DID YOU READ

Tim Grierson on the Oscar Nominations That Will Never Happen (But Really Should)

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About 20 years ago, writer Danny Peary published “Alternate Oscars,” a book in which he went back and second-guessed every Academy Award winner for Best Picture, Actress, and Actor since the Oscars’ early days of the 1920s. To Peary’s mind, there were plenty of instances when Oscar voters had gotten it wrong, and so he proposed who the real winners in those categories should have been. For people who love to argue about what constitutes the “best” in filmmaking, it’s a smart, terrific read.

This year’s Academy Award nominations will be revealed early Thursday morning, January 10, and I’d like to offer my own variation on Peary’s book by selecting the nominees I’d love to hear announced, even though I know they have no chance. In each category, I’ll pick one deserving individual or movie that, currently, isn’t part of the Oscar conversation at all. I don’t think my picks should win, but in a better world, they’d at least get to be part of all the Academy Award hoopla on February 24.

Best Supporting Actress

Anna Kendrick, “End of Watch”

I was tempted to go with Kelly Reilly, who’s terrific as the drug addict who falls for Denzel Washington in “Flight,” but because she’s still considered a bit of a dark horse, I’ll go with another performance that’s been even more overlooked. Anna Kendrick has proved to be a sharp, effervescent presence in movies like “Pitch Perfect” and “Up In the Air” (which earned her an Oscar nomination), but in “End of Watch,” she plays a very different character: a tougher, less adorable woman who falls in love with Jake Gyllenhaal’s LAPD cop. Kendrick’s sweetness, as always, is on display, but she responds to the harder-edged tone of “End of Watch” by delivering a performance that’s grittier and sadder than anything she’s done before. It’s crucial for showing us how the wife of a cop never can relax, always knowing that her husband’s work carries with it enormous risk.

Best Supporting Actor

David Oyelowo, “Middle of Nowhere”

Character actor David Oyelowo has been showing up in everything recently, appearing in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” “The Help,” “Red Tails,” “The Paperboy,” “Lincoln” and “Jack Reacher.” But in the little-seen character drama “Middle of Nowhere,” he really gets a chance to shine, playing a Los Angeles bus driver courting a woman (Emayatzy Corinealdi) whose husband is in prison. The film focuses on Corinealdi’s struggle to go on with her life while staying true to her man, and the excellence of Oyelowo’s performance is such that while we root for Corinealdi, we can’t help but wonder if this charming, sensitive driver might not ultimately be a better match for her.

Best Actor

Liam Neeson, “The Grey”

Because Liam Neeson rose to prominence in the 1990s starring in acclaimed movies like “Schindler’s List,” “Husbands and Wives” and “Kinsey,” there can be a negative kneejerk reaction to his recent transition to action movies like the “Taken” films, naysayers accusing him of “selling out” or compromising his art. But Neeson’s performance in “The Grey” reminds us that “serious” acting can occur in supposed popcorn films as well. Playing an oil-field worker stranded in the Alaskan wilderness who must fend off ravenous wolves and inhuman cold, Neeson gives us a portrayal of a lost soul who turns his ordeal into an unlikely chance at redemption. “The Grey” may be “just” an action-thriller, but the nuance and feeling in Neeson’s performance suggests what a superior actor can do with gripping material.

Best Actress

Kara Hayward, “Moonrise Kingdom”

There’s a very good chance that Quvenzhané Wallis, the lead in “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” will be among the Oscar nominees for Best Actress. If that happens, she would be the youngest nominee ever in that category, beating out Keisha Castle-Hughes, who was almost 14 when she got a nomination for “Whale Rider.” (Wallis turns 10 in August.) I’d like to spotlight another young actress, 14-year-old Kara Hayward, who was wonderful as the dark, melancholy Suzy who runs off with her beau Sam (the equally fine Jared Gilman) in “Moonrise Kingdom.” Though director Wes Anderson’s bittersweet coming-of-age romance features a slew of big names like Bruce Willis, Ed Norton and Bill Murray, the movie revolves around its two adolescent protagonists, and Hayward (in her first film role) is the sort of stormy, mysterious beauty that would bewitch the heart of any young dreamer.

Best Picture

“Compliance”

Ann Dowd, who’s fantastic as the fast-food manager duped by a prank caller in “Compliance,” has put up her own money to mount an Oscar campaign for Best Supporting Actress. I wish someone would have done something similar for this controversial psychological thriller, which examines how (and why) a group of employees do progressively more demeaning things to one of their coworkers (Dreama Walker). “Compliance” is not an easy film to sit through, but writer-director Craig Zobel uses provocation to ask sincere questions about power, class and gender that are just as upsetting as anything you see in the movie. Blessed with a sharp, precise script and a superb cast, “Compliance” is too divisive to ever have a chance at a Best Picture nomination. But I humbly suggest it might be one film from 2012 that we’re still discussing (and debating) in 2032.

You can follow Tim Grierson on Twitter.

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

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

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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