So That Was Unexpected: Oscar Reactions 2017

E: Um, okay.

Sorry to take so long in my response, but it’s been crazy at work and at home.  Family birthdays, school orientations, religious holidays, huge work events.  You’d laugh if I told you the thing I’ve done this week.  (All wholesome, but a little nutty.)

In general, that Oscar cast was funny and enjoyable.  Jimmy Kimmel was largely terrific.  His monologue was hilarious (Meryl Streep! discrimination!)  I could have done without the mean tweets, and the tour bus gag went on a little long, but it was hilarious.  The music and the opening sizzled.  Most of the categories went the way I thought they would.  I loved the montages of previous winners before all the acting awards, and was heartened/amused to see how fiercely the editors emphasized Oscar winners of color.  I think each montage started that way.  There were a few exciting wins, a few good speeches (emotional, political but not off-puttingly political), some great clothes, great music, a charming host, Hunger Games-like parashutes.  And then there was the weird, wild finish.

No, it was weird enough to keep me up for another few hours Sunday night, baking (because what else do you do when the world goes crazy?).  After a little time to dissect it all, I’d like to run down my thoughts – what I got wrong, what I got right, and why.   Why is the most interesting question of all.

Because seriously. If you made this stuff up, no one would believe you.  But with the rest of the world going crazy, why should the Oscars be any different?

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Oscar 2017 Nominations and Reactions

E: Huh.  31 out of 34 predictions correct.  I feel pretty good about that!  I also feel really good about the diversity of this year’s slate – three movies starring African Americans (surely a first), a movie about Indians and India, and three movies with female leads.  (And yes, three out of nine is pathetic, and yet by nominating more than two in an industry where Hollywood refuses to make movies about women and then routinely ignores many of the good ones it does produce, Oscar is operating on high.)

Also?  For La La Land, the view from the top is pretty sweet.  And rarefied. Continue reading

Hollywood. Foreign. Press.: Golden Globe Reactions

E: Usually, the Golden Globes live up to their reputation as Hollywood’s biggest party, spun out by a loose and comfortable host and filled with goofy drunken moments, establishing running gags and generally distinguishing themselves from the more formal and less star-centric Oscars.  Instead of a vast theater, the event is held in an intimate ballroom; you can hear the noise from the bar from the stage, and stars tuck in together at tables, charming and brilliant and bright.

This year felt a little different, though.  The attendees penchant for black and metallic dresses, mixed with the huge round centerpieces of orange roses, lent a dark Halloween glamor to the event, and throughout the night, speeches referencing our current political situation made sure it would be talked about today not for who wore what or tripped on the stage, but what He Who Must Not Be (and was not) Named tweets in intemperate response after the telecast.

Oh, there were great dresses (Brie Larsen, Emma Stone, Hailee Steinfeld, Annette Benning, Claire Foy, Viola Davis), great tuxes (I have yet to see Donald Glover’s sitcom Atlanta, but the man must be a genius if he can pull off brown velvet) and moving speeches (Tom Hiddleston, Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy and Viola Davis again) and some truly memorable presenting (Kristin Wiig and Steve Carrell for animation!).  And I cried like a baby during the tribute to Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds.  All that aside, I’m just going to quickly take a look at the show from the Oscar races’ perspective, because my time is short and the impact there is big.

Some context; as you may know, La La Land took the festival circuit by storm and was considered the obvious, runaway frontrunner (Hollywood loves nothing so much as movies about Hollywood) until it was suddenly overlooked for the SAG ensemble.  In a flurry, pundits debated whether the charming, light mood  simply didn’t fit the nation’s post-election gloom, or if it was only that the SAG nominating committee didn’t consider the film an ensemble work.  After all, they did nominate the two lead actors.  At any rate, no movie goes on to win Best Picture at Oscar without also being nominated for SAG, and so the waters muddied.  I felt that the new frontrunner  had to be the searingly beautiful working class dramedy Manchester By the Sea.  It’s smart and unpretentious, filled with indelible performances, and it speaks to those parts of us which are broken and may never mend.

But with the Hollywood Foreign Press, at least, hopeful dreamers are still in fashion.  La La Land took Best Picture: Musical or Comedy, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director and Best Screenplay – the big five.  (In fact, it surprises me to learn that La La Land took home more Globes than any movie ever before — seven, when you add in score and song.)  It’s unlikely to repeat that feat at the Oscars (Casey Affleck is likely to repeat his win in Drama unless challenged by Denzel Washington, while Gosling will struggle to get a nomination) but it has the potential to take the other four.  In fact, the entire opening number was a love letter to the film, an interesting choice since the movie hasn’t even opened in most of the country.  Instead of Manchester By The Sea, Moonlight (a gay black coming of age story) took the Drama prize.  All together, it was a strong statement.

In the acting categories, we may have gotten a little clarity.  Affleck, as I said, cemented his place as the frontrunner; a win at the SAG should make that incontrovertible. The combination of Emma Stone’s win in Comedy, and Natalie Portman’s moderately surprising loss to Isabelle Huppert in Drama is very good news for Miss Stone’s chances at the big show.  The fact that both Affleck and Stone gave sweet and personal speeches will work in their favor as well. I don’t know if I’d have said there was an obvious frontrunner in Supporting Actress, but with her win and powerful speech five time nominee Viola Davis has definitely vaulted into that status.  I think there’s now no frontrunner in Supporting Actor: the critics prizes have been eaten up by Moonlight’s Mahershala Ali, but Globe winner Aaron Taylor-Johnson of Nocturnal Animals is an unknown whose nomination came as a surprise and wasn’t repeated at SAG or the Critics Choice.  I’m sure he’s talented, but either through shyness or shock he wasted the opportunity to introduce himself to a wider audience with his mumbling speech, even failing to make eye-contact through the camera.  I’m not saying that to be mean; the speeches matter.  The good will they generate can boost a nominee’s chances hugely.  We’ll have to see if Ali roars back at SAG, what that speech might sound like, and of course who gets nominated for Oscar.

So there we are.  Will La La Land hold on to its spot at the top of the pile?  Is the Hollywood mood more hopeful than expected, more determined than every to cling to their best self-image?

As a quick aside, the dominance (or lack there of) of La La Land means that Lin-Manuel Miranda may have to wait another year or two to complete his EGOT (or MacPEGOT, as some would have it); Moana‘s “How Far I’ll Go” lost out on Best Song to La La Land‘s “City of Stars.”  My favorite part of that film’s speeches, actually, came in the repeated shout outs to popular choreographer Mandy Moore (not to be confused with the actress, nominated in the television category).  As I wait fearfully for news of my beloved So You Think You Can Dance‘s fate, I take solace that at least my favorite dancers and choreographers will go on doing work that I might sometime get to see somewhere.  Maybe the over all message of this telecast is that we need to take our joy where we can; we have to hold on to the good with both hands.

My Life As A What?: Golden Globe Nomination Reactions

E: Of all the movies snubbed by the Hollywood Foreign Press, my mind didn’t leap immediately to Martin Scorsese’s Silence, or to Tom Hanks’ starring role in Sully, or one of the many dazzling songs in Moana skipped over for a couple of unknowns.  No, the first thing that blew my mind was seeing Pixar’s stunning Finding Dory (not only one of the year’s best reviewed films but also currently the box office champion of 2016) passed over for My Life As A Zucchini.

Yes.  That’s right. My Life As a Zucchini.  An admittedly charming French stop motion animation flick about orphans and the power of love trumped the highest grossing movie in America.

You can not make this stuff up.  Or rather, you could, but no one would ever believe it, and that might be motto for 2016 when you think about it.

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Fall 2016 Television Preview: Friday

M: Ahhh, Friday: once a TV graveyard, now an odd mix of the “pity-move” where shows get sent before they get cancelled, and steady medium ratings earners. In other words, shows that aren’t going to get great ratings but, without costing too much, keep enough eyeballs (and advertisers) that the networks are willing to keep renewing them, yet aren’t willing to move them to more popular nights.

E: Friday Nights: lower your expectations.

C: I think Fridays have been like that for a while now, actually.

M: Yes, didn’t mean to imply that was brand new, just newer. There was also a trend (started by Grimm a few years back) of spooky shows on Fridays that seems to have come to an end, at least on the broadcast nets. However, this year there are some interesting new offerings.

C: I’d say it started with The X-Files… but maybe that wasn’t a trend so much as a lone beacon of Spooky in the night.

M: X-Files spent most of it’s life on Sundays, though.

C: Now a waning Vampire Diaries is trying to be that beacon…

E: Huh — I hadn’t noticed the lack of spooky programming, but you’re quite right.  Is that just happening now?

M: Seems to be.

E: Friday night’s the night I catch up on the TV I watch with my kids, so I’m never watching live, personally.

M: In past years we had combined Friday and Saturday.  However, in a development this year, it appears that the nets have given up on Saturdays completely, so we’re just mentioning one BBC America show…

E: And one cartoon, because my family is all about it!

M: …but that’s it for Saturday. So we’re not giving it a whole post, as we didn’t feel the need to tell you that most of the nets are showing news magazines and college football (including the very narcissistic-ally titled “FOX Sports Saturday: FOX College Football“).

C: LOL. What channel is that on, I wonder?

E: I haven’t a clue – but I can tell you that our other previews are here: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. Again, new shows are in blue, red asterisks (*) mean we’re watching. Continue reading

Fall 2016 Television Preview: Monday

E: Yes, it’s that time of  year. Come one, come all to Premiere Week!

M: I thought you meant Quibbling Sibling Fall TV Preview Week.

C: There is that.

E: Come to both, please?  Though a few new show have slipped into the schedule at the end of August and the beginning of September, the network seasons officially start today,  after the Emmy broadcast last night put a glamorous cap on the previous season.

C: Mm, yes, “glamorous” is the word I’d use to describe the Emmys, definitely not “boring” or “predictable.”

M: “Long,” “bloated,” and “pompous” come to mind, too. So do “pretentious,” “self-indulgent” and a lot of words far less kind than those. Continue reading

The Year Really Starts Here: March 2016 Movie Preview

E: After the anemic leftovers of January and February, March brings a happy new dawn.  Actual movies to see!

M: And you’ve probably seen half of them already, since C and I have been overwhelmed with work and other life events, and have not been able to help E get this up in a timely manner. Also because of that, no trailers this month. Our sincerest apologies!

March 4thLondon Has Fallen, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Zootopia, The Boy and the Beast, Knight of Cups

March 11th10 Cloverfield Lane, The Brothers Grimsby, Eye in the Sky, Hello My Name Is Doris, The Perfect Match, The Young Messiah

March 18thThe Divergent Series: Allegiant, Miracles From HeavenThe Little Prince

March 25thBatman Vs. Superman: The Dawn of Justice, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, The Disappointments Room, Born To Be Blue, Fastball, I Saw The Light
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