Darwin for instance, one of the country's major ports, it's the capital of the Northwest territory, and a key trading outpost for the country in it's connection to Asia. As well as, some of the even more obscure places in the country, ones that I even had to look up. I'm usually pretty good at this geography thing, but this one I had to look up, just north of Darwin, on the other side of the Clarence Strait are the Tiwi Islands. The main two in the archipelago are Melville and Bathurst, and these are the ancestral home of the Tiwi people, one of the Aboriginal tribes of the nation.
Sunday, July 25, 2021
MOVIE REVIEWS #185: "THE HALT (aka ANG HUPA)", "STRAY", "THE LIFE AHEAD", "HIS HOUSE", "SORRY WE MISSED YOU", "BEANPOLE", "END OF THE CENTURY", "TOP END WEDDING", and "ANTHROPOCENE: THE HUMAN EPOCH"!
I don't really have much to note this week. The Emmy nominations took up quite a bit more time then I planned. Lots of TV to catch up on, and yet, the Olympics are finally here. Personally, while I know logically these are a general bad idea during this pandemic, I'm still excited for them. I'm a sports guy in general, but I like the idea of the world coming together for the greatness of human physicality, and then laud it over them for nationalistic pride when we win.
If we win, this year. There's a Simone Biles or two here who I know are gonna dominate, but this does feel like a relatively weaker U.S. year overall. We really should be better at some of these sports, like how did we not even qualify for Men 3x3 Basketball?! Christ.
Anyway, as to movies, an interesting batch this time, but not a huge eye-catching batch. Among other things I'm finally hoping to get to my Best and Worst of 2019 soon, but in the meantime, let's get to this batch of reviews.
THE HALT (aka ANG HUPA) (2021) Director: Ang Hupa
I believe at some point, everybody who's ever watched a Lav Diaz film will have the same reaction. They'll have a big dreary-eyed yawn, they'll pause the DVD or stream and say something, "Oh christ, how is there still two friggin' hours left in this damn film!" That's not a criticism of the film by the way, no bad movie is too short, no good movie is too long, movie lengths are as much based on selling more tickets at screenings then anything else. Still, Diaz, his movies are long. I don't know why he loves movies these lengths; at almost five hours, this is not only one of his shorter movies relatively shorter, it's actually probably his most commercial of his films, most of which usually make the uber-indy festival rounds before eventually finding worldwide cult acclaim. He is considered one of the very best directors the nation has produced, and probably the nation's current most acclaim modern filmmaker.
The last film of his I saw from 2013, "Norte, the End of History". which was a modern-day take on "Crime and Punishment". I enjoyed it a lot, but I didn't take a lot from it. I don't know how much I'm gonna take from "The Halt" either, but that's more of a criticism of me then the film. I'm a little familiar with the history of The Philippines as a country, but his movies definitely reveal my lacking in a lot of the minute details of modern life, or in this case, futuristic life, since techincally this is a sci-fi film, although it's probably more dark satire then anything.
It's the year 2034 and in this future, volcano eruptions have plunged most of Southeast Asia into permanent literal darkness. It's been that way for a few years now, and now there's also a worldwide flu pandemic that's also quietly destroying the people. Also being that way, is that the nation is run by a dictatorial madman, in this case, President Navarra (Joel Lamangan). Now, this is a scenario I do know a little about. The country is infamous having two different genocidal dictators, Ferdinand Marcos who ran the country for over twenty years, and their current benevolent ruler, President Rodrigo Duterte. It is pretty easy to see that Navarra is a parody of one or both of these men and probably dictatorships in general. There's scenes of him giving orders, interviews with foreign journalists, I like one sequence where he's going over the speech he'll give later and they argue over whether certain words are English colloquialisms worth saying. Sometimes he feeds his dissidents to his pet alligators.
That's one of the strange things with Diaz, while his movies are long, they're actually not terribly plot heavy normally; they're way more slow and forceful, and minimalist. The director I think of with him the most is Bela Tarr, who also has long movies with long minimalist long takes that you don't know where exactly they'll go or to what extent until the end, if that. Diaz is nowhere near as oblique and symbolic-heavy, but he gets his points across.
The characters we probably focus the most on are two female soldiers of Navarra, Marisa (Mara Lopez) and Martha (Hazel Orencio). We often see them debating and arguing between themselves on Navarra's orders as their grip on his true touched-by-God status begins to fade. Marisa in particular seems far more complicated, especially when she seemingly goes into these strange seizure-like twitches and dances almost randomly, which are often match-cut later with her, mid coitus and orgasm with Haminilda (Shaina Magdayao). Hamilinda's a prostitute that she sees on a regular basis, who spends her downtime speaking with a Dr. Hadoro, who she uses like a psychiatrist to help with her personal repressed memories. There's a lot of symbolism in that story is not only is their repression about the horrors of the past and present, but in the Philippines, sex worker is generally one of the more notoriously unsafe professions out there. (You can watch the documentary "Call Me Ganda" if you want a little more info on that)
There's also a former soldier named Hook (Piolo Pasqual) who was one of Navarra's most loyal soldiers but has become a freedom fighter and both of them are trying to take the other out.
There's also a lot of violence in the movie, usually in sudden shootouts and violence by the police. I could barely follow it all; I've been told they are related to other stories, but I didn't think they had to be. They fit pretty well into this creation of a sci-fi fascist future that Diaz clearly fears we're heading towards. He's old enough to have lived through one and is clearly warning of another. Duterte is most noted for his genocidal "Drug War" that he's raised on his citizens. People are missing and found killed pretty regularly there because of him.
The movie eventually ends, on a hopeful note, albeit a sardonic one. I've seen multiple reviewers compare the film to Jean-Luc Godard's "Alphaville" which is also a political sci-fi allegory that's more about the world the stories in the film take place in then what actually happens. That's probably a decent comparison, although, obviously it's a lot shorter and Diaz is much more absurdist in his approach to the wit in the film. These stories do interconnect, but they're more their to show the several different incestuous sides to the kind of incompetent corruption that makes up these kinda of fascist regimes. The movie debuted in 2019 in its home country in 2019, so a year ahead of our own pandemic-infused world of darkness took over that we're only now, maybe, starting to climb out of and back into the light, assuming the incompetent don't change the game to take over again. (Fingers crossed) It's probably the perfect timing among everything else for a hypnotic languid dive into Diaz's work like this, and the movie does seem more opportune now then it probably ever would've for me.
Again, the intricacies of The Philippines socio-political landscape still leave a part of the movie allusive for me, but what I could catch and grab onto, I admired greatly. Diaz isn't for everyone, but for those who are willing to engage, there's a lot of insightfulness there.
STRAY (2021) Director: Elizabeth Lo
Alright, new Netflix film in the mail.
(Opens Netflix envelope)
What's this one called? "Stray"? Hmm, what's this about?
(Reads Netflix disc jacket)
"With the camera following three stray dogs--- Zeytin, Nazar and Kertal -- this touching documentary provides a canine's eye view of Istanbul...-Wait, what?
...Istanbul and it's inhabitants as the pooches roam the city streets night and day! NO!
NOPE!!!! NOPE!!!!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Na-OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!! Not that again!?
I guess I should explain. If you're wondering about my severe reaction to what otherwise seems like a relatively benign documentary about dogs, well, this movie sounds incredibly similar and familiar to a film called "Kedi", a movie that I listed as the worst film of 2017. This was a movie that literally just followed street cats around Istanbul, and it was trash. It's a literal 75-minute Youtube cat video. I found it torturous, and felt that it made every argument the Spielbergs and Scorseses make about how movies need to be seen on large screens and in movie theaters and whatnot seem 100% legitimate. I'm one of the few people who went hard on that documentary, and yes, just looking at the sleeve jacket, this movie felt and looked little more then basically, the same movie, but with Istanbul dogs. Is this just another 75-minute animal video from Youtube?
Ummm, actually, no it wasn't. For one, it's a different group of filmmakers, led by director Elizabeth Lo. For another, it's shot better and makes more interesting observations and ponderings. There's three stray dogs we spend time with throughout the documentary. Admittedly, part of me wonders why the filmmakers didn't just pick up the dogs and take them home to adopt them, but then again, how often do we do that with animals we find off the street. (Technically, we really shouldn't be doing that anyway, it's hard for street animals to evolved and adapt to a new homelife, but whatever.) Still, though, especially after we follow a couple dogs through a great handheld shot down the streets and into dark alleys were we see them meeting up with people who seems to like them, but these homeless-ish people then just let a couple of the dogs start battling each other. It's not a dogfight per se, that's like set up or anything, but as somebody who actually did once witness two dogs just, suddenly and with little-to-no preparation suddenly start attacking each other, it's a horrific scene in real life, and a stunning one in the film.
The movie does feel low to the ground most of the time, like a stray. They hang around trash cans and walk through the crowded city, the sound mixing is excellent as we often overhear random spurts of half-conversations, that occasionally may or may not be about the dogs, but we don't always know the full context and certainly the dogs probably just recognize them as random voices of the city they peruse and live with.
And there's a lot going on in the city. Istanbul's homeless population are often Syrain refugees we come across and some of them are the ones that start taking in these homeless dogs. (Fine, maybe I do owe "Wendy & Lucy" a rewatch) There's also just the fact that there is such a vast population. There had been regular sweeps for strays in Turkey, but it's illegal to kill or euthanize or hold captive any stray. They do have some rights and they do have interesting experiences with humans. Some are good, some are more disturbing. I don't know how neorealist the film is; it's certainly more neorealist then the distressingly awful "Kedi", but I certainly more about the dogs in "Stray" and the humans interacting with them, both in front of and behind the camera.
Lo is a much more interesting documentarian as well. She's American-educated but Hong Kong born, and she takes a more observant look at these dogs and make greater points about life in Turkey which is still in peril in many circumstances. The movie in many feels like an old cityscape movie, only with the dogs, and with this case, sound, since most of those movies predate that in movies. "Stray" is the movie that "Kedi" could've been. I did say that I probably could've tolerated that film more if it was something more then a prolonged Youtube video, and yes, there's ways to tell the story of stray animals in the city correctly and "Stray" proves that. It's a compelling meditation that takes us not only into a world and place we rarely see, but from a perspective that we rarely get and it does surprisingly well.
THE LIFE AHEAD (2020) Director: Edoardo Ponti
Sophia Loren was my grandfather's favorite actress. He loved her, and he met her once when she had a meet-and-greet at some mall once upon a time, and he mentioned that he was saddened by the encounter. I think he was expecting this legendary larger-then-life Italian goddess that he'd seen on the screen, but instead, she looked fairly normal. I can see that, makeup and lighting can do a lot, and that's not to say Sophia Loren isn't a beauty or anything, she most definitely is, but yeah, expectations and all. That said, I've also heard stories that in public, she'll often disguise her appearance when she doesn't want to be recognized. I heard one story from a local cab driver one time, that she disguised herself so well that she got angry when the cabby didn't recognize her.
I tell you these anecdotes I have 'cause honestly, I actually haven't watched a great deal of Sophia Loren over the years. I've seen more then I actually thought, looking through her filmography, but except for "Two Women", which won her her Oscar, most of the movies I've seen her in are her more recent albeit sporadic mainstream works, like "Nine", "Grumpier Old Men" and "Ready-to-Wear [Pret-a-Porter]"; that last one I didn't even realize she was in. (I oughta rewatch that one, that was an underrated Robert Altman.) She's slowed down, but she's never outright stopped acting, entering her seventh decade of filmmaking, and is as fierce and passionate as ever.
If this is her final performance, and I don't in any way hope it is, she's leaving on a good one. Directed by her son Edouard Ponti, "The Life Ahead" is an adaptation of a French novel, "The Life Before Us", one that was already adapted successfully to film once before as "Madame Rosa"; that adaptation won a Foreign Language Oscar. This version, Loren plays Madame Rosa, an octogenarian who's kinda of a neighborhood matriarch. She's had a helluva life, one that gets slowly revealed during the film. The movie is mainly focused on Momo (Ibrahima Gueye) a young Senagalese street youth, who's taken in by Madame Rosa, after robbing her. It's not the most deep story, it's basically just a tale of a kid who grew up without any guidance finally finding a parental figure he can look up to, but it's told well.
Momo is the kid of a prostitute and her pimp, and after they're gone off, he's hustled on the street of Bari, Italy, currently he sells drugs to get by, something that Rosa disapproves of, but realizes that there's little to be done about it. Rosa is a former holocaust survivor who herself was a prostitute too, but not has grown to running a daycare essentially for the kids of other wayward women. She's getting older now and as she starts to lose some of her faculties, those old repressed memories of hiding from the Nazis have started to come back to her.
She gets help from Lola (Abril Zamora) a trans prostitute who seems to be too intimating for anyone to deal with. She's one of the most delightful parts of the film as her presence just is a delight to this film. Meanwhile, Rosa's sudden outbreaks of dementia seem to mirror Momo's occasional outbreaks of anger, which can occur almost at anytime, often when dealing with Hamil (Babak Karimi) who instigated him being Rosa's ward. It's actually quite fascinating how much care there is from the adults in this film, who seem to have lived with watching struggling kids like Momo their whole life, and seem to know exactly how this'll play out if they say the wrong things.
I think the real appeal of this story is how much you enjoy the life surrounding the characters, whether it's appealing or not. One movie this reminded of strangely was "Harold & Maude", which is weird 'cause I genuinely can't frickin' stand that film even though it's supposedly so uplifting and effervescent, perhaps it's because Harold is somebody who just seems so shallow to begin with..., but I digress, I like the relationship here better. It's not a perfect film, I don't love the voiceover from Momo for instance, but I enjoy the world and these characters. It's a complex relationship between two people who've been through a lot and keep their emotions at bay until they come out in outbursts living on the fringes of society. Sometimes that, and some good casting is enough. The movie's well made and well-acted, and of course it's a showcase for Sophia Loren and she nails it.
HIS HOUSE (2020) Director: Remi Weekes
You know, something that just occurred to me with haunted house movies, is that, it's never the main character's actual home that's haunted. Figuratively speaking, not necessarily literally, but even still, I can't think of any film where the main characters are haunted by the house or other building which they would otherwise they would firmly consider their home. They're always haunted in someone else's place, usually the home's owner(s) is whatever's haunting or scaring them, essentially as a staking of a claim. I'm not against this, I've even written this trope before, but it is kinda odd in retrospect how hauntings are so intertwined with, well, no pun intended, possession. It's always presumed that the place that's haunted is haunting for a reason, and the most likely reason usually has to do with a claim of ownership of some kind. It's never just haunted us, to haunt us. I'm not sure which would be more frightening to me, but yeah, I'm kinda surprised that it's up 'til now that we get a haunted house film called "His House" until now.
The film is fairly unique for a haunted house movie. It's not a house that's got the typical trappings of some place that most ghosts who, despite the hypothetical ability to travel anywhere they want, would want to stay and hang out, we get a fairly innocuous little place, the new temporary home for Bol and Rial (Sope Dirisu and Wunmi Mosaka). They're South Sudanese refugees/immigrants, who made the long escape from their wartorn country, eventually making it to London, despite losing their daughter Nyagak (Malaika Wakoli-Abigada) where they're given a small chance to make a life. A slightly better one then most we're told by their caseworker Mark (Matt Smith), as most immigrants usually get shoved together in group homes with multiple families, but still, not the ideal house for ghosts, but these ghosts followed them here.
I'm not sure how much this is specifically about the conflict in The Sudan specifically, or just a parable for the struggles and often horrors of refugees from any war-riddled country, but the ghosts that haunt them take the form of something they called an "Apeth", a mystical creature in South Sudanese folklore who's apparently followed Bol and Rial all the way up to their decrepit London abode. I'm looked into what the Apeth is, it's basically equivalent to a night witch, but it's a little more complicated then that, and it involves actions from the characters that don't get revealed 'til later in the movie, so I won't go into them here. I think it basically represents all matters of horrors that one must leave behind, and the true inability to ever have them completely leave oneself, especially for those who come from such horrors, and the decisions that they themselves had to make in order to make it to where they are now.
That's something in particular that I hate about people who seem to have absolute disgust for any kind of immigrants, especially refugees. There are scenes of racism that the couple experience, both literal and systemic, including one disturbing scene where a few British teens of African descent, tells Rial to go back to Africa after she struggles with the English language. She personally doesn't even want to stay actively refusing any kind of assimilation, which Bol actively tries for. They both have shared demons from home, and they share this Apeth that's followed them along and deems to take them for their sins.
Honestly, I don't know quite what to make of "His House" overall. I watched the film twice, the second time through I appreciated it more, but I can't say I was blown away by it. The movie had become a cult hit, especially in its native UK where the movie did well at both the BiFas, their equivalent of the Spirit Awards, and at the BAFTAs. It's an interesting debut feature from Remi Weekes, but perhaps the language of literal horror movies wasn't the perfect genre for this story. I can think of many good and even great films about immigrants struggles with dealing with their war-torn past as they attempt to build and create a new future for them. The big example in my mind is "Sophie's Choice", and while everybody remembers the one flashback scene from that film, in actuality there's a lot of wonderful and fun cultural exchanging stuff in that film, and the appeal of the movie is how delightful Sophie is, despite the true hardships she had to live with. I'm not saying that "His House" should've taken that route, 'cause there are some problems with the narrative of "Sophie's Choice", but I think the story leaned too heavily on horror movie ideas, as opposed to the genuinely more interesting horrors of war and struggles to start a new life aspects. Despite everything, I think the movie didn't really portray the regret and guilt that these characters have, or at least not convey it in the fullest way they could. Honestly like, falling back on the horror movie parable of this ghost-figure, while accurate to South Sudanese mythology, feels a bit like a cop out to not actually go into the more intricate stuff in greater detail.
I've always hated mixing real-life horror with the fantasy tropes of horror, especially the ones in horror movies is a really difficult tightrope to walk, and one that I genuinely don't think works since it either cheapens the real life events, or it trivializes the movie tropes.
I'm still gonna recommend this movie, 'cause there's good ideas here, talent behind and in front of the camera, and obviously some important and essential looks at the everchanging world and the collateral changes that cross both literal and mental boundaries, but I was overall underwhelmed by the film. For a film that's barely eighty minutes, I feel like it was trying to put too much in here, and Weekes didn't necessarily trust his material enough to extend and take some time on some stuff the way he probably could've. There's nothing here that I think he should've absolutely taken out, but maybe he could've dwelled and taken more time on these characters, not just because it would help us get invested in the conflict they have with the spirit, but also I kinda just want to know about them more then I did. It's a mixed review, but I suspect Weekes has better and more compelling stories within him, and I'll be waiting for when he really gets them told as well as he can.
SORRY WE MISSED YOU (2020) Director: Ken Loach
I don't know what the term for it is in the UK, but in America the term, "Independent Contractor" or some official variant of it, comes up a lot. To some extent, it's a natural progression of what's been termed the current "Gig Economy", but in other situations, it's an employment status that sounds more promising then it actually is. It's sold on the false notion that you'll get to be your own boss, while still clearly working at the behest of someone who seems to be able to just exploit labor more then most. It's basically modern-day sharecropping, only instead of working on a farm, they're delivering packages to everybody, and it's basically creating a world of Jobs. Well, jobs too, but I meant Job, as in the Biblical Job. (Pun unintended)
This is not surprising as a subject matter for Ken Loach, the legendary British neorealist director. He made a film a couple years ago that I didn't get to see in time for a review called "I, Daniel Blake", a powerful strike back to his neorealist roots that showed the struggles of a guy trying to get his pension after having a heart attack. Had I gotten to the film sooner, I would've put it on my Best of the Year list, and it was one of Loach's best films in general. I kinda caught onto Loach late, and usually with his more mainstream movies like "The Wind That Shakes the Barley" and "The Angels' Share" good movie, but they never particularly appealed to me. I still have to get to a lot of his earlier works like "Kes" or even some more acclaimed recent stuff like "Looking for Eric" and "Sweet Sixteen". Still though, going back to this more stripped down, more non-actors and more down-to-Earth simple tales of the downfall of the lower and middle class is probably where he's at his strongest. With England still reeling from the effects of Thatcherism, and in this case, the '08 Stock Market crash,
It's in this setting that we meet and follow Ricky (Kris Hitchen) a longtime worker who lost his job right as he and his wife Abbie (Debbie Honeywood) were about to pay off a house. She works as a home caretaker for the disabled and elderly, Ricky, after years of odds of hardworking jobs, gets a delivery truck, working supposedly as his own boss, which basically means that, you work for me, and the me in this case is Maloney (Ross Brewster) the personification of human exploitation. He runs the local branch of PDF, a not-so-subtle reference to that one company that delivers stuff that you're thinking of. He works fourteen hours a day, six days a week, and he has to sell the family car to afford everything he needs, which is what his wife drove from work to work with.
It's hard to describe all the details of what happens next, it's basically what you'd expect, as the roughness of the job exhausts him, and eventually his family. He battles everything we expect, everything from annoying customers to struggling to stay awake on the road to even getting attacked and beaten up. Meanwhile, his family really struggles. Their teenage son Seb (Rhys Stone) really begins to act out, and the more Ricky seems to work, the more Seb acts out, always more and more disgusted with his father who is barely there. His ennui is frustrating both Seb's mother and his little sister Liza Jae (Katie Proctor), and as he acts out, his father begins to act out as well, disturbing the family even more, and he doesn't quite have the capability to self-analyze and reassess himself and his priorities, and I can't blame him. Financial struggles often take precedent and financial struggles and work struggles breed the situation for the cracking of the family unit. At the end, the family is begging him to not go to work, but he has to go to work. It's very "Young Goodman Brown" to be honest, fees are just piled up and eventually you're either in indentured servitude without a family or in debt without a home.
"Sorry We Missed You" is purportedly a loose sequel to "I, Daniel Blake", I wouldn't be surprised if these movies are apart of a trilogy of some kind or anything, they definitely feel like they exist in the same universe, but you don't have to see one to see the other. (Although I highly recommend both) Perhaps this film is a little weaker then "I, Daniel Blake," but only because it's more frustratingly predictable. Daniel Blake was a man with nothing to lose so his rebellion at the end felt righteous, but we don't get any of that here; we get a family caught in the same circle of poverty. "Sorry We Missed You" is a brutal mirror to our society, but it's an essential and important one that needed to be made and absolutely needs to be seen.
BEANPOLE (2020) Director: Kantemir Balagov
(Deep sighing breaths, eventually followed by a several tongue-sucking under-breath utterances.)
Before I even begin this review, um..., well, this movie "Beanpole" includes a disturbing scene in it, that, I'm just gonna be blunt here, I saw it, I had to stop the film, 'cause I couldn't deal with it. I'm gonna describe it in a bit in my review, 'cause it's an early scene that's too plot relevant not to reveal, and also, I don't think it's something that I should not tell potential audiences about, but it disturbed the hell out of me. Normally, I'm much more blasé in terms of what others might find disturbing in a film, I might mention something shocking and unexpected like this but more dryly and unemotionally in tone then others, and just explain the events without without getting into the emotional details, but in this case, I'm going to make a huge exception.
In fact, I seriously thought about, just, not even finishing this movie, something that I take pride in almost never doing, but-eh, this movie got me thinking about it. It was that disturbing to me, so consider this your TRIGGER WARNING, 'cause this movie triggered me, so....
With that out of the way, "Beanpole" was the Russian Federation's submission for the International Feature Film category last year, and it's a tough one to get through. Loosely inspired by the works of Svetlana Alexievich, the film is a look at Post-WWII Russia Soviet Union, and the struggles of those who fought through the war coming home. Not, necessarily the soldiers though; in fact this is one of the few coming home from war movies that are about female participants in the war, and by far the earliest movie in terms of when the war occurred. That's a big plus right there.
That said, this story is brutal. The main characters are Iya (Viktoria Miroshnichenko), a skinny tall nurse who's nicknamed Beanpole, and suffers from a traumatic post-concussion PTSD condition where her whole body will suddenly freeze up and her friend Masha (Vasilisa Perelygina) who wasn't so much on the battle grounds on the warfront, but was very much apart of it and that left her with permanent scars. As well as a young kid, which, while she was out of town and Iya was watching, she accidentally smothers to death when she has a paralysis episode. (This is the scene I'm warning everyone about; if you can't with it, I don't blame you for not watching the film, or subsequently, just, fast forwarding through this part.) Masha is, shockingly understanding about this, and is still tentative friends with Iya; it's only afterwards when we find out exactly what her position in the war was does it make sense, and that's a long way's out. It doesn't get completely revealed until after she starts dating Sasha (Igor Shirokov) a wealthy son of a local official. They have some complicated, but playful interactions, and soon, seem to fall in love.
Masha, among her several physical and emotional scars from the war, has had a hysterectomy, and Iya, owing her a child, ends up wanting to have a kid for Masha. This leads to, among other things, the most uncomfortable and disturbing, well, I guess technically it's a threesome sex scene that I've ever seen. I get it though, remember this was long before the time where surrogacy was much more common and the now-traditional scientific and medical techniques for such a thing weren't developed yet, but it's still a really bizarre scene, and it's not even with Sasha, it's with a doctor, Nikolay (Andrey Bykov).
The whole movie has this dour depressing state swamping over it, like the Vermeer-esque look of the dull lifelike browns and greens envelopes the film, almost until we actually see the Sasha's parents (Denix Kozinets and Kseniya Kutepova) more Romanoff-like house at the end when he tries to impress them with Masha.
The movie's more episodic in nature then I'm explaining here. For instance, there's a whole subplot at the hospital Iya, and eventually Masha, work at involving a quadriplegic patient named Stepan (Konstantin Balakirev) a soldier who's wife (Alyona Kuchkova) has already told their family and kids that he died during the war. The mixup alone is horrific, but Stepan tells Iya to euthanize him, as he's not sure what use he'd be to either his wife or himself alive now. There's some other side plots as well. I'm making the movie seem inherently depressing, which it is, but it's also a movie about surviving and moving on with your life after war, despite the fact that those horrors of the war still linger on, whether it be permanent, in the mind, body, or even in the guts of those who were apart of it. It takes a lot out of you, and even with rebuilding, the war will still effect your lives.
I'm kinda amazed that director Kantemir Balagov is so young; he's not even in his thirties and this is only his third feature, but I would've guessed this was a veteran filmmaker deep into his career. He's very purposeful in his shots, using a lot of long unbroken takes that can be very uncomfortable but there's a method to it. I suspect he's seen a lot of Tarkovsky being Russian. I'm definitely interested in his earlier films from "Beanpole", although I'm admittedly still hesitant on it as a whole. Definitely recommending it, but know what you're getting into. This is an uncomfortable film about several uncomfortable subjects but it is a story that deserves to be told.
END OF THE CENTURY (2019) Director: Lucio Castro
I read a few reviews of "End of the Century" that mentioned the film, "Sliding Doors" a few times. "Sliding Doors" is one of those weird movies that does get mentioned and parodied often, and, I-eh, I don't really get why. Honestly, that's a very forgettable, and kinda boring movie. I know it's premise is kinda noteworthy, but I feel like there should be better examples. Like, literally, I don't think anybody remembers anything else about that movie, and why would they? It's a film I struggle to remember actually exists.
Besides, it really doesn't apply here. "End of the Century" isn't a rom-com about two scenarios playing out depending on whether something happened or not. It does have an interesting premise in of itself. The debut feature from Argentinean director Lucio Castro is about two people, Ocho (Juan Barberini) a poet who's currently on vacation in Barcelona, and Javi (Ramon Pujol) a local TV director. They have a meet cute, and then hook up in Ocho's hotel room. It's only after that they realize that they've met up before. Twenty years earlier in fact.
Yeah, that's when the movie does jump back in time, and to me this was a little confusing. Like, when they both first met up in their early twenties, they were both still straight and they're a little unsure of themselves or their sexuality. We do see them meeting in the past and they have a very tender little one night stand over A Flock of Seagulls's "Spaceage Love Song".
I guess the presumption is that the movie is about time itself, and how it can kinda exists beyond temporal limits, like how twenty years later these two characters still have a spark, and I guess they wonder about what could've happened... This is kinda where the movie loses me. I like the idea of two people meeting when they were young, not going through with a relationship, forgetting about each other, and then reuniting by accident twenty years later, when both characters have made choices and priorities with their life and they have to consider and re-evaluate the possibilities of their future and their past, I just don't get the idea of this being inherently related to time. I guess that's why everybody's trying to put this in the "Sliding Doors" milieu but I think it's more relatable to Andrew Haigh's "Weekend" or even Richard Linklater's "Before Sunset". There's a glimpse of the idea of the one that got away, or that one girl Mr. Bernstein from "Citizen Kane" famously regrets not talking to in his youth, but distinctly remembers in his old age, and looking back on it, but I don't know. The movie feels like it's trying to be more cerebral then it is.
I think it's at its best when it's just focusing on the fact that these two people, whenever they meet, have great chemistry and attraction to each other, and that should just be the thing. I don't think the movie actually has as much to say about time as it thinks it has, but I like the idea of the romance. Eh, I don't know, part of me wants to recommend it, but it did make me feel cold after everything. Eh, I think I gave my generous extra 1/2 star to "His House" this week. Yeah, the movie's interesting and I want to know what the director does next, but it's a little thin. Too thin. In between everything else, the movie makes up for it's lack of much else narratively by becoming a mini Barcelona travelogue, and that's kinda where I think it fails again. I mean, I guess I don't mind the idea of "Ocho Javi Barcelona" either, but yeah, this movie, needed to be more intimate, like "Room in Rome" perhaps. Interesting idea, but the movie is a missed connection for me.
Maybe I'll like it better in twenty years.
TOP END WEDDING (2019) Director: Wayne Blair
There are certain countries in the film world that seem to be more natural fits for road movies then others. The United States, is a big road movie country, with a couple decades of great examples from "It Happened One Night" to "Sideways". Brazil is another one known for them, some great movies like "Central Station" or even "Pixote: The Law of the Weakest". Another country that's known for them is Australia. In fact a lot of Australian media can seem like a road story. It is certainly this strangest of countries, a continent-sized island with a giant desert in the middle of it that's so vast, it's always a bit of a shock to us foreigners, (Or at least us American foreigners) that there are actual towns and cities outside of the nation's southeast coast.
Darwin for instance, one of the country's major ports, it's the capital of the Northwest territory, and a key trading outpost for the country in it's connection to Asia. As well as, some of the even more obscure places in the country, ones that I even had to look up. I'm usually pretty good at this geography thing, but this one I had to look up, just north of Darwin, on the other side of the Clarence Strait are the Tiwi Islands. The main two in the archipelago are Melville and Bathurst, and these are the ancestral home of the Tiwi people, one of the Aboriginal tribes of the nation.
Lauren, (Miranda Tapsell) is a Sydney-based associate lawyer working for one of those cartoonishly over-the-top female bosses, Ms. Hampton (Kerry Fox, doing a decent version of Meryl Streep in "The Devil Wears Prada".). After she finally gets the associate gig, her boyfriend Ned (Gwilym Lee) a prosecuting attorney who suddenly quits his job and immediately proposes to Lauren. They decide to get married quickly and they head up north to her hometown of Darwin and get married in this rare ten-day window her boss has granted her. She even comes up eventually to help plan the wedding.
However, when she goes to her parents' house, her father Trevor (Huw Higginson) is in a permanent depressed state, often heading to the pantry to lock himself in and play Chicago's "If You Leave Me Now". This is where the road movie aspect actually comes in, even though they've already gone from Sydney to Darwin, but that was by air. Lauren's mother Daffy (Ursula Yovich) has left her father, and as she and her husband go a wild chase trying to find her as she is determined that she needs her to be there for the wedding, although that changes as the search continues, and that includes whether the marriage should even go on....
Honestly, this is fairly predictable rom-com fare. The best thing really about it is the setting, as Lauren and her mother's journey, eventually leads them back to her island home and to their culture. Lauren was born and raised in Darwin and her mother, who had a falling out with her family when she married Ned, a white man, hadn't gone back home in decades and Lauren was so far enough removed from this aspect of her heritage that she never fully connected to it.... So, the movie is essentially a getting back to your roots journey. I wish there was more then that; the movie barely gives us a real sense of the Tiwi culture and people, which I guess is on purpose, but still... "Top End Wedding" is the newest feature from Wayne Blair, the Australian TV director most known for "The Sapphires" in the feature film world, which was an interesting if flawed music biopic that has one of my absolute worst and laziest factual inaccuracies I've ever written in a review, where I complain that they sang a song that hadn't been out yet in the period the film took place, when in reality they did.... Stupid me, I didn't know Salt-N-Pepa's "Whatta Man" was a sample from Linda Lyndell's "What a Man".... I don't know why I was confident enough in that fact to bring that up, but-eh, yeah, I gotta apologize to Blair for that, if nothing else. Bad review of mine, wish I could take that one back.
That said, "Top End Wedding" is a better film, but it's not a special film. I like that Blair is trying to tell some stories about the Aboriginal peoples of the country, and this isn't a terrible film or anything; I'm gonna recommend it, barely, but I fear that he basically only can tell these tales through the most conventional and episodic bad television tropes style. Still, I'm glad someone's trying and you know, if the only thing different with this film is the location and the insight into the lost cultural identity of the Tiwi People, then at least it's an interesting location and the Tiwi are people who I honestly never knew about before. Might as well learn something from a very traditional romantic wedding comedy as anything else.
ANTHROPOCENE: THE HUMAN EPOCH (2019) Directors: Jennifer Baichwal, Edward Burtynski and Nicholas de Pencier
I wasn't gonna review this movie for this post, I'm actually behind posting this and I have others things I want to get to, but, I had this on while I was working on other things.... and now I gotta talk about it. Now unlike "Stray", this documentary's description didn't make me start involuntarily twitching. On Kanopy, the film is describe as:
"A stunning sensory experience and cinematic meditation on humanity massive reengineering of the planet... A years-in-the-making feature, the film follows the research of an international body of scientists, the Anthropocene Working Group who, after nearly 10 years of research argue that the Holocene Epoch gave way to the ANTHROPOCENE EPOCH in the mid-twentieth Century as a result of profound and lasting human changes to the Earth. From concrete seawalls in China that now cover 60% of the mainland coast, to the biggest terrestrial machines ever built in Germany, to psychedelic potash mines in Russia's Ural Mountains, to metal festivals in the closed city of Norlisk, to the devasted Great Barrier Reef in Australia and marrive marble quarries in Carrara, the filmmakers have traversed the globe using state of the art camera techniques to document the evidence and experience of human planetary domination."
Okay, there's a lot of words that do indicate for most that this is simply a film to skip, "Cinematic meditation" "Sensory Experience", and whatever-the-hell words like "Anthropocene" and "Epoch" mean, but there's some interesting-sounding stuff here too. Sounds like a deep dive into the modern history of humanity, and you know, I can deal with that. Even the meditation stuff; one of my favorite films in recent years is Ron Fricke's "Samsara" and that movie is basically just a meditation on ourselves. There's a way to do this. This could be artistically compelling as well as educational, right?
Then, I looked at the filmmakers. The movie's credited to three directors, but the main one is also the film's writer Jennifer Baichwal, and I'm sorry, I'm not vibing with this girl at all. Now, outside of this film, she seems to be a somewhat normal documentarian. She co-directed a doc on the rock band, The Tragically Hip, she made a doc that was inspired by a Margaret Atwood novel, some other biodocs here and there, but mostly when I run into her, she's doing this..., I guess technically they're environmental docs, but she's trying to go deeper on some kind of metaphysical level with them, and she does that by using, some admittedly stirring and amazingly modern cinematography, but my god,- maybe some people are getting to that point with her, but I'm sorry, she just totally fails with me every time. This is the second film of hers I've seen, and believe it or not, this movie might be a little better then that one, maybe.... (Shrugs) [Maybe not]
The last one I saw was "Watermark", which made my Worst Films List the year it came out. That movie used a lot of helicopter and drone shots to outline how the changing of the water levels has effected the planet, like, how some rivers use to run and now they're just dry sand with, well, watermarks from where the water used to be. I'm not apathetic towards the subject matter; I live near Vegas and the sea levels at Lake Mead and Hoover Dam are getting disturbingly lower and lower since I've been alive and you can see just how much on the sides of the hills and mountains, but the movie didn't really do much else. It tried a few times, but I'd either fall asleep from these nine-minute tours over the Grand Canyon or wherever the hell we were, or the talking heads were just too dull and not interesting in between.
And "Anthropocene..." is kinda the same, only a little more elaborate, as it's subject matter is even more grander as it talks about the Earth as a whole. "ANTHROPOCENE: The Human Epoch" (I've seen the title "Anthropocene" capitalized in some places in the "official title" and not capitalized in others.) is about the recent human effects we've had on the Earth. Anthropocene is a geological term for the current geological age where human activity has the most dominance. "Epoch" is also a geological term for a period of time, but it's a reference to a person's life, and focuses in on the important events that shape a person. So, I think the movie's attempting to show humanity's distinctive events that have place us in this current time period and show the distinctive events that represent humans' physical effects on the Earth.
So, we see stuff like the Corals dying out and the excessive pollution in the Urals, and all this stuff, is boring, but at least is interesting and on-point, but then there's some weird asides that are, kinda tertiarily related. Like there's a musical performance of some kind during one of these trips they've made to the corners of the globe and that seems to get way more time then I probably would've given it.
There's narration by Alicia Vikander that occasionally interrupts those long takes with intriguing facts to go with the images, but both of them kinda fail me personally. I guess the point of the movie is that all these events and occurrences, the building of concrete stoppages from the ocean, the ivory trade that's led to the elephant endangerment as well as preservation forces in Africa, to etc. etc. that they're all apart of this current transitioning geological era... but I just didn't care.
I mean, part of me's wondering why I should care? They don't make that clear, like is all this stuff inherently bad, or are you just documenting the changes for preservation. I kinda had that issue a bit with "Watermark" too; I feel like I'm supposed to be learning or caring for something, but instead I'm just perplexed by everything and I feel like I'm watching a very environmentally-conscious annoying friend's vacation videos. Like Jessie Spano at her most intolerable and pretentious. They even talk about how there's been five previous extinction events in the world's history, that we know of, and that maybe true, and hopefully we're not plunging headlong into another one, but honestly, it kinda makes me wonder why should I be worried about this one? I'm as liberal and environmental-savvy as I can be, and even I'm trying not to sound like one of those right-wing nutjubs who thinks we shouldn't get COVID vaccines because it'll all work out in the end and the pandemic is just the earth thinning out the overpopulation herd, and it's not like I'm personally looking for something to disagree with the film on, but I feel like I'm just trying to grab onto something, anything at all. I feel like I'm just trying to feel anything from these movies and I just feel numbed and not even a defeated numb, just a bored and tired numb, the kinda we're just exhausted because you're doing more work then the movie is.
"ANTHROPOCENE..." probably has ambition I can admire, but I find myself just bored and baffled by it. If this filmmaker can bore and frustrate me, a guy who loves to find out stuff and wants to learn about the world and all their troubles and issues and loves informative documentaries on such subjects, then this movie must be unbelievable torture to anybody who isn't looking for any of this. It's not even meditative, which, first of all you should probably either teach us or be a meditation, it's really hard to do both, in a documentary no less, but also, her ideas of meditation just seem to be long beautiful shots of wherever she is. This isn't even good for meditative documentaries; I'd rather watch other docs I hate like this, like 2012's "Leviathan" about North Atlantic fisherman or even "Russian Ark", that movie that was infamously all one shot travelogue through a museum that also was a guidebook through Russian history. I'm the only one who actually does find that movie boring and the gimmick tedious in that film, but boy, I might re-evaluate it after being reminded of how bad these films can be. I hate to be this mean, especially since I think Baichwal must be more interesting on some of her other work, but if these are the kinds of productions she really cares about making, then, I don't know what else to say, but I don't think she's good at making them.
Posted by David Baruffi at 11:14 PM
Wednesday, July 21, 2021
73rd PRIMETIME EMMYS NOMINATIONS ANALYSES (Aka, sorry this took so long, I've been busy. I promise I'll get predictions out before the show.)
These most unusual Emmys snuck up on me. I was aware, but to be honest, I haven't spent this pandemic watching nearly as much television as everyone else has, so I have to catch up on, and apparently the top of that list, is finally caving in, and as soon as I can afford to, get an AppleTV subscription. Yeah, I've been putting that one off, but even the shows I like and usually would watch regularly and immediately, I've been putting off. I don't know exactly why, perhaps I've just not been in the mood, perhaps, the overwhelming amount of movies I still have to get to are in the way... (I swear, Top Ten Lists for 2019 are coming!) or maybe I just haven't felt television lately. Even the stuff I have been watching, most of it, it, well, just to be blunt, it's not that I've hated that much, but I'll say that I haven't been as impressed with it over time recently.
Part of that, might be the pandemic and we're just in a slide turn until some really great stuff comes back, but also I think there's just too much television in general. I mean, even with COVID skewering the options, which is definitely reflective in this list, it feels like no matter what I try to get into, I will inevitably be missing out too much on something else, so why even bother trying?
Perhaps that's just the cynic in me. It doesn't help that, since the Emmys went to this more open-to-the-entire Academy public ballot in the main categories, I have just hated the Emmys. Sometimes I like their choices, but frankly, I'm just sick of the seeing the popular shows just getting in every single year, whether their shows I like or not, it feels like, there's a lack of nominations for quality of performance and more nominations for whatever show tickles the taints of the most viewers. This COVID Emmys actually does make the selections a little more curious, 'cause there is a lot that's not out there this year. That's why we're suddenly ending up with sweeps for like, the last season of "Game of Thrones" that everybody apparently hates and I haven't gotten to yet, 'cause "GOT" was always a 2nd tier show in my mind, or "Schitt's Creek" suddenly being recognized and sweeping everything in it's final seasons, despite not getting noticed for the first however many years of it's existence. I find it just annoying. Please bring back screenings and panels; you can still keep the entire Academy's votes, I'm not saying eliminate that vote, but you know, at least, hypothetically, they see everything, and perhaps that should mean their opinions should hold more weight?!
Maybe that's just me. but like I said, that does mean that this is different.
No "Succession", no "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel", no "Barry", no several other series that had normally been ever-present.
More interesting collection of nominees, some more questionable then others, and just like the Oscars earlier in the year, it's what got through the finish line that gets to compete, so, let's see who made it through, in this strangest of Emmy years yet.
73RD ANNUAL EMMY AWARDS NOMINEES
OUTSTANDING COMEDY SERIES
Emily in Paris-Netflix
The Flight Attendant-HBO Max
The Kominsky Method-Netflix
Christ, now I actually gotta watch "Cobra Kai". And "Ted Lasso", although I'm fairly prepared for that. And, I honestly never heard of "Hacks", what's this show? (IMDB search) Oh, actually this sounds pretty good. Jean Smart as a Vegas comic legend; okay, I guess if I can't get "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" this'll do. "Cobra Kai" on the other, this is one of those shows I was talking about. It's been on for years, suddenly it gets into this category because it's popular. It only got this and three minor categories, which is somehow more then "Emily in Paris" which only got two other obscure nominations...- I'm starting to wonder why they even have eight this year. (I know why they have eight, don't @me) Anyway, here's the thing, am I the only one who just never gave a shit about "The Karate Kid"? Like, I'm already sick of all these "Star Wars" and "Marvel" and other franchise spinoffs clogging up my viewing, (Oh, we'll get to them in the drama categories) but, "The Karate Kid" even getting a sitcom parody spinoff, this long afterwards...? I mean, maybe it's good; I've heard good things. I probably will like it better then "Emily in Paris", which I guess I now have to finish. I think most years, that doesn't break the Top 20 in this category, 'cause that show is just a little too hard to force my way through. I got like halfway and it felt like all of Michael Patrick King's worst instincts were coming back. (Actually, I tend to think Americans in other countries sitcoms are kind of a bad idea in general; it feels like it's just fodder to make fun of other countries. Anybody remember that horrible "Outsourced" series? Yeah, that was the show when I first recognized who Michael Loftus was, so there's the kind of people who think this kind of fish-out-of-water tales are gold, so even splattered with "Sex and the City" sheen, I'm not sure this is a good idea.) Still though, not a terrible list overall here. I have to see the second season of "Pen15"; it's cringy but I'm glad it's on here, and I liked everything else here. "The Flight Attendant" actually seemed like one of those rare series with a one-year plot idea that actually had a decent setup and idea for later seasons, so I'm looking forward to that. "The Kominsky Method"'s good. "black-ish", I probably should watch more then I do, but it's good. I would've liked to have seen "Mr. Mayor" get something, but I guess they got tired of Ted Danson and Tina Fey. "Ted Lasso" leads in nominations with 20, with "Hacks" at a surprising 15, as the second choice early on, but "Lasso" is the early favorite.
OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Michael Douglas-"The Kominsky Method"-Netflix
William H. Macy-"Shameless"-SHOWTIME
Jason Sudeikis-"Ted Lasso"-AppleTV+
Only five this year in the Lead Comedy Series categories. That's disappointing. So, hey, remember when it was weird when Sterling K. Brown got nominated as a regular on a couple series at the same time recently and how weird that was? Well, that's not weird anymore, that's just the norm. Kenan Thompson is up for both this category for his sitcom, and as a Supporting Actor for "Saturday Night Live" and he's far from the only one. I'm guessing they narrowed the list down to five due to the lack of comedy series, which is a bummer. I would've thought Ted Danson would've gotten in here, but no love for "Mr. Mayor". Oh well, it's a good show. We do get Anderson, Douglas and probably most shocking Macy, coming back into the category, with Sudeikis being the heavy early favorite. I could see Anderson or Douglas potentially playing spoilers though.
OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Kaley Cuoco-"The Flight Attendant"-HBO Max
Tracee Ellis Ross-"black-ish"-ABC
Jean Smart-"Hacks"-HBO Max
The 2nd of the SNL crew to get into Comedy Series Lead and Supporting categories, Aidy Bryant snuck in for her now-canceled Hulu series, "Shrill". See, if this was a normal year, I'd kinda be upset at this nomination, 'cause I've liked the few episodes I've seen of "Shrill", but like, now you're nominating it?! This is why I don't like the popular vote, in this age of streaming, people are randomly catching series much later then they should; I prefer it when the Academy is on top of it's game early on. Like, why did they only notice "Fleabag" in season two?! WTF?! Also, finally getting noticed is Kaley Cuoco, it's her first ever nomination believe it or not, and I like "The Flight Attendant" quite a bit so I'm happy with this one. (Would've liked to have seen a Character Voice-Over nom for "Harley Quinn" too, but can't get everything.) They join Ross, surprisingly Allison Janney who's coming back in after missing a few seasons for "Mom"'s finale season, which...- eh, I kinda tuned out after Anna Faris left the series, so... (Shrugs) and Jean Smart. "Hacks" got 15 nominations total, second best among comedy series, only behind Ted Lasso, and the Academy loves Jean Smart. It's easier to recall TV projects she wasn't nominated for and this new series over-performed. Interesting category, I think Bryant's the only one I can't really see a path to winning, but she's got another opportunity anyway.
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Carl Clemons-Hopkins-"Hacks"-HBO Max
Brett Goldstein-"Ted Lasso"-AppleTV+
Brendan Hunt-"Ted Lasso"-AppleTV+
Nick Mohammad-"Ted Lasso"-AppleTV+
Paul Reiser-"The Kominsky Method"-Netflix
Jeremy Swift-"Ted Lasso"-AppleTV+
Kenan Thompson-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Bowen Yang-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Is this a record for the category, four nominations for "Ted Lasso"? (Google search) It's a tie, for the record. "Modern Family" had four nominees in the category back in 2012, with Ty Burrell, Ed O'Neill, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and the winner that year, Eric Stonestreet. That would at first glance indicate that one of the "Ted Lasso" actors is the favorite, but 2012 had only six nominees, this year, there's eight. Not as much possibility of vote splitting, but it's possible. We know they want to give it to Kenan Thompson at some point, although I think the biggest spoiler chance could be his castmate Bowen Yang, who really had a good breakout few years on the show. Also, it's a nice surprise to see Paul Reiser's name pop up again. I didn't see the "Mad About You" reboot; I might get to it later, although I didn't hear too much good about it, but he's genuinely been underrated and devoted a lot of his career to TV; it'd be nice to finally see him win one. The original "Mad About You" btw, is the one of the most underrated sitcoms of all-time.
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Aidy Bryant-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Hannah Einbinder-"Hacks"-HBO Max
Kate McKinnon-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Rosie Perez-"The Flight Attendant"-HBO Max
Cecily Strong-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Juno Temple-"Ted Lasso"-AppleTV+
Hannah Waddington-"Ted Lasso"-AppleTV+
Okay, counting the Guest Acting nominations, "Saturday Night Live" has 11 ACTING NOMINATIONS this year. Now that's amazingly not a record, "The West Wing" had 12 acting nominees in 2002, although although I'm fairly certain this is a record for a comedy series, I'm trying to get that verified, but can I ask a question now? Can we stop with idiots that say "SNL" is bad, or isn't as good as it was, or should be canceled, or any other "Saturday Night Dead" BS anymore. I've heard so many people bitch and moan about how "SNL" isn't any good anymore over the years, just as much now as ever and if it is, then why the fuck do they keep getting these nominations? And don't tell me it's just that they're live and comedy's hard, they can nominate other shows. Yes, I do find it annoying that since they got rid of the Individual Variety Performer category that all the "SNL" people hog the Supporting and Guest nominees in Comedy Series, but like, yeah, I'm sorry, "SNL" is funny as hell. I've lived through 30+ seasons of the show and gone back to watch the rest over time; I've been through the show and its history with a fine tooth comb. By my calculations there's one genuine bad year, 1984, a year after Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo left and before Phil Hartman came on, that you can say, that the show just sucked. Even that was Dennis Miller, Nora Dunn and Jon Lovitz's debut seasons, but it was the season where they tried to focus their show around established star actors, Randy Quaid, Joan Cusack, Robert Downey, Jr., and Anthony Michael Hall, among others and most of that cast lasted the one forgettable year and then thankfully left. There are good years and bad years, but most of those bad years are transition years where the next good group of talent is beginning to come in and will become great later, so like even lukewarm years like say 1995, are not great, but they're on their way to becoming great. So, yeah, I'm sick of hearing this, just accept that "SNL" is comedy and comedy changes over time, and with the generations, so you probably liked whatever favorite casts and seasons you grew up with, but the younger ones like these new ones and it's good, but different. I mean, "SNL" got three nominations in this category, and arguably missed one as I'd argue that Chloe Fineman probably got snubbed.
(Sigh of relief)
Oh, I almost forgot, who else is nominated in this category? Oh Rosie Perez, glad to see her. Overall, tough category, but I think the category is leaning towards Hannah Einbinder for now, as the "SNL" and "Ted Lasso" votes will probably get split.
OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A COMEDY SERIES
B Positive-"Pilot"-James Burrows-CBS
The Flight Attendant-"In Case of Emergency"-Susanna Fogel-HBO Max
Hacks-"There is No Line (Pilot)"-Lucia Aniello-HBO Max
Mom-"Scooby-Doo Checks And Salisbury Steak"-James Widdoes-CBS
Ted Lasso-"Biscuits"-Zach Braff-AppleTV+
Ted Lasso-"The Hope That Kills You"-MJ Delaney-AppleTV+
Ted Lasso-"Make Rebecca Great Again"-Declan Lowney-AppleTV+
No, I have no idea what the hell "B Positive" is. I would've presumed it was the automatic multicam nomination in the category, and since it's James Burrows he gets in, but somehow a somewhat random episode of "Mom" got in here as well.... I'm not sure how or why that happened. It wasn't even the finale episode... I'll have to check that out. Also, nice to see Zach Braff get nominated again; he was only nominated once in '05 for "Scrubs". The three nominees for "Ted Lasso" definitely makes them the favorite for Series, although I could see either "Hacks" or "The Flight Attendant" taking this one.
OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A COMEDY SERIES
The Flight Attendant-"In Case of Emergency"-Steve Yockey-HBO Max
Hacks-"There Is No Line (Pilot)"-Lucia Aniello, Paul W. Downs and Jen Statsky-HBO Max
Ted Lasso-"Make Rebecca Great Again"-Teleplay: Jason Sudeikis; Story by Brendan Hunt and Joe Kelly-AppleTV+
Ted Lasso-"Pilot"-Teleplay & Story by Jason Sudeikis and Marc Lawrence; Story by Brendan Hunt and Joe Kelly-AppleTV+
"Girls5eva" introduces Peacock to the Emmys. The streaming service got it's first two nominations, with this series, which was reportedly to have a late-comer possibility for a Series nomination, into that weird rare comedy series with the one out-of-nowhere Writing nomination, category. "Pen15" got that last year and now it got into Series. Other shows like "Catastrophe" haven't been so lucky though... Anyway, another battle between the three presumed favorites. "Ted Lasso" gets two in Writing and three in Directing, no other comedy gets more then one.... Their could be a spoiler here, but I suspect the Series battle is "Ted Lasso"'s to lose right now.
OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Alec Baldwin-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Dave Chappelle-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Morgan Freeman-"The Kominsky Method"-Netflix
Daniel Kaluuya-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Dan Levy-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Four from "SNL", including two recent past winners for the show, and Morgan Freeman playing himself. Are we sure we can't figure out a way to bring back the Individual Variety Performer category?
Also, how did Jim Carrey get snubbed for "SNL" here?
OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Yvette Nicole Brown-"A Black Lady Sketch Show"-HBO
Bernadette Peters-"Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist"-NBC
Issa Rae-"A Black Lady Sketch Show"-HBO
Maya Rudolph-"Saturday Night Live"-HBO
Kristin Wiig-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Well, at least the sketch nominees weren't just from "SNL". I haven't seen the new season of "A Black Lady Sketch Show" but I am looking forward to it; when they did a "227" parody sketch last season, that basically won them over for me. Glad to see Jane Adams; I always thought she was an actress who never got the credit she deserved. I can't believe she never got nominated before; I would've sworn she was up for "Frasier" in Guest so many years ago. (She should've been nominated for "Hung") And, although I hate that it's for, I'm sorry, truly one of the worst, most unwatchable shows on TV, how in the blue Hell is this only Bernadette Peters's third Emmy nomination!? (Well, 4th if you count a daytime nomination) And they're ridiculous times apart too, she was nominate first in '78 for "The Muppet Show" and then the last one was twenty years ago, for "Ally McBeal"!? I'm just gonna pretend this if a makeup for the Emmys never recognizing "Mozart of the Jungle" for anything, ever. Why isn't there a campaign to bring that show back!?!?! Of all the sitcoms with music in the center of them for her to get nominated for, Christ... I'm sorry, but "Zoey's Infinite Playlist" is just too utterly stupid to exist; I'm standing firm on this one; I'll be happy if Bernadette finally wins though.
OUTSTANDING DRAMA SERIES
The Boys-Prime Video
The Handmaid's Tale-Hulu
This is Us-NBC
See it's nominations like "The Boys" which, except for a Writing nomination, really didn't get much, and I'm just sick of these damn superhero and "Star Wars" universes. I'm sick of them in the movies, I really don't particularly want them in my TV either. Honestly, I think "The Mandalorian" would be better if it just, wasn't in the "Star Wars" universe. It's a good western story, I don't really need it to be apart of something else; if anything, that just gets in the way. (I also always felt that way about "The X-Files" btw, I don't care about the "secrets" or the cigarette-smoking man, or any of the clues that we're supposed to be following or whatever.... It's not just the franchises themselves that I'd annoyed to be apart, sometimes it's just that playing to the extreme fandoms who seek out more meaning in shit then is there, just hinders good storytelling.) That said, there was one surprise in "Lovecraft Country", a real canceled first-year series getting loads of Emmy praise, eighteen total nominations! "Bridgerton" also got the popularity bounce. "The Handmaid's Tale" and "The Crown" have come away as the big favorites here with curiously "The Crown" getting 24 nominations, the leader in the category, with "Handmaid's..." getting 21. Personally, I thought "The Crown" was technically very good, but still a frustrating watch, but the return of "This is Us" is a delight for me, and this was a good season despite that huuuuuuuuge what-the-fuck of an ending! The real surprise here is actually "Pose" which, eh, maybe I'll catch up on that now that it ended but from what I watched, eh, I'm sure works for the people who need it, but to me it's another Ryan Murphy show that I just don't get, but in this pandemic year, it broke into Series for the first time. It's kinda like that one year "The Americans" finally got in, kinda.... Man, Showtime gets the noteworthy attention for being overlooked but FX really has been getting shafted over the years, hasn't it?
OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Sterling K. Brown-"This is Us"-NBC
Jonathan Majors-"Lovecraft Country"-HBO
Josh O'Connor-"The Crown"-Netflix
Billy Porter-"Pose"-FX Networks
Matthew Rhys-"Perry Mason"-HBO
Yeah, Gold Derby's right, how does Justin Hartley never get nominated? It's so weird, although Sterling was also great, and him and Billy Porter are the only people in this category who've won and been nominated in this category for these roles before. I don't know who the clear favorite would be right now here. Matthew Rhys to my complete forgetfulness won for "The Americans". I probably have to finish that show, but I always think of Keri Russell on the show before I think of him. "Perry Mason" isn't that beloved, not getting into series and only getting a few nominations against five lead actors from the Drama Series nominees. Not necessarily a clear-cut sign, but it's leaning. Rene-Jean Page could play spoiler. Jonathan Majors is interesting, but it's rare for somebody to win an acting Emmy in any category after their show was canceled after one season, and it's especially rare in this category. The last time somebody was even nominated for a canceled one-year series in the category was Andre Braugher in 2001 for "Gideon's Crossing", and the last one to win in the category was James Earl Jones in '91 for "Gabriel's Fire" and even that one is not entirely considered a one-season series, since it did come back, briefly under the title "Pros and Cons" the next year as a midseason replacement... there was also Richard Kiley winning in '88 for "A Year in the Life" but that arguably started as a miniseries before it's one drama series season run... I guess after that, eh, Ron Liebman winning in '79 for "Kaz"..., the point I'm making is that it's rare and hasn't happened in a long time and even then, the circumstances have to be exceptional.
OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Uzo Aduba-"In Treatment"-HBO
Olivia Colman-"The Crown"-Netflix
Emma Corrin-"The Crown"-Netflix
Elisabeth Moss-"The Handmaid's Tale"-Hulu
Mj Rodriguez-"Pose"-FX Networks
Jurnee Smollett-"Lovecraft Country"-HBO
Mj Rodriguez is now the first trans woman to be nominated in this category and only the third trans performer nominated ever, after Laverne Cox's several nominations for Guest Actress in "Orange is the New Black" and Rain Valdez for Short-Form Actress for "Razor Tongue". Speaking of "Orange..." Uzo Aduba is back, getting in for the reboot of "In Treatment", which I definitely need to get to, 'cause I always thought the original series was severely overlooked. Two nominees for "The Crown", as both the Queen, Colman, and the Princess, Corrin, got in. It's possible that I just didn't like the season of "The Crown", because I've just grown up with so much Princess Diana stuff that frankly I just was frustrated and annoyed at seeing it stretch out. (It didn't help that, between Diana episodes were constant reminders how frickin' horrible Margaret Thatcher was, I'll get to that in the Supporting Actress category) Jurnee Smollett also got her first ever nomination, and it's about time. Hey, if you guys ever want to see the very beginnings of the Smollett family one day, search on Youtube for "On Our Own". It's like the most hammy failed TGIF show ever, and it's all the Smollett family and some young guy who had to pretend to be their Madea 'cause the family needed a guardian...- just seek it out one, it's bad, but seeing where all these Smollett kids came from and altogether in something this bizarre '90s kitsch, it really explains a lot. Anyway, when's the last time someone from a canceled one-season series was nominated in the category was Geena Davis in '05 for "Commander in Chief", and that was a terrible show btw, the last winner... um, never. Well, technically I guess Glenda Jackson winning for "Elizabeth R", but that was back when miniseries were counted as drama series in the early seventies so, when they didn't have a separate category for them. For a regular series, you'd still have to go back farther to Barbara Stanwyck winning for "The Barbara Stanwyck Show", and back then, comedy and dramas were combined in acting...- yeah, Jurnee's got a, no pun intended, tough journey, to winning here.
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Giancarlo Esposito-"The Mandalorian"-Disney+
O-T Fagbenie-"The Handmaid's Tale"-Hulu
John Lithgow-"Perry Mason"-HBO
Tobias Menzies-"The Crown"-Netflix
Max Minghella-"The Handmaid's Tale"-Hulu
Chris Sullivan-"This is Us"-NBC
Bradley Whitford-"The Handmaid's Tale"-Hulu
Michael K. Williams-"Lovecraft Country"-HBO
Boy, it's gonna be so weird if Giancarlo Esposito wins for "The Mandalorian" instead of either "Breaking Bad" or "Better Call Saul" won't it? It's like when a great actor wins for the movie nobody remembers, like Pacino winning for "Scent of a Woman". (I guess it could be worst, he could've won for "Once Upon a Time" or Anyway, three from "The Handmaid's Tale" is a bit surprising, in fact they did really well, seven acting nominations, in the Supporting categories and ten acting nominations total. which is actually one more then "The Crown" who got more nominations in the craft categories to make up. This really is a "The Handmaid's Tale" vs. "The Crown" year, ain't it? (Shrugs) Speaking of winners in this category for "The Crown", John Lithgow is back for "Perry Mason", in a bit of a surprise nomination. It's always nice to see him back though. Lithgow and Whitford are the past winners, with returning nominees, Menzies and Chris Sullivan joining Minghella and Fagbenie, the two "Handmaid" actors getting their first nominations. Michael K. Williams might be the slight favorite though, he's never won and was always nominated for miniseries beforehand, plus he's pretty beloved now for his work on "The Wire". And yeah, he'd be the first for a regular drama series to win or, maybe even be nominated in the category if you don't count miniseries or TV movies were in the category.
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Gillian Anderson-"The Crown"-Netflix
Madeline Brewer-"The Handmaid's Tale"-Hulu
Helena Bonham Carter-"The Crown"-Netflix
Ann Dowd-"The Handmaid's Tale"-Hulu
Aunjanue Ellis-"Lovecraft Country"-HBO
Emerald Fennell-"The Crown"-Netflix
Samira Wiley-"The Handmaid's Tale"-Hulu
Not much to say here; it's the three big shows, with the main two taking up all the nominations. Gillian Anderson, the heavy early favorite, although personally, I'd be leaning towards Helena Bonham Carter if I had a vote; she was the center character in my favorite episode this season. Emeradl Fennell becomes the first ever Oscar-nominee for Best Director in the category, and I think the first Oscar-winning writer, probably. I'm not looking too deep into that one, but yeah, probably. No "Ozark" this year opened up this category in particularly with Julia Garner out. Aunjune Ellis is gonna have to thread a lot of needles and split voting here. Last one-season canceled to win the category, eh, you gotta go back to "Gabriel's Fire" with Madge Sinclair's nomination and win, and again, that only kinda half-counts, before that, Barbara Barrie's nomination for "Breaking Away"; who remembers they made a TV series from that movie, I certainly didn't? After that, you're going back to Miniseries and TV movies, except for the two nominations for Martine Bartlett and Anjanette Comer for 1964's "Arrest and Trial". They were guest stars, but those counted back then, but that's an interesting show though; that was the series that "Law & Order" literally stole it's original format from.
OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A DRAMA SERIES
Bridgerton-"Diamond of the First Water"-Julie Ann Robinson-Netflix
The Crown-"Fairytale"-Benjamin Caron-Netflix
The Crown-"War"-Jessica Hobbs-Netflix
The Handmaid's Tale-"The Wilderness"-Liz Garbus-Hulu
The Mandalorian-"Chapter 9: The Marshal"-Jon Favreau-Disney+
Pose-"Series Finale"-Steven Canals-FX Networks
Nothing too unusual here. Jon Favreau's probably the biggest name here and to be honest, I do usually like the directing in "The Mandalorian"; it's arguably the best part of the show. It could win here. "Pose" gets in for it's finale, two episodes of "The Crown", eh, that could be a split vote, with immediate thought being that this is where potentially "The Handmaid's Tale" could take something, but there's some potential spoilers here.
OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A DRAMA SERIES
The Boys-"What I Know"-Rebecca Sonnenshine-Prime Video
The Crown-"War"-Peter Morgan-Netflix
The Handmaid's Tale-"Home"-Yahlin Chang-Hulu
Lovecraft Country-"Sundown"-Misha Green-HBO
The Mandalorian-"Chapter 13: The Jedi"-Dave Filoni-Disney+
The Mandalorian-"Chapter 16: The Rescue"-Jon Favreau-Disney+
Pose-"Series Finale-Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Steven Canals, Janet Mock and Our Lady J-FX Networks
Two nominations for "The Mandalorian" is a bit surprising here. I gotta imagine "The Mandalorian" could win at least one of the directing or writing awards. I wonder if they'll split the vote with "The Boys" though. I can't see either of those winning series, but I can see this category being the ultimate signifier in who wins series between "The Crown", "The Handmaid's Tale" and maybe "Lovecraft Country".
OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Don Cheadle-"The Falcon and The Winter Soldier"-Disney+
Charles Dance-"The Crown"-Netflix
Timothy Olyphant-"The Mandalorian"-Disney+
Courtney B. Vance-"Lovecraft Country"-HBO
Carl Weathers-"The Mandalorian"-Disney+
Man, Don Cheadle can get nominated for basically everything. Literally, even he made fun of this nomination, and I'm not talking that he's playing War Machine in another Marvel series (Seriously, I had a friend on FB comment that we should start complaining about these things because of all these nominations, but-uh, no I will not. Stop creating stuff from other franchises just because some people think they want more of them!!!!! You're ruining movies and now you're ruining television, stop it!!!!!!!!) but because he's barely in the episode. Literally, he was nominated for less then two minutes of screen time. This makes sense why he keeps getting nominated for every Showtime series he does. Don't think he's gonna win this though. Decent category at least; I don't know who the favorite is offhand here.
OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Alexis Bledel-"The Handmaid's Tale"-Hulu
Claire Foy-"The Crown"-Netflix
McKenna Grace-"The Handmaid's Tale"-Hulu
Phylicia Rashad-"This Is Us"-NBC
Wow! Totally forgot that "Ratched" was a thing! Nice to see Sophie Okonedo though. Tough category, two from "The Handmaid's Tale", including previous winner in the category, Alexis Bledel. Speaking of previous winners, Claire Foy, who won for playing Queen Elizabeth in Lead Actress for "The Crown" is back for her work in the flashback episode this year. Although in my mind, speaking of not winning, Phylicia Rashad is back, and she's never won an Emmy, and I don't know how exactly that happened, but it'd be nice if that finally happened. (Also, back in Supporting Actress, how has Susan Kelechi Watson never been nominated? I know we talk mostly about Justin Hartley, but she's amazing too!!!!
OUTSTANDING VARIETY TALK SERIES
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah-Comedy Central
Jimmy Kimmel Live!-ABC
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver-HBO
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert-CBS
A bit of a surprise with "Conan" getting in for his final season of his TBS show, the first time he's been nominated since that show's first season. That's a nice sendoff, and it's nice to see him getting the Letterman treatment. Shockingly that leaves off "Full Frontal with Samantha Bee", and I hate to say this, but I kinda get it. I love her, and I gotta admit, I have not been watching her, and frankly,... (Sigh) it's hard. There's a list of celebrities who got screwed over by the GOP for their canceling bullshit, long before they try to pretend like the Left's doing that to them, and Samantha Bee doesn't get talked about nearly enough for this, but my God, she got so screwed over and for no reason whatsoever. She called Ivanka a cunt, and they freaked out over it so much that she apologized and, I thought it was the wrong decision then, and in hindsight, it really looks like the wrong decision now. Do not apologize to them, especially when you're not in the wrong; that the lesson we've learned, and unfortunately she's taken it on the nose as much as anybody. I might argue she's not the one missing the most out of the category; I've thought Seth Meyers arguably deserved to be more nominated this year. It's sad, especially for the one female-lead talk show to ever show up in any version of the Variety Series category, unless you try to squint and count something like "The Judy Garland Show" or "The Dinah Shore Chevy Show" as talk shows, which you really shouldn't.
OUTSTANDING VARIETY SKETCH SERIES
A Black Lady Sketch Show-HBO
Saturday Night Live-NBC
Ummm, is that it? Just the two? Boy COVID really ruined a lot this year didn't it? Okay, ehhhh... I like both these shows a lot. I'm starting to think the separate Sketch Series idea wasn't as good of one as everyone else thought it was. This category will be re-evaluated soon, I'm sure. Not much to say here, it's one or the other, and I can see either of them winning.
OUTSTANDING VARIETY SPECIAL (PRE-RECORDED)
8:46 - Dave Chappelle-Netflix
Bo Burnham: Inside-Netflix
David Byrne's American Utopia-HBO
Friends: The Reunion-HBO Max
A West Wing Special To Benefit When We All Vote-HBO Max
I reviewed "Hamilton" a while ago, and I love it, but I'll have a lot more to say about "Hamilton" in due time... Trust me, I've got some stuff to say about it, but yeah, it belongs here. Other then that, this is a little ecclectic a category then normal. We got some stand-ups, Dave Chappelle is back, so is Bo Burnham, and then we go, um, David Byrne's thing with Spike Lee; I'm gonna have to move that up on my list. Also, the "Freinds" reunion, which surprises the hell out of me honestly, 'cause it was just a Reunion special. Meanwhile, the other pseudo-reunion, the "West Wing" reunion special, was actually something different. A minimal recreation of a great episode, along with special guests imploring us to vote in the election and since we had more votes cast last election then any other, I suspect it had a greater, real, tangible impact, much moreso then the "Friends" reunion did. That said, yeah, "Hamilton"'s winning this probably.
OUTSTANDING VARIETY SPECIAL (LIVE)
The 83rd Annual Grammy Awards-CBS
Celebrating America-An Inauguration Night Special-Multiple Platforms
The Pepsi Super Bowl LV Halftime Show Starring The Weeknd-CBS
Stephen Colbert's Election Night 2020: Democracy's Last Stand Building Back America Great Again Better 2020-Showtime
I'm a little surprised that considering this year, something more akin to a livestream on Youtube didn't sneak in here or something, but an interesting list here. The Tonys being canceled this year probably opened a slot up. The rare Multiple Platforms nomination for the inauguration Night Special is a bit of a surprise. Honestly, so is The Weeknd for me, I wasn't huge on that Halftime Show, but it was fine I guess. This might be the one shot for Showtime to really pull something off here. Although, this does remind me, what exactly is Showtime's place at CBS/Viacom, now that nearly everything else under their banner is under Paramount Plus now? I've warned about Showtime's lack of relevance for awhile now, from them barely having an Emmy presence a few years ago because of "Twin Peaks" to the fact that "Star Trek: Discovery", which I thought should've been on Showtime, ended up on then, CBS-All Access, which at the time was not a major streaming service, (And arguably Paramount Plus, as it's been rebranded, is still running a distant 5th or 6th maybe, in that category), it seems very much like that while HBO, seems to keep expanding with the vertical integration move to streaming, Showtime's shrinking as vertical expanding seems to be pushing them out of the game entirely. They're not exactly turning into STARZ or EPIX and I don't wish that kind of irrelevance onto them, but they're struggling as a network right now, and there's nothing in sight that seems like that's gonna change anytime soon. Even this nomination is just Stephen Colbert moving from CBS to Showtime for a night. He's probably gonna do this special on Paramount Plus next election.
OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A VARIETY SERIES
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver-"Trump & Election Results/Fuck 2020"-Christopher Werner-HBO
Late Night with Seth Meyers-"Episode 1085a"-Alexander J. Vietmeier-NBC
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert-"Live Show Following Capitol Insurrection; Senator Amy Klobuchar, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, Performance by Jamila Woods-Jim Hoskinson-CBS
Real Time with Bill Maher-"Episode 1835"-Paul G. Casey-HBO
Saturday Night Live-"Host: Dave Chappelle"-Don Roy King-NBC
Normally this category just goes to Don Roy King partially by default for doing a live series, but this is actually a little more interesting and trickier this year. For one, there's technically two live episodes here with Stephen Colbert doing a live episode post the Insurrection. There's also two episodes post the election, including Last Week Tonight's famous finale last year, where they blew up 2020. Add all that and throw the pandemic on top of it, and there's a lot of creative directing that had to be implemented for the Variety genre this year.
OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A VARIETY SPECIAL
8:46 - Dave Chappelle-Julia Reichert, Steven Bognar and Dave Chappelle-Netflix
Bo Burnham Inside-Bo Burnham-Netflix
David Byrne's American Utopia-Spike Lee-HBO
Friends: The Reunion-Ben Winston-HBO Max
A West Wing Special To Benefit When We All Vote-Thomas Schlamme-HBO Max
Normally, this is the category the award shows would pop up and be most prominent, but this year, was unusual. The stand-ups are still holding strong, but the unusual and unique are hanging in there. My guess is that for directing, it's between Spike Lee's and possibly Thomas Schlamme for "The West Wing" special, with possibly Bo Burnham coming in as a spoiler. Trickier category then normal.
OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A VARIETY SERIES
The Amber Ruffin Show-Head Writer: Jenny Hagel; Writing Supervisor: Demi Adejuyigbe; Writers: Ashley Nicole Black, Amber Ruffin, et. al.-Peacock
A Black Lady Sketch Show-Head Writer: Lauren Ashley Smith; Writers: Robin Thede, Ashley Nicole Black, et. al.-HBO
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver-Writers: Johnathan Appel, Ali Barthwell, Tim Carvell, Liz Haynes, John Oliver, et. al.-HBO
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert-Head Writers: Ariel Dumas, Jay Katsir; Writers: Stephen T. Colbert, Delonte Bent, et. al.-NBC
Saturday Night Live-Head Writers: Michael Che, Anna Drezen, Colin Jost and Kent Sublette, Writing Supervisors: Fran Gillespie, Sudi Green, Streeter Seidell; "Weekend Update" Head Writer: Pete Schultz: "Weekend Update" Writers: Megan Callahan-Shah, Dennis McNicholas, Josh Patten, Mark Steinbach, Dave Sirus and Mike Lawrence; Writers: Dan Bulla, Steven Castillo, Allison Gates, Lorne Michaels, et. al. -NBC
Jesus Christ, "SNL", how many subsections of Writers do you need? Alright, both sketch nominees are here, with John Oliver and Stephen Colbert rounding out, and instead of Seth Meyers, a surprising nomination for "The Amber Ruffin Show"; this is Peacock's other surprise nomination. It's a bit interesting since now that means there's four shows in the category that air, at-most, once-a-week, and now, half of them are talk shows instead of sketch shows. An obvious advantage is having more time to prepare for the series meaning, hypothetically, better quality of television on weekly series, but that's not necessarily true, but maybe that means something could overtake "Last Week Tonight..." in one of these categories? Maybe? Probably not. Nice to see some women-led talk show getting something. Man, I'm telling you, Samantha Bee, really got screwed over by the Trumps, fuck them all for what they did to her.
OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A VARIETY SPECIAL
8:46 - Dave Chappelle-Dave Chappelle-Netflix
Bo Burnham: Inside-Bo Burnham-Netflix
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah Presents: Jordan Flepper Fingers the Pulse-Into the MAGAverse-Devin Delliquanti and Zhubin Parang-Comedy Central
John Lewis: Celebrating a Hero-Mitchell Marchand-CBS
Stephen Colbert's Election Night 2020: Democracy's Last Stand Building Back America Great Again Better 2020-Ariel Dumas, Jay Katsir, Stephen T. Colbert, Delmonte Bent, et. al.-Showtime
Another category where the award shows would've usually shown up here. Curiously the stand-ups had been replacing them, but this year, only two, with Dave Chappelle and Bo Burnham. (I do hope, eventually, they create an Outstanding Variety-Stand Up Special award) Instead, we get two special from the late night group, Stephen Colbert being joined by Jordan Klepper's 'The Daily Show" segment special, which I always find hard-to-watch, but is probably important, as well as a special on the late great John Lewis. I guess, the Oscars kinda screwed themselves out of these directing and writing categories this year, didn't they. It's so simple, put Best Picture last, and don't presume you know who's gonna win?! Ugh!
OUTSTANDING COMPETITION PROGRAM
The Amazing Race-CBS
RuPaul's Drag Race-VH1
The perennial favorite of "The Amazing Race" returns after a year hiatus due to COVID. I'm actually still a little surprised they pulled off a new season even now. Nothing else new o surprising, but I gotta ask, why the hail does "Nailed It!" keep getting in? I'm sorry, this show sucks. I don't want to watch a bunch of people who don't know how to make something, making stuff they don't know how to make. I hope the voters know this 'cause I thought "Top Chef" really nailed this COVID-laced season. If there's a year where they should win again, it should be this one. Kinda sad to see "The Masked Singer" fall out, but eh, it's starting to get tiring too.
OUTSTANDING STRUCTURED REALITY PROGRAM
Property Brothers: Forever Home-HGTV
Running Wild With Bear Grylls-National Geographic
I really don't get the big deal with Bear Grylls, if I'm being honest. Or "Property Brothers" either if I'm being fair, but I didn't even really know that Bear Grylls show was still on the air. I guess I can kinda get the idea of celebrities going on these adventures with him and I guess something has to replace Anthony Bourdain's spot here, but I don't know. Like I happened to catch a little of "Shark Week" on Discovery recently, "Shark Week"'s another thing I never fully got the appeal of, they have Tiffany Haddish going out to, I don't know, get footage of sharks, I guess, and that was, eh, okay-ish, but I don't know, celebrity adventures have a limiting appeal to them. Celebrity travelogues, good usually, celebrity adventurers eh, just, okay. The rest is as expected.
OUTSTANDING UNSTRUCTURED REALITY PROGRAM
RuPaul's Drag Race Untucked-VH1
Okay, I don't know half of these shows. I know RuPaul's sideshow, that's popped up here before, I know "Below Deck" which actually does look like an interesting and compelling series. Nice to see one of Bravo's other shows that doesn't look awful also get some acclaim here. "Becoming", that's Disney+'s new "Biography"-type series, it kinds seems like "Who Do You Think You Are?" but just everybody visiting their own personal past instead of investigate their lineage, which seems like a downgrade to me but it doesn't seem awful. "Indian Matchmaking" on Netflix, that's exactly I feared it sounded like, and it looks kinda interesting. "Selling Sunset" is, also on Netflix and that's a-eh, oh real estate show. You know I do still have to go back and remember where the hell I left off on "Flipping Out" which I still think of as the best of those shows, but that was mostly because he just seems so fascinating as a person as much as anything else, plus he was an interior decorator as well, so there was a level of creative madness to him. I haven't liked many of the other ones, 'cause I just felt like they were backdoor ways of recreating "Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous", but I don't know, I guess I gotta give them another chance. Boy this category probably suffered more then any in hindsight of COVID which makes sense. It's kinda hard to do an unstructured reality series document your life when you can basically only just sit at home all the time.
OUTSTANDING HOST FOR A REALITY OR COMPETITION PROGRAM
Nicole Byer-"Nailed It!"-Netflix
Bobby Berk, Karamo Brown, Tan France, Antoni Porowski & Jonathan Van Ness-"Queer Eye"-Netflix
Rupaul-"RuPaul's Drag Race"-VH1
Mark Cuban, Barbara Corcoran, Lori Greiner, Robert Herjavec, Daymond John & Kevin O'Leary-"Shark Tank"-ABC
Padma Lakshmi; Co-Hosts: Tom Colicchio & Gail Simmons-"Top Chef"
I will say that despite my not liking "Nailed It!", I will say that Nicole Byer is a good host. Once again though, this category seems to have been bombarded by just listing all the cast members of some reality shows as hosts. Although I am happy to see that Gail Simmons is now part of the hosting group for "Top Chef", but man, I wish they were a little more creative then everyone on "Shark Tank" and "Queer Eye". Especially on "Shark Tank", I think we need to consider a ruling on whether on whether or not they should be considered hosts; I mean, I guess there's nobody else who could be, but, I don't know. I feel like that nomination seems like a waste. Eh, I think it's between RuPaul, Byer, and maybe Lakshmi & Company.
LIMITED OR ANTHOLOGY SERIES/TV MOVIES
OUTSTANDING LIMITED OR ANTHOLOGY SERIES
I May Destroy You-HBO
Mare of Easttown-HBO
The Queen's Gambit-Netflix
The Underground Railroad-Prime Video
Well, this has been a big year in this category. So big, I actually watched some of these shows this time around. (Including, what arguably was the best of these series, "Small Axe" which really got screwed btw!!!) And will probably watch a couple of these, out of curiosity. They all look, if not good, at least, interesting, and I don't know who's gonna win here. I think "Mare of Eastown", "The Queen's Gambit" and "WandaVision" are in a tight three-way race right now for this one. Also, I have no idea why suddenly we're adding Anthology Series to this- I guess "Black Mirror" got tired of being in TV movies, I don't know. None of these are anthologies so.... (Shrugs)
OUTSTANDING TELEVISION MOVIE
Dolly Parton's Christmas on the Square-Netflix
Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia-Lifetime
Sylvie's Love-Prime Video
Uncle Frank-Prime Video
Okay, we're starting to get into the "Are they movies or TV shows" categories- well we first got in there with "Hamilton", and to some degree "American Utopia" but now, we got "Uncle Frank" and "Sylvie's Love" which are somewhat debatable as they both popped up on critics lists as feature films. That's up against, Dolly Parton and Robin Roberts? Okay, showed up here before and Robin Roberts is just presenting a Lifetime biopic on Mahalia Jackson, but it always feels a little funny to me that Robin Roberts has become such a culturally-known name; I still look at her and go, "Boy it's so weird that the girl from "SportsCenter" is doing regular news now?" Oh, and I don't know what "Oslo" is. Um, looks interesting though. TV movies are kinda into something again, but not quite yet....
OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A LIMITED OR ANTHOLOGY SERIES OR MOVIE
Hugh Grant-"The Undoing"-HBO
Leslie Odom, Jr.-"Hamilton"-Disney+
Yeah, since there aren't performance categories for Variety, the "Hamilton" performers get placed in these categories and they got in everywhere. I'm not sure what's winning the main categories, but I betcha underestimating "Hamilton" in the acting categories might be a fool's errand. Odom won the Tony if that narrows it down a bit with probably Paul Bettany being the early favorite among the rest.
OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A LIMITED OR ANTHOLOGY SERIES OR MOVIE
Michaela Coel-"I May Destroy You"-HBO
Cynthia Erivo-"Genius: Aretha"-National Geographic
Anya Taylor-Joy-"The Queen's Gambit"-Netflix
Kate Winslet-"Mare of Easttown"-HBO
Oh hey, an Olsen got an Emmy nomination! Well, Primetime Emmy nomination, Mary Kate has that one daytime nomination, but still, that's a bit surprising for my generation to believe. Anyway, eh, loaded category, although I suspect it's between Olsen, Taylor-Joy and Winslet, since those are the three biggest of the miniseries this year. Erivo could spoil here, although "Genius" did underperform here.
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A LIMITED OR ANTHOLOGY SERIES OR MOVIE
Thomas Brodie-Sangster-"The Queen's Gambit"-Netflix
Paapa Essiedu-"I May Destroy You"-HBO
Evan Peters-"Mare of Easttown"-HBO
Interesting Anthony Ramos wasn't nominated for a Tony for "Hamilton", they nominated Christopher Jackson instead, who got snubbed here. I think Ramos got in partly as much for "In the Heights" as well as his recent work on the reboot of "In Treatment". Daveed Diggs won that Tony and I think he's the favorite. He's probably the one who's gotten the most acclaim so far for the Movie. I have him as the early favorite.
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A LIMITED OR ANTHOLOGY SERIES OR MOVIE
Renee Elise Goldsberry-"Hamilton"-Disney+
Moses Ingram-"The Queen's Gambit"-Netflix
Julianne Nicholson-"Mare of Easttown"-HBO
Jean Smart-"Mare of Easttown"-HBO
Oooh, Kathryn Hahn's on "WandaVision"! Okay, I'm starting to lean more towards watching that one. More proof of Jean Smart getting nominated for anything as well. Little interesting with the "Hamilton" nominees cause Phillipa Soo was actually nominated for Lead Actress for the Tonys, which she actually lost to Cynthia Erivo for "The Color Purple", while Renee Elise Goldsberry won for Featured Actress which is their word for Supporting so it's a bit interesting seeing them in the same category. Emmy favorites abound, although one pleasant surprise with Moses Ingram. "The Queen's Gambit" I actually did see, and I loved it by the way, but I've always been a chess guy. We don't do enough media around chess.
OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A LIMITED OR ANTHOLOGY SERIES OR MOVIE
I May Destroy You-"Ego Death"-Sam Miller & Michaela Coel-HBO
I May Destroy You-"Eyes Eyes Eyes Eyes"-Sam Miller-HBO
Mare of Easttown-Craig Zobel-HBO
The Queen's Gambit-Scott Frank-Netflix
The Underground Railroad-Barry Jenkins-Prime Video
It's always a little weird when there's these directors who directed the whole miniseries against those who just do an episode of one. And there's some big names here. Oscar-winner Barry Jenkins, Craig Zobel, Scott Frank, whoc I usually thinkof as a writer, but he did a good job, some big film people there. And Thomas Kail, I thought had a tricky job directing a theatrical performance; that's not easy taking something that's meant to be experience in a live setting and making it as impressive on film.
OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A LIMITED OR ANTHOLOGY SERIES OR MOVIE
I May Destroy You-Michaela Coel-HBO
Mare of Easttown-Brad Ingelsby-HBO
The Queen's Gambit-Scott Frank-Netflix
WandaVision-"All-New Halloween Spooktacular"-Chuck Hayward & Peter Cameron-Disney+
WandaVision-"Filmed Before A Live Studio Audience"-Jac Schaeffer-Disney+
WandaVision-"Previously On"-Laura Donney-Disney+
Three "WandaVision" episodes getting in here. This could be a little deceiving though, the other three nominees are series where one person wrote the entire miniseries. I suspect "WandaVision" is probably popular enough to win Series, but I don't know if it will win here. This is genuinely one of the most compelling years in all the major Limited Series/Movie, and I guess now Anthology Series categories I've ever seen.
OUTSTANDING ANIMATED PROGRAM
Big Mouth-"The New Me"-Netflix
Bob's Burgers-"Worms of In-Rear-Ment"-FOX
Genndy Tartakovsky's Primal-"Plague of Madness"-Adult Swim
The Simpsons-"The Dad-Feelings Limited"-FOX
South Park: The Pandemic Special-South Park
I keep meaning to get to the newer South Park stuff. It's been confusing since they went to HBO Max for streaming, and Paramount Plus and Hulu is weird.... Anyway, I'll catch up on that. And I gotta get around to "Big Mouth" too. Nothing new or unusual here. Kinda surprising animation didn't take over more during this pandemic honestly.
OUTSTANDING SHORT-FORM ANIMATED PROGRAM
Love, Death + Robots-"Ice"-Netflix
Maggie Simpson In: The Force Awakens From Its Nap-Disney+
Once Upon a Snowman-Disney+
Robot Chicken-"Endgame"-Adult Swim
I always debate whether to put this category in the Animated section or the Short-Form section. I guess I might move it next year as more of the series start going away. This used to be a more interesting category, but I like that Disney+ is popping into the category more. Not sure I wanted a "Simpson"/"Star Wars" crossover but okay.
OUTSTANDING CHARACTER VOICE-OVER PERFORMANCE
Stacey Abrams-"black-ish: Election Special (Part 2)"-ABC
Tituss Burgess-"Central Park"-AppleTV+
Seth MacFarlane-"Family Guy"-FOX
Maya Rudolph-"Big Mouth"-Netflix
Stanley Tucci-"Central Park"-AppleTV+
Jessica Walter-"Archer"-FX Networks
There's the animated ones we expected, like returning nominations for Seth MacFarlane and Maya Rudolph, plus a sentimental nomination for the late Jessica Walter, it's her first nomination since the original run of "Arrested Development" and she hasn't won an Emmy since the 1975 miniseries "Amy Prentiss". (And I'm gonna miss her, especially for "Archer", which has gotten some praise from the Emmys, not necessarily enough.) Plus, there's some new ones from "Central Park", AppleTV getting into this category. But, there's a couple unusual ones. Julie Andrews for "Bridgerton", which I gotta imagine is delightful, and Stacey Abrams, the former gubernatorial candidate from Georgia for the "black-ish Election Special". This is a bit interesting 'cause she's herself as a character, so I guess it's not technically narration. Bit of an odd one there.
OUTSTANDING DOCUMENTARY OR NONFICTION SERIES
Allen v. Farrow-HBO
City So Real-National Geographic
Pretend It's a City-Netflix
Secrets of the Whales-Disney+
I'm surprised there's not more controversial nominees in this category like "Allen v. Farrow", this was kinda the year for them. Personally, I thought some of the NXIVM or Heaven's Gate cult docs would've gotten in, but oh well. I do want to see "Pretend It's a City" though, I hope it's not too similar to the great Scorsese documentary "Public Speaking" on Fran Lebowitz, but you know, I'm definitely not against more docs on her.
OUTSTANDING DOCUMENTARY OR NONFICTION SPECIAL
The Bee Gess: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart-HBO
Framing Britney Spears (The New York Times Presents)-FX Networks
The Social Dilemma-Netflix
I've seen the Bee Gees documentary, that was good. I'm meaning to get to the rest, especially the Britney Spears one. "Boys State" was a big contender for the Oscar, but didn't get in, so was "The Social Dilemma" as well. Documentaries were so big during this pandemic.
OUTSTANDING HOSTED NONFICTION SERIES OR SPECIAL
My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman-Netflix
Oprah with Megan and Harry: A CBS Primetime Special-CBS
Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy-CNN
Untied Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell-CNN
Letterman and W. Kamau Bell and "Vice" return along with Stanley Tucci coming in, probably in the old Bourdain slot, and Oprah is here too now. Actually, now that I'm thinking about it, has she ever won a Primetime Emmy? (IMDB search) Um, yes, she won, well she won a Bob Hope Humanitarian Award, but she also won as a producer for "Tuesdays with Morrie" before. So, not entirely new, but definitely the most interesting of the nominees here. You don't usually see these major interview special getting nominations, not anymore. Once upon a time, back when the Primetime Emmys had categories for the News Magazines, you might've seen some of them, but most of the times, they're now separated into the News and Documentary Emmy Awards, which I think are part of NATAS right now? Yeah, they're apart of NATAS. NATAS are the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, which run, the Daytime and all the other Emmy awards while the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences runs the Primetime Emmys. It's a long story why they're separate, it goes back to the '70s, but yeah, that's why you don't see Oprah or Ellen or Judge Judy ever show up at these things.
EXCEPTIONAL MERIT IN DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKING
Dick Johnson is Dead-Netflix
Welcome to Chechnya-HBO
I always forget the exact reasoning why these are separate from the other documentary categories, although basically these are the ones that are essentially theatrical films instead of television, but it was technically television as well. I always hate these awards. All three of these showed up in critics polls and made the Oscars documentary shortlist, and "Welcome to Chechnya" was on the Oscars Visual Effects shortlist. It's a weird, separate juried award, but it shows up here. And I've seen "Dick Johnson is Dead" and Welcome to Chechnya, they're great documentaries and apparently "76 Days" gives Pluto their ever nomination! Alright, for Pluto. Didn't even know they had original programming, good for them.
David Attenborough-"A Perfect Planet"-discovery+
David Attenborough-"The Year Earth Changed"-AppleTV+
Sterling K. Brown-"Lincoln: Divided We Stand"-CNN
Anthony Hopkins-"Mythic Quest"-AppleTV
Sigourney Weaver-"The Year Earth Change"-Disney+
I was thinking of putting this in the Miscellaneous category, but really, this is for the Nonfiction and Documentary programs. Although, this is weirdly where "Mythic Quest" pops up with Anthony Hopkins getting a nominations for the series, one of two that the series got, the other being in Editing, which is one more then all the other nominees in the category. I'm not sure why that keeps happening; I guess narrators aren't as beloved in documentaries anymore. Anyway, nice to know the Academy discovered "Mythic Quest", now if only they could find out about "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia"....
OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A DOCUMENTARY/NONFICTION PROGRAM
Allen v. Farrow-"Episode 3"-Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering-HBO
The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart-Frank Marshall-HBO
Boys State-Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss-AppleTV+
Dick Johnson is Dead-Kirsten Johnson-Netflix
The Social Dilemma-Jeff Orlowski-Netflix
Tina-Dan Lindsay and TJ Martin-HBO
Not much to observe here. Good mix of theatrical releases that qualify for the Emmys, and Television-specific documentaries. I'm happy to see Kirsten Johnson pop up here, that's probably the most interestingly directed of the bunch, if nothing else. Not much else to say other then, I guess Episode 3 of that Woody Allen doc is the big one.
OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A NONFICTION PROGRAM
All In: The Fight for Democracy-Jack Youngelson-Prime Video
Allen v. Farrow-"Episode 3"-Kirby Dick, Amy Ziering, Mikaela Shwer and Parker Laramie
The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart-Mark Monroe-HBO
The Social Dilemma-Vickie Curtis, Davis Coombe and Jeff Orlowski-Netflix
Tulsa Burning: The 1921 Race Massacre-Maja Harris, Marco Williams-HISTORY
Nice to see "All In..." get something; I would've thought that would've popped up more. Also, it's kinda funny that something on the Tulsa Massacre would suddenly pop up after everybody finally got interested in that piece of history after "Watchmen". That's the only program from HISTORY that got an Emmy nomination of any kind btw.
OUTSTANDING SHORT FORM COMEDY, DRAMA OR VARIETY SERIES
Carpool Karaoke: The Series-AppleTV
Late Night with Seth Meyers: CORRECTIONS-YouTube
The Randy Rainbow Show-YouTube
Stephen Colbert Presents Tooning Out the News-Paramount+
Unbelievably, we're not technically through with Quibi yet. And honestly, it really didn't have bad programming; I watched a couple of them when they moved everything to Roku, and I honestly enjoyed some of them. It was a stupid format, but it had good shows and "Reno 911!" was always good to begin with. Nothing else too unusual here, "Carpool Karaoke" is still a thing, for some reason, so that'll probably win again. (Oh, yeah, James Corden was also snubbed from the Late Night categories this year, but I was okay with that and didn't think anybody would notice. Not sure how "Tooning Out the News" qualifies more in this category and not for the Animation category, but fine. I haven't kept with this season as much, but that is a good show. I'm not entirely sure I get Randy Rainbow yet, but I guess he's still popular enough too. Also, did anybody else know that Seth Meyers's Youtube segment "CORRECTIONS" was a side-program that was eligible for this? I guess I'm not surprised, but you know, who knew that was something they would even submit?
OUTSTANDING SHORT FORM NONFICTION OR REALITY SERIES
Full Frontal With Samantha Bee Presents: Pandemic Video Diaries: Vaxxed and Waxxed-TBS
Pose: Identity, Family, Community-FX Networks
Top Chef: Last Chance Kitchen-Bravo
Top Chef: Last Chance Kitchen-Bravo
Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man-Youtube
Well, at least Samantha Bee didn't get completely shutout here. The only one of these I've seen is "Last Chance Kitchen" which, isn't a perennial nominee exactly, but it's perennial enough. Just based on its title "Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man" is probably pretty damn interesting. I don't know what "Inside Pixar" although I doubt it's anything that intends for the easy John Lassetter jokes I could make there..., but I'm sure it's pretty good.
OUTSTANDING ACTOR IN A SHORT FORM COMEDY OR DRAMA SERIES
Kevin Hart-"Die Hart"-Quibi
Jon Lutz-"Mapleworth Murders"-Quibi
J.B. Smoove-"The Mapleworth Murders"-Quibi
John Travolta-"Die Hart"-Quibi
Boy, wouldn't this just be so weird if this is what finally wins John Travolta an Emmy, a performance on a Kevin Hart-based Quibi series? What a strange career path John Travolta's had, hasn't he? I'll try to catch up on the Quibi stuff, but I will say that, I actually watch "Bonding" the first season it was on, and basically, kinda just forgot it existed afterwards; in fact I thought it was canceled and frankly, I understood why. I didn't even really realize that it was a short-form; I kinda was half-expecting something more akin to "Secret Diary of a Call Girl", at least the first two seasons of that, before it fell off a cliff hard, but I guess it's not the worst thing, and this second season looks a lot better so far. I'm gonna try to finish that quickly also, but yeah, the actors are good in it, and he probably gives the most memorable performance. If nothing else, very clever double-meaning in the name.
OUTSTANDING ACTRESS IN A SHORT-FORM COMEDY OR DRAMA SERIES
Nathalie Emmanuel-"Die Hart"-Quibi
Kerri Kenney-Silver-"Reno 911!"-Quibi
Keke Palmer-"Keke Palmer's Turnt Up With The Taylors"-Facebook Watch
Paula Pell-"Mapleworth Murders"-Quibi
I guess Quibi didn't have enough females to push the category up to five nominees, that's a shame. Three nominees, including a returning nominees in Kerri Kenney-Silver, and it would be nice to finally see "Reno 911!" win something. BTW, I've got th network total nominations next to me, Quibi got eight total nominations. Showtime got SIX! Six. You know what's sad, this is actually an improvement from last year's FOUR! Congratulations Showtime, you have for the second consecutive, been out-nominated by QUIBI, a massive failure of a streaming network so vast, that it doesn't exist anymore! You better give David Lynch whatever the fuck he wants to make a new season of "Twin Peaks", or just give up and faze in all your programming into your Big Daddy's new toy Paramount Plus, 'cause this is really pathetic by any standard. Showtime's complete sudden decline in relevance was genuinely predictable, for years in fact, it was foreseeable, and yet, it's still shocking when we look back upon it.
OUTSTANDING INTERACTIVE PROGRAM
Create Together With Joseph Gordon-Levitt-YouTube
Space Explorers: The ISS Experience-Oculus
Welcome To The Blumhouse Live-welcometotheblumhouse.com
You know, I really should remember that HITRECORD is still a thing and is apparently thriving. I keep meaning to answer some of the requests and look through some of the ideas on the site and post stuff there, when I see a Facebook or Twitter update, but honestly, I keep forgetting. I really should get invest in that more. Joseph Gordon-Levitt's invested a lot into it and it's starting to create and find talent in much the same way that Funny or Die did last decade or so.I don't have much info on the rest of these.
OUTSTANDING MAIN TITLE DESIGN
Between The World And Me-HBO
The Good Lord Bird-Showtime
The Queen's Gambit-Netflix
Raised By Wolves-HBO
This was all "The Good Lord Bird" got. 'cause, man Showtime is just dead right now. Anyway, this is always a fun category. I iwish it wouldn't go to movies and miniseries so often, or short-lasting series like "Lovecraft Country" 'cause I like the idea of good title sequences being iconic enough to appreciate through constant reruns, but eh, sometimes te best ones are for these shows too.
OUTSTANDING MUSIC COMPOSITION FOR A LIMITED OR ANTHOLOGY SERIES, MOVIE OR SPECIAL (ORIGINAL DRAMATIC SCORE)
Fargo-"East/West"-Jeff Russo-FX Networks
Oslo-Jeff Russo and Zoe Keating-HBO
The Queens Gambit-"End Game"-Carlos Rafael Rivera-Netflix
The Underground Railroad-"Chapter 2: South Carolina"-Nicholas Britell-Prime Video
WandaVision-"Previously On"-Christophe Beck-Disney+
I didn't even know that "Fargo" was still around honestly. Eh, I usually put the music categories down here 'cause there's always a little interest in these, especially for the EGOT followers, and besides there's a few big names here. There's big names in the other tech categories, but if you're really interested in the cinematography or makeup or editing or other things, thos I think most people can look up themselves. (Well, I guess you can look these music up ones too, but these are a little more, what's-the-word, mainstream then other categories, so I'm gonna include them as always. People know music.)
OUTSTANDING MUSIC COMPOSITION FOR ADOCUMENTARY SERIES OR SPECIAL (ORIGINAL DRAMATIC SCORE)
Allen v. Farrow-"Episode 4"-Michael Abels-HBO
American Masters-"Amy Tan: Unintended Memoir"-Kathryn Bostic-PBS
David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet-Steven Price-Netflix
The Social Dilemma-Mark Crawford-Netflix
Tulsa Burning: The 1921 Race Massacre-Branford Marsalis-HISTORY
Some big names here, Steven Price, Branford Marsalis. I'm a little surprised that the Oscars don't look at more documentaries for the Original Scores category, Philip Glass's work for instance is probably more memorable then many Oscar-winning scores.
OUTSTANDING MUSIC DIRECTION
Billie Eilish: The World's A Little Blurry-Aron Forbes-AppleTV+
Bo Burnham: Inside-Bo Burnham-Netflix
Celebrating America: An Inauguration Night Special-Rickey Minor-Multiple Platforms
David Byrne's American Utopia-Karl Mansfield-HBO
Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist-"Zoey's Extraordinary Goodbye"-Harvey Mason, Jr.-NBC
Okay, slight confession here, I know, next-to-nothing about Bo Burnham. I know he's very talented; I saw his film "Eighth Grade" and I liked it a lot; I actually think in hindsight that might even be a better movie then I first realized, and I thought it was really damn good originally. I know he also acts, 'cause he was in um, that movie, "Promising Young Woman" and got a lot of deserved acclaimed for that. I know, vaguely that he's a comic to some degree and that he was big on YouTube, but in terms of actually knowing his work, um, I really don't know what his deal is. I've gotten to the point where I don't look up most people who are famous for Youtube or TikTok or whomever, because every time I do, I get confused and disappointed, 'cause 99% of the time I have no earthly idea how or why any of these people are famous and am just annoyed that I have to know their names now. (I call it "The Paul Brothers Effect" but it's certainly not limited to them, although yeah, mostly them.) So, I don't really know Burnham's work or milieu that much, or at all, so-eh, if anybody wants to send me links to some of his work, please do so. He's somebody I'm interested in learning more about, and I'm gonna check out this special of his soon enough. Other then that, um, interesting category, decent, probably expected list. You got Billie Eilish, you got David Byrne there, you got Rickey Minor, the premiere music director in TV at the moment, and-eh, yeah, that "Zoey..." whatever, yeah that probably deserves to be in there too. But yeah, need to know more about Bo Burnham.
OUTSTANDING ORIGINAL MUSIC AND LYRICS
"Comedy"-Bo Burnham Inside-Bo Burnham-Netflix
"Never Truly Vanish"-The Boys-Music & Lyrics: Christopher Lennertz; Lyrics: Michael Saltzman-Prime Video
"I Can't Remember Love"-The Queen's Gambit-Music: Anna Hauss and Robert Weinroder; Lyrics: William Horberg-Netflix
"The End Titles"-Soundtrack of Our Lives-Marc Shaiman-YouTube
"Agatha All Along"-WandaVision-Kristen Anderson-Lopez & Robert Lopez-Disney+
"Crimson Love"-Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist-Music: Harvey Mason Jr. and Andrew Hey; Lyrics: Austin Winsberg and Lindsey Rosin
Good lord, Robert Lopez is still trying to collect EGOTs, even after he's got two of them! Eh, his wife doesn't have one yet, so I'll leave it alone for her. Besides, neither have a Primetime Emmy Award yet; Robert Lopez won his Emmys in Daytime, for...-um, (Stares at IMDB for awhile) What the hell is "Wonder Pets"!? Alright, whatever. Eh, there's some big names though, Marc Shaiman is only an Oscar away from an EGOT, which amazingly he hasn't won; I didn't realize that 'til now... Does anybody remember the song from "The Queen's Gambit" 'cause I do not, and I loved that miniseries quite a bit. Also, going back to Shaiman, not that I'm big on Randy Rainbow, but why does that keep getting into Short-Form when it never pops up here? Most of his episodes ars far as I can tell are songs. I guess, I might be the "Original" aspect since they're mostly parodies a la Weird Al.... I'll have to listen to all the songs, but nothing sticks out to me as particularly meme-y or anything. No "SNL" nominee here, no, "I'm Fucking Matt Damon" or anything. I would've thought this would've been a more interesting category this year; I guess not. Somebody tell Rachel Bloom to restart her YouTube channel and just start creating songs again.
OUTSTANDING ORIGINAL MAIN TITLE THEME MUSIC
Allen v. Farrow-Michael Abels-HBO
Bridgerton-Kris Browers and Michael Dean Parsons-Netflix
The Flight Attendant-Blake Neely-HBO Max
Ted Lasso-Marcus Mumford and Tom Howe-AppleTV+
WandaVision-Kristen Anderson-Lopez & Robert Lopez-Disney+
(Sigh) I don't have much to say on this category, except that I miss lyrics. None of the songs here have any lyrics to them, that's sad. I'm sure there are some shows that still have theme songs with lyrics, especially morning cartoons I bet, but I don't know, I can't remember the last good Primetime one, can you? Was it "Monk", maybe? Maybe-eh, "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson"? Feels like it's been too long. Even something with like, just the most minimal lyrics like "How I Met Your Mother" or "Broad City"'s themes feel so much more refreshing and memory-retaining with lyrics though. Oh well.
OUTSTANDING MUSIC SUPERVISION
The Crown-Sarah Bridge-Netflix
Halston-Amanda Kreig Thomas, Alexis Martin Woodall and Ryan Murphy-Netflix
I May Destroy You-Clara Elwis and Matt Biffa-HBO
The Queen's Gambit-Randall Porter-Netflix
WandaVision-Dave Jordan and Shannon Murphy-Disney+
This is one categories that I'm kinda just throwing in here because I think it's a category should be considered for the Oscars. Music Supervision is basically the people who make the soundtracks and that should have some recognition, moreso then the industry provides. The Emmys are generally good with it. They have Casting awards, they have Stunt awards as well as all these level of music awards, including supervising. Sometimes, you just want to credit people for doing the right things.
Airpods Pro-"Jump"-Apple AirPods
Alexa's Body-"Amazon Alexa"
It Already Does That-Apple Watch Series 6
You Can't Stop Us-Nike
You Love Me-Beats by Dre
Ummm, yeah this category, I'm sure I'll like the nominees when I look them up. I haven't really watched commercials this year. I mean, I know they still exist 'cause I keep having to click to skip them on Youtube, but, yeah, commercials aren't, this category is basically only interesting for the Super Bowl mostly now. Besides, the Clio Awards still exist last I checked and they're generally a better commercial barometer anymore.
Alright, that's all for now. Now, I gotta get to my Predictions, but first I need a break. This took me a week to write and I need some time. Maybe watch a few of these things. I'll get predictions posted before the show, I promise.
Posted by David Baruffi at 1:50 AM