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NYFCO, LAFCA and Other Acronyms Decide on the Best Movie of the Year

NYFCO, LAFCA and Other Acronyms Decide on the Best Movie of the Year (photo)

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Across the country, film critic associations are weighing in with their votes on the best films and filmmaking of the year, and at the moment, “The Social Network” rules.

On the East Coast, the New York Film Critics’ Circle have yet to offer their choices, but their web-based counterparts the New York Film Critics Online have picked David Fincher’s film as Best Picture, with Fincher as Best Director and Aaron Sorkin’s script as Best Screenplay.

The Boston Society of Film Critics offered the same designations for “The Social Network,” with the addition of a nod to Jesse Eisenberg as Best Actor and Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ score.

The Los Angeles Film Critics Association gave “The Social Network” the win for picture and screenplay, with David Fincher tying with “Carlos”‘s Olivier Assayas for Best Director. LAFCA picked “Mother” star Kim Hye-ja for Best Actress, while NYFCO and BSFC went with Natalie Portman for her performance in “Black Swan.”

Elsewhere, AFI has announced its (unranked) list of the ten best films of the year:

“Black Swan”
“The Fighter”
“Inception”
“The Kids Are All Right”
“127 Hours”
“The Social Network”
“The Town”
“Toy Story 3″
“True Grit”
“Winter’s Bone”

More awards will be unveiled as the week rolls on, but right now things are looking awfully Oscary for Fincher’s Facebook movie.

Soap tv show

As the Spoof Turns

15 Hilarious Soap Opera Parodies

Catch the classic sitcom Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures Television

The soap opera is the indestructible core of television fandom. We celebrate modern series like The Wire and Breaking Bad with their ongoing storylines, but soap operas have been tangling more plot threads than a quilt for decades. Which is why pop culture enjoys parodying them so much.

Check out some of the funniest soap opera parodies below, and be sure to catch Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.

1. Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman

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Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman was a cult hit soap parody from the mind of Norman Lear that poked daily fun at the genre with epic twists and WTF moments. The first season culminated in a perfect satire of ratings stunts, with Mary being both confined to a psychiatric facility and chosen to be part of a Nielsen ratings family.


2. IKEA Heights

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IKEA Heights proves that the soap opera is alive and well, even if it has to be filmed undercover at a ready-to-assemble furniture store totally unaware of what’s happening. This unique webseries brought the classic formula to a new medium. Even IKEA saw the funny side — but has asked that future filmmakers apply through proper channels.


3. Fresno

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When you’re parodying ’80s nighttime soaps like Dallas and Dynasty , everything about your show has to equally sumptuous. The 1986 CBS miniseries Fresno delivered with a high-powered cast (Carol Burnett, Teri Garr and more in haute couture clothes!) locked in the struggle for the survival of a raisin cartel.


4. Soap

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Soap was the nighttime response to daytime soap operas: a primetime skewering of everything both silly and satisfying about the source material. Plots including demonic possession and alien abduction made it a cult favorite, and necessitated the first televised “viewer discretion” disclaimer. It also broke ground for featuring one of the first gay characters on television in the form of Billy Crystal’s Jodie Dallas. Revisit (or discover for the first time) this classic sitcom every Saturday morning on IFC.


5. Too Many Cooks

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Possibly the most perfect viral video ever made, Too Many Cooks distilled almost every style of television in a single intro sequence. The soap opera elements are maybe the most hilarious, with more characters and sudden shocking twists in an intro than most TV scribes manage in an entire season.


6. Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace

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Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace was more mockery than any one medium could handle. The endless complications of Darkplace Hospital are presented as an ongoing horror soap opera with behind-the-scenes anecdotes from writer, director, star, and self-described “dreamweaver visionary” Garth Marenghi and astoundingly incompetent actor/producer Dean Learner.


7. “Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive,” MadTV

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Soap opera connoisseurs know that the most melodramatic plots are found in Korea. MADtv‘s parody Tae Do  (translation: Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive) features the struggles of mild-mannered characters with far more feelings than their souls, or subtitles, could ever cope with.


8. Twin Peaks

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Twin Peaks, the twisted parody of small town soaps like Peyton Place whose own creator repeatedly insists is not a parody, has endured through pop culture since it changed television forever when it debuted in 1990. The show even had it’s own soap within in a soap called…


9. “Invitation to Love,” Twin Peaks

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Twin Peaks didn’t just parody soap operas — it parodied itself parodying soap operas with the in-universe show Invitation to Love. That’s more layers of deceit and drama than most televised love triangles.


10. “As The Stomach Turns,” The Carol Burnett Show

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The Carol Burnett Show poked fun at soaps with this enduring take on As The World Turns. In a case of life imitating art, one story involving demonic possession would go on to happen for “real” on Days of Our Lives.


11. Days of our Lives (Friends Edition)

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Still airing today, Days of Our Lives is one of the most famous soap operas of all time. They’re also excellent sports, as they allowed Friends star Joey Tribbiani to star as Dr Drake Ramoray, the only doctor to date his own stalker (while pretending to be his own evil twin). And then return after a brain-transplant.

And let’s not forget the greatest soap opera parody line ever written: “Come on Joey, you’re going up against a guy who survived his own cremation!”


12. Acorn Antiques

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First appearing on the BBC sketch comedy series Victoria Wood As Seen on TV, Acorn Antiques combines almost every low-budget soap opera trope into one amazing whole. The staff of a small town antique store suffer a disproportional number of amnesiac love-triangles, while entire storylines suddenly appear and disappear without warning or resolution. Acorn Antiques was so popular, it went on to become a hit West End musical.


13. “Point Place,” That 70s Show

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In a memorable That ’70s Show episode, an unemployed Red is reduced to watching soaps all day. He becomes obsessed despite the usual Red common-sense objections (like complaining that it’s impossible to fall in love with someone in a coma). His dreams render his own life as Point Place, a melodramatic nightmare where Kitty leaves him because he’s unemployed. (Click here to see all airings of That ’70s Show on IFC.)


14. The Spoils of Babylon

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Bursting from the minds of Will Ferrell and creators Andrew Steele and Matt Piedmont, The Spoils of Babylon was a spectacular parody of soap operas and epic mini-series like The Thorn Birds. Taking the parody even further, Ferrell himself played Eric Jonrosh, the author of the book on which the series was based. Jonrosh returned in The Spoils Before Dying, a jazzy murder mystery with its own share of soapy twists and turns.

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15. All My Children Finale, SNL

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SNL‘s final celebration of one of the biggest soaps of all time is interrupted by a relentless series of revelations from stage managers, lighting designers, make-up artists, and more. All of whom seem to have been married to or murdered by (or both) each other.

#Filmcritictricks for the Genuinely Cynical or Just Aspiring

#Filmcritictricks for the Genuinely Cynical or Just Aspiring (photo)

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It’s been a funny/bitter morning for film critics, journalists and fans on Twitter — here are some selections from the hashtag#filmcritictricks, which seems to have spiraled from knowing self-mockery into darkness awfully quickly.

@mattzollerseitz Chastise readers for not turning out to support the theatrical release of a little film you saw via DVD screener. #filmcritictricks

@vjmfilms Say “I need to see it again” because you can’t believe Respected Auteur made something you SO got nothing out of #filmcritictricks

@kenlowery Guilty: Calling a film “interesting” when I could not precisely say it was “good” though it wasn’t “bad.” #filmcritictricks

@rrho Call a film ‘a bit lengthy’ because you don’t want to admit you fell asleep. #filmcritictricks

@CraigatPorlock Highbrow Auteur made movie X “bad on purpose” as B-movie homage. #filmcritictricks

@cmasonwells When an aging director has lost all the energetic style of his youth, say he’s “matured.” #filmcritictricks

@selfstyldsiren Use beloved old movie to illustrate how much more sophisticated the current one is. #filmcritictricks

@filmbrain Call a performance “brave” if someone with a less-than-perfect body gets naked. #filmcritictricks

@JeffDeutchman Reveal that a dismissed film is actually about filmmaking, and treat this statement as a self-evident proof of greatness. #filmcritictricks

@thefilmcynic Highly recommend each & every film about the film industry, because the whole world will get the in-jokes, just as you did #filmcritictricks

@InRO Come up with hastags as a way to feign self-flagellation when you really just want to prove how clever you are. #filmcritictricks

@ExtAngel Okay, one more: Cut your wrists, pour gasoline over your head, set yourself on fire. #filmcritictricks

National Board of Review Picks “Social Network”

National Board of Review Picks “Social Network” (photo)

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The National Board of Review of Motion Pictures announced its awards yesterday and David Fincher’s “The Social Network” was the big winner, scoring awards for Best Picture, Best Director (Fincher), Best Actor (Jesse Eisenberg), and Best Adapted Screenplay (Aaron Sorkin). Here’s the full list of winners:

Best Film
“The Social Network”

Ten Best Films
“Another Year,” “The Fighter,” “Hereafter,” “Inception,” “The King’s Speech,” “Shutter Island,” “The Town,” “Toy Story 3,” “True Grit,” “Winter’s Bone”

Best Foreign Language Film
“Of Gods and Men”

Top Five Foreign Films
(in alphabetical order) “I Am Love,” “Incendies,” “Life,” “Above All,” “Soul Kitchen,” “White Material”

Best Documentary
“Waiting for ‘Superman'”

Top Five Documentaries
(in alphabetical order) “A Film Unfinished,” “Inside Job,” “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work,” “Restrepo,” “The Tillman Story”

Top Independent Films
(in alphabetical order) “Animal Kingdom,” “Buried,” “Fish Tank,” “The Ghost Writer,” “Greenberg,” “Let Me In,” “Monsters,” “Please Give,” “Somewhere,” “Youth in Revolt”

Best Actor
Jesse Eisenberg, “The Social Network”

Best Actress
Lesley Manville, “Another Year”

Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale, “The Fighter”

Best Supporting Actress
Jacki Weaver, “Animal Kingdom”

Best Ensemble Cast
“The Town”

Breakthrough Performance
Jennifer Lawrence, “Winter’s Bone”

Best Director
David Fincher, “The Social Network”

Debut Directors
Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington, “Restrepo”

Best Adapted Screenplay
Aaron Sorkin, “The Social Network”

Spotlight Award
Sylvain Chomet and Jacques Tati, “The Illusionist”

Best Original Screenplay
Chris Sparling, “Buried”

Best Animated Feature
“Toy Story 3″

Special Filmmaking Achievement
Sofia Coppola for writing, directing, and producing “Somewhere”

Production Design Award
Dante Ferretti, “Shutter Island”

William K. Everson Award For Film History
Leonard Maltin

Freedom of Expression
“Fair Game,” “Conviction,” “Howl”

If you’re wondering what the National Board of Review is and how they choose these films, here’s the official description of the process from NBR’s press release:

“This year the National Board of Review, a select group of film enthusiasts, academics, film professionals, and students, screened over 250 films including studio, independent, foreign-language, animated and documentary selections. These screenings were frequently followed by in-depth discussions with filmmakers, directors, actors, producers, and screenwriters. The NBR was founded as a clearing house for new movies, over a hundred years ago on January 25, 1909, just 13 years after the birth of cinema. Its stated purpose was to endorse films of merit and champion the new “art of the people,” which was transforming America’s cultural life. Today, the organization is comprised of 110 members, many of whom are past recipients of the NBR student grant program which enables students and young filmmakers to finish their projects and exhibit their work.”

To me, there one big shocker is the Best Original Screenplay award for “Buried,” a film that’s not considered much of an Oscar contender at all (the film isn’t among the 27 titles considered in the running for the Academy Award by In Contention). I’m also not sure what makes Mike Leigh’s “Another Year” a “Ten Best Films” film but not a “Best Foreign Film” film since it’s a British movie made by British filmmakers, but groups like this have their own arcade rules and procedures that I don’t understand.

The NBR will hand out their awards on January 11 at an event hosted by Meredith Viera.

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