S1E24: Welcome to the moment we've all been waiting for: the final results show! Tonight marked the finale of what's truly been an epic season of The X Factor and I'm sure all three contestants were big balls of nerves (but hey, you would be too if you had $5 million at stake). And as I watched the judges make their over-the-top grand entrances one more time, I realized just how much I'm actually going to miss recapping this show. Simon's winking, Paula's ramblings, L.A.'s shiny lip balm, Steve Jones' hilarious expressions -- I'll miss it all (and yes, I skipped Nicole on purpose). But enough of my nostalgia -- let's get on to the results!
Kicking off the night was a surprise performance from the Top 12 contestants! Remember those guys? Leroy, Drew (with dark hair), Marcus, RACHEL CROW! They were all up there singing together and it was awesome (even though Leroy forgot his part of the lyrics, but we still love him anyway). After that, the final three all performed for us one more time, each singing a festive holiday song and, as usual, our dear host thought it was "fabulous stuff." (Man, I'm even going to miss that!). Melanie Amaro sang a rendition of Mariah Carey's All I Want For Christmas Is You, Chris Rene sang Judy Garland's Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, and Josh Krajcik sang Charles Brown's Please Come Home For Christmas. Unsurprisingly, they all did a really great job and I'm now officially filled with Christmas cheer.
After a bunch of heart-wrenching, sentimental video packages from each act's loved ones, it was time to begin the elimination process. So out of the three finalists, it was announced that Chris Rene received the least amount of votes, earning himself a respectable third place. I was genuinely surprised since his fanfare was so massive. But he handled it like a champ and I know we haven't seen (or heard) the last of him. So with Chris out of the picture, it came down between Josh Krajcik and Melanie Amaro. And the winner is (drum roll please)...MELANIE AMARO!
That's right America; based on your votes entirely, you decided to make Melanie, America's first X Factor winner! The singer that Simon almost cast aside is now the proud owner of a $5 million recording contract and will have the chance to star in her very own Pepsi commercial. And while I know this show isn't just about singing -- it's about bringing something eXtra special into a performance -- I was still so happy that the best singer ended up winning. My faith in reality show voting has been restored. Congratulations, Melanie!
So what did you think of tonight's results show? Were you surprised with how it all played out? Do you believe the right person won? Sound off in the comments section below and let me know your thoughts!
In the dialogue-free opening sequence of Shame director Steve McQueen introduces us to Brandon (Michael Fassbender) a handsome New Yorker who goes through a morning routine tackles the responsibilities of his high profile day job socializes with co-workers and all the while struggles with an insatiable desire for sexual pleasure. As the strings of composer Harry Escott's score swell we see Brandon in two scenarios: holding back from advancing on a beautiful young subway-rider and succumbing to carnal instinct with the help of a prostitute. It's a powerful setup for Fassbender's breathtaking performance which ranks among the best of the year.
Shame forcefully declares that sex addiction is just as tangible devastating and perplexing as any drug or alcohol problem but does so without didactic lessons or over-the-top indulgences. Fassbender's Brandon is on the other end of the spectrum from Nicolas Cage's crazed alcoholic character in Leaving Las Vegas with McQueen breaking long stretches of repression with harrowing moments of emotionless lust. The film works as a character portrait following Brandon as he finds himself falling deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole and witnessing the effects of his descent on the people around him. Picking up women isn't a problem for the dashing gent—he does so with ease on many an occasion—but when he tries dating the one woman he has feelings for he's void of sexual stamina. Unfortunately even in the sprawling city of New York there's no outlet for Brandon to confide in—his work buddies are all looking for an easy lay and his sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan) who shows up at his door one inopportune day has a heap of her own problems.
McQueen shoots Shame with precision that never feels staged each scene camera angle and directorial choice amplifying Brandon's dizzying situation Whether Brandon's entranced by Sissy's passionate rendition of "New York New York " working off his own sexual frustration with a quick jog or seducing a barfly's girlfriend at a hole-in-the-wall joint Fassbender and McQueen work in perfect tandem to bring the audience into the struggle. You will feel the raw power of Brandon unleashing his sex drive and you will feel the sadness behind Fassbender's face as he drifts alone through the city streets. Both moods are powerful moving and true.
Shame doesn't have an easy-to-swallow narrative a real beginning or an end. When you expect things to align into a traditional structure McQueen and screenwriter Abi Morgan subvert expectations—as life often does. What keeps us engrossed is Fassbender who can pull off the balancing act of suave and broken without tipping us off that he's acting at all. Shame received an NC-17 rating because of its racy imagery but the real maturity on display in the film is the bare bones depiction of human behavior.
Addiction. HILARIOUS, right?
Not the case. Addictions, as you may have heard, are torturous, debilitating, tragic illnesses that can wreak havoc on the lives they affect (keep reading, it gets less horrible). Though, somehow, film and television have taken to depicting the various types of addictions in farcical, belittling, often humorous ways. Think of how many movies you’ve seen that play drug abuse for laughs. How about the cartoonish portrayal of compulsive gambling in every other TV series since The Flintstones? And lest we forget the one addiction that probably gets the least credit as a legitimately painful disease: sex addiction.
Sex addiction is the subject matter tackled, with a great appreciation for all turmoils attached, in the upcoming film, Shame. In some sense Shame is a pioneer in this realm. Sex addiction is rarely ostensibly touched upon in film and TV. Sure, you’ve got your standard stock characters whose identities are consumed predominantly by sex—your Sam Malones, your Vince Masukas, your Barney Stintsons, your Glenn Quagmires—but seldom is the notion of this type of behavior being representative of an agonizing addiction actually braved. And such is the case for all addictions. Drug abuse, gambling problems, alcoholism, nicotine reliance…they’re all made out to be funny, and rarely invocative of any real pain or consequence.
But here’s the problem: that’s not the case. And to propagate the idea that these addictions are laughable, casual character quirks is to do a disservice to the dignity of those enduring them in real life, and to trivialize their quests to overcome them. Take a movie like Blades of Glory. Now, I know that many will roll their eyes at my hypersensitivity, proclaiming that Blades of Glory isn’t really meant to be taken with a large degree of sincerity or authenticity. But just roll with me, here.
In one scene of the 2007 comedy film, Will Ferrell’s character attends a support group for people dealing with sex addiction—the whole bit, as one would expect with any issue tackled in this sort of movie, is played entirely for laughs. The opening psalm is riddled with comical imagery about what sexual compulsions will drive you to do, and the meeting concludes with all of the addicts pairing off and fleeing to privacy for what is illustrated to be an enjoyable bout of passion.
But the reality of it is, this is not at all a depiction of sex addiction—it’s something else entirely. Yet, many films continue to portray the disease with a brighter spin, removing the whole “disease” factor entirely.
And then there’s Shame: the powerful, dynamic drama that invites an authentic exploration of a man suffering—really suffering—from an addiction to sex. Director Steve McQueen teams with acting supercomputer Michael Fassbender to deliver the story, and it’s a story more than worth our time and contemplation.The genuine pains of sex addiction may have been skirted so long in the media due to the scarcity of public education about the issue. However, even regarding addictions about which we as a society in general are far more knowledgeable, there remains a dichotomy between the heavy, accurate and sympathetic portrayals and the destructive, farcical and insincere ones.
The broad spectrum of drug abuse has its share of films on both sides of the spectrum. Further, films that attempt to authentically tackle the tragedy of drug addiction are ones with which we’re all likely quite familiar: Requiem for a Dream is the leader of this category. Darren Aronofsky (who, indicated both by this film and his recent anti-meth PSAs, is clearly a passionate crusader against drug abuse) paints a picture we’ve all tried to shake off—one of desperation, degradation, and absolute rock-bottom misery, resultant of the abuse of and addiction to heroin and pills.
Some others to do the struggle justice include Trainspotting, Christiane F., and a pair of cowboys films (one Midnight, one Drugstore). But of course, there are a slew of films that either glamorize, villainize or humorize one-dimensionally drug addicts and their plights with this illness. In the 2002 comedy Orange County, Jack Black’s character—the funniest character in the movie—abuses a wide variety of substances (a good deal of his humor derives from this).
Taking this a step further is a film actually applauded formidably for its glorification of drug use: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. It may be based on true events, but Fear and Loathing takes a very celebratory point of view on drug and alcohol abuse in a story about two men—neither of whom can go a scene without smoking, snorting, huffing, drinking or in some other way infusing their body with a toxic substance—on a hedonistic trip through the Nevada deserts to the Las Vegas strip. Yes, it’s twisted. Sure, there are some dark turns. But all in all, you don’t exactly leave this movie with an aversion to the idea of drug use.
Gambling addiction is a theme with a greater track record of presence in television than in movies. A multitude of sitcom characters have struggled with temporary, cartoonish, usually none-too-serious examples of gambling addictions: Kramer on Seinfeld, Dorothy on The Golden Girls, Marge on The Simpsons…and of course, there’s this.
One show that actually did make a more earnest attempt at the illustration of the legitimate struggle attached to compulsive gambling was Taxi, which informed audiences of Judd Hirsch’s character’s history with the problem shortly before launching him back into his old habits. As with the nature of the series, the mood of the story was twofold: there was, indeed, a fair share of humor involved, but a thick presence of gravity and pain as well.
And, of course, there’s alcoholism. I’d go out on a limb to say that the abuse of alcohol—both sincere and farcical depictions—trumps that of narcotics, gambling or sex in terms of its prevalence in film and television. Alcoholics range from being tortured, poetic souls to bumbling, word-slurring comic reliefs. We’ve seen them both riddled with agony over the call of the drink, and eagerly in pursuit of the next madcap, liquor-infused night on the town. When it comes to a reverence for struggles with alcohol addiction, Leaving Las Vegas (it's apparently an addictive city) is adorned as among the most true-to-life and captive of the experience—although it’s not without its Hollywood angles. Still, the Nicolas Cage-starrer is leagues beyond the genus of films that point at laugh at the town-drunk stumbling merrily from one bar to the next.
Now, don’t take this vantage point as a complete vilification of these movies. I love Fear and Loathing. I think Jack Black is comedic dynamite. I’ve watched more Seinfeld and Simpsons than any human being healthily should. There are countless films and programs in the same company that I find perfectly entertaining, and, perhaps in other respects, perfectly valuable pieces of the medium.
But the issue is as such: for every one of these depictions of an addiction, we need a film like Requiem, like Leaving Las Vegas, like Shame. Comedy can absolutely prove useful as a vehicle for dealing with and overcoming the pains and sorrows of any tragedy or illness, addiction not excluded. However, before this method can be upheld, we must have a firm understanding of the sincerity and gravity of the situations at hand. Movies like Shame are invaluable, in that they are both educational and evocative. We might come away from nine out of ten feature films laughing about the zaniness of addicted individuals—but when one makes an effort to throw us into the harrowing, tumultuous experience that real-life addicts have to deal with every day, it can make a world of difference.
The 300 star portrays a sex addict in director Steve McQueen's picture, and the level of male nudity in the film prompted U.S. officials to brand the movie an NC-17, preventing anyone under the age of 17 from viewing it.
Fassbender's co-star Carey Mulligan, who plays his self-harming sister, has criticised U.S. censors for the harsh rating, branding it "so odd", while the actor himself recently insisted Shame did not deserve the strict classification because it is no more shocking than the gory footage frequently featured in popular horror films.
The Irish-German star admits he still doesn't "understand" why the drama has been deemed so shocking, although he's convinced the press coverage has only encouraged more people to check his film out.
He tells New York Magazine, "I think it's good. People might see it because it's NC-17; seems like it's working in reverse to what they (censors) are trying to do...
"It's all good publicity, man. News is news."
Instead, the director took stars Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan to America so they could investigate carnal cravings while they shot the movie.
Mulligan tells The Hollywood Reporter, "In England, you can't find people that talk about sex. He... tried to write it in London, but no one was willing to have the conversations."
A new trailer for the upcoming heavy, heavy NC-17-rated drama Shame has hit the Internet, and it features a singing Carey Mulligan and a troubled Michael Fassbender. Oh yeah, and the movie looks like a harrowing masterpiece.
Throughout the trailer, a rather lounge-y version of "New York, New York" can be heard over scenes of Fassbender's character, a sex addict, well ... struggling mightily with his addiction. In the end, we learn that Mulligan, who plays Fassbender's sister, is the singer.
Shame reunites Fassbender with his Hunger director, Steve McQueen and hits theaters Dec. 2. Check out the trailer below.
And John Goodman snags the tie! It has been announced that Goodman, repeat offender in the Coen Brothers' filmmaking family, will join the casting of Inside Llewyn Davis. This will be Goodman's sixth Coen appearance, earning him a tying position as the most recurring Coen actor in Hollywood.
Joel and Ethan Coen are known for their casting of several actors in multiple films. John Torturro and Jon Polito can each be seen in five different Coen Brothers films—Torturro is known best in the Coeniverse as the lead character in Barton Fink, or perhaps the bizarre pederast (who can roll) Jesus Quintana in The Big Lebowski, whereas Polito's big Coen role was his opening monologue in Miller's Crossing.
While five Coen films is an impressive resume, Steve Buscemi tops them with six (if you include their short segment of the compilation film Paris, Je T'Aime in the mix). But winning on that technicality as the only individual to star in six full Coen Brothers feature films is Frances McDormand, whose most memorable role is undoubtedly in Fargo. But McDormand won't be the sole record-holder for long. John Goodman currently has five Coen films under his belt, and his recent casting in the developing Inside Llewyn Davis will make six.
Earlier today, it was announced that Justin Timberlake was being reached for a major role in the film. Oscar Isaac is set to star as the title role, with Carey Mulligan playing the wife of the character being offered to Timberlake.
The Moët British Independent Film Awards have announced this year's nominees—and most of them are very, very good. Among the films nominated are the espionage mystery/thriller Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy starring Gary Oldman, Colin Firth and Tom Hardy, Steve McQueen's severe human drama Shame starring Michael Fassbender, the horrifyingly tragic We Need to Talk About Kevin, Richard Ayoade's artistic novel adaptation Submarine, and many others. Expect many of these to be Oscar possibilities.
The 14th Annual Moët British Independent Film Awards will take place on Sunday, December 4th, 2011.
BEST BRITISH INDEPENDENT FILM
TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY
WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN BEST DIRECTOR
Ben Wheatley – KILL LIST
Steve McQueen – SHAME
Tomas Alfredson – TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY
Paddy Considine – TYRANNOSAUR
Lynne Ramsay – WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN
THE DOUGLAS HICKOX AWARD [BEST DEBUT DIRECTOR]
Joe Cornish – ATTACK THE BLOCK
Ralph Fiennes – CORIOLANUS
John Michael McDonagh – THE GUARD
Richard Ayoade – SUBMARINE
Paddy Considine – TYRANNOSAUR
John Michael McDonagh – THE GUARD
Ben Wheatley, Amy Jump – KILL LIST
Abi Morgan, Steve McQueen – SHAME
Richard Ayoade – SUBMARINE
Lynne Ramsay, Rory Kinnear – WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN
Rebecca Hall – THE AWAKENING
Mia Wasikowska – JANE EYRE
MyAnna Buring – KILL LIST
Olivia Colman – TYRANNOSAUR
Tilda Swinton – WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN
Brendan Gleeson – THE GUARD
Neil Maskell – KILL LIST
Michael Fassbender – SHAME
Gary Oldman – TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY
Peter Mullan – TYRANNOSAUR
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Felicity Jones – ALBATROSS
Vanessa Redgrave – CORIOLANUS
Carey Mulligan – SHAME
Sally Hawkins – SUBMARINE
Kathy Burke – TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Michael Smiley – KILL LIST
Tom Hardy – TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY
Benedict Cumberbatch – TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY
Eddie Marsan – TYRANNOSAUR
Ezra Miller – WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN
MOST PROMISING NEWCOMER
Jessica Brown Findlay – ALBATROSS
John Boyega – ATTACK THE BLOCK
Craig Roberts – SUBMARINE
Yasmin Paige – SUBMARINE
Tom Cullen – WEEKEND
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN PRODUCTION
YOU INSTEAD BEST TECHNICAL ACHIEVEMENT
Chris King, Gregers Sall – Editing – SENNA
Sean Bobbitt – Cinematography – SHAME
Joe Walker – Editing – SHAME
Maria Djurkovic – Production Design – TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY
Seamus McGarvey – Cinematography – WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN
HELL AND BACK AGAIN
LIFE IN A DAY
TT3D: CLOSER TO THE EDGE
BEST BRITISH SHORT
LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT
BEST FOREIGN INDEPENDENT FILM
THE SKIN I LIVE IN
THE RAINDANCE AWARD
ACTS OF GODFREY
A THOUSAND KISSES DEEP
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Yesterday I was lucky enough to catch a New York Film Festival screening of the Shame and can say with confidence that it is one of the best movies of the year. Provocative, elegant, moderately disturbing and always electric, the movie delivers a powerful, human performance by Michael Fassbender (Jane Eyre, X-Men: First Class, A Dangerous Method) as a sex addict dealing with his inability to function within the world around him. Carey Mulligan (Drive, An Education) plays his sister, a singer with a troubled past and her own handful of problems, who abruptly reenters her brother's life.
Director Steve McQueen, who previously helmed another Fassbender tour-de-force picture, Hunger, reunites with his leading man for Shame and the results are even more engrossing then their previous collaboration. The movie won't hit theaters until December 2 (and, likely, with an NC-17 rating due to a serious amount of nudity), but the first poster has hit the web and is ready to send shivers down your spine.
Fassbender accepted the Coppa Volpi best actor trophy at a ceremony on Saturday (10Sep11) for his performance alongside Carey Mulligan in British director Steve McQueen's latest film.
Accepting his honour, Fassbender told the crowd, "It's just really nice when you take (a) chance and you do something that you think is relevant - you hope is relevant - and people respond the way they did."
But the festival's top prize - the Golden Lion - went to Russian filmmaker Alexander Sokurov for his take on Faust, about a scholar who sells his soul to the devil.
Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky, who served as head of the festival's jury, heaped praise on Sokurov as he presented him with the Golden Lion.
Aronofsky said, "There are some films that make you cry, there are some films that make you laugh, there are some films that change you forever after you see them; and this is one of them."