Friday, October 30, 2009

The Perfect Seasons

I've never seen such a lopsided season of Project Runway. Never before has there been a perfect season (no trips to the bottom three) run by any contestant, yet with one challenge to go, three different contestants are accomplishing the feat. Is there much doubt that those three will be in the finale?

Episode Eleven: The Best of the Best
Lifetime continues to impress me with actually improving on last week's episode. The challenge was better this week, and even though Michael Kors was gone, Nick Verreos is always a fun, witty commentator to have on hand. By the way, the guest judges have gotten so much better the past two episodes. Milla Jovovitch and Kerry Washington both knew exactly what they were talking about and made their presences known on the panel.

The challenge was for each designer to take their best design and create a companion piece for it. Typically, a companion piece recalls the original design in some element (material, color, aesthetic, technique). Most of the designers actually did accomplish companion pieces in some regard... it's just that only three of them were any good. Three were actually quite horrible. And that's why it's suddenly become so obvious who will compete at Fashion Week.

As far as the actual garments go, I didn't agree at all about Althea's ugly, drab, grey garment winning. Then again, I am wholly and completely in the tank for Irina Shabbadabadoo at this point, so I'm blind to all other creations. Only that's actually not true- I liked Carol Hannah's cute little dress a LOT. And the Blonde and the Beautiful (heretofore known as Brooke Hogan) wasn't so much bad as clearly worse than Two-Name Whitfield and Shabbadabadoo's designs.

Althea Harper
Didn't love this winning look. To me, it didn't fit well with the original, it looked tacky, poorly constructed (but that's the norm for Brooke Hogan), and was clearly inferior to at least two other looks. I wouldn't have sent Althea home for this (not when there's three other pieces of crap on the runway), but by no means did it deserve its win. About the charges of plagiarism: Althea charged Designated Straight Male Logan with stealing her zipper collar idea, and she was totally right in that regard, but then Irina Shabbadabadoo turned around and charged her with plagiarizing her sweater cuffs. Though many are piling on Irina for basically implying that she invented sweaters, there's no doubt the two designs are similar, and Heidi Klum did directly ask Irina and Althea about the similarity, which means Irina was completely in the right to slam Brooke Hogan. Just my opinion, you might have a different one. And I respect your right to be wrong.

Irina Shabayeva
Just like Regina George, Irina is fabulous and evil. In all honesty, I probably couldn't spend two minutes in the same room with Shabbadabadoo, but her designs are just incredible. I love how she plays with absolute luxury in her designs and isn't afraid to make winter clothes. Quick point of contention, though-- why did Irina have to make a companion for this piece? She's won three challenges- that's three looks she could have designed companion pieces though. (Maybe she could have given one to DSM... *snigger*) I would have liked to see a cool evening gown like her chevron-stripes dress or a real fabric equivalent to her newspaper dress (the collar!). Still, Shabbadabadoo worked it out on this design, and deserved the win. Again.

Carol Hannah Whitfield
I absolutely loved Carol Hannah's dress. Making a companion piece to an over-the-top performance dress is tough, but Two-Name made it work. It was a dress, yes, and I would love to see Carol Hannah do separates sometime, but there's just no denying how fast this little dress would sell. It's the little black/green dress every young girl would die to have. I hope Carol Hannah can translate this aesthetic to a more diverse line come Fashion Week time.

Gordana Gehlhausen
Oh, Fraü Gehlhausen. Even though I've now learned how to properly spell your name, your design this week disappointed me. You've done great work in the past (divorceé challenge, inspiration challenge), but I'm beginning to worry your appeal can't translate past a streamlined, well-made grey dress. This week's jacket was unfinished and horrid-looking, and you better thank your lucky stars Nina Garcia was there to save you, because Heidi would have sent you home for sure.

Christopher Straub
*sigh* Words just aren't enough here. Even when he gets back to his volumnous roots, Minnesota Nice has taken such a tumble from his original prowess and is now regularly sending crap down the runway. Christopher was lucky Fraülein and Designated Straight Male did so badly this week, because I probably would have sent this home otherwise. What's happened to Minnesota Nice that he's done so badly? Was the INC Blue challenge just too much for him that it's shaken his confidence to the edge? That actually might be it- having basically never been criticized before that episode, then to not only get savagely ripped apart but dropped into the bottom two and almost sent home must have been a bit of a confidence destroyer. However poorly he's done so far, however, he is the last man standing, unlike...

Logan Neitzel
Ah, Designated Straight Male. Like Joe Faris (season 5), Robert Plotkin (season 1), and Kevin Christyana (season 4) before you, it's time to go home after a season of posturing and attempting to make yourself far straighter than you should be. Your silver pants made the judges so distracted they ignored the fact that you had never appeared in the top three and that this was your fifth (!) appearance in the bottom three. You will go on to absolutely zero career in the fashion industry.

My Winner: Irina Shabayeva
My Auf: Logan Neitzel

For the remaining finalists, here are the scores:

Irina Shabayeva: 9 HIGH
Althea Harper: 7 WIN
Carol Hannah Whitfield: 6 HIGH
Gordana Gelhausen: 0 LOW
Christopher Straub: -1 LOW
Logan Neitzel: -6 OUT

So Designated Straight Male is finally out of the game, tying for the lowest exit score EVER with Vincent Libretti from season 5. Irina Shabbadabadoo should be proud, as she's not only running a perfect season so far, she's also tied for the highest score ever, 9, also attained by former champions Chloe Dao and Christian Siriano, and that was with championships already under their belts. Brooke Hogan and Two-Name Whitfield are also running perfect seasons, but with slightly lower scores. To have three contestants without a single appearance in the bottom three is astounding. No season has been this lopsided before. Maybe next week will change things, but my feeling is that Irina is going to be our champion (with a bullet!), with Althea placing second and Carol Hannah third.

Because of next week being the last runway show, I'm expecting a double elimination, in which case you can expect Gordana and Christopher to go home. That's probably all for the best, though I wouldn't mind seeing Gordana instead of Althea. The latter has simply never inspired me on this show, while the former could do really interesting things with a lot of time and money. Still, after seeing the final three collections of the top three (and I know almost certainly which three contestants the collections belong to), I'm confident that two of the three finalists put together amazing looks.

Friday, October 23, 2009

I Can't Get Inspired By Santa Fe

Christopher Straub needs to be thanking his lucky stars right now. The thrice-nearly ousted designer was obviously feeling the wrath of Heidi Klum down his neck this week on Project Runway. "You are in the bottom three...yet again," the German hostess with the mostess chillingly said as she sent home Nicolas Putvinski, also known as My Least Favorite Designer. Ever. But did he deserve it? Read on...

Episode Ten: Around the World in Two Days
I was all ready to make a snarky comment about the title but in fact, the title doesn't suck this week. Apropos, short, and draws me into the episode. Lifetime finally figured out what they were doing. In fact, that was really the theme of the episode: Lifetime Gets It Together. For the first time this season, I felt that the show was really at the quality of previous seasons.

The designers have finally begun to come into their own and embrace their differences as designers. I really think all five (I'm excluding Designated Straight Male Logan) remaining designers have an interesting point-of-view and I'm glad to see what they'll put together for Fashion Week.

In addition, all three judges, Heidi, Michael Kors, and Nina Garcia, were back together for the first time since the premiere! The whackadoodle (where'd you come from, Suede?) judging this season has led to some bad eliminations and declarations of winners. This time, the judging was right on track.

The challenge was to design a look inspired by a particular locale. All of them seemed very appropriate...with one exception. How can anyone be inspired by Santa Fe? It's like asking a Texan to be inspired by Abilene.

Irina Shabayeva
Irina Shabbadabadoo was lucky to get a wintry location like Aspen. She designed a beautiful three-piece look with a little surprise with the open back on the shawl/sweater. I didn't like the open back, because when you're in a cold place like Aspen, the last thing you want is a bunch of skin hanging out there. Still, the look was absolutely gorgeous and luxurious, so she totally deserved her win. With three wins, she is far and away the frontrunner this season.

Christopher Straub
CHRISTOPHER! It's really frustrating, having supported someone and become invested in their success only to see them fail. Spectacularly. His last four (?!) designs have been completely unacceptable by Runway standards, and he hasn't handled the pressure very well, becoming the Andrae/Ricky of the season. Dude, you may be Minnesota Nice, but don't cry every time you're spared from elimination. And start designing better. Please. Also: who gets inspired by Santa Fe?

Gordana Gelhausen
Fraülein Gelhausen really stepped it up this challenge. I totally got New York City from her design, and her necklace detailing was beautiful. I think, had she been more confident about her design and not sold it out on the runway, she would have been the easy winner. If she increases her confidence, she has a strong chance to win this competition, as she might have the best constructional execution of the remaining six.

Althea Harper
The Blonde and the Beautiful was the one safe party of the seven this week. That means she is right in the middle of the pack in the judges' eyes. Not a good place to be. Safe means boring, and her St. Tropez outfit this week was bland and uninteresting. Althea has a lot of potential, but she needs to avoid being the Bland and the Boring.

Logan Neitzel
Speaking of boring, DSM is slowly becoming that contestant on Project Runway every season who stays around far longer than they need to. I'm not a fan of his, and to quote guest judge Milla Jojovitch, if this was Project I Didn't Mind It, he would win. I, like Nina Garcia, hate being bored, and he makes me bored every time he sends the same commercial, unoriginal junk down the runway.

Carol Hannah Whitfield
I like Carol Hannah's designs, though her dress last night was classic Uli Herzner from three seasons ago. Still, I hope Two-Name sticks around 'till the finale, only to see what she'd do with a lot of time and lots of money. Plus, she seems poised to catfight with Shabbadabadoo...

Nicolas Putvinski
Poor Nicolas the Terrible. ...Okay, I'm over him. He designed the same white mess every episode, anyway. He was tragic, not fierce. And for this show, you have to be fierce. Just ask Christian Siriano.

My Winner: Irina Shabayeva
My Auf: Nicolas Putvinski

For the remaining finalists, here are the scores:

Irina Shabayeva: 8 WIN
Althea Harper: 5 IN
Carol Hannah Whitfield: 5 HIGH
Gordana Gelhausen: 1 HIGH
Christopher Straub: 0 LOW
Logan Neitzel: -4 LOW
Nicolas Putvinski: -2 OUT

What'd you guys think? Did Nicolas the Terrible deserve to go home? Or is it Minnesota Nice or DSM who should have gone? Comment below!

Friday, October 16, 2009


No, the blog title isn't referring to the new Britney Spears song about a "you're the most." (A Very Brady Sequel. Look it up.) Instead, it's referring to the number of times a designer is usually allowed into the bottom three on Project Runway. On that third strike, 95% of the time, designers will be sent home.

That didn't happen last night. Christopher Straub, a personal favorite, was saved yet again from the claws of elimination. Though I usually think Minnesota Nice's stuff is awesome, these past two weeks (last week especially) have been pretty horrible. It's odd. He started out so strong, and now is falling apart at the seams. (Fashion joke. Ha.)

(SPOILER: Judging from the Models of the Runway preview, Minnesota Nice makes it again next week, though he comes close to elimination one more time. Come on, Chris! Really?)

Episode Nine: Sequins, Feathers, and Fur, Oh My!
Lifetime: Television for Women Who Like Poorly Written Television Episode Titles. When Runway reaches the final eight contestants, a few important things happen. First, the judges really begin to look towards Fashion Week and who will show great collections. Second, immunity is no longer given to winners of challenges. No easy breaks. Finally, the judging gets a lot harsher. You do badly on one challenge, and you could go home. This week's episode involved designing for Christina Aguilera in the tradition of Bob Mackie. In other words, sequined, feathered, and with lots of over-the-top accoutrements. So...tacky, basically.

Not my favorite challenge, honestly. They've already done a "make a costume" challenge this season--do we really need a second? Also, though I think Christina Aguilera is talented and was once a huge star, in all honesty, has she done a whole lot lately? These folks were acting as though it was Beyoncé they were designing for.

Still, even when the challenge sucks, the show must go on.

Carol Hannah Whitfield
I was happy to see Two-Name Whitfield win a challenge. She's been a consistent designer so far, but hadn't done enough to win. She's a part of the incredibly strong female designer crop this season. Two-Name's dress, though pretty, didn't really fit the challenge, and I wonder if black can actually work from the nosebleed seats. To me, the Blonde and the Beautiful Althea's dress would better fulfill the challenge. Still, Two-Name needed a win, so I'm happy.

Logan Neitzel
I don't think our Designated Straight Male got the right amount of flak for his outfit. It was dull and poorly made, just like all his other stuff. Also, he is now the only designer left in the competition who hasn't won a challenge. In fact, Shirin Hideandseek, this week's eliminee, remains a full five points ahead of him in the standings. Thinking about it, I just can't see DSM at Bryant Park like I can Irina, Althea, Carol Hannah, Christopher, and even Gordana.

Gordana Gelhausen
Speaking of Fraülein Gelhausen... I have a very good feeling she had every intention of coasting with immunity this challenge. That's actually fine; there's nothing in the rulebook that says she even has to TRY on challenges where she is immune from elimination. Still, I was disappointed. Fraülein doesn't seem to have the same desire and drive to win this that the other designers do. Which is weird, since she's been trying out for this show for four seasons now. Still, the Irina/Althea/Carol Hannah triad is impossibly strong right now, and Gordana isn't showing that she deserves a spot in that final three.

Althea Harper
I loved this look. The detailing was great, the effect was dramatic, and it didn't look cheap as all get-out. The Blonde and the Beautiful is Irina's main competition to win at this point, but will losing the fabulous Tanisha Harper as her model shake her confidence next week? Probably not. Althea still hasn't taken a trip to the bottom, much like Irina and Carol Hannah, so it'll probably be Fraülein Gelhausen, Nicolas the Terrible, or DSM going home next week. Though Minnesota Nice isn't going that great right now...

Christopher Straub
Lucky he's SPOILER AGAIN obviously safe next week END SPOILER, because right now, if you told me Minnesota Nice was going home next week, I wouldn't doubt you. Christopher looked like the designer to beat for the first half of the season, but after his lethal third trip to the bottom three this week, can he survive much longer on this current course? He's the guys' only hope to win this season, but right now, he's got three incredibly strong female competitors.

Nicolas Putvinski
Nicolas the Terrible more or less remade a garment this week. He loves his white and lace, and Tim Gunn even pointed out the similarities to his winning design from three weeks ago. However, Heidi Klum was the only regular judge there that week. Michael Kors is gone again, and Nina Garcia, though back for the rest of the season (YEAH!), has no point of reference. No wonder he was in the top. No one remembers the last look! This really presents a problem about the judging system this season.

Irina Shabayeva
Shabbadabadoo's safety without interrogation this week puzzled me. There are only eight left: why not question all the designers? Still, her design was pretty safe, so her position was appropriate. She also kept her high score, so I guess there was a reason to keep her safe. However, next week looks like things don't go well for Shabbadabadoo next week, with the infamous "not here to make friends" label gets affixed to her. Is Irina the Kenley/Jeffrey/Santino of this season? Talented, yet despised?

Shirin Askari
Aww, Hideandseek! After representing Texas well for quite some time, including a win and avoiding the bottom three, Shirin was drop-kicked off the runway. I was surprised with her elimination, but Hideandseek was just annoying enough to become grating if she had stayed much longer. Still, this presents another problem with the judging. Ra'mon, Epperson, and now Shirin have been pretty unceremonially kicked off this show despite consistent performance. What's going on, Michael and Nina? You're both back next week, so I expect to see DSM going home!

My Winner: Althea Harper
My Auf: Christopher Straub

For the remaining finalists, here are the scores:

Irina Shabayeva: 6 IN
Althea Harper: 5 HIGH
Carol Hannah Whitfield: 4 WIN
Christopher Straub: 1 LOW
Gordana Gelhausen: 0 IN
Nicolas Putvinski: 0 HIGH
Logan Neitzel: -3 LOW
Shirin Askari: 2 OUT

Well, what'd you think? Surprised by Shirin's ouster? Is Irina unbeatable? Or will Althea or Carol Hannah usurp her? Is Christopher the biggest disappointment this show's ever seen? Gordana, Nicolas, and Logan: who goes next week? Or will it be someone unexpected? You know where to go to discuss: the comments!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Holy Nina Garcia, Batman!

(I love that phrase way too much.)

As my payments process on my college applications (because I'm DONE!), I thought I would take the chance to blog about my guilty obsession. That's right, hide your cross-stitchings and get ready for Korsian snippiness, because Season 6 of Project Runway is in full swing. With eight designers left, the season will finally kick into high gear on Lifetime this Thursday at 9 PM. This blog post will give all you latent Runwayers a chance to catch up.

After this, every weekend I'll post on the newest episode: some highlights, some lowlights, my opinion on who should have won/gone home, and just general thoughts. Sparsed in with as much Korsian snippiness as I can manage. (The guy's only been in like three episodes this season. It's really killing me.)

I'll also completely ignore the poorly planned Models of the Runway, a spinoff that airs every Thursday night after the real Runway. Though it has its interesting moments, the show is, on the whole, er, God-awful. The real show's enough to talk about.

You'll see a scoring system used to compare contestants. Essentially, here's how it breaks down:
WIN: 2 points
HIGH: 1 point
IN: No points
LOW: -1 point
OUT: -2 points (but since they're, y'know, out, it doesn't make a whole lot of difference anymore)
If you want to keep up with who scored where, check Wikipedia's chart here:

Episode One: Welcome to Los Angeles!
Oh, yeah, BTdubs, the show moved from NYC to LA this season. To celebrate the move, the first challenge was about the red carpet. (Am I missing something? Don't they have red carpets in NYC?) Most of the gowns were incredibly typical, including that of Ra'mon Lawrence Coleman. My personal favorite was the winner's: Christopher Straub created an awesome, oddly-textured skirt that would be perfect for the VMAs. Though Kanye likely wouldn't let him finish. (And I now declare that joke dead.) The strange Ari Fish was out even before she got used to the sunshine, though I would have eliminated the guy who essentially sent a nude model down the runway: Mitchell Hall.

My Winner: Christopher Straub
My Auf: Mitchell Hall

Episode Two: We Expect Fashion
Does the episode title strike anyone else as ridiculously obvious? I mean, what were judges Heidi Klum and Nina Garcia expecting, ugly maternity wear? That's just ridicul- oh, wait. Just saw Malvin Vien's design. Hope they weren't expecting a weird chicken/egg/sling/feather/hottrannymess thing, because that's what he made for this Rebecca Romijn-inspired maternity dress challenge. Meanwhile, Texas-based designer Shirin Askari made a fantastic dress and coat that looked good enough to wear, pregnant or no. The judges got it right this time, which might be the last time that happens all season.

My Winner: Shirin Askari
My Auf: Malvin Vien

Episode Three: Rumble on the Runway
Wow, Lifetime sucks at naming Runway episodes. There was no "rumble" this episode; there was one two episodes later, though. More on that later. This challenge, which forced the designers into teams of two, was about designing a surf-inspired ready-to-wear outfit. Later on, the designers learned that they were to make a SECOND outfit, an avant-garde look inspired by their surfwear outfit. (So it's inspired on an outfit that was inspired by the sea? Seems like there's some algebra property that deals with that...) I was not a big fan of the winning outfit, a nasty-looking neon green neoprene dress (that, ladies and gentlemen, was dyed in a toilet bowl. Don't you know that model was thrilled) that probably deserved to send Ra'mon ho'me. (Sorry. The apostrophe is too easy to mock.) Still, he did basically do his and Mitchell's outfits alone, so for that, I'm glad he got the win. I would have given it to ticking time bomb Johnny Sakalis, a former drug addict who really went off the deep end pretty quickly. Still, his look, put together with Irina Shabayeva, was really well-made and looked good, so give him the win. The useless Mitchell, however, really did get to get shoved off, even after his partner won the challenge.

My Winner: Johnny Sakalis
My Auf: Mitchell Hall

Episode Four: What a Woman Wants
God, Lifetime! The titles! They make my eyes bleed! The designers were expected to make a look for their model for an industry event based on the model's desires. This was one of those challenges that the judges really failed in judging, as all three top tier looks paled in comparison to other unnoticed looks. Still, if I had to pick one, Carol Hannah Whitfield did do a good job constructing her dress. Althea Harper, though an interesting designer with a signature look and one hell of a model (Tanisha Harper, you're too good for that stupid spinoff), really didn't create the best look this week, though, again, it was well-made. I would have sent home Logan Neitzel, AKA Designated Straight Male, for his tacky Smurf prom dress instead of Qristyl (okay, that name is just DESIGNED for people to misspell it) Frasier's boring black dress. But at least now she can go get that name sorted out.

My Winner: Carol Hannah Whitfield
My Auf: Logan Neitzel

Episode Five: Fashion Headliners
...*sigh* Lifetime... The "headliners" in this episode catastrophe/title refer to the newspapers the designers were expected to use as materials in this challenge. The results were really quite stunning, and I honestly couldn't pick a winner between Irina Shabbadabbadoo's gorgeous collared dress and Minnesota Nice Christopher's incredible skirt and armoresque bustier. I could, however, declare Johnny Tsunami, all of a sudden a lying mess, the easy loser. Fellow bottom two-er Nicolas Putvinski didn't really have to sweat it; Johnny Tsunami's terrible dress, mixed with his lying on the runway (which made mentor Tim Gunn more angry than I could have ever imagined Tim Gunn), made him an easy loser.

My Winners: Irina Shabayeva and Christopher Straub
My Auf: Johnny Sakalis

Episode Six: Lights, Camera, Sew!
That's not even a pun! Sew doesn't even resemble the word action! And what's with the unnecessary "!" at the end? *deep breath* Okay, as far as the episode is concerned, this was one of my favorite episodes in the entire series, with one of the worst decisions on the part of the judges. The designers were expected to craft a look based on a movie genre. Epperson (you only need one name when you look like Bob Marley) designed an awesome Annie Get Your Gun-style Western look, and Christopher created an awesome Victorian vampire bride look that didn't exactly mesh with his Period Piece genre, but it was incredible, so the judges (nor I) cared. Ra'mon was right'ly sent ho'me for a disgust'ing al'ien lo'ok that was just a mess of green fab'ric (I'll st'op), but the real winner, Nicolas the Terrible, designed an absolutely cheap ice queen look for his sci-fi genre. Probably the worst winner possible, other than Ra'mon. Nicolas the Terrible's look really didn't hold up to the PR standard.

My Winner: Epperson
My Auf: Ra'mon Lawrence Coleman

Episode Seven: The Sky is the Limit
I'm not gonna rant... I'm not gonna rant... I'm not gonna rant... In a repeat of a challenge from three seasons ago, the last time when Macy's was one of the sponsors of the show (in the form of the Macy's Accessory Wall, as opposed to the TreSemme Hair Salon or the L'Oreal Paris Makeup Room or the Garnier Hair Studio or the Accessory Wall-yeah, this show shells a few products), the designers were expected to create two looks in blue for the INC International Concepts Design brand. (I know, it should be ICD. But that doesn't sound as much like an unfortunate Lifetime Project Runway episode title pun as INC does.) I'm not actually talking a lot about the episode itself because it was one of those episodes you struggle through. An unoriginal challenge mixed with poor judging (Michael Kors, just because you are snippy does not give you the right to drop Minnesota Nice Christopher into the bottom two!) led to a fairly unmemorable episode. Irina deserved her second win, and Louise Black was the right choice to send home since Nicolas the Terrible had immunity, but boy, what a bad trip to get to the end.

My Winner: Irina Shabayeva
My Auf: Louise Black

Episode Eight: A Fashionable New Beginning
Right, so each pun is one shot, each mention of "fashion" is two shots... Oh, hello. I didn't see you there. This week's surprisingly good episode involved taking the wedding dress of a divorceé and making it into a new dress with which to start their new life. (Though I get the concept, some of these women seemed really still emotionally vulnerable and others were divorced way too long for this challenge to make sense.) I really dug Shirin Hideandseek's geometric look, a great way to use very little fabric. I also loved Gordana Gelhausen's (that's not a nickname, that REALLY is her last name) edgy-yet-chic dress, but to me, the winner was the one who actually used the dress in an interesting way, and that was Irina Shabbadabadoo. I was horrified that Bob Marley/Epperson was sent home, while Designated Straight Male survived with his Oktoberfest mess of an outfit. And Minnesota Nice Christopher was dropped into the bottom again. What is this, Michael Kors? Why can't you and Minnesota Nice just get along?

My Winner: Irina Shabayeva
My Auf: Logan Neitzel (I've sent him home twice now; is the third time the charm?)

For the eight remaining finalists, here are the scores:

Irina Shabayeva: 6
Althea Harper: 4
Shirin Askari: 4
Christopher Straub: 2
Carol Hannah Whitfield: 2
Gordana Gelhausen: 0
Nicolas Putvinski: -1
Logan Neitzel: -2

And my ranking is as follows:

Shabbadabadoo (Irina)
The Blonde and the Beautiful (Althea)
Minnesota Nice (Christopher)
Hideandseek (Shirin)
Fraulein (Gordana)
Two-Name (Carol Hannah)
Nicolas the Terrible (Nicolas)
Designated Straight Male (Logan)

Okay, Runway fanatics and latents. You're all caught up. What do you think of this season? Do you think that the Blonde and the Beautiful Althea, Irina Shabbadabadoo, and Minnesota Nice Christopher are already a lock for the Final Three, or could Shirin Hideandseek get in there? Could my nicknames be any worse? Are they worse than Lifetime's episode titles? Comments below!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Part II: Favorite Films of All Time

NOTE: This is the second part of a note posted earlier this week. Just FYI, I'm writing this while I'm home sick, so if it isn't as peppy or zippy as it usually is, I apologize.

Same song and dance as last time. No repeats from directors, not the best, just my favorites, drama is equivalent to comedy, etc.

10. (tie) The Devil Wears Prada/Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Okay, make it a Top Eleven. Both fun, humorous, and infectious films in their own right, each had a towering villain (Meryl Streep, Penelope Cruz), a great actor surrounded by women (Stanley Tucci, Javier Bardem), a well-known ingenue (Anne Hathaway, Scarlett Johanssen), and a scene-stealing British female (Emily Blunt, Rebecca Hall). I couldn't leave either movie out, so they tie for the final spot.

9. The Nines
Never heard of it? I don't fault you. Few have seen this absolutely exquisite three-part film from director John August. Well-cast, with Ryan Reynolds, Samantha Who?'s Melissa McCarthy, and In Treatment's Hope Davis using the uncommon film structure to their advantage. Rented on a hunch, I loved The Nines a lot, and would recommend it to anyone who's willing to embrace a slightly quirky film. Your mind will be blown and you'll be humming "Is That All There Is?" for the rest of the day.

8. The Invention of Lying
The newest film on this list. After seeing this on Saturday, I really fell in love with the film. Yes, it has its weaknesses, and yes, Tina Fey was woefully underused. However, the movie has something powerful to say, and it does so in an extremely well-crafted manner. Jennifer Garner and Ricky Gervais have a strange chemistry together, and Rob Lowe is a perfect smarmy villain. The movie will have you and your viewing company talking the whole way home. Perhaps the concept is the greatest question of all: what would our world be if we couldn't lie?

7. Life is Beautiful
My favorite Holocaust movie, which honestly isn't saying a whole lot considering my disdain for the genre, but I digress. In all seriousness, Life is an excellent movie, anchored by the emotionally gripping performance by Roberton Begnini. The only Holocaust movie everyone needs to see, this movie was beyond good. It was Beautiful.

6. Crash
Another excellent film and Oscar-winner, I have a real love for this film for several reasons. First, it's an ensemble film. It's ridiculously hard to balance a full cast and make them all look as good as Paul Haggis did in this movie. Second, it received a whole mess of backlash after it beat Brokeback Mountain for Best Picture. Mountain was a good directorial effort. Crash was a masterpiece.

5. Thank You for Smoking
This movie shows how satire is supposed to look. Aaron Eckhart made this movie about a smoking lobbyist great, and perfectly skewered lobbying and liberalism. Few realize this was Jason Reitman's first film. He was the director of Juno and has a new (sure to be brilliant) movie coming out this December, Up in the Air. If you're wondering how his movies will be without the help of Ellen Page and Diablo Cody, look no further than this masterpiece.

4. The Wizard of Oz
What didn't this movie have? "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" remains my favorite (and arguably the best) original song for a film. Judy Garland's performance was pure magic. The sentiment was beautiful. The movie remains a classic. For film purists, this just might be the best movie ever made. Still, for me, three others trump it. The next three are incredibly close, though.

3. Sunset Boulevard
Maybe the first satire, the concept of an old silent film actress gone batty who (essentially) kidnaps a screenwriter to help her with her comeback was genius enough. Getting an actual silent film actress (Gloria Swanson, brilliant in her performance) to play the role was even more incredible. My favorite "old" film by far, Boulevard is still relevant and still rings true to this day.

2. Doubt
No one was quite as riled up about Doubt as I was, and I can understand why. In a year of film that favored the epic (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), the fantastic (Slumdog Millionaire), the political (Frost/Nixon), or the bleak (good Lord, only The Reader, Rachel Getting Married, I've Loved You So Long, The Dark Knight...), this film based on the Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning play by John Patrick Shanley really was a play on film. Subtle, quiet, furious, curious, and devastating all at the same time, Doubt boasted some of the best performances of the decade, a script that made you question everything you believe about the Catholic Church, and a question that everyone has a different answer to. If you never saw Doubt, do yourself a favor and go rent it. It's enough for the Streep/Viola Davis showoff alone, not to mention the former's final, iconic, anguished cry: "I have such doubts!" Genius.

1. A Few Good Men
For a guy who hates Tom Cruise, having this movie top the charts is pretty incredible. A Few Good Men, penned by Aaron Sorkin of The West Wing fame, is like Doubt in that it is a play onscreen, but the performances are more dynamic, the cast is more vast, and nothing matches the drama of a courtroom. The final scene between Cruise and Jack Nicholson is iconic, perhaps the most iconic single scene of modern cinema. At a time when films were weak, Men was strong, and it is my favorite film of all time.

If the first list was objectionable, this one is sure to be reviled. Comments? Take them to the bottom. I would love to hear what you all think!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Part I: Favorite Film Performances of All Time

NOTE: This is Part I of a two-part post. Later on this week, I will be publishing my Favorite Films of All Time.

Ever get the feeling when you're writing something that every single person who reads it will fervently disagree with you?

After boiling down the list the best I can, I have come up with my top ten favorite film performances of all time. A few warnings before I begin.

First, these are not the best performances, just my personal favorites. Obviously, if it was the best, it would be a different list. Also, I would have to watch every movie ever made to accurately form the list. And I just don't have that kind of time on my hands.

Second, dramatic gravitas does not outweigh comedic brilliance. This is not the Oscars, and drama is equivalent to comedy. (In my opinion, I think it's harder to be genuinely funny than be dramatic, but I know not everyone agrees...)

Third, these are not my favorite movies. Though a few of my favorite performances have come from my favorite movies, they don't match up exactly. So don't think I loved every single thing about each of these movies.

Fourth and finally, there are no double entries on this list. One performer won't have two entries. Otherwise, there would be seven Meryl Streep roles. There also won't be two performances from one movie, though, again, I was tempted.

With all that said, I present to you, the reader, my favorite film performances of all time.

10. Whoopi Goldberg, Ghost
An Oscar-winning performance, Goldberg elevated a one-note movie to Best Picture quality with her performance as the psychic Patrick Swayze is able to connect with from the afterlife. Both funny and touching, Goldberg never got any better role than this. It truly is the role of her lifetime.

9. Viola Davis, Doubt
The more I think about Davis' role, the more I realize that it is the best bit of Duet Acting ever done. 12 minutes on screen. Interaction with only one other person (Streep). Sheer powerhouse acting. Davis acts Streep off the screen as the mother of an abused child trying to turn a blind eye to a priest's indiscretion. It didn't win the Oscar, and while I love the performance that did (Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona), to me, Davis had the performance of the year.

8. Tom Hanks, Big
Wanna feel pure joy? Watch Hanks' performance in this movie. As a thirteen-year old trapped in an adult's body, Hanks perfectly captured the innocence of a child. The big reveal about his age is devastating, but my favorite scene by far is the one in FAO Schwartz with Hanks' boss. Their performance of "Chopsticks" will forever hold a place as one of my favorite film moments.

7. Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
At times brilliant, at times frustrating, Ledger's posthumous campaign for an Oscar overshadowed many other brilliant performances in its year, as well as made the category a foregone conclusion, but there's no doubt that his performance as the Joker was my favorite villainous performance in any superhero movie, perhaps in any movie. The original film was better than Knight, but Ledger was sheer genius.

6. Helen Mirren, The Queen
There's only one thing to say: Mirren was the Queen. The performance was the most brilliant imitation I have ever seen, plus she elevated the movie beyond simple royal gossip to a Best Picture contender. I liked Mirren more than the movie, but that fits, because she was a genius in that movie.

5. Reese Witherspoon, Election
Tracy Flick is a character for the millenium. Crafted into echelon-climbing greatness by Witherspoon, Election's Flick transcended the typical teen movie villain to become one of my favorite characters ever crafted.

4. Kevin Kline, A Fish Called Wanda
Probably the Oscar-winning performance most forgotten, Kline perfected how to win an Oscar in a comedic performance. Robert Downey Jr. didn't even know what he was doing last year compared to Kline.

3. Jennifer Garner, Juno
When I was compiling my list, I realized that Garner provided not only one of my favorite dramatic performances of all time, she transcended subtlety and became brilliant. Her character, Vanessa, wanted nothing more than to have a child, an ability she did not have. Her quiet fury towards her husband after he announces that he no longer wants to adopt a child makes the movie for me. Garner is an actress I constantly undervalue, as proven by her performance in The Invention of Lying, released last weekend, and this masterpiece of a role.

2. Jack Nicholson, A Few Good Men
"You can't handle the truth!" Sheer brilliance. Nicholson has had a career of great roles, none better than Col. Jessep of the US Marine Corps. How Tom Cruise didn't run screaming from the room when faced with Nicholson's fury I will never understand, but I'll always admire.

1. Meryl Streep, The Devil Wears Prada
Surprised? Sure, it's nto a conventional Streep role. And it didn't even win her an Oscar. But Streep crafted this genius character of Miranda Priestly from (almost) nothing, intimidated audiences everywhere without raising her voice above a chilly whisper, and taught a whole new generation who she is. The role that made Streep one of the most bankable stars of the decade, Miranda Priestly is a character whose villainy threatens the greatest Joker or Jessep. This truly was a masterpeice performance, and one of the most memorable. It is my favorite film role of all time.

Well, readers? Agree? Disagree? Don't all disagree at once! Take it to the comments!