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DID YOU READ

Is it too early to start predicting next year’s Oscars?

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The Atlantic, The Playlist and The New York Times all have them: 2013 Oscar prediction pieces. Predicting next year’s Oscars within days of this year’s Oscars? Isn’t that a little early? In a word: yes.

True, it’s useful to get a quick look at the big prestige movies coming our way this calendar year, to put them on our radar for when they begin to crop up in the fall. But the fall is still a long ways away. Some of these movies (like Terrence Malick’s upcoming project with Ben Affleck) don’t have release dates yet — or even titles (like Terrence Malick’s upcoming project with Ben Affleck) — and could easily wind up getting pushed back to the 2014 Oscar race (like Terrence Malick’s upcoming project with Ben Affleck). Since no one has seen any of these movies it is basically just a guessing game: look at the calendar, see which movies have the best creative pedigrees, and fire away. “The Dark Knight Rises” for Best Picture? Sure, why not. Best Adapted Screenplay? Uh, let’s see if we can understand the words coming out Tom Hardy’s mouth first.

Anyone who tried the Oscar prediction game at this time last year would have been way off: who would have called “The Artist,” a tiny silent film from France that hadn’t premiered anywhere, to win Best Picture? No one. At this point in the 2009 Oscar race, “The Hurt Locker” had just lost at the Spirit Awards, where it gambled on nominations prior to its theatrical release, and looked dead in the water. Meanwhile “Avatar” still sounded like the craziest of crazy gambles by James Cameron. Did anyone predict that horse race? At this point, no.

These pieces are endemic of a strange, and relatively new impulse in the world of movie journalism: the drive to extend “Oscar season” until it lasts the entire year. This is almost certainly a function of the number of websites devoted to Oscar coverage, which serve an important (and very ad-friendly) niche for a good third of the year and then need to justify their existence the other eight months. If you work on one of those sites, this has to be the toughest week of the year to fill: people are burnt out on Oscar talk (can you tell I’m burnt out on Oscar talk?!?), but you’ve got to fill the space somehow. Hence, mega-early predictions.

I was a guest on the /Filmcast this week, where we dissected the Oscar broadcast and awards (for this year, I want to be clear about that). And one thought occurred to me as we all piled on “The Artist.” This was a film I enjoyed when I saw it — not enough to declare one of the best pictures of the year, but enough to feel like it was a satisfying movie. Yet by late February, it had been the presumptive Best Picture frontrunner for so long that I was completely sick of reading and talking about it. Now that it’s the best film of 2011, I’m sure I never want to hear about it ever again, much less watch it again. These professional Oscar prognosticators are so good at their jobs that they’ve have taken a lot of the guesswork out of the Academy Awards. They’ve killed the suspense, and a little bit of the fun. Would I have been happier with “The Artist” as a Best Picture winner if it hadn’t been talked to death for the last six months? Maybe. What movie could hold up to that much scrutiny?

So maybe let’s hold off on the predictions for now. The Toronto Film Festival, in early September, feels like a better place to start this conversation. At this point, it’s just a lot of empty talk.

Do you like reading next year’s Oscar predictions now? Tell us in the comments below or write to us on Facebook and Twitter.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.