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The 2019 Critics’ Choice Awards: It’s A Tie?

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Image via YouTube. Screenshot by Jenn Murphy.

The 2019 Critics’ Choice Awards aired last night on The CW. Usually they provide a nice but largely inconsequential pit stop on the road to the Oscars, but last night there were actually a few moments worth talking about. There was not one, but two different ties in the acting categories! Will they have any impact on the award shows yet to come? Not a clue. But were they fun to watch? You bet!

 

The night was hosted by Taye Diggs, who did a perfectly fine job. Most of his bits were pretty corny, bordering on lame, but he delivered them with charm and gusto. We were all more focused on the awards anyway, which provided a mix of expected wins (some annoyingly so) and a few tie-induced surprises. They give out a ridiculous amount of awards and I am not going to cover them all, so the full list is here. Let’s get into it.

 

TV

The television categories were mostly on the annoyingly predictable side, with “The Americans” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” taking home Best Drama and Comedy, respectively. There’s something about a show that I can’t watch (“Maisel”) winning a bunch of awards that I just find annoying. One day I’ll see it and surely get over my absurd prejudices, but for now it irritates me. Actors from both of those shows (Matthew Rhys and Noah Emmerich for “The Americans”; and Rachel Brosnahan and Alex Borstein for “Maisel”) took home trophies as well. Sandra Oh won for “Killing Eve” and gave yet another delightful speech. Hopefully the Emmy voters will take notice and right their own wrong of not awarding her last fall. “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” as well as its star Darren Criss also won, but the real winner from that cast was Cody Fern giving us yet another androgynous chic look. (Although I personally prefer his outfit from the Golden Globes.) The first big surprise of the night came in the Actress in a Mini Series/TV movie category, where we saw our first tie. The award went to both Amy Adams for “Sharp Objects” and Patricia Arquette for “Escape at Dannemora.” It was fun to see them so giddy to be sharing the moment together, going back and forth thanking their respective people. Wouldn’t it be great if that happened again?

 

Film

And then it did! But we’ll get to that. The film categories felt like a little for everyone. There were several for “Roma,” including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Cinematography for Alfonso Cuaron; a couple for “Vice,” including Best Actor for Christian Bale; two for “If Beale Street Could Talk,” Best Adapted Screenplay for Barry Jenkins and Best Supporting Actress for Regina King; one for “First Reformed,” Best Original Screenplay for Paul Schrader; and, thank goodness, only one for “Green Book,” Supporting Actor for Mahershala Ali. Acting Ensemble went to the cast of “The Favourite,” none of whom were actually there, and Best Young Actor/Actress went to Elsie Fisher of “Eighth Grade,” who was there and was delightful. Original Score and Editing went to Justin Hurwitz and Tom Cross, respectively, of “First Man;” and Costume and Production Design went to Ruth Carter, Hannah Beachler and Jay Hart, respectively, all for “Black Panther.” At the Critics’ Choice they break films down into genres for certain awards. One highlight of that was “Crazy Rich Asians” deservedly winning Best Comedy. An actual comedy winning in a comedy category? Groundbreaking. The next big surprise of the night came in yet another tie, this time between Glenn Close of “The Wife” and Lady Gaga of “A Star Is Born” (who had already won Best Original Song for “Shallow.”). This lead to another wonderful moment of two talented ladies sharing the stage together. Hopefully the Academy is taking note, because a tie would be a great way to inject some unexpected energy into the Oscars telecast. Just saying.

 

What did you think? Did you like the ties on last night’s Critics’ Choice Awards? Are you feeling really smug about everyone watching “You” now on Netflix because you already watched it last year on Lifetime? I sure am. Let’s gloat in the comments. And, as always…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

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The 2019 Golden Globes: Whaaaat?

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My ballot from last night. Green is who I wanted to win, Pink is who I thought would win and Black is who actually won. I got 17 out of my 25 predictions right. Photo by Jenn Murphy

The true kickoff of the actual awards portion of Awards Season began last night with the 2019 Golden Globes, and I think I speak for many when I say that the events of the evening, especially some of the biggest wins, left me with a lot of questions and even more concern for what’s to come. But before we get to the moments that made me shout actual obscenities out loud from my couch, let’s talk about the night as a whole.

 

The hosts for the evening, Sandra Oh and Andy Samberg, a.k.a. the two people left in Hollywood who A) want to host an award show, apparently and B) don’t need Ellen DeGeneres to defend their honor on national television, did a lovely job. Their jokes were largely funny, albeit delivered awkwardly at times, and their more light-hearted and at times poignant commentary on the night and Hollywood in general left things feeling a bit lighter than years past. If the Hollywood Foreign Press wanted to do what they’ve done in the past and have the two host again next year, I wouldn’t be too upset. (Although Amy Poehler made a convincing play for her own hosting return, this time with national treasure Maya Rudolph.)

 

The two people that knew they were getting awards going into tonight, Carol Burnett (who was given the newly created and named Carol Burnett Award for Excellence in Television) and Jeff Bridges (who was given the Cecil B. DeMille Award) were also largely positive and hopeful in their acceptance speeches. Their presence, paired with Oh and Samberg as hosts, made up for the often mystifying and disconcerting wins that left most awards predictors shocked. To get into that, let’s break it down by medium.

 

TV

The Globes are known for defying expectations when it comes to their TV categories (Remember when “Smash” was nominated? What a life we’ve lived.) but tonight was a real mishmash. It seemed like they gave nearly every award to a different show; there was love for “Bodyguard” star Richard Madden in Actor in a Drama Series and thank goodness Actress in a Drama Series went to Sandra Oh for her work on “Killing Eve” (So there, Emmys!), but the Drama Series Award went to the final season of “The Americans.” Rachel Brosnahan won Actress in a Comedy Series for “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” so I guess that’s still a thing, and Patricia Arquette won Actress in a Limited Series/ TV Movie for “Escape at Dannemora,” so I guess that’s a thing as well? Ben Whishaw won for Supporting Actor for “A Very English Scandal,” but I’m choosing to believe he really won for voicing Paddington, and Patricia Clarkson won Supporting Actress for “Sharp Objects.” Only two shows took home more than one award: “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story,” which won Limited Series or TV Movie and the Actor prize for Darren Criss, and “The Kominsky Method,” which I was convinced wasn’t a real thing but apparently is real enough that the HFPA decided to give it the Comedy Series Award and award its star, Michael Douglas, in the Actor in a Comedy Series category. Like I said, the Golden Globes often get really weird with TV and this year was no exception.

 

Movies

Where the Globes tend to fall into line more though is on the movie side of things. Sure, they’ll nominate an Angelina Jolie for “The Tourist” or a Johnny Depp for “The Tourist” or “The Tourist” itself for Best Picture, Musical or Comedy, but those kinds of things don’t ever actually win. And to be fair, nothing as bad as that movie won tonight, unless you’re one of the many critics that trashed “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which ended up going home with two of the biggest awards of the evening, Actor in a Drama for Rami Malek and Best Drama for the film. In the film categories, these were probably two of the more head scratching picks of the night. While some predicted Malek’s spot-on portrayal of Freddie Mercury could earn him a Globe, it seemed like Bradley Cooper and his deepened voice had Actor on lock. The same could be said (other than the deepened voice, of course) of Lady Gaga, who shockingly lost Actress in a Drama to Glenn Close in “The Wife.” In fact, “A Star Is Born,” which seemed to be the one to beat going into tonight, went home with only one prize for Best Original Song.

 

Other than those more shocking moments, the rest of the film categories largely fell into expected place. Mahershala Ali and Regina King both won Supporting awards for their work in “Green Book” and “If Beale Street Could Talk,” respectively. Original Score went to Justin Hurwitz for “First Man,” which is likely one of the few non-technical awards that movie can hope for when it comes to the Oscars. Animated Feature went to “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” which was somewhat of a pleasant surprise given Pixar’s consistent winning record. “Roma” took home Foreign Language Film and Director for Alfonso Cuaron. Actor in a Musical or Comedy when to Christian Bale for “Vice” and Actress went to Olivia Colman for “The Favourite.” Screenplay and Best Musical or Comedy went to “Green Book,” which is…interesting.

 

So what do these wins mean for the Oscars, if anything? Voting for Oscar nominations begins today, so it’s possible the freshness of these wins (and the inspirational content of some of the acceptance speeches) will play a role in the choices people make. It’s hard to fully line the Globes up with potential Oscar possibilities given that there’s very little overlap between the voting parties, so it’ll be interesting to see how things play out. Regardless, I’m very very very excited to be in the midst of it all. Next weekend is The Critic’s Choice Awards, which don’t really end up meaning a whole lot when it comes to The Oscars, but they’re still fun! Yay awards!

 

What do you think? Were you also surprised by some of the night’s big wins? Did you watch “The Masked Singer” last week? Isn’t it insane? I have some predictions for who some of the people could be (Peacock is Corey Feldman, Monster is either T-Pain or Orlando Brown and Lion is either Billie Lourd or Rumer Willis). I hate myself for getting roped into these silly, gimmicky series, but I do it every time! Let me know if you have the same issue in the comments. And, as always…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

The Definitive List of Every Movie I Saw For the First Time in 2018, with (Some) Commentary

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The movie list from my phone. Or, at least, a portion of it. Screenshot by Jenn Murphy

With yet another year nearly behind us (Or has it been 20? It feels more like 20.) it seems like the perfect time to reflect – namely, on all the movies I watched this year. Last year, when I first started compiling a yearly movie list, I only saw 28 movies. A high number for the average person, presumably, but I wanted to go higher. And boy, did I. I saw 56 different movies for the first time this year, both new releases in theaters and older films that I’ve only gotten around to now, and it was incredibly fun. Movies are great. Don’t you love movies? I know I do.

 

So here’s my definitive list of every movie I saw for the first time in 2018, with occasional commentary. I’ve bolded the ones I liked best.

 

  1. Molly’s Game
  2. Darkest Hour
  3. The Room” – I was inspired by “The Disaster Artist” to watch the actual film itself, and it was an…experience.
  4. The Beguiled” (2017)
  5. I, Tonya
  6. The Post
  7. Phantom Thread” – I love this movie and the forever reference I now have whenever I eat asparagus. Truly a gift to us all.
  8. A Futile and Stupid Gesture
  9. Paddington 2” – This is a perfect movie and I’m trying my best to keep Paddington-level composure over the fact that it has been ignored for nominations at nearly every major award show so far. Oscars, you are my last hope.
  10. The Cloverfield Paradox” – I’ve never been so excited for something and then so disappointed in such a short period of time.
  11. Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool
  12. Black Panther
  13. Dunkirk
  14. The Florida Project
  15. Mudbound” – This was a good movie that told an interesting and important story but also, Garrett Hedlund looked really good in it.
  16. Roman J. Israel, Esq.
  17. A Wrinkle in Time
  18. Postcards From the Edge” – This was a movie I had wanted to see for forever and then it was magically on TV. It did not disappoint.
  19. Enough Said
  20. Love, Simon
  21. Chappaquiddick” – I definitely fell asleep for a large portion of this movie. To be fair, I was already pretty tired and sitting in a seat that was right next to a carpeted wall that I could lean on, but it was also a lot of white men talking in a room.
  22. Life of the Party
  23. Ocean’s 8
  24. Set It Up
  25. Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
  26. Ant-Man and the Wasp” – Am I the only one who thinks this movie didn’t actually reveal anything new or interesting and simply put characters into the places they needed to be for the next Avengers movie? Lame.
  27. Sorry to Bother You” – The most inventive movie I saw this year, if only for the scene where he’s literally dropping into the homes of the people he’s calling as a telemarketer. He actually did that! That’s wild!
  28. Eighth Grade” – Elsie Fisher is a star and Bo Burnham has secretly had the spirit of a thirteen-year-old girl all along??? Amazing.
  29. The Incredible Jessica James
  30. Crazy Rich Asians” – I didn’t realize how desperately I wanted to see a new good rom-com until I watched this and cried not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES.
  31. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” – And then I watched this a day later and cried even more! Rom-coms are back, thank god!
  32. “BlacKkKlansman”
  33. The Wife
  34. Sierra Burgess Is A Loser” – More like, “Sierra Burgess Is A Sociopath Who Gets Away with Doing Terrible Things Because She’s What, Shy?”
  35. First Reformed” – I really liked this but I am clearly not intelligent enough to understand the ending of this movie. If you are, please share.
  36. A Simple Favor
  37. Love, Gilda
  38. A Star is Born” (2018) – I think I’ve made my feelings about this evident by the fact that I still exclusively listen to this movie’s soundtrack in my car months later.
  39. This Is Spinal Tap” – This was another movie I had been dying to see that just happened to be on TV one night. On the same channel as “Postcards from the Edge,” no less! And I also loved it.
  40. O Brother, Where Art Thou?
  41. Bad Times at the El Royale” – I wanted this movie to be more than it was, but I still really enjoyed it.
  42. First Man
  43. The Hate U Give
  44. Three Identical Strangers
  45. Bohemian Rhapsody
  46. Widows
  47. Love Actually” – I’ve made my thoughts on this one pretty clear.
  48. Zootopia
  49. Boy Erased
  50. Green Book
  51. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” – I was forced against my will to watch this and I didn’t hate it??? It was actually kind of entertaining??? What??????
  52. Creed II” – Moral of the story: every guy from the Rocky franchise has a hot son.
  53. Mary Poppins Returns
  54. The Favourite
  55. Vice” – This left me more unnerved than any horror film ever has.
  56. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” – I’m seeing this one today!

 

And there you have it, every movie I saw for the first time in 2018. Mostly good, occasionally bad, all in all fun. My New Year’s resolution, other than to stop saying “like” so much? To see even more. Challenge accepted.

 

What about you? Do you like to keep a list of every movie you see in a year? Are you kind of scared to watch Netflix’s latest “Black Mirror” offering, “Bandersnatch,” because you find the idea of a choose-you-own-adventure movie to be mildly stressful? Share your final thoughts of 2018 in the comments. And, in addition to having a Happy New Year, remember…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

15 Thoughts on the Entertainment Weekly ‘Aladdin’ Cover

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The cover in question. Photo by Jenn Murphy

Yes, tomorrow is Christmas and yes, I am VERY excited about it. But there’s something else that is currently taking up a lot of real estate in my mind, and that’s the recently released Entertainment Weekly feature on the upcoming Guy Ritchie-directed, live-action “Aladdin” film. “Aladdin” has always been my favorite of the classic Disney princess films (Jasmine, of course, my favorite princess) and so I was bound to have a whole host of thoughts upon seeing this cover and the corresponding feature. Here is a list of those thoughts.

 

1) Wow.

2) But not a good wow, more like a “mildly concerned” wow.

3) Do we really need a live-action “Aladdin”? I know they recently did “Cinderella” and “Beauty and the Beast,” but “Aladdin”?

4) “The Lion King” I get, because Beyonce, but “Aladdin” is perfectly fine the way it is. There’s nothing about it that needs to be improved upon. There’s nothing about it that can be improved upon.

5) Let’s start at the top, with Will Smith as the Genie. He already had an uphill battle following the brilliant performance by Robin Williams in the original, but this look is…a lot.

6) Does he technically look like the Genie? Yes. Is he blue though? No. (Although Ritchie apparently assured EW that he would be blue in the film.)

7) Head-on, his top knot looks like a deformity. From the side it looks…mildly offensive?

8) And he’s going to be blue in the film? How is that not going to look completely absurd? A huge part of why certain stories work better in animation is that there are things that would just look strange in live-action. That’s why there’s never been a live-action “Doug.”

9) Who would play Doug in a live-action “Doug”? Michael Cera? Actually, yes. It would definitely be Michael Cera. Good thing I figured that out.

10) Onto Aladdin himself: I’m sorry, but he’s simply not hot enough. Aladdin has always been the hottest of the classic Disney princes, so this is an actual crime. The other generically handsome guys didn’t need to be hot because they had other things to offer like riches or a kiss that would wake you up from a curse. (Remember this was a different time, when women were supposed to only want those things in a man.) Aladdin didn’t have any of that. You know what he had? Charm. And hotness.

11) Mena Massoud, the actor playing Aladdin is definitely hot enough in real life, so his utter lack of hotness on this cover doesn’t make any sense. Maybe it’s the hair? It looks like a bad wig. Yet another thing that doesn’t translate from animation to live-action.

12) A photo inside the magazine reveals that Jafar is, in fact, very hot. Was this intentional? From Kylo Ren (to some people) to Erik Killmonger (to anyone with eyes), having a “hot” villain is very trendy right now, so this might have been a conscious decision on Disney’s part. Either way, I’m currently rooting for Jafar, which is something I never thought I would say.

13) Another photo inside the magazine shows that Abu somehow looks perfectly normal, which is shocking given how insane Will Smith as the Genie looks.

14) I’m sorry; they got the monkey right, but they couldn’t get the Genie right? Interesting.

15) Jasmine looks perfect, no complaints there.

 

It’s always possible that the movie will be a wonderful delight that will make the original “Aladdin” look like a hot mess, but based on these images and these images alone, I’m not too convinced. Here’s hoping I’m wrong!

 

What do you think? Do you have 15 or more (or less) thoughts on the Entertainment Weekly “Aladdin” cover? Who else would be in the live-action “Doug” movie? What about the live-action “Pepper Ann” movie? Alia Shawkat, right? Just a bunch of people from “Arrested Development,” I guess. Let me know in the comments. And, as we celebrate (or don’t, I don’t know your life) Christmas tomorrow, remember…

Stay classy.

Jenn

Who’s Going to Host the Oscars Now?

Last week, I spent part of my post chronicling the brief and chaotic period where Kevin Hart was the 2019 Oscars Host-elect. In the week-and-change since, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has yet to announce a replacement host, or even provide any sort of clear insight into what they’re thinking now that they’re closing in on less than two months until the big night.

 

This gave “SNL” some fodder for a sketch this past weekend, wherein various celebrities auditioned for the role of host. It was mostly an excuse for a classic “look at all the impressions our cast can kind of do!” sketch that has been a part of the “SNL” canon for years, but it did provide some great moments for Aidy Bryant as the zietgeist-y  Hannah Gadsby, the not-so-zietgeist-y Roseanne Barr and Amy Sherman-Palladino in all her hat-wearing glory.

 

The rumor right now is that the Academy is considering having no set host, instead utilizing a possible rotating group of big-name celebrities to present presenters and do bits. The gig is seen by many too toxic right now, with possible hosts afraid that the internet will unearth unsavory things about them and that the time to put together a good show is quickly fading away. And even if they put together good show, if the ratings aren’t stellar (and they rarely are because it’s an awards show on a Sunday night) then the host will likely get most of the blame.

 

It’s unfortunate that the job has become so unpopular, but it can really be attributed to the absurd idea that the Oscars needs to be some sort of ratings smash. It’s why they hired Kevin Hart in the first place (which clearly didn’t work out); it’s also why they’re choosing to cut awards out of the telecast to shorten the ceremony (which has received a ton of backlash) and why they tried to roll out that ridiculous “Popular Film” category (which got so much backlash that they cancelled it).

 

The many attempts to make the Oscars more of an “everybody” thing will likely all prove to be futile because the Oscars are not an “everybody” thing. They’re a thing for people who love artsy-fartsy prestige movies and ultimately meaningless competition (like me, hello) and that’s fine! Let us have one night to shine and then you can go back to football and sitcoms about schlubby men and their unrealistically hot wives who put up with way too much. I can’t believe that one night of not-so-great ratings will be the end of the world.

 

If the pressure to make the night a national hit goes away, then it’s possible the people who could actually do a good job hosting (and would be pleasing to the people who actually watch the show) will start to show interest. But with all of the controversy surrounding the show and the gig now, they’re likely going to have to go with a no-host night. And that’s really sad.

 

What do you think? Do you have an idea of who could host the Oscars this year? Have you seen “Network” on Broadway? No? Go see it! I did this past weekend and I loved it. It’s brilliant and so inventive. You won’t be disappointed. Share your thoughts in the comments, and of course.

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

 

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Awards Season

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Image courtesy of YouTube. Screenshot by Jenn Murphy.

Do you see the shiny gold statues glimmering in the distance? Can you hear the rustling sound of a sequin-covered dress brushing against an inordinately long red carpet? Do you feel a feeling, deep in your gut, that someone, somewhere, is a few months away from being snubbed? If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, then you know that Awards Season is finally upon us.

 

Yes, the time where celebrities dress to the nines to celebrate other celebrities in televised ceremonies that we plebes watch from the comfort of our couches has arrived. This past week was full of Awards Season news. From a whole host of host announcements (and some host announcements later rescinded) to nominations for not one, but two very different award shows, Awards Season is in full swing. Let’s take a look at everything we have learned.

 

The Hosts

This week, three hosts were announced for two of the biggest film award shows of the year. By the end of the week, only two hosts remained. How we got there is a fascinating look at what exactly it takes to get and secure a hosting job in 2018.

 

The first big announcement came from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, a.k.a. The Oscars, who shared that Kevin Hart would be hosting their big show in February. Pretty quickly after the announcement, people began to notice that Hart was deleting some old tweets. The tweets in question were all homophobic, frequently using gay slurs and implying that Hart polices his son’s behavior so he doesn’t come off as “gay.” People also began to dig back into his standup, where he had shared similar sentiments. Obviously, this is not a great move for someone hosting a show often jokingly referred to as the “Gay Superbowl.”

 

Instead of apologizing, which the Academy apparently asked him to do, he first criticized the public for criticizing him, saying that people are too sensitive. Then he criticized the Academy for asking him to apologize, saying that he wouldn’t do it and that he didn’t feel he had a reason to do so. Then, mere days after being announced as host, he tweeted that he had stepped down from the hosting role. In that statement, he actually apologized.

 

So what can future Oscar hosts learn from this? First, don’t tweet dumb homophobic nonsense, but if you do, remember to delete it before you’re announced as host. Also, just apologize! There’s a certain protection comedians feel that they have from apologizing for insensitive remarks because as comedians their job is to poke fun at uncomfortable topics. But there’s a difference between poking fun and saying and tweeting things that perpetuate beliefs that genuinely put a group of people into danger. It’s silly to stand by something like that, especially if you claim you don’t feel that way anymore. Apologizing isn’t always the most fun thing to do, but sometimes it’s truly necessary. Kevin Hart didn’t seem to get that, and now he doesn’t get to host the Oscars.

 

So who will? As of my posting this, the Academy has yet to select someone new. I’ve heard a variety of suggestions, from the hilarious Wanda Sykes to the indomitable Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland of “Oh Hello” fame (who I personally think would be better suited for The Tonys). But I had my own idea for who should host, and I think it could solve many of the Academy’s problems.

 

Two stars really stole the show in the cinematic world this year, and their names are Charlie and Olivia. Charlie, of course, being the dog in “A Star Is Born” and Olivia being the dog in both “Widows” and “Game Night.” Both are adorable, charming and have proven that they can do anything with the right amount of treats and training. Neither could possibly have any insensitive tweets in their pasts, because dogs can’t tweet! What I’m trying to say is, let Charlie and Olivia host the Oscars.

 

I know what you’re thinking: How could two dogs host the Oscars? Dogs can’t talk! True, but you know who can talk? Jake Johnson and Mindy Kaling. I believe that these two actors could truly capture the voices of Charlie and Olivia respectively, and could easily do voice over work from behind the scenes. All that’s left is to hire the best comedy writers in the game to write their banter and you’ve got yourself a great show. Looking to pull in more viewers? Everyone is going to want to see how two dogs are going to host the Oscars. It’s a brilliant idea, and now that I’ve put it out into the world I’m just going to sit back and wait for a call from the Academy.

 

Or, they could just do what the Golden Globes did and hire two wonderful people who have never done anything wrong and have already proven that they have good onstage chemistry. Sandra Oh and Andy Samberg, I am very excited to watch the Golden Globes with you two at the helm.

 

The Nominees

Speaking of the Globes, they also announced their nominees this past week. On the film side, “Vice” got the most nominations, which is super cool because it hasn’t even been released to the viewing public yet! “A Star Is Born” and “The Favourite” also did very well, and “Black Panther” seems to be well on its way to an Oscar nom with it’s three Golden Globe nominations, including one in the Best Drama Category. I was especially happy to see the delightful Elsie Fisher nominated in Lead Actress in a Comedy/Musical for “Eighth Grade” and especially mad to see “Widows” get zero nominations. Not even one for future Oscars host Olivia, who plays a surprisingly pivotal role in one of the film’s key plot twists!

 

As for TV, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” seems to be continuing its reign over TV awards with several nominations. Same with “Barry.” I guess I should try and watch both of those shows now? That would involve paying for subscriptions to Amazon Prime and HBO and I do not have the time or the money for that. “Killing Eve” got several nominations, including one for now Globes co-host Sandra Oh. I want her to present the award to herself, and I feel like that could actually happen. “The Good Place” also got several nominations, which is nice to finally see. I was most excited for my favorite new TV show of 2018, “Pose,” and it’s two nominations, including one for the magnificent Billy Porter. And in things to be mad about in TV, barely any love for “Atlanta“? The Hollywood Foreign Press had better hope that Teddy Perkins doesn’t come after them. We know he’s got connects at all the big award shows.

 

The Grammy nominees were also announced this past week and I’ll be honest, I don’t have nearly as many strong opinions on that front. There were a lot more women nominated in the biggest categories this year, which is wonderful to see and will be even more wonderful if they actually end up winning. “Shallow” from “A Star Is Born” got a ton of nominations, which is both hilarious and not at all surprising. If they win any of them and don’t recreate the Grammys scene from the film, then this all will have been for naught. Lady Gaga should at least dress in character for the ceremony. I was most excited to see Chloe x Halle get two Grammy nominations, including one for Best New Artist. “The Kids Are Alright” was one of my favorite albums of the year, and you should definitely check it out if you haven’t already.

 

The Future

And in “things that should be getting awards next year” news: both “The Good Place” and “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” pulled off very ambitious moves on their respective episodes this week. If D’Arcy Carden isn’t a serious part of the Emmys conversation next year, then we have really lost it all.

 

What do you think? Did you enjoy the influx of awards season news last week? Am I going to see “A Star Is Born” in IMAX today? Are Ally and Jackson far from the shallow now? Let me know your thoughts in the comments. And, of course…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

‘Life-Size 2’ Didn’t Completely Tarnish My Childhood Memories, Thank Goodness

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Image courtesy of YouTube. Screenshot by Jenn Murphy

I feel like every generation has some sort of TV movie that they collectively love. It’s not a good movie by any means, but it’s fun and silly and people choose to associate it with fond memories of their childhood. For me, that movie was “Life-Size.” Starring Tyra Banks as a Barbie-esque doll named Eve that’s accidentally brought to life by an angsty tween (played by Lindsay Lohan, pre-everything), “Life Size” was a pivotal part of my younger years.

 

If it was on, I would watch it. I had it on VHS tape when that was still a thing, and then on DVD when everything started to change over. As I got older, it became a fun point of nostalgic discussion: “Hey, remember “Life-Size”? That was a crazy movie.” When I learned in high school that a close friend had never seen it, I went out and bought it for her so she too could revel in the joy. The lyrics to the Eve commercial jingle will likely never leave my mind and I often talk about the insane scene where Eve eats multiple pads of butter, because she’s a doll and dolls don’t understand food.

 

I never thought that a sequel to the film was necessary. It felt like such a nice stand-alone piece of nostalgia, and as I’ve written before, sequels can really ruin everything. So I watched FreeForm’s “Life-Size 2: A Christmas Eve” last night with serious trepidation. Would it just feel like a re-hashing of all the fun bits from the first film? Would the premise of a doll coming to life seem almost too absurd in 2018? Would it be bad-bad instead of fun-bad like the first one?

 

I’m pleased to say that “Life-Size 2” was mostly fun-bad, and didn’t feel entirely unnecessary. In this iteration, Eve (still played by Banks, although in a much more manic way) is brought back to life by a young woman named Grace (played by Francia Raisa) and her tween-age neighbor to ultimately stop the young woman, who just happens to be the new CEO of the toy company that makes Eve, from discontinuing the doll.

 

The movie seemed very self-aware of its audience (people my age who grew up with the film) and the inherent jokiness of the premise. There was an extended callback to the butter scene from the first film (which I honestly thought was just something that I obsessed over) and a nice shout-out to Lohan’s character (because there was no way in hell that Lohan was actually going to be in this movie). There was even a very sly reference to Banks’s infamous berating of an eliminated “America’s Next Top Model” contestant that felt like entierely Banks’s doing.  All of that didn’t feel too nostalgic-for-nostalgia’s sake. Rather, it helped to make the much of the movie feel like a fun inside joke for lovers for the first film.

 

What I didn’t like about it were some of the more modern elements brought in to update things. The wokeness that they try to add to the doll and the story was admirable but felt a bit performative at times. There was also multiple romantic plot lines, one for Eve and one for Grace, that felt a bit unnecessary to the true story of the film. Eve’s, with a hunky chef, was mostly played for goofiness and humor, but Grace’s, with a music producer whose little sister becomes friends with Grace’s tween neighbor, seemed to be a bit more serious. I generally don’t like a forced romantic plot line in a movie that doesn’t need it to make sense and that was how this one felt. It also didn’t help that his character produced a remix of the Eve jingle that had some truly cringeworthy rap breaks.

 

Overall, I’d say the movie had much of the fun and silliness that made the first one so entertaining while also setting itself apart in ways that mostly worked. Is it going to win any awards? Absolutely not, other than maybe a Teen Choice surfboard. But am I mad that it exists? No, not at all. It was a fun holiday treat. As the song says, “Eve’s great, no matter where she goes.”

 

What do you think? Did you watch “Life-Size 2: A Christmas Eve”? Did you see all the outfits that Beyonce wore at the Global Citizen Festival in South Africa this past weekend? I’m obsessed. Share your thoughts in the comments. And, as always…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

People Actually Think ‘Love Actually’ Is Good?

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Image courtesy of YouTube. Screenshot by Jenn Murphy

For years, I’ve seen the buzz surrounding “Love Actually” without actually watching the film myself. It always seems to make its way onto must-watch holiday movies lists, and appears to be seen by many as a seminal modern holiday film, held up against movies like “Elf.” My holiday viewing tends to fall more into the classics category; “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” (the original, NEVER the Jim Carrey one) and the 1951 “A Christmas Carol” are the ones I always gravitate towards as Christmas closes in. But “Love Actually” was on TV a few nights ago and I decided to tune in. I’m never one to turn down a good rom-com. But “Love Actually” is…bad. Like, really really bad.

 

It’s possible that “Love Actually” could be a good movie if it focused in on one or perhaps two of the stories the film attempts to tell, but instead it barely gives enough time for any of its nine, nearly 10 story lines to make sense or fully pay off. Each story feels extremely rushed or forgotten about after the initial set up. You can’t entirely blame them; anyone would have a tough time juggling that many individual story lines in one film. That’s why it’s never really done. There was often some sort of big, flashy display that I guess was intended to speed things up, but instead it just made things feel fake and forced. It didn’t feel like any of the story lines were given the appropriate time to fully develop, and that is crucial in a good romantic comedy. You need to really believe that these two people, in the hour or two that you’ve watched them meet and interact, have truly found a match and fallen in love. That takes time, and none of the stories in “Love Actually” really had enough.

 

As a result, none of the endings really felt earned, if you can even call some of the wrap-ups real endings. I’ll call out one story line in particular, the one I have seen the most references to from people who love this film, involving characters Juliet (played by Keira Knightley), Peter (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Mark (played by Andrew Lincoln). [Spoilers ahead, obviously.] Juliet and Peter get married at the beginning of the film, and Mark is the best man, who appears to be filming the wedding for them. Mark is – shocker – secretly in love with Juliet, and this manifests itself by him being distant with her (making her and Peter think he doesn’t like her) and withholding the video he shot of their wedding. Juliet forces him to show her the video and it’s all just close-up shots of her, which is super creepy regardless of the context, if you ask me. Then a bunch of stuff happens that doesn’t involve them and the next time we see the three, it’s when Mark shows up at Juliet and Peter’s house and, via a low-tech slide-show that has since been parodied just about everywhere, reveals to Juliet that he’s in love with her. She kisses him before going back into the house and then…that’s it. The next time we see them, all three are at the airport and it’s unclear who has ended up with who.

 

I mean, really? What kind of ending is that? That’s the kind of ending you get when there is not nearly enough room in your packed-to-bursting film for any story to be truly fleshed-out. It’s ridiculously confusing and unsatisfying and could have easily been solved if the focus of the film had been tightened to just a couple story lines. The film ends up feeling like a part of the Garry Marshall holiday movie franchise (even though it came out years before Marshall’s franchise even began). “Love Actually” is focused around a big holiday, is packed with talented actors and has story lines that intertwine in somewhat unexpected ways. It is also, like those Marshall films, not that good. But at least Marshall’s movies wrapped up each ending in a way that made some degree of sense.

 

I could also get into my issues with the film’s gratuitous shots of women in their underwear, the entire premise that American women will fall for any man with an accent or the slightly murky implications of the story line involving the U.K. Prime Minister (played by Hugh Grant) and a female employee, but that really requires a whole other post about how the only good romantic comedies are written by women. (Think about it: Every Nora Ephron movie. “27 Dresses.” More recently, “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.” I rest my case.) What I will say is that if you really want to watch a romantic comedy set at the holidays, might I recommend “The Holiday“? It has only two intertwined stories and they both pay off wonderfully. And, you guessed it, it’s written by a woman. Go watch that instead.

 

What do you think? Are you one of those people that actually likes “Love Actually”? Can you not watch the film’s Liam Neeson-led story line anymore because you’re also mad about [SPOILER-ish] how dirty he did Viola Davis in “Widows“? (Also, have you seen “Widows” yet? If not, what are you doing? Go see “Widows.” Now.) Let me know in the comments. And, as we begin this holiday season, remember…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

‘Toy Story 4’ May Actually Make Me Believe in Sequels

Like anyone with eyes, ears and a heart, I love the “Toy Story” franchise. What’s not to love? It’s a kids movie that has enough smart humor to appeal to adults, it’s full of great voice acting, and it’s the rare movie that has genuinely good sequels. (It also may have convinced me as a child that my toys did, in fact, have inner lives and feelings, which made for an emotionally challenging time when it came to letting some toys go. But we don’t need to talk about that.)

 

Movie sequels can be so difficult to pull off. The task of living up to an original film that was already great, plus adding something new and worthwhile to the story is not an easy feat. Few films have actually made it work (shouts out to “22 Jump Street” and “Paddington 2“); more often than not, they end up being a pointless, bastardized version of what made the original film worth seeing (shouts out to “The Hangover Part II” AND “The Hangover Part III“). The urge to make more sequels (a.k.a. make more money) remains though, and that’s why they keep on coming, despite their frequent lack in quality.

 

But the “Toy Story” sequels were different. Much like the rare sequels that work, “Toy Story 2” and “Toy Story 3” expanded the world of the first film and gave us new, compelling characters and story lines. “Toy Story 3,” in particular, was especially great. It was full of heart and humor and carried a sense of finality that was especially poignant for those of use who grew up along with the owner of all the toys. And that is exactly why I’ve been so reticent to get excited about “Toy Story 4.”

 

When the fourth film in the “Toy Story” franchise was announced, I had immediate concerns. The third film felt like such a perfect ending to the story, why mess it up with more? Why bring in new characters and story lines that could potentially soil the greatness that was already there? My concerns were a little bit alleviated when I heard that Rashida Jones and Will McCormack, the dream team behind my favorite under-the-radar anti-rom-com rom-com, “Celeste and Jesse Forever,” were set to write the film. Then they dropped out, and I grew concerned again. But the two recently-released promos for the film, which is set to drop in Summer 2019, have made me feel a little better yet again.

 

The first one was short and sweet, featuring all of the classic characters and one new addition, a spork with pipe cleaner arms named Forky who seems to be having a bit of an existential crisis. The second promo, however (which is featured at the top of this post), is what got me really excited. Featuring Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele (a.k.a. Key & Peele) as two carnival toys doing a kid-friendly take on the classic movie-loving valets from their Comedy Central sketch series, the whole thing is an absolute delight. It has all of the joy and humor from the previous “Toy Story” films, but still somehow feels fresh and different. If the whole movie is like that, “Toy Story 4” might just prove me wrong when it comes to sequels. I certainly hope that’s the case.

 

What do you think? Did the new “Toy Story 4” promos get you excited for the film? Were you also somewhat disappointed by the clunky season finales of “You” and “American Horror Story: Apocalypse“? We deserve better. Let me know in the comments. And, as always…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

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