Heather Watches The 2017 Oscars

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It’s finally Oscar time – the Super Bowl for movie lovers. I ended my Oscar Death Race strong, binging 10 movies between Friday night and the Oscar kickoff show. This was a diverse year for movies, not only in the greatly improved ethnic diversity in the acting categories (#Oscarslesswhite) but also in the types of movies that were nominated. The Best Picture nominees cross many genres, more that they have done in recent years. There was also diversity in the acting categories in that many of the performances recognized in these categories were from movies that were not nominated for many other categories; this is especially true in the Best Actress category. This also made the Oscar Death Race a little harder this year, because it increased the number of movies that I needed to watch. I made it through a whopping 32 movies, which ain’t too shabby. If I had another week or so, I might have been able to finish. The quest continues.

As usual, I kept a running diary of my thoughts while watching the Oscar ceremony. And, as usual, I skipped the red carpet coverage because that’s not my jam; I don’t care much what people are wearing and my tolerance for pointless small talk is pretty low. I’m here to see who takes home the hardware. Let’s do this!

8:29 pm – Why does this nonsense start so late? This is one of the few times that I wish that I lived on the West Coast. It’s going to be a long night.

8:30 – Justin Timberlake kicks things off with a performance of “Can’t Stop This Feeling,” his nominated song from Trolls.

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8:32 – Man, people in Hollywood really love grooving to JT.

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8:33 – He couldn’t have thrown the rest of *NSYNC a bone and have him back him up?

8:34 – JT touched Ryan Gosling as he danced through the audience, so that was a mini-Mickey Mouse Club reunion for some of y’all.

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8:35 – Not sure what was up with JT throwing that microphone across the stage. That was weird.

8:36 – LOL – shots fired at Mel Gibson.

8:37 – I’m guessing that this is leading up to a Matt Damon joke.

8:37 – Yup.

8:38 – “He went on to make a Chinese ponytail movie instead.”

8:38 – Kimmel’s not wrong – Trump makes the Oscars look less racist.

8:39 – “Black people saved NASA and white people saved jazz. That’s what I call progress.”

8:40 – That “happy ending” joke about Moonlight didn’t land.

8:41 – “We don’t discriminate in Hollywood over where you come from. We discriminate based on age and weight.”

8:43 – “Meryl Streep has phoned it in for more than 50 films over the course of her lackluster career.”

8:44 – She gets an “undeserved” standing ovation.

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8:45 – “Nice dress. Is that an Ivanka?”

8:46: “It’s what most parents are still doing….supporting actors”

8:47 – Alicia Vikander here to present Best Supporting Actor. I have this going to Mahershala Ali, but this is a strong category overall.

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8:48 – I would have also liked to see little Sunny Pawar get recognized for Lion. That kid is incredible in that movie.

8:50 – 1/1 – Congrats to Mahershala Ali for a stunning performance in Moonlight. I am tremendously happy for him. And he’s the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar.

Mahershala Ali accepts the award for best actor in a supporting role for "Moonlight" at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

(Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

8:51 – Thanking teachers is always a good move

8:52 – What a week for him– an Oscar and a new daughter in four days.

8:55 – Kimmel throws out any reporters. “We don’t like fake news. We like fake tans”

8:56 – Kate McKinnon and Jason Bateman here to present Best Makeup and Hairstyling.

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8:56 – Sweet baby Jesus – Suicide Squad is now an Oscar winner. That just doesn’t seem right. I’m down to 1 out of 2.

8:59 – They at least dedicate the award to all the immigrants.

9:00 – McKinnon and Bateman back to present Best Costume Design. I went La La Land on this.

9:01 – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them wins instead. Oh well 1/3. Let’s hope this isn’t the beginning of a La La Land backlash or my predictions are for crap.

9:07 – “Doctor Strange was named Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.”

9:07 – The ladies of Hidden Figures (Janelle Monae, Taraji P. Henson, and Octavia Spencer) are here to present Best Documentary Feature.

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9:09 – They bring out the real Katherine Johnson (portrayed by Henson in the film). She gets a standing ovation.

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9:10 – Fun fact – the Documentary category has the greatest diversity behind the camera. 4/5 directors in this category are people of color.

9:11 – A win for OJ: Made in America. I’m back on track. 2/4 This is an incredible documentary; well worth the time investment.

9:12 – He dedicates the award to Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman, as well as victims of police brutality.

9:13 – Kimmel: “OJ, you get an extra slice of bologna on your sandwich tonight.” The crowd doesn’t know how to react.

9:14 – Dwayne Johnson is here. And he’s singing! Well, briefly.

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9:15 – He’s here to introduce “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana. Prologue by Lin-Manuel Miranda, performance by Auli’I Cravalho.

9:17 – I’m pretty sure one of the performers just knocked her in the head with the fabric. Get it together backup performers. She handled it like a pro though.

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9:18 – She did a very nice job.

9:19 – Did I just hear that right? These commercials feature short films based on a Walmart receipt? Glad it isn’t my receipt – that short film would be “This girl buys too much ice cream and beer.”

9:22 – The people handing out awards are actually student Oscar winners.

9:23 – “A rare thing these days – a president that believes in arts and sciences.” Here’s Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs. This is her #Oscarslesswhite speech.

9:25 – Red Vines and Junior Mints are raining down from the sky. Those aren’t even good candies!

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9:26 – Chris Evans and Sophia Boutella here to present Best Sound Editing. I picked Hacksaw Ridge since War movies tend to win these awards.

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9:27 – A win for Arrival. Good for them, bad for me. 2/5

9:29 – Evans and Boutella return to present Best Sound Mixing. I boycotted this category because I didn’t want to have to watch Rouge One. That’s how strongly I feel about anything Star Wars related.

9:30 – Damn. Hacksaw Ridge won this one instead. I was right in theory, just picked the wrong category.

9:31 – Kevin O’Connell, one of the winners, just ended the longest Oscar-losing streak. This is his first win after being nominated 20 times. Good for him. That’s a nice story.

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9:36 – “The story of a conscientious objector who still worked with Mel Gibson.”

9:36 – Vince Vaughn here to talk about the lifetime achievement awards.

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9:36 – Jackie Chan was a winner – and has a stuffed panda sitting next to him in the box for some reason. (More on the panda)

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9:38 – Other lifetime award winners were Anne Coates, Lynn Stalmaster, and Frederick Wiseman

9:40 – Mark Rylance is here to present Best Actress in a Supporting Role. He’s wearing a sweet hat.

Mark Rylance, right, presents Viola Davis with the award for best actress in a supporting role for "Fences" at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

(Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

9:42 – Obviously Viola Davis is going to win but I really wish Michelle Williams could also get an award. That scene they showed still wrecks me.

9:44 – That would have been anarchy if she didn’t win. Congrats to Viola Davis! She’s about to give a great speech. I can feel it. 3/6

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9:46 – As usual, she’s flawless. And she just became the first black actor to win and Oscar, Emmy and Tony for acting. How do we get this woman a Grammy?

9:46 – Denzel gets an “O Captain, my captain.”

9:47 – True story – if I ever win an award, I’m going to see if I can get Viola Davis to give the speech for me.

9:47 – Did they just play “The Heat is On” as she walked off the stage? That was a peculiar choice.

9:54 – Whoa – they are surprising a tour bus group by bringing them into the Oscars. This could go either way.

9:55 – The Oscars apparently have a theme (like the prom?) so Charlize Theron talks about her inspiration Shirley MacLaine.

9:55 – Now the two of them are here to present Best Foreign Film. I had to punt this category since too many of them weren’t easily available for me to see.

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9:56 – Ha! Shirley MacLaine makes a joke about her belief in reincarnation. That’s an oldie but a goodie.

9:58 – The Salesman win, which I really wanted to see. I enjoyed his film A Separation a lot.

9:58 – The director, Asghar Farhadi,  did not attend, a protest of Trump’s Muslim Ban. He sent a statement instead, which was important and also gracious. It was read by Anousheh Ansari, the first Iranian to go in to space.

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10:00 – Dev Patel presents “The Empty Chair” from Jim: The James Foley Story, performed by Sting.

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10:01 – I’m relatively meh on Sting overall but this is a beautiful song. Still have to watch the documentary that it’s from.

10:07 – Hailee Steinfeld and Gael García Bernal are here to present Best Animated Short. I didn’t see these either. Sacrifices had to be made, but I’m guessing Piper wins since that had some buzz.

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10:09 – I’m a good guesser.

10:10 – Steinfeld and Bernal are back to present Best Animated Film. I didn’t see all of these either, but I really have to recommend Kudo and the Two Strings. That was really great. Moana was good too, but doesn’t need the bump.

10:11 – Zootopia takes home the gold. I’ll have to watch it now. I’ve heard good things.

10:13 – Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson present Best Production Design. I went La La Land on this one too; that was my general fallback position on the technical awards.

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10:14 – Thank goodness! I was getting worried that Suicide Squad had more Oscars than La La Land. 4/7

10:16 – Here comes the tourists!

10:17 – The audience yelled Merhershala on the count of three.

10:17 – These tourists seem pretty nonplussed about all this.

10:18 – I love that Ryan Gosling is shaking everyone’s hand.

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10:19 – This tourist Gary is stealing the show. He’s kissing everyone’s hand.

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10:20 – I would believe that Denzel has the power to marry people.

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10:20 – Jennifer Aniston gives her sunglasses as a wedding present.

10:20 “This is not a vagrant, this is Academy Award nominated actor Casey Affleck.”

10:20 – “Ignore the jerk behind him”

10:22 – That segment was fine, but it went on too long. Should have just been Gary and his fiancée (maybe now wife?) Vicki.

10:28 – A return from commercial break with…a tribute to the movies. Now with more subtitles, which Middle America just loves.

10:29 – Felicity Jones and Riz Ahmed are here to present Best Visual Effects. I picked The Jungle Book. But this is a good time to put in another plug for Kubo and the Two Strings.

10:31 – Whoo-who! Jungle Book wins! 5/8

10:33 – Seth Rogen was inspired by Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future. I bet I can predict what’s about to happen next.

10:33 – Yup – here’s Rogen and Fox, who arrive in a DeLorean (that last part is a surprise).

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10:35 – Rogen even has future shoes.

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10:35 – “All I have to do is sing the Schuyler Sister and I’ll have completed my bucket list.”

10:35 – Lin-Manuel Miranda is freaking delighted by this bit, but in fairness he’s delighted by everything.

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10:35 – Fox and Rogen are here to present Best Film Editing. Assume I went La La Land.

10:37 – Nope – Hacksaw Ridge wins. That was my least favorite of all the Best Picture nominees. I’m not a war movie girl. I didn’t like Saving Private Ryan, which is blasphemy to a lot of people. 5/9

10:38 – Yay! It’s my pal Sunny Pawar.

10:39 – They are Lion King-ing this kid and more candy falls from the sky.

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10:39 – Sunny requested Lemonheads and Mike & Ikes which is even more of a reason to like this kid. #teammikeandike

10:43 – Salma Heyek and David Oyelowo here to present Best Documentary Short. I have never seen these. They are tough to find. I’ve heard of White Helmets so that would be my guess.

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10:44 – I should stop wasting time actually watching these movies and just guess. White Helmets for the win.

10:45 – This is a big night for people reading statements from others.

10:46 – That was a nice statement, but that guy also just tricked everyone into giving him a standing ovation.

10:47 – Hayek and Oyelowo are back to present Best Live Action Short. I had to skip these too this year, which is too bad as I really enjoy them. Just ran out of time.

10:47 – Sing wins. I hadn’t heard much about these nominees, but will have to check it out. And no, it’s not the animated film.

10:49 – Kimmel is worried that Trump hasn’t tweeted about the Oscars, so he sends Donald tweets.

10:50 – John Cho and Leslie Mann are here to talk about the sci-tech awards, which already happened (and which they hosted).

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10:56 – Ummm….do I want to know why Jack the Ripper is trending on Twitter?

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10:56 – Here’s Javier Bardem talking about his inspiration Meryl Streep.

10:57 – And what do you know – here are Bardem and Streep to present Best Cinematography. Y’all know what I picked. And this category is the damn reason I had to watch Silence, which was fine but I would rather watched at home.

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10:59 – Whew – La La Land. We’re back in business. 6/10

11:01 – Kimmel sends his sympathies for what happened in Sweden (nothing happened in Sweden).

11:01 – Oscar Mean Tweets. Not my favorite bit. Though that dog did look like Tilda Swinton.

11:02 – And I’m totally willing to believe that Miles Teller requests “Gangnam Style” at weddings.

11:03 – Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone here to, I don’t know, look gorgeous?

Ryan Gosling, left, and Emma Stone introduce a performance at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

(Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

11:03 – Nah – they are introducing songs from La La Land, which john Legend is performing.

11:05 – The set design is great.

11:12 – Jimmy Kimmel chats with Lin-Manuel Miranda in the audience.

11:12 – Matt Damon trips Kimmel as he walks down the aisle.

11:13 – Samuel L. Jackson here to present Best Original Score.

11:13 – Why is the camera shot so far away? A close-up would make more sense here, not a wide shot. Though Jackson’s jacket is pretty cool.

11:15 – The Oscar goes to La La Land. Because if your movie is a musical and you can’t win this, maybe rethink your career choices.7/11

11:16 – Scarlett Johansson is here to present the award for Best Original Song.

Scarlett Johansson arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

(Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

11:17 – And the winner is “City of Stars” from La La Land. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s EGOT will have to wait. 7/12

11:18 – “This is dedicated to all the kids who sing in the rain and all the moms who let them.”

11:19 – Jennifer Aniston pulls the downer slot and introduces the “In Memoriam” segment.

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11:20 – Sara Bareilles performs “Both Sides Now” by Joni Mitchell.

11:21 – So many people died in 2016 that this may take forever. *Update – they messed this up too, using the photo of a woman who is still alive in the montage. These Oscars are a hot mess.*

11:24 – Carrie Fisher pulls the power position of being the final person, upstaging her mom. Something kind of poetic about that, given their relationship.

11:27 – Kimmel pokes fun of the inspiration theme by talking about Matt Damon in We Bought a Zoo.

11:29 – “Two-time Academy Award winner Ben Affleck and guest” are here to present Best Original Screenplay.

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11:29 – Matt Damon is being played off as he is presenting.

11:30 – I picked The Lobster since this award tends to recognize the stuff that is too weird to win in other categories. I don’t think it will win, but I like the idea of that.

11:31 – Nope. Manchester By the Sea wins. I’m not counting this against me though since I was making picks based on my preferences. Plus no one cares how many I got right other than me.

11:33 – Amy Adams is here to present Best Adapted Screenplay. She should have been nominated for Arrival.

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11:33 – Not for nothing, this ceremony was supposed to end three minutes ago.

11:34 – Hooray! A win for Moonlight!!!!! GO SEE THIS MOVIE! It was so good I couldn’t find the words to review it.

11:36 – Now cookies and doughnuts have rained down on the crowd. “It’s like a horror movie – gluten is literally falling from the sky.”

11:37 – No one gets more excited for food at these ceremonies than Taraji P. Henson. She has the best reactions.

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11:38 – If I ever host the Oscars, everyone is getting In-N-Out burgers (animal style) and Roscoe’s chicken and waffles.

11:41 – Halle Berry is here to present Best Director. This will be telling. If Damien Chazelle doesn’t win, that could be trouble for La La Land.

Halle Berry presents the award for best director at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

(Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

11:43 – And Chazelle comes up with the win. This dude is 32 freaking years old. I’ve done nothing with my life.

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11:47 – Brie Larson will present the award for Best Actor. I’m still not sure how this one is going to shake out. I think it’s between Casey Affleck and Denzel Washington.

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11:49 – They chose Ryan Gosling “mansplaining” jazz to Emma Stone as his clip? That’s like the worst scene in the film.

11:51 – Casey Affleck pulls it off. His performance is tremendous – he does so much in that film, so quietly. But the allegations made against him shouldn’t fade away because of this.

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11:54 – Leonardo DiCaprio presents the award for Best Actress.

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11:54 – I’m almost rooting for Natalie Portman to win just because she isn’t there and that would speed this whole thing up.

11:55 – Elle is a film that I still don’t know what I think about it. Isabelle Huppert was compelling to watch, but I think the fact that entire film is in French hurts her chances.

11:57 – Emma Stone wins for La La Land. She made that movie and gave the performance of her career, so this is worthy.

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12:02 – Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway are here to present the award for Best Picture. This is a reminder that I still haven’t seen Bonnie and Clyde.

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12:08 – La La Land finishes strong and takes home Best Picture. But you should still see Moonlight.

12:11 – Hold up. What is happening? Did Moonlight really win? Did Warren Beatty f*ck this up? Are they calling an audible? Did someone hear about my fantasy ballot?

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12:11 – OMG – they gave them the wrong envelope with the Best Actress winner instead. La La Land didn’t win.

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12:12 – OMG – Moonlight did actually win?

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12:13 – This is real life. Moonlight won! Hooray!

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12:13 – This is what happens when they don’t do the bit where they thank the accountants.

12:13 – But how completely heartbreaking for the La La Land folks. They were gracious but that is just devastating. And how terrible for Moonlight that their big moment is marred by this awkwardness. And Warren Beatty was set up to fail. Just a disaster for everyone involved.

12:13 – Did Gary have something to do with all this?

12:14 – Well, I guess that’s why you watch until the end. People who turned off the TV after the announcement are going to be so confused tomorrow morning.

This puts things in terms that I am familiar with:

What a wild finish! People say that the Oscars are boring, but that was a straight up bananas ending. At least Steve Harvey is off the hook.

Pop Culture Odds and Ends – Hulu Binge Edition

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Last weekend all my plans fell through, so I had a lot of free time on my hands. That is both a good and a bad thing, as I am a person who enjoys being on the move and being busy, but sometimes you need to slow down to catch your breath. So much to the annoyance of my knockoff fitbit, I spend most of the weekend sitting – either in the movie theater (I saw three movies) or on my couch. This seemed like as good a time as any to check out some network comedies that I had heard a lot about – The Good Place and Black-ish, both of which were available on Hulu. I enjoyed both of them a lot – I started with The Good Place since it only had 12 episodes and I’d heard rumblings of a game-changing season finale that I didn’t want to get spoiled for me.  I’m still working my way through Black-ish, since I decided to start with the pilot episode and then work my way through to the current season. I still have a ways to go – network seasons are so long! – but it’s been an enjoyable ride. I really need new shows like a hole in the head, but I’m glad I tried them both.

I’m also glad that it’s Wednesday, which is everyone’s favorite day on the blog – pop culture roundup day! As usual, I’ve looked high and low to curate the best that the world of pop culture news of the last week. So get yourself caught up on all the exciting news that you might have missed.

Television

 

Movies

 

 

Trailers

  • The final Beauty and the Beast trailer:

 

  • Broadchurch, season 3:

 

  • Bates Motel, the final season:

 

  • The Assignment:

 

  • My Cousin Rachel:

 

  • Catfight:

 

  • Beyond The Edge:

 

  • When The Street Lights Go On:

 

  • Claws:

 

  • 13 Reasons Why:

 

  • Love, season 2:

 

  • In Dubious Battle:

 

  • Wolves:

 

  • Trumped:

 

  • Bokeh:

 

  • Imperial Dreams:

 

Music

Books

Stand-up

Theater

Odds and Ends

 

Mashups and Supercuts

  • The twitter account @WinnieDancing has turned Winnie the Pooh into a dancing machine:

 

 

 

  • The Arthur theme like you’ve never heard it before:

 

 

  • All the movie references in La La Land:

 

  • “Poker Face” gets a Big Band-style makeover:

 

  • Migos rapping a children’s book:

La La Land – A Review

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Every year, I look forward to my traditional “Oscar Death Race” where I try to see every movie and performance nominated in every category of the Academy Awards. It’s a quixotic task that I’ve never completed, but I like that it gives me a project during the cold winter months where my first instinct is to hibernate and when pop culture is still emerging from its holiday hiatus. It also usually guarantees that I’ll see some pretty stellar movies. Generally, movies that are nominated are of the best quality, though there are occasionally movies that I hate so much that I am still angry that I was forced to watch them years after the fact (War Horse and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, I’m looking at you). So as much as I’ll complain when I’m trying to track down a film that is in purgatory – not in wide release but also not available yet on streaming – it’s a challenge that I revel in.

The only real downside of the Oscar Death Race is that many of the movies nominated range from slightly depressing to soul crushing, so the whole endeavor can be quite a downer after a while. I’m all for serious films, but my self-imposed immersion in Oscar nominees means I’m spending a lot of time with death, racism, Nazis, complicated relationships, tragedy and similarly uplifting plots with nary a comedy anywhere to be seen.  The animated features often the best chance at reprieve, but are also films that I’m likely to have watched already earlier in the year. So by the end, it can kind of feel like slog.

But every once in a while, along comes a movie like La La Land that is so charming and joyous that I was literally sitting in the theater with a big old smile on my face. Given my love of musicals this movie was obviously going to be in my wheelhouse, but I was completely delighted by La La Land from the very opening sequence, which doesn’t even feature Ryan Gosling or Emma Stone. The film is gorgeously shot and possibly one of the only potential Oscar nominees that puts you in a better mood than you were before you were watching it. I won’t be surprised if this film is a frontrunner for both Best Picture and Best Director for the Academy Awards. This movie just made me happy.

La La Land is something of a mashup; it has a lot of elements (and pays tribute to) some old school movie musicals of the 1950s, but it is set in modern day. That last part is easy to forget, given the costuming and lushness of the film. When someone takes out a cell phone, it’s almost jarring. The plot is also something that is more at home in the movies of the past: Sebastian (Gosling) is a jazz musician purist that is working on opening up his dream jazz club that pays tributes to artists of the past, while Mia (Stone) is a struggling actress working at the coffee shop on the studio lot. They meet-cute – or actually meet-less-than-cute – in LA and fall in love, occasionally breaking into song and dance along the way. But can they find a way to balance their love and still chase their dreams?

What I was most curious about with La La Land was how Ryan Gosling would fare. Sure, he did his stint on The Mickey Mouse Club when he was a kid, but that was a long time ago. Could he hold his own in a movie that required singing and dancing? Emma Stone was something of a known quantity, since she’s been on Broadway in Cabaret, but I really had no idea what to expect from Gosling. While he’s not the world’s best singer or dancer, he does a fine job in this movie. In fact, soft shoeing Gosling may be my new favorite type of Gosling. His innate charm and his chemistry with Stone elevates what he may be lacking in other areas. This is the third time that the duo has worked together and I hope it’s not the last.  I don’t see Gosling running out to cut an album or anything, but he is more than serviceable; I wouldn’t call this a Russell Crowe in Les Miserables-type situation. You can’t help but fall in love with Sebastian as Mia does.

Gosling is definitely good in this movie, but La La Land belongs to Emma Stone. She is transcendent and elevates the character of Mia beyond what is written for her. You cannot take your eyes of her and her energy and charisma help bring this movie alive. She’s so great that you don’t recognize right away that there isn’t really much character development for Mia; the viewers don’t have a fully realized image of Sebastian either, but Mia is even more flimsily written. Played by a less committed and talented actress, this flaw of La La Land would immediately be obvious. But Stone’s performance distracts you and makes way more out of Mia than we had any right to expect. La La Land isn’t a movie with a lot of depth – perhaps by design – but don’t tell that to Stone. She is so expressive and dedicated that she basically single-handedly wills Mia into a three-dimensional person rather than just an archetype. This could easily be one of her best performances to date.

Beyond the great performances, visually this is a stunning movie. The color palette of the film is gorgeous and much of the film has a dreamlike quality to it. It’s almost incomprehensible to me that director Damien Chazelle is also responsible for the film Whiplash. Tonally, these movies could not be more different and while I really liked Whiplash, you do not walk out of that film thinking that this is a guy who should attempt a musical. Chazelle and his crew are flawlessly able to capture the feeling of a vintage musical in La La Land; at one point, Sebastian and Mia visit the Griffith Observatory after watching Rebel Without a Cause and it almost feels like that sequence is simply an extension of the classic James Dean film. And not for nothing, but I would kill for Emma Stone’s wardrobe in this film (and the ability to look as great as she does).

I’d actually call La La Land musical-adjace, since I was disappointed that there wasn’t more singing and dancing. I would have been perfectly on board with them bursting into song or a two-step with more frequency. Perhaps I just go to see too many shows on Broadway and that shifted my expectations. It didn’t really hurt my enjoyment of the film, but I was having so much fun with the musical numbers that I was hungry for more.

As much as I was utterly charmed by La La Land, the film does have some flaw. As previously discussed, the characters are underwritten at best and complete archetypes at worst. There is a scene of Sebastian “mansplaining” jazz to Mia that it was a little hard to not roll your eyes at. Whenever Stone isn’t on screen, the move seems a little less exciting. I like John Legend just fine, but the entire storyline with Sebastian’s role in his band was just not as exciting to me. But overall, La La Land was just a joyous movie experience at a time when joyous movie experiences are hard to come by. It’s pure escapism and it’s done well. Since Hollywood loves nothing more than a feel-good story that pays tribute to Hollywood, I’m guessing that this film will resonate with a lot of Oscar voters. La La Land is the most fun that I’ve had at the movies in a long time; I don’t think you even have to like musicals to be enchanted by La La Land, though it certainly doesn’t hurt if you are a fan of the genre. La La Land is simply a delight.