Watchlist: What We’re Looking Forward This Summer

Logan faces ninjas in this summer's 'The Wolverine.'

Logan faces ninjas in this summer’s ‘The Wolverine.’

Here at the Cinema Sentinel, we tend to get excited about movies. It doesn’t matter the genre, the stars, or the budget; what really gets us amped up are the films that draw us in, take us places, and make us see things we’ve never seen before. The summer season is always best for spectacle, but there are all kinds of terrific-looking films coming out this year. Take a look below at the Cinema Sentinel’s most anticipated movies of the summer:

1. Pacific Rim – Guillermo del Toro’s massive tribute to Japanese monster movies could easily be the breakout hit of the summer. When giant monsters from beneath the ocean floor rise and wreak havoc on humankind, a new weapon is developed – huge robots controlled simultaneously by two pilots sharing one mind. This sci-fi epic has a lot going for it – del Toro never disappoints, the visual effects look jaw-droppingly awesome, the cast boasts great actors like Idris Elba, Charlie Hunnam, and Ron Perlman, and did I mention giant robotsOpens July 12 

2. Much Ado About Nothing – Movies based off Shakespeare plays are a dime a dozen, but this adaptation looks intriguing. Why? Two words: Joss Whedon. The geek god behind The Avengers is not the first person who comes to mind when I think of the bard, but he has made a lot of really interesting choices while directing his Much Ado About Nothing. Fun fact: the entirely black-and-white film was shot entirely at Whedon’s home in Santa Monica in only twelve days. Whedon’s cast is also terrific – Amy Acker, Nathan Fillion, Clark Gregg, Fran Kranz, Alexis Denisof, and plenty of other avowed Whedonites. It looks like a really nifty adaptation, setting the action in modern times while maintaining Shakespeare’s original dialogue. The trailer (below) has pulled off the Herculean task of making me excited about a Shakespeare adaptation – give it a watch. Opens June 21

3. Man of Steel – I was dubious at first, but I’m really starting to buy into the idea of Zack Snyder’s darker, weightier Superman. After the success of The Dark Knight, it was only a matter of time until someone decided to reimagine the Man of Tomorrow with a handful of dramatic gravitas, but Man of Steel doesn’t look like a rip-off in any shape or form. Henry Cavill is looking more every day like a great Superman, and I’m excited about the supporting cast, which includes Michael Shannon, Amy Adams, and Kevin Costner. If Man of Steel can strike a balance between its serious tone, high-powered story, and thrilling visuals, it could end up a truly super Superman. Opens June 14

4. The Bling Ring – Sofia Coppola is one of the most stylish, interesting directors working today, and she has a terrific story to work with here. Based on the true story of a group of teenage burglars who targeted celebrities, The Bling Ring has an opportunity to tell an absorbing tale while simultaneously making a statement about the materialistic nature of modern society and the American Dream. I couldn’t be more excited that Emma Watson is stepping out of her comfort zone to play the remarkably shallow Nicki, and I’m confident that Leslie Mann and Taissa Farmiga will also turn in great performances. Opens June 14

5. The Wolverine – After the disappointing X-Men Origins: Wolverine, I’m optimistic that this summer will finally yield a worthy stand-alone movie for everyone’s favorite adamantium-clawed X-Man. Set in Japan long after the X-Men trilogy, The Wolverine pits Logan (Hugh Jackman) against the Yakuza and several dangerous foes, including the deadly Silver Samurai (Will Yun Lee) and a venomous mutant by the name of Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova), all while he struggles against his own immortality. The Japanese arc is one of my favorite storylines for Logan in the comics, and with Oscar-nominated director James Mangold at the helm, I truly believe that this could be the best X-Men installment yet. A more vulnerable Logan, a picturesque Japanese backdrop, and entire armies of ninjas? What more could a fanboy ask for? Opens July 26

6. The World’s End – The third and final installment in Edgar Wright’s Britcom trilogy (after the equally fantastic Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) looks more bonkers and hilarious every time I see a new trailer.  Starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, along with a bunch of other terrific Brits (including Paddy Considine, Rosamund Pike, and Martin Freeman), The World’s End centers on a group of five friends who reunite after twenty years in hopes of completing a legendary pub crawl, culminating in famed pub The World’s End. As the night goes on, the friends realize that something’s off about the villagers, and Earth is actually under attack by aliens. With any luck, The World’s End will recapture the same manic energy and nonstop laughs that made its predecessors instant cult classics. Opens August 23

7. The Spectacular Now – There are very few teen dramas that look too good to pass up, but The Spectacular Now is one of them. The buzz from Sundance has been overwhelmingly positive, and the two leads are played by talented up-and-comers Miles Teller (Rabbit Hole) and Shailene Woodley (The Descendants). The film focuses on the unexpected romance between a popular, devil-may-care high school senior (Teller) and his studious ‘good girl’ classmate (Woodley), as the two learn things about themselves that had never occurred to them before. It looks like a moving, thoughtful, and well-acted coming-of-age drama, and, to me, those kinds of films are always welcome. Opens August 2

8. Elysium – Thoughtful sci-fi is a rare breed, but director Neill Blomkamp proved with 2009’s District 9 that philosophy and CGI aliens can mix with astounding results. His follow-up, Elysium, shares District 9‘s penchant for social commentary but now also boasts a Hollywood cast and budget. The film examines a future where the wealthy 1% live on an advanced space habitat orbiting Earth, while the rest of mankind struggles to survive on a filthy, overpopulated, crime-ridden Earth. The two come into conflict when Max Da Costa (Matt Damon) attempts to break into Elysium to find the medical technology needed to save a young girl’s life. He comes up against vicious opponents (including nasties played by Jodie Foster and Sharlto Copley) who are determined to enforce Elysium’s strict anti-immigration laws. While District 9 made powerful statements about xenophobia, segregation, and human identity, Elysium looks to take on hot-button topics like class issues, health care, and immigration. District 9 earned Oscar nominations and critical acclaim, and Blomkamp’s follow-up looks equally appealing and fascinating. Whether or not the Academy likes it, Elysium will be a gritty, entertaining, smart, and introspective sci-fi thriller. I can’t wait. Opens August 9

9. World War Z – Based on the gripping Max Brooks novel, this apocalyptic horror thriller is the biggest unknown of the summer in my book. Brad Pitt, who produced the film, also stars as Gerry Lane, a UN employee who travels the world after a zombie outbreak in search for answers about where the epidemic originated. The scale of the film is massive, and the budget is rumored to be one of the largest of all time. Tons of talented people have been involved with the screenplay, including Drew Goddard, Damon Lindelof, J. Michael Straczynski, and Matthew Michael Carnahan, so I have high hopes. Depending on whether its good or bad, World War Z could either prove to be a runaway hit or a colossal failure. It’ll be interesting regardless, and I’ll be front and center to find out. Opens June 21

10. This is the End – Adding to the glut of post-apocalyptic flicks hitting theaters (note the large amount on this list alone) is this oddball raunchy comedy with a strangely appealing premise. After all manner of apocalyptic events destroy LA, a group of actors including James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Danny McBride, Jay Baruchel, and Craig Robinson (playing filthy, fictitious versions of themselves) must work together to survive. The trailers look hilarious so far, and an over-abundance of celebrity cameos will make the movie all the more entertaining. I’m most excited for Emma Watson’s ruthless survivalist, but I’m also looking forward to a weird Michael Cera and dirty-mouthed Mindy Kaling. Opens June 14

Honorable Mentions: The To Do ListFruitvale StationYou’re Next, The Heat, White House Down, and The Way, Way Back

Photo Courtesy: Tumblr

Review: The Great Gatsby

Gatsby raises his glass to the orgastic future.

Gatsby raises his glass to the orgastic future.

Adapting a book as beloved as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is an unenviable task for any director, so I have to hand it to Baz Luhrmann, a filmmaker renowned (or notorious, depending on who you ask) for his visual pizzazz. The man takes on the challenge with zeal, and his adaptation positively throbs with wild enthusiasm for both the setting of 1920s America and the story of a mysterious billionaire struggling to win back the love of his life.

The 1920s were not a time of great subtlety or moderation, which is good, because Luhrmann’s adaptation has neither. It’s a lurid, gaudy roller coaster of a film, at least for the first half, bringing to life Gatsby’s parties with the razzle-dazzle and acrobatic aptitude of a Cirque du Soleil performance. Awe-inspiring fireworks displays, streamers twisting and sparkling as they fall through the air, bubbling liquor as seductive as Greek gods’ nectar, all of it is visually magnificent. However, those scenes also never quite escape superficiality; any deeper exploration of the time’s loose morals and frenetic energy never truly materializes.

That skin-deep trait is indicative of the film as a whole; as visually overwhelming as it is, Fitzgerald’s story is unfortunately left on the back-burner. Upsettingly, the author’s gorgeous prose is consistently cut up and paraphrased by screenwriters who seem to lack respect for and understanding of the book’s thematic and cultural significance. And the script is missing chunks of the story, especially where narrator Nick Carraway is concerned. Luhrmann is ultimately so concerned with creating a visually splendid adaptation that he doesn’t trust the source material to speak for itself, and so his Gatsby falls short of the greatness it seems close to grasping at times, a bitter irony in light of the story he’s telling.

As the film progresses, it shifts from the garish party atmosphere to a darker, more intimate tale of adultery and betrayal as the characters collide in unexpected and ultimately tragic ways. Luhrmann flips a switch halfway through, and the sudden change is jarring. It’s as if he couldn’t decide which Gatsby to make – the decadent spectacle or the character-driven drama – and so he opted to make both. As a result, neither rings completely true in the finished product; the film is ultimately a beautiful but woefully inconsistent hybrid.

What sustains Luhrmann’s overlong, overstuffed film are the performances of his all-star cast. Leonardo DiCaprio is pitch-perfect as the larger-than-life Gatsby, glowing with warm energy and charm. He sinks his teeth into every line with gusto, capturing the same vitality that Fitzgerald’s Gatsby symbolized to a generation. If Gatsby had hit theaters during awards season, I’d expect to be hearing DiCaprio’s name. He’s that good.

Carey Mulligan is also terrific as Daisy Buchanan, the “golden girl” representative of money’s corrupting power. To Gatsby, she’s the green light, the American Dream he’s fought for his entire life. Mulligan brings her to life as a delicate, quietly vacant socialite, alternately trapped by and hidden within her shallow, materialistic lifestyle. We understand why Gatsby would fight so hard to reclaim her, but we can also see in Mulligan’s performance how she has been tainted by the decade’s atmosphere. As Daisy, Mulligan is both alluring and quietly devastating.

Daisy’s brutish husband Tom is played excellently by Joel Edgerton, who toes the line between jockish arrogance and jovial nonchalance. His gruff, measured delivery does the character justice, never allowing Tom to cross the line into Bond villain territory. He’s a class-obsessed, suit-wearing sociopath, entertaining delusions of grandeur as he attempts to control the actions of everyone around him. Edgerton also excels by making him strangely sympathetic, a victim of his own social standing.

Finally, narrator Nick Carraway is humanized by Tobey Maguire, who plays him as an innocent taken in by the atmosphere of the times but ultimately disillusioned with it all. His evolution from wide-eyed wonderment to jaded disgust is fascinating to watch, and there’s something deeply sad and beautiful in Maguire’s performance.

The Great Gatsby‘s downfall is Luhrmann’s inability to bring his sumptuous visuals together with Fitzgerald’s story. By no means is it a failure, and the director’s flair for visuals brings the Roaring Twenties to life as a glorious smorgasbord for the senses. That visual panache, along with the actors, make the film well-worth seeing, but Luhrmann’s Gatsby isn’t the adaptation that Fitzgerald’s novel, with its weighty themes and big ideas, deserves. Instead, it’s the film that Gatsby himself would have made, as utterly gorgeous to look at as it is empty on the inside. B

Image Courtesy: Red Carpet Crash.

Review: Fast and Furious 6

A member of Torretto's crew takes a leap of faith.

A member of Torretto’s crew takes a leap of faith.

If anyone goes into Fast and Furious 6 looking for dramatic nuance and meditations on the nature of life and death, they’ll leave sorely disappointed. But that’s not what’s kept this racing franchise putting the pedal to the metal at the box office for over ten years. No, the driving force behind the Fast and Furious series is simply the high-octane, no-frills thrill of the chase, and audiences after that “wow”-factor will leave this latest installment wholly satisfied. “Ride or die,” says ex-con protagonist Dom Torretto. “Hell, yeah,” I reply.

After the exhilarating, Rio-wrecking climax of Fast Five, during which Torretto (the aptly named Vin Diesel) and his crew made off with $100 million from a corrupt businessman, the crew is laying low. FBI agent-turned-fugitive Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) has settled down with Torretto’s sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) and started a family, while Torretto is living it up in some tropical paradise. Both are drawn out of hiding when DSS agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson), their adversary in Fast Five, offers full amnesty to the crew in exchange for their assistance in taking down rogue soldier Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) and his crew, which includes Torretto’s presumed-dead lover Letty (Michelle Rodriguez). Get it? Got it? Good. This globe-trotting plot works spectacularly, keeping a breakneck pace while smartly moving the franchise away from its street-racing origins.

Fast and Furious 6 doesn’t waste any time getting its characters into cars, because director Justin LIn knows exactly what moviegoers came to see, and he gives it to them in spades. A London-set car chase early in the film is all kinds of crazy fun, with cars flipping, guns blazing, and explosions galore. And it just gets bigger and better from there. Rodriguez and MMA fighter Gina Carano throw down in a harrowing subway-set brawl both brutal and invigorating. A Spanish highway becomes a battleground as the crew takes on a tank-toting Shaw, who crushes passing cars and blows up bridges with psychotic glee. And the film’s climax, as the crews clash on and alongside a moving cargo-jet, is a dizzying, hell-for-leather, no-brains-attached masterpiece of action blockbuster.

Fast and Furious 6‘s real stars are the sleek speed machines that the actors operate, but the human actors still turn in solid performances. Everyone is clearly having a blast (though Walker is still wooden as ever), and Evans is a terrific villain, both ruthless and devious. Carano is also a great addition, putting her MMA skills to use while giving the male demographic yet another reason to buy a ticket.

Torretto takes every opportunity to call his crew a “family” during the film, and that’s really what they are. Everyone fits together like parts of an engine, and almost every character gets a moment in the spotlight. We love this crew and their near-suicidal antics, and they’re a big part of why, six films in, this franchise is hotter than ever.

This installment lacks the shock-and-awe factor that Fast Five had with The Rock as its baddie, but it ups the ante with borderline-preposterous action sequences and enough automobile pizzazz to satisfy any thrill-seeking moviegoer. You won’t see a less demanding, more ridiculous popcorn pleasure this summer. I highly recommend it. Not only is it fast and furious, it’s also an electrifying ode to fast cars and the hooligans foolhardy (or is it brave?) enough to get behind the wheel. A-

Image Courtesy: Flickering Myth.

DVD Review: Piranha 3DD

One park-goer has an unfortunate encounter with a piranha.

One park-goer has an unfortunate encounter with a piranha.

I should have known better than to go into a movie titled Piranha 3DD expecting anything less than a trainwreck, but after Alexander Aja’s gloriously bloody, hilarious, and entertaining guilty pleasure Piranha 3D surprised me back in 2010, I was hopeful.

Sadly, the follow-up proves that lightning never strikes twice. Everything that was enjoyable about Piranha 3D – the campy characters, over-the-top gore, and tongue-in-cheek script – is missing from this shockingly awful sequel.

This time around, the mayhem is set in the Big Wet Waterpark, a sleazy adult resort with ‘water-certified’ strippers, a year after the events at Lake Victoria. Protagonist Maddy (Danielle Panabaker), a marine biologist who co-owns the waterpark after her mother’s death, is shocked by how far her disgusting step-dad Chet (Anchorman‘s David Koechner) has gone. When she finds piranha in a nearby lake, she’s the only one who realizes that the prehistoric fish could make their way into the waterpark through pipes that Chet has illogically connected to the lake. Chaos ensues as hundreds of vapid hotties attempt to escape the bloodthirsty fish (somehow, “get out of the water” never occurs to many of them).

While its predecessor made fun of the sexploitation horror genre, Piranha 3DD is too puerile to be making fun of anything intentionally. The self-parody is upped to such an extent that the audience laughs at the film instead of with it. All of the actors are so inexcusably, hilariously bad that ultimately even the CGI piranha give more nuanced performances. Incomprehensibly, the filmmakers try to give the movie some dramatic heft when the blood starts spilling, and they fail without qualification.

Panabaker, 30 Rock co-star Katrina Bowden, and many nameless bombshells are nothing more than eye-candy to be bloodily dispatched by the fish. VIng Rhames and Christopher Lloyd, holdovers from the first film, give the Piranha 3DD its only entertaining moments but both only appear on screen for a couple of minutes. And David Hasselhoff’s appearance as a jerky, self-absorbed version of himself is funny for a few seconds before he opens his mouth and we realize that he’s just another cheap ploy meant to distract the audience from the idiocy of what they’re watching.

Nothing in the film makes any sense at all, particularly not the ludicrous way that the fish are ultimately dispatched. And the film’s final scare is so ridiculous that it made me want to beat my head against a wall in hopes of cleansing it from my memory. In fact, I wish I could expunge the entire movie from my memory, it was so utterly horrible.

With a title like Piranha 3DD (pronounced double-D in the trailers in case there was ever any confusion about the filmmakers’ intentions), one might think that the people involved were predicting what grade the schlockfest might be ultimately be saddled with. Shame I can’t comply: Piranha 3DD deserves nothing more than a double F.

Photo Courtesy: Impulse Gamer.

DVD Review: Paranormal Activity 4

The activity continues in 'Paranormal Activity 4.'

The activity continues in ‘Paranormal Activity 4.’

Let’s start off with the little good in Paranormal Activity 4, the fourth and slightest entry in Oren Peli’s breakout found footage horror series.

Lead Kathryn Newton is surprisingly strong, and she makes the audience care about her character Alex. The suburban teen’s interactions with neighborhood boy Ben (Matt Shively), laden with flirtation and humor, are the film’s only organic, truthful moments. Unlike previous main characters like Micah (Micha Sloat), Daniel (Brian Boland), and Dennis (Chris Smith), all irritating and irrational jerks, Alex is an innocent, and the audience is actually pulling for her to make it through. Newton and Shively give compelling, realistic performances, filled with teenage angst and awkwardness. The audience grows to like them.

Alex is recording strange occurrences in her house after her little brother Wyatt (Aiden Lovekamp) grows close with creepy new neighbor Robbie (Brady Allen) and his ‘invisible friend.’ With Ben’s help, Alex is able to set up cameras all around her house in hopes of getting to the bottom of what’s happening. Predictably, she doesn’t like what she finds.

Sadly, with the exception of the film’s two leads, everything in Paranormal Activity 4 feels threadbare. The entire film is nothing but scraps from the previous entries in the series. Whereas the methods of found footage in the previous films felt believable and added to the suspense, here it feels forced. Why the main character is recording everything is never clearly addressed, nor are any of the plot points from previous installments. When the directors attempt to sexualize the 15-year-old protagonist with revealing clothing, it feels sleazy and uncomfortable, adding nothing to the film other than to reveal how desperate the franchise has become. The scares are minimal, and though there are a few jump-out moments, nothing is on the level of any of the previous films. XBOX Kinect tracking dots and video-chats are clever ideas to record more activity, but none of it really works, and it was my patience, not nerves, that was fraying by the end of the film.

Of course the demon-possessed Katie (Katie Featherston) shows up, but everything in this fourth entry is too meager to make a difference. After building the mythology of the series in Paranormal Activity 3, writer-directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman add practically nothing in this installment, only tossing in a few related images at the very end of the film. The film’s ending is a cop-out, plain and simple, ruining the suspense that the film has built with a single, crappy-looking scary image and a ridiculous ‘twist’ that doesn’t make a lick of sense.

Though it was billed as a sequel to Paranormal Activity, the fourth installment feels more like a teaser for upcoming entries. Paranormal Activity 4 is the least substantial one in the series by far, but it still feels overlong and tedious. The original’s spirit of innovative terror has been exorcised almost completely, leaving an empty shell with dismayingly few actual scares. It’s a ghost of its former self. D+

Image courtesy: Chocraisins.blogspot.

‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ Adds a Mutant

Evan Peters has joined the new 'X-Men.'

Evan Peters has joined the new ‘X-Men.’

Evan Peters, the breakout star of FX creepest American Horror Story, has landed a main role in the upcoming X-Men sequel X-Men: Days of Future Past. The new entry will bring together characters from the X-Men trilogy and prequel X-Men: First Class.

Singer broke the news over Twitter: “Before he was an #Avenger, he was just a REALLY fast kid. Thrilled to say #EvanPeters is joining#XMen #DaysOfFuturePast as#Quicksilver.”

Peters will portray Quicksilver, a mutant with the ability of super speed. In the comics, Quicksilver was Magneto’s son, and he later joined The Avengers along with his sister Scarlet Witch. How he will factor in to the film’s growing cast has yet to be determined.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter. 

Photo Courtesy: Collider.

Critics’ Choice TV Award Noms Announced

Zooey Deschanel and Jake Johnson of FOX's 'New Girl' are both up for awards this year.

Zooey Deschanel and Jake Johnson of FOX’s ‘New Girl’ are both up for awards this year.

Nominations for the 3rd Annual Critics’ Choice TV Awards have been announced, with lots of surprises.

Awards heavyweights Modern Family (ABC) and Mad Men (AMC) were both almost entirely passed over, while underdog shows like FX’s The Americans and Netflix’s House of Cards received more nominations than I could have hoped for.

In the individual acting categories, recently cancelled shows like ABC’s Happy Endings and TNT’s Southland received multiple nominations, surely causing network execs on those two channels to sigh in regret.

Strong performances in underrated shows were highlighted – Don Cheadle, Laura Dern, Danny Pudi, Andrew Lincoln, Timothy Olyphant, Vera Farmiga, Tatiana Maslany, and Abigail Spencer, among others, received very well-deserved recognitions.

My personal wishlist is below (in red), followed by the actual nominations:

Cinema Sentinel’s Best in Show:

     Best Comedy Series: Happy Endings – ABC

     Best Actor – Comedy: Louis C.K. (Louie) – FX

     Best Actress – Comedy: Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation) – NBC

     Best Supporting Actor – Comedy: Danny Pudi (Community) – NBC

     Best Supporting Actress – Comedy: Casey Wilson (Happy Endings) – ABC

     Best Drama Series: Game of Thrones – HBO

     Best Actor – Drama: Timothy Olyphant (Justified) – FX

     Best Actress – Drama: Claire Danes (Homeland) – SHOWTIME

     Best Supporting Actor – Drama: Jack Gleeson (Game of Thrones) – HBO   

     Best Supporting Actress – Drama: Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) – HBO

And now the nominees….

BEST COMEDY SERIES

The Big Bang Theory – CBS
Louie – FX
The Middle – ABC
New Girl – FOX
Parks and Recreation – NBC
Veep – HBO

BEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES

Don Cheadle (House of Lies) – Showtime
Louis C.K. (Louie) – FX
Jake Johnson (New Girl) – FOX
Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory) – CBS
Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation) – NBC
Jeremy Sisto (Suburgatory) – ABC

BEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES

Laura Dern (Enlightened) – HBO
Zooey Deschanel (New Girl) – FOX
Lena Dunham (Girls) – HBO
Sutton Foster (Bunheads) – ABC Family
Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep) – HBO
Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation) – NBC

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES

Max Greenfield (New Girl) – FOX
Simon Helberg (The Big Bang Theory) – CBS
Alex Karpovsky (Girls) – HBO
Adam Pally (Happy Endings) – ABC
Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation) – NBC
Danny Pudi (Community) – NBC

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES

Carly Chaikin (Suburgatory) – ABC
Kaley Cuoco (The Big Bang Theory) – CBS
Sarah Hyland (Modern Family) – ABC
Melissa Rauch (The Big Bang Theory) – CBS
Eden Sher (The Middle) – ABC
Casey Wilson (Happy Endings) – ABC

BEST GUEST PERFORMER IN A COMEDY SERIES 

Melissa Leo (Louie) – FX
David Lynch (Louie) – FX
Bob Newhart (The Big Bang Theory) – CBS
Patton Oswalt (Parks and Recreation) – NBC
Molly Shannon (Enlightened) – HBO
Patrick Wilson (Girls) – HBO

BEST DRAMA SERIES

The Americans – FX
Breaking Bad – AMC
Downton Abbey – PBS
Game of Thrones – HBO
The Good Wife – CBS
Homeland – Showtime

BEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES

Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) – AMC
Damian Lewis (Homeland) – Showtime
Andrew Lincoln (The Walking Dead) – AMC
Timothy Olyphant (Justified) – FX
Matthew Rhys (The Americans) – FX
Kevin Spacey (House of Cards) – Netflix

BEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES

Claire Danes (Homeland) – Showtime
Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel) – A&E
Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife) – CBS
Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black) – BBC America
Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men) – AMC
Keri Russell (The Americans) – FX

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES

Jonathan Banks (Breaking Bad) – AMC
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones) –HBO
Michael Cudlitz (Southland) – TNT
Noah Emmerich (The Americans) – FX
Walton Goggins (Justified) – FX
Corey Stoll (House of Cards) – Netflix

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES

Jennifer Carpenter (Dexter) – Showtime
Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) – HBO
Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad) – AMC
Regina King (Southland) – TNT
Monica Potter (Parenthood) – NBC
Abigail Spencer (Rectify) – Sundance

BEST GUEST PERFORMER IN A DRAMA SERIES

Jim Beaver (Justified) – FX
Jane Fonda (The Newsroom) – HBO
Martha Plimpton (The Good Wife) – CBS
Carrie Preston (The Good Wife) – CBS
Diana Rigg (Game of Thrones) – HBO
Jimmy Smits (Sons of Anarchy) – FX

BEST MOVIE OR MINI-SERIES

American Horror Story: Asylum – FX
Behind the Candelabra – HBO
The Crimson Petal and the White – Encore
The Hour – BBC America
Political Animals – USA
Top of the Lake – Sundance

BEST ACTOR IN A MOVIE OR MINI-SERIES

Benedict Cumberbatch (Parade’s End) – HBO
Matt Damon (Behind the Candelabra) – HBO
Michael Douglas (Behind the Candelabra) – HBO
Toby Jones (The Girl) – HBO
Al Pacino (Phil Spector) – HBO
Dominic West (The Hour) – BBC America

BEST ACTRESS IN A MOVIE OR MINI-SERIES

Angela Bassett (Betty & Coretta) – Lifetime
Romola Garai (The Hour) – BBC America
Rebecca Hall (Parade’s End) – HBO
Jessica Lange (American Horror Story: Asylum) – FX
Elisabeth Moss (Top of the Lake) – Sundance
Sigourney Weaver (Political Animals) – USA

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A MOVIE OR MINI-SERIES

James Cromwell (American Horror Story: Asylum) – FX
Peter Mullan (Top of the Lake) – Sundance
Zachary Quinto (American Horror Story: Asylum) – FX
Sebastian Stan (Political Animals) – USA
David Wenham (Top of the Lake) – Sundance
Thomas M. Wright (Top of the Lake) – Sundance

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A MOVIE OR MINI-SERIES

Ellen Burstyn (Political Animals) – USA
Sienna Miller (The Girl) – HBO
Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story: Asylum) – FX
Lily Rabe (American Horror Story: Asylum) – FX
Imelda Staunton (The Girl) – HBO
Alfre Woodard (Steel Magnolias) – Lifetime

BEST REALITY SERIES

Duck Dynasty – A&E
The Moment – USA
Pawn Stars – History Channel
Push Girls – Sundance
Small Town Security – AMC
Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan – BBC America

BEST REALITY SERIES – COMPETITION  

Chopped – Food Network
Face Off – Syfy
Shark Tank – ABC
So You Think You Can Dance – FOX
Survivor – CBS
The Voice – NBC

BEST REALITY HOST

Tom Bergeron (Dancing With the Stars) – ABC
Cat Deeley (So You Think You Can Dance) – FOX
Gordon Ramsay (Hell’s Kitchen/Masterchef) – FOX
RuPaul (RuPaul’s Drag Race) – Logo
Ryan Seacrest (American Idol) – FOX
Kurt Warner (The Moment) – USA

BEST TALK SHOW

Conan – TBS
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart – Comedy Central
The Ellen DeGeneres Show – Warner Brothers Television Distribution
Jimmy Kimmel Live! – ABC
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon – NBC
Marie – Hallmark Channel

BEST ANIMATED SERIES

Adventure Time – Cartoon Network
Archer – FX
Phineas and Ferb – Disney Channel
Regular Show – Cartoon Network
The Simpsons – FOX
Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Cartoon Network

Photo Courtesy: US Magazine.

Emma Roberts Joins ‘American Horror Story: Coven’

Emma Roberts has been cast in 'AHS: Coven.'

Emma Roberts has been cast in ‘AHS: Coven.’

Scream 4 star Emma Roberts has joined the rapidly growing cast of FX’s American Horror Story: Coven. The third season of the controversial horror anthology series, created by Ryan Murphy (Nip/Tuck) will reportedly take place in modern-day New Orleans and involve witches and what Murphy described to Entertainment Weekly as “evil glamour.”

The show’s all-star cast also will include respected actresses like Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, Patti Lupone, Taissa Farmiga, Gabourey Sidibe, Sarah Paulson, Lily Rabe, and Frances Conroy. Roberts is currently dating another one of Coven‘s stars, Evan Peters.

Source: Entertainment Weekly.

Photo Courtesy: Deviantart.

Seth MacFarlane Won’t Host Oscars Again

Seth MacFarlane onstage during the 2013 Oscar ceremony.

Seth MacFarlane onstage during the 2013 Oscar ceremony.

The Family Guy funnyman, who stirred up controversy during his hosting job at the 2013 Oscars ceremony, has confirmed that he will not be involved again next year.

MacFarlane tweeted the following on Monday: “Traumatized critics exhale: I’m unable to do the Oscars again. Tried to make it work schedule-wise, but I need sleep. However, I highly recommend the job, as [executive producers Craig] Zadan and [Neil] Meron are two of the most talented producers in the business. My suggestion for host is Joaquin Phoenix.”

MaFarlane drew the ire of many during his hosting gig, during which he performed a purposefully tasteless musical number titled “We Saw Your Boobs” and made some racy jokes, a few of which I’ll feature below.

Django Unchained. This is the story of a man fighting to get back his woman, who’s been subjected to unthinkable violence–or as Chris Brown and Rihanna call it, ‘a date movie.’ … A lot of controversies over the use of the n-word in the film. I’m told apparently the screenplay is loosely based on Mel Gibson‘s voicemails.”

“Ben Affleck–this man has gone from starring in Gigli to becoming one of the most respected filmmakers of this generation. I feel like we’re six months away from having to call him Benjamin Affleck. The first time I saw him with all that dark facial hair, I thought, My God, the Kardashians have finally made the jump to film.”

“Quvenzhané Wallis is the youngest Best Actress nominee ever. Let me just address those of you up for an award: so you got nominated for an Oscar—something a 9-year-old could do. She’s adorable. She said to me backstage, ‘I really hope I don’t lose to that old lady, Jennifer Lawrence.’ To give you an idea of just how young [Wallis] is, it will be 16 years before she’s too old for [George] Clooney.”

Photo Courtesy: Salon.

Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

The Enterprise spirals out of control.

The Enterprise spirals out of control.

J.J. Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek reboot was an unexpected pleasure, taking a cult sci-fi series and revitalizing it in grand fashion, with spectacle, heart, and humor. Despite the enthusiastic welcome that the prequel/reboot (preboot?) received from fanboys, critics, general audiences, and even the Academy (the film won Best Makeup and received a total of four nominations), Abrams chose not to rush headfirst into a sequel. Four years later, with the follow-up finally hitting theaters, it’s clear that he made the right call by taking the time to think ideas for the next installment through completely, though evidently none of the deep thought thart the finished product shows went into a title (that’s right, no colon, no number, nothing). Quibbles aside, Star Trek Into Darkness is a thrilling, smart, imaginative, and satisfying sequel worthy of its respected namesake.

With introductions out of the way, Into Darkness focuses on telling a great story with a terrific cast of characters. This time around, the crew of the USS Enterprise find themselves on a mission of retribution. After Starfleet officer John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch, of Sherlock fame) defects and commits a series of devastating terrorist attacks on Earth, Captain James C. Kirk (Chris Pine) and his crew travel to a war-zone planet in Klingon territory to capture him so he can face judgment for his crimes, unwittingly playing right into their enemy’s hands. As its title suggests, this Trek is grittier and more intense; the villain, topically, is a vicious terrorist with a murky agenda of his own. Corruption, sacrifice, politics, revenge, and betrayal all play roles in the story, while the darkness of the title also refers to the indecision and fears of the Enterprise’s crew, particularly those of Kirk and Spock. Harrison manipulates the crew into questioning their own morals, giving Into Darkness some added depth that elevates it high above typical sci-fi fare.

All of the characters, not just those two, are really at the core of what makes Into Darkness work. Abrams doesn’t sacrifice character development for action, strengthening the crew’s connections and personalities even as he pits them against unimaginable odds. Lieutenant Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and First Officer Spock (Zachary Quinto) are struggling to make a relationship work as the story starts out. First Lieutenant Scotty (Simon Pegg) has serious moral quandaries with the Enterprise’s assignment, while Kirk grapples with his failures both as a leader and as a man. It isn’t all doom-and-gloom, however. The witty banter between Kirk and Spock is at an all-time high, and comedy relief characters Dr. ‘Bones’ McCoy (Karl Urban) and Scotty are both terrific in their roles, managing to capture the heart and soul of the Enterprise.

The newcomers are also strong. Cumberbatch is a much more compelling villain than Eric Bana’s bland Romulan in the 2009 Trek, bringing a menacing gravitas and dangerous verve to the physically-imposing Harrison, a super-human with equal penchant for skull-crushing and monologuing (sometimes simultaneously). His scenes alongside Pine and Quinto hum with a nervous energy and are among the film’s best (and without giving any spoilers, die-hard Trekkies may go into hysterics when a great twist halfway through reveals him to be one of the Enterprise’s greatest foes). Pete Weller sinks his teeth into a sizable role as Admiral Marcus, head of Starfleet. Finally, the gorgeous, talented Alice Eve is a great addition to the cast as the admiral’s daughter Carol Marcus, a love interest for Kirk who will hopefully have a larger part in the series’ inevitable third installment.

Abrams’ flair for visuals is used to great effect in Into Darkness; the movie has no shortage of memorable edge-of-your-seat action sequences. Though his trademark shaky-cam and lens flare effects sometimes distract from the action, the geek auteur does a solid job of keeping the film moving and creating some terrific set-pieces. The Enterprise has never looked better, and Abrams’ future Earth, despite the presence of flying cars, is one of the most realistic to hit big screens in recent memory.

Boosted by a terrific villain, fast-paced storyline, and jaw-dropping action sequences, Star Trek Into Darkness is one of the series’ all-time best, entertaining without ever becoming bloated or overlong. It’s the ultimate intergalactic popcorn pleasure. A

Photo Credit: Forbes.