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December 2016

Keep The Christmas Cheer Going With This ‘Idol’ Reunion 13 Years in the Making

Christmas may have been yesterday, but that doesn’t mean that it’s time to stop celebrating. Sure, the “normal” person would begin to pack up their decor and prepare for the next big holiday (New Years? Valentine’s Day? Ugh.) but the fun person keeps the Christmas cheer going all the way to next Christmas. And I don’t know about you, but I’m very fun.

 

Christmas is my favorite holiday of the year, largely because it’s so all-encompassing. Christmas decorations go up just about everywhere, radio stations start playing 24/7 Christmas music (the best kind of music, if you ask me) and you can’t go five channels on TV without hitting a classic Christmas movie (or a Hallmark Christmas movie, which are even better despite being very bad). I love all of it, so the day after Christmas is always kind of a downer for me. I have to wait, what, 364 more days to celebrate Christmas again? Not cool.

 

And so I don’t wait. I’m one of those people who will occasionally jam out to a Christmas song in non-Christmastime (especially if that song is “The Mistletoe Jam“) and I’ll make a somewhat conscious effort to watch TV reruns that are Christmas themed. People judge me, say it’s “way to soon,” but I say it’s never to soon to take in some Christmas cheer. I don’t know about you, but given recent events we should hold on to Christmas cheer as much as we can.

 

So here’s a little cheer for you. If I haven’t made it explicitly clear already, I love (or, I guess, loved) “American Idol.” Now that it’s over (at least, until they come up with a not nearly as good reboot) I always get excited when someone from “Idol’s” heyday comes out of the woodwork. This time, it’s the final two of season two, Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken. Not only are they reuniting 13 years after their time on “Idol,” they’re singing a Christmas song! In matching red sweaters! On a “The View” set covered in Christmas trees and lights! It’s glorious and I knew it had to be shared. You’re welcome.

 

Do you enjoy Christmas related things when it’s not Christmastime? Do you not even celebrate Christmas? If so, what kind of pop culture-y stuff goes along with your chosen holiday? Sing a carol in the comments. And, before you go back to enjoying the excellent video above, let me just say…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

Okay, So ‘La La Land’ Is Great

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Screenshot by Jenn Murphy

Last week in my post recapping the Critics’ Choice Awards, I lamented the fact that “La La Land” had beaten “Moonlight” for Best Picture despite my not having seen “La La Land” yet. Well, I finally saw it yesterday and you know what? It is great. Like, really great. The performances were wonderful, visually it was stunning and I can’t wait to get those songs on my iPod (yes, I still have an iPod). But did I like it better than “Moonlight”? The jury is still out.

 

While it seems absolutely insane to pit these two equally great and wildly different movies against each other, it’s exactly what has been happening this award season and will almost certainly continue to happen when the Oscar nominations come out next month. Sure, “Manchester By The Sea” (which I’m seeing later today) is up there too as one of the frontrunners, but I see the competition for Best Picture really sitting between “La La Land” and “Moonlight.” They’re both perfect fodder for the Oscars. One is a rousing tale celebrating Hollywood and all of the dreamers who go there to make it big in the moving pictures biz, the other a moving coming-of-age story filled with brilliant unknowns. The Academy eats that stuff up.

 

What “La La Land” has going for it that “Moonlight” might not is the spectacle. The gorgeous costumes and big flashy song and dance numbers would definitely not fit in “Moonlight’s” Miami like they fit in “La La Land’s ” Los Angeles. It’s one of those movies that will eternally have a spot in great movie montages for years to come because it just looks so gosh darn pretty. (Not to say that “Moonlight” isn’t pretty. That shot of the mother standing in the hallway awash in a magenta-colored light? That could go up in an art museum tomorrow.) Spectacle does well with the masses, or none of those superhero movies would ever take off. It’s what’ll keep people going to see “La La Land” in theaters and what’ll keep them watching it at home.

 

But what “Moonlight” has that “La La Land” doesn’t is a certain sense of importance. It’s a story that needed to be told and needed to be told now, much like last year’s big winner, “Spotlight.” The way it artfully addresses issues like sexuality and race should not be ignored, especially in a time when those issues are so front and center. No shade to “La La Land,” but it could come out five or 10 years down the road and it would most likely still receive the same glowing response. “Moonlight” hits a nerve that’s incredibly present now and that’s worth noting and recognizing, even if it doesn’t rake in the box office bucks.

 

In terms of which one I liked best, I’m still not entirely sure (but I am leaning more towards “Moonlight”). In terms of which one the Academy will like best? It’s much tougher. They do love to celebrate themselves, and “La La Land” fits that to a T, but they also love to give the underdog a shot from time to time, so “Moonlight” could still have a significant chance. It will definitely be interesting to see what happens in February.

 

Have you seen “La La Land” and “Moonlight”? What do you think of their “Best Picture” chances? Still upset that “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” continues to be snubbed at every awards show? Me too, dear reader, me too…

 

And last, but certainly not least, in this lovely holiday season, I’d like to say to you and yours…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

Let’s Talk About the Critics’ Choice Awards

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Screenshot by Jenn Murphy

The first big night of the televised award season was last night, with the Critics’ Choice Awards airing on A&E. Between commercials for “Intervention” and “COPS Live” (which seems like a terrrrrrrible idea, if you ask me), awards were given out for both the best in film and television. It was a three-hour affair, and could have been made longer if they didn’t give out all of the technical awards in spurts during the commercial breaks. It’s not always clear how the Critics’ Choice will tie into the Oscars or the Emmys, although many of their wins seemed to be in line with what has been expected so far. I’m not going to break down each win, because that would insane, but I will get into the big takeaways from both the film and television wins. If you want more detail, check it all out for yourself. I can’t do everything for you.

 

Film: “La La Land” wins (almost) all the things

In a move that wasn’t particularly surprising, “La La Land” took home eight awards last night, including most of the technical categories, Best Director for Damien Chazelle and Best Film. It also took home Best Song, which gives me a bad feeling that this coming year will not be Lin-Manuel Miranda’s moment to EGOT with “Moana.” The only big categories not scooped up by “La La Land” were the acting categories. The big ones there went to Casey Affleck (“Manchester By The Sea“, which also tied for Best Original Screenplay with “La La Land”) for Best Actor, Natalie Portman (“Jackie,” which also won for Hair & Makeup and Costume Design) for Best Actress, Viola Davis (“Fences“) Best Supporting Actress, Mahershala Ali (“Moonlight“) for Best Supporting Actor and the cast of “Moonlight” for Best Acting Ensemble. I was hoping “Moonlight” would pick up more awards because I think it’s the best movie I’ve seen this year, but I also haven’t seen “La La Land” (it doesn’t come out in my neck of the woods until this Friday). I think the Oscars should introduce an Acting Ensemble award, not just so that “Moonlight” can win it, but also to celebrate great ensembles going forward. There have been countless years where an entire cast was so brilliant that they each deserved a win, so why not make an award that covers them all? Eh well. Maybe some day.

 

Television: “The People vs. O.J. Simpson” continues its victory tour

The television side of things was a little bit more of a mixed bag. The big awards for comedy and drama went to “Silicon Valley” and “Game of Thrones” (although “Atlanta” star Keith Stanfield might disagree when it comes to “Silicon Valley”). “Atlanta” did win Best Actor in a Comedy Series for Donald Glover, while Best Actress in a Comedy Series went to Kate McKinnon from “SNL.” Supporting Actor and Actress in a Comedy Series went to Louie Anderson (“Baskets“) and Jane Krakowski (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt“) respectively. On the Drama side, the Big Actor and Actress awards went to Bob Odenkirk (“Better Call Saul“) and Evan Rachel Wood (“Westworld“). “Westworld” won in Supporting Actress too for Thandie Newton and John Lithgow won Supporting Actor for playing Winston Churchill on “The Crown.” As for the TV movie or Mini Series categories, it was the usual “The People vs. O.J. Simpson” suspects (Sarah Paulson for Best Actress, Courtney B. Vance for Best Actor and Sterling K. Brown for Best Supporting Actor) with a little Regina King for Best Supporting Actress in “American Crime” mixed in. Whereas the film categories were a little more predictable, there was some surprise in television, although I don’t know if all of it was good.

 

So there’s my condensed version of the Critic’s Choice Awards. I could get into the Golden Globe Nominations that came out today, but I won’t. Let’s save that for another week.

 

Did you watch the Critic’s Choice Awards? What did you think of the wins? Think that awards season is just a shameless ploy to distract us from the real issues? Dude, chill. I do not need your hateration in this dancery. Share your positive thoughts in the comments. And, before I go to finally watch “Hairspray Live!” I’ll leave you with this…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

Start A Friendship Revolution With This Song From ‘Crazy Ex Girlfriend’

There are so many great shows on TV right now, to the point where many continue to fly under the radar despite awards and critic love. One big recent example of this is “Crazy Ex Girlfriend,” a wacky and wonderful musical comedy found on The CW, of all places. It expertly mixes musical camp with grounded storytelling and it’s also really really funny. It might seem like a little bit much to people who don’t love a good song and dance number, but unlike other musical series before it (*cough* “Glee,” “Smash” *cough*), the singing and dancing doesn’t feel forced. It all somehow works, a true feat. I could go on and on about how much I love the show, but I already did here, so just read that.

 

This particular number showcases, to me, what “Crazy Ex Girlfriend” does best. It starts out focusing on the joys of female friendship, but quickly turns into a song about the planning and organization of a political coup, a “friendtopia,” if you will. I know, I know, that sounds absolutely insane, but like I said earlier it somehow works. The mixture of light and dark and the way those two things can kind of play together is what this show seems to thrive on. There was also a “Trapped in the Closet” parody in this episode that can’t be missed. I mean, anything that references “Trapped in the Closet” is worth appreciating, right?

 

So even if you’re not a big musical fan, I think you should give “Crazy Ex Girlfriend” a chance. You might find that its “more than meets the eye” quality is right up your alley. Or at least you can leave your TV on it so that it’s ratings go up and then it’ll never get cancelled and people like me can enjoy it forever. I would do it for you…unless, of course, there was something else I liked more on. I’m sure you understand.

 

Like “Crazy Ex Girlfriend”? Have a favorite song from the series run so far? Currently on your fifteenth viewing of “Elf” this month? Dang. I mean, I like that movie and all, but…dang. Before you go back to that, remember…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

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