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January 2018

Several Thoughts on Several Things (Because a Bunch of Stuff Happened This Week!)

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Blue Ivy telling Beyonce and Jay-Z to cool it with the clapping during the Grammys was a gift to us all. Screenshot by Jenn Murphy

Sometimes, there’s just so many things in a week that are worth writing about that it’s hard to pick just one. So instead, I’m going to write a little about them all! You’re welcome.

Oscar Nominations

The 2018 Oscar nominations were announced this past Tuesday, locking into place the movie-making folks that will spend the next month or so schmoozing and low-key imploring Academy voters to give their project a vote. A lot of it was largely predictable, as much of this awards season has been, but there were a few exciting things. (Or, at least, things that are exciting until you remember that this is the 90th Academy Awards and they should absolutely not still be this far behind when it comes to representation.) Rachel Morrison became the first woman ever to be nominated in the Cinematography category for her work on “Mudbound.” Jordan Peele (of “Get Out“) became the fifth black person to ever be nominated for Director (the other four were also men, like Ava DuVernay doesn’t exist or something). Greta Gerwig (of “Lady Bird“) became the fifth woman to ever be nominated for Director as well (and again, really? only five?). One of the most pleasant surprises was seeing Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon of “The Big Sick” get a nomination for Original Screenplay. Do I want them to win? No, I want Jordan Peele to win for “Get Out,” duh. But am I happy that a lovely movie like “The Big Sick” got recognized? Of course! I’ll get into my predictions for who will win and whatnot closer to the actual event, which isn’t until March (!) but let’s just say I’m hoping for some deviations from the other award shows this season, and yet expecting it all to be pretty much exactly the same.

 

SAVE “GREAT NEWS“!!!!

This week also gave us the second season finale of “Great News,” a wonderful show that is likely to be cancelled unless NBC gets their act together and realizes how wonderful it truly is. It was created by Tina Fey mentee Tracey Wigfield and follows the goings on at a cable news show where Katie, a producer played by Briga Heelan, must deal with her mother, played by Andrea Martin, as the new intern. It has a very “30 Rock“-esque tone, which is probably why I love it so much, but it’s also really funny and sweet in its own way. NBC hasn’t really done much to try and bring up its ratings, placing it after “Will and Grace” on Thursday nights instead of trying to sandwich it in-between that and “The Good Place” (which has also been especially good lately). 30 Rock was often on the bubble and got saved, so hopefully NBC will follow in that fashion. If not, “Great News” will join “Pitch” and “BrainDead” in the league of extraordinary shows that I’m still mad got cancelled.

 

The Grammys, Or Look At All These Dudes!!!!

The Grammys were last night, and despite their attempts to jump on the Times Up bandwagon with their white roses and a truly moving and powerful performance by Kesha, they stuck to their classic move of giving nearly all the awards to men. (Or at least, the 10 awards they actually gave out during the telecast.) The biggest offender was definitely the choice to present Ed Sheeran (who wasn’t even there, by the way) with Best Pop Solo Performance, when he was the only guy in the category and was up against the likes of Kesha, who was nominated for a song about finding forgiveness for her (alleged) ABUSER who is STILL WORKING IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY LARGELY UNSCATHED. It was incredibly tone deaf and unfortunate. I’m pretty sure out of all the awards given out during the show only one went individually to a woman, and that was Alessia Cara for Best New Artist (which, if we’re being honest, should have been given to SZA or Khalid). The three biggest awards of the night, Song, Record and Album of the Year, all went to Bruno Mars, meaning that (yet again) Kendrick Lamar’s consistently incredible work went uncelebrated outside of the Rap categories. And I like Bruno Mars! I just liked DAMN. a lot more. (Also, Childish Gambino aka Donald Glover aka my forever fave performed and it was wonderful.)

 

So there’s the week that was. Here’s hoping that this coming week is just as exciting, although I am highly doubtful since all we have to look forward to (if you can even call it that) is the Super Bowl.

 

What do you think? Have some thoughts on the pop culture-heavy events of this past week? Did you also find yourself really enjoying Will Ferrell’s musical monologue on “SNL” despite the fact that you are kind of sick of musical monologues? Let me know in the comments. And, as if I still have to tell you…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

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The Screen Actors Guild Awards a.k.a. One Step Closer to the Oscars

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My prediction ballot from last night’s show. Photo by Jenn Murphy

Last night’s Screen Actors Guild Awards seemed to cement the status of the big four acting awards come Oscar night, given that their selections matched nearly every other big award show this season. The night overall was largely predictable, other than one big, kind of insane shocker in the TV world. Let’s get into it, shall we?

This was the first year the show had a host, “The Good Place” star Kristen Bell, who is excellent on that show but didn’t exactly kill it in the hosting position. Then again, she didn’t really have much to work with, as it was clear that the SAGs wanted to follow in the activist footsteps of the Golden Globes. Where the Globes, with its all-black outfits and sharp, pointed jokes at the powerful men who have rightfully fallen in the last year, felt more strong and aggressive in its reflections on the movement, the SAGs felt much more light and inspirational, with its “you can do it!” sentiments and the choice to have an almost entirely female presenting lineup. That might sound like a good thing, but it wasn’t, not really. It had no bite, none of the fire that felt so strong at the Globes. Of course, it would be crazy to judge every award show this season on how it addresses the giant elephants in the room but after the Globes seemed to do so much of it so right, it’s hard to not acknowledge when others don’t exactly hit the mark.

 

On the TV side of things, much was predictable – except for the one thing that really wasn’t. In Comedy, “Veep” and its star, Julia Louis-Dreyfus won, as did William H. Macy for “Shameless.” In TV Movie/Mini Series, “Big Little Lies” continued to win awards that it shouldn’t even really be eligible for anymore with Alexander Skarsgard and Nicole Kidman winning for their performances. The Drama categories were where things got a bit more interesting, if you want to call it that. Claire Foy of “The Crown” and Sterling K. Brown of “This Is Us” both won for their performances, but then – in a move that seemed to shock everyone given the audible gasps in the crowd – “This Is Us” also won in the Ensemble, Drama Series category, which seemed like a lock for something like “The Handmaid’s Tale” or even “The Crown.” I was happy to see the actors who play the younger Randalls, Randall’s wife and kids and William receive some recognition for their great work, but everyone else? Sure. I mean, absolutely not, but sureeeee.

 

The film side, like I mentioned earlier, was completely predictable and seemed to anoint its winners as the true Oscar front-runners. Lead Actor and Actress went to Gary Oldman (for “Darkest Hour“) and Frances McDormand (for “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri“) and Supporting Actor and Actress went to Sam Rockwell (For “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri”) and Allison Janney (for “I, Tonya“). While I found all four of those performances to be fine-to-great, only one of them should actually be the winner, in my opinion. (Not gonna tell you who though.) Cast in the Motion Picture went to “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri” which seems to put them in a good place for Best Picture at the Oscars, although “The Shape of Water” did win at the PGAs. It’s like everyone just forgot about “Get Out,” or “Lady Bird,” or “Call Me By Your Name“! Hopefully the Oscars will shake things up a little, or this award season is going to end on a highly predictable low note.

 

What did you think of the SAGs? Were you happy with the winners? Were you also mildly disturbed but also entertained this week by “SNL’s” dark take on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”? Let me know in the comments. And, of course…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

Tucci Gang is Real, and ‘SNL’ Knows It

“Saturday Night Live” returned with its first new episode of 2018 this past weekend, hosted by recent Golden Globe (and even more recent Critic’s Choice Award) winner Sam Rockwell. It had its highs (The surprise guest stars in the cold open! Rockwell’s charming-as-hell monologue!) and its lows (Rockwell accidentally dropping an f-bomb in one of the first sketches of the night, possibly ensuring that he will only ever host the show once! Pretty much every other sketch!), but the one moment that truly stood out, at least to me, was the above sketch.

 

Stanley Tucci is a national treasure. There, I said it. He’s pretty much wonderful in every movie he’s ever done, he’s married to the sister of Emily Blunt (an international treasure), he’s a cookbook author, and he’s a total dreamboat. I don’t think I’ve ever heard or seen anyone say anything bad about him (and if you have, KEEP IT TO YOURSELF), but I also haven’t seen anyone celebrate him in the way that he truly deserves. Enter Pete Davidson with “SNL’s” latest song parody, this time of Lil Pump’s “Gucci Gang” (perhaps the most infuriating song out right now).

 

It’s not exactly a Lonely Island-caliber parody, but to be fair, the source material doesn’t even live up to the actual good songs produced by Andy Samberg and Co. It is, however, an amazing revelation that no one had thought to replace “Gucci” with “Tucci” sooner. The sketch highlights many of the great Tucci qualities that I mentioned above and even features a (*spoiler alert, I guess*) surprise cameo by the man himself. In a night filled with several weird sketches that decidedly didn’t work, this one decidedly did. What underrated actor or actress will they bestow this honor upon next? Richard Jenkins? Patricia Clarkson? I can’t wait to find out.

 

What did you think of this week’s “SNL”? Are you a member of the Tucci Gang? Did you also see “The Room” this past week in its one night only wide-release screening? That was fun. Let me know in the comments. And, as always…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

A Look at Last Night’s Golden Globes

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My prediction ballot from last night. I got 20 out of 25 right! As for what I actually wanted to win…I was not so successful. Photo by Jenn Murphy

Last night was the Golden Globes, the first big award show of the year. It followed several months of serious reckoning in the entertainment industry (and ultimately every industry) in regards to the power disparities between men and women and how those disparities contribute to unsafe environments where acts like sexual harassment and assault are brushed under the rug. Many big time Hollywood male creeps deservedly lost their jobs (and the respect of everyone) and even more women banded together, empowered to make change not just for themselves, but for others as well with the Times Up initiative.

 

The Globes were the first big public representation of that and it started as early as the red carpet. In a move of solidarity, just about everyone chose to wear black and several of the biggest nominees of the night brought female activists as their dates. They dedicated much of their red carpet interview time to discussing the Times Up initiative as well as the various groups and organizations that their dates represented. Several stars, including Debra Messing and Eva Longoria, even called out E! on E! for recent reports of a pay gap between their male and female employees. (Although I did find it interesting that basically none of the men interviewed on the carpet were asked about the movement.)

 

Then it was time for the actual awards ceremony, which almost felt unnecessary following everything that had happened before it. Host Seth Meyers did a great job mixing sharp humor and thoughtful commentary in his monologue, and then basically disappeared for the rest of the night. A lot of the sometimes funny/more often awkward banter between presenters seemed to be absent as well, ostensibly to make room for the wide variety of long speeches given by winners. I mean, jeez, they really will just let Nicole Kidman go on and on and on every time she wins an award. At least Sterling K. Brown got to give a full speech without getting cut off this time. (He was also apparently the first black man to win Best Actor in a Drama series, which is insane to me.)

 

On the TV side of things, the big awards winners of the night fell into three camps: “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which took home Dramatic TV Series, and Best Actress for Elisabeth Moss; “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” which won Musical or Comedic TV Series, and Best Actress for Rachel Brosnahan (it felt weirdly personal to see Amy Sherman-Palladino up there accepting the big prize given the amount of hours I’ve spent with her “Gilmore Girls” and eventually “Gilmore Guys“); and “Big Little Lies,” which won nearly everything else, including Supporting Actor (for Alexander Skarsgard), Supporting Actress (for Laura Dern), Actress in a Limited Series or TV Movie (for the aforementioned Nicole Kidman) and Limited Series or TV Movie (for “Big Little Lies,” duh.) There were a few outliers, including Sterling K. Brown for the previously mentioned award, Aziz Ansari for Actor in a Musical or Comedy and Ewan McGregor for Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie (who managed to thank both his soon-to-be ex-wife and current rumored girlfriend in one acceptance speech).

 

As for film, it was somewhat of a mixed bag, although “Three Billboard’s outside Ebbing, Missouri” took home the most with four, including Best Drama, Screenplay (for Martin McDonagh), Actress in a Drama (for Frances McDormand, who gave an acceptance speech for the ages) and Supporting Actor (for Sam Rockwell). The other big winner, “Lady Bird” for Best Comedy or Musical, only won one other award for its star, Saoirse Ronan. It should have had more of a chance in the directing category but its director, the great Greta Gerwig, was snubbed, something that was brought up quite matter-of-factly by Natalie Portman in one of the highlights of the night. Director ended up going to Guillermo del Toro for “The Shape of Water,” which also won for Original Score. As for everything else, “In the Fade” won Foreign Language Film, Gary Oldman won Actor in a Drama for “Darkest Hour,” James Franco won Actor in a Musical or Comedy for “The Disaster Artist” (and brought the real man he portrayed, Tommy Wiseau, up onstage only to not let him talk at all), Allison Janney won Supporting Actress for “I, Tonya,” “Coco” won for animated film and “This is Me” from “The Greatest Showman” won for Original Song. Does any of this mean anything for the Oscars? It’s somewhat unlikely, given that there’s basically zero overlap between Globes voters and Oscar voters. But it will certainly be interesting to see how the Oscars and other award shows move forward following this one.

 

But really, no one will be talking about the awards given out last night. They’ll be talking about Oprah Winfrey’s incredible Cecil B. DeMille award acceptance speech. I mean, I knew she would bring it and she seriously BROUGHT it. It was so good it had people starting to seriously consider her as a viable 2020 presidential candidate, to which I say:…come on guys. Do we really think that would be good idea? Look, I love Oprah. Like, a “I used to get off the bus after school and run to my house to make sure I got home in time for “The Oprah Winfrey Show”‘ kind of love. But much like our current disastrous president, she is a celebrity. Yes, she is 10 billion times more thoughtful and intelligent and articulate and accomplished than the tub of cheez wiz currently in office, but she’s still a celebrity at heart. Call me old fashioned, but I still like my presidents to have some previous governing experience. Should Oprah maybe run for Senate or the House of Representatives and see where it goes from there? Sure! Why not? But president? This soon? No. That being said, her speech was amazing and I love her forever and who knows, I could change my mind on all of this by tomorrow.

 

So there you have it, a little taste of last night’s Golden Globes. The next big award show is the Critic’s Choice Awards that air this Thursday. I unfortunately have plans that evening, but I’m hoping I can get home in time to catch most of it.

 

What do you think? Did you enjoy this year’s Golden Globes? Do you think they should have made a special “Best Picture That Defies Genre Constraints and Is Just Really, Really Great” category for “Get Out“? I certainly do. Share your thoughts in the comments. And, as always…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

 

 

The Full List of Every Movie I Saw in 2017, with (Some) Commentary

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Saved on the Notes App, like your favorite who-lebrity. Screenshot by Jenn Murphy

Happy New Year! 2017 was quite the wild 365 (or was it 366? February, man…) days. It somehow felt both incredibly long and unbelievably short. It was full of moments both inspiring and disappointing (mostly disappointing, to be honest). There are many different ways to look at this year in review, but I decided to start off with every movie I’ve seen this year, in order. I decided to keep the list at the beginning of the year as a way of remembering everything I’ve seen and also because I like lists. I mean, who doesn’t? They can be very useful.

 

It’s important to note that these are movies I saw in 2017 that were new to me. That means some of them weren’t necessarily released in 2017 (a couple weren’t even released in the last several decades) but I watched them in 2017, either on TV, via OnDemand, or because some buzzy movies take forever to come out in places outside of New York and Los Angeles. (By the way, can we change that? I hate seeing people talking nonstop about a movie and then it takes months for me to actually find it in a local theater. I don’t live in the middle of nowhere, this really shouldn’t be a problem.)

 

I’ll bold my favorites and write a little bit about some of them if I feel inspired. Enjoy!(?)


  1. Swiss Army Man
  2. Sausage Party” – This was probably the worst movie I saw all year. I make a really concerted effort to only see movies that I think I will actually like, and this was a rare one that slipped through because someone else wanted to watch it. I truly hated it. If you like it, that’s fine, but I am a little bit concerned for your well being and the well being of your loved ones.
  3. Fences – August Wilson is one of my favorite playwrights, and this movie does my favorite work of his well. Denzel should have won the Oscar!
  4. Hidden Figures
  5. Jackie
  6. Queen of Katwe – This movie was great, but my favorite part was at the end when they showed the real people with the actors who played them. It was so sweet!
  7. Loving
  8. Get Out – You don’t need another person telling you how excellent “Get Out” was, but I’m going to do it anyway. “Get Out” was excellent. Jordan Peele is a genius. I’m really hoping this movie cleans up at the Oscars.
  9. Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” – Yes, I watched this when “Feud” was on. Gotta get that context!
  10. 20th Century Women – Annette Benning was really robbed of an Oscar nomination for this film. And then her husband went and spoiled the whole Oscars! Rough year.
  11. Carrie Pilby
  12. A Hard Day’s Night” – It was on TCM and I said, “sure, why not.” It was fine.
  13. Colossal – For my thoughts on this gem, click here.
  14. The Circle” – Hey, maybe Emma Watson isn’t a good actress? Maybe those wizard boy movies were just a fluke? Maybe we should stop making her the lead in things? This poor adaptation of an actually really interesting and compelling book is evidence of all of that.
  15. Obit
  16. Wonder Woman
  17. Baby Driver – I loved this movie, and I’m really mad that a certain creep actor is in it and kind of ruins it for me.
  18. The Big Sick – Evidence that rom-coms can still exist as long as they have a little more meat on their bones.
  19. Spider-Man: Homecoming
  20. Ingrid Goes West – For my thoughts on this great one, click here.
  21. Home Again” – This movie is actually insane. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.
  22. Logan Lucky
  23. Battle of the Sexes
  24. Step – A lovely doc about a Baltimore step team. No clue what its Oscar chances are, but I’m hoping for a documentary nomination just so I can see those ladies kill it on the red carpet.
  25. Lady Bird” – Most accurate depiction of a mother-daughter relationship I’ve seen in a long time.
  26. The Disaster Artist” – I’m going to see “The Room” in a little over a week and I am very excited/terrified.
  27. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” – I liked this a lot, although I kind of wish I didn’t? It’s complicated.
  28. The Shape of Water” – A looooot more full-on nudity in this than I anticipated. Richard Jenkins, a forever fave, is wonderful.
  29. Call Me By Your Name” – This movie was lovely and looked gorgeous. (And I’m not just talking about Armie Hammer…) It was a great way to cap off my year of movie-watching.

Well there it is, the full list of every movie I saw in 2017! Can’t wait to start my 2018 list.

 

What about you? Do you keep a list of every new movie you’ve seen in a year? Does it also bug you that I only saw 29 movies, not 30? Because it’s fine. Seriously. It’s totally fine. It is! It’s fine. Share your lists and your faves from said lists in the comments. And as you begin this new year, remember…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

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