Sunday, February 17, 2008

29th Annual Young Artist Awards

American Idol content will start only when the show really starts (i.e. when fan voting kicks in) and no earlier. In the meantime, here's the 29th Annual Young Artist Awards. Full nomination list is available on the YAA wesbsite. I could do actual research here, try to watch all the nominated shows and movies, etc. but I'm going with my extremely ill informed opinions here, lucky you.


Alex Etel
Miles Heizer
Freddie Highmore
Josh Hutcherson
Jacob Kogan
Logan Lerman
Zach Mills
Alex Neuberger
Chris O’Neil
Alejandro Polanco
"The Water Horse"
"Rails & Ties"
"August Rush"
"Bridge to Terabithia"
"3:10 To Yuma"
"Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium"
"The Last Mimzy"
"Chop Shop"
TCR Endorsed Selection: Yikes, I was really not up on family films last year. I have never even heard of Joshua, Rails & Ties, or Chop Shop and, of the nominated movies, have only seen 3:10 to Yuma and Bridge to Terabithia. So I guess this is unfair, but my choice is Logan Lerman, who gave the best performance and starred in the best of the nominated films. (Logan is the reigning winner in this category.)

Gracie Bednarczyk
Abigail Breslin
Isamar Gonzales
Kay Panabaker
Dakota Blue Richards
AnnaSophia Robb
Emma Roberts
Saoirse Ronan
"Grace Is Gone"
"No Reservations"
"Chop Shop"
"Moondance Alexander"
"The Golden Compass"
"Bridge to Terabithia"
"Nancy Drew"
TCR Endorsed Selection: Egad! This is a really tough category. We can quickly eliminate it down to KPB, AnnaSophia, Emma, and Saiorse, since I have seen none of the other nominated movies. Saiorse is actually nominated for the Academy Award. KPB is the patron saint of this blog (though, due to a lack of wide release I have not actually seen the film in question). AnnaSophia gave a decent performance in a decent film. Emma gave a great performance in a film I loved. Obviously, my choice here is Emma Roberts, though my guess is had I seen Moondance Alexander the choice would be much closer. As much as it hurts me to go against Kay, I can't give an award to somebody in a film I never saw, especially when there's already another great performance in the category.

BEST PERFORMANCE IN A FEATURE FILM/Supporting Young Actor - Fantasy or Drama
Alex Ferris
Dillon Freasier
Soren Fulton
Jordan Garrett
Devon Gearhart
Bailey Hughes
Leon G. Thomas III
"The Invisible"
"There Will Be Blood"
"South of Pico"
"Death Sentence"
"Good Time Max"
"August Rush"

TCR Endorsed Selection: They didn't split this category last year, and God only knows why they split it up into "Fantasy or Drama" vs. "Comedy" this year. I'd think Fantasy is a lot closer to Comedy than Drama, but whatever. I have not heard of a single one of these nominated films except There Will Be Blood, which I didn't see. N/A

BEST PERFORMANCE IN A FEATURE FILM/Supporting Young Actor - Comedy or Musical
Max Baldry
Jimmy Bennett
Zachary Gordon
Dylan McLaughlin
Graham Phillips
Ed Sanders
"Mr. Bean’s Holiday"
"Evan Almighty"
"Georgia Rule"
"Georgia Rule"
"Evan Almighty"
"Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"
TCR Endorsed Selection: Ed Sanders. He gave an excellent performance in one of my favorite films of the year. An easy choice.

Jasmine Jessica Anthony
Courtney Taylor Burness
Hannah Lochner
Taylor Momsen
Jamia Simone Nash
Keke Palmer
Kristen Stewart
"Firehouse Dog"
"August Rush"
"Into the Wild"
TCR Endorsed Selection: Can I just say that I don't understand these categories at all? Why is supporting young actor the only one that's split up? I don't get it... Anyways, though I once again haven't seen any of the films, in the absence of other indicators I'm going to give this to Keke Palmer, who I've liked a lot in everything I've seen her in. Unfair I suppose but that's how I roll.

Nicholas Art
Micah Berry
Jackson Bond
Bobby Coleman
Nathan Gamble
Samuel Garland
Dakota Goyo
Jeremy Karson
Austin Williams
"The Nanny Diaries"
"Things We Lost in the Fire"
"The Invasion"
"Martian Child"
"The Mist"
"The Reaping"
"Resurrecting the Champ"
"Music & Lyrics"
"Michael Clayton"
TCR Endorsed Selection: In contrast to other categories, this category features three films from last year that I genuinely loved. Two made my top 10 list and the third ("Michael Clayton") would have except I forgot about it. None of the three actors had particularly memorable or important roles in their respective movies, but ultimately, Nathan Gamble gave the best performance, in my opinion.


Rachel Covey
Bailee Madison
Megan McKinnon
Madison Pettis
Willow Smith
Rhiannon Leigh Wryn
"Bridge to Terabithia"
"Project Grey"
"The Game Plan"
"I Am Legend"
"The Last Mimzy"
TCR Endorsed Selection: Rachel Covey gives a good performance in my favorite film of the last few years. This is a no brainer.

Bridge to Terabithia
Daddy Day Camp
The Last Mimzy
Nancy Drew

TCR Endorsed Selection: HMM, I really wonder. Nancy Drew. Note that Kay Panabaker and Amy Bruckner are included in the young ensemble cast for this, even though they have less than 5 minutes of screen time apiece, which means that I get to support both Emma and Kay here. Yay!

(I am skipping here various awards related to international films, short films, and TV movies/miniseries. Between the 6 categories I haven't heard of a single one of the actors or films nominated, so it's probably better to save space.)

Keir Gilchrist
Noah Gray-Cabey
Carter Jenkins
Jamie Johnston
Angus T. Jones
Sean Keenan
Kyle Massey
Devon Werkheiser
Tyler James Williams
"The Winner"
"Viva Laughlin"
"Degrassi: The Next Generation"
"Two And A Half Men"
"Lockie Leonard"
"Corey In The House"
"Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide"
"Everybody Hates Chris"
TCR Endorsed Selection: I watch a lot more TV than movies so I'm more qualified on these categories. I've seen all the nominated shows except Viva Laughlin and Lockie Leonard (what the hell?). While I'm not crazy about any of the nominated performances, my opinion is that the best choice is Jamie Johnston. Heroes is the best nominated show, but Noah is kinda annoying. Kyle Massey is the reigning winner in this category, but his casual smugness has become kind of grating over time. The others are basically forgettable. That makes Jamie a default choice as much as anything, but he does a good job and would be a fine winner.


Rhyon Nicole Brown
Miranda Cosgrove
Miley Cyrus
Chloe Greenfield
Emma Roberts
Jamie Lynn Spears
"Lincoln Heights"
"Hannah Montana"
"Zoey 101"
TCR Endorsed Selection: My opinion is that the best choice would be Emma Roberts and if I really still have to explain that at this point then my blog truly has been a failure. (Miranda Cosgrove is quite good and Miley is improving, Emma is still way better. I would liked to have seen Selena Gomez nominated here.)

Dean Collins
Jason Dolley
Alexander Gould
Mitch Holleman
Mark Indelicato
Nathan Kress
Daniel Magder
Vincent Martella
Aidan Mitchell
Slade Pearce
"The War at Home"
"Corey in the House"
"Ugly Betty"
"Life With Derek"
"Everybody Hates Chris"
"The Riches"
"October Road"
TCR Endorsed Selection: For a category with such a bloated number of nominees, there's not much to get excited over here. Jason Dolley is a Read It and Weep alum, which normally would get him a ton of bonus points, but he stars on a show that's one of the worst on TV. Daniel Magder is a part of a cast I've previously professed to like a lot, but he's the weak link among the kids. The best choice here is Nathan Kress, who does a fine job on iCarly, a mediocre show.

Taylor Atelian
Malese Jow
Tinashe Kachingwe
Jennette McCurdy
Mary Matilyn Mouser
Adair Tishler
"According to Jim"
"Out of Jimmy's Head"
"Life Is Wild"
TCR Endorsed Selection: This is one of the weakest categories yet. Malese Jow is a weird nomination, her bad performance is one of the few things that I hate about Unfabulous. Jennette McCurdy is, similarly, the weak link in a pretty good cast. Fortunately, Adair Tishler is here and she's a cutie and gives a great performance as Molly Walker. She's the biggest winner yet in any category.

BEST PERFORMANCE IN A TV SERIES/Young Actor Age 10 or Younger
Lorenzo Brino
Nikolas Brino
Joseph Castanon
Field Cate
Khamani Griffin
Trevor Gagnon
Dylan Minnette
Conner Rayburn
"7th Heaven"
"7th Heaven"
"I Hate My 30's"
"Pushing Daisies"
"All of Us"
"New Adventures of Old Christine"
"Saving Grace"
"According to Jim"
TCR Endorsed Selection: Oh my god the Brinos are nominated! I'm reasonably certain that the Brinos are, in fact, the worst young actors age 10 or younger on TV and how the hell would you distinguish between them anyways? Can I go with an N/A here? I hate the young Ned scenes on Pushing Daisies, the Brino twins are horrible and I haven't seen any of the other nominated shows. (I saw one episode of I Hate My 30's, apparently Joseph Castanon did not feature in that episode.)

No award for young actress aged 10 or under! Sexual discrimination alert!

Cameron Bright
Chandler Canterbury
Nicholas Elia
Dylan Everett
Colin Ford
Soren Fulton
Dominic Scott Kay
Quinn Lord
Justin Martin
Dylan Patton
Colby Paul
Cole Petersen
Remy Thorne
"The 4400" (ep:'Wrath of Graham')
"Criminal Minds" (ep:'In Birth and Death')
"Supernatural" (ep:'The Kids Are Alright')
"The Dresden Files" (ep:'Birds of a Feather')
"Journeyman" (ep:'Blowback')
"Bones" (ep:'The Priest in the Churchyard')
"Navy NCIS" (ep:'Lost & Found')
"Smallville" (ep:'Bizarro')
"Cold Case" (ep:'It Takes a Village')
"Cold Cas"e (ep:'Blackout')
"Pushing Daisies" (ep:'Corpsicle')
"CSI: Miami" (ep:'Stand Your Ground')
"Criminal Minds" (ep:'Revelations')
TCR Endorsed Selection: Cameron Bright was good in his guest role on The 4400, in one of the best episodes of the season, and he definitely deserves the trophy.

BEST PERFORMANCE IN A TV SERIES/Guest Starring Young Actress
Jasmine Jessica Anthony
Jenna Boyd
Darcy Rose Byrnes
Conchita Campbell
Bailee Madison
Ashlyn Sanchez
Bella Thorne
"Ugly Betty" (ep:'Something Wicked This Way Comes')
"Ghost Whisperer" (ep:'Children of Ghosts')
"Cold Case" (ep:'A Dollar, A Dream')
"Supernatural" (ep:'Playthings')
"House" (ep:'Act Your Age')
"Without a Trace" (ep:'Desert Springs')
"The O.C." (ep:'The Case of the Franks')
TCR Endorsed Selection: The only one of these I specifically recognize is that actress from House, and I see nothing about her performance that is award worthy. I'm giving this to Conchita Campbell in general principle, even though I've never seen and barely even heard of Supernatural.

Jake Cherry
Marc Donato
Caden Michael Gray
Mick Hazen
Dominic Janes
Ty Panitz
Connor Price
K'Sun Ray
Will Shadley
Cainan Wiebe
Calum Worthy
"Desperate Housewives"
"Degrassi: The Next Generation"
"Out of Jimmy's Head"
"As the World Turns"
"The Dead Zone"
"Dirty Sexy Money"
TCR Endorsed Selection: Hard to say. The young Psych scenes are much more entertaining than the young Pushing Daisies scenes, and it only seems fair to give some of that credit to Calum Worthy. Yeah, he's my pick.

Kristen Alderson
Rachel G. Fox
Danielle Hanratty
Sammi Hanratty
Chloe Grace Moretz
Ryan Newman
Christina Robinson
Darcy Rose Byrnes
Erin Sanders
Christian Serratos
Alyson Stoner
Kylie & Keaton Tyndall
"One Life to Live"
"Desperate Housewives"
"The Unit"
"The Suite Life of Zack and Cody"
"Dirty Sexy Money"
"Hannah Montana"
"The Young and the Restless"
"Zoey 101"
"Neds Declassified School Survival Guide"
"The Suite Life of Zack and Cody"
"Big Love"
TCR Endorsed Selection: Ryan Newman plays young Miley on Hannah Montana, in a few episodes. Her performance is completely forgettable, but she's a real cutie-pie, so I can't really argue with giving her the award here in an apparently really weak category.

Hannah Montana
The Naked Brothers Band
Out of Jimmy's Head
The Wizards of Waverly Place
Zoey 101

TCR Endorsed Selection: OK, this is a really hard category, and it's complicated by the fact that two of the strongest nominees (NBB and Wizards) received no individual nominations, while all 3 main actors for iCarly were nominated and it was shut out here. Zoey 101 (the two time reigning champ in this category) and Out of Jimmy's Head are instant eliminees, because I really dislike Zoey and have never seen OOJH. After that it's really close. Similar to last year, I'm eliminating Unfabulous because the supporting cast isn't good enough. I'll eliminate NBB because it's just not quite good enough. Hannah just has too many annoying cast members (ugh, Rico and Oliver) to qualify here. My opinion is that the newcomer Wizards of Waverly Place is the best choice here. Bad joke writing brings down the overall quality of the show, but I'm a big fan of the young cast, and the show does have some potential.

(Skipping two categories for voice overs that I have no idea about.)

"High School Musical"
"The Last Day of Summer"
"Naked Brothers Band: The Movie"
"You've Got A Friend"
TCR Endorsed Selection: Um, perhaps they mean High School Musical 2? It deserves to win regardless.

"Hannah Montana"
"Life Is Wild"
"The Naked Brothers Band"
"Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide"
"Out of Jimmy's Head"
"The Winner"
"Zoey 101"
TCR Endorsed Selection: No surprise here that my choice in this category is Hannah Montana. Unfabulous still shoulda been nominated. (Last year this category was split into comedy and drama, this year all the nominees are comedies.)

"Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?"
"Kid Nation"
"My Life as a Child"
"Who Cares About Girls?"
TCR Endorsed Selection: This is a new category this year, and it's a weird one. I've never heard of My Life as a Child or Who Cares About Girls?, but the best choice here among the shows I know is Endurance, and I like it enough that I suspect it would be the choice regardless.

(skip categories on short and international films)

"Bee Movie"
"Meet the Robinsons"
"Surf's Up"
TCR Endorsed Selection: Ratatouille is the best movie and it will win.

"Alvin and the Chipmunks"
"Bridge to Terabithia"
"The Golden Compass"
"The Water Horse"
TCR Endorsed Selection: I saw only one of these films (Bridge to Terabithia), and it wasn't good enough for me to say it deserves an award. So, N/A.

"August Rush"
"Evan Almighty"
"Firehouse Dog"
"The Last Mimzy"
"Martian Child"
"Nancy Drew
TCR Endorsed Selection: It's so obvious that I'm gonna pick Nancy Drew here that I'm going to bitch about the categories instead of justifying it. WHY IS BEST SUPPORING YOUNG ACTOR SPLIT INTO FANTASY OR DRAMA AND COMEDY OR MUSICAL AND BEST PICTURE SPLIT INTO FANTASY OR MUSICAL AND COMEDY OR DRAMA? WHY GOD WHY?

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Saturday, February 02, 2008

Movie Review: 27 Dresses

Note: Allow me to recommend this thoughtful general column on romantic comedies, which I strongly agree with. I wrote a very similar article for this blog (here) in which basically I argue that people don't who don't enjoy romantic comedies don't really want to or know how to enjoy them. It's one of the few articles I've written for this blog that I'm actually proud of. But this guy makes several points that I was trying to make in my article and does it more briefly and articulately than I did. (And makes a lot of points that I didn't make at all).

The Movie: 27 Dresses
Starring: Katherine Heigl, James Marsden, Judy Greer, Edward Burns, Malin Akerman

This review contains spoilers, but there's not really anything to spoil, so...

Brief Plot Summary: Jane (Katherine Heigl), a woman who has been a bridesmaid in 27 different weddings, is the type of doormat-ish woman who will do anything to please people. She is in love with her boss, George (Edward Burns), who she serves as an assistant to. Unfortunately her sister Tess (Malin Akerman) meets and falls in love with George, and after a brief courtship they are engaged to be married, with Jane of course serving as the maid of honor. In the meantime, Jane has met Kevin Doyle (James Marsden), who writes a wedding column in the newspaper which she adores. Jane is initially put off by his cynical worldview and his creepy, stalkerish behavior. Throughout the course of several wacky happenings, they manage to fall in love. Also, Kevin is writing an article about her for the newspaper, unbeknownst to her. And all the while she is miserable and planning her sister's wedding to the man she secretly loves!

Commentary: 27 Dresses fits in the category of romantic comedies which are attempting to be cute and very romantic (e.g. Music and Lyrics), rather than romantic comedies which are basically comedy movies with a love story (e.g. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days). Since this is one of my favorite types of movies (if not my favorite type of movie outright), I was very much looking forward to it. And you know what, it was extremely cute. And Katherine Heigl was a very good lead and had good chemistry with James Marsden. I also really enjoyed the set-up with Katherine being the perpetual bridesmaid (unrealistic though it may be that she was a bridesmaid 27 times). Further, there were several excellent scenes and lines in the movie (I particularly enjoyed the scene where Jane tried on all her bridesmaid dresses for Kevin). Unfortunately, though, I had several problems with the movie:

The movie takes a very long time to get going. It's almost halfway through the movie before Jane and Kevin start to warm to each other. The rest of the movie is spent on set up that is partially necessary but it also partially overkill. I get that she's a doormat and that she resents her sister and that she loves her boss well before they give up on hammering those points home. Unfortunately, the end result of this is that the ending is very rushed. Her reconciliation with her sister was unbelievably pat and silly ("You ruined my life, but it's OK, for really no reason whatsoever.") As much as I love romcoms, it perpetually annoys me that they fail to acknowledge that bad choices and irrational actions have real and long-lasting consequences. The scene when she quits her job and realizes her boss takes her for granted could have and should have been very satisfying too, but it just goes by too fast and without believable prompting.

One thing that actually isn't a casualty of the rushed nature of the ending is the reconciliation scene between her and Kevin. They spent plenty of time on this, but it still rang hollow to me, and my guess is that it's because they were together onscreen too little throughout the rest of the movie. The pacing of the building romance, perfect in say Notting Hill or Just Like Heaven, was totally off here. It stuttered and jerked around and suddenly they are in love, just like that. They also could have done better than the scene at the boat wedding, which was too unrealistic, even for a movie like this.

I hate to even bring this up, but I did feel the movie was a little too familiar. I can make do with a lot of cliched scenes in a romantic comedy, but the plot to this movie was almost a direct ripoff of You've Got Mail, not to mention the obvious similarity to How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. Also, Edward Burns was terrible in this movie, and did not make me believe either Jane's crush on him or his romance with Tess.

I think the real problem with this movie is that it's overstuffed. The triple redemption plot with Jane, trying to connect with her sister, realizing that her boss takes her for granted and she needs to move on with her crush, and falling in love with Kevin is too much for the movie to handle. All three are related and have related themes/interconnect in the plot, but if I was controlling the movie I would take out the boss/work element entirely and just focus on the fact that her sister is marrying the guy she loves and that she's falling in love with Kevin at the same time. The boss element distracts and takes time away that I feel would have been better spent elsewhere.

I really don't want to sound too negative here, because I did enjoy the movie and I think it's worth watching. The scenes where Katherine and James are on screen together and tolerating each other sparkle. Judy Greer is very funny as Katherine Heigl's best friend. The costuming on the bridesmaid dresses was often extremely amusing. Ultimately, the movie is very cute and pleasant, and I don't mean that as an insult at all. (In fact, "cute" is one of the highest compliments I give to a movie.)

Final Grade/Comments: The reason that I've reviewed hardly any romantic comedies in this blog is because most of it comes down to: Did the love story grab me or not. It should be clear from the above that the love story never really grabbed me in the way that it does in the best romcoms. Even though this is a very personal thing, and I'm sure the love story really kicked butt to some people, I hope I've done a good job above explaining WHY the love story didn't hit me as much it could have. This movie disappointed me, but only to the extent that I thought it would be an outstanding romantic comedy and it was merely an above average one. It's going for cute and romantic, and it nails the cute but whiffs on the romantic. My brain is saying 6/10, but my heart says it was cute enough to earn an extra point, so 7/10. But be warned, this is one only for real romantic comedy fans and cute movie junkies, like myself.

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