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The Fate of the Furious is Dumb Fun

Jeremiah

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I have to make a confession: I’ve never seen a single entry in the Fast and Furious (F&F) franchise. It happens. There are a lot of movies out there. There are movies I’ve seen and some I haven’t.

So I went in cold, except I knew the F&F movies had a rich and tortured mythology. At the start of the film, Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are on their honeymoon in Cuba. This was a shock to me because I could’ve sworn Dom and Letty were siblings, so either I was out of it, or the movie was. It turns out both can be true.

The technical term for movies like the F&F franchise is a Latin word that roughly translates into “bananas.” Throughout most of the first part of the movie, I felt like someone who started watching a soap opera in the middle of its twelfth season. I tried to make sense of the goings-on while also attempting to figuring out the character’s relationships to each other.

This was a fool’s errand, and I quickly just gave up and allowed the absurdity to watch over me. I had realized the F&F movies aren’t action movies, they’re not comic book movies, they’re not car chase movies, they’re not soap operas, they’re not live action cartoons, and they’re not a throwback to the old black and white serials that used to play before the movie. No, they are all of that rolled into one. Each new entry is trying to figure out a new way to wring meaning out of the word ‘family’ while also trying to show you how puny and silly the laws of physics truly are.

This movie is nuts. And Dumb. Really dumb. And really nuts. But man oh man is it a blast, most of the time.

While on their honeymoon in Cuba, Dom, and Letta engage in outlaw street racing, tow truck disputes, high stakes gambling, cuddling, and baby talk. And this is only in the first ten minutes. While on his way back from the store, Dom runs into a stranger. No matter how crazy a movie may be, everyone has to go to the store, EVERYONE.

The stranger turns out to be Cipher (Charlize Theron). A global terrorist, a renowned hacker with no digital footprint, scourge of the underworld and law enforcement world alike. She also comes with a Rastafarian inspired head of dreads, accessories not included. It’s one of the great pities of the film that Theron’s hairstyle seems to be having more fun than she is.

Cipher poses as a stranded motorist just long enough to lull Dom into talking to her before showing him a picture on an iPhone and before you can shout out, “Let me see too!” she’s blackmailed him into joining her team, betraying family, and leaving him to mope in Cuba while she goes back to her untraceable ghost plane/palatial pad/office. This is right about the twelve-minute mark for those following along at home.

The writers of Fate of the Furious at the very least realize time is of the essence. Every scene seems to just layer on more and more information, an impressive feat considering I still had no idea what in the blazes was going on! But then the movie cuts to Special Agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) coaching his daughter’s soccer team during the championship game, and I was kind of okay with that.

More information is dumped into our laps concerning something about an EMP and those pesky Germans, exactly what I didn’t know then and I know less now. All I know is Hobb’s daughter’s team the “Red Dragons” won. So really I retained all the information that mattered.

Now we’re off to Germany where we meet with the rest of the F&F team in the midst of gloriously impractical and improbable car chase/escape scene. Which then leads us to Dom’s sudden and inevitable betrayal of the ‘family’ as he crashes into Hobb’s car, steals the EMP, and rendezvous with Cipher. Props to Letta for weathering what has to be one of the more rocky starts to a new marriage that I’ve seen in a good long while. As Del Griffith once said, “She’s a real trooper.” These movies being what they are, a chain of fateful events are set into motion.

Hobbs is sent to prison for treason for stealing the EMP. The rest of the team…something happens to them I’m not really sure what. On his way to prison Hobbs is greeted by Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) and his new protege Little Nobody (Scott Eastwood). Hobbs is then reunited with Deckard (Jason Statham). Deckard escapes prison, Hobbs follows suit to catch Deckard, and both are found by Mr. Nobody and brought on board to stop Dom and Cipher.

Mr. Nobody takes the two to his secure and undisclosed base where Letty, Tej (Ludacris), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) are there as well, handcuffed. Oh hey, there’s the rest of the team.  Before you can say ‘Bob’s your Uncle,’ Cipher and Dom break into Mr. Nobody’s secure and undisclosed base to steal his super duper, uber duber, top secret surveillance tracking system, ‘God’s Eye’, for her own nefarious purposes.

Her nefarious purposes involve stealing the nuclear football from those other reliable movie villains, those pesky Russians, hacking into a cold war nuclear sub, and holding the world superpowers in check. Her reasoning is if she holds them at nuke point they will behave more reasonably and be more accountable. Plus Dom has a kid! I think.

Look I’m going to be completely honest with you, I’m not entirely sure what happened exactly. I am sure it doesn’t matter. What happened isn’t really the point. The point is stuff goes ‘ka-blooie’ cars go ‘vroom vroom’ and the movie swings from objectifying women to empowering them while still traveling in some age old classic patriarchal tropes.

F. Gary Gray keeps the movie pumping at full speed as best he can. The brakes are only applied because of Theron’s performance. Cipher is a mainstay in every action/adventure/whatever the hell this movie is, but Gray and company don’t ever seem to allow Theron to let loose. This could also be the script’s fault. She’s given reams of exposition to pore through ranging from her own variation of “I expect you to die, Mr. Bond!” to a bizarre expositorial dump that involves the deconstruction of the historical, psychological, and biological evolution of the family unit.

So maybe it’s not entirely her fault.

Theron aside, the movie’s own sense self-importance both delighted me at times and wore on my patience at others. But every time I began to lose patience with the movie Dame Helen Mirren would show up as Deckard’s mother and do a cartoonishly over the top cockney accent, and I’d be okay again.

As the credits rolled, I couldn’t help but smile. This is the eighth movie in a franchise that has always had a rich multi-cultural, ethnically, and gender diverse cast and crew. In an age where Hollywood seems to be doubling down on whitewashing one thing after another, the F&F franchise stands like a giant middle finger to the establishment as it rakes in millions time and time again.

The Fate of the Furious isn’t perfect. It drags here and there. But seeing Dame Helen Mirren slap Jason Statham up the side of his head while it literally rains cars in downtown Manhattan is worth the price of admission alone.


Image courtesy of Universal Pictures

Jeremiah lives in Los Angeles and divides his time between living in a movie theatre and writing mysteries. There might also be some ghostbusting being performed in his spare time.

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The Fandomentals 2018 SAG Awards Primer

Dan

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In the past few months, we’ve seen the opinions of everyone from the Television Academy to the Hollywood Foreign Press to the nation’s biggest critics. But have you ever wondered what actors in Hollywood think of each other? Well the SAG’s, the babiest brother of the major film awards shows, will answer that very question.

The Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (you see why we abbreviate) has been putting on their own awards show since the ancient and far-off year of 1995. Despite its youth compared to most other awards shows, the nods it gives (voted on by members of the union) are sometimes the best indicators for success when the Academy Award nominations come up. As such, we at the Fandomentals want to make sure you are kept abreast of the nominations for this year, as well as give our own take on who should, shouldn’t, and will win this year. As with the Golden Globes, the Fandomentals Head Film Critic Jeremiah Sherman will weigh in on the movie end of things, while I will be picking up the slack on the television end. This year will also be the first year that the SAG’s will have a host, the wonderful Kristen Bell.

Film

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role

Image Courtesy Perfect World Pictures

Timothée Chalamet – Call Me by Your Name as Elio Perlman

James Franco – The Disaster Artist as Tommy Wiseau

Daniel Kaluuya – Get Out as Chris Washington

Gary Oldman – Darkest Hour as Winston Churchill

Denzel Washington – Roman J. Israel, Esq. as Roman J. Israel

Who Will Win: Gary Oldman for Darkest Hour. Jeremiah: Oldman all but disappears in his performance of Winston Churchill. It’s not just the makeup it’s the overall fact that when you look at Oldman’s Churchill, you’re hard pressed to find any trace of the Oldman we know. It’s the type of performance actors adore; disappearing into the character.

Dan: He was our preferred pick at the Globes, where he took home the trophy. So far he has swept nearly every award that has this category, and I doubt that this will change for the SAG’s.

Who Should win: Honestly, Oldman should win. Of the actors nominated his performance is actually the best out of all of them. It should be made clear the remarkableness of Oldman’s performance is not just its chameleon-like aspect but in its ability to make us believe it. It’s a stunning piece of craftsmanship that should be rewarded.

Who Got Snubbed: Jeremy Renner for Wind River. I don’t know if I think his Corey Lambert should win, but it is hands down the best performance I’ve ever seen Renner give. The haunted, stoic, and angry character is typical of Renner; but here he fills Lambert with longing, sadness, and confusion. Renner’s Lambert feels like the first real performance he’s ever given. That alone deserves at least a nomination.

Outstanding Performance by a Female in a Lead Role:

Image Courtesy Fox Searchlight

Judi Dench – Victoria & Abdul as Queen Victoria

Sally Hawkins – The Shape of Water as Elisa Esposito

Frances McDormand – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri as Mildred Hayes

Margot Robbie – I, Tonya as Tonya Harding

Saoirse Ronan – Lady Bird as Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson

Who Will Win:

Frances McDormand for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

Jeremiah: McDormand gives a gutwrenchingly honest portrayal of a grief-stricken and hell-bent matriarch in a small, fictional Midwestern town. It’s a potent performance and will most likely be lauded by her fellow actors, especially since they adore her. It helps that she’s won a Golden Globe for this role and has been putting in a strong showing on the awards circuit. Rightfully so, as she’s consistently one of the best yet somehow underappreciated actress working today.

Who Should Win: Sally Hawkins for The Shape of Water. One of the more subtly daring performances. With almost no words, outside a lovely musical number, Hawkins conveyed to us a complete and fleshed out character. The relationship between Elisa and the Creature works in large part because of Hawkins’ deft handling of the material.

Who Got Snubbed: I know you’re expecting me to say Kristen Stewart for Personal Shopper and rightfully so. Even though she totally got snubbed, so did Danielle MacDonald for Patti Cake$. Her Patricia Dombrowski was a fierce and optimistic dream chaser. Patti’s obstacles are not end-of-the-world roadblocks, they are, everyday minor setbacks. Through it all, MacDonald gives us a performance that has us clapping our hands and stomping our feet when she takes the stage.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role

Image Courtesy Fox Searchlight

Steve Carell – Battle of the Sexes as Bobby Riggs

Willem Dafoe – The Florida Project as Bobby Hicks

Woody Harrelson – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri as Sheriff Bill Willoughby

Richard Jenkins – The Shape of Water as Giles

Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri as Officer Jason Dixon

Who Will Win: Steve Carell for Battle of the Sexes. It’s not based on anything except Carell’s Bobby Riggs was wonderfully layered. A man beset by his lesser angels while also being, shockingly, one most keen cultural observers, and a seemingly inexhaustible daring self-promoter. Battle of the Sexes was never as good as it should have been but it wasn’t awful, and that’s due in large part to Carell’s Bobby Riggs.

Dan: As much as I loved Carrell, I have a sneaking suspicion that Hollywood’s need to reward shitty white dude characters will help continue Sam Rockwell’s dominance in this category. Even though Woody Harrelson puts in a better performance, Rockwell’s “redemption” arc seems to be resonating with the film world.

Who Should Win: Willem Dafoe’s Bobby from The Florida Project pulled off one of the most infamously difficult aspects of acting: he doesn’t appear to be acting. Of course, he’s acting, but his Bobby is free of any theatrical artifice or mannerisms. Even though there’s no noticeable difference between Bobby or Dafoe, the actor himself is nowhere to be seen.

Who Got Snubbed: Patrick Stewart for Charles Xavier in Logan. Logan was far and away the single best departure from the ho-humness that plagues the superhero genre. Stewart as Professor X gives a blistering and honest performance as a man in the final stages of his life. Unusually for a genre that is normally cavalier in its treatment of death, the tragedy of mental deterioration and death is made uncomfortably real by Stewart’s portrayal.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

Image Courtesy A24

Mary J. Blige – Mudbound as Florence Jackson

Hong Chau – Downsizing as Ngoc Lan Tran

Holly Hunter – The Big Sick as Beth Gardner

Allison Janney – I, Tonya as LaVona Golden

Laurie Metcalf – Lady Bird as Marion McPherson

Who Will Win: Laurie Metcalf for Ladybird, if for no other reason than because I think the Guild feels a kinship with Metcalf. She’s a working actress getting a second wind in her career. I think the Guild will want to reward her for what is one of the best performances of the year.

Who Should Win: Mary J. Blige for Mudbound. A film that was all but buried by Netflix. It could have died a quiet death if not for Blige’s scathing turn as Florence Jackson. Blige conveys strength and vulnerability even from behind a pair of dark sunglasses. A wife and mother who sees her family fortunes crumble before her only to see them rise from the ashes is a tour de force for any actor. But for a first-time actor? It is astounding.

Who Got Snubbed: Tiffany Haddish in Girls Trip. A comedic force-of-nature, Haddish’s Dina was a vulgar loudmouth who was still more human than caricature. Much has been said about the grapefruit scene, but little is said about the scene after. Dina takes her friends into her room, kneels, and leads them in prayer. An act of simple faith that isn’t part of a larger message. Haddish’s Dina is such an astounding comedic creation because she is a complete creation, with beliefs and ideas, and not just comedic foibles.

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

Image Courtesy Fox Searchlight

The Big Sick – Adeel Akhtar, Holly Hunter, Zoe Kazan, Anupam Kher, Kumail Nanjiani, Ray Romano and Zenobia Shroff

Get Out – Caleb Landry Jones, Daniel Kaluuya, Catherine Keener, Stephen Root, Lakeith Stanfield, Bradley Whitford and Allison Williams

Lady Bird – Timothée Chalamet, Beanie Feldstein, Lucas Hedges, Tracy Letts, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Laurie Metcalf, Jordan Rodrigues, Saoirse Ronan, Odeya Rush, Marielle Scott and Lois Smith

Mudbound – Jonathan Banks, Mary J. Blige, Jason Clarke, Garrett Hedlund, Jason Mitchell, Rob Morgan and Carey Mulligan

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – Abbie Cornish, Peter Dinklage, Woody Harrelson, John Hawkes, Lucas Hedges, Željko Ivanek, Caleb Landry Jones, Frances McDormand, Clarke Peters, Sam Rockwell and Samara Weaving

Who Will Win: Lord help me I think it may be Three Billboards Outside, Ebbing Missouri. Deeply flawed but incredibly acted, it tries in vain to wrestle with the human complexity and the notion of justice. It’s burdened by the whiteness of its cast, and it’s narrative cowardice when dealing with racial issues. It has four women characters, but only one of them is given anything interesting to do or say. The others are merely decorative assets for their male counterparts. Needless to say, I’m betting SAG will just love all the great performances in this movie and overlook the inherent narrative flaws.

Who Should Win: The Big Sick is a movie I didn’t love, but it is a movie I liked a lot. I will say that it has a fantastic cast and it serves the movie well. Michael Showalter has nothing to say visually, but he is smart enough to stack his cast with heavy hitters. Kumail Nanjiani, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano, Zoe Kazan, Anupam Kher, and Zenobia Shroff make The Big Sick as powerful and poignant as it is. The script by Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon gives the whole cast grade A meat to sink their teeth into. Heartwarming and touching The Big Sick works as well as it does because of its cast.

Who Got Snubbed: Before you get your pitchforks and torches ready hear me out, Justice League. Justice League is by no means a masterpiece by any definition of the word, nor is it worthy of any actual awards. BUT the cast made that movie work it’s weird, herky-jerky magic. Collectively they made a series of disjointed scenes and overly produced action sequences work because when they were together the movie was actually kind of fun. Whether it was Aquaman sitting on Diana’s lasso of truth or Batman’s look of gushing love when Superman joins in the fight against whatever the bad guy’s name was, they sold the scene. I’m not saying they deserve the award but they sure as hell deserve a nomination more than Three Billboards Outside, Ebbing Missouri.

Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture

Image Courtesy Warner Bros.

Baby Driver, ST-C Robert Nagle

Dunkirk, ST-C Tom Struthers

Logan, ST-C’s Nuo Sun, Gary Hymes, Garret Warren

War for the Planet of the Apes ST-C’s Isaac Hamon, Terry Notary, John Stoneham Jr., Danny Virtue

Wonder Woman ST-C’a Tim Rigby, Marcus Shakesheff, Lee Sheward

Who Will Win: Wonder Woman. While the other films in this category did a great job with their stunts, Wonder Woman not only had a fantastic stunt cast, they also let the stunt actors BE characters. A good chunk of the best stunts in the film were by the Amazons, who were played by an extremely talented and athletic group of women. Rather than let the stunt women stay in the background, Patty Jenkins let them feature in front of the camera and for that, I think the Guild will reward.

Who Should Win: Wonder Woman, again. The beach scene alone is amazing, but it also had some fantastic work during the war scenes as well.

Who Got Snubbed: Star Wars: The Last Jedi. It’s sort of the norm for the SAG’s to snub December release films, but this snub in this category is more surprising. It’s hard to beat Star Wars when it comes to stunts, and Praetorian Guard fight on Snoke’s Ship was as standout a feat of action as any other in 2017.

Television

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie

Image Courtesy HBO

Benedict Cumberbatch – Sherlock: The Lying Detective as Sherlock Holmes

Jeff Daniels – Godless as Frank Griffin

Robert De Niro – The Wizard of Lies as Bernard Madoff

Geoffrey Rush – Genius as Albert Einstein

Alexander Skarsgård – Big Little Lies as Perry Wright

Who Will Win: Alexander Skarsgård. Already a success at multiple shows, and considering the tongue bath that the awards shows have been giving Big Little Lies, this seems like a gimme.

Who Should Win: Sadly, this category isn’t nearly as competitive as most of the others. The closest to Skarsgård in critical acclaim is maybe De Niro, but that’s probably just the built-in bias people have for the man.

Who Got Snubbed: Charlie Cox in The Defenders. A snub that can largely be chalked up to genre bias, Cox had perhaps the strongest storyline in a show stuffed to the brim with them. While Cox wouldn’t win, he’s at least as worthy as Blueberry Pumpkinpatch

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie

Image Courtesy HBO

Laura Dern – Big Little Lies as Renata Klein

Nicole Kidman – Big Little Lies as Celeste Wright

Jessica Lange – Feud: Bette and Joan as Joan Crawford

Susan Sarandon – Feud: Bette and Joan as Bette Davis

Reese Witherspoon – Big Little Lies as Madeline MacKenzie

Who Will Win: The real question is which actress in Big Little Lies will win. Considering there’s no supporting vs. main actress delineation, it could be any of the three. The best bet is Nicole Kidman, who can be counted on to give a flowery speech about female empowerment as she accepts her award.

Who Should Win: Susan Sarandon. While she’s gotten very little love, thanks largely to the sheer dominance of Big Little Lies, I still think Sarandon did a great job in making sure her Bette Davis transcends a simple impression.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series

Image Courtesy NBC

Jason Bateman – Ozark as Martin “Marty” Byrde

Sterling K. Brown – This Is Us as Randall Pearson

Peter Dinklage – Game of Thrones as Tyrion Lannister

David Harbour – Stranger Things as Jim Hopper

Bob Odenkirk – Better Call Saul as Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman

Who Will Win: Sterling K. Brown has been killing it at the awards this year, and his performance justifies that success. And in a category largely filled by more ensemble shows, he seems an easy choice for the Guild’s committees.

Who Should Win: David Harbour. It can be hard to stand out in an ensemble cast, especially when that cast is in a genre show. But Harbour has gotten a good deal of well-earned love for his performance. Transitioning from burned out sheriff to surrogate father finding his feet, Harbour helped Hopper maintain his position as the stable rock amidst the chaos around Hawkins.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series

Image Courtesy Hulu

Millie Bobby Brown – Stranger Things as Eleven

Claire Foy – The Crown as Elizabeth II

Laura Linney – Ozark as Wendy Byrde

Elisabeth Moss – The Handmaid’s Tale as June Osborne/Offred

Robin Wright – House of Cards as Claire Underwood

Who Will Win: Elizabeth Moss. Another obvious choice, but this is a great place for the Guild to reward The Handmaid’s Tale for its work and topical importance.

Who Should Win: Claire Foy. She’s been great in both seasons of The Crown, and with the show moving past her it’s now or never to reward her acting.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series

Image Courtesy Netflix

Anthony Anderson – Black-ish as Andre “Dre” Johnson

Aziz Ansari – Master of None as Dev Shah

Larry David – Curb Your Enthusiasm as Himself

Sean Hayes – Will & Grace as Jack McFarland

William H. Macy – Shameless as Frank Gallagher

Marc Maron – GLOW as Sam Sylvia

Who Will Win: Aziz Ansari. Despite his recent controversies, Aziz has gotten nothing but love for his turn in season 2 of Master of None.

Who Should Win: Anthony Anderson. Not only is he fantastic in his comedic moments, but he also does a good job during Black-ish’s frequent serious discussions of race in America.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series

Image Courtesy HBO

Uzo Aduba – Orange Is the New Black as Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren

Alison Brie – GLOW as Ruth “Zoya the Destroya” Wilder

Jane Fonda – Grace and Frankie as Grace Hanson

Julia Louis-Dreyfus – Veep as Selina Meyer

Lily Tomlin – Grace and Frankie as Frankie Bergstein

Who Will Win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Thanks to the scary parallels between Veep and some modern-day politics, the character of Selina Meyer has gotten even more accolades than she did in earlier seasons.

Who Should Win:  For this category, the inevitable choice is probably the correct one.

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series

Image Courtesy Hulu

The Crown – Claire Foy, Victoria Hamilton, Vanessa Kirby, Anton Lesser and Matt Smith

Game of Thrones – Alfie Allen, Jacob Anderson, Pilou Asbæk, Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, John Bradley West, Jim Broadbent, Gwendoline Christie, Emilia Clarke, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Liam Cunningham, Peter Dinklage, Richard Dormer, Nathalie Emmanuel, James Faulkner, Jerome Flynn, Aidan Gillen, Iain Glen, Kit Harington, Lena Headey, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Conleth Hill, Kristofer Hivju, Tom Hopper, Anton Lesser, Rory McCann, Staz Nair, Richard Rycroft, Sophie Turner, Rupert Vansittart and Maisie Williams

The Handmaid’s Tale – Madeline Brewer, Amanda Brugel, Ann Dowd, O. T. Fagbenle, Joseph Fiennes, Tattiawna Jones, Max Minghella, Elisabeth Moss, Yvonne Strahovski and Samira Wiley

Stranger Things – Sean Astin, Millie Bobby Brown, Cara Buono, Joe Chrest, Catherine Curtin, Natalia Dyer, David Harbour, Charlie Heaton, Joe Keery, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Dacre Montgomery, Paul Reiser, Winona Ryder, Noah Schnapp, Sadie Sink and Finn Wolfhard

This Is Us – Eris Baker, Alexandra Breckenridge, Sterling K. Brown, Lonnie Chavis, Justin Hartley, Faithe Herman, Ron Cephas Jones, Chrissy Metz, Mandy Moore, Chris Sullivan, Milo Ventimiglia, Susan Kelechi Watson and Hannah Zeile

Who Will Win: This is the closest thing the SAG’s have to a “Best Series” award, and it’s a tough race. Game of Thrones is always a contender, as are relative newcomers The Crown and This Is Us. But the most likely winner is The Handmaid’s Tale. Picking up the win at the Emmy’s and the Globes is always a good sign, and it’s doubtful that the chord that the series struck with audiences didn’t also reach the acting community.

Who Should Win: Stranger Things. Out of all of the series nominated, Stranger Things is the series that best represents a truly great ensemble. With this past season featuring great work from the adults (Sean Astin, Winona Ryder, and David Harbour) and the kids (Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, et al.), the series deserves a win. Sadly, it’s probably bogged down by the fact that it IS largely a child cast and good old genre snobbery.

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series

Image Via HBO

Black-ish – Anthony Anderson, Miles Brown, Deon Cole, Laurence Fishburne, Jenifer Lewis, Peter Mackenzie, Marsai Martin, Jeff Meacham, Tracee Ellis Ross, Marcus Scribner and Yara Shahidi

Curb Your Enthusiasm – Ted Danson, Larry David, Susie Essman, Jeff Garlin, Cheryl Hines and J. B. Smoove

GLOW – Britt Baron, Alison Brie, Kimmy Gatewood, Betty Gilpin, Rebekka Johnson, Chris Lowell, Sunita Mani, Marc Maron, Kate Nash, Sydelle Noel, Marianna Palka, Gayle Rankin, Bashir Salahuddin, Rich Sommer, Kia Stevens, Jackie Tohn, Ellen Wong and Britney Young

Orange Is the New Black – Uzo Aduba, Emily Althaus, Danielle Brooks, Rosal Colon, Jackie Cruz, Francesca Curran, Daniella De Jesus, Lea DeLaria, Nick Dillenburg, Asia Kate Dillon, Beth Dover, Kimiko Glenn, Annie Golden, Laura Gómez, Diane Guerrero, Evan Arthur Hall, Michael J. Harney, Brad William Henke, Mike Houston, Vicky Jeudy, Kelly Karbacz, Julie Lake, Selenis Leyva, Natasha Lyonne, Taryn Manning, Adrienne C. Moore, Miriam Morales, Kate Mulgrew, Emma Myles, John Palladino, Matt Peters, Jessica Pimentel, Dascha Polanco, Laura Prepon, Jolene Purdy, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Nick Sandow, Abigail Savage, Taylor Schilling, Constance Shulman, Dale Soules, Yael Stone, Emily Tarver, Michael Torpey and Lin Tucci

Veep – Dan Bakkedahl, Anna Chlumsky, Gary Cole, Margaret Colin, Kevin Dunn, Clea Duvall, Nelson Franklin, Tony Hale, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Sam Richardson, Paul Scheer, Reid Scott, Timothy Simons, Sarah Sutherland and Matt Walsh

Who Will Win: Veep. Most of my reasoning is mentioned in my justification for Julia-Louise Dreyfus’s win prediction, but there’s no doubt her work wouldn’t be nearly as good without the team surrounding her.

Who Should Win: GLOW. A great show that seemed to fly under some people’s radar, it took a much different approach to the 2017’s theme of female empowerment. Mixing funny and emotional as deftly as any Jenji Kohan program, the show had its ensemble pulling double duty as actors and as wrestlers. Sadly, if there’s one thing with less respect than genre, it’s professional wrestling.

Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Television Series

Image Courtesy HBO

Game of Thrones ST-C Rowley Irlam

GLOW ST-CS Shauna Duggins

Homeland ST-C’s Brian Smyj, Mark Fichera

Stranger Things ST-C Lonnie R. Smith Jr.

The Walking Dead ST-C Monty L. Simons

Who Will Win: Game of Thrones cleans up in technical categories, and have won this six years running. With each season getting bigger and sillier, so have the stunts gotten more impressive to match.

Who Should Win: GLOW. While losing best ensemble would be expected, losing Best Stunt Ensemble will be a bigger disappointment. Unlike other shows, GLOW is almost centered around stunts. It did a great job in having the wrestling look as real as real wrestling, while also capturing some of the painful qualities of it. As well, the cast was trained in professional wrestling, and pro wrestlers like Carlito put in some good work throughout the series.

The 24th Annual Screen Actor’s Guild Awards will be hosted by Kristen Bell, and presented on January 21, 2018, on both TNT and TBS, 8:00 p.m. EST / 5:00 p.m. PST

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Tomb Raider’s Second Trailer Shows More of Walton Goggins

Bo

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tomb raider featured

Tomb Raider was one of the first and most inoffensive of the many adaptations from video games to the big screen. Was it or its sequel a good movie? Definitely not, but compared to the soul-swallowing muck masquerading as “films” we’ve gotten before and after? I didn’t mind Angelina Jolie’s Tomb Raider so much.

Still, I’m hoping for better with this entry. Perhaps we can upgrade from forgettable to something at least average? I choose to be hopeful. As I said before, they at least picked the right Tomb Raider games to take inspiration from.

How will it turn out? I admit I have an intense bias towards Walton Goggins, but he gives me hope. This trailer features a lot more of him than the first and establishes a previous relationship with Lara’s father. At the very least I feel I can count on him to deliver a good villain. It looks like Tomb Raider 2013 and seems to focus on the same things. I want to be hopeful.

However, I’ve been burnt by too many video game adaptations and see the same bad signs in this trailer. Why is Trinity trying to cause a global genocide, exactly? It’s not their goal in the new Tomb Raider games. This kind of senseless evil is the kind of thing that sinks a movie. And I’m still upset at seeing no Sam Nishimura. I’ll keep saying it; you can’t adapt Tomb Raider 2013 without a Sam.

We’ll see. I’m a positive person who chooses to be positive. At the very least I think we’ll get a passable movie here. Walton Goggins should assure that much.

Tomb Raider hits theaters on March 16 and stars Alicia Vikander as the iconic Lara Croft.


Video and images courtesy of MGM

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Film

‘Paddington 2’ Is The Best Sequel To A Movie About A Talking Bear

Jeremiah

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Paddington 2 is filled with love, adventure, hidden treasure, jailbreaks, and of course marmalade. Underneath all of this bubble issues of alienation and immigration. All is done with the simple and sincere belief that there’s good in all of us; even in people named Nuckles McGinty (Brendan Gleeson).

A movie that people of all ages can enjoy is rare. But rarer still is a family movie so visually imaginative and so achingly sincere. Paddington 2 is for all ages but it is without clever innuendos or pop culture references the little ones couldn’t possibly understand. No, instead Paddington 2 mixes in jokes for everyone just by being clever and wry.  

Based on a series of children’s books by Michael Bond, Paddington 2 walks a thin line of both not really being designed for a three act structure and somehow fitting perfectly in a three act structure. Paddington 2 never feels padded or bloated, while at the same time it’s not exactly a streamlined movie either.

Paddington (voiced by Ben Whishaw) is trying to raise money to buy a pop up book for his Aunt Lucy (voiced by Imelda Staunton). We soon discover Paddington’s beloved pop up book is actually a treasure map. Written and illustrated by Madam Kozlova (Eileen Atkins) each page contains a clue to her hidden treasure.

Lesser filmmakers would have Paddington and his family, the Browns, traipsing about London in search of the treasure. Thankfully Paul King, and his co-writer, Simon Farnaby, understand that would undermine the very heart of Paddington. Paddington wants the book, not the treasure. The pop up book is a collection of famous landmarks of London. Aunt Lucy has always wanted to come to London and so to Paddington this is the next best thing.

Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant), a hammy has been actor, wants the treasure. He steals the book, frames Paddington, and goes about solving the clues. Poor Paddington is sent to prison. He ends up, as he always does, making friends and making the place a little bit better than when he came in.

King, who directed the first Paddington , once again somehow captures both the visual and emotional whimsy of being a child. With every shot King imbues the story, and us, with a child’s faith in humanity and limitless imagination. Much like the books Paddington somehow or other manages to find himself in precarious situations. In King’s and his camera man’s Erik Wilson’s hands, however, they have the sublime ingenuity of silent cinema.

Wilson’s camera seems alive as he and King frame scenes in such a way as to be almost revelatory. Still, it never pulls us out of the moment. Instead we feel as if we ourselves are reading a children’s book; with each new frame being a new page. A feeling of playfulness begins to develop between us and Paddington 2. We begin to await each scene with something short of baited breath.

Refreshingly when Paddington is locked up, the Browns never despair nor believe Paddington is guilty. There is no third act redemption needed because the mere notion of Paddington being a thief is ludicrous. Instead they set right to work trying to solve the case and clear his name.

Mary (Sally Hawkins) and Henry (Hugh Bonneville) put up posters of the real thief. Their daughter Judy (Madeleine Harris) has started up her own newspaper. She started the paper after her latest break up, replete with an old style printing press. Judy begins to write a series of articles questioning Paddington’s guilt. Meanwhile their son Jonathan (Samuel Joslin), an aficionado of steam engines, wants to help, but wants to do so quietly. He is desperately trying to be cool and being cool means not loving steam engines or trying to prove a bears innocence.

Paddington 2 is so delightful and yet infuriatingly difficult to describe. The difficulty comes from it’s simplicity. I’ve told you the gist of the plot but it doesn’t convey the sheer fun of seeing Paddington try to cut an old man’s hair. Or the gush of joy in seeing prisoners stand up and confess to desserts they know how to bake.

Paddington reacts to everything and everyone with a simple unconditional love. He reminds his neighbor Dr. Jafri (Sanjeev Bhaskar) to not forget his keys while also helping his garbage man study for his hack licence. Paddington does miss his Aunt Lucy though. While he loves the Browns and London he is reminded how different he is. But King never allows this to be overtly broad. Paddington says “My Aunt Lucy…” with a tinge of forlornness mixed with pride that boils down this complex and daunting theme into a simple and digestible emotion.

I haven’t even mentioned the breathless train chase with the Browns, the treasure, or the emotional climax that is so perfect in it’s visual construction it left me breathless. Paddington 2 will not solve all of humanity’s problems. But for a brief while it allows us to hope and believe we can be half as lovely and kind as a little brown bear living in London.


Image courtesy of StudioCanal

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