Tuesday, September 24, 2013

2012-2013 Scott Comedy Emmys

I have a difficult time analyzing the Emmys.  Whereas for the Oscars I only need to see one movie at a time, to analyze the Emmys I would need to keep up with a lot of series.  I watch television differently than I watch movies.  I watch TV series casually and just watch what I enjoy, I don't keep up with what everybody seems to be watching I just watch what I watch.  Which are pretty much all comedies.  So out of the series from last season that I watched here are my picks for my personal comedy Emmys.  Just to spread the wealth I am naming shows and performances that were not nominated this season.  Just more fun that way.

Best Comedy Series
I thought that 1600 Penn had a great debut, especially considering the weaker first seasons of many other now critically loved series.  Had a great ensemble, some clever jokes that did not get too political and quite a bit of optimism despite the well constructed dysfunctional family.  Saturday Night Live was more consistent that usual with its balanced ensemble and a few well selected hosts.  There were many ups and downs in the final season of The Office but the moments that worked were among the best of the well loved series.  Most of all it was very ambitious.  Parks and Recreation remains the best ensemble of on television and even at its weakest it is still clever and entertaining.  New Girl really came into its own this season and was must see TV for many with some classic sitcom unresolved sexual tension that it put its own spin on.  However my favorite comedy series this season was the dramedy Parenthood which continued to balance all aspects of family life, including the more difficult and uncertain ones with a lot of fun moments.  It is the type of series you keep going back to, because you feel like a part of the family.

Best Actor in a Comedy Series
Personally I would nominate the Modern Family cast in leading categories.  They are an ensemble, but they all lead their own stories.  So I will put a good word in for the funny Eric Stonestreet who was the sole member of the main cast not nominated this year (although I do not think all six need to be nominated every single season).  Despite this being the weakest season of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia the increasingly prolific Charlie Day still stood out with his unique energy and entertained.  I did not anticipate liking Josh Gad on 1600 Penn as I can find him insufferable, but he brought a lot of heart and wit to his role on the series.  He got a lot more subtle and varied than I expected while maintaing his annoying character persona.  Rainn Wilson really became the lead of The Office by the end of the season and his character arc was really the sweetest part of a very good season.  Dax Shepard remains surprising and a stand out on Parenthood.  But my favorite leading male performance would be his co-star Peter Krause who is so relatable and charming.  He balances strength and vulnerability and really leads the large cast.

Best Actress in a Comedy Series
Jenna Elfman, who I normally don't care for, worked for me on 1600 Penn.  Patricia Heaton continues to do great work on The Middle (a series that I need to watch more of because I haven't seen enough episodes from last season to consider it in many other categories).  Kaitlin Olson still was a stand out on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.  Her unique interpretation and delivery always impresses me.  While not every Pam development worked this season Jenna Fischer did some of her best work on The Office especially in the finale where she was very much the heart of Dunder Mifflin. Zooey Deschanel was a terrific lead for her improving series and is growing her character in interesting ways.  My vote for best actress not nominated goes to Mindy Kaling in the first season of The Mindy Project.  The show has been struggling with staying consistent in quality but she remains a fascinating, likable lead with her earnestness and ability to combine intelligence and naivete.

Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Always the most difficult category for me to limit to six nominees, because there are so many great character actors on television.  Of course my thoughts always go to Parks and Recreation which is full of incredible actors who have never received a nomination.  The ensemble dark horse Nick Offerman was able to maintain his static characterization during big new character developments.  This was also the best season for Adam Scott who manages to stand out, despite being the most understated and normal citizens in Pawnee.  My favorite cast member on Saturday Night Live this season was actually Kenan Thompson who really came into his own after a decade on the series and the show is figuring out how to use him in lead and supporting roles.  Tracy Morgan brought his A-Game in many non-sequitirs on 30 Rock but also had some of the most heartfelt scenes in the powerful finale.  I am surprised at the lack of critical love towards the dependable Chris Messina on The Mindy Project who is such a fun sitcom character.  The highlight of last year though was the increasingly popular Jake Johnson with his work on New Girl where he brought excitement and emotion to every episode while still being hilarious and delivering some of the year's best jokes.

Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Saturday Night Live did not use all of its female cast members to its fullest potential, however for me Kate McKinnon and especially Vanessa Bayer stood out this year in every role they had.  How I Met Your Mother had its weakest season and I found it uncomfortable to watch at times.  However Cobie Smulders was the only cast member who consistently seemed fresh and invested, she still works on the show for me and doesn't seem too stupid like the rest of the great cast has unfortunately kind of become.  Rashida Jones, often cited as the most difficult Parks and Recreation character to get a handle on, did great work this season.  Not only in her attempts to get pregnant, but in her attempts at trying to hard to be an individual and convince herself that she is interesting.  No matter how bad an episode of The Office got in the past few seasons Ellie Kemper was always dependable and stayed hilarious.  This season her character's prominence expanded and she was able to stay at the emotional center of the series.  Again I have to go back to Parenthood.  Erika Christensen did her best work yet on the show, as she is the sibling who is often the least memorable.  But Monica Potter brought some real emotions to her difficult character arc and really deserves recognition.

Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series
One of the highlights this season of The Office was Bob Odenkirk's perfect send up of Michael Scott. Bruce Campbell was well cast on 1600 Penn as the president's brother where he had great chemistry with Bill Pullman.  On New Girl David Walton was an ideal suitor for Jess no matter how much we liked Nick.  Comedy veteran Rob Reiner also scored big laughs as Jess's father.  Ray Romano did some of his best work as an actor and really surprised in his recurring role on Parenthood.  I still have to go back to Seth MacFarlane who was one of the best Saturday Night Live hosts I have ever seen.  He worked perfectly with the cast and seemed just like an ensemble member.

Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series
Collette Wolfe made every moment count on her small role in an episode of The Office and I actually was wishing she would join the cast, despite how incredibly large it was.  Often over looked comedic actress Kerri Kenney-Silver anchored the gang's outlandish behavior on the best episode this season of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.  No matter how many big stars that 30 Rock got and the Emmy's noticed one of the best side characters will always be Chloe Grace Moretz as Jack Donaghy's teenage arch nemesis.  Parker Posey had a perfect cameo on New Girl and I hope her shot girl character makes another appearance this season.  I loved Pamela Adlon's nosy neighbor on Parenthood.  But Tammy II had her finest hour this season on Parks and Recreation where the great Megan Mullally went all out and really deserved an Emmy.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Roles That Harrison Ford Was Not the First Choice For

Star Wars
Who Else Was Considered?: James Caan, Nick Nolte, Al Pacino, Burt Reynolds, Kurt Russell, Sylvester Stallone, Christopher Walken, Billy Dee Williams, James Woods, many, many others
Who Would Have Done the Best?: Out of the stars listed, who are all great actors, Kurt Russell would be able to get the closest to Ford's mix of charm, humor and badass.  However Billy Dee Williams clearly does great work in Star Wars movies and would have been great as Han.
Did it Work Out with Ford?: Absolutely.  He completely embodied the cowboy character and brought so much to the franchise in his unique interpretation.  It says a lot that he was even cast with Lucas trying to find anybody else to play the part.  He really was the only option.

Apocalypse Now
Who Else Was Considered?: James Caan
Who Would Have Done the Best?: Well James Caan would have been fine and he clearly works well with Coppola.  His career would have been better for accepting the lower salary for this smaller role.
Did it Work Out with Ford?: Not Ford's best known role but having two Coppola credits rounds out his filmography a bit.

Raiders of the Lost Ark
Who Else Was Considered?: Jeff Bridges, Willem Dafoe, Tim Matheson, Sam Neill, Nick Nolte, Tom Selleck, many others
Who Would Have Done the Best?: While Selleck was the top choice (couldn't accept due to his commitment to Magnum P.I.) I would have gone with Jeff Bridges out of that list.  Bridges has a great sense of humor and a leading man quality.  Would have been entertaining in the role and able to carry the movies well.
Did it Work Out with Ford?: Even more than Han Solo, Ford made this movie.  As capable as the other actors are the movies would not have worked the same without him.

Blade Runner
Who Else Was Considered?: James Caan, Sean Connery, Dustin Hoffman, Tommy Lee Jones, Raul Julia, Robert Mitchum
Who Would Have Done the Best?: There were a wide variety of stars up for this one and they all would have brought something interesting and different.  The role was designed for Mitchum and the producers spent months courting Hoffman.  But I think that a young Tommy Lee Jones would have fit in the dystopian setting the best and would have led his career in a different direction.
Did it Work Out with Ford?: Yes, while not a huge success this movie is still revered.  Don't think that he was as necessary of a component in this one as he is in other movies, as this is not an actor's film.  But Ford has always been able to give a movie what it needs and not distract.

Who Else Was Considered?: Jack Nicholson, Sylvester Stallone
Who Would Have Done the Best?: Jack liked the script but didn't commit because there was no director at that time.  Jack has played similar types in movies such as Chinatown and can play the romantic angle well.  Sly would have worked but not as well, although it was better movies than he was acting in at the time.
Did it Work Out with Ford?: This is Ford's sole Oscar nomination.  The movie is still regarded as one of the best action movies of all time.  He is believable as an action star but he does have a great character arc and is just as entertaining in the romantic scenes.

Patriot Games
Who Else Was Considered?: Alec Baldwin
Who Would Have Done the Best?: Baldwin's Ryan was well-received in Hunt for Red October and he would have worked reprising the role.  Would have certainly helped Baldwin's film career.
Did it Work Out with Ford?: This was a casting change that worked.  Casting a bigger star for the sequels probably helped the movies' box-office.

The Fugitive
Who Else Was Considered?: Alec Baldwin, Kevin Costner, Andy Garcia
Who Would Have Done the Best?: I think that out of the three Garcia would have been the most interesting, he was a recent Oscar nominee at the time and could have brought some prestige to the movie.  The other two were always up for many of the same roles as Ford and probably would not have brought too much different to it.
Did it Work Out with Ford?: Ford is an intelligent action star, doubtful that the movie would have been nominated for Best Picture without him as the human leading character.

Air Force One
Who Else Was Considered?: Kevin Costner
Who Would Have Done the Best?: Costner would have been alright but not great.  He has never quite worked as an action star, his best roles are more dramatic in nature.  However he turned down this role that was intended for him to make Postman which really hurt his career.
Did it Work Out with Ford?: This was a huge success that many still love.  Ford can really elevate an action film.