2017 Golden Globe Nominations Announced!

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Welcome back, my award season enthusiasts!  The 2017 Award Season officially commenced this morning at 8:15 am with the announcement of the Golden Globe Award Nominations.  While these awards are decided by the Hollywood Foreign Press, whose members do not overlap with any Oscar voting body, they are always a good indication of what movies we need to see in order to make an informed statement at our local bar on Oscar night.

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Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in La La Land

Damien Chazelle’s modern-day musical La La Land was the most nominated film this year with a total of seven nominations, including Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy, Best Actress, Musical or Comedy (Emma Stone), Best Actor, Musical or Comedy (Ryan Gosling), and Best Director (Chazelle).  This was a big weekend for Land, as last night it won Best Picture at the Critics’ Choice Awards.  Keep your eye on this one, kids.  Something tells me this is going to be the one to beat this year.  (I may or may not be listening to the soundtrack as I write this article.)

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Mahershala Ali and Alex R. Hibbert in Moonlight

The indie film Moonlight made an impressive showing by picking up six nominations.  The coming of age story of a young man trying to find his place in the world while navigating the rough streets of Miami garnered nominations for Best Motion Picture, Drama, Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture (Mahershala Ali), and Best Director (Barry Jenkins).

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Denzel Washington and Viola Davis in Fences

Several other films we were all expecting to hear announced, and did not disappoint, were Manchester by the Sea, Lion, and FencesManchester was nominated for five Globes including, Best Motion Picture, Drama, Best Actor, Drama (Casey Affleck), Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture (Michelle Williams), and Best Director (Kenneth Lonergan).  Dev Patel’s performance in Lion has long been touted as one of the best of the year.  The hype seems to be accurate, considering Patel was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture.  The film itself was also nominated for Best Picture, Drama, and Nicole Kidman picked up her 11th Globe nomination in the supporting actress category.  Denzel Washington’s adaptation of August Wilson’s Fences gave him a nomination for Best Actor, Drama, and Viola Davis a nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture.  These same actors won Tony’s for playing the same roles on Broadway in 2010.

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This is Us

On the Television side of things, new shows Westworld and This is Us both were nominated for three awards each.  The shows were both nominated as well as actresses Evan Rachel Wood and Thandie Newton for Westworld, and Mandy Moore and Chrissy Metz for This is Us. 

A few tried and true shows were also nominated, including Game of Thrones, Veep, Transparent, and BlackishThrones, Veep, and Transparent all received two nominations, while Blackish picked up three nominations.

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Sarah Paulsen and Sterling K. Hayden in The People vs. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story

However, the most interesting categories on the television side of the awards are for made-for-TV movies or mini-series ones.  The very compelling and brilliantly acted The People vs. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story received five nominations, making it the most nominated program in the television categories.  Simpson was nominated for Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television, Best Actor (Courtney B. Vance), Best Actress (Sarah Paulson), and Best Supporting Actor (Sterling K. Brown and John Travolta).

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John Turturro and Riz Ahmed in The Night Of

I personally feel the need to mention the nominations that were received for the criminally underrated The Night Of.  The mini-series picked up nominations for Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television, and two nominations in the Best Actor category: one for Riz Ahmed’s performance as a wrongfully-accused (or was he?) murderer, and one for John Turturro as Ahmed’s psoriasis affected, sleazy attorney.

The Golden Globes, hosted by Jimmy Fallon, will be announced on January 8, 2017 on NBC.

-Ariadne Ansbro

Full list of nominees below:

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Hacksaw Ridge

Best Motion Picture, Drama
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
Moonlight

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Casey Affleck in Manchester by the Sea

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Joel Edgerton, Loving
Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic
Denzel Washington, Fences

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Natalie Portman in Jackie

Best Performance By an Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama
Amy Adams, Arrival
Jessica Chastain, Miss Sloane
Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Ruth Negga, Loving
Natalie Portman, Jackie

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Sing Street

Best Motion Picture, Musical, or Comedy
20th Century Women
Deadpool
Florence Foster Jenkins
La La Land
Sing Street

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Ryan Reynolds in Deadpool

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical, or Comedy
Colin Farrell, The Lobster
Ryan Gosling, La La Land
Hugh Grant, Florence Foster Jenkins
Jonah Hill, War Dogs
Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool

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Annette Bening in 20th Century Women

Best Performance By an Actress in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
Annette Bening, 20th Century Women
Lily Collins, Rules Don’t Apply
Hailee Steinfeld, The Edge of Seventeen
Emma Stone, La La Land
Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

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Dev Patel in Lion

Best Performance By an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
Simon Helberg, Florence Foster Jenkins
Dev Patel, Lion
Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Nocturnal Animals

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Octavia Spencer in Hidden Figures

Best Performance by Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Viola Davis, Fences
Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Nicole Kidman, Lion
Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

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Nocturnal Animals

Best Director, Motion Picture
Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Tom Ford, Nocturnal Animals
Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea

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Hell or High Water

Best Screenplay, Motion Picture
La La Land
Nocturnal Animals
Moonlight
Manchester by the Sea
Hell or High Water

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Arrival

Original Score, Motion Picture
Moonlight
La La Land
Arrival
Lion
Hidden Figures

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Sing

Best Motion Picture, Animated
Kubo and the Two Strings
Moana
My Life as a Zucchini
Sing
Zootopia

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Moana

Best Original Song, Motion Picture
“Can’t Stop the Feeling,” Trolls
“City of Stars,” La La Land
“Faith,” Sing
“Gold,” Gold
“How Far I’ll Go,” Moana

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Elle

Best Motion Picture, Foreign Language
Divines
Elle
Neruda
The Salesman
Toni Erdmann

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Stranger Things

Best Television Series, Drama
The Crown
Game of Thrones
Stranger Things
This Is Us
Westworld

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Claire Foy in The Crown

Best Performance by an Actress in a TV Series, Drama
Caitriona Balfe, Outlander
Claire Foy, The Crown
Keri Russell, The Americans
Winona Ryder, Stranger Things
Evan Rachel Wood, Westworld

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Matthew Rhys in The Americans

Best Performance By an Actor in a Television Series, Drama
Rami Malek, Mr. Robot
Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
Matthew Rhys, The Americans
Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan
Billy Bob Thornton, Goliath

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Veep

Best Television Series, Musical or Comedy
Atlanta
Blackish
Mozart in the Jungle
Transparent
Veep

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Rachel Bloom in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Best Performance By an Actress in a Television Series, Musical, or Comedy
Rachel Bloom, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Sarah Jessica Parker, Divorce
Issa Rae, Insecure
Gina Rodriguez, Jane the Virgin
Tracee Ellis Ross, Blackish

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Donald Glover in Atlanta

Best Performance By an Actor in a Television Series, Musical, or Comedy
Anthony Anderson, Blackish
Gael Garcia Bernal, Mozart in the Jungle
Donald Glover, Atlanta
Nick Nolte, Graves
Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent

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The Night Manager

Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
American Crime
The Dresser
The Night Manager
The Night Of
The People v. O.J.: American Crime Story

 

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Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Felicity Huffman, American Crime
Riley Keough, The Girlfriend Experience
Sarah Paulson, The People v. O.J.: American Crime Story
Charlotte Rampling, London Spy
Kerry Washington, Confirmation

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Bryan Cranston in All the Way

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Series, Limited Series, or Motion Picture Made for Television
Riz Ahmed, The Night Of
Bryan Cranston, All the Way
Tom Hiddleston, The Night Manager
Courtney B. Vance, The People v. O.J.: American Crime Story
John Turturro, The Night Of

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Christian Slater in Mr. Robot

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series, or Motion Picture Made for Television
Sterling K. Brown, The People v. O.J.: American Crime Story
Hugh Laurie, The Night Manager
John Lithgow, The Crown
Christian Slater, Mr. Robot
John Travolta, The People v. O.J.: American Crime Story

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Thandie Newton in Westworld

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Actress in a Series, Limited Series, or Motion Picture Made for Television
Olivia Colman, The Night Manager
Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
Chrissy Metz, This Is Us
Mandy Moore, This Is Us
Thandie Newton, Westworld

 

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Good Girls Revolt on Amazon Prime

good-girlsAmazon’s new original series Good Girls Revolt – developed by former journalist Dana Calvoe (Narcos) – follows the careers of a group of young female researchers at a fictitious magazine, News of the Week, during the counterculture days of 1969. Inspired by the book The Good Girls Revolt by Lynn Povich, which examined the complaint, filed with the EEOC by a dozen female researchers who claimed their civil rights were being violated by a male-only policy of reporters at the magazine.

maxresdefaultWhile Good Girls Revolt addresses not only the character’s feminist awakening, but also the other issues of the time; race relations, drug and alcohol abuse. However, the show is certainly not a didactic history lesion, but rather is sexy with equal parts male and female gaze; it’s compelling entertainment—irresistible beyond one’s control, and it’s surprisingly well constructe. A mixture of the Mad Men stylish nostalgia but not too self aware (seeing employees smoke in the office is amusing but soon tiresome). Ultimately, it’s the show’s characters that kept me coming back for the first ten episodes, who are richly drawn and delightfully distinct. Notably Genevieve Angelson as the impulsive and ambitious Patti who wants more than research—she longs to be a reporter. Also Anna Camp as Jane, a girl in search of a husband who realizes that she’s actually a career girl with a lot to offer; and Erin Drake as the awkward, über-sweet and unhappily-married Cindy who wants to be a novelist. It is Drake who has the most interesting journey; this is a performance that should gain some attention. This fun and nostalgic period piece is sadly quite relevant 40 years later as we witness the first woman running for president refereed to as a “nasty woman” by her presidential opponent.  We still have a long way to go, yet Good Girls Revolt reminds us how far we’ve come. 

Good Girls Revolt appears on Amazon Prime streaming, Friday, October 28, 2016.

Worried about the Summer TV Slump? 5 Shows to Fill the Void

As an avid TV show watcher, it’s always exciting to read about new TV shows and even more so to watch them unfold into success stories. With that same excitement in mind, I wanted to bring MoviefiedNYC readers a little taste of what to look forward to this summer. New TV shows open the door to whole new worlds with exciting new characters that come to life and tantalize us—if they’re unique and well-drawn, we’re in. I hope that these TV shows can offer this experience to our readers.

Mr. Robot (Season Two)

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If you didn’t watch the first season of Mr. Robot on USA, you better prep for a binge. Not only was the first episode of Mr. Robot uploaded online weeks before its premiere date, but it was renewed for a second season the day of its premiere…hours before the episode even aired on TV for the first time. Mr. Robot follows Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek), a cyber-security engineer by day, hacker vigilante by night, as he navigates the inner turmoil involved in getting recruited by an undercover group of hackers for the daunting task of destroying the very firm that he is paid to protect. As the series progresses, this undertaking becomes more and more complex and unfolds into a story that you can’t get enough of. Mr. Robot offers a dark tone, complex characters and a narrator so unreliable that you never know if what you he is telling you is real or not. Rami Malik offers insightful narration that probes deep into Elliot’s mind, giving you tidbits of Elliot’s overactive mind. Mr. Robot is jam packed with a stellar cast and I am very excited to see what Mr. Robot offers to viewers during its second season. If you’re ready to give a big “fuck you” to media, corporations and societal expectations, I suggest you give Mr. Robot a chance. Mr. Robot is set to come back for its second season July 13 at 10:00 PM on USA.

Outcast (Season One)

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Big Walking Dead fan? Well, you’ll want to sit down for this one because Robert Kirkman is at it again with Cinemax horror drama Outcast. After having watched a few trailers, I know that Outcast will deliver an ominous tone that will sure to have viewers at the edge of their seats. Similarly to Mr. Robot, Outcast has decided to upload its premiere episode to YouTube weeks before its premiere date, which you can find here. More impressive is the fact that Outcast got picked up for a second season nearly three months before its premiere episode. If that doesn’t convince you to click that link above, I don’t know what will. Outcast is based Kirkman’s comic series by the same name which follows Kyle Barnes (Patrick Fugit), a man that has been plagued by demonic possession his whole life and strives to find answers as to why. With help from Reverand Anderson (Philip Glenister), Kyle embarks on a journey that will discovers that the very supernatural occurrences that have caused him so much pain his whole life may be part of a bigger picture than Kyle could have ever expected. Outcast premiered on Cinemax on June 3 at 10:00 PM.

Humans (Season Two)

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Humans offers a futuristic look at a parallel present day where “Synths” serve as servants for families across the world. What are “Synths” exactly? “Synths” are lifelike highly advanced robots that are the must-have item for households everywhere. In an attempt to lighten his wife’s work load, Joe Hawkins (Tom Goodman-Hill) purchases a “Synth” for their home. However, all is not as it seems and Laura (Katherine Parkinson), Joe’s wife, senses that something is not quite right with their “Synth.” After this realization, much unfolds into what becomes a strong syfy series. No premiere date has been announced for the second season of Humans but you can tune in on AMC sometime this summer.

Preacher (Season One)

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Another comic coming to the small screen is Preacher airing on AMC. Its first season debuted on May 22 and centers around Jesse Custer, a preacher (Dominic Cooper) whose body is overcome by a supernatural force beyond his control. Through possession, Jesse is able to harness supernatural powers and decides to embark on a journey to find God with the help of his ex-girlfriend (Ruth Negga) and a vampire (Joseph Gilgun). The cast is stellar and executive producers Seth Rogen and Sam Catlin are huge fans of the comic and are sure to make the translation of a comic to TV show adaptation successfully and tastefully.

Atlanta (Season One)

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Although not much is known about Atlanta, I have to hope that Donald Glover’s involvement going to make for a positive outcome. Atlanta could be a gateway for the portrayal of people of color in a manner that is not seen quite often on television. The prospect is exciting and I am looking forward to watching the plot unfold. Atlanta follows two cousins (Donald Glover and Brian Tyree Henry) as they try to break into the city’s rap scene. A lot about Atlanta is a mystery and even the teaser trailer is cryptic but a show with a POC heavy cast is definitely one to support and tune in for.

—Oscar Flores

Gone Too Soon: SMASH

 

Smash

I almost wanted to title this article, “In Defense of a Bad Show,” but if I’m being honest, I don’t think Smash is a bad show. It has a bad reputation, but I’m going to sit here and earnestly convince you to watch it, because I think it is worth 1,360 minutes (the approximate runtime of the entire series) of your time. Smash, which is about BROADWAY MUSICALS) ran for just two seasons on NBC from 2012 to 2013, but it has stayed fairly relevant in that time, spawning two real-life stagings and concerts based on the musicals created in the show. These concerts were sold out, I might add. Smash inspired an unbelievable amount of love and support in a short amount of time, and brought together a lot of different communities as well. The unfair thing about Smash is that many of its problems (uneven writing, dropped plotlines, inconsistent characters) can actually be attributed to conflict behind the scenes—the infighting between the executive producers. Now, while Smash is not guiltless in all other aspects, it deserves a little forgiveness.

Smash

Smash is, at its heart, about Broadway. Just like Broadway, it’s sweeping, glitzy, more than occasionally over the top and melodramatic, and not always rewarding. It’s also full of heart and either heartwarming or heartwrenching, with little room for in between. The first season (with its truly fantastic pilot and sadly flat episodes thereafter) centers around Bombshell: a musical about Marilyn Monroe, and how a musical actually goes from conception to production. Bombshell is the brainchild of writer Julia Houston (Debra Messing doing what she does best, and you are constantly aware you are watching Debra Messing) and her composer partner Tom Levitt (Christian Borle, a Broadway star who shines here). While Julia is loosely based on the showrunner, Theresa Rebeck’s own life (a poor choice that led to fights with the other writers), Tom is the one to watch. Borle plays him with a perfect deadpan wit, and watching his poor decisions in relationships—relatable where Julia isn’t—is incredibly satisfying. He’s funny and talented in a way the show doesn’t always make known (many characters are given a chance to let their talents shine, but Tom never is). One of Smash’s greater injustices is that Tom is not given enough credit—surprising, given his huge ego.

Smash - Season 1

Smash loves dichotomy, so it’s no surprise that season one revolves around another duo (rivals this time, rather than partners): Karen Cartwright (Katherine McPhee) and Ivy Lynn (another Broadway actor, Megan Hilty). Introduced as competitors for the role of Marilyn herself, they are immediately pitted against each other as foils. Karen is the fresh-faced Midwestern ingénue while Ivy is the Broadway veteran, forever an ensemble member and ready for her big break. The issue here is that there’s no contest, and it’s hard to suspend disbelief to make the show work. Ivy is impossible to look away from. Hilty’s voice belts out to fill all the empty spaces on the screen (unsurprising, given her history with Broadway and her considerable talent), and her duets with McPhee tend to leave McPhee in the background. Both characters, especially in the first season, often follow pretty predictable tracks, and so it falls on the actresses to turn them into something more. Hilty succeeds where McPhee doesn’t (truly, Megan Hilty is the shining star of this entire show, and she alone makes it worth your time), though it’s worth mentioning that McPhee finds her footing in the second season, when Karen plays a role that’s essentially a meta stand-in for herself. Smash is smart, and tends to flip the tables on both the characters and the audience, and while Ivy is chosen to be Marilyn fairly early on in the season, she loses it to a hilarious guest run by Uma Thurman, whose character is then poisoned (again, this show does not shy from the melodrama). The first season ends with a perfect crescendo of a final episode, in which her replacement is chosen on opening night.

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This rivalry between Karen and Ivy extends past Bombshell casting. When season two starts, Karen has the role, but that’s just Boston. If they want to bring the show to Broadway, changes have to be made. That change is reflected in the show in many ways—like a total overhaul behind the scenes, including the replacement of Rebeck, the showrunner, and almost all the writers. The main characters (Karen and Ivy, Julia and Tom, and Eileen Rand—the producer of Bombshell and played by the magnificent Anjelica Huston—and Derek Wills—the director of Bombshell and a certified Don Juan) remain, while essentially everyone else is replaced with a new (and stand out) supporting cast. It’s a double-edged sword. The writing soars and the subplots are finally interesting, but it requires the suspension of disbelief. To watch Smash from season one to season two is to decide that you’re about to watch a different show, that nothing else that came before matters, and that’s okay. Once that decision is made, season two is genuinely wonderful.

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The best additions are Jimmy Collins and Kyle Bishop, a writing duo played by Broadway stars Jeremy Jordan and Andy Mientus, respectively. They represent an important shift in the show: the introduction of Hit List, a new musical. Karen meets Jimmy (a troubled songwriter and drug addict), who is writing Hit List with his best friend Kyle (who is tragically and unrequitedly in love with him, but that storyline unfortunately never goes anywhere). In an exhausting turn of events, Karen leaves Bombshell to star in Hit List, Ivy returns to star as Marilyn, and the conflict actually leaves the dichotomy for a while. It’s refreshing. Hit List is inventive and gritty, and the music is some of the strongest the show has to offer. The choreography is also standout. The shows focuses on creating stability and developing the characters in a way that matters—a strong setup for the third season that never was.

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The trouble with Smash is this: it’s trashy—even if it hadn’t been plagued by very real production and writing issues, it would be still trashy. The dialogue is hammy, the melodrama tends to the ridiculous, and there are enough bizarre and awfully executed musical numbers that the good ones really stand out. I have my own personal complaints as well (no queer women and a total waste of Broadway talent such as Krysta Rodriguez and Leslie Odom, Jr.), but overall, Smash deserved more, and simply couldn’t get the viewership up enough for a third chance. Even at its worst, Smash is addicting, and at its best, it is perfectly constructed and deeply satisfying (the pilot, the season one finale, and the series finale easily being the three best episodes of the series). It was a fantastic fusion of mediums, so much so that the fictional musicals became real ones, and it brought Broadway and television together that created powerful and lasting reactions from its viewers, and to me, that’s what makes a show worth watching.

-Mariana Zavala

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The Man in Black: Daredevil Season One Recap

One of my favorite shows of 2015, Netflix’s Daredevil, is coming back for season two on Friday! A second season, consisting of 13 episodes, premieres on Netflix in its entirety on March 18. It will feature two new characters in particular: Elektra Natchios (an assassin and ex-girlfriend of Daredevil himself) and Frank Castle (the supervillain The Punisher). In honor its return, here’s everything you missed in season one!

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  • The scene: the events of the Marvel film The Avengers have left Hell’s Kitchen a mess, and mob violence has taken root in its wake. Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) is our big baddie, and the season chronicles his rise in equal measure to the titular character.
  • Intro Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll), who is framed for a coworker’s murder after she finds about an embezzlement scheme at Union Allied (a Very Important Company). It happens.

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  • Let it be clear that Karen is an amazing character and is the human incarnation of the sun.
  • Her saviors are our two other main characters: Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) and Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson). They’re best friends who turned down lucrative offers at law firms in order to help the innocent, and they make me want to cry.
  • [Stefan voice] Matt Murdock’s past has everything: men boxing, that thing where you get chemicals in your eyes and lose your sight but get superpowers, Catholic orphanages, a blind mentor that teaches you how to fight, law school—

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  • Foggy is his unfailing best friend who confuses avocados with abogados and is undeniably the heart and soul of the entire show.
  • Ben Urich is a reporter who exposes the embezzlement, thus pissing off the mobs (they’re all working together in a much larger and more high-stakes plan) and entangling himself forever more in the drama that’s about to unfold.
  • Matt (so far only known as “the man in black”) plays at being a vigilante by night and ends up in a dumpster. He’s found by Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson), a nurse who is both no-nonsense and impossibly gentle, and has Matt coming back to her like a stray cat.

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  • James Wesley (Toby Leonard Moore), Fisk’s assistant, is often seen lurking around the edges, pulling strings. He’s delightfully creepy and draws focus, and his devotion to Fisk is one of the strongest parts in what is already such a wonderful, character-driven show.
  • Wesley starts pulling strings! Union Allied (the mob-adjacent company involved in the embezzlement scandal) tries to cover its tracks! Money is basically thrown at people that would rather have truth and justice instead!
  • Matt scours the city for Fisk, who looms over the criminal operations while rudely refusing to leave an easy paper trail for people to follow.
  • Things become personal as both sides start to get a little desperate. While Fisk meets a new flame (an art curator named Vanessa Marianna, played by Ayelet Zurer), Claire is kidnapped by the Russian mob in an attempt to get to Matt.
  • Let it be known that Fisk has no chill in Vanessa’s presence.

 

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  • MATT AND CLAIRE KISS!!!
  • There is an unbelievable amount of mob drama as Matt attempts to dismantle the groups that Fisk is taking control of in a segment I like to call Keeping Up With the Mobs.
  • Foggy has an ex-girlfriend, Marci Stahl (Amy Rutberg), and even though he has a ton of chemistry with Karen and the show seems to suggest a burgeoning relationship at one point, they might have rekindled things at the end of the first season. It’s not entirely clear, and more than a little disappointing, because Foggy and Karen so cute together.
  • Karen and Foggy, unaware of Matt’s nighttime exploits, begin trying to take down Union Allied. They are also unaware of just what they’re getting themselves into. Matt has to watch them like children.

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  • Public image is a big factor here. Matt, as “the man in black” and “the devil of Hell’s Kitchen,” is a shadowy figure connected to violence and vigilantism. Fisk, once he realizes anonymity is no longer an option, paints himself as an alternate (and more trustworthy) savior. Obviously his own violence and mob connections are not made public as well.
  • Claire leaves 😦
  • Matt meets an engineer who makes him a real superhero outfit, instead of the off-brand DIY effort of before. It’s a huge improvement, not least because it’s armored.

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  • In what’s easily one of the most tense and well-crafted sequences of the show, Karen finally takes it too far, and is kidnapped by Wesley as a result. He threatens her and attempts to blackmail her, and Woll is astounding in this scene as Karen reaches her breaking point. In a moment of a perfect poeticism, Fisk calls Wesley, and Wesley breaks focus. His automatic, ingrained loyalty pulls him away, and it’s all Karen needs to grab his gun and shoot him.
  • There are casualties on both sides: Urich is killed as Page, desperate to find justice and closure, gets him to write an exposé on Fisk.
  • Fisk realizes his own grip on power is not as secure as he thought after Matt takes down central mob operations. He also learns that his own partners have betrayed him by attempting to kill Vanessa. He throws someone down an elevator shaft. It’s a rough couple of days for Fisk.

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  • While Fisk’s plans begin to crumble, Matt’s life goes really well. Foggy forgives him for not telling him about the whole vigilante thing, and they all finally find legal proof to expose Fisk’s criminal activities.
  • Matt and Fisk go head to head, with the win going to the former. Fisk goes to jail and it seems like all is well in Hell’s Kitchen for now. The media dubs him “Daredevil.”

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-Mariana Zavala

Netflix Nic: Part 2, Snake Eyes, Outcast, Left Behind

Netflix Nic 2In this, the second installment of my Netflix Nic series, where I watch some Nicolas Cage flicks on Netflix and report my findings, I bring to you a decent offering from the 90s; a surprising action/drama with Anakin Skywalker; and a movie in which the film stock should have been burned like at the end of Inglourious Basterds. Enjoy!

Snake Eyes

Snake Eyes 1Having just officially defeated the year 1997 with both Con-Air and Face/Off releasing in theaters, Cage’s next performance in Snake Eyes starts out as if he’s trying to do a Nicolas Cage impression after not sleeping for three days and taking a bottle of NoDoz. Unfortunately, that particular charm is thrown away fairly early on, but the movie stays interesting enough to not automatically warrant a full dismissal.

I guess it’s just hard to get behind a character in this situation when I can’t figure out his motivation. He’s clearly a lunatic, but also a corrupt one. Cage plays a cop who very obviously takes pleasure in doing whatever he can to skim from the top, and don’t let that throwaway line about never killing fool you. This guy would gladly look away from anything for a fat envelope in his pocket, and I refuse to buy his magical conscience growth.

The movie follows Cage’s character while he attends a big boxing event at a major sports arena. His good friend, played by Gary Sinise, is also there to head the security detail for some high-up politician in the seats. Cage, on the other hand, is there to do two things: place bets with literal blood money and watch some boxing. He doesn’t give a crap about the whodunit until some intangible line is crossed, at which point he remembers he’s a cop and becomes a moral agent with laser focus and a stubbornness not seen since the last time I refused to put down that half-pound bucket of cheese balls at Walgreens. It was delicious.

Once he’s on the case, his entertaining lunacy is replaced with the constant emotion of regret, which also comes with a near-permanent look of constipation and a tinge of worry. Even the fact he’s helping out the immaculate Carla Gugino doesn’t seem to really register until the last scene of the movie, where it forces them to kiss. Trust me, that’s a lame spoiler if there ever is one, and kissing Carla Gugino should never, ever seem forced.

Snake Eyes does do a decent amount of things right, such as having a cool atmosphere and some impressive camerawork. 1990s Gary Sinise could do no wrong, and De Palma knows a thing or two about thrillers. It’s still fun enough to watch the events unfold, even though it oddly gives up the ghost like halfway through. If it could only get a better handle on Cage’s character, I’d be able to recommend it without reservations. If you dig murder mysteries, have at it. Just remember you’re getting Cage turned up to 11 for two seconds before being dialed down to a two or three until the credits roll.

Outcast

Outcast 1I thought Outcast was going to be a Nicolas Cage movie, but as it turns out, he’s only in the first five minutes and the last thirty. You’d think he couldn’t tank a movie by himself with only half an hour to do it, but don’t bet against him in situations like this. His British accent alone would have lowered the bar too much to recover from if he was allowed to stick around the entire time.

Instead of Nicolas Cage, Outcast stars Hayden Christensen as an opium-filled, ex-Templar Knight on a journey to find his soul after murdering countless people in, what he thought was, the name of God. Cage plays his sort of older brother/mentor person who has no real purpose except to (I guess) give Christensen’s character some motivation and a place to hold down the fort when everything comes to a head. The story actually centers on a dynastic Eastern family, which I know, because the movie helpfully flashes “The Far East” across the screen one time. Sibling rivalry has brought about patricide and a forceful takeover of an imperial army, and Christensen unwittingly gets himself caught up in the drama after saving a princess and prince from capture and death. The fight itself is sweet, and I have to say, I think I would have liked the Star Wars prequels more if Hayden Christensen got peed on before every fight.

I’ll confess that I assumed this movie was going to be a big ol’ pile of cheese, but thanks to Cage only appearing in a small roll, the visual style and well-choreographed fights keep things moving along pretty well without distraction. When he does show up, though, he halts everything with his hellish accent and hairpiece. Why is a Templar Knight wearing (fake) hair like a samurai? Did they think the accent was too ridiculous without some kind of wardrobe to match? I’m not sure if they got that last question right or wrong, but I’m glad he’s absent from the entire middle section of Outcast, otherwise I’d still be laugh-crying at my monitor. There is absolutely no reason for Nicolas Cage to be in this movie. None whatsoever. Why does he scratch his beard with a snake that’s wrapped around his fist? I don’t know, but they might as well switch him out with Will Ferrell as Harry Caray and just let him loose. At least the accent would be better.

Outcast 4Hayden Christensen doesn’t sport an Academy-award-winning accent, either, but it’s more of a throwaway one as opposed to the worst thing my ears have ever heard (That’s Cage’s in case you’re wondering). I dig what he does with his character, though. He’s simply a man looking for any kind of redemption, and he finds it without anything feeling forced or silly. I thought the whole thing was going to be an exercise in being forced and silly, so if you thought the same after looking at Nicolas Cage with his second-worst haircut after Next and maybe that one about witches, take heart. It’s much better than it looks.

In fact, Outcast is a kick ass little movie if you can get around the bizarreness of Cage. You’ll have to suspend your disbelief when either Christensen or especially Cage take on dozens of men, but I’m used to that kind of thing by now. If it’s done well enough, it’s not a deal-breaker by any means, and Outcast does it well.

The story has been done before: White guy gets mixed up in craziness sometime during the 12th-19th century; is charged with protecting a pretty girl; kisses pretty girl while fighting a lot; saves the day in a foreign land; etc. But Outcast doesn’t overdo it and doesn’t overstay its welcome, either. At 98 minutes, Cage doesn’t get enough time to ruin everything, and I’d say to give this one a shot as long as you don’t actually want more of his character on-screen. If you do, you’re part of the world’s problems.

Left Behind

Left Behind 3If there was ever a movie that would benefit from a crazy Cage accent and getup, Left Behind is probably it. I think he read the scripts for both this and Outcast and mixed up how he wanted to play each character in his head, because he all but sleepwalks through the entire thing.

You might have heard of the Left Behind book series before, as it was quickly turned into a trifecta of terrible starring Kirk Cameron and the fakest Russian antichrist ever. But for all the things those movies get wrong (99% of everything), at least I understand what their message is. In the Cage remake, there’s no theology whatsoever, so you’re left with a mess of a story that never goes anywhere. The setup is bare-bones: Cage plays an airline pilot and family-ish man who has to come to terms with the fact that God has raptured all the true believers into heaven, while everyone else is left to fend for themselves in the aftermath.

That actually sounds way more exciting than what Left Behind delivers, so let’s calm down. What you end up getting the majority of the time is Cage sitting, blank-faced, in the cockpit while passengers bicker, fight, cry, and pray with each other in the cabin. Meanwhile, his daughter on the ground eventually realizes the same truth about the end of the world, and they race to reunite with each other.

Yawn.

At least the Kirk Cameron ones are about something. He globe-trots; he digs into conspiracies; he emotes(!). He doesn’t just sit in a chair with a mopey expression only to finally break down toward the end when it’s time to talk about God and stuff.

So, about God. Hilariously enough, Left Behind hardly seems to want the viewer to know anything about that. In a CliffNotes version of Biblical morals, the only tasty kernel the movie offers is by way of a repentant pastor, who says, “It’s not about what we do, it’s about asking for forgiveness…”. That’s all good, except it doesn’t explain why the Muslim guy wasn’t raptured away. He was all about praying to God and literally helping little old ladies, so what’s up with that? I’m pretty sure he’s the type to routinely ask for forgiveness, wouldn’t you think?

Left Behind 4I would, at any rate, and I also think I have more respect for the honesty of the originals, even if they’re much more bat-shit insane. The remake washes away any meaning behind its premise through the sin of omission, and believe me, the effects used late in the movie make me think it only sins because it wants to. Basically, it feels like a cash-grab by somebody. Who? I don’t know, but I’d be surprised if it was a hardcore Christian of any kind. These movies are typically made for less money, with less talent, and by people who know a hell of a lot more about reciting scripture than they do about making decent movies, and for good reason. The scripture is the important part. The movie simply functions as something to distract you while you’re fed your dose of the Holy Ghost, and the intended audience doesn’t really care. This version of Left Behind forgets the Holy Ghost and is content to offer you beer nuts and, like, a third of a Bible tract scribbled on a napkin instead.

And by upping the ante to the tune of four times the original’s budget (or $16 million), the intended audience has to grow proportionally, otherwise you’re asking for trouble. As it turns out, that $16 million budget only got them $19.6 million in revenue, along with a boring movie, so I’d like to take this opportunity to share this quote by one of the book series’ creators, Tim LaHaye:

My dream has always been to enter the movie theater with a first-class, high-quality movie that is grippingly interesting, but also is true to the biblical storyline—and that was diluted in the first attempt. But Lord willing, we are going to see this thing made into the movie that it should be, and that all the world sees it before the real Rapture comes.”

Lord willing.

If you can’t tell, I’m not impressed. I can’t even laugh along with the more Biblical stuff, because there isn’t any. Cage just woke up from a coma before fitting into his flight suit, and Lea Thompson is in two scenes before disappearing. Two scenes! It’s like when I saw Sigourney Weaver for half a second in Ridley Scott’s Exodus before she got edited into oblivion. Not cool.

Anyways, I sentence Left Behind to eternal damnation, where it will be shown on loop to those poor souls unlucky enough to have one of those personal hells that happen to deal with airports. I know, it’s specific and eccentric, but it’s still a valid and just punishment.

—George Bell

Read more from George Bell at Knights of Mars Roundtable

The Seven Women on The 100 That You Should be Watching

The 100 is easily one of my favorite shows currently airing right now (go check out its place on my Top 10 TV Shows of 2015!) and in honor of its super strong season three opening, here are seven incredibly compelling (and incredibly female) reasons to watch it.

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  • Clarke Griffin (Eliza Taylor): Clarke is one of the series’ protagonists, and one of the best bisexual characters on TV right now. One of the original 100 teenagers sent to Earth to find out if it was habitable, she immediately assumed a leadership role, and that hasn’t changed. Clarke is the heart of the show; she’s compassionate, capable, and willing to do what needs to be done—even committing a massacre (and the show does not skimp on the moral aftermath of that). She draws followers like a flame, and her relationships drive the show forward, particularly the unrealized tension between her and Bellamy Blake (the other protagonist) and Lexa, the ruthless queen of the Grounders. She’s astounding, and a credit to the show.

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  • Raven Reyes (Lindsey Morgan): The 100 hits all of my boxes, so of course there’s a wonderfully written, compelling, and proud Latina character, and she is Raven Reyes. She’s a prodigy mechanic and she is fierce and loyal in all her relationships; disappointing Raven is unthinkable. Seasons two and three see Raven struggling with a disability: she is shot and suffers nerve damage to her leg. The writing team shines here; Raven’s disability is not treated as fodder for her character development. Instead, her storyline is treated with respect and realism, which is far more captivating to watch.

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  • Lexa (Alycia Debnam-Carey): Lexa is closed-off and distrustful in all the ways that Clarke is open and hopeful, and the foil between them makes for one of the best romantic relationships in the show. Lexa debuted in season two as the new commander of the Grounders (after Anya’s death), and she was immediately placed in conflict with Clarke, culminating in one fleeting kiss and then a massive betrayal. Season three proves Lexa is a fantastic character in her own right. Like Clarke, she would do anything to save her people, but unlike Clarke, her instincts are to wage war first, and watching her learn to trust Clarke enough to attempt peace is incredibly satisfying. Lexa is a force to be reckoned with, and that’s saying something on a show with such a powerhouse cast of characters.

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  • Octavia Blake (Marie Avgeropoulis): Octavia is Bellamy’s sister, and she spent the first 16 years of her life hidden, as the Ark did not allow more than one child per family, due to resource constraints. As a result, once she is on the ground she longs to find her own place in the world. She does so with the Grounders; after meeting and falling in love with Lincoln, she dedicates herself to Grounder culture, winning the respect of chief Indra and proving herself as a warrior. She, like Raven, is fierce and loyal, and she defiantly dresses in Grounder wear and speaks Trigedasleng, the Grounder language. Octavia is angry, desperate, and yearning, and she’s impossible to look away from.

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  • Indra (Adina Porter): Indra is a Grounder chief, continuing the tradition of female leaders on this show. She’s smart, proud, and honest, and though she generally doesn’t like the transplants from the Ark, she respects and trusts some of them, and is loyal to Lexa, even when it goes against her instincts. Indra’s relationship with Octavia in season two is an amazing show of female solidarity, support, and empowerment on television. Octavia is desperate to prove herself to Indra, and the two develop an important bond, with Indra eventually asking Octavia to be her second-in-command.

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  • Anya (Dichen Lachmann): Anya’s run on The 100 was too short; she was the first commander of the Grounders seen on the show. Introduced in season one, when the show was more straightforward and the audience barely knew what a Grounder was, Anya was feral and mysterious. However, she helped establish the strong tradition of female relationships in the show, and the turning point for her character is the death of her young second, Tris, which devastates her. Like many characters, she eventually puts her trust in Clarke when she’s taken prisoner by Mount Weather. She’s killed in the beginning of season two, in what felt like a true disservice to her character.

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  • Abby Griffin (Paige Turco): Abby is Clarke’s mother; she is also a doctor and former chancellor of the Ark. She is incredibly righteous and butts heads with Clarke, but ultimately loves her. She is familiar with making difficult choices as Clarke is: her husband is executed due to her actions. Abby is special because she is not a leader. She is a doctor, and has complete control in that environment, but she is not a good chancellor and eventually gives up the position. Many of the women on this list are leaders but Abby is not—she is a mother and a doctor and she just wants to heal the world around her, and that’s why she’s so great.

-Mariana Zavala