Weekly Roundup is a feature posted each weekend on I Wonder if You Wonder. It gives me a chance to react to the week’s industry news and to provide some quick thoughts about the films and TV shows I’ve been watching. (Plus it’ll give you some idea of the sheer amount of stuff I watch!) Let’s dive right in.
A very brief Weekly Roundup this week. I’ve been away from home and haven’t seen nearly as much stuff as I usually do over the course of a week, plus we’re now entering my traditional post-Oscar down period, when there usually aren’t nearly as many films I’m interested in seeing.
The Oscars: The Academy Awards were last Sunday, and The Artist predictably walked away with many of the most prestigious awards, including Best Actor for Jean Dujardin, Best Director for Michel Hazanavicius (I’m proud of myself for finally being able to spell that name without looking it up), and Best Picture. There were only a couple of mild surprises on the show: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo bested The Artist for Best Editing (an award that Best Picture winners usually win), Undefeated slipped past Paradise Lost 3 for Best Documentary, and Meryl Streep beat out Viola Davis for Best Actress. The last one was a bit of a heartbreaker given Davis’ sublime performance in The Help, but it’s hard to argue that Meryl wasn’t due another one after several decades of outstanding work. Overall, it’s hard to argue with The Artist‘s win given the ambition inherent in making a silent film in this day in age, even though I personally wouldn’t have voted for it. Billy Crystal did a decent job as host, though it was painfully obvious that Crystal and the Academy are more comfortable talking about Hollywood history than they are discussing contemporary films and trends.
Ralph McQuarrie Dies: You might not recognize the name, but you definitely know his work. Ralph McQuarrie, a conceptual artist who worked with George Lucas to come up with the look of the Star Wars universe, passed away on Sunday at the age of 82. Among his most famous designs are the look of Darth Vader’s black helmet and suit, the design of C-3PO, and the AT-AT walkers from The Empire Strikes Back. After Star Wars, he worked on a number of other major Hollywood films, including Raiders of the Lost Ark and E.T. Here’s a link to George’s Lucas’ comments on McQuarrie’s passing from StarWars.com; it also includes several other samples of McQuarrie’s groundbreaking work. On behalf of all Star Wars fans… fare thee well, sir.
Community Animated Shorts: If you’re like me and can’t wait for the return of Community to NBC on March 15, you’ll be able to get your Greendale fix a week early thanks to the recently announced series of Community animated webisodes that will debut online on March 7. They can be seen by U.S. viewers on NBC.com and Hulu, though international viewers may be faced with viewing restrictions. (I’m guessing that they’ll pop up elsewhere on the web if you look hard enough, though.) No word yet on whether or not Annie’s Boobs will be making an appearance. (The monkey, you sicko!)
Kirk Cameron is a Colossal Douchebag: You know, the guy from Growing Pains. He was apparently on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight the other night and made a bunch of homophobic remarks, including saying that homosexuality is “unnatural.” I know several species of animals that would disagree, but I digress. Judging by the publicity that these comments have generated, it appears that people were unaware of Cameron’s long-held fundamentalist religious beliefs; I, for one, wasn’t surprised by his bigotry in the slightest. True story: several years ago, he and his merry band of nutjobs debated the existence of God against an atheist group called the Rational Response Squad for ABC’s Nightline. One of the members of the Rational Response Squad was a stripper/escort/porn star named Kelly, and she made far more sense than Cameron did. If you don’t believe me, check out this video of the entire debate.
Viewings & Reactions:
Awake: Awake is NBC’s latest attempt to turn the tired police procedural genre on its head with a high-concept premise. (The excellent but short-lived Damian Lewis/Sarah Shahi series Life was another example of this.) Per Wikipedia: “Police detective Michael Britten (Jason Isaacs) is newly returned to work after being in a car crash along with his wife Hannah (Laura Allen) and his son Rex (Dylan Minnette). After the crash Britten discovers that every time he goes to sleep he switches between two realities, one in which his wife died in the crash and one in which his son died.”
It’s a fantastic premise, and the show’s pilot episode shows real promise. The audience remains completely unaware of which reality is the real one and which is only a dream, and the mystery does an excellent job of placing the audience in the protagonist’s shoes; like Britten, we’re confused, bewildered, and determined to find out the truth. The show also features a phenomenal cast (Wilmer Valderrama notwithstanding), including Cherry Jones (the President from the later seasons of 24), Steve Harris (best known from his work on The Practice and in Minority Report, but recognizable from a variety of other things), and underrated character actor BD Wong. The show’s early ratings were only OK, but the good news is that you don’t need to be much more than OK to remain on NBC, which might as well be called the Black Hole of Ratings. I just hope that the show gets at least enough time for it to explore its considerable potential.
Lindsay Lohan on SNL: She isn’t getting great reviews, but I’d like to take a moment to stick up for her. There was really only one sketch (the “scared straight” prison one) where she came off as unprepared; in that one, she stumbled through her lines and was clearly reading off of a teleprompter or cue cards most of the time. She was more than fine for the rest of the show, though, and she was helped out considerably by SNL’s phenomenal cast. (The “Real Housewives of Disney” sketch was particularly hilarious.) Lindsay had her little hiccups to be sure, but most other SNL hosts also mess up a few minor things – that’s just the nature of live TV. Not everyone can go out there and be like Justin Timberlake or Jon Hamm immediately, and I think that Lohan acquitted herself fairly well. And the ratings were great, too. Here’s hoping that Lindsay can legitimately turn her career – and her life – around, because she really does come off as likeable and talented when she wants to be.
Previewing features and articles I’m working on for I Wonder if You Wonder, some of which will be posted this week, some in weeks ahead, and others that’ll be abandoned due to laziness or frustration. (Hey, at least I’m up front about it.)
- Part II of my Listmania feature on film noir (to be posted very soon, possibly as early as tomorrow)
- An in-depth study of the evolution of the sitcom. (This is a long-term academic project I’m just starting to work on, but I’m going to turn it into articles for the site as well.)