Everyone has those movies or TV specials that they watch around the holiday season, whether it’s Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, “A Rugrats Chanukah,” or a mix of holidays with The O.C.’s “The Best Chrismukkah Ever.” However, as far as Christmas TV specials go, the stop-motion tales from the '60s and '70s will always be the best.
Although the first Rankin/Bass Christmas special is almost 50 years old, the popular animated classics are still played every year on ABC Family during the network’s 25 Days of Christmas. We’re talking about — of course — the holiday specials featuring Rudolph, Frosty, and Santa Claus.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is an adaptation of the well-known reindeer’s story, though in this version he travels to the Island of Misfit Toys. Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town tells the origin of Kris Kringle from growing up with elves until he becomes Santa Claus (the bad guy in this special is called Burgermeister Meisterburger, which might be the funniest name we’ve ever heard.) Then there are two more Rudolph specials in which the young reindeer must save the day: Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July and Rudolph’s Shiny New Year.
But the best one of all — and surely we can all agree on this one — is The Year Without A Santa Claus. On top of being an animated Christmas special, it’s also a musical with songs like “I Could Be Santa Claus” and “Blue Christmas.”
However the most memorable songs are “The Snow Miser Song” and “The Heat Miser Song” because Snow Miser and Heat Miser, two sons of Mother Nature, are easily the best characters from any of the Rankin/Bass classics. The Miser brothers quarrel like spoiled kids, fight with hilariously awful special effects, and they have minions that are miniature versions of themselves.
Sure some people might like The Grinch and A Charlie Brown Christmas better than these claymation classics. But to some of us it just isn’t Christmas until we see Snow Miser and Heat Miser fight like children over the North Pole.
The 58th Annual Golden Globe Awards is shaping up to be one heck of a testosterone-charged run.
Steven Soderbergh's "Traffic" and Ridley Scott's "Gladiator" have emerged as the frontrunners in this year's race for the Globes, each receiving five nods apiece as nominations for the annual bash were announced this morning by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association in Beverly Hills, Calif..
Trailing closely behind are Cameron Crowe's semi-autobiographical rock flick "Almost Famous," "Chocolat," "Wonder Boys" and Soderbergh's "Erin Brockovich," each earning four nominations.
Soderbergh's drug trafficking drama (which has yet to bow in theaters) picked up almost all the prized loot with a nod for best picture (drama), best director, best screenplay for scribe Stephen Gaghan and a best supporting actor and actress (drama) mention for Benicio Del Toro and Catherine Zeta-Jones, respectively.
Soderbergh and company will go up against Scott's brutish epic "Gladiator" in three other fronts: best picture (drama), best director and best supporting thanks to the lascivious performance by Joaquin Phoenix.
The Roman decadence film has also earned its rugged Australian star Russell Crowe a best actor (drama) nomination. Crowe was long favored by critics to receive a nomination for his performance. Rounding out the film's fifth nomination is a nod for best original score.
The usual suspects also turned up for the best actor (drama) category. Besides Crowe, there's Javier Bardem for his role as a gay Cuban poet in "Before Night Falls," Michael Douglas playing a mid-life-crisis-prone writer in "Wonder Boys," Geoffrey Rush as the decorum-defying Marquis de Sade in "Quills" and Tom Hanks -- who avenges his "The Green Mile" shutout last year -- with his turn as the modern-day Robinson Crusoe in "Cast Away."
But the most interesting race to watch is when Soderbergh goes up against himself. His "Traffic" and "Erin Brockovich" are nominated in both the best director and best picture (drama) categories. (Soderbergh, we might add, has also been named best director by the National Board of Review, the New York Film Critics Circle and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association on the strength of both flicks).
Besides going head-to-head with Scott, Soderbergh will also have to fend off Ang Lee ("Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon") and Istvan Szabo ("Sunshine"), also contenders in the best director race.
Joining "Traffic," "Brockovich" and "Gladiator" in the best picture (drama) race are boy ballet film "Billy Elliot," the Douglas late bloomer "Wonder Boys" and the surprise dark horse "Sunshine."
As everyone suspected, Julia Roberts secured a best actress (drama) nom for her bosom-enhanced role in "Erin Brockovich." She's up against Joan Allen ("The Contender"), Bjork ("Dancer in the Dark"), Laura Linney ( "You Can Count On Me") and a somewhat surprising nomination for Ellen Burstyn for what some folks thought was more of a supporting role in "Requiem For a Dream."
In the best supporting actor (drama) race, the HFPA picked "The Contender" co-star Jeff Bridges, Willem Dafoe as the stoic bloodsucker in "Shadow of a Vampire," Albert Finney from "Erin Brockovich" and, as mentioned before, Del Toro in "Traffic" and Phoenix for "Gladiator."
Their female counterparts in the best supporting actress (drama) are: Oscar and Golden Globe winner Judi Dench for her work in "Chocolat," Julie Walters for "Billy Elliot," Zeta-Jones in "Traffic." In that category, "Almost Famous" yielded two noms -- one for Frances McDormand and one for ingenue Kate Hudson.
Perhaps to show that drama is really different from comedy, the HFPA also has separate categories for films that are in the lighter and decidedly happier vein.
That said, "Almost Famous" was tapped a best picture (comedy) nom, along with dog show spoof "Best in Show," DreamWorks' "Chicken Run," "Chocolat" and the Coen brothers' epic laughfest "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"
The Golden Globes continues to smile on annual Oscar snub Jim Carrey as the actor picks up his Globe nod for his interpretation as the Dr. Seuss miser the Grinch in "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (he won a Globe for both "The Truman Show" and "Man on the Moon" the past two years). Going up against Mr. Rubberface himself will be George Clooney ("O Brother, Where Art Thou?), John Cusack ("High Fidelity"), Robert De Niro ("Meet the Parents") and Mel Gibson ("What Women Want").
And if Carrey is the Globes golden boy, then Sandra Bullock might be the awards' dream girl. However uncannily, the actress (who was nominated for "While You Were Sleeping") picked up a best actress (comedy or musical) nom for "Miss Congeniality." Juliette Binoche from "Chocolat," Brenda Blethyn from the marijuana-minded "Saving Grace," Tracey Ullman from "Small Time Crooks" and Renee Zellweger from "Nurse Betty" are also nominees in the category.
Besides Lee's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," the best foreign film category is filled with titles that are obscure at best, unknown in the least. Going fist-to-fist against Lee's martial-arts flick (which failed to nab a best film nod) are "Amores Perros" from Mexico, "The Hundred Steps" and "Malena," both from Italy, and the French flick "The Widow of St. Pierre."
On the television front, the best series (drama) race will pit ratings buster "ER" (NBC) against "CSI" (CBS), "The Practice" (ABC), "The Sopranos" (HBO) and multiple Emmy winner "The West Wing" (NBC).
And "Ally McBeal" (Fox), "Frasier" (NBC), "Malcolm in the Middle" (Fox), "Sex and the City (HBO) and "Will & Grace" (NBC) will duke it out in the best series (comedy) realm. "Will & Grace" is this year's Emmy champ.
The Globes, in somewhat of a surprise move, nominated Sarah Michelle Gellar for the WB's "Buffy the Vampire" and Jessica Alba of Fox's "Dark Angel" in the best actress (drama) category. Joining them are Lorraine Bracco (HBO's "The Sopranos"), Amy Brenneman (CBS' "Judging Amy") and Edie Falco (also HBO's "The Sopranos").
Of special note is Robert Downey Jr.'s nomination for best supporting actor for "Ally McBeal." His future, however, on the Fox comedy series has been hanging in the balance since his recent run-ins with drugs and the law. Downey is nominated along with Sean Hayes of "Will & Grace" (NBC) John Mahoney and David Hyde Pierce of "Frasier" (NBC), Christopher Plummer of "American Tragedy" (CBS) and Bradley Whitford of "The West Wing" (NBC).
Winners of the 58th Annual Golden Globes will be announced Jan. 21 in an NBC telecast.
Santa's new chief mechanic, Tinsel, has created a speedy, new high-tech sleigh for Christmas, but North Wind has sabotaged it in the hope of taking Santa's place this year. When Santa takes it out for a spin, he gets caught in the cross fire between the feuding Miser Brothers and the sleigh comes crashing down. North Wind frames the Misers for the accident and, with Santa stuck in bed with a bad back, seems poised to be the heroic fill-in. But much to his chagrin, Mother Nature punishes the Miser Brothers by forcing them to put their differences aside and do Santa's job. In between comedic squabbles, the Brothers rediscover what it means to be family and, along the way, save Christmas for everyone.