Or at least that's what this morning's Grammy Nominations would have you believe. Ray Charles was a given. Usher, Norah Jones and industry darling Alicia Keys I understand. Even Maroon 5 and The Black Eyed Peas I understand. But "The Reason" for Song of the Year? Los Lonely Boys for Best New Artist? Instead of Franz Ferdinand or, worse yet, the totally ignored Nellie McKay? (She's just too good for this party).

Fortunately, Kanye West received ten nods, and Bjork's challenging, worthy Medulla gleaned at least two. Basement Jaxx's glorious "Good Luck" is up for Best Dance Recording, Loretta Lynn's Van Lear Rose got a lot of love in the country categories (how could she not?) and Best Alternative Music Album has at least four out of five decent contenders.

Still, to see how much mainstream music really sucked this year, open the link above and scroll down to Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal. Yeesh.


As May, the titular character in this button-pressing psycho-sexual character study, Anne Reid is graceful and believable--certainly a worthy candidate for this year's (so-far) slim Best Actress list.

May and her husband travel from the suburbs to London to visit their children and grandchildren, but the husband dies abruptly. Her distant and rather unpleasant, self-centered family offers her little solace as she tries to make sense of her life as a sheltered housewife. She ends up confiding in Darren (Daniel Craig), a studly yet married carpenter working for her son and sleeping with her daughter. I have to admit that when their friendship took a sudden sexual turn, it felt surprisingly natural.

However, I had other problems with this film. Too many of the characters were lazily written, especially the whiny, single-mum daughter who had little to say to May apart from the usual "you don't understand me / you never encourage me" drivel. Fortunately, May clearly learns a few epiphanies about herself via her attraction to Darren and its repercussions. The whole older woman/younger man sexual pairing is also something you don't often see onscreen. Still, a few sensationalist plot twists co-exist awkwardly with the film's more contemplative moments. THE MOTHER is quite different from director Roger Michell's subsequent film ENDURING LOVE, right down to its sparse, unobtrusive score. If the latter was an ambitious but flawed Hitchcock pastiche, this is more like a cross between middle-class Mike Leigh and an above-average daytime soap.