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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Inauguration Alternative

Bill Murray On Repeat

It's a movie "Murray-thon" all-day Friday on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs courtesy of GIPHY

Democrats, Republicans and Millennials agree: 2017 is shaping up to be a spectacle — a spectacle that really kicks into high gear this Friday with the presidential inauguration. Not only will the new POTUS swear in, but all the Country’s highest offices will be filled. It’s a daunting prospect, and to feel a little anxious about it is only normal. But if your anxiety is snowballing into panic, we have a solution:
Bill Murray.

He’s the human embodiment of a mental “Happy Place”, and there’s really no problem he can’t solve. So, with that in mind, how about we all set aside reality for a moment and let Bill take the pain away by imagining a top-shelf White House cabinet filled exclusively by his signature characters. Here are a few hypothetical appointments for your consideration…

Secretary of Defense:
Bill Murray from Stripes

His incompetence is balanced by charm, and dumb luck is inexplicably on his side. America could do worse.

Secretary of State:
Bill Murray from Lost In Translation

A seasoned globetrotter steeped in regional traditions who has the respect of the whole wide world. And he kills Costello in karaoke, which is very important.

Press Secretary:
Bill Murray from Ghostbusters

“Cats and dogs, living together. Mass hysteria.” Dude knows how to brief a room.

Secretary of Health and Human Services:
Bill Murray from What About Bob.

A doctor-approved people person who knows that progress is measured in baby steps.

Secretary of Energy:
Bill Murray from Groundhog Day

Let’s be honest, this world is going to need a lot of do-overs.

Feeling better? Hold on to that bliss. And enjoy a healthy alternative to the inauguration brouhaha with multiple Murrays all Friday long in an IFC movie marathon including Kingpin, Zombieland, Ghostbusters, and Ghostbusters II.

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Home Run

Hank Azaria Gets Thrown A Curve Ball

Brockmire Premieres April 5 at 10P

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Unless you’ve somehow missed every episode of the Simpsons since 1989, then surely you know that Hank Azaria is one of the most important character actors of our time. He’s so prolific and his voice is so dynamic that he’s responsible for more iconic personalities than most folks realize. Basically, he’s the great and powerful Oz — except that when you pull back the curtain the truth is actually more impressive. And now Hank is coming to IFC to bring yet another character to the TV pop culture hive mind in the new series Brockmire. Check out the trailer below.

Based on the following Funny or Die short and co-starring Amanda Peet, Brockmire follows the story of imploded major league sportscaster Jim Brockmire as he tries to resurrect his career by calling plays for a floundering minor league team in a podunk town.

The series is written by Joel Church-Cooper (Undateable) and produced by Funny or Die’s Mike Farah and Joe Farrell, meaning that there’s funny in front of the camera, funny behind the camera–funny all around. Sounds like a ball to us.

Brockmire premieres April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Car Notes

Portlandia On People Who Can’t Park

Portlandia returns tonight at 10P on IFC.

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If flagrant bad parking takes nerve, then retaliatory note writing takes neuroses. Watch Fred and Carrie take passive aggression to next level in Car Notes, the new Portlandia web series presented by Subaru. The first episode is yours right here and now, and you can see every installment of Car Notes anytime online, on the IFC app and on demand.

Portlandia returns tonight at 10P on IFC.

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