Monday, February 20, 2017

2016 Movie Roundup

Happy Oscars Week! Some quick thoughts on the movies I saw last year:

Would Not Recommend

22. Southside With You
About as awkward as you’d expect from fanfiction about the Obamas.

21. Finding Dory

20. Ghostbusters
This was dumb, but it occasionally made me laugh.

19. The Jungle Book
I made the mistake of seeing this without having any knowledge of the book or original film. I was underwhelmed. The re-orchestrated main theme is awesome, though.

18. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

17. Sully
Not bad, but unnecessary. I thought the news coverage of this was more exciting.


16. Doctor Strange
Pretty standard superhero stuff, but the visual effects were stunning.

15. The Lobster
Like a Wes Anderson story gone horribly wrong. I enjoyed the world-building and creativity.

14. Deadpool
Crass, but genuinely funny. Welcome back, RyReyn.

13. Bridget Jones’s Baby
My one gripe about this movie is its ending; apparently they filmed 2 options, but the story seemed to build toward the one they didn’t use. Overall, though, this was delightful, and you could really hear Emma Thompson’s wit sprinkled throughout.

12. Moana
The beginning and end of this movie are superb, and “How Far I’ll Go” is my favorite of this year’s Oscar nominees for Best Original Song. But the middle with the cross-eyed chicken and singing crab and murderous pirate coconuts…

11. Captain America: Civil War
Me: Not as good as Winter Soldier, but I could watch an entire movie with just Black Panther and Spider-Man.
Marvel: We’re 2 steps ahead of you.

10. Hidden Figures
Just a hair too cheesy for my taste, but a wonderful, inspiring story nevertheless.

Must See

9. Hacksaw Ridge 
A brutal film, powered by Andrew Garfield’s sensitivity.

8. Loving
An understated, nuanced portrait of marriage. Totally underrated this awards season.

7. Zootopia
This was released last March, ostensibly for children, but I didn’t see anything else that was more intellectually stimulating. Plus those DMV sloths were iconic.

6. Rogue One
I LOVE this diverse cast---Mexican, Chinese, Black, and British-Pakistani actors play the eponymous crew of unsung heroes. It’s a stark contrast to the protagonists of the original films, and it works perfectly for this People’s History-esque chapter of Star Wars.

5. Manchester by the Sea
All-around A+ acting, in that I forgot anyone was acting at all.

4. La La Land
Dazzling, and (mostly) deserving of the hype. I can’t wait to see what Damien Chazelle comes up with next.

3. Moonlight 
Such a pure form of art---deeply personal, classically beautiful, and refreshingly original.

2. Lion
This story was both epic and intimate, and I really connected with the (sometimes conflicting) themes of belonging and finding home. Also, we need to talk about Dev Patel...

1. Arrival
In my totally subjective opinion, Arrival was the most moving, profound story of the year. The revelation in the final act still gives me chills. I’ll leave you to weep with this Max Richter piece.

Monday, July 25, 2016

2016 Emmy Predictions

Here are our predictions for the 68th Primetime Emmy Awards, brought to you by Irene and Doris. Once again, we are only covering series and acting categories because, you know, we have lives.

Outstanding Drama Series
“The Americans” (FX)
“Better Call Saul” (AMC)
“Downton Abbey” (PBS)
“Game of Thrones” (HBO)
“Homeland” (Showtime)
“House of Cards” (Netflix)
“Mr. Robot" (USA)

Will Win
Irene: How about last season’s winner, Game of Thrones?
Doris: Agreed, repeat winners seem to be pretty common.

Should Win
Irene: I really enjoyed this season of Game of Thrones. I haven’t seen season 2 of Better Call Saul yet, but if it’s a payoff to the slow burn of season 1 than it could be a good contender.
Doris: I don’t watch any of these shows but I hear Mr. Robot is great.

Irene: Where is Orange is the New Black?!
Doris: I feel like OitNB got snubbed because no one understands the Emmy rules for determining dramas vs. comedies.

Outstanding Comedy Series

Veep (HBO)
Transparent (Amazon)
Silicon Valley (HBO)
Modern Family (ABC)
Master of None (Netflix)
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
Black-ish (ABC)

Will Win
Irene: Now that Veep has broken Modern Family’s stranglehold, I’m betting it will win this for the foreseeable future.
Doris: Agreed.

Should Win
Irene: Veep is truly hilarious, but I’m going to always look forward to the week I spend binge-watching Kimmy Schmidt.
Doris: To me, Master of None is the smartest show currently on the air (I’m using that term loosely), with its incredibly thoughtful and surprisingly heartfelt take on modern life. It could’ve easily veered into “oh those silly millennials” territory but instead it feels so relatable, especially for young POCs like me. I don’t think Master of None has the star power or mainstream appeal to beat out a powerhouse like Veep, but I’ll be pulling for it nonetheless.

Irene: Words I never thought I would say: Where is the CW?! Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is one of my favorite shows and had no weak episodes its first season. I haven’t seen season 2 of Jane the Virgin, but season 1 was a delight. As for other networks, it’s not like they’re going to start nominating The Middle now that it’s entering its 8th season, but it has been quietly excellent and consistent for its entire run.
Doris: I was skeptical at first, but last month I binge-watched both seasons of Fresh Off The Boat and am now a fan. This year’s eligible season (S2) is not as strong and fresh as the previous season, but to all you Modern Family fans: watch this instead.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Kyle Chandler (Bloodline)
Rami Malek (Mr. Robot)
Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul)
Matthew Rhys (The Americans)
Liev Schreiber (Ray Donovan)
Kevin Spacey (House of Cards)

Will Win
Irene: I believe none of these actors have ever won an Emmy for these roles (although Kyle Chandler did win for Friday Night Lights.) Given the Emmy love for Breaking Bad, maybe Bob Odenkirk?
Doris: Maybe it’s finally Kevin Spacey’s time for the spotlight?

Should Win
Irene: Never seen Bloodline, but after a recent Friday Night Lights binge I support Coach Taylor in all endeavors.
Doris: Alicia sends Rami Malek her love.

Irene: The only dramas I watch are Game of Thrones (all supporting actors) and Orange is the New Black (mostly female cast.) Any suggestions?
Doris: Nope, as I don’t watch any dramas any more.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Viola Davis (How to Get Away With Murder)
Claire Danes (Homeland)
Taraji P. Henson (Empire)
Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black)
Keri Russell (The Americans)
Robin Wright (House of Cards)

Will Win
Irene: My notoriously unreliable gut instincts are telling me to go with Claire Danes.
Doris: I’d be surprised if that happened, since Homeland has lost its sparkle. This is a tricky category, but I’m going to play it safe and guess last year’s winner, Viola Davis.

Should Win
Irene: I wouldn’t mind seeing another Viola Davis acceptance speech. Plus, Tatiana Maslany deserves recognition for developing so many distinct characters.
Doris: Tatiana Maslany works so hard! And the internet (my hometown Tumblr especially) loves her.

Irene: Maybe Taylor Schilling for Orange is the New Black? Piper can be unlikeable and annoying, but intentionally so, and Schilling doesn’t always get enough credit for her work.
Doris: No one really comes to mind.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Anthony Anderson (Black-ish)
Aziz Ansari (Master of None)
Will Forte (The Last Man on Earth)
William H. Macy (Shameless)
Thomas Middleditch (Silicon Valley)
Jeffrey Tambor (Transparent)

Will Win
Irene: I’m going to concur with Aziz Ansari’s Golden Gobes gag: “Losing to Jeffrey Tambor with Dignity.”
Doris: Agreed.

Should Win
Irene: I’ve heard great things about Jeffrey Tambor on Transparent. I loved Master of None, but I feel like its strongest aspects were its writing and general philosophy rather than the acting.
Doris: While that’s true (I suspect Aziz is personally more invested in his writing, directing, and series nominations), I would be thrilled by a win for Aziz in any category.

Irene: Jake Johnson as my favorite semi-useless dude on New Girl.
Doris: I’m still catching up on the last season of New Girl but yes, Jake Johnson cracks me up as Nick perhaps more than any other actor on TV.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Ellie Kemper (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep)
Laurie Metcalf (Getting On)
Tracee Ellis Ross (Black-ish)
Amy Schumer (Inside Amy Schumer)
Lily Tomlin (Grace and Frankie)

Will Win
Irene: Where will Julia Louis-Dreyfus find room for this Emmy?
Doris: I will be genuinely shocked if JLD doesn’t win again.

Should Win
Irene: Ellie Kemper has a deceivingly difficult job as Kimmy Schmidt. The character could easily be cloying, but Kemper imbues her with a genuine enthusiasm that makes the childlike Kimmy someone you would actually want to wander New York City with.
Doris: The only show I watch of these is Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and Ellie Kemper is a gem.

Irene: All the actresses listed are talented and deserving, but I wish they could make room for Rachel Bloom (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin), Constance Wu (Fresh off the Boat) and Mindy Kaling (The Mindy Project.)
Doris: Constance Wu! My new hero and the internet’s mom!

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Jonathan Banks (Better Call Saul)
Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones)
Kit Harington (Game of Thrones)
Michael Kelly (House of Cards)
Ben Mendelsohn (Bloodline)
Jon Voight (Ray Donovan)

Will Win
Irene: Peter Dinklage.
Doris: Agreed, and I bet he does a half-classy, half-sassy shout-out to Kit Harington. Something along the lines of “you’re truly remarkable and gifted in this role, Kit, but I still beat you, haha.”

Should Win
Irene: Peter Dinklage, if only for his delivery of “I drink, and I know things.”
Doris: I’m enjoying my little daydream of Peter Dinklage’s acceptance speech.

Irene: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau continues to find new depths to Jaime Lannister.
Doris: I’ll believe it.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones)
Lena Headey (Game of Thrones)
Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey)
Maura Tierney (The Affair)
Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones)
Constance Zimmer (UnREAL)

Will Win
Irene: One last Emmy for the Dowager Countess?
Doris: Wait, do you guys remember the time Joanne Froggatt randomly won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress in anything TV-related in 2014? Ha, good times. But yes, let’s go with previous winner Maggie Smith.

Should Win
Irene: Lena Headey gives me serious chills as the increasingly villainous Cersei Lannister.
Doris: Wait, I just saw Maisie Williams’s name on the list! She’s 19! She’s not going to win but I’m so pleased for her.

Irene: The whole supporting cast of Orange is the New Black, but especially Uzo Aduba (last year’s winner!)
Doris: Yeah, what’s with that?

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Louie Anderson (Baskets)
Andre Braugher (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
Ty Burrell (Modern Family)
Tituss Burgess (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt)
Tony Hale (Veep)
Keegan-Michael Key (Key and Peele)
Matt Walsh (Veep)

Will Win
Irene: Tony Hale
Doris: Tony Hale and Ty Burrell have been passing it between each other in recent years. I can’t imagine Modern Family winning anything any more, so I will be lame and also guess Tony Hale.

Should Win
Irene: Tituss Burgess, aka the world’s best Yelp reviewer.
Doris: Tituss!

Irene: Another CW shoutout: Jaime Camil (Jane the Virgin) as hyper-confident Rogelio, plus Vincent Rodriguez III (Crazy Ex Girlfriend) for giving us the gift of a boy band made up of four Joshes.
Doris: I will always laugh heartily at the performances from all the men of New Girl.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Anna Chlumsky (Veep)
Gaby Hoffmann (Transparent)
Allison Janney (Mom)
Judith Light (Transparent)
Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live)
Niecy Nash (Getting On)

Will Win
Irene: Who has a bigger trophy case - Allison Janney or Julia Louis-Dreyfus?
Doris: I’m getting tired of picking previous winners. Live a little, Emmy voters! I’m going to have a tiny stroke and predict Anna Chlumsky instead of the usual Allison Janney.

Should Win
Irene: Kate McKinnon 4eva.
Doris: Kate is my fave.

Irene: Donna Lynne Champlin (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), Jane Krakowski (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), and Eden Sher (The Middle.)
Doris: Jane Krakowski was pretty terrific on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and a lot more interesting than in the previous season.

See you Sunday, September 18, 2016!

As of 9/18/16: Doris here - Irene and I each got 5/10 right. In several cases, of the ones we guessed incorrectly, we pessimistically picked a repeat winner over the person we wanted to win, who actually ended up winning (e.g., Tatiana Maslany and Kate McKinnon). So yay for the Emmys proving us cynics wrong!