‘A Star is Born’ Review: Love, Fame & the Price We Pay

*Don’t worry little monsters, this is a non-spoiler review!*

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Don’t forget the tissues because this film will surely leave you in tears. This is the fourth telling of this story but it might as well have been the first due to Bradley Cooper’s vision for the film. A Star is Born follows Jackson Maine, played by Bradley Cooper, an alcoholic country rockstar who just wants to make music and drink his cares away. Jack meets Ally, played by Lady Gaga, a down on her luck waitress who has an amazing voice but doesn’t believe in herself. The film shows their journey of falling in love and the pitfalls of fame and having to navigate those challenges together.

Bradley Cooper is truly a tour de force, directing, acting & co-writing in this film. For a directorial debut, it feels like he has been making movies all his life. The concert scenes feel like you are on stage with the performers, like you are part of the show. I’ve never experienced watching a concert that way in a movie before. It usually comes across as artificial and “staged”  but not in this film. The sound design transports you right into the crowd. You could have easily convinced me this was a real music documentary due to how all the concert footage was shot. Cooper also takes this intimacy into his scenes with Gaga. He uses a lot of close ups and over the shoulder shots that suck you into their love story. You believe they are falling in love with each other because as an audience member you are falling in love with them too. As far as his acting in the film, Cooper utterly transforms into Jack. He has a growling, cracked, deep voice and you completely believe that he is drunk most of the film. It it so hard to convincingly act buzzed or drunk and it not seem over the top or trying too hard but Cooper’s mannerisms, the way he slurs some of his words but not all, and even his walk, all convey a masterful portrayal of a man struggling with the disease of alcoholism. Since he plays it so honestly you can’t help but love him despite his many struggles. We haven’t even gotten to his voice! Who knew Bradley Cooper could sing? I would buy his character’s album right now. The country/rock jam band sound of Jackson Maine is electric and the songs could be on the radio today.

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Image courtesy of Clay Enos via imdb.com

As much as this movie is a showcase for Bradley Cooper, it would not have had the emotional authenticity it did without the performance of Lady Gaga. She is Ally. For a musical superstar of her caliber to convince an audience that she is about to perform on a huge stage for the first time and for us to buy into her feelings of nervousness and reluctance is a credit to her as an actress. When she is performing as Ally you see Ally, not the superstar Lady Gaga. Being a huge Gaga fan myself, you can even pick up on subtle differences in her voice and how she is singing with some slightly different inflections than her usual sound. This role was tailor made to Gaga’s strengths and she knocks it out of the park. From the first scene we are introduced to her, we understand her character’s motivations and get a sense of her fiery personality. The chemistry between her and Cooper’s character leaps off the screen. Their scenes together feel like people having a real conversation and not reciting scripted lines. It almost feels as though we are watching a reality tv program about their lives. You fall in love with the earnest, vulnerability of Ally at the beginning of the film just like Jack did, so it becomes even harder to stomach how she subtly changes once she gets thrust into the pop world and loses some of that authenticity that she started with.

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Although this story centers around Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s characters, the supporting cast should not be overlooked. Sam Elliott gives a heartfelt performance as Cooper’s much older brother Bobby. I felt myself wanting more scenes of the brothers together because of Cooper and Elliott’s instant kinship. Andrew Dice Clay gives a fun and layered performance as Ally’s father. Her interactions with him being a former alcoholic definitely help you understand Ally’s relationship to Jack. Anthony Ramos, of Hamilton fame plays Ally’s best friend Ramon. They truly seemed like best friends and their camaraderie was a highlight of the film. Rounding out the cast is Dave Chappelle, playing Jack’s best friend George ‘Noodles’ Stone. With not many dramatic credits to his name, Chappelle takes this small role and gives a nice believability and ease to it.

The film is a tad long, coming in at just over 2 hours, with the first half having a better flow than the second but you don’t notice as much due to the emotional investment in the love story Cooper and Gaga are weaving together. This rendition of A Star is Born has so much heart that it will stick with you long after you’ve left the theater. It showcases a touching love story, poignant songs and a sobering look at what alcoholism and depression does to a person and the people they love.

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Keep a lookout during awards season because this definitely will garner some Golden Globes and Oscar nominations. I would venture to say you can expect nominations for Gaga and Cooper in the acting categories as well as directing for Cooper. Of course the category of Best Original Song is most likely it’s best chance of garnering a win seeing as the soundtrack boosts many great choices from ‘The Shallow’, ‘Look What I Found’ and ‘I’ll Never Love Again’. This would also be the perfect opportunity to have Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper perform one or two of these songs live before the Hollywood audience, seeing as Gaga has an excellent track record with Oscar performances. Speaking of the soundtrack, I highly recommend picking it up as it includes songs that didn’t make it into the movie and dialogue interludes between each song.

*All images courtesy of © 2018 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. & Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. via imdb.com

© Allyson Nold, reelramblings.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Allyson Nold and reelramblings.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All content on this site is owned by reelramblings.com unless specifically stated otherwise. Credit will be given to the original owner’s content when used on this site.

2018 70th Primetime Emmy Awards Recap

There was a marriage proposal, some well deserved newcomer wins & a Betty White cameo but that wasn’t enough to save this year’s Emmys from looking like a bloated episode of Saturday Night Live. Lorne Michaels was tasked with this year’s telecast and instead of feeling like an ep from the golden years of SNL it was rather hit & miss, much like the current climate of the show.

They started off not with hosts Colin Jost & Michael Che, but an SNL ensemble of Kenan Thompson, Kate McKinnon & others singing an opening number about diversity in Hollywood called “We Solved It”. Jost & Che had a “Weekend Update” type monologue and Maya Rudolph & Fred Armisen had a running gag as “Emmy experts”, all of which missed the mark in my opinion. Lots of forced awkwardness and jokes that didn’t land. There were many presenting pairings throughout the night that I thought could have done a better job at the hosting gig, in particular Sandra Oh & Andy Samberg.

There were however some memorable moments that stuck with me. Here are my top 3 moments:

  1. The marriage proposal to end all marriage proposals.

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Glenn Weiss, who won an Emmy for best directing of a variety special for The Oscars, decided to take the opportunity during his speech to propose to his girlfriend in what was probably the most heart-warming moment of the night. Everyone stood up & applauded. His girlfriend, Jan Svendsen, came on stage and accepted his mother’s ring with joy & tears. It was definitely the pick me up the evening needed.

2. Betty White is our eternal Golden Girl.

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After Alec Baldwin & Kate McKinnon talked about the very first Emmys that took place in 1949, they remarked that there are very few people that were around then that are still working in television today.  Segueing into Betty White coming out to a well deserved standing ovation. This woman is 96 years old and still as sharp and funny as ever. She directed some of her quick wit towards Baldwin and the audience and left everyone with a smile on their faces. Please live forever Betty.

3. A Marvelous Moment for Maisel

The Amazon series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel was one of the biggest winners of the night, taking home a total of 8 Emmys including best director, best comedy writing and best actress & supporting actress. Showrunner & head writer Amy Sherman-Palladino gave two very witty & delightful speeches and Rachel Brosnahan & Alex Borstein were very funny and gracious in their speeches as well. With the absence of Veep this year, the comedy category was left wide open for a new contender to claim the throne and Maisel seems to have done just that. Everyone’s favorite 1950’s stand up comic housewife is set to return sometime this year. Can we get a date already Amazon?!

Here’s the rundown on all the televised winners:

Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series:

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“If you stay at the table long enough the chips come to you.”

Winner: Henry Winkler (Barry)

Louie Anderson (Baskets)

Alec Baldwin (SNL)

Tituss Burgess (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt)

Brian Tyree Henry (Atlanta)

Tony Shalhoub (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)

Kenan Thompson (SNL)

Winkler finally won his first Emmy after initially being nominated for his iconic role of The Fonz in Happy Days. He joked when he pulled out his speech that,  “I wrote this 43 years ago.” He had a very heartfelt speech and got a standing ovation from the appreciative crowd.

Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series:

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“I went without the bra.”

Winner: Alex Borstein (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)

Zazie Beetz (Atlanta)

Aidy Bryant (SNL)

Betty Gilpin (GLOW)

Leslie Jones (SNL)

Kate McKinnon (SNL)

Laurie Metcalf (Roseanne)

Megan Mullally (Will & Grace)

Borstein appeared genuinely surprised she won, even letting out an expletive but then she transitioned to her very funny self and sashayed up to the stage while seductively taking off her jacket and giving the crowd a shimmy. She started off with some funny quips but ended her speech with a heartfelt dedication to her kids.

Writing in a Comedy Series:

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“Whoever put that carpet down, hates women. I just wanna say that right away. Times up!”

Winner: Amy Sherman-Palladino

This was the second Emmy of the night for Maisel and the first of several for Palladino throughout the course of the evening. She made a witty comment about the carpet & ripping her tights and effusively thanked the cast. She walked off stage but didn’t have to go too far because she won the next category as well.

Directing in a Comedy Series:

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“My panic room’s gonna be so pretty!”

Winner: Amy Sherman-Palladino

Palladino gave credit to the crew who makes sure that “Maisel goes out on the streets of New York and takes your parking spaces away from you.” She went on to thank her husband and other members of the crew as well as the cast. The Maisel  love would continue with the next category.

Lead Actress in a Comedy Series:

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Winner-Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)

Pamela Adlon (Better Things)

Allison Janney (Mom)

Issa Rae (Insecure)

Tracee Ellis Ross (Black-ish)

Lily Tomlin (Grace and Frankie)

Brosnahan had a fun push and pull with presenter Tiffany Haddish when she wouldn’t let go of the Emmy. She thanked the creators for trusting her with “their Midge.” She also explained that her show is about a woman who is finding her voice anew and that one of the most important ways to use our voices is to vote. She ended her speech by encouraging people to register to vote and bring a friend to the polls.

Lead Actor in a Comedy Series:

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“Uh, I did not think this was gonna happen.”

Winner-Bill Hader (Barry)

Anthony Anderson (Black-ish)

Ted Danson (The Good Place)

Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm)

Donald Glover (Atlanta)

William H. Macy (Shameless)

Hader was shocked by his win but gave credit to his cast saying, “you should always make the other people look good so what I did was I hired a bunch of really great actors that made me look really good.”

Supporting Actress in a Limited Series/Movie:

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“I really hope that you don’t mistake my fear right now for a lack of gratitude.”

Winner: Merritt Wever (Godless)

Sara Bareilles (Jesus Christ Superstar)

Penelope Cruz (The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story)

Judith Light (The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story)

Adina Porter (American Horror Story:Cult)

Letitia Wright (Black Museum-Black Mirror)

Wever continued her trend of having the most genuine & awkwardly sweet acceptance speechs by saying she was sorry and that she was trying to be an adult about this. She said thanks on behalf of herself and the character and thanked all the nominees. All I gotta say is The Walking Dead messed up by letting this gem of an actor go.

Supporting Actor in a Limited Series/Movie:

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“When they call and say can you ride a horse, don’t lie.”

Winner-Jeff Daniels (Godless)

Brandon Victor Dixon (Jesus Christ Superstar)

John Leguizamo (Waco)

Ricky Martin (The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story)

Edgar Ramirez (The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story)

Michael Stuhlbarg (The Looming Tower)

Finn Wittrock (The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story)

Daniels thanked a number of people but he wanted to give special attention to his horse Apollo, who was Jeff Bridges’ horse on True Grit. He joked that he felt the horse was making unfair comparisons. He said he broke his left wrist when he was thrown off the horse but as he raised the Emmy up high, he said it was now officially healed.

Writing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special:

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“What a delightful but horrifying out of body experience this is.”

Winner-USS Callister (Black Mirror) Written by William Bridges and Charlie Brooker

Black Mirror continued it’s trend of creating award winning episodes with this win. Brooker lead with the thank you’s as well as stating his wife had gone “to take a wee” but had returned just in time. He started to thank his children but said he didn’t know why because they were very young and didn’t even like Black Mirror. He also acknowledged the creative debt this episode owed to US titans of scifi, Star Trek & The Twilight Zone.

Directing for a Limited Series/Movie:

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Winner-Ryan Murphy for The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, “The Man Who Would Be Vogue”

Murphy had a very touching speech where he thanked all the cast & crew but he wanted to especially highlight all the women in his life who supported him, name dropping a few: Julia, Gwyneth, Sarah Paulson, Angela Bassett, Kathy Bates.

Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie:

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Winner-Regina King (Seven Seconds)

Jessica Biel (The Sinner)

Laura Dern (The Tale)

Michelle Dockery (Godless)

Edie Falco (Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders)

Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story:Cult)

King was completely shocked that she won that she was at a loss for words at first. She thanked the cast & crew and resisted the urge to curse and thanked Jesus instead, giving a shoutout to host Michael Che who earlier in the evening said that his mother lamented that white people didn’t thank God enough at award shows.

Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie:

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“To my darling Mia, you roll the windows down & pump the music up in my life and I’m so thankful for you.”

Winner-Darren Criss (The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story)

Antonio Banderas (Genius: Picasso)

Benedict Cumberbatch (Patrick Melrose)

Jeff Daniels (The Looming Tower)

John Legend (Jesus Christ Superstar)

Jesse Plemons (Black Mirror: USS Callister)

It was so great to see Criss get this recognition. Having followed his career from his viral hit A Very Potter Musical on Youtube to Glee and now Gianni Versace, it was nice to see him get his due.

Writing for Variety Special:

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Winner-John Mulaney (John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous at Radio City)

Full Frontal With Samantha Bee

Michelle Wolf (Michelle Wolf: Nice Lady)

Patton Oswalt (Patton Oswalt: Annihilation)

Steve Martin & Martin Short (An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life)

Mulaney gave credit to all the nominees for inspiring him making him laugh. He then thanked his wife who didn’t come to the ceremony because she was busy. She said, “I just can’t fly across the country to watch you lose.” He joked that she still made the right decision.

Directing for a Variety Special:

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Winner-Glenn Weiss (The Oscars)

Stan Lathan (Dave Chappelle: Equanimity)

Michael Bonfiglio (Jerry Seinfeld: Jerry Before Seinfeld)

Marcus Raboy (Steve Martin & Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life)

Hamish Hamilton (Super Bowl LII Halftime Show Starring Justin Timberlake)

The most talked about moment of the night! You know all about this winner if you read my top 3 moments of the night at the beginning of this article. I still can’t believe that a director for The Oscars ended up stealing the show at The Emmys. Every man out there needs to aspire to this level of proposal game.

Supporting Actor in a Drama Series:

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Winner-Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones)

David Harbour (Stranger Things)

Joseph Fiennes (The Handmaid’s Tale)

Mandy Patinkin (Homeland)

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones)

Matt Smith (The Crown)

Dinklage won yet again. He is definitely one of the best actors on that show and the rest of the nominees will be darn happy when Game of Thrones has its final season next year. He thanked his “brother from another mother” Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and George Martin for “creating this darn thing.”

Supporting Actress in a Drama Series:

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“I don’t even believe in God, but I’m going to thank her tonight.”

Winner-Thandie Newton (Westworld)

Vanessa Kirby (The Crown)

Lena Headey (Game of Thrones)

Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things)

Yvonne Strahovski (The Handmaid’s Tale)

Alexis Bledel (The Handmaid’s Tale)

Ann Dowd (The Handmaid’s Tale)

Thandie thanked God even though she didn’t believe in her and let lose a few expletives. Her turn as Maeve on this latest season of Westworld was a joy to watch and probably the performance of the season for me. I do however, hope Lena Headey gets her due next year because her performance as Cersei deserves all the awards. (Even if we all secretly long for the character’s death.)

Writing for a Drama Series:

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Winner-The Americans

It’s nice in it’s last season, The Americans is finally getting some much deserved recognition.

Directing for a Drama Series:

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Winner-The Crown

Stephen Daldry won for best directing for The Crown but unfortunately was not there to accept his award. Fortunately for us, the hilarious comedian Hannah Gadsby happened to be presenting and was there to provide some levity and accept on his behalf.

Lead Actor in a Drama Series:

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Winner-Matthew Rhys (The Americans)

Jason Bateman (Ozark)

Milo Ventimiglia (This Is Us)

Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us)

Jeffrey Wright (Westworld)

Ed Harris (Westworld)

Matthew Rhys thanked the cast & crew but saved his greatest thanks for his costar Keri Russell. “And finally to the woman who truly got me this award and who just stands in front of me everyday and puts up with me. She said if you propose to me I will punch you clean in the mouth.”

Bonus Gif of Keri Russell responding to Matthew Rhys as only she can:

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Lead Actress in a Drama Series:

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Winner-Claire Foy (The Crown)

Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black)

Sandra Oh (Killing Eve)

Keri Russell (The Americans)

Evan Rachel Wood (Westworld)

Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale)

Claire Foy gets the win for her last turn as Queen Elizabeth II before they have an older actress play her in the remaining seasons. She exclaimed, “This wasn’t supposed to happen!” as she got on stage. She gave credit to the other actresses and I for one agree with her that this category is going to be neck and neck going forward because the talent of all these women is astronomical. Anyone could have gotten the win. Foy dedicated her win to the next cast continuing on the show without her and Matt Smith.

Outstanding Reality Competition Program:

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Winner-RuPaul’s Drag Race

Rick & Morty (in all their cartoon glory) presented best reality show to RuPaul’s Drag Race. RuPaul thanked the 140 drag queens “they released into the wild” and exclaimed, “if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?!”

Outstanding Variety Sketch Series:

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Winner-Saturday Night Live

As I stated earlier, I wasn’t a fan of the SNL-esque skits throughout the 3+ hour show, however you can’t deny SNL’s longevity. With Kate McKinnon at the forefront, I feel SNL will still be a contender for many more years to come.

Outstanding Variety Talk Series:

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Winner- Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

John Oliver took home the Emmy once again. He acknowledged his staff who were cheering from the balcony section. He said his son hates his show but loves Paw Patrol and “if our show is anything, it’s the precise opposite of Paw Patrol.

Outstanding Limited Series:

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Winner-The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story

The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story won for Limited Series and my hand is currently cramping typing this. This is the longest title ever. Hey Ryan Murphy, can you start making shorter titles for your series please? Jokes aside, he gave a nice speech dedicating their win to the LGBTQ youth and greater awareness as well as stricter hate crime laws.

Outstanding Comedy Series:

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Winner-The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Curb Your Enthusiasm

Silicon Valley

Atlanta

GLOW

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Black-ish

Barry

Daniel Palladino accepted this award on behalf of the cast & crew. Maisel scored 8 Emmys on the night and if it keeps up the quality in season 2 I don’t see why this show won’t become the new powerhouse in the comedy category.

Outstanding Drama Series:

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George waving to all the haters.

Winner- Game of Thrones

This Is Us

Westworld

The Crown

The Handmaid’s Tale

The Americans

Stranger Things

Yes. Game of Thrones won the last prize of the night. Even though it lost out in the writing and directing categories, this HBO juggernaut would not be denied. Going into the last season in 2019, the rest of these nominees have to be breathing a sigh of relief at their changing fortunes. I, for one, am not ready to say goodbye to this amazing show. However, we all know, everything must come to an end.  Valar morghulis.

 

 

*All gifs courtesy of giphy.com/netflix & giphy.com/emmys

 

 

 

 

‘Crazy Rich Asians’ – A Crazy Fun Time for Representation

*This is a Non-Spoiler review!

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Photo Courtesy of imdb.com

The title of this movie is quite literally what it is about. Based on the book of the same name by Kevin Kwan, Crazy Rich Asians follows the lives of some crazy, very rich Asians. Even though the title is pretty on the nose, the themes & stories that are portrayed in this film go far beyond those three descriptors. This film was a major positive step for representation. I can’t recall watching any movie that contained an all Asian cast that wasn’t in the kung-fu genre. In it’s most simplistic form, this is a story about a man that takes his girlfriend home to meet his family. It is a universal story. Not once did having an all Asian cast detract or distract from the story being told, in fact in most instances it added to it. Hollywood can’t use the excuse of “there aren’t enough good Asian actors” anymore when confronted with showing diversity in films. Every single character in this film was a well rounded, fleshed out, fully realized person and every single character was played by an Asian actor! Even the side characters had a personality! I hope the success of this film is a watershed moment for the entertainment industry where they realize diversity and representation can and will equal monetary and critical success. People want to see themselves represented as the protagonist in their own stories!

Besides the representation aspect, this film is just fun to watch. The visuals are stunning, showing off a lot of the magnificent landscapes of Singapore as well as making you wish you could eat the food right off the screen. The themes of love vs family, familial expectation and pressure and the treatment of different classes all expertly interweave together creating a complex emotional web worthy of the best daytime soap opera. This romantic comedy follows the standard comedy trope of meeting the significant other’s family and everything succumbing to chaos but it executes it in a fresh, enjoyable take. The basic plot follows Rachel and Nick, living a fun life in New York when Nick invites Rachel to Singapore to attend his best friend’s wedding and meet his family. Rachel soon finds out Nick belongs to one of the wealthiest families in Asia and many people aren’t too happy that Asia’s most eligible bachelor has brought home a Chinese American.

Constance Wu, from Fresh Off The Boat fame, shines as the New York economics professor, Rachel Chu. Her earnestness and relatable personality make Rachel a protagonist that we root for when things for her character start to get rough. Henry Goulding stars as Nick Young, Rachel’s impossibly wealthy boyfriend, in his FIRST EVER MOVIE ROLE!!!! He knocks it out of the park with his charm and wit, so much so that as an audience member you can totally understand why all the women in the film are so gaga over him. Goulding couldn’t have asked for a better debut and it will surely lead to more starring roles for him. He already landed a lead role in Paul Feig’s new crime drama, A Simple Favor, which stars Anna Kendrick & Blake Lively.  The supporting cast boasts some great talents as well, from Rachel’s best friend in college played by the rising comedy star Awkwafina (Ocean’s 8), to Nick’s fashionista cousin Astrid, Gemma Chan (catch her in the upcoming Captain Marvel) and his overbearing mother Eleanor played by Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon legend Michelle Yeoh. 

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Cast from left to right: Awkwafina, Henry Goulding, Gemma Chan, Constance Wu, Sonoya Mizumo & director Jon M. Chu (photo courtesy of Stewart Cooke via imdb.com)

With many laugh out loud moments (mostly provided by Awkwafina), along with some tense family drama and sweeping romantic scenes, Crazy Rich Asians provides an enjoyable 2 hour escape that leaves us with the theme of family and reminds us to stand up for ourselves even when others seek to tear us down.

 

© Allyson Nold, reelramblings.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Allyson Nold and reelramblings.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All content on this site is owned by reelramblings.com unless specifically stated otherwise. Credit will be given to the original owner’s content when used on this site.

 

‘The Spy Who Dumped Me’ Non-Spoiler Review

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Image Courtesy of imdb.com

Hit the ground running. Pull your audience into the world you have created. This should be the goal of every filmmaker. A goal that was definitely achieved by Susanna Fogel, the director and co-writer of this delightful, action spy caper. The start of this movie feels like it could easily be the opening scene in a Bond/Bourne film. The action scenes were very well choreographed with very little shaky cam and inspiring cinematography. You felt right in the middle of it. However, what sets this film apart from the aforementioned spy films is that it is not just an action film but a comedy as well. So as you are enjoying Justin Theroux, the titular spy Drew, punch dudes in the face and run through marketplaces, you are also shown Mila Kunis’ character Audrey lamenting that Drew has dumped her and subsequently burning his stuff. The juxtaposition of comedy and action throughout the film keeps the story fun and exciting, never knowing if you will be getting a fast paced car chase or a Kate McKinnon physical comedy master class.

Audrey (Mila Kunis) and Morgan (Kate McKinnon) are two best friends who get swept up in the world of international espionage when they find out Audrey’s ex-boyfriend was a spy. The girls’ friendship is the grounding force of this movie and Kunis and McKinnon’s chemistry was very palpable. You believed that they were lifelong friends. They played off of each other so well, with Mila playing the more relatable funny friend against Kate’s wacky, free-spirited personality. However, Mila definitely held her own with the Saturday Night Live legend. I feel Kunis has definitely found her comedy niche with this most recent film and her previous work Bad Moms. McKinnon has not really parlayed her SNL success to the big screen as of yet, but this is her most well-rounded and satisfying outing to date.

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Image courtesy of Hopper Stone SMPSP- Lionsgate Entertainment

The supporting cast is a fun mixed bag of newcomers accompanied by a tv legend. Sam Heughan, of STARZ Outlander fame and stand up comedian Hasan Minhaj play CIA agents whose boss is none other than Dana Scully herself, Gillian Anderson. Heughan gets a lot to do in this movie from stunt work to some back & forth comedy with Kunis & McKinnon. It was a nice change of pace from the period drama he is mostly known for. Anderson deftly played her part of “The Beyonce of the Government” as stated by McKinnon’s character Morgan. She served her purpose but I wish Anderson was utilized a bit more. Her character was so mysterious that I would have loved more scenes with her, especially playing off Kate McKinnon. A standout for me was newcomer, Ivanna Sakhno, who played a model/gymnast/assassin. Her facial expressions and physical skills were a joy to watch.

This was a fun summer movie that didn’t take itself too seriously. It reminded me of previous Melissa McCarthy films such as Spy and The Heat along with the remake of Get Smart. It didn’t quite live up to it’s potential but even though it didn’t land where it perhaps wanted to, it was enjoyable nonetheless.

 

© Allyson Nold, reelramblings.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Allyson Nold and reelramblings.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All content on this site is owned by reelramblings.com unless specifically stated otherwise. Credit will be given to the original owner’s content when used on this site.

 

‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’: The Feel Good Sequel/Prequel of the Summer

***Have no fear you Dancing Queen! This is a Non-Spoiler Review.****

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Photo courtesy of imdb.com

A long time ago, in the simpler time of 2008, a movie about a young girl inviting her 3 possible fathers to her wedding captivated the world. Mamma Mia! became the highest grossing live-action musical of all time until it was recently surpassed by the live-action Beauty and the Beast in 2017 and most notably, it was the highest grossing film directed by a woman until the Patty Jenkins directed blockbuster, Wonder Woman. 

Now it’s ten years later and it’s time to step back on that disco fueled, glitter infused ABBA train. All our old favorites from the first film have returned although Donna, played by Meryl Streep, has a significantly smaller role than in the original. We follow Sophie, played by Amanda Seyfried, as she is getting ready to reopen the hotel her mother started. Amongst the chaos of the reopen, she also learns she is pregnant. This revelation prompts Sophie to wonder how her mom dealt with raising her on her own which leads into various flashback sequences of how young Donna, played by Lily James of CinderellaBaby Driver fame, came to meet her three lovers.

Ol Parker takes over as director and screenwriter for the sequel but doesn’t quite capture the magic and flow of the first, directed by Phyllida Lloyd & screenplay by Catherine Johnson (who wrote the original musical for the stage). However, there are moments that this movie really shines and leaves you with that warm, fuzzy feeling. The stars of this film are the new cast playing the younger versions of the characters we knew & loved from the first film. James completely embodies her role as young Donna. She commands the stage during her musical numbers and breaks your heart in the more tender moments. Her ‘Dynamos’, Jessica Keenan Wyn and Alexa Davies, are spitting images of their older counterparts, possessing all the flair and wit that Christine Baranski and Julie Walters brought to the roles. As for the men, they each compliment James with their charm, personality and singing abilities, which are far better than their older counterparts….(Sorry Pierce.) Hugh Skinner, Josh Dylan, and Jeremy Irvine handled their roles perfectly and they were a joy to watch onscreen.

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Cast from left to right: Hugh Skinner (Harry), Jessica Keenan Wyn (Tanya), Alexa Davies (Rosie), Josh Dylan (Bill), Lily James (Donna), Jeremy Irvine (Sam).          (photo courtesy of imdb.com)

Of course, you can’t have a musical based on ABBA songs without an awesome soundtrack. Some old favorites are brought back along with some new additions, helping the film feel fresh but familiar. I won’t spoil any of the choices they made, but as an audience member, I was swaying back and forth in my chair for most of the numbers.

Speaking of musical numbers, we haven’t even gotten to the surprise hit of the movie, Cher! That’s right. Cher plays Sophie’s grandmother, in the role she was born to play, considering Ol Parker had her in mind while writing the part. Cher embodies the over-the-top, Vegas grandmother character like only Cher can. When she sings, you feel the power of a performer who has done this millions of times. Her presence takes over the room, in a good way. She added much more joy to the film than I thought she would and she was a welcome addition to the cast that had me smiling every time she appeared.

Overall, this film is a worthy successor to the first Mamma Mia! film. I never wanted the flashback sequences to end due to the powerhouse performances of the new cast. The returning cast played their parts and kept the nostalgia factor high. This is a fun, easy-going summer musical that will leave you in a better mood than when you entered the theater. That’s the power of ABBA!

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Photo courtesy of imdb.com

***Don’t forget to stay for the beginning of the credits. This mid-credit scene is worth the price of admission and possibly my favorite part of the movie! Also there is a short scene at the very end, but in my opinion it is not worth staying for.***

 

HBO Documentary Review-‘Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind’

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Photo courtesy of hbo.com

A comedic force of nature with a mile a minute wit and enough manic energy to transfix you with every word; that was Robin Williams to me. This film dives deep into Robin’s essence, illuminating his past and unfortunately his untimely exit from this world. Marina Zenovich directed this intimate portrait of one of the greatest comedians of our time. The film follows the familiar documentary format, starting with the early life and continuing through, hitting the career highlights throughout. However, what struck me most about Zenovich’s approach was how she presented the material. Robin narrates a lot of the film himself, through audio clips from past interviews or comedy bits. You never see him during these clips but his voice guides you through the film with the help of photos and stand up clips. It’s so powerful to simply hear someone’s voice who is no longer with us.

Never-before-seen footage and interviews with his closest friends and family are interwoven throughout the film, helping the viewer to understand how special this man was and how many lives he impacted with his gift of comedy. His first wife, Valerie Velardi, talked about the Robin she knew before he was in the public eye. Billy Crystal, David Letterman, and Steve Martin talked about the genius comedian who needed comedy like he needed air. His struggles with alcohol and drug addiction that permeated his private life also seemed to seep into his life on the stage. Billy Crystal admitted, “It’s a very powerful thing for a lot of comedians–that laugh is a drug. That acceptance, that thrill, is really hard to replace with anything else.”

I ran the gamut of emotions while watching this film. Clips from his stand up shows made me laugh out loud. Hearing from Billy Crystal about the last time he talked to Robin made me cry. Listening to his son Zac describe his many adventures with his father made me smile. Of course I loved seeing clips from his many classic movies such as Mrs. Doubtfire and Aladdin, but what touched me the most were the personal interviews from those who knew him best.

Robin Williams was part of my childhood. I literally wore out our VHS copy of Aladdin as a kid, replaying the Genie’s scenes over and over. Every time I would be given the unenviable chore of vacuuming the house, I would dance around with the machine like I was Mrs. Doubtfire. When I was feeling down, I would play his stand up special on the history of golf. This man shaped my sense of humor and brought so much joy to my life.

Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind is a captivating look into the life and career of one of the funniest people in the world and a fitting tribute to the man who made so many of us forget our troubles and just laugh.

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2017 Oscars Recap: Mean Tweets, Sweet Treats & One Major Flub

The Oscars started off with positivity and laughs but ended with the biggest faux pas in Academy Awards history. Lets recap!

Instead of starting off with the usual “host pretends to be in all the nominated movies schtick”, we were treated to a Justin Timberlake concert. Justin performed his nominated song Can’t Stop The Feeling  from the movie Trolls. It was a welcome change and set the tone for a fun filled evening.

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Courtesy of oscars.org

Then we went to the classic monologue with Jimmy Kimmel. He covered the nominated movies, some light politics & said we should stand together as a nation. Here are some highlights:

  • “Attempting” to bury the hatchet with Matt Damon
  • “Black people saved NASA & white people saved jazz!” (referencing Hidden Figures & La La Land)
  • A lot of sad movies this year….
  • “In Hollywood, we don’t discriminate on what country you’re from, just your age & weight.”
  • Made an “Overrated Meryl”joke & had everyone give her a standing ovation.
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Courtesy of oscars.org

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:

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Courtesy of oscars.org

  • WINNER: Mahershala Ali-Moonlight
  • Jeff Bridges-Hell or High Water
  • Lucas Hedges-Manchester By The Sea
  • Dev Patel-Lion
  • Michael Shannon-Nocturnal Animals

Mahershala Ali became the 1st Muslim to win in the Best Supporting Actor category. He had a very heartfelt speech where he thanked his family & colleagues. He has been having a great year with success in Moonlight, Hidden Figures, and as the villain “Cottonmouth” in the Netflix hit, Luke Cage.

Next there was a Casey Neistat commercial for Samsung showcasing the content YouTube creators make. Maybe some day in the future, online content creators will have a platform as high as the Oscars to celebrate their achievements.

BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING:

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  • WINNER: Suicide Squad
  • A Man Called Ove
  • Star Trek Beyond

In a surprising twist, the much maligned Suicide Squad took home the Oscar for best makeup. So let that be a lesson kids, even if you fail in some areas, you can succeed in others.

BEST COSTUME DESIGN:

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Courtesy of oscars.org

  • WINNER: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them-Colleen Atwood
  • Allied-Joanna Johnston
  • Florence Foster Jenkins-Consolata Boyle
  • Jackie-Madeline Fontaine
  • La La Land-Mary Zophres

Colleen Atwood was truly shocked that she won & didn’t have a speech prepared but made something up on the fly. Fantastic Beasts had beautiful 20s inspired costumes that fit right in with the rest of the Harry Potter imagery.

The stars of Hidden Figures: Taraji P. Hensen, Octavia Spencer, & Janelle Monae (or as Jimmy called them “Algebra’s Angels”), presented the award for best documentary feature but not before honoring the real Katherine Johnson, who came out on stage in a wheelchair.

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE:

  • WINNER: O.J.: Made in America
  • Fire at Sea
  • I Am Not Your Negro
  • Life, Animated
  • 13th 

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson introduced How Far I’ll Go, the nominated song from Moana sung by Auli’i Cravalho with an original rap prologue from Lin Manuel Miranda. It was an amazing performance with beautiful ribbon dancers emulating the ocean in the background. There was a slight mishap where a “wave” hit the back of Auli’s head but she carried on like a pro & no one was the wiser. Bravo to this amazing girl who is only 16 years old. I hope she has a long career ahead of her.

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Courtesy of oscars.org

The President of the Academy, Cheryl Boone Isaccs, came out & said a nice speech with one quote that stood out to me: “Tonight is proof that art has no borders… no single language… or belong to a single faith.”

Then in the tradition of giving food to the audience, Jimmy Kimmel had candy drop from the ceiling much to the delight of all. (Now I’m craving some Junior Mints….)

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Courtesy of oscars.org

BEST SOUND EDITING:

  • WINNER: Arrival
  • Deepwater Horizon
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • La La Land
  • Sully

BEST SOUND MIXING:

  • WINNER: Hacksaw Ridge
  • Arrival
  • La La Land
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  • 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

Revlon had a nice commercial involving Lady Gaga, Pharrell & Ellen supporting The Love Project. #AllYouNeedIsLove #Lovein3words

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BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:

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Courtesy of oscars.org

  • WINNER: Viola Davis-Fences
  • Naomie Harris-Moonlight
  • Nicole Kidman-Lion
  • Octavia Spencer-Hidden Figures
  • Michelle Williams-Manchester by the Sea

Viola Davis became the most nominated black actress ever with three nominations. She should get an Oscar just for her speeches. In traditional Viola fashion she made us cry, laugh & contemplate our lives all in one speech. A favorite quote of mine from her speech was, “We are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life.”

The next segment,which was a repeating segment throughout the show, highlighted actors talking about their favorite actors/performances. Charlize Theron talked about Shirley MacLaine in The Apartment and then they presented Best Foreign Language Film. The hilarious Shirley received a standing ovation and made several quips before announcing the winner.

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Courtesy of oscars.org

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM:

  • WINNER: The Salesman
  • Land of Mine
  • A Man Called Ove
  • Tanna
  • Toni Erdmann

Even though Asghar Farhadi won, he decided not to attend to show solidarity for the immigrants affected by the travel ban. He had a representative read his thank you speech to crowd.

The next nominated song was The Empty Chair from the documentary film Jim: The James Foley Story, performed by the legendary Sting.

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Courtesy of oscars.org

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM:

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  • WINNER: Piper
  • Blind Vaysha
  • Borrowed Time
  • Pear Cider and Cigarettes
  • Pearl

One of my favorite short films Pixar has ever done. Piper is so beautiful & that little bird is so cute.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM:

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  • WINNER: Zootopia
  • Kubo and the Two Strings
  • Moana
  • My Life as a Zucchini
  • The Red Turtle

Zootopia definitely deserved this win for its themes of inclusion and portrayal of prejudice & racism. However, I also loved the stop motion look of Kubo & the songs in Moana were very catchy.

PRODUCTION DESIGN:

  • WINNER: La La Land (1st win for La La Land)
  • Arrival
  • Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them
  • Hail, Casear!
  • Passengers

Between awards, Jimmy brought in a tour bus of people to enjoy the Oscars with everyone. I for one would have been way more excited than these people.

VISUAL EFFECTS:

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  • WINNER: Jungle Book
  • Deepwater Horizon
  • Doctor Strange
  • Kubo and the Two Strings
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

I think everyone can agree that a movie that was shot entirely on green screen should definitely win the visual effects award.

Seth Rogan talked about Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future. He then came out in the DeLorean with Michael J. Fox to present best editing. Fox received a standing ovation much to the chagrin of Rogan.

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Courtesy of oscars.org

 

BEST EDITING:

  • WINNER: Hacksaw Ridge
  • Arrival
  • Hell or High Water
  • La La Land
  • Moonlight

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT:

  • WINNER: The White Helmets
  • Extremis
  • 4.1 Miles
  • Joe’s Violin
  • Watani: My Homeland

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM:

  • WINNER: Sing
  • Ennemis Interieurs
  • La Femme et le TGV
  • Silent Nights
  • Timecode

Jimmy had some fun with the President when he tweeted him during the show: Hey Trump u up? #Merylsayshi

Javier Bardem talked about Meryl Streep in Bridges of Madison County and then they presented Best Cinematography together.

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Courtesy of oscars.org

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY:

  • WINNER: Linus Sandgren- La La Land

Jimmy had a special edition of Celebrities Read Mean Tweets: Oscar Edition with several funny segments. My favorite was Tilda Swinton.

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Courtesy of oscars.org

John Legend performed La La Land’s two nominated songs, City of Stars Audition, on the piano with dancers twirling in the background. I liked his renditions of the songs and the dancers added a great depth to the performance.

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Courtesy of oscars.org

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE:

  • WINNER: Justin Hurwitz- La La Land
  • Jackie
  • Lion
  • Moonlight
  • Passengers

BEST ORIGINAL SONG:

  • WINNER: City of Stars- La La Land
  • Audition (The Fools Who Dream)
  • Can’t Stop The Feeling
  • The Empty Chair
  • How Far I’ll Go

IN MEMORIUM:

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Courtesy of oscars.org

Performed by the very talented Sara Barellies.

So many legends have been lost this year that this segment could have gone on for the whole length of the show. It was a very nice tribute.

Continuing the actors talking about actors who inspire them, Jimmy Kimmel talked about Matt Damon’s performance in We Bought a Zoo. It was probably one of my fav Jimmy/Matt moments of the night.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:

  • WINNER: Manchester By The Sea

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:

  • WINNER: Moonlight

BEST DIRECTING:

  • WINNER: La La Land
  • Arrival
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • Manchester By The Sea
  • Moonlight

BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE:

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Courtesy of oscars.org

  • WINNER: Casey Affleck-Manchester By The Sea
  • Andrew Garfield-Hacksaw Ridge
  • Ryan Gosling- La La Land
  • Viggo Mortensen- Captain Fantastic
  • Denzel Washington- Fences

There were a lot of good performances in this category but I think Denzel got robbed. Casey is a good actor but Denzel is just on another level in my opinion. Also what Casey does in his personal life is not something I support.

BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE:

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Courtesy of oscars.org

  • WINNER: Emma Stone- La La Land
  • Isabelle Huppert-Elle
  • Ruth Negga-Loving
  • Natalie Portman-Jackie
  • Meryl Streep-Florence Foster Jenkins

It’s been such a privilege to follow Emma’s career from Superbad to La La Land and everywhere in between. She gave such a genuine speech & I can’t wait to see where else her career takes her.

BEST PICTURE:

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Courtesy of oscars.org

  • WINNER: Moonlight
  • Arrival
  • Fences
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • Hell or High Water
  • Hidden Figures
  • La La Land
  • Lion
  • Manchester by the Sea

Ok here is where all the chaos happened…..Faye Dunaway & Warren Beatty came out to present the last award of the night. Two classic actors presenting the biggest honor a film can receive. What could go wrong?

Apparently Warren received the wrong envelope. His envelope was for Best Actress and it read “Emma Stone-La La Land“. So instead of maybe double checking, he passed the envelope on to Faye Dunaway who said the winner was La La Land. Cast & producers of La La Land came up to say their speeches & people with headsets started to appear on stage.

After much discussing, one of La La Land’s producers is given the correct envelope revealing Moonlight to be the actual winner. Warren tried to explain the blunder but the damage was done. Jimmy Kimmel tried to calm things over & make light of the situation by blaming Steve Harvey. La La Land graciously exited the stage while Moonlight came up, bewildered & shocked, to accept their award for Best Picture.

This has never happened before in the history of the Oscars. It was a horrible situation that you never want to happen but everyone involved handled it with class and humility.

Overall the Oscars was a fun filled evening with many predictable but deserving wins none the less. Although one mess up will be the headline for this event for years to come, I hope we don’t forget the many amazing moments that made this one of the most enjoyable Academy Awards to date.

 

 

2017 Golden Globes Recap

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Image courtesy of Summit Entertainment

The 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards belonged to La La Land, which swept its categories taking home a record 7 awards. The evening was a pretty standard Hollywood affair although not as much humor as previous years when Tina & Amy hosted. Jimmy Fallon did his usual musical opening with cameos from all the nominees and he popped in throughout the show as needed. However, he didn’t really hold the weight of previous hosts for me. Based on social media reaction, Kristin Wiig & Steve Carell would be my choices to host next year. The night rounded out with some poignant speeches & a touching tribute for a mother and daughter we lost too soon.

Let’s recap:

Opening: Reminiscent of his Emmy’s opening, we started off with Jimmy Fallon singing in a limo in a La La Land inspired musical number. Jimmy loves his musical openings. Many nominees took part, including a fun rap from Stranger Things’ Millie Bobby Brown. We rounded out the bit with a quick Tina Fey cameo and of course no Fallon performance is complete without a Justin Timberlake dance number.

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Courtesy of goldenglobes.com

Every year when I watch these award shows I am painfully reminded that no matter how much I try to watch all the movies and tv shows I can, I still barely crack the surface. Hopefully I can catch up before the Oscars…

Winners in Order of Appearance:

Best Supporting Actor-Motion Picture: Aaron Taylor Johnson (Nocturnal Animals)

Best Actor: Tv Series-Drama: Billy Bob Thorton (Goliath)

Best Actress: Tv Series-Comedy: Tracee Ellis Ross (Blackish)

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I love Julia but finally someone else won! She doesn’t seem too sad about it though. (Courtesy of goldenglobes.com)

Best Tv Series-Comedy or Musical: Atlanta

Best Actress-Limited Series or Tv Movie: Sarah Paulson (The People vs OJ Simpson)

Best Limited Series or Tv Movie: The People vs OJ Simpson-American Crime Story

Best Supporting Actor-Limited Series or Tv Movie: Hugh Laurie (The Night Manager)

Original Score-Motion Picture: La La Land

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Courtesy of lalaland.movie via giphy

Original Song-Motion Picture: City of Stars (La La Land)

  • I bought the soundtrack as soon as I left the theater. The songs definitely get stuck in your head in the best way. Although, I was sad for Moana. How Far I’ll Go is an amazing anthem that deserves recognition too.

Best Supporting Actress-Motion Picture: Viola Davis (Fences)

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“It’s not a money maker but it does scream art. It does scream heart.” (Courtesy of goldenglobes.com)

Best Supporting Actress-Tv Series: Olivia Colman (The Night Manager)

Best Actor-Comedy or Musical: Ryan Gosling (La La Land)

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Gosling addressed the internet’s confusion of himself & Reynolds (Courtesy of giphy.com)

Best Screenplay-Motion Picture: Damian Chazelle (La La Land)

Best Animated Film: Zootopia

  • This category had some heavy hitters as well. Kubo & Moana were amazing & heartfelt.
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Wiig & Carell shared hilariously somber stories about the 1st animated film they saw. (Courtesy of goldenglobes.com)

A lovely little tribute to Carrie Fisher & Debbie Reynolds was shown. Still chokes me up. Can’t believe they are both gone.

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Best Foreign Language Film: Elle (France)

Best Actor-Limited Tv Series or Movie: Tom Hiddleston (The Night Manager)

Best Actress-Tv Series Drama: Claire Foy (The Crown)

Best Tv Series-Drama: The Crown

  • This was a powerhouse category, an embarrassment of riches truly. Winning out over Game of Thrones, Stranger Things, This Is Us and Westworld. All winners in my book.

Winner of the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award: Meryl Streep

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Streep ended her speech with this quote from her dear departed friend Carrie Fisher (courtesy of goldenglobes.com)

  • Amazing tribute from Viola Davis. Probably one of the finest introductions I have ever heard. Can I have Viola introduce me at every function/meeting I have for the rest of my life?! Meryl Streep took the opportunity to talk about others rather than herself. I’ve never heard someone talk about politics so eloquently.  Some people might not agree with her political statements but we can all agree she is definitely deserving of the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Best Director: Damian Chazelle (La La Land)

Best Actor-Tv Series Comedy or Musical: Donald Glover (Atlanta)

Best Actress- Motion Picture-Comedy or Musical: Emma Stone (La La Land)

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Courtesy of tumblr.com

Best Motion Picture-Comedy or Musical: La La Land

  • & La La Land gets the sweep!

Best Actor-Motion Picture Drama: Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)

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I bet Matt Damon is regretting giving up that role now…

Best Actress-Motion Picture Drama: Isabelle Huppert (Elle)

  • Wow, quite the upset. I think the last time an actress from a foreign film won best actress was Marion Cotillard.

Best Motion Picture-Drama: Moonlight

Best Moments:

  • Evan Rachel Woods’ tuxedo
  • “My first job skit” with Chris Pratt being unable to say anything but “actor”
  • Inspiring acceptance speech from Emma Stone
  • Kristin Wiig & Steve Carell’s hilariously somber tribute to Best Animated Film
  • Ryan Reynolds & Andrew Garfield kissing each other when they lost out to Ryan Gosling
  • Touching tribute to Carrie Fisher & Debbie Reynolds

Missteps:

  • Teleprompter fail at the start of the show
  • Sofia Vergara’s Freudian slip (anal tradition)
  • Hidden “Fences” gaff not once but twice

Overall it was a fun evening but this was just the precursor to the main event! The Oscars are coming in February & I’ve got a lot of movies to catch up on.

I leave you with the genius of Carrie Fisher:

“Take your broken heart, make it into art.”

Ally

 

From Princess to Icon: My Reflection on the Life & Legacy of Carrie Fisher

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In a year when an ungodly amount of legends have parted from this world, a Princess’ time was cut short sooner than expected. Carrie Fisher burst on to our screens as the fearsome Princess Leia Organa in Star Wars and I have loved her ever since.

At a certain point in my childhood my Dad decided to introduce me to the phenomenon known as Star Wars. There were amazing space battles, intricate alien worlds and compelling characters. One character in particular caught my attention. A no-nonsense woman who took charge in dangerous situations, had an amazing quick wit and could shoot a blaster with the greatest of ease. She was unlike any princess I had seen before. She was no damsel in distress & more often than not saved the men with her quick thinking & sharp tongue. As with most fictional characters that I became obsessed with, I wanted to know more about the woman behind the character. It was then that I was introduced to the wonderful enigma that was Carrie Fisher.

Carrie often said that she didn’t play the part of Princess Leia, she was & forever will be Princess Leia. While I do agree with that statement, I also believe that Carrie left indelible marks in many other avenues as well. She was so much more than Princess Leia. She was an amazing writer and script doctor, comedian & mental illness advocate. As a writer myself, her brilliance with words constantly makes me challenge the words I decide to put to the page. If you are unfamiliar with her work, I suggest you check out her semi-autobiographical book, Postcards From the Edge (she also wrote the screenplay) & Wishful Drinking, a book which she eventually turned into a one-woman show that went to Broadway and lead to an HBO special. Weirdly enough, the day I heard of her heart attack, I was listening to her new book The Princess Diarist on my phone.

I’ve watched countless interviews & behind the scenes footage of Carrie over the years and not one of them has ever failed to make me laugh. Carrie had a ridiculous sense of humor and a dry wit that anyone would aspire to have. In addition to her comedy chops, she was also a tireless advocate for mental illness. Having been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and drug addiction, she was very open about her experiences in the hope that it would help others.

I struggled with my feelings and thoughts all day as I tried to come up with a coherent string of sentences to explain what Carrie Fisher meant to me. As I write this, I am wearing Star Wars pajamas with her face plastered all over them. She has unknowingly been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. As Leia she taught me to be brave and stand up for what I believe in. As a writer she taught me to take risks and never apologize. As a person she taught me that it’s never too late to be true to yourself.

Thank you for blazing your own trail Carrie Fisher, and in doing so, helping others to discover their own. May the Force be with you, always.

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*& just so you don’t leave here forlorn, here is a picture of Carrie Fisher giving the finger to 2016*

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Per her request, I must end this post as Carrie would have wanted. “No matter how I go, I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra.”

Ally

 

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children Review

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Image courtesy of Screen Rant

Miss Peregrine’s captures the feeling of Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters with the aesthetic of Tim Burton’s creepy visual style. Based on the book by Ransom Riggs, Peregrine’s follows the journey of Jake Portman (Asa Butterfield), a seemingly ordinary teenager stuck in a boring providential town where his only escape from the monotony of every day life is in his Grandpa’s (Terrance Stamp) stories about a magical home full of peculiar children.

Events unfold that force Jake to leave his sleepy Florida suburb for the country of Wales, where he discovers his Grandpa’s stories held more truth than fiction when he encounters some peculiar children who take him to their home that exists beyond time. Jake acquires a certain fondness for Emma (Ella Purnell), a young girl with the power of aerokinesis who must wear lead shoes to keep her light frame from floating away. In charge of this merry band of misfits is Miss Peregrine, played by the scene stealing Eva Green. A Tim Burton veteran, Green embodies a Mary Poppins like charm coupled with a birdlike ferocity. Oh did I forget to mention Miss Peregrine tends to turn into a peregrine falcon from time to time?

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Image courtesy of foxmovies.com

Miss Peregrine is fiercely loyal and protective of her charges and enlists Jake to help protect them from Barron (Samuel L. Jackson) and the Hollows, a group of Slender man like creatures looking for immortality. Jackson is his typical over the top, chewing the scenery self but for once his performance didn’t take me out of the movie. His character is theatrical and zany and Jackson’s in your face nature actually added to the performance making him incredibly unpredictable, menacing and even funny.

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Image courtesy of imdb.com

This movie brings Burton back to true form, after having some creative missteps as of late. It is delightfully weird with unique and memorable characters. The main gripe I have with this film is we don’t get to spend enough time with the “memorable ones” and instead are forced to spend an inordinate amount of time with the “boring ones.” Let’s find a home full of super powered children but spend more than half our time with boring every day people whose names you can’t remember. The peculiar children do get their moments to shine throughout the film but never receive the fleshed out treatment they truly deserve.

This slight character misuse keeps this movie from reaching it’s full potential. However, it is still a fun, well-crafted fairytale that the whole family will enjoy. (Well, maybe not the really young ones) The visuals and score transport you in typical Tim Burton fashion to a world where anything is possible and the strange is embraced. The source material lends itself so well to Burton’s creepy, unique style that you would have thought it was an original screenplay from him. The audience will leave with a smile on their faces but also a slight feeling of lacking.

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Gif courtesy of mashable.com

P.S. Keep an eye out for the battle scene at the end. I don’t think a more “Tim Burton-esque” battle scene has ever been conceived!