press Play]
If you haven't picked up on it yet, I'm a little bit excited about "Skyfall."
It's a year where there are some big and significant franchise films coming out, including "The Avengers" and "The Hobbit" and "The Dark Knight Rises," and of all of them, the one that I have to admit has me most worked up and flustered and desperate for information about is "Skyfall."
I like what the Daniel Craig years have brought to the James Bond series, and I think they can do anything right now. They're not painted into any corners. They haven't done anything in "Casino Royale" and "Quantum Of Solace" that prevents them from going pretty much anywhere with the storytelling at this point. There's a lot of groundwork laid in those two films, but to what end?
I think the key here in terms of my excitement is Sam Mendes, who I think is a talented guy whose films don't necessarily fully reflect his skills. The attitude he's been expressing since coming on-board here, combined with what I've heard about him as a Bond fan in general, has me thinking that the producers picked the right guy to handle the 50th anniversary James Bond movie, and that there's something special in the works for us this year.
The 14th annual Costume Designers Guild Awards were held this evening, and it was a good night for wizards, hackers and, uh, Madonna.
The Harry Potter franchise was honored for the first time since 2001 by the group as Jany Temime, who has been with the series since 2004's "The Prisoner of Azkaban," won the Excellence in Fantasy Film award for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2." The last Potter costumer awarded by the guild was Judianna Makovsky, way back on the series' first installment, "The Sorcerer's Stone," making for nice bookends for the franchise. The series' only other nomination was for Temime again on "The Order of the Phoenix" in 2007.
Elsewhere, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" won in the contemporary category (beating out films like "Bridesmaids" and "Drive"), while "W.E." costumer Arianne Phillips was the surprise winner of the evening, besting Oscar frontrunners "The Artist" and "Hugo."
It seems that Tamra and Vicki's friendship, once dependably solid, is about to crumple like a dirty Kleenex for the usual, stupid reasons -- silly misunderstandings, petty jealousies and boob touching. Okay, that last one is only a usual reason on "The Real Housewives of Orange County," but it's an important part of the equation nonetheless. In short, Eddie doesn't like any man other than himself touching Tamra's boobs. Tamra, on the other hand, doesn't like Eddie and Vicki touching at all. If I didn't know better, I'd think everyone was afraid of cooties on this show, and I still can't rule it out as that's really the maturity level most of these women seem to operate upon after about two glasses of chardonnay.
Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis have been added as presenters at the 2012 Oscars, joining a lineup of previously-announced funny-people including Chris Rock, Tina Fey and the cast of "Bridesmaids".
A review of tonight's "Justified" coming up just as soon as I threaten you with my boxer shorts...