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.


Friday, November 04, 2016

The Peacock Ain’t Feelin’ the Cruelty

So NBC has (wisely?) decided not share its Cruel Intentions with us.

The Sarah Michelle Gellar-led TV reboot (the pilot for which was shot on location in San Francisco) always sounded to me like a bad fit for the Peacock. I mean, if she couldn’t cuss, what was SMG’s Kathryn Merteuil supposed to do? Rely on on-screen emoji?

That woulda been hella silly.

The powers that be reportedly will be shopping the show to other networks and to the streamers (I bet).


Country Fans Need a Beyoncé Lesson

See? No reason to get all ridikolous, country fans: Collaboration is good.

That’s precisely what the Dixie Chicks did with Beyoncé – work together to create something beautiful – when Queen B joined em on stage a couple of nights ago at the Country Music Awards for a very special and badass performance of the LEMONADE maker’s Daddy Lessons,” which you can listen to and download for free here.

Evidently, a great backlash (with some disappointing and ugly racial undertones) met the collaboration (and even Beyoncé’s mere presence at the show), which is silly because country music is for all and of all. I believe that LEMONADE is absolutely a country album, much more than the click-bait-y confessional the media and some people made it out to be, and I think that we can all agree Beyoncé’s pretty f---in’ amazing, so I don’t get how anything bad could be said about this collab. But folks will surprise.

We have so many pressing matters to worry about these days, pettiness ought to fall to the bottom of the list, knowwhatImean?

Let’s get it together, America.

We really are and will continue to be stronger and better and funner together.


Thursday, November 03, 2016

Dr. Jack Ryan Girl, Thankyouverymuch

When John Krasinski becomes Jack Ryan for Amazon (some sweet time next year, I should guess), Abbie Cornish is gonna be right there with him.

Indeed, the Limitless star had landed the female lead on the exactly titled Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan that producer Carlton Cuse (A&E’s Bates Motel, TV’s Lost) is working on, taking on the role of Dr. Cathy Mueller, an infectious-diseases specialist.

Yes, she will serve as a love interest for Krasinski – but did you take note of her title? Girlfriend ain’t gonna be your typical damsel.

No siree she won’t.


Headed to the Yuba River Valley

Channing Tatums going west with Netflix.

The actor is going to produce – at the very least – Yuba for the streamer.

A western set in the Gold Rush of yore, the film was written by newcomer Eamon O’Sullivan and will be a sprawling period tale centering on two main characters.

FYI: The Yuba river valley was notorious once for its unabashed lawlessness.

So now you kinda know what you’ll be getting into, kids.


Wednesday, November 02, 2016

The Educator

13th’s Ava DuVernay’s next 100-million-dollar production, the adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time starring Storm Reid and Oprah, just got a little bit of that Moonlight shine.

André Holland (FX’s American Horror Story: RoanokeCinemax’s The Knick) has been cast in the production, as Principal Jenkins.

Also joining in on the fantasy fun will be Zach Galifianakis, Pan’s Levi Miller, Celeste & Jesse Forever’s Will McCormack, Rowan Blanchard (the Disney Channel’s Girl Meets World), and Bellamy Young (TV’s Scandal).

Holland & Co. join a robust cast that already includes Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Chris Pine, and Beyond the Lights’ Gugu Mbatha-Raw.


Their Fair Wisdom

It is the Fall of the Woman, and as such, the women shall rise.

Big-picture-wise, we have Hillary Clinton, of course. Silver-screen-wise, there will be Certain Women to mind and also, 20th Century Women.

At least, you must admit it is going to be an interesting autumn.

Starring Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig, and Billy Crudup, and directed by Beginners’ Mike Mills, festival-darling 20th Century Women is set in Santa Barbara, Calif., in the late ’70s and explores how three different, vibrant women each teaches a young boy (Lucas Jade Zumann) about girls, life, and love.

Sounds like a coming of age for all of ’em, and I’m in – oh yes I am. You know any year that La Bening represents is bound to be a good year.

20th Century Women will hit some theaters on Christmas Day – ya gotta bait dem awards, after all – before going wide on Jan. 20.

Photo: A24.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

The Hiddle-hunk Does Gucci

Where have I been?

Tom Hiddleston is going to be doing some modelin, for Gucci. Because Jared Leto cannot have all the fun.

Dude sure looks good in It Designer Alessandro Michele’s creations, huh (the campaign is all about men’s tailoring, btw).

Now. Can someone hook the Hiddle-hunk up with Speedo?