It's been an eventful week in Tinseltown, despite the snoozy box office and the so-so TV ratings. The Golden Globes officially kicked off awards season, Oscar nominations will be announced on Tuesday, the Sundance Film Festival is premiering a slew of new prestige pics that will reach theaters later in the year, the TV midseason has kicked off, and "American Idol" has returned and predictably slumped. There have been a lot of announcements and controversies lingering over the past few days, but none that I feel deserve an entire blog entry to themselves. But I don't want to let them pass without comment either.
Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes - This may go down as one of the most hotly debated award show hosting performances in history. Maybe all those Comedy Central roasts and VH1 rock band retrospectives have warped my standards for bad behavior, but Ricky Gervais's zingers didn't ping as mean-spirited or especially original to me. Every film freak knows the Hollywood Foreign Press Association will sell itself for a song - one sung by Cher, apparently - and the Golden Globes are only a big deal because NBC trumped them up as their answer to the Oscars a few decades ago. The yearly Globes telecast is famous for having a more laid-back atmosphere, where the stars frequently become inebriated and tongues are looser. The pressure is off because these kudos count for far less than the Oscars and Emmys, which are decided by peer and industry groups. Gervais lobbing potshots is not only appropriate for the affair, it's neccesary. Why else would we watch, if not for these kinds of shenanigans?
New Batman Villains - The WB has announced that two of the villain roles in the new Christopher Nolan Batman film, "The Dark Knight Rises," have been cast. Tom Hardy will play Bane, and Anne Hathaway will be the new Catwoman. I've seen "Bronson," and I'm sure Hardy will be fine as Bane, though it's a little disappointing that the character's Latin roots will probably be erased in the process. Hathaway's involvement is more interesting. She's known for her good-girl roles, and her ability to be charming and lovable even in her bleakest work, like "Rachel Getting Married." I don't think we've really seen the dark side of Anne Hathaway yet, and I'm very excited to find out whether she can do what Heath Ledger did with the Joker, and metamorpohse her sunny screen persona into something darker. The choice of Hathaway hasn't been too popular in nerdier circles, and among the many grumblers was one anonymous commenter who dismissed her for smiling too much. Oh, but it makes all the difference in the world if those smiles can show off sharper teeth. Good luck, Anne!
New Films Starring Black Actresses - Minority women and girls have always had the least amount of opportunity in Hollywood and representation onscreen, so it's gratifying to have the announcement of two new projects featuring black actresses in the same week. The first is a new version of "Annie," starring Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith's daughter Willow. The second, and the real shocker, comes from Clint Eastwood. He's announced his next film will be a remake of "A Star is Born," starring Beyonce Knowles. There have been the usual complaints about reboots and nepotism in response, none with much merit. Both of these properties have already been remade several times apiece, and having black stars will add some welcome new dimensions to the familiar stories. As for Willow Smith, she and her brothers have proven to be a talented bunch, and deserving of encouragement. Jaden Smith made a great "Karate Kid" and brought box office bank, so Willow trying on "Annie" is not just a good idea, but a reasonably sound investment.
New Roger Ebert Review Show - Hooray! I can't wait for the debut this weekend so I can weigh in on the performances of Christy Lemire and Ignatiy Vishnevetsky. However, I encourage any show that aims to have real discussions about movies on principle. Also, Ebert got a new prosthetic, which I hope means we'll be seeing more of him in public in the future. He's still America's most beloved film critic, and I miss him.
Amy Chua and Tiger Mothers - Okay, this is last week's news and it's about a book - a book! - but the fallout is still going on and it's irresistible. From what I've read from the excerpts and the Wall Street Journal article, Chua is doing this Chinese mother thing all wrong. At the sight of a B+, my mother just sighed and told me that she was sure I could do better, and I turned out to be a perfectly respectable neurotic overacheiver.
Sacha Baron Cohen Will Be Saddam Hussein - Ha!