Friday, December 29, 2017

2017: The Year in Review

It is the end of 2017, but it may as well be not be, for this year – even on the heels of last year – has felt beyond-interminable, this in spite of its many ferocious pulls in pretty much every single f---in’ direction.

That’s part of the reason I took a sabbatical from this non-sense about which, yes, I have been known to be quite serious, to become much more of aware of the world beyond the movies.

To keep tabs on the real world.

To try and keep up not only with the Kardashians, for a change, but with the people who are supposed to be representing and leading this country and, closer to the ground and to home, with my community.

Still had time to watch some films, though. Some movies and some flicks, too.

Most of ’em were good and fun, although a few were fairly awful. Not as terrible know what? He’s not worth it. He is not me, he is not us; he’s got zero to do with this, and he certainly doesn’t deserve any more attention.

So here’s to the year that was, and to 2018, which, IMHO, is already full of promise.

I tell ya, it’s gonna be a good one.

Because woof.

Now, without further ado, my picks with a little silliness thrown back in for good measure.

10 Best Films of the Year (in alphabetical order):

Battle of the Sexes
The Big Sick
Call Me by Your Name
The Florida Project
Get Out
Lady Bird

The Shape of Water

Honorable Mention (tie): Beach Rats and Beatriz at Dinner

Best Directors: Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water), Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird), Luca Guadagnino (Call Me by Your Name), Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman), Jordan Peele (Get Out)

Best Look: Charlize Theron in Atomic Blonde

Best Makeover: Chris Hemsworth’s in Thor: Ragnarok

Best Props: It’s myriad red balloons

Best Setting: Call Me by Your Name’s Italian countryside

Best Switcheroo: Allison Williams’ in Get Out

Best Supporting Actors: Willem Dafoe (The Florida Project), Armie Hammer (Call Me by Your Name), Andy Serkis (War for the Planet of the Apes, Star Wars: The Last Jedi), Patrick Stewart (Logan) Michael Stuhlbarg (Call Me by Your Name)

Most Welcome to the A-List: Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman)

Most Ready to Channel Ivanka Trump for a Remake of Single White Female That Ought to Be Titled Single White Nationalist: Unforgettable’s Katherine Heigl

Most Surprising: The Foreigner’s Jackie Chan (Jackie Chan!)

Best Supporting Actresses: Tiffany Haddish (Girls Trip), Holly Hunter (The Big Sick), Tatiana Maslany (Stronger), Laurie Metcalf (Lady Bird), Octavia Spencer (The Shape of Water)

Can’t Wait to See More of – Female: Danielle Macdonald and Bridget Everett, from Patty Cake$

Can’t Wait to See More of – Male: Kumail Nanjiani, from The Big Sick

Best Actors: Timothée Chalamet (Call Me by Your Name), Jake Gyllenhaal (Stronger), Hugh Jackman (Logan), Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out), James McAvoy (Split)

Best Actresses: Halle Berry (Kidnap), Cate Blanchett (Manifesto), Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water), Brooklynn Prince (The Florida Project), Saiorse Ronan (Lady Bird)

Photos: Universal Pictures (Get Out); (Call Me by Your Name); Warner Bros. (Unforgettable); (Stronger).

Wednesday, August 16, 2017


Bless yourself and genuflect, people – the Queen is having a birthday.

Tanti auguri, Madonna! May all your dreams of love and peace come true, today, always, and forever.

And never stop dancing.


Friday, December 30, 2016

2016: The Year in Review

A wallflower 2016 certainly was not, wouldn’t you agree.

But it was a most interesting and intriguing year, one in which new voices were heard, and quieter stories triumphantly bubbled up to the surface, and, for that matter, not a minute too soon or too late, too.

So here’s to that – to that, at the very least – and to 2017.

10 Best Films of the Year (in alphabetical order):

Captain America: Civil War
Eye in the Sky
Hacksaw Ridge
The Invitation

O.J.: Made in America
Swiss Army Man

Honorable Mention (tie): Lion and Queen of Katwe

Best Directors: Ava DuVernay (13th), Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge), Barry Jenkins (Moonlight), Pablo Larraín (Jackie), Jeff Nichols (Loving)

Best Supporting Actors: Mahershala Ali (Moonlight), Ralph Fiennes (A Bigger Splash), John Goodman (10 Cloverfield Lane), Dev Patel (Lion) Daniel Radcliffe (Swiss Army Man)

Best Supporting Actresses: Viola Davis (Fences), Naomie Harris (Moonlight), Margo Martindale (The Hollars), Helen Mirren (Eye in the Sky), Margot Robbie (Suicide Squad)

Best Actors: Paul Dano (Swiss Army Man), Joel Edgerton (Loving), Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge), Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool), Denzel Washington (Fences)

Best Actresses: Kate Beckinsale (Love & Friendship), Jessica Chastain (Miss Sloane), Gillian Jacobs (Don’t Think Twice), Ruth Negga (Loving), Natalie Portman (Jackie)

Photos: Focus Features (Loving); Fox Searchlight Pictures (A Bigger Splash); Fox Searchlight Pictures (Jackie).

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Song of 2016

The song of 2016, obviously, necessarily, powerfully is...Beyoncé’s Formation.

The surprise single – which dropped the day before last winter’s Super Bowl and which Queen B defiantly and confidently performed at the big game before dropping her latest game elevator, LEMONADE, in the spring – had it all:

A bold feministic message.

A declarative and definitive acknowledgement of self.

And a contagiously sick beat.

It was a long-con rally cry for a year that’s not yet over and, best of all, for a story – a history...a herstory – that’s yet to be fully written.

“Formation” is not only the song of the year. It is the song of the future.

Time to get, ladies people everyone. Time to get.

Indeed, time to slay:

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Donald Trump Is America’s President-Elect Now

In the tightest, most stressful and divisive of races, America elected reality-TV star-turned-populist politician Donald Trump as its 45th president tonight. Secretary Hillary Clinton called the man a few minutes ago and conceded the race.

For real.

Time to get to work, people. Mike Pence is our new VP.

While I congratulate the Republicans on their win, and the Trumps and the Pences, I hereby pledge to stand up to any – any – shenanigans, you hear, President-Elect Trump. I will fight for liberty and equality for all. I will not take any notion of abuse lightly, and I will work against it and I will let you know it.

You have big shoes to fill, Donald Trump. Bigly.

Don’t ruin us.


Update 1: What did you think of the first speech delivered by President-Elect Trump, an acceptance of the presidency of the United States given late on Nov. 8? I thought it was conciliatory, and I am happy to move away from division as encouraged. I trust he, too, is serious about that piece of business.

Update 2: And now, for the concession speech from Hillary Clinton, delivered before noon on Nov. 9....

With her remarks, the trailblazing Clinton asked that we keep an open mind to President-Elect Trump, and that we fight for what we believe is right and for that which we hold dear.

Are you ready? Are you going to fight for what you believe in?

Good. Because I am.

Update 3: To the Clinton supporters I say quit licking your wounds and wallowing in guilt (that you did not do more) and shock. Completely unnecessary.

What we must do is acknowledge the writing was on the wall all along – it was there in red (it was unmissable). Half this country supported Donald Trump for a reason. I personally failed that side, which I saw and recognized and on whose behalf I barely spoke up. Guilty as charged: I got caught up in the rhetoric, in a desire to make herstory and reassure myself and others that we go high when others go low. I was swept up in my own disdain. And I placed way to much trust in the status quo, which now will go unchallenged in the manner I planned to (time to revise that course of action).

President-Elect Trump ran with scissors – but he did ask us for guidance on Nov. 9. I plan on giving it to him, on reaching out to his supporters. On being the change I want to see in the world. Because I have gotten over his win. You should as well. Fast.

Perhaps, he means it. Maybe, he does want to make us great again.

I know...that is so kinda so Pollyanna. But, to be fair, our priorities, my priorities have been whack as of late. We can and should be doing better – all of us.

We have not. Racism and sexism and xenophobia are real. Black people, black men are incarcerated en masse and shot down with impunity. Women make less money and their health is under siege. Immigrants like myself are vilified. Guns will go unchecked. We know it now. Also real are economic struggle and the feeling that the walls are closing in on ya.

Barack Obama ran on hope, and for many, hope delivered. For countless others yet, it did not.

Hillary Clinton posited that we are stronger together. For sure, we are.

So let us all come together now. Less iLife, more weLife.

That is how we will keep America great.

Manning the Machine

Emmy nominee Darren Criss sure is pluggin away.

The erstwhile curly haired heartthrob of TV’s Glee has been glittering away as Hedwig on Broadway and beyond – I saw him in San Francisco last month, and lemme tell ya...the kid can work dem platform heels! – and, now, he’s getting back into the TV-meets-music game.

Criss is going to co-executive produce a new workplace comedy titled Royalties for Fox.

The show will revolve around the unseen and unsung heroes behind the pop stars we know and love – or, at least, the fictional version of some of ’em. Y’ know, the writers and producers and marketing people. The machine behind the talent.

Our way in as viewers will be the one-hit wonder who gets all prodigal and returns to the company in order to score a big hit once again.


M’s with Her!

Madonna is with her!

Because Rebel Hearts stick together, the Queen of Pop put on a surprise mini-concert at Washington Square Park in New York City last night, the eve of Election Day 2016, in support of Hillary Clinton, the badass woman who just might become the first female president of the United States later today.

The somewhat-intimate set included acoustic performances of “Express Yourself,” John Lennon’s “Imagine,” and a mash-up of Peter, Paul and Mary’s “If I Had a Hammer,” and Ms own “Rebel Heart.” It was a simple affair, from what I can tell, and a true celebration – an artist using her voice and a guitar to speak her mind and endorse the candidate in whom she most wholeheartedly believes.

Get it, girls!


He’s in the Herd, Too

The men of Moonlight are killing it, yo.

Not only are Trevante Rhodes and André Holland in one of the best films of 2016 (trust), the pair already is linin’ up exciting new projects for the future.

We know that Holland is going to be in Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time, and now, for his part, Rhodes is all set to co-star opposite Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, and Michael Peña in Horse Soldiers.

The Jerry Bruckheimer co-production will center on a a U.S. Special Forces team led by an untested captain that was sent into a rugged, mountainous region of Afghanistan in the aftermath of the events of Sept. 11, 2001. Things, of course, needless to say, probably went awry. Ergo this dramatization.

Rhodes confirmed his casting on Netflix’s Chelsea on Nov. 3, btw.


American Animal

Evan Peters is branching out.

The American Horror Story player is going to star in American Animals, a movies based on the true story of four young men who thought they were in a movie and attempted a most audacious heist – the most boldly brazen ever attempted in the United States.

That’s it for details. So consider me curious.

Documentary filmmaker Bart Layton (The Imposter) will write and direct.


Monday, November 07, 2016

The Talented Mr. Hawkins

Corey Hawkins is about to break through with TV’s 24: Legacy, which is premiering this winter – but the actor is determined to keep working on his craft.

And that is why he is turning to Broadway.

Hawkins is headed back to the Great White Way (he appeared in 2013’s mixed-race Romeo and Juliet) to star with Allison Janney and John Benjamin Hickey in a revival of John Guare’s Six Degrees of Separation – a play that has nothing to do with Kevin Bacon, btw.

The Straight Outta Compton standout will play Paul, a young con man who pretends to be the college friend of the son of a well-to-do New York City couple, the Kittredges.

How very The Talented Mr. Ripley.

Emmy winner Courtney B. Vance originated the role on Broadway (all the way to a Tony nomination) before Will Smith portrayed Paul for the big screen back in his pre-Will friggin’ Smith early-’90s days.

Six Degrees of Separation will kick off previews for a 15-week engagement on April 5. The show is set to open on April 25.


Sunday, November 06, 2016

Obviously Donatella

Sorry, Maya Rudolph – it’s gonna be Lady GaGa.


Ryan Murphy has cast the Golden Globe-winning Mother Monster (FX’s American Horror Story: Hotel) as fashion designer Donatella Versace on his other cable anthology-series franchise, American Crime Story. The multi-hyphenate will be featured during the forthcoming third installment of the show, the season focusing on the Gianni Versace murder (the beloved gone-to-soon designer was killed in 1997 in front of his Miami Beach home by a serial killer named Andrew Cunanan).

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but that’s some perfect casting right there. After all, Lady GaGa already played La Versace – kinda...ish – in the Italian fashion house’s Spring 2014 ad campaign.

The Versace season of American Crime Story will be based on Maureen Orth’s Vulgar Favors. That installment will follow the show’s second season, which will focus on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Both installments will shoot simultaneously, with the latter premiering – I presume – next year, and the former in 2018.


The Horseman Who Will

Liam Neeson (who is about to court Oscar this winter, with Martin Scorsese’s decades-in-the-works Silence) and Neil Jordan are teaming up again.

The Northern Irish actor and his Irish Michael Collins director are going to work on The Trainer, the story of a premier horse trainer in west Ireland who loses it all – including his will to live – following tragedy.

His life is basically saved by a young girl named Nadya, a refugee making a new way for herself in a strange new land.

Of course, the two bond over their shared love for equines, especially one that just may gift them the win that they both need.

So...Awards Bait Alert?

You know it.