Golden Globes 2017 – Predictions

January 8, 2017

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The Golden Globes kick off the Oscar races and that is why I mainly watch this awards show. Sure, it’s fun to see all of the year’s most famous celebrities get together in one room, and occasionally get drunk and make a fool out of themselves. But for me, the Emmy’s are the true awards for television and the Oscars are the true awards for movies. With the Oscars nominations just around the corner (Jan. 24), the Golden Globes actually do matter a lot more than they used to.

So what is at stake? We all know that La La Land is the clear front-runner going into the awards season. There is nothing that the Golden Globes can take away from La La Land, because it’s expected to win most of its 7 nominations (the most of the night). Even if they don’t win certain categories like Best Score or Best Screenplay, that won’t hurt it at all until the guilds start announcing their winners.

The two films that do have a lot riding on the Golden Globes are Moonlight and Manchester by the Sea. These two films are fighting against the La La Land giant at the moment and can sure use the momentum by winning big at the Golden Globes to possibly upset the feel-good musical come February 26. Therefore, the two major categories to look out for during the Globes will be Best Drama Film and Best Director. If either Moonlight or Manchester by the Sea takes both of these awards, it will give it a nice boost going into the Oscar nominations. I have a feeling that Moonlight will be the film to receive this boost, but these two awards can easily be split by both films.

Here are all of my predictions for the Golden Globes…

Movies

Best Film – Drama:

Hacksaw Ridge

Hell or High Water

Lion

Manchester by the Sea

Moonlight

Prediction: Moonlight. I feel like the HFPA will go for the more daring and talked about film between critic circles, but it’s practically a toss-up between this and Manchester by the Sea.

 

Best Film – Musical or Comedy:

20th Century Women

Deadpool

Florence Foster Jenkins

La La Land

Sing Street

Prediction: This one is La La Land, end of story.

 

Best Performance in a Film – Drama

Actor:

Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea as Lee Chandler

Joel Edgerton – Loving as Richard Loving

Andrew Garfield – Hacksaw Ridge as Desmond T. Doss

Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic as Ben Cash

Denzel Washington – Fences as Troy Maxson

Prediction: I’ll go with Casey Affleck mainly because Manchester by the Sea is a real threat for Best Picture early on in the Oscar race. Denzel Washington was incredible in Fences, so if there is an upset it should be him.

 

Actress:

Amy Adams – Arrival as Dr. Louise Banks

Jessica Chastain – Miss Sloane as Elizabeth Sloane

Isabelle Huppert – Elle as Michèle Leblanc

Ruth Negga – Loving as Mildred Loving

Natalie Portman – Jackie as Jackie Kennedy

Prediction: I haven’t seen Jackie, but it’s hard not to expect Natalie Portman to win for that role. I’ll be rooting for Amy Adams here because her performance and the movie she starred in, Arrival, are going unnoticed.

 

Best Performance in a Film – Musical or Comedy

Actor:

Colin Farrell – The Lobster as David

Ryan Gosling – La La Land as Sebastian Wilder

Hugh Grant – Florence Foster Jenkins as St. Clair Bayfield

Jonah Hill – War Dogs as Efraim Diveroli

Ryan Reynolds – Deadpool as Wade Wilson/Deadpool

Prediction: Ryan Gosling because La La Land is on another level compared to any other film in the Musical/Comedy category this year. Gosling wasn’t as good as his co-star Emma Stone, but who else can the HFPA give this award to? Ryan Reynolds? Don’t make me laugh.

 

Actress:

Annette Bening – 20th Century Women as Dorothea Fields

Lily Collins – Rules Don’t Apply as Marla Mabrey

Hailee Steinfeld – The Edge of Seventeen as Nadine Franklin

Emma Stone – La La Land as Mia Dolan

Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins as Florence Foster Jenkins

Prediction: Emma Stone truly sparkled in her role in La La Land. She should win and well deserves it. But I have a soft spot for Hailee Steinfeld for her great performance in The Edge of Seventeen.

 

Best Supporting Actor:

Mahershala Ali – Moonlight as Juan

Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water as Marcus Hamilton

Simon Helberg – Florence Foster Jenkins as Cosmé McMoon

Dev Patel – Lion as Saroo Brierley

Aaron Taylor-Johnson – Nocturnal Animals as Ray Marcus

Prediction: Mahershala Ali. If Moonlight is truly as big of a player in this Oscar race like people have been suggesting, he will walk away with this award.

 

Best Supporting Actress:

Viola Davis – Fences as Rose Maxson

Naomie Harris – Moonlight as Paula

Nicole Kidman – Lion as Sue Brierley

Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures as Dorothy Vaughan

Michelle Williams – Manchester by the Sea as Randi

Prediction: Viola Davis was a powerhouse alongside Denzel Washington. She pulled enough of her weight around the screen that she could’ve and maybe should’ve been considered for a leading actress role. But in this category, she should be a clear winner.

 

Best Director:

Damien Chazelle – La La Land

Tom Ford – Nocturnal Animals

Mel Gibson – Hacksaw Ridge

Barry Jenkins – Moonlight

Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester by the Sea

Prediction: My favorite award of the Golden Globes because it’s the award that can truly match up the best films in both drama and comedy/musical categories. But to be fair, the director who has won the Best Director award at the Golden Globes, his movie has only won Best Picture at the Oscars once in the last seven years (Argo – Ben Affleck). So in hindsight, maybe you don’t want to win? Anyway, I’m predicting Barry Jenkins to win this award, just so La La Land doesn’t seem like such a clear runaway winner so early on in the Oscar race.

 

Best Screenplay:

Damien Chazelle – La La Land

Tom Ford – Nocturnal Animals

Barry Jenkins – Moonlight

Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester by the Sea

Taylor Sheridan – Hell or High Water

Prediction: Manchester by the Sea probably has the best plot and story-line of any film nominated here. That’s why I’m going with Kenneth Lonergan.

 

Best Original Score:

Nicholas Britell – Moonlight

Justin Hurwitz – La La Land

Jóhann Jóhannsson – Arrival

Dustin O’Halloran & Hauschka – Lion

Hans Zimmer, Pharrell Williams & Benjamin Wallfisch – Hidden Figures

Prediction: Doesn’t La La Land HAVE to win here? The score for the film was simply lovely.

 

Best Original Song:

“Can’t Stop the Feeling!” (Max Martin, Shellback & Justin Timberlake) – Trolls

“City of Stars” (Justin Hurwitz, Pasek & Paul) – La La Land

“Faith” (Ryan Tedder, Stevie Wonder & Francis Farewell Starlite) – Sing

“Gold” (Stephen Gaghan, Danger Mouse, Daniel Pemberton & Iggy Pop) – Gold

“How Far I’ll Go” (Lin-Manuel Miranda) – Moana

Prediction: Again, doesn’t La La Land have to win here? But to be fair, I still have “Can’t Stop the Feeling” stuck in my head from the first time I heard it. Then again, Lin-Manuel Miranda is having quite the year… could Moana upset?

 

Best Animated Feature:

Kubo and the Two Strings

Moana

My Life as a Zucchini

Sing

Zootopia

Prediction: Zootopia.

 

Best Foreign Language Film:

Divines (France)

Elle (France)

Neruda (Chile)

The Salesman (Iran/France)

Toni Erdmann (Germany)

Prediction: Elle

 

Television

Best TV Drama:

The Crown

Game of Thrones

Stranger Things

This Is Us

Westworld

Prediction: This is an awesome group of new shows, which makes this category extremely exciting. It’s hard not to pick Game of Thrones here as it’s arguably the most popular show on television, but it is surrounded by a bunch of new-comers that everyone has been talking about. Stranger Things is surely a popular pick and Westworld was the talk around every office week-after-week. But I’m going with The Crown. GoT has never won Best Drama at the Globes and likely won’t until its final season. Therefore, The Crown seems like the most appealing choice to the diverse HFPA.

 

Best TV Comedy:

Atlanta

Black-ish

Mozart in the Jungle

Transparent

Veep

Prediction: Veep is an Emmy darling, but for the Globes, they love rewarding new and refreshing shows. This year should go to Atlanta, Donald Glover’s comedy on FX.

 

Best Actor – Drama

Rami Malek – Mr. Robot as Elliot Alderson

Bob Odenkirk – Better Call Saul as James Morgan “Jimmy” McGill

Matthew Rhys – The Americans as Philip Jennings

Liev Schreiber – Ray Donovan as Raymond “Ray” Donovan

Billy Bob Thornton – Goliath as Billy McBride

Prediction: I would love to see Matthew Rhys win here, but if I was betting on this category my money would go to Rami Malek.

 

Best Actress – Drama

Caitriona Balfe – Outlander as Claire Beauchamp Randall/Fraser

Claire Foy – The Crown as Queen Elizabeth II

Keri Russell – The Americans as Elizabeth Jennings

Winona Ryder – Stranger Things as Joyce Byers

Evan Rachel Wood – Westworld as Dolores Abernathy

Prediction: Claire Foy. Done and done.

 

Best Actor – Comedy

Anthony Anderson – Black-ish as Andre “Dre” Johnson Sr.

Gael García Bernal – Mozart in the Jungle as Rodrigo De Souza

Donald Glover – Atlanta as Earnest “Earn” Marks

Nick Nolte – Graves as Richard Graves

Jeffrey Tambor – Transparent as Maura Pfefferman

Prediction: Donald Glover.

 

Best Actress – Comedy

Rachel Bloom – Crazy Ex-Girlfriend as Rebecca Nora Bunch

Julia Louis-Dreyfus – Veep as Selina Meyer

Sarah Jessica Parker – Divorce as Frances Dufresne

Issa Rae – Insecure as Issa Dee

Gina Rodriguez – Jane the Virgin as Jane Gloriana Villanueva

Tracee Ellis Ross – Black-ish as Dr. Rainbow “Bow” Johnson

Prediction: Julia Louis-Dreyfus is the safe pick here so I’ll go with her, but from Rachel Bloom to Gina Rodriguez, and Issa Rae from Insecure, this could be anyone’s to win.

 

Best Mini-series or TV Film:

American Crime

The Dresser

The Night Manager

The Night Of

The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story

Prediction: The People vs. O.J. Simpson will win here. No questions asked.

 

Best Actor – Miniseries

Riz Ahmed – The Night Of as Nasir “Naz” Khan

Bryan Cranston – All the Way as President Lyndon B. Johnson

Tom Hiddleston – The Night Manager as Jonathan Pine

John Turturro – The Night Of as John Stone

Courtney B. Vance – The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story as Johnnie Cochran

Prediction: Courtney B. Vance. Let’s get all these O.J. awards handed out early, okay?

 

Best Actress – Miniseries

Felicity Huffman – American Crime as Leslie Graham

Riley Keough – The Girlfriend Experience as Christine Reade/”Chelsea Rayne”/”Amanda Hayes”

Sarah Paulson – The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story as Marcia Clark

Charlotte Rampling – London Spy as Frances Turner

Kerry Washington – Confirmation as Anita Hill

Prediction: Sarah Paulson.

 

Best TV Supporting Actor:

Sterling K. Brown – The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story as Christopher Darden

Hugh Laurie – The Night Manager as Richard Onslow Roper

John Lithgow – The Crown as Winston Churchill

Christian Slater – Mr. Robot as Mr. Robot / Edward Alderson

John Travolta – The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story as Robert Shapiro

Prediction: John Lithgow.

 

Best TV Supporting Actress:

Olivia Colman – The Night Manager as Angela Burr

Lena Headey – Game of Thrones as Cersei Lannister

Chrissy Metz – This Is Us as Kate Pearson

Mandy Moore – This Is Us as Rebecca Pearson

Thandie Newton – Westworld as Maeve Millay

Prediction: Chrissy Metz.

 

 

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Movie Review: Manchester by the Sea

December 4, 2016

Manchester by the Sea (2016)
137 minutes
Rated – R
Starring: Casey Affleck, Kyle Chandler, Michelle Williams, Lucas Hedges
Directed by Kenneth Lonergan

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Grade: A

When given the attention and depth necessary, the location of a film could be as important as any character. In Manchester by the Sea, the large city of Manchester, New Hampshire is a well-developed and integral part to the plot with its brutal winters, its steady sea, and the close-knit community that can either pick you up or kick you further when you’re down.

We meet our anti-hero from the beginning. Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) is caring and responsible, as shown through flashbacks of spending time with his brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) and Lee’s nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges). We also see the dark side of Lee when he angrily responds to a rude woman while fixing a leak as an apartment-complex janitor, or when he gets into a fist-fight with two men at a bar. There is damage behind those weary eyes of Lee, but we don’t find out the reason until about halfway through the movie.

What we are thrown into from the get-go is the death of his brother, Joe, who was a strong and compassionate older brother to Lee throughout his life. While Joe’s death wasn’t entirely surprising to Lee and the rest of the family, what takes Lee by surprise is what is written in Joe’s will, that Lee will be the primary guardian of Patrick. In a very revealing scene as Lee is given this news, we discover the tragedy that plagues Lee’s past and his memory of Manchester.

Watching Lee and Patrick deal with the loss of their loved one differently is meaningful to both of their characters. Patrick, a high-schooler with a kind heart but also an edge that resembles both his father and uncle, provides us with a mixed reaction to his father’s death. He’s capable of hiding his sadness with his friends, girlfriends, hockey team, and rock band, but when he’s told his father would be in a freezer for months until the ground at the cemetery is soft enough, he’s unable to accept it. But seeing how Patrick handles this situation is like how a teenager would do so, with distractions and the inability to express his feelings openly. This is also the result of being raised by his father and uncle as his alcoholic mom went in and out of psych wards.

Meanwhile, what is going on in Lee’s mind and heart is much more complex. Having to deal with his brother’s death is tough enough, but coming back to the one city he never wanted to come back to was just one grain of salt in the wound. There is plenty of salt though, like hearing that his ex-wife Randi (Michelle Williams) is pregnant and struggling to keep up with the demands of his teenage nephew. But Lee tries his best to be there for Patrick, and he tries his best to make a life for himself in Manchester to keep things as normal as possible. But there are just some things that are too difficult to forget.

Some of my favorite moments throughout the film were the interactions between Casey Affleck and Lucas Hedges, who shared great chemistry as their characters dealt with a mutual sadness but a similar personality. What Kenneth Lonergan is so great at doing during this film is displaying pure honestly within all of the characters. From Lee, who is thoroughly developed, to supporting characters like Patrick’s mom, everyone is full of incredible depth and their actions ring true to their maturation. Lonergan also tackles on themes of family and tragedy in a way that doesn’t hold back any punches, even though you might be begging for a break for the sake of our anti-hero. The strength inside of Lee may not overwhelmingly be explicit to everyone who holds a conversation with him, but the way he keeps pushing himself against all of his inner turmoil and does it without complaining shows incredible ruggedness.

This film will confront your own ideals and how you would handle what Lee is going through. We have all dealt with tragedies in our lives and the way we handle them builds us to the grownups we have to become. But in the same way we attribute certain feelings to a song, we can attribute feelings to a place and a location. Sometimes when you want to escape a situation, you walk away from it, but how is that possible when everything you see reminds you of the one thing you’re trying to forget? While they say when the going gets tough, the tough gets going, it is certain that there are situations when that is simply impossible.


Fear the Walking Dead – “So Close, Yet So Far”

September 3, 2015

Season One, Episode Two

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Grade: B+

I’m trying my best not to compare Fear to The Walking Dead, but one thing has been a glaring similarity: the show kills off its black characters. It’s been a criticism since the second season of The Walking Dead, which has now killed off more than a dozen supporting characters (T-Dog, Bob, Tyreese, and Noah just to name a few). It’s only been two episodes for Fear to kill off THREE supporting black characters: Art, Matt, and Calvin. The show-runners have to be aware of this criticism, but have no intention of turning it around whatsoever.

Okay, now that’s out of my system I’ll say that I did enjoy the second episode. One thing that Fear is doing well that TWD also succeeds in is showing how sometimes people can be a lot more frightening than the undead. The world in Fear is still in the “confusion” state, but we’re quickly moving forward into the chaos stage a bit prematurely. The chaos is beginning not because the world is understanding what’s going on, it’s because it has no idea why police are shooting people point-blank. The reactions of the crowds certainly trigger some current events, but that’s the point.

One of the scenes worth acknowledging was when we saw a police officer filling his trunk with bottled water. It’s clear he, along with other authority, knows that something is happening. Whether he’s aware that a zombie apocalypse is around the corner isn’t relevant. It’s how things are escalating so fast that there’s not time for the world to figure out what’s happening. Just like Tobias said, how can you prepare for something catastrophic that’s happening the same day?

As for Tobias, I’m going to miss him. I really expected him to join Madison and her family but he’s likely aware that he has a better chance surviving on his own, since he’s the only one who seems to know exactly what’s going on. Still, the show could use his narration and voice of reason to speed everyone up to pace. What’s disappointing is how it seems like Travis’ ex-wife and teenage son, Christopher, is going to be around for at least a little while. Who knows, maybe they’ll actually be developed into great characters but as for right now, they’re the two I wish would get bit.

I’m not a fan of splitting up Madison and Travis so early on in the series. During the pilot they had great on-screen chemistry and the show will suffer without them together. At least Nick took a backseat during this episode as he was going through withdrawal. What Fear is doing well this early on in the season is engaging the audience despite us knowing what’s going to happen next. We’re witnessing the chaos alongside Madison and Travis and putting ourselves in their shoes, wondering if we would make the same decisions that they made. For now, this is as good as it can get, but can Fear keep moving forward before the shit hits the fan?

But while the streets have turned violent, there is the barber and his family who takes in Travis, Liza, and Christopher. There is something that tells me the barber is going to have more to play in this season. His wife seems to realize something bad is happening as she prays, but the barber is more alert, first to the strangers inside of his home and second to the madness that has erupted outside. It should be fun to watch how that plays out, but I’m hoping Travis makes his way back to Madison real soon.


One Episode Left: True Detective Season Two

August 5, 2015

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If you’re like me and have been trying to keep up with all of the details from the maze that True Detective Season Two has puked out for the past two months, then get in line. After re-watching the episodes and conducting plenty of research, I think I finally have some kind of grasp about what’s happening going into the finale this Sunday, which will be a 90-minute episode.

So here’s the deal. If you haven’t realized it yet, Vinci, California is insanely corrupt. There are dozens of characters that are discussed every episode that have a big part of the corruption, but it’s more difficult to remember them than the cast of Game of Thrones BECAUSE WE DON’T REMEMBER EVER SEEING THEM. Seriously, apparently one huge development in Frank Semyon’s (Vince Vaughn) story-line was how hard he took the death of Stan. If you’re wondering who the hell is/was Stan, then you’re right on the money. Stan was the guy who worked for Frank and died while having his eyes burnt out just like Caspere. Before he died, he apparently was only in TWO RANDOM SCENES. I don’t think I was alone when I said to myself, who the hell cares about this Stan guy who got killed? It’s only the natural response for the viewer who has only seen him for about one minute throughout the season. But do you know who cares? Frank cares. He cares a whole lot to the point where we have an excruciatingly long scene where he visits Stan’s family, gives the widow a bulk of cash, and has a heart-to-heart with the son who’s playing catch by himself against a wall. The trick was all on us though, because while no one gave a shit about Stan, we were stuck trying to figure out this small bit of information that essentially doesn’t matter much.

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But for what it’s worth, it does matter a little bit. In the last episode we see Frank smash Blake’s face in with a glass in slow motion, before killing him and commenting about him soiling the carpet. Before Frank killed Blake, he revealed some very important details to him and to the viewers. Blake admits to killing Stan because Stan figured out everything that Blake was doing behind Frank’s back and was going to blackmail him. Blake also was the person who gave Frank the wrong name of the rapist that Ray Velcoro sought out and killed. While Blake had his hand in the pot here and there, his only real contribution to the plot was to spit out all of this information to catch the audience up to what’s happening away from the scenes we’re forced to watch. Again, it’s pretty annoying but it gets the job done.

Okay, now that all of that Stan stuff is out of the way, I can commit this post to what I assume is the real focus of this season of True Detective, which like normal shows stems from the pilot: Who killed Ben Caspere? Caspere was the city manager in Vinci, a business partner with Frank, a patient of Dr. Irving Pitlor, and involved in a number of corrupt deals such as the sex parties, the blue diamonds, and selling the land with the Catalyst Corp. He was certainly a shady fellow who couldn’t be trusted, but also one incredibly powerful to do business with. It was reported that a person with a crow mask either murdered him, or transported his body. This takes us back to the second episode when Velcoro investigates Caspere’s secret apartment and finds a video camera linked to a hard drive. A person in the crow mask shoots Velcoro point blank with rubber bullets and after he wakes up, the hard drive is gone. That’s the second mystery throughout the season, who has the hard drive?

The hard drive has some damning evidence of very powerful men at the sex parties that Caspere had for leverage. Naturally, everyone wants the hard drive. We go through the plot where Frank desperately tries to locate the hard drive to buy himself back into the land deal, but this results in an investigation gone wrong with no further development.

Where does that leave us? Well, we find out in the last episode that those blue diamonds are a huge part to this puzzle. Back in 1992, blue diamonds worth millions were robbed by two masked men, who were Dixon (the fat, drunk cop who got killed at the Vinci massacre) and Kevin Burris (the guy who killed Paul Woodrugh – more on that later). Holloway (the main guy who met with Paul in the tunnels) and Caspere knew about the theft. What’s important about all of this is that it leads directly to the main suspects of Caspere’s murder: Laura and Leonard Osterman, who were the children of the store owners that watched their parents get killed by the masked men. Once again, here comes the frustrating part about this show. We briefly see Laura in episode three, but she went by the name Erica (one of the people they question on the movie set). She was Caspere’s assistant at the time and seemed convincingly innocent. She appears in the photograph of Caspere, Vera, Tasha and the diamonds. Since then, she has quit her job, cleaned out her apartment, and hasn’t been heard from or seen. Oh, and we know NOTHING about Leonard, that I know of at least.

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Now where do we stand going into the finale? We know that the Catalyst Corp. with Burris, Holloway, Chessani, and Osip want the Caspere murder investigation to go away. That’s why they closed the case so quickly when it seemed like Amarilla killed him (the guy at the Vinci massacre). But with this small force getting real close in uncovering the murder, everything is at stake for them including the diamond robbery-murder in 1992 along with the very profitable land deal. But it’s not looking too positive for the good guys. It seems like the group that was put together to continue the murder investigation of Caspere is fucked. Ani Bezzerides murdered that security guard at the sex party and is now wanted for her crime. The corrupt men have also framed Velcoro for the muder of Katherine Davis (Ani’s boss and the black woman found shot to death in her car when Velcoro was meeting with her). It’s likely that one of Velcoro’s guns was used in her murder to frame him.

So that really left Woodrugh as the main cop who didn’t have his hands dirty and could unveil everything, except that he was being blackmailed by the photos that Dixon took a while back. When Woodrugh received those photos, he met up with Holloway who wanted Bezzerides and Velcoro’s location. Instead, Woodrugh almost escaped before being shot in the back by Burris.

I’m honestly not too sure what to expect during the finale. I did enjoy Frank taking a bag-load of money and burning his casinos to the ground, which I’m sure he’ll pay for as he’ll try to take out Osip before leaving the country to Venezuela with Jordan. And as for Velcoro and Bezzerides, maybe their hook-up is exactly what they needed to loosen them up and for them to finish what they started. Find Laura, find out who Leonard is, and reveal the conspiracy before Burris and Holloway locate them. I cannot say that this has been a smooth ride, but it’s definitely one that I hope is worth it at the end.


Game of Thrones – “Mother’s Mercy”

June 15, 2015

Season Five, Episode Ten

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Grade: A

Pardon my language, but at the conclusion of the season five finale, the only words that I could put together to make some kind of sentence was: What the fucking fuck?

Okay, I think it’s out of my system for now. Let me start with the conclusion of the season five finale. Jon Snow has just been stabbed six times by his fellow crows, and he falls on his back as the blood pours out of his body, turning the white snow into a dark red mess. I just kept waiting and waiting for there to be a sign of hope that maybe this was all a dream. Or maybe he wasn’t about to take his last breath. But it didn’t seem like there was anything or anyone who could save him from those final moments. As the viewer, I really thought this would never happen. Sure, GoT has time and time again kicked me in the ass for expecting a major character to live a long and eventful life, but come on! This is Jon Snow! He’s been the voice of reason, the underdog among competitors, the sad misfit who’s been kicked around by everyone, and somehow throughout all of these seasons he has faced adversity and continued to conquer every obstacle thrown his way. So it’s no exaggeration that the entire GoT fan-base was in awe.

I haven’t read a single line from any of the books, but I understand from friends who have that this was where the latest book ended. So now the show and the novels are (somewhat) caught up with each other. In my opinion, that’s very exciting for the TV-viewers but disappointing for the novel-readers. But at least we can all band together and admit that this is a crucial loss, unless it isn’t! I’m sorry, but I still cannot accept that Jon Snow is gone forever. Maybe he does die, but there are elements of the show that suggests GoT has the capability to turn to magic. It took a while, but Frankenstein Mountain is alive and kicking again. And I doubt it’s coincidence that Melisandre roams into the crow camp right before he dies. While I’ve never been a fan of the Lord of Light story, it’s clear there is some real magic there. And it’s obvious that Stannis was the wrong leader to follow. Will the Lord of Light have anything to do with Snow’s possible resurrection?

As for Stannis, season five really dealt a lot with him, just to have him killed off at the end of a failed attempt to take Winterfell. I was really rooting him on up to the point where he chose to burn his daughter alive (oh how those screams still keep me up at night). But what happens here is slightly vague. Brienne steps out at the end of the battle and swings her sword at Stannis, but it’s never shown that he dies. That could mean she didn’t kill him after all, but I do honestly believe he’s dead. The last time I wanted to believe someone wasn’t dead because GoT didn’t show it immediately was Ned Stark.

So Stannis is done. Jon Snow is very likely dead. That means the Boltons have defended Winterfell and Ramsay will continue being the jackass he is. But as expected, Theon assists Sansa to try and escape. Unfortunately, this involves the bright idea to jump off the freaking wall. Are we supposed to assume that Sansa is going to survive that fall?! That would require a huge leap of faith, one that I don’t even think Sansa had when she decided to jump. But once again, we don’t see her land so we don’t know what happens. It’s just that this cannot be the last we see of Sansa. And if it is, this is definitely a weak way to go out.

Now let’s go over that extremely difficult-to-watch scene with Cersei walking through the streets to the Red Keep. If this doesn’t land Lena Headey any awards buzz then I don’t know what will. She displays such great control and ability during the scene, portraying a wide arrange of emotions until she’s finally able to let it all go when she reaches home. Cersei has never been a character who was liked, and even through this walk of shame I couldn’t feel bad for her. She has simply done too much to ever receive sympathy from me. But this is classic GoT here, taking a much-hated character and springing life into their story. It happens with Jaime Lannister, Theon, Stannis, etc. But I don’t believe one bit that Cersei has changed from all of this. She just did what she had to do to start planning how to destroy the Faith Militant.

Speaking of not able to let go, Arya finally finishes the deed of killing Meryn Trant. By doing so, she goes against everything that Jaqen H’ghar has been teaching her at the House of Black and White. And just as it seems he has killed himself, it’s all trickery. I don’t have much to really say about this story-line because there is too much unknown about the Faceless Men. I have no clue how it works and what is happening to Arya as she’s going blind, but all I know is that it has become one of the best plots in the fifth season. I’m excited to revisit Arya in the next season.

And then there is Daenerys, stranded in a far away place where Drogon is too lazy to bring her back home. I’m not sure where she thinks she was going, or how she could possibly be surprised by hundreds of Dothraki riders surrounding her in an open field, but her fate is left up in the air as well. One thing I am looking forward to for next season is the ruling of Meereen by the misfit team of Tyrion, Varys, Grey Worm, and Missandei. If there was a Big Brother After Dark series of them living together, I’d watch every second of that. Also we have our new odd-couple, road trip tandem with Jorah and Daario.

After all is said and done, we still have to return to Jon Snow. I love how GoT has felt so real at times in such a fantasy world, but that is definitely one of its strengths. But recently the role of magic is becoming greater than I anticipated. From the murdering shadow to the wildfire used at the Battle of the Blackwater; the Frankenstein Mountain to the powerful dragons; Bran’s ability as a Warg to Beric’s resurrection. There has been so much magic within GoT and I believe the sixth season will be the most magical yet. Hopefully Bran does come back so we can have answers about his prophecies, and hopefully Snow is able to come back through some kind of resurrection. I’m probably way off with this, but I really hope I’m somewhat right.

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Game of Thrones – “Hardhome”

June 2, 2015

Season Five, Episode Eight

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Grade: A

By this point, we’ve become aware of how GoT likes to progress. Its penultimate episode every season contains such memorable moments that as a viewer, the slow-burn throughout the first half of the season is tolerated with anticipation for the ending. And even though this wasn’t that far off from the penultimate episode, I’m sure we were as surprised as Jon Snow was when the white walkers stormed the wildlings camp. But let’s back up a little bit.

Leading up to this epic battle, Jon Snow along with Tormund entered Hardhome to try and convince them it’s in everyone’s best interest to team up against the walkers. It was going to be a tough sell, but as Tormund discovered himself, Snow is a very good leader and everything he says makes a lot of sense. But the wildlings are a stubborn group of people, led by the Lord of Bones who stops them in their tracks only a few meters from the dock. If there was any question that Tormund would back-stab Snow, it was squashed the moment he beat the Lord of Bones to death (this was a great, dark comic relief to get on with more important and urgent matters).

When Snow and Torumund meet with the elders to discuss the proposal, you can feel the tension building inside of the tent. The wildlings and crows have been sworn enemies for decades, and now Snow is asking for the two to fight side-by-side with each other. No one trusts each other and no one can forget the pain both have imposed, but when asked Tormund tells the wildlings that he is behind Snow on this matter. This divides the wildlings as only part of them board their ships and rafts to travel to the Wall while the rest stay behind. And this is when the fun begins.

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Unlike the last few huge battle sequences (Blackwater and at the Wall), this comes out of nowhere. GoT wasn’t leading up to this epic event like it was with Stannis storming King’s Landing and the wildlings sprinting towards the Wall. This was a surprise assault on the wildlings by the white walker army, and boy was it intense! I don’t know if I can compare the battle of Hardhome to the others quite yet, but for starters it helped that this battle mainly centered on two characters: Snow and Tormund. It made the chaotic sequences a lot more focused, but gave me a feeling that neither of them would die. Nonetheless, the showdown between Snow and the white walker was great in all fronts. The action was great, plus we learn something new: Snow’s Valyrian steel sword not only withstood the walker’s strike, but it cut through the walker and shattered him into pieces. Go Snow!

All of this happens during the last 20 or so minutes of the episode, and while this was the most heart-pounding event all season long, that didn’t mean nothing else occured during “Hardhome.” For starters, we continue where last week left off with Jorah and Tyrion in front of Daenerys. The dialogue between Tyrion and Daenerys is everything I was hoping for. She boats her thick skin and cold stare at the Lannister, whom her family has always hated. Tyrion continues with his mildly sarcastic tone, but rich with logic and advice. He soon realizes that Varys was right, there is something about Daenerys that is worth staying alive for and even helping out. Those two are going to make one hell of a team.

The central theme throughout “Hardhome” was forgetting the past and moving forward with what’s best. The Targaryens and Lannisters have never been friendly, but these two main characters figured out that they’re a lot stronger with each other than they are by themselves. The same goes for the wildlings and the crows. It’s imperative they team up with one another to stand a fighting chance against the white walkers.

Continuing one with the theme, Arya attempts to forget her identity and take on a new one, Lana, an orphan who sells oysters to learn everything she can about a gambler from Braavos. It’s always exciting to see Arya’s journey with Jaqen H’ghar and that smile on her face as she learns her mission explains everything she’s feeling.

And then back at Winterfell there’s Sansa, screaming at Theon for betraying her yet again. We get a glimmer of good from Theon, who likely does feel he’s doing the best for Sansa by not helping her escape. Like he says, Theon tried to escape but Ramsay caught him and made him pay the price. He would do the same to her. But the real moment here is when Theon admits to Sansa that he didn’t kill Bran and Rickon. Right there, you see a flickering hope in Sansa’s eyes for the first time in a long while. Maybe there is something worth fighting for now that she knows she has family out there, somewhere.

Finally, there’s Cersei, unwilling to confess her sins to the Fath Militant and finds herself rotting in prison, sucking up every last drop of water from her own prison floor. She’s someone who simply cannot escape her own past and move forward. She knows what she has done and has made plenty of poor decisions up to now. She has made enemies, but none that she hasn’t faced the consequences for. With the sparrows marching around, her plan to keep her status at King’s Landing backfired tremendously. She keeps trying to hard to maintain everything that she has lost throughout the years, but like “Hardhome” has shown, her inability to leave the past behind her has forced her inside a dark pit with no hope of getting out. While everyone else are making changes and adapting to their situation, Cersie kept on plotting for her own gain.

With only two episodes left this season, I wonder if there will be anything close to as exciting “Hardhome” was, or did GoT use up all of its budget for that one sequence. That being said, there are still plenty of things that must be addressed. Will Stannis march onto Winterfell and will the Boltons be able to fend them off? Will Jaime Lannister be able to retrieve his daughter? Can Brienne rescue Sansa? What is Ramsay’s plan where he only needs twenty men? Let’s see what kind of surprises GoT will throw our way during these final episodes of season five.

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Game of Thrones – “The House of Black and White”

April 20, 2015

Season Five, Episode Two

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Grade: B+

Power. It’s what everyone wants in Game of Thrones, but only one person can rule at a time. At this very moment, it seems like Daenerys is the most powerful in Mereen with the Unsullied (though without her dragons she loses a lot of points). Her power is why we’ve been spending so much time with her in the early going of the fifth season. It’s also the reason why Varys and Tyrion feel it’s important to travel to her. Does she really have what it takes to rule? We get a glimpse of that in this episode.

As ruler, one must always make difficult decisions that can be crucial to keeping order. There is no doubt that Daenerys is good at heart and wants the best for the world and the people who live in it, but when she has to be tough she can often let her emotions get in the way of her judgement. By all means, her decision to execute Mossador makes sense to continue the law and justice she’s trying to enforce, but he murdered the man who killed an Unsullied. Mossador has always been one of Daenerys biggest supporters, but she’s trying her best to unify the former slaves and the masters. I’m not sure if that’s going to be possible, but that’s not going to stop her from trying.

Meanwhile, Stannis rules with the way of fear. He’s tough. He knows that he’s tough and everyone else around him knows it too. It’s his fearlessness that forces people to follow him and have his way. Once you appear weak, the people will no longer respect and follow you. It’s a similar approach to how Tywin ran things, but we all saw where that got him. At the Wall, Stannis wants to promote Jon Snow away from Castle Black and as his adviser of the North as Jon Stark. He never intends to accept the offer, but is surprised when the Night’s Watch nominates him as the new Lord Commander. It was a great scene that turned Snow’s misfortunes into fortune very quickly.

As for Cersei, she’s doing her best to act the role of ruler at King’s Landing, but without much success. We all know her son isn’t fit to rule anything anytime soon, but she’ll also never have the respect of the council nor the people despite her royal name. That doesn’t leave her with much options, but for now she is most definitely the acting ruler. As for Jaime, he’s off with Bronn to Dorne to try and bring Myrcella back. Personally, I cannot wait to see more of their adventure together.

Finally, Arya gets invited into The House of Black and White with Jaqen H’gar, which should be the start to a very exciting future. What’s in store for her in Braavos? I honestly have no idea, but it’s good to know she still remembers the people she wants to kill. Oh, and that she got her coin back.

Last but not least:

– Poor Brienne. No one wants her on their side. Sexist pigs! But no, it’s the Starks who don’t trust her, which is that much more frustrating. At least she saved Podrick so we can follow them following Sansa.

– I’m still surprise how Petyr Baelish is still around and relevant. But what’s his endgame with Sansa?

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