Goodbye, 2017

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I couldn’t let 2017 slip away without indulging one more look back at the year in pop culture. Here are a few things that brought me joy. (And here are a few more.)

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Jimmy Fallon Wasn’t Just Apolitical on the Golden Globes. He was Woefully Unfunny.

Much of the criticism of Jimmy Fallon’s lackluster hosting performance at the Golden Globe Awards last night has centered around his apparent refusal or inability to lampoon or comment on the political climate in a meaningful, substantive, even moderately original way. “Ernst & Young & Putin” is not exactly cutting political commentary, and saying that the Golden Globes is one of the few things in America that honors the popular vote doesn’t make much sense, given that the Globes are notoriously a sham voted on by 93 foreign journalists easily swayed by celebrities and favors from studio executives. (Skip to 2:32 in the video below for the live monologue.)

Fallon also notably opted not to address what many liberals consider the elephant in the room: his “interview” with Donald Trump just a couple months before the election, which the host ended by tussling the now-president-elect’s hair and giggling maniacally. Aside from a subtle dig during an unpleasant appearance on SNL‘s Weekend Update and a drunken interview with TMZ, Fallon hasn’t addressed the criticisms of his performance during that interview, nor has he made any attempt at self-deprecation, or even self-awareness. Nothing changed last night.

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SAG Awards 2016: My Predictions

SAG.jpgHere’s the latest installment of my new tradition: hastily assembled predictions for the winners of tonight’s Screen Actors Guild Awards, broadcast at 8pm on TNT and TBS, and streaming here. (These predictions don’t reflect my preferences, except when they do.)

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Golden Globes 2016: My Slapdash Predictions

Each year, a collection of fewer than 100 international journalists known as the Hollywood Foreign Press Association choose their favorites in film and television from the past year. The awards are delivered at a raucous, booze-infused ceremony televised on NBC in January. This year, they’re coming just four days before the Oscar nominations.

Precedent suggests the HFPA doesn’t put a ton of rigorous thought or intellectual judgment into its decisions for the winners, so I’ve followed suit and cobbled together a list of predictions based entirely on instinct. Any time I wavered or waffled, I forced myself to pick a nominee and move on. Take this list as seriously as you do the average Golden Globe choice — which is to say, not much at all. Check back tonight to see how well I did.

MOVIES

Best Motion Picture, DramaSpotlight

Best Actress in a Drama: Brie Larson, Room

Best Actor in a Drama: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

Best Motion Picture, ComedyThe Big Short

Best Actress in a Comedy: Jennifer Lawrence, Joy

Best Actor in a Comedy: Matt Damon, The Martian

Best Animated Motion PictureInside Out

Best Foreign Language Motion PictureSon of Saul

Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight

Best Supporting Actor: Sylvester Stallone, Creed

Best Director: Alejandro G. Inarritu, The Revenant

Best Screenplay: Charles Randolph and Adam McKay, The Big Short

Best Original Score: Alexandre Desplat, The Danish Girl

Best Original Song: “See You Again,” Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth, Furious 7

TELEVISION

Best Drama SeriesEmpire

Best Actress, Drama: Taraji P. Henson, Empire

Best Actor, Drama: Wagner Moura, Narcos

Best Comedy SeriesCasual

Best Actress, Comedy: Jamie Lee Curtis, Scream Queens

Best Actor, Comedy: Rob Lowe, The Grinder

Best Limited SeriesFargo

Best Actress in a Limited Series: Lady Gaga, American Horror Story: Hotel

Best Actor in a Limited Series: Oscar Isaac, Show Me a Hero

Best Supporting Actress: Judith Light, Transparent

Best Supporting Actor: Christian Slater, Mr. Robot

“The Martian”: Science, Fictionalized

The Martian is science-fiction in the most literal sense of the term. It’s essentially a big-budget ode to the scientific method, in which an enterprising astronaut marooned on Mars after a deadly sandstorm puts every ounce of his collegiate powers towards surviving and eventually returning home. Directed by Ridley Scott and written by Drew Goddard, the movie version of the popular Andy Weir novel meets the old-fashioned morality and classical simplicity of that story with awe-inspiring visualizations of a planet we may still one day get to know.

Rather than dwelling on the wonders of space, The Martian skips straight past the sense of discovery and plunges in as the characters treat the most foreign environments as a mundane workplace. In the opening scene, the five astronauts of the Hermes mission are deep into a harvesting session when they get word of an oncoming storm. They make their way towards shelter, but not soon enough. Four of them return to safety in time, but one, botanist Mark Watney (Matt Damon), disappears, presumably asphyxiated to death.

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“Interstellar”: Full of Stars

 Interstellar

At least since he became one of Hollywood’s Most Important Directors, Christopher Nolan has directed movies about ideas, not people. In Inception, he asked questions about the nature of dreams and the politics of intertwined narratives. In The Dark Knight, he challenged the nation’s attitudes about terrorism and urban corruption. In The Dark Knight Rises, he seized upon the prevailing notions of the inequality gap in the American rhetoric. And in Interstellar, he sets his sights outward, heading into the great beyond for the first time. He comes back with three hours of gorgeous imagery and solid performances tied together by a script that strives for emotional catharsis and falls far short.

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