Golden Globes 2017 – Predictions

January 8, 2017

golden-globes-trophies

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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Galavant – “Pilot” / “Joust Friends”

January 7, 2015

Season One, Episode One / Two

galavant-pilot

Grade: B-

Welcome to ABC’s new musical series, based in medieval times with a handful of goofy, silly characters that will remind you of Monty Python and the Holy Grail and The Princess Bride. The opening number gives you the entire story you need to know before it begins. The handsome hero, Galavant, has his beautiful lover, Madalena, taken away from him by the rich and spoiled King Richard. As he travels to take her back before they marry, Madalena decides to stay with King Richard because of his wealth, breaking Galavant’s heart. It’s certainly nothing new, but it’s still a lot of fun.

And then things start to take a turn from what we expected. Galavant turns into a drunk, unable to cope with the loss of his love and has abandoned his way of being a notorious fighter and a lovable hero. Meanwhile, King Richard isn’t really the evil man we suspected. Instead, he’s a highly sensitive pushover during most situations, usually pouting and crying like a child when he doesn’t get his way. We also find out that Madalena is quite the cold bitch, demanding the priceless jewel from the land of Valencia. This becomes part of the main plot that I’ll explain soon.

I felt a mixed reaction to the first two episodes, mainly because I can certainly enjoy the goofy, fun tone of the series, but I wish there was more to be desired. Despite its “plot twists” there really isn’t anything new or exciting (so far) about the show. The songs are witty and often funny, but it’s the same old hero tale on an adventure trying to win back the trapped princess. And yes, the chemistry between Galavant and the Princess will grow to be strong, and then take a hit once she tells him (probably last minute) that she’s been lying to him all along just to save her village. The show is predictable, but it’s still good enough.

In “Joust Friends” we get a nice cameo from John Stamos, who plays a character named Sir Jean Hamm. I laughed and Stamos’ character was quite entertaining to watch as him and Galavant pathetically engage in a jousting championship match. Meanwhile, Gareth tells King Richard to “man up” and stop being bossed around by Madalena. In the end, both the King/Madalena and the Princess/Galavant share a song declaring that their partner not be as bad as they first thought. Again, it’s silly but I enjoyed it.

I expect Galavant to be a nice filler-show that can pass the time without weighing too heavily on our brains. And as I’m typing this, the first tune is still stuck in my head. That’s the kind of show Galavant is going to be. It’ll play over like that annoying song that gets stuck in your head that really has no meaning or substance at all, but somehow it exists and in a good way it remains with you. For now, I’m going to stick with Galavant because, like I said above, it’s good enough.


Movie Review: Frozen (2013)

January 17, 2014

Frozen (2013)
102 minutes
Rated – PG
Directed by Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee

frozen-poster

Grade: B+

Disney Animation Studios are on quite some roll recently. With Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph being success stories, Frozen becomes the third straight hit from the studio that brought us classics like The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast, and speaking of nostalgia, Frozen feels a lot like those ’90s musicals that children and adults love. But even though the story isn’t breaking new ground, there are still surprises along the way that makes Frozen stand out on its own.

The film revolves around the relationship of two royal sisters, Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel). Elsa is blessed with magical powers of ice and snow, but grows to see her abilities as a curse. An incident in the beginning of the film keeps the two sisters apart for the majority of their lives until the day Elsa is crowned as Queen, but when her powers are seen as monstrous, Elsa flees. Anna takes it upon herself and a few friends she meets along the way to bring her back.

Frozen is basically your typical Disney princess movie, but without a gushy romance story, which definitely makes it stand out. It’s also the purest Disney Animation musical in over a decade, with show-stopping tunes like the Oscar-nominated “Let It Go,” an empowerment song with the strength compared to Wicked’s “Defying Gravity.” And it wouldn’t be a Disney animation without memorable supporting characters: the adorable Sven the reindeer, the quirky and handsome Kristoff, and the goofy Olaf the Snowman.

One aspect about Frozen that is unconventional compared to most of Disney animations is the lack of a true villain. This allows the film to concentrate on the bonds and importance of family and relationships, rather than have the big showdown between hero vs. villain. While this offers a less than thrilling climax, the risk pays off with a very heart-felt moment at the end. In case your kid starts to cry, just remind them that it’s a Disney film and all will be right before the credits roll.

Frozen is without a doubt one of the best movie experiences for the entire family from 2013. It’s light enough for children, yet nostalgic and heavy enough for adults. Whether you leave the theater humming one of the songs, or laughing at something Olaf did, you’ll be smiling all the way home… and most likely downloading the soundtrack.


Movie Review: Pitch Perfect

April 7, 2013

Pitch Perfect (2012)
112 minutes
Rated: PG-13
Directed by Jason Moore
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow, Rebel Wilson, Anna Camp, Skylar Astin

pitch-perfect-poster

Grade: C+

What was I expecting from a film about an a cappella competition? Frankly, I was expecting a lot more than this. The location is Barden College, where they apparently value school activities more than attending classes. I have to assume there are sports involved at this college, but we never even get a glimpse that exists. What we do see are the rivaling a cappella groups, the defending champions Treblemakers and the all-female Barden Bellas, who are trying to move on from a disastrous performance at the finals.

The film follows a freshman named Beca (Kendrick), who is aspiring to become a DJ/producer and doesn’t show interest in anything else. But when one of the leaders from the Bellas overhears her singing in the shower, she’s convinced to audition and eventually joins the Bellas. But her and head Bella, Aubrey, clash instantly because of Aubrey’s close-minded attitude and routine.

I think you can guess how the rest of the movie plays out. There’s a romantic interest between Beca and freshman Treblemaker recruit Jesse, and there is a lot attempts to make a cappella singing look cool. But it’s an underdog story just like anything else and it comes down to a Treblemaker vs. Barden Bellas finals. There are also the goofy commentators played by Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins, who deliver some funny lines but have absolutely no purpose whatsoever.

The one stand-out from the cast is Rebel Wilson who plays Fat Amy. Her performance is the only part of the film that seems like a deliberate attempt at comedy. She was memorable in Bridesmaids and it’s good to see her continue to blossom as a young, comedic actress, especially when a film desperately needs it. As for the talented Anna Kendrick, she seemed a bit uncomfortable in this leading role but it felt more like a struggling screenplay than her actual performance.

The main problem with Pitch Perfect was how little happened and how even less was explained and developed through the duration of the film. There was a two minute scene when Beca questions her father for splitting up with her mom. Was that the reason why Beca was so closed up to anyone that got close to her? If that’s the case, then we’re going to need more than a two minute kitchen conversation. This was just one of the many shortcomings Pitch Perfect displayed, but at least most of the a cappella music was fun, right?

The credits roll after abruptly interrupting an audition scene that the filmmakers are hoping to continue with a sequel. But there was an empty feeling once the film ended, one that felt a lot more like a two-hour Glee episode rather than a memorable high school film like John Hughes’ The Breakfast Club, which Pitch Perfect refers to frequently. Maybe that was the point for making the movie in the first place. No message, no moral, just kids having fun making music with their mouths. If that was the intention, then I guess Pitch Perfect is all right.


Smash – “The Parents”

April 3, 2013

Season Two, Episode Nine

Smash - Season 2

Grade: C

After the story-lines of Smash were put into overdrive the past few episodes, we’re back to a steady tempo in “Parents,” where we see Karen’s father and Ivy’s mother. Let’s start with Ivy and Leigh, who in the past have had a toxic relationship. That hasn’t changed, but what hurts Ivy the most is that Tom and the rest of the production crew of Bombshell already decided to have Leigh join the show as Marilyn’s mom. Sure, they knew it was going to create some problems, but they decided it was in Bombshell’s best interest to have a piece in the New York Times. What a story it is, Broadway veteran Leigh and her daughter star in Bombshell!

While the move does work out very well and Tom is able to direct the two effectively, Ivy has the last word when she tells Tom that she only works for him now and is no longer his friend. You could just see Tom’s heart break, because he was trying to do everything in his power to be the “nice” director and to listen to all of the cast members to try and maintain a democracy production. But it was foolish to believe that possible, almost like Michael Scott trying to befriend everyone in The Office.

Once again, I didn’t find the Bombshell half of the episode very compelling. There really isn’t anything fresh about that production and even though they keep tweaking the show here and there, all of the craziness is behind them and they’re ready to be launched on Broadway. What I did like was how Julia and Eileen went to the event that was showcasing Hit List, just to scope out Derek and Karen’s show. And they absolutely killed it, especially Ana’s acrobatic performance as the diva. I was actually anticipating something going wrong but am glad nothing did.

The Hit List half of the show, in my opinion, is way more interesting than Bombshell. The chemistry between Karen and Jimmy carries it, but adding Derek’s reputation and conflict between those two, and with the pressure of competing with the production they left, half of every episode just isn’t enough. They’re becoming the underdogs of this Broadway rivalry and it’s hard not to root for them against the bigger, more expensive Bombshell.

As for the C-story with Jimmy and paying back his dealer, I don’t feel it enhanced the episode in any way, but I am glad that it seems to be over with for good (though I’m sure that bag Jimmy takes is going to ruin a performance in the near future). And the little story with Karen’s dad accusing Derek for influencing her to leave Bombshell, but then realizing it was Jimmy, that felt very out of place though it’s typical seeing Karen being stomped on.

Overall, “Parents” was a pretty bland episode of Smash without that show-stopping number I long for. Ana’s performance was close to that, but the visuals over-powered the actual song. This might become an issue for Hit List so stay tuned for that. Also, Smash is now moving to its new time-slot, Saturday night. Not sure how this is going to affect the show, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the last season for Smash.


TV Blur (3/24-3/29)

March 29, 2013

I’ve been sick the past week so I wasn’t able to write any new posts on the TV shows I watch. So here are several briefs and comments in the past week of television.

The Walking Dead – “This Sorrowful Life”

walking-dead-sorrowful

Grade: B-

Merle gets shot in the chest by the Governor and then is knifed in the head by Daryl. It was a tough episode for Merle, but I can’t say that I didn’t see his death coming. Another non-shocker was when Rick changes his decision to give Michonne to the Governor, but it’s too late because Merle already captured her and is on his way to deliver her. We get a heart-to-heart between two supporting characters, sort of feel for Merle, which is obviously the kiss of death in The Walking Dead. At least her went out in a blaze of glory by taking down several people at Woodbury.

Merle, like all of the supporting characters in The Walking Dead, has his own story and one that is worth telling. But the show hasn’t concentrated anything besides Rick, the Governor, and Andrea the entire season. I understand The Walking Dead is under a lot of pressure keeping its record-breaking ratings alive and displaying constant zombie-killing is essential, but it’s hurting the potential of the show that is post-Shane. Since his death, we haven’t spent much time at all with anyone besides the leads. Take a page from Game of Thrones, Mad Men, or Boardwalk Empire and develop the characters.

How I Met Your Mother – “The Time Travelers”

himym-time-travelers

Grade: A-

During the latter seasons of HIMYM, Ted has taken a back-seat to the other characters on the show. Marshall and Lily have a baby and have to deal with parenthood, and Barney and Robin are engaged and have to deal with their preparations. But Ted is still the main character, hence the title. So I do appreciate it when they decide to spend some time focused on Ted and his quest to find his wife instead of Lily working for the Captain, or Barney adding a new page to the Playbook. And that’s exactly what this episode gave us.

After plenty of gimmicks where Present Ted and Present Barney talk with 20 Years Later Ted and Barney, plus other future versions of people, the somber message was how Ted was lonely while his friends are all coupled off. But then he reveals that in 45 days, he’s going to meet his wife. These are the sort of hints and foreshadowing that made HIMYM so much fun to watch. Now there’s an actual short time-frame to when Ted will meet his wife. Fans rejoice!

Revolution – “The Stand”

revolution-the-stand

Grade: B+

Revolution returns for their second half of the first season with a bang! We left off with Monroe now having the power to run helicopters, so that’s bad news for practically everyone, especially the Resistance. Now that Rachel is with the gang, it’s growing more evident how she’s the most important person in this black-out world, and also enemy number 1 to Miles and now Randall. Why? Probably because she has the answers to all the questions.

The amplified helicopters are finally shot down by Danny firing a missile launcher, but not without the copters taking out Danny before crashing to the ground. All of the first half dealt with Charlie searching and rescuing her brother. All of that for nothing! I applaud Revolution for this death, just like how Ben and Maggie bit the dust early in the season. Revolution seemingly has no problem killing off characters, something major network series shy away from doing. But this all happened for a reason. Rachel cuts out a small chip-like pill apparently containing power. What the hell is that and what can it do?!

The Following – “Guilt”

following-guilt

Grade: B-

My favorite part about this show is the story between Ryan and Claire. They’re the only two characters I really care about because how can you really care about any of the murderers? Emma is annoying, Jacob is now a badass for suffocating Paul, and Joe Carroll is just waiting for his wife to return. Who cares? But Ryan/Claire actually makes for some good TV. We get to see them this episode but we haven’t seen it enough so far and I’m afraid we’re not going to see them together for a while.

After Ryan desperately tries to keep Claire safe, she eventually leaves with Joe’s lackeys to see her son. Yeah I get it, she’s not thinking and all she really wants is to see her son again, but she’s entering a house of crazies at at the helm is her psychopathic husband. Yeah, real good choice, Claire. Oh and one last note, The Following does such a poor job at using flashbacks. Please just stop.

New Girl – “Chicago”

new-girl-chicago

Grade: B-

Sitcoms have it tough when they have an episode around someone’s death. It has to be done. Recently, How I Met Your Mother had one and now New Girl. New Girl takes the much lighter approach, but with little essence. Nick’s father dies and we meet Nick’s insane family. None of it is very funny. I laughed the hardest at Schmidt’s fear of open caskets.

What the episode did was display Jess to Nick’s family and show how she was able to diffuse their craziness and even fit in. After everything, Nick’s mom approved of Jess and she points out that it’s nice to have someone like her look after Nick. We’re just getting closer and closer to when Nick and Jess start dating.

The Mindy Project – “Danny’s Friend”

mindy-project-danny-friend

Grade: C-

It’s Stevie. Oh, I was just answering the question that the title suggests in, Who is Danny’s Friend? This was a very uneven episode of The Mindy Project. While Mindy, Morgan, and Jeremy are trying to play detective figuring out why Danny’s been prescribing drugs off the books, Mindy has a run in with Heather who wants an available apartment in Mindy’s complex.

I’m excited that this show was renewed, but I really feel that The Mindy Project has to find its focus, and quickly. Like all the romantic comedies Mindy loves, the show’s strongest aspect is when it comments on relationships and friendships. Why not have that as its main concentration? I don’t know, but the show spends far too much time elsewhere. It needs to develop a story arc and keep with it.

Smash – “The Bells & Whistles”

smash-bells

Grade: B

In the episode prior, Smash really stepped on the acceleration pedal and launched us to its current situation. There are two musicals we’re watching: Bombshell and Hit List. While it’s good to see different productions work out in different stages, the problem with this is that I doubt anyone enjoys both musicals equally. For me, Hit List is far more intriguing than Bombshell. I don’t know whether it’s because it’s new and fresh, compared to Bombshell which we spent all last season on, but probably also because it’s the underdog compared to Bombshell. All the broken pieces fell off of Bombshell and landed in Jimmy’s Hit List.

Sure, Jimmy and Derek bickering all episode was annoying, and Tom trying to befriend his cast was an obvious disaster. But they’re both trying, which says a lot more about Derek than Tom. Just one last comment, I really wish Smash just stopped covering songs Glee style because that’s when it’s at its worst.

Nashville – “When You’re Tired of Breaking Other Hearts

nashville-tired

Grade: B-

Juliette continues to be difficult as she ignores her label and throws an impromptu concert, which results in disaster. Maddie lies to her mom and dad and gets injured at the show. Meanwhile, Gunnar angrily mourns his brother’s death and skips out on showcasing him and Scarlett’s talent to Rayna’s potential record label. And Avery quits his current gig. Just a typical episode of Nashville!

First off, I could care less about Avery but this episode made you feel more for him other than that selfish prick who was wrong for Scarlett and dumped everyone just to be discovered. He seems to understand the mistake he made and is trying to stick with the only thing he knows: his music. Scarlett is offered a contract to Rayna’s label, but without Gunnar. If the show is going to split them up musically, I might stop watching because their music is the strongest aspect of the show, emotionally. And finally, who would’ve thought Juliette giving Deacon a puppy would’ve landed him a girlfriend?


Movie Review: Les Misérables (2012)

December 28, 2012

Les Misérables (2012)
157 minutes
Rated PG-13
Directed by Tom Hooper
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe

les-miserables-poster

Grade: A-

You will find yourself in one of two categories: those who enjoy musicals and those who don’t. For the people who have lived under a rock for their entire life, Les Miserables is a musical and frankly, if you don’t like musicals then you really have no place in seeing Les Miserables, nor should anyone take what you say about it seriously. I mean, if you hate war movies you’re going to eventually tell me that Saving Private Ryan didn’t do it for you.

But for anyone who loves musicals, Les Misérables should without a doubt be near the top of their list (if it doesn’t actually top their list). It is beloved by many fans and a story originally told by Victor Hugo about a poor Frenchman who finds redemption after being punished for stealing a loaf of bread. At the throne of this epic musical is Tom Hooper, already an Oscar winner from just two years ago for The King’s Speech and also well-known for his work in HBO’s John Adams. There are obvious reasons why Les Misérables appealed to Hooper, but there were plenty of questions asked about how he would adapt the theater rendition of Hugo’s grand story.

The answers are mostly fulfilling, starting with the cast that absolutely solidified their stardom (or catapulted themselves into stardom). Hugh Jackman was the only choice as Jean Valjean in Hooper’s eyes and I cannot agree with him anymore. Jackman has the acting chops of a professional, the singing ability that has made him a Broadway regular, and the physique that complimented Jean Valjean in every way possible. There is no other actor that could’ve played this role as well as Jackman did.

His nemesis is Javert, played by Russell Crowe. Out of all the singing actors it took me the most time to get used to Crowe’s voice. Unaware that he could sing at all, and also equipped with the weakest voice in the cast, Crowe made up with his intimidating presence and intense stares. Javert is tracking down Valjean who escaped his parole and this puts Crowe and Jackman head-to-head in a handful of songs. Crowe also has a few solos, one including the powerful “Stars,” which was one of the moments when a stronger singer could have certainly enhanced Javert’s role.

After Jean Valjean rediscovers himself, he inadvertently ignores the cries from a young woman, Fantine (Hathaway), which sends her sprawling in a downward spiral of prostitution just to have money for her daughter, Cosette. Though Hathaway had a minor part in the movie, she absolutely steals the show in the first half. Her performance of “I Dreamed a Dream” is a show-stopper and the first real tear-jerking moment of Les Misérables (there are plenty of tear-jerking moments). I had to resist myself from standing up in my theater seat and applauding after “I Dreamed a Dream” was done, it was that magical.

It’s hard for me not to compare the musical with the theater musical, but I know I shouldn’t because it’s a different medium and each have their limitations and benefits. But I feel theater or on-screen, the roles of Thenardier and Madame Thenardier are the same, to provide comic relief during a very emotional and dramatic story. On paper, Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter are the right people for the roles, but their performance simply didn’t provide the laughs that they were aiming for. “Master of the House” is supposed to be great, fun sing-a-long for the cast and for the audience, but the rendition in the movie was one so exaggerated and flat that will make you question why it’s included in the story at all.

After Jean Valjean buys Cosette from the Thenardiers, the story skips ahead for the last time in the movie and provides us with a strong plot in France, the student revolution. With the backdrop of riots and screaming boys about ideas of a new king, there is a love-triangle that makes its way to the front. Cosette (Seyfried) has grown up and experiences a love-at-first-sight with Marius (Redmayne), a supporter of the revolution. Meanwhile, the daughter of the Thernardiers, Eponine (Barks) is caught in the middle of their love story as she has feelings for Marius but is the only one that could connect Marius and Cosette together. With her heart breaking, she does what she knows will make Marius happy.

The trio during “A Heart Full of Love” is one that impressed me the most. I knew what kind of singer Barks was, but Seyfried and Redmayne really fell into their roles and provided the film with a great romantic couple to drive the love story in Les Miserables forward. But back to Samantha Barks, her performance of the fan-favorite “On My Own” in the rain was one of the most powerful moments in the entire film. The 22-year-old has a bright future ahead of her.

As someone who watched the Broadway musical three times, there were plenty of alterations that the movie made, such as the sequence of songs and events, to clarify the juggling of characters and intertwining plots. While many are criticizing the close-ups that Hooper decided to shoot, I think that enhanced the experience of the musical compared to the theater experience. On Broadway, you don’t have the benefit of seeing great acting done right in front of you. Here, the actors don’t have Broadway voices, but they can certainly act the hell out of the songs, something you can never find on Broadway. So the close-ups and the uncut song sequences show a level of intimacy that raises the emotion that everyone in theater will envy.

Also, it’s evident that the movie took an acting-over-singing approach, especially with the live-recording process. So I asked myself which version of my favorite songs do I prefer? And while the Broadway actors would have their voices soaring high into the cheap seats, I’d much rather prefer a dying character’s voice to crack and whisper rather belt out a song-ending note. This was the case for songs like “Fantine’s Death” and “A Little Fall of Rain.”

Overall, this movie is one where Les Misérables fans will be rejoicing about for years to come. There is finally a music version that every fan can own on DVD and watch endlessly and be well-satisfied from the result. Song highlights include the crescendo of “Do You Hear the People Sing?” and the uplifting ensemble track of “One Day More.” But there were some bumps in the road like “Master of the House” and even the woeful “Empty Chairs and Empty Tables” where I felt could have benefited greatly from special effects. Nonetheless, Les Misérables was a great epic for people of all ages, just as long as you like musicals.


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