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The 2019 Grammy Awards: Pretty Good!

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Image courtesy of YouTube. Screenshot by Jenn Murphy

I wasn’t planning on writing about the Grammys today because I assumed they would be somewhat of a non-event, as they usually are. While there’s often a moment or two worth talking about, the show tends to feel flat and rife with a collection of so-so performances and wins that feel questionable given what the true cultural conversation is leaning towards. But last night’s Grammys telecast was different. There was energy and excitement and you didn’t feel the true length of the show’s nearly four-hour run time. (Which, as you all know, I’m totally down for. The longer an awards show, the happier I am.) It wasn’t perfect by any means, but it felt much livelier and in line with what the Grammys actually wants to be.

 

The show was hosted by Alicia Keys, who did an unexpectedly solid job. It was hard to know what to expect from having Keys as a host, since it isn’t really something she has a proven track record of doing well, but she really did. The best kind of Grammys host seems to be someone who can stand back and let the show speak for itself, much like LL Cool J did in his several previous turns as Grammy host, and Keys nailed that energy. She radiated positivity and chill-ness and it felt like she was connecting with everyone, both on-stage and off. She performed as well, doing an impressive medley of random hits from other artists both past and present while simultaneously playing two pianos. Michelle Obama also made a surprise appearance in her intro, which truly would have been enough to cement the night as a success. But there’s still so much more to celebrate!

 

A Grammys show lives or dies by the quality of it’s performances, and this Grammys show had a whole host of incredible moments. It was clear from the beginning that the show had taken to heart some of the biggest criticisms from last year, namely the significant lack of a female presence both on stage and in the awards themselves. (They also seem to have brushed aside Recording Academy President Neil Portnow’s initial, incredibly stupid response to that criticism, a statement that female artists simply needed to “step it up.” Last night’s Best New Artist winner Dua Lipa didn’t.)  Starting with Camila Cabello’s opener, featuring many friends and a set production designed to the gods, the night had an incredible array of performances from an incredible group of ladies. Janelle Monae serving up Prince-esque vibes! Brandi Carlile making me want to cry with her song “The Joke”! H.E.R. making me want to look her up and listen to more of her music! Cardi B doing what Cardi B does best! Lady Gaga doing the most in the wackiest performance of “Shallow” from “A Star Is Born” ever committed to tape! St. Vincent & Dua Lipa in an unexpected mingling of their respective songs that actually worked pretty well! Chloe X Halle not getting to do their own great music, but sounding lovely regardless! Excellent tributes to both Dolly Parton and Aretha Franklin! Diana Ross being Diana Ross! Good luck re-watching most of these performances though. Official videos are nowhere to be found on YouTube and time of publishing the Grammys website only has three available, including Post Malone’s performance with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, definitely the weakest one of the night, along with Jennifer Lopez’s Motown tribute, which is actually pretty entertaining until you ask yourself why on earth they picked Jennifer Lopez to do it.

 

As for the awards themselves, they don’t really matter. At least, that’s what Drake, who won Best Rap Song, said in his acceptance speech before it was mysteriously cut off. He was initially reported to not be attending the ceremony, along with the likes of Beyonce, Jay Z, Childish Gambino and Kendrick Lamar, who have all expressed issue with the Grammys and the lack of diversity in its voting body. Gambino ended up becoming the first Hip Hop artist to win both Song and Record of the Year for “This Is America,” which made his absence all the more evident. (You could see him dancing with an animated version of himself during a commercial that aired during the telecast, though.) Other big winners of the night largely focused on female artists, including Kacey Musgraves’ “Golden Hour” for Album of the Year, Cardi B’s “Invasion of Privacy” for Best Rap Album (making her the first solo woman to win that award), H.E.R.’s “H.E.R.” for Best R&B Album and Ariana Grande’s “Sweenter” for Best Pop Album. (Grande was also absent from the show, due to earlier issues with the show’s producers.) You can see the full list of winners here.

 

All in all, the show went a lot better than expected. The energy was there where it often was not in the past, and I for one didn’t really want the night to end. While there’s certainly a lot more that the Grammys can do to celebrate artists from all genres, not just in their performances but in their awards and the people who get to vote for them, last night seemed to take some steps, albeit small, in that direction.

 

What do you think? Did you enjoy the 2019 Grammys? Were you also unnerved by the new “Aladdin” trailer that aired during the Grammys, which showed Will Smith’s genie in it’s final, truly horrifying form? That movie is going to be a lot. Share your thoughts in the comments. And, of course…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

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3 Lessons Networks Should Learn From ‘Rent: Live’ If They Want to Keep Doing Live Musicals

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Image courtesy of YouTube. Screenshot by Jenn Murphy

While most of the cultural conversation has shifted to the Super Bowl and how excruciatingly boring it was from beginning to halftime show to commercials to end, I’m still thinking about “Rent: Kind of Live But Not Really.” (To be fair to the Super Bowl commercials though, I liked the Andy Warhol Burger King one and Jordan Peele’s ad for his rebooted “Twilight Zone” made me briefly consider getting a CBS All Access subscription.) I caught up to the latest slightly disastrous live televised musical earlier this week and while I thought it was mostly fine, decent even, there were several takeaways for me on how the producers of these events can make them better. Based on the ratings for “Rent: It Was Going to Be Live But, Well, You Know What Happened,” some changes definitely need to be made.

 

1) For God’s Sake, Have Understudies! (Or, at least, learn to go with the flow.)

If you don’t know the tragic tale of “Rent: The Show That Was Meant to Be Live, But Wasn’t” already, here’s a primer: the night before the big performance Brennin Hunt, who played Roger, a pretty significant role in the show, broke his ankle in an evening rehearsal. In Fox’s version of “the show must go on,” the viewers at home mostly saw the pre-taped dress rehearsal from the day before, while the audience at the studio saw an actually live, stripped down, concert-style performance with Hunt in a wheelchair. They also reworked the final scene so that they could show that live on TV, with Hunt clearly positioned in a place where he could stay seated while the action happened around him.

 

This might not have ended up being such a big deal if clips didn’t start popping up on social media from the audience at the actual live event, showing a performance that looked much more interesting and compelling than the one viewers were subjected to at home. The dress rehearsal that they showed on TV felt a little bit less than, and rightly so because the actors were likely still working out the kinks and saving their best stuff for the actually live performance the next day. As a result, the quality of the show was judged on a rehearsal, and the viewers at home felt like they missed out on something much more entertaining happening live.

 

All of this could have been avoided if the show had been prepared with understudies! If they want to capture the experience of live theatre, part of that is knowing that there’s always a chance you won’t see the normal leads at your show. I’ve seen understudies in lead roles on Broadway at shows like “The Book of Mormon” and “Dear Evan Hansen” and you know what? They were great! No offense to Hunt, who did a pretty darn good job in an impossible situation, but it’s not like he’s a household name that people would be devastated to miss. Get another hunky guy with a theatrically-rock voice to be on standby and if something happens, you’re ready! I mean come on, they had the original Roger, Adam Pascal, there. They couldn’t just suit him up and throw him out there as a last-minute surprise?

 

If you really don’t want to have understudies, fine, but in that case you need to accept what happens. “Rent: Live But Roger’s In A Wheel Chair, It’s A Long Story” would have been ten times better than “Rent: Whoopsy Daisy, Here’s the Dress Rehearsal.” It would have really highlighted the live element of the show, and would have probably pulled in more viewers out of sheer curiosity than any smooth-sailing production ever could. If they’ve learned anything from this whole fiasco, it’s that anything can happen and they need to be more on top of it.

 

2) We Don’t Need Any Flashy Camera Moves! This Is Theatre, Baby!

While I have generally liked the Fox live musicals better than the NBC ones, one thing NBC does right in my eyes is that they tend to keep their cameras pretty static. Part of the magic of live theatre is that they are able to transport you to another world despite being on one stage in a single theater. They don’t need cameras and the tricks that come with them, they use the magic of good acting and storytelling to pull you in. (Unless, of course, you’re at an Ivo van Hove production, like I was last year for “Network.” He loves to use a camera.)

 

Fox first showed off their more kinetic camera style with “Grease Live!” and while I felt that worked well, it didn’t feel so right with “Rent: Live, lol jk.” “Grease” as a show has a more cinematic quality that thrives among big changing set pieces and sweeping camera shots, while “Rent” is more bare-bones and feels better in a more singular set-up. There were moments in the “Rent” telecast that were almost dizzying, and not in a good way.

 

Fox should take notes not necessarily from NBC, but from the way that the National Theatre in the UK does filmed versions of their live theatrical productions that screen in movie theaters all over the world. It’s almost more like the filming style of a multi-camera sitcom, and it does a good job of capturing the show in a compelling way while still reminding audiences that they’re watching a piece of theatre as opposed to a movie or TV show. I went to a screening of their recent adaptation of “Angels in America” over two long Thursday nights a few years ago and it was great. I felt like I was there with the rest of the audience in London instead of sitting in a movie theater in suburban Maryland with like 10 other heavy theatre-loving weirdos. That’s how I want to feel watching one of these live televised musicals, and so far none have really accurately captured that.

 

3) Shut That Live Audience Up, Please!

There’s a certain sense of etiquette that comes with seeing live theatre, or, at least, there should be. Get there on time, ideally early if you have seats in the middle of a section. Unless your organs are falling out of your body, stay in your seat until an intermission. And please, for the love of Patti LuPone and all that is holy, don’t talk or cheer excessively. It’s reasonable to clap a little when a big-name actor makes their stage entrance (it certainly happened when I saw Elaine May in “The Waverly Gallery” a few weekends ago) and of course you applaud at the end of a big number or scene, but other than that, maybe don’t. This isn’t a concert, Beyonce is not asking you to clap or sing along. That’s for the people on stage to do.

 

Apparently no one told any of this to the audience at “Rent: Live, Except for All of the Parts Where It’s Not,” because that audience was noisy. So noisy, in fact, that they were downright distracting. “Rent” is a primarily sung-through show, with the lyrics in the songs really spelling out the story and plot, so you need to be able to hear and comprehend what they’re saying. There were points in “Rent: What Is Live, You Know?” where the over-exuberant cheers of the audience fully drowned out the lyrics. Since I’m familiar with the show it was more of an annoyance than anything, but I couldn’t help but think about the people who were watching this for the first time. Were they going to be able to fully appreciate Jonathan Larson’s lyrics? Would they even be able to fully get what was going on?

 

I get that you want it to feel high-energy, and the absence of a live audience at some of NBC’s early live musicals was full-on uncomfortable, but there has to be a limit. The audience did stay silent during the quieter, slower songs, but that courtesy should also be paid to the bigger, more bombastic numbers. Otherwise, you’re simply being rude to the people at home. And that’s not cool.

 

The next live musical is NBC’s take on “Hair” which should be a fascinating test of the FCC’s limits, given that this is a song in “Hair” and act one generally ends with the entire cast taking off all of their clothes on stage. Can’t wait to see how that goes this Spring!

 

What do you think? Did you also have these issues with “Rent: Technically It Was Live Yesterday”? Did I use this post to show off how much live theatre I see? Maybe… Share your thoughts in the comments. And, as always…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

The 2019 Screen Actors Guild Awards: Better Than ‘Rent’?

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My ballot from last night. As always, green is who I wanted to win, pink is who I thought would win and black is who actually won. Photo by Jenn Murphy

Last night, lovers of both award shows and live televised musicals had a near-impossible decision to make: watch the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the last really big show before the Oscars, or watch “Rent: Live,” the latest big network TV adaptation of a beloved Broadway show. I chose the SAGs, and will have to live with that choice for the rest of my life. I will watch “Rent: Live” (or “Rent: Semi-Live,” as it ended up) sometime this week hopefully, and might share my thoughts on that next week. This week, however, is all about the SAGs, and how they did nearly nothing to clarify the Oscar race.

 

The show itself fell a bit flat; it was largely low-energy, speedily crammed into two hours and could prove to be an indicator of what the Oscars might look like this year if the apparent Oscar-hating producers of the Oscars get their way. Megan Mullally hosted, and while she had some genuinely funny bits, her lackadaisical delivery kind of buried them. She also nearly disappeared after her monologue, and while it’s common for the host to kind of fade into the background, I almost forgot she was hosting in the the first place. To be fair though, the SAGs have always been a bit more about the awards themselves, so let’s get to that!

 

TV

Much like it has been at many of the award shows this year, the TV wins were largely predictable. “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” swept the comedy categories, with the cast winning Best Ensemble and Tony Shalhoub and Rachel Brosnahan taking home Male and Female Actor in a Comedy Series, respectively. The drama categories spread the love a little more, with “This Is Us” laughably winning Best Ensemble and Jason Bateman (for “Ozark“) and Sandra Oh (for “Killing Eve“) winning Male and Female Actress in a Drama Series. At this point, the only award show not fully recognizing Oh’s greatness is the one solely focused on TV, which says a lot. Continuing on the predictability route were Male and Female Actor in a TV Movie/Limited Series, where Darren Criss (for “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story“) and Patricia Arquette (for “Escape at Dannemora“) took home their respective prizes.

 

Film

The SAGs are generally where the frontrunners in the Oscar categories start to really cement themselves, but the only thing that seems definite after last night is that poor Mahershala Ali is going to have to give yet another pained acceptance speech for a role that he has since felt the need to apologize for. He won yet again in Supporting Male Actor for “Green Book,” but I’m just going to pretend that he’s winning again for “Moonlight.” Supporting Female Actor went to Emily Blunt for “A Quiet Place,” and she’s not even nominated at the Oscars, so who knows what that means. Glenn Close seems likely to take home for first Oscar for “The Wife,” given that she won again last night in the Female Actor, Leading category, but I still think Lady Gaga has a shot, especially if she keeps recreating everyone’s favorite part of “A Star Is Born” at her Vegas residency. Male Actor, Leading went to Rami Malek for “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which truly surprised me. Is it possible that he could beat Christian Bale at the Oscars? Are Bradley Cooper‘s chances of winning completely gone? I love Rami, but I desperately wish he was winning for something else. Best Cast in a Motion Picture went to “Black Panther,” which I was totally on board with. It gives me hope that the ‘”Green Book” winning Best Picture at the Oscars” people aren’t as on the money as they might think. But then again, “Roma” wasn’t nominated at all at the SAGs and with 10 nominations at the Oscars, it’s got a lot of momentum. We’ll have to wait nearly a month (!!!) to see!

 

What do you think? Did you also watch the SAGs instead of “Rent: Live”? Are you planning what movie you’re going to watch during that big dumb sporting event next Sunday? I haven’t watched “Bandersnatch” yet, so maybe I’ll give that a try. Let me know in the comments! And, of course…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

The Only Review of ‘The Mule’ You’ll Ever Need, And Why It’s Fun To Talk About Insane Pop Culture with Friends

“SNL” was back this week after an especially long holiday break, and while it wasn’t an A+ episode, it had some very funny and enjoyable moments. There was “Leave Me Alurn,” an ad for a fake urn women can carry around to keep men from harassing them, and a return to the offices of Mattel for more terrible Instagram caption ideas, this time for the Ken doll. But the highlight of the episode for sure came during “Weekend Update,” a phrase I feel like I haven’t said since Seth Meyers left the desk.

 

The bit involved Pete Davidson, frequent “Update” guest and recent scare-causer, and a surprise appearance by national treasure John Mulaney that literally made me gasp. (I’m not proud of that, but it’s 100% true.) The two have been seemingly hanging out a lot lately, as evidenced by Mulaney’s recent “Tonight Show” story, and apparently one of those hangouts involved seeing Clint Eastwood’s latest “white men doing things” movie, “The Mule.” I’ll let you watch the above clip to see what they thought of it, but watching them hilariously discuss the film reminded me of how fun it can be to discuss insane things in pop culture with friends. (It also made me happy to see that Pete Davidson appears to be doing okay after everything. Yay for doing okay after everything!)

 

It’s not exactly a revolutionary idea, but talking about a piece of insane pop culture garbage with someone is truly one of the best ways to bond. Recently I got together with a few friends I hadn’t seen in a while. Things like that are always a little awkward at first. Exchanging the typical pleasantries, the “how’s everything going” talk; it can take a little while to get back into a familiar pattern. But once we started talking about the show “Riverdale,” things really clicked into place.

 

As you may know, “Riverdale” has evolved (or maybe devolved) into an insane, shark-jumping show that feels so far away from the “hot teens that are kind of depressed, and oh there’s a low-ish stakes murder mystery” premise that the show began with. A teen now owns a diner and is running a speak-easy in the basement! Other teens are now doing a drug known as fizzle rocks! There’s now something called a Gargoyle King! Nothing really makes any logical sense anymore, and that’s what makes it so fun to watch and talk about. Two of the friends had basically given up on the show halfway through the previous season and another had never watched it in the first place, so I had the true pleasure of filling everybody in. It was a total delight and by the end of the conversation it felt like no time had passed between our get-togethers. We were just a bunch of pals wondering whether or not the hot teens of “Riverdale” would get out of their latest crisis.

 

Going back to the “SNL” clip: looking at John Mulaney and Pete Davidson, you might not think they have anything in common other than both being in comedy (and you’d actually be wrong). But they do have “The Mule,” an absurd old white man’s fever dream that they can’t stop talking about, and it brings them together. As it should.

 

What do you think? Do you have your own absurd piece of pop culture that you love to talk about with friends? Are you also very confused as to why the universe would put “Rent: Live” and the Screen Actors’ Guild Awards on the same night? So rude. Share your thoughts in the comments. And, as always…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

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

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

 

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