Oscar Watch: Love, Gilda

In a year filled with documentaries focused on legendary figures, Friday sees the limited release of Love, Gilda. The pic recounts the life of original SNL cast member Gilda Radner, including her time on that landmark show, her marriage to Gene Wilder, and her battle with cancer. It features interviews with her contemporaries and admirers including Chevy Chase, Melissa McCarthy, Amy Poehler, Martin Short, Maya Rudolph, and Bill Hader.

Gilda first screened last spring at the Tribeca Film Festival to positive, if not overly praising reviews. It sits at 83% currently on Rotten Tomatoes. As mentioned, from Won’t You Be My Neighbor? to Quincy to RBG to Jane Fonda in Five Acts to McQueen, 2018 has been loaded with high-profile docs.

Bottom line: while Gilda may well please her many fans, I don’t see this making the cut in this year’s loaded race.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

David Letterman’s Goodbye Begins

This evening brings the beginning of the end for the longest tenured late night host in the history of the television medium. After 33 legendary years, David Letterman’s final run of programs kicks off tonight with five and a half weeks and 28 shows left.

A CBS press release confirmed what many suspected: the final Dave shows will be a very star studded affair. Many Letterman regulars will make their pilgrimage over the next month and change (his swan song is Wednesday, May 20).

That impressive list includes Bill Murray, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Howard Stern, Steve Martin, Jerry Seinfeld, Robert Downey Jr., Sarah Jessica Parker, Martin Short, Don Rickles, Ray Romano, George Clooney, Scarlett Johannson, Will Ferrell, Alec Baldwin, Michael Keaton, Jack Hanna, John Travolta, Bruce Willis, Tina Fey and Billy Crystal, among others. Not too shabby. Musical guests include Elvis Costello, Mumford and Sons, and Dave Matthews Band.

The press release promises more names not yet revealed over the last 28 hours of Letterman’s TV existence. Who could that be? Let’s start with the easy. Foo Fighters are Dave’s favorite band and it is likely they could be the final musical performance. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Dave’s late night brothers come to pay their respects. That list includes Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Jon Stewart and Letterman’s successor Stephen Colbert. I also anticipate an appearance by Jay Leno – something that would truly be an event after their over 20 year history of being rivals and their battle for The Tonight Show after Dave’s idol Johnny Carson retired in 1992.

Furthermore, it wouldn’t surprise me to see politicos such as Hillary or Bill Clinton or even President Obama appear. I will have one more post timed to Letterman’s departure to pontificate on what his show has meant to me and, frankly, my sense of humor. It’s not insignificant.

Until then, it’s going to be an interesting few weeks of Dave bidding America farewell.

Inherent Vice Movie Review

Like its constantly reefer toking lead character, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice could use a bit more focus and clarity. The complicated plot sometimes feels like a pothead is describing it to you as it’s occasionally challenging to follow along with. Yet you come away with the notion that Anderson, the master filmmaker responsible for Boogie Nights and There Will Be Blood, has made exactly the picture he wanted to make.

Based on a 2009 novel by Thomas Pynchon, Vice stars Joaquin Phoenix (who gave a much different and also terrific performance in PTA’s last previous The Master) as Doc, a stoner private eye in California circa 1970. When we open, he’s visited by his hippie ex Shasta (Katherine Waterston) who’s gotten herself into some trouble with a real estate mogul (Eric Roberts) who may be the victim of some shady dealings by his family. It leads Doc to a case that involves Nazis, a thought to be dead musician (Owen Wilson), and a drug addled dentist (a typically memorable Martin Short). Along the way, we discover Doc’s antagonistic relationship with LAPD detective “Bigfoot”, played with gusto by Josh Brolin.

There’s a lot of subplots involved in Inherent Vice and it provides for smaller roles by familiar faces like Benicio del Toro and Joaquin’s Walk the Line counterpart Reese Witherspoon, among others. At its center is the love story between Doc and Shasta, though they talk about their connection like it barely exists. Phoenix, as always, turns in a fascinating performance that further demonstrates his considerable abilites (the guy can do slapstick comedy when called upon). Waterston, daughter of Sam, is the real find here in a sea of more famous faces.

For the most part, Inherent Vice couldn’t be more different than 2012’s The Master. They are similar in one way: I found it tough to get emotionally involved in either. To be fair, I do not believe that’s what PTA is going for. Vice is about atmosphere and characters and the plot is mostly an afterthought. As with all previous efforts by the director, the atmosphere is something to behold, as is the acting.

The picture has moments where it has a Big Lebowski vibe and not just due to the weed love of the star. There are times when you’ll remember this is coming from the guy who made the brilliant Boogie Nights. Inherent Vice doesn’t belong in the same category as either of those movies, but fans of PTA (of which I certainly am) should find this worthwhile. I suspect that this, like most of Anderson’s work, will improve upon subsequent viewings. The fact that I’ll likely sign up for a second viewing in the future is recommendation enough.

*** (out of four)

Inherent Vice Box Office Prediction

Paul Thomas Anderson has certainly been making some of the most fascinating pictures of the last nearly two decades with Boogie Nights, Magnolia, There Will Be Blood and The Master among his credits. This Friday, his latest effort Inherent Vice makes its debut. The crime thriller/comedy boasts an all star cast that includes Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Reese Witherspoon, Benicio del Toro, Maya Rudolph, Martin Short and Owen Wilson.

Based on the novel by Thomas Pynchon, critical notices for Vice has been generally positive if a bit under Anderson’s normal acclaim. Its Rotten Tomatoes meter stands at 71% currently. Like most of the director’s work, this is certainly not expected to be a blockbuster and is primarily aimed at core fans. As expected, it’s had a successful run in limited release but faces the question as to how well it plays nationwide. Currently estimates put it at just over 400 theaters (relatively low) Friday.

Inherent Vice could pull in about the same per screen average as Joaquin’s last pic Her which expanded one year ago. I’ll estimste it gets a little higher since it’s on considerably less screens, but that still leaves it struggling to reach $2 million out of the gate.

Inherent Vice opening weekend prediction: $1.8 million

For my prediction post on Taken 3, click here:


For my Selma prediction, click here:





Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return Box Office Prediction

Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return is an animated feature from the upstart Summertime Entertainment opening Friday. It comes with a healthy estimated budget of $70 million. It’s based on The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum and I think we’re all familiar with the massively successful pictures his works have spawned. It features the voices of “Glee” actress Lea Michele, as well as Kelsey Grammer, Dan Aykroyd, Jim Belushi, Martin Short, and Patrick Stewart.

This begs the question: is it just me or does this thing seem to be gaining very little traction with audiences? I would offer that the marketing push for Oz has been relatively minor, even though it’s scheduled to open on a hefty 2800+ screens. Perhaps the Oz affiliation alone could propel this to a double digit opening, but I don’t even think it gets to that minor distinction. There is a shortage of kiddie related pics now that Rio 2 has made the bulk of its gross (though The Amazing Spider-Man 2 should still be doing quite well in weekend #2).

I’m predicting that family audiences will mostly ignore Dorothy’s Return and decide that when it comes to spending money on this, there’s no place like staying home.

Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return opening weekend prediction: $5.7 million

For my Neighbors prediction, click here:


For my Moms’ Night Out prediction, click here:


Top 25 SNL Cast Members of All Time: Nos. 15-11

And now we move to part three in my five part series covering my personal Top 25 Saturday Night Live Cast Members of All Time. Numbers 25-16 have already been revealed and can be found here:



Tonight, numbers 15-11 before moving to the Top Ten tomorrow:

15. Jimmy Fallon


14. Martin Short


13. Mike Myers


12. Bill Murray


11. Bill Hader

Top Ten and numbers 10-6 tomorrow folks!