The Fourth Annual Critics' Choice Television Awards were held Thursday night, with AMC's Breaking Bad, Netflix's Orange Is the New Black, and FX's Fargo coming away with the big wins. The awards, which are chosen by TV critics, have a knack for recognizing the programs and performances that are often overlooked by the other big television award shows. But do the slightly out-there nominees have a chance for gold when it comes to the Primetime Emmys? We've decided to predict the nominees and winners of this year's Emmys based on the winners of last nights Critics Choice Awards. The two award shows might have more winners in common than you would expect.
BEST DRAMA SERIES
Critics' Choice AwardsThe Americans Breaking BadGame of Thrones The Good Wife Masters of Sex True Detective
Emmy PredictionsBreaking BadGame of ThronesThe Good WifeHouse of CardsMad MenTrue Detective
Last year's Emmy winner, Breaking Bad, is coming off a fantastic final season, so it's hard to reason how Vince Gilligan's masterwork won't win the night's big award yet again. But on the slim chance that Bad doesn't win (and we mean slim), True Detective is the most sensible alternative. We don't expect low profile dramas like Masters of Sex and The Americans to be recognized by the Emmys, and the hype on Downton Abbey has cooled of considerably this year. Another Emmy favorite, Homeland, had its worst season yet last year, freeing the category up for some new blood.
BEST COMEDY SERIES
Critics' Choice AwardsThe Big Bang Theory Broad City Louie Orange Is the New Black Silicon Valley Veep
Emmy PredictionsThe Big Bang TheoryLouieModern FamilyOrange Is the New BlackParks and RecreationVeep
Freshman dramedy Orange Is the New Black will certainly get nominated at the Emmys, but we're doubtful that Netflix's prison series will win the top prize like it did at the Critics' Choice Awards, certainly not in a race that includes Modern Family. The juggernaut of a sitcom has won the category four times in a row, and there's nothing with enough buzz to stop it's warpath. Elsewhere, Critics' Choice nominees like Silicon Valley and Broad City are way off the Emmys radar, and don't stand a chance of getting nominated.
BEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Critics' Choice AwardsBryan Cranston, Breaking Bad Hugh Dancy, Hannibal Freddie Highmore, Bates Motel Matthew McConaughey, True Detective Matthew Rhys, The Americans Michael Sheen, Masters of Sex
Emmy PredictionsBryan Cranston, Breaking BadJeff Daniels, The NewsroomJohn Hamm, Mad MenDamien Lewis, HomelandMatthew McConaughey, True DetectiveKevin Spacey, House of Cards
McConaughey came out on top at the Critic's Choice Awards, but despite his massive performance in True Detective, we're doubtful he will best Cranston at the Emmys. We're expecting the rest of the category's Emmy nominees to be rounded out with the usual suspects. While the critics recognized the great performances in Hannibal, The Americans, and Bates Motel, we're doubtful that any of those shows will make it to the Emmys this year, or any year for that matter.
BEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Critics' Choice Awards Lizzy Caplan, Masters of Sex Vera Farmiga, Bates Motel Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black Keri Russell, The Americans Robin Wright, House of Cards
Emmy PredictionsClaire Danes, HomelandJulianna Margules, The Good WifeElisabeth Moss, Mad MenTatiana Maslany, Orphan BlackKerry Washington, ScandalRobin Wright, House of Cards
When the dust settles, we're expecting Tatiana Maslany to also win the Emmy in this category. At this point, her hype is insurmountable, and riots might break out if she doesn't leave the Nokia theater with something golden.
BEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Critics' Choice AwardsLouis C.K., Louie Chris Messina, The Mindy Project Thomas Middleditch, Silicon Valley Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory Adam Scott, Parks and Recreation Robin Williams, The Crazy Ones
Emmy PredictionsDon Cheadle, House of LiesLouis C.K., LouieMatt LeBlanc, EpisodesJim Parsons, The Big Band TheoryAndy Samberg, Brooklyn Nine-NineRobin Williams, The Crazy Ones
The Big Bang Theory's Jim Parsons will likely walk home with both awards. In terms of the other nominations, there's no way Chris Messina or Thomas Middleditch have a chance at securing an Emmy nomination. We're also betting that Robin Williams gets nominated, due mostly due organization's usual affection for "veterans" ... or so the Emmys have an excuse to invite the actor to the show and hear his Genie voice.
BEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Critics' Choice AwardsIlana Glazer, Broad City Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep Wendi McLendon-Covey, The Goldbergs Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation Amy Schumer, Inside Amy Schumer Emmy Rossum, Shameless
Emmy PredictionsZooey Deschanel, New GirlLena Dunham, GirlsEdie Falco, Nurse JackieJulia Louis-Dreyfus, VeepMelissa McCarthy, Mike & MollyAmy Poehler, Parks and RecreatonLouis-Dreyfus' foul-mouthed vice-prez will likely win the Emmy along with the Critics' Choice Award this year. As for the other nomination slots, Glazer and Schumer have no chance at getting nominated for Emmys. We're expecting the rest of the nomination list to be filled up with Emmys regulars like Melissa McCarthy and Edie Falco.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Critics' Choice AwardsJosh Charles, The Good Wife Walton Goggins, Justified Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad Peter Sarsgaard, The Killing Jon Voight, Ray Donovan Jeffrey Wright, Boardwalk Empire
Emmy PredictionsPeter Dinklage, Game of ThronesWalton Goggins, JustifiedAaron Paul, Breaking BadDean Norris, Breaking BadMandy Patinkin, HomelandJeffery Wright, Boardwalk Empire
Aaron Paul seems like a lock for the Emmys this year. The only person we could see upsetting what is basically destiny at this point is Peter Dinklage, who had a massive year on Game of Thrones. As for the other nominees, we are actually expecting the two award shows to stack up pretty similarly. Mandy Patinkin will definitely get an Emmy nod, while there might be enough space in the mix for long-snubbed Walton Goggins. One can dream, right?
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Critics' Choice AwardsChristine Baranski, The Good Wife Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad Annet Mahendru, The Americans Melissa McBride, The Walking Dead Maggie Siff, Sons of Anarchy Bellamy Young, Scandal
Emmy PredictionsChristine Baranski, The Good WifeEmilia Clarke, Game of ThronesAnna Gunn, Breaking BadChristina Hendricks, Mad MenMichelle Monaghan, True DetectiveMaggie Smith, Downton Abbey
While Anna Gunn didn't secure a Critics' Choice Award for the last season of Breaking Bad, we're betting she goes home with an Emmy this September. As for the other nominees, we don't expect Maggie Siff, Melissa McBride, and Annet Mahendru to get an Emmy nod, even though each actress certainly deserves the recognition.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Critics' Choice AwardsAndre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine Keith David, Enlisted Tony Hale, Veep Albert Tsai, Trophy Wife Christopher Evan Welch, Silicon Valley Jeremy Allen White, Shameless
Emmy PredictionsAndre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-NineJesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern FamilyEric Stonestreet, Modern FamilyTy Burrell, Modern FamilyTony Hale, VeepNick Offerman, Parks and RecreationAt this point, the supporting actor in a comedy category should be renamed the "Which Modern Family actor hasn't won in a while?" and that honor goes to Ferguson. Even though the Critics' Choice Awards don't feature a single nominee from ABC's dominant sitcom, expect at least three nominees from the show on Emmy night. Four if Ed O'Neil sneaks his way onto the bill. Also, kudos to the Critics Choice awards for nominating Albert Tsai for Trophy Wife. Bert will live in our hearts forever.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Critics' Choice AwardsMayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory Laverne Cox, Orange Is the New Black Kaley Cuoco, The Big Bang Theory Allison Janney, Mom Kate Mulgrew, Orange Is the New Black Merritt Wever, Nurse Jackie
Emmy PredictionsMayim Bialik, The Big Bang TheoryJulie Bowen, Modern FamilyAllison Janney, MomKate Mulgrew, Orange Is the New BlackSofia Vergara, Modern FamilyMerrit Weaver, Nurse Jackie
It might be crazy talk, but we think this category is Orange Is the New Black's best chance for its first Emmy. The show has such a dynamite supporting cast and heavy following that it may be able to crack the winner's circle in its first year of eligibility. We're thinking Kate Mulgrew has a good chance since Modern Family isn't nearly as dominant in this category as it is in Best Supporting Actor.
For the bulk of every Rocky and Bullwinkle episode, moose and squirrel would engage in high concept escapades that satirized geopolitics, contemporary cinema, and the very fabrics of the human condition. With all of that to work with, there's no excuse for why the pair and their Soviet nemeses haven't gotten a decent movie adaptation. But the ingenious Mr. Peabody and his faithful boy Sherman are another story, intercut between Rocky and Bullwinkle segments to teach kids brief history lessons and toss in a nearly lethal dose of puns. Their stories and relationship were much simpler, which means that bringing their shtick to the big screen would entail a lot more invention — always risky when you're dealing with precious material.
For the most part, Mr. Peabody & Sherman handles the regeneration of its heroes aptly, allowing for emotionally substance in their unique father-son relationship and all the difficulties inherent therein. The story is no subtle metaphor for the difficulties surrounding gay adoption, with society decreeing that a dog, no matter how hyper-intelligent, cannot be a suitable father. The central plot has Peabody hosting a party for a disapproving child services agent and the parents of a young girl with whom 7-year-old Sherman had a schoolyard spat, all in order to prove himself a suitable dad. Of course, the WABAC comes into play when the tots take it for a spin, forcing Peabody to rush to their rescue.
Getting down to personals, we also see the left brain-heavy Peabody struggle with being father Sherman deserves. The bulk of the emotional marks are hit as we learn just how much Peabody cares for Sherman, and just how hard it has been to accept that his only family is growing up and changing.
But more successful than the new is the film's handling of the old — the material that Peabody and Sherman purists will adore. They travel back in time via the WABAC Machine to Ancient Egypt, the Renaissance, and the Trojan War, and 18th Century France, explaining the cultural backdrop and historical significance of the settings and characters they happen upon, all with that irreverent (but no longer racist) flare that the old cartoons enjoyed. And oh... the puns.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a f**king treasure trove of some of the most amazingly bad puns in recent cinema. This effort alone will leave you in awe.
The film does unravel in its final act, bringing the science-fiction of time travel a little too close to the forefront and dropping the ball on a good deal of its emotional groundwork. What seemed to be substantial building blocks do not pay off in the way we might, as scholars of animated family cinema, have anticipated, leaving the movie with an unfinished feeling.
But all in all, it's a bright, compassionate, reasonably educational, and occasionally funny if not altogether worthy tribute to an old favorite. And since we don't have our own WABAC machine to return to a time of regularly scheduled Peabody and Sherman cartoons, this will do okay for now.
If nothing else, it's worth your time for the puns.
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A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.
Theatrics slapstick and cheer are cinematic qualities you rarely find outside the realm of animation. Disney perfected it with their pantheon of cartoon classics mixing music humor spectacle and light-hearted drama that swept up children while still capturing the imaginations and hearts of their parents. But these days even reinterpretations of fairy tales get the gritty make-over leaving little room for silliness and unfiltered glee. Emerging through that dark cloud is Mirror Mirror a film that achieves every bit of imagination crafted by its two-dimensional predecessors and then some. Under the eye of master visualist Tarsem Singh (The Fall Immortals) Mirror Mirror's heightened realism imbues it with the power to pull off anything — and the movie never skimps on the anything.
Like its animated counterparts Mirror Mirror stays faithful to its source material but twists it just enough to feel unique. When Snow White (Lily Collins) was a little girl her father the King ventured into a nearby dark forest to do battle with an evil creature and was never seen or heard from again. The kingdom was inherited by The Queen (Julia Roberts) Snow's evil stepmother and the fair-skinned beauty lived locked up in the castle until her 18th birthday. Grown up and tired of her wicked parental substitute White sneaks out of the castle to the village for the first time. There she witnesses the economic horrors The Queen has imposed upon the people of her land all to fuel her expensive beautification. Along the way Snow also meets Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) who is suffering from his own money troubles — mainly being robbed by a band of stilt-wearing dwarves. When the Queen catches wind of the secret excursion she casts Snow out of the castle to be murdered by her assistant Brighton (Nathan Lane).
Fairy tales take flack for rejecting the idea of women being capable but even with its flighty presentation and dedication to the old school Disney method Mirror Mirror empowers its Snow White in a genuine way thanks to Collins' snappy charming performance. After being set free by Brighton Snow crosses paths with the thieving dwarves and quickly takes a role on their pilfering team (which she helps turn in to a Robin Hooding business). Tarsem wisely mines a spectrum of personalities out of the seven dwarves instead of simply playing them for one note comedy. Sure there's plenty of slapstick and pun humor (purposefully and wonderfully corny) but each member of the septet stands out as a warm compassionate companion to Snow even in the fantasy world.
Mirror Mirror is richly designed and executed in true Tarsem-fashion with breathtaking costumes (everything from ball gowns to the dwarf expando-stilts to ridiculous pirate ship hats with working canons) whimsical sets and a pitch-perfect score by Disney-mainstay Alan Menken. The world is a storybook and even its monsters look like illustrations rather than photo-real creations. But what makes it all click is the actors. Collins holds her own against the legendary Julia Roberts who relishes in the fun she's having playing someone despicable. She delivers every word with playful bite and her rapport with Lane is off-the-wall fun. Armie Hammer riffs on his own Prince Charming physique as Alcott. The only real misgiving of the film is the undercooked relationship between him and Snow. We know they'll get together but the journey's half the fun and Mirror Mirror serves that portion undercooked.
Children will swoon for Mirror Mirror but there's plenty here for adults — dialogue peppered with sharp wisecracks and a visual style ripped from an elegant tapestry. The movie wears its heart on its sleeve and rarely do we get a picture where both the heart and the sleeve feel truly magical.
In This Means War – a stylish action/rom-com hybrid from director McG – Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises) and Chris Pine (Star Trek) star as CIA operatives whose close friendship is strained by the fires of romantic rivalry. Best pals FDR (Pine) and Tuck (Hardy) are equally accomplished at the spy game but their fortunes diverge dramatically in the dating realm: FDR (so nicknamed for his obvious resemblance to our 32nd president) is a smooth-talking player with an endless string of conquests while Tuck is a straight-laced introvert whose love life has stalled since his divorce. Enter Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) a pretty plucky consumer-products evaluator who piques both their interests in separate unrelated encounters. Tuck meets her via an online-dating site FDR at a video-rental store. (That Lauren is tech-savvy enough to date online but still rents movies in video stores is either a testament to her fascinating mix of contradictions or more likely an example of lazy screenwriting.)
When Tuck and FDR realize they’re pursuing the same girl it sparks their respective competitive natures and they decide to make a friendly game of it. But what begins as a good-natured rivalry swiftly devolves into romantic bloodsport with both men using the vast array of espionage tools at their disposal – from digital surveillance to poison darts – to gain an edge in the battle for Lauren’s affections. If her constitutional rights happen to be violated repeatedly in the process then so be it.
Lauren for her part remains oblivious to the clandestine machinations of her dueling suitors and happily basks in the sudden attention from two gorgeous men. Herein we find the Reese Witherspoon Dilemma: While certainly desirable Lauren is far from the irresistible Helen of Troy type that would inspire the likes of Tuck and FDR to risk their friendship their careers and potential incarceration for. At several points in This Means War I found myself wondering if there were no other peppy blondes in Los Angeles (where the film is primarily set) for these men to pursue. Then again this is a film that wishes us to believe that Tom Hardy would have trouble finding a date so perhaps plausibility is not its strong point.
When Lauren needs advice she looks to her boozy foul-mouthed best friend Trish (Chelsea Handler). Essentially an extension of Handler’s talk-show persona – an acquired taste if there ever was one – Trish’s dialogue consists almost exclusively of filthy one-liners delivered in rapid-fire succession. Handler does have some choice lines – indeed they’re practically the centerpiece of This Means War’s ad campaign – but the film derives the bulk of its humor from the outrageous lengths Tuck and FDR go to sabotage each others’ efforts a raucous game of spy-versus-spy that carries the film long after Handler’s shtick has grown stale.
Business occasionally intrudes upon matters in the guise of Heinrich (Til Schweiger) a Teutonic arms dealer bent on revenge for the death of his brother. The subplot is largely an afterthought existing primarily as a means to provide third-act fireworks – and to allow McGenius an outlet for his ADD-inspired aesthetic proclivities. The film’s action scenes are edited in such a manic quick-cut fashion that they become almost laughably incoherent. In fairness to McG he does stage a rather marvelous sequence in the middle of the film in which Tuck and FDR surreptitiously skulk about Lauren's apartment unaware of each other's presence carefully avoiding detection by Lauren who grooves absentmindedly to Montel Jordan's "This Is How We Do It." The whole scene unfolds in one continuous take – or is at least craftily constructed to appear as such – captured by one very agile steadicam operator.
Whatever his flaws as a director McG is at least smart enough to know how much a witty script and appealing leads can compensate for a film’s structural and logical deficiencies. He proved as much with Charlie’s Angels a film that enjoys a permanent spot on many a critic’s Guilty Pleasures list and does so again with This Means War. The film coasts on the chemistry of its three co-stars and only runs into trouble when the time comes to resolve its romantic competition which by the end has driven its male protagonists to engage in all manner of underhanded and duplicitous activities. This Means War being a commercial film – and likely an expensive one at that – Witherspoon's heroine is mandated to make a choice and McG all but sidesteps the whole thorny matter of Tuck and FDR’s unwavering dishonesty not to mention their craven disregard for her privacy. (They regularly eavesdrop on her activities.) For all their obvious charms the truth is that neither deserves Lauren – or anything other than a lengthy jail sentence for that matter.
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