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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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.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.