1. “Just a chat with your friendly neighborhood president.” President Obama spent an hour Friday in a garage in Highland Park with comedian Marc Maron, taping an episode of Maron’s “WTF” podcast.
“There were limits, of course. An unguarded politician is a contradiction in terms, where oversharing is a comic’s stock in trade: You take your darkest garbage and spread it around on the table for a laugh. And yet the curious mix of introspection and extroversion that creates a comic is surely not foreign to many politicians—though one senses from this president that, like some performers and politicians, he does not need to look for approval outside himself. (Obama: ’Stuff that was buggin’ ya, by the time you’re 53, either you’ve worked it out or you’ve just forgiven yourself and you’ve said, ’Look, this is who I am.’ ’Maron: ’Oh, I’ve got to write that down—I can just forgive myself?’) Politicians live in the future; they plan, they predict, they promise. What the president says in light of a tragedy like the Charleston shootings, which the two discussed, has to consider both the awfulness of the moment and the better, saner place we might get to; declaring himself an optimist, Obama described Americans as ’overwhelmingly good, decent generous people’ who are divided by politics and ’a media that is so splintered now that we’re not in a common conversation.’ Comedy can also take you to a better, saner place, by making you think and by making you laugh, but it is not in the business of delivering hope. It has a different slant on the human condition.”
2. “Dumber Than Your Average Bear.” Wesley Morris on Ted 2.
“It’s tricky. MacFarlane would seem to identify as progressive, but he uses his liberalness conservatively, to berate what he thinks is normal or safe or established in American culture. His tolerance is tinged with intolerance. In Ted 2, Michael Dorn and Patrick Warburton play a brutally masculine, interracial gay couple. Dorn played Lieutenant Worf on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Warburton, among other characters, played a live-action TV superhero called the Tick. Here they show up at New York Comic Con in their respective costumes and lay waste to nerds. At that moment, the gag moves from their being absurdist gays (’We’re gonna tie our dicks together’) to their being bullies irrespective of their gayness. Where precisely the joke is depends on what you find funny at either extreme.”
3. “Review: In Ted 2, the Foulmouthed Bear Tries to Prove He’s Human.” Manohla Dargis is also not a fan of the Seth MacFarlane comedy.
“Jokes don’t need to make you think, and comedy isn’t school, even if the Three Stooges have taught us much. It all depends on context, which is why some pokes in the eye are funny and others aren’t. And maybe this movie might have been funny (or at least tolerably wince-worthy) before dead black bodies again became an emblem of our national trauma. The audience I saw Ted 2 with, though, seemed both uncomfortable with the Kardashian joke and unsure of how to respond, which was notable considering how pumped it had seemed before the movie. Some people laughed, some tittered nervously, some groaned. The uneasiness, I think, came from a deep, unsettled recognition that many of us share these days: No matter what we tell ourselves, we have not really figured out how to talk about race, much less joke about it. Mr. MacFarlane sure hasn’t.”
4. “The Curse of the Pixar Universe.’” Richard Brody on Inside Out.
“The very notion of what’s appropriate for children looms over any consideration of a movie intended for children. It’s unfair to expect a cheerful animated comedy to approximate Malick’s cosmogonic exhilarations, but for a director of genius there are ways. One of them involves comic anarchy, and there, too, Inside Out shows its tight limits. One of Riley’s ’islands of identity’ is called ’goofball,’ the antic side of her character, but Docter and Del Carmen endow her with only a mild, trivial, and highly moralistic sense of whimsy. If the goofball side of the movie is as wacky as Riley gets, she’s ready for a role in Ida.”
5. “This hotel kept all the secrets of the rich and famous…until now.” Playing host to Martini-fuelled fist fights, lesbian orgies, Mafia hit men, peyote smoothies, poolside trysts and explosive feuds, the Garden of Allah kept all the secrets of the rich and famous.
“’There were no rules,’ reminisced one early resident. ’Nearly everybody partied—and partied hard. You would come back late at night and look around for a lit window. That meant a party, where, of course, you’d be welcome.’ The informality took many forms. New York drama critic Whitney Bolton, who lived at the Garden, wrote, ’If a stark-naked lady of acting fame, her head crowned by a chattering monkey, chose to open the door to Western Union, no one was abashed, least of all the lady and the monkey.’ But the informality was not for strangers and voyeurs. The hotel management posted a guard at the front gate and maintained a discreet patrol of the grounds after dark. One of the watchmen led a formidable dog that residents fondly called the Hound of the Baskervilles. The private police were strictly for security; they had orders not to harass the guests or interfere with their personal foibles and pleasures.”
Video of the Day: Eli Roth’s The Green Inferno gets a new trailer:
Oscars 2019: Who Will Win? Who Should Win? Our Final Predictions
No one is okay with the Academy Awards the way they are, and everyone seems sure that they know how to fix them.
No one is okay with the Academy Awards the way they are, and everyone seems sure that they know how to fix them. Cut out the montages, bring back honorary award presentations, give stunt performers their own category, let ranked-choice voting determine every category and not just best picture, overhaul the membership ranks, hold the event before the guilds spoil the surprise, find a host with the magic demographic-spanning mojo necessary to double the show’s recent audience pools, nominate bigger hits, nominate only hits. Across the last 24 days, Ed Gonzalez and I have mulled over the academy’s existential crisis and how it’s polluted this year’s Oscar race so thoroughly that it feels eerily similar to the 2016 election cycle all over again. We’re spent, and while we don’t know if we have it in us to do this next year, we just might give it another go if Oscar proves us wrong on Sunday in more than just one category.
Below are our final Oscar predictions. Want more? Click on the individual articles for our justifications and more, including who we think should win in all 24 categories.
Picture: Green Book
Director: Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
Actor: Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
Actress: Glenn Close, The Wife
Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali, Green Book
Supporting Actress: Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
Original Screenplay: Green Book
Adapted Screenplay: BlacKkKlansman
Foreign Language: Roma
Documentary Feature: RBG
Animated Feature Film: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Documentary Short: Period. End of Sentence
Animated Short: Weekends
Live Action Short: Skin
Film Editing: Bohemian Rhapsody
Production Design: The Favourite
Cinematography: Cold War
Costume Design: The Favourite
Makeup and Hairstyling: Vice
Score: If Beale Street Could Talk
Song: “Shallow,” A Star Is Born
Sound Editing: First Man
Sound Mixing: Bohemian Rhapsody
Visual Effects: First Man
Oscar 2019 Winner Predictions: Picture
The industry’s existential crisis has polluted this race so thoroughly that it feels eerily similar to the 2016 election cycle all over again.
“I’m hyperventilating a little. If I fall over pick me up because I’ve got something to say,” deadpanned Frances McDormand upon winning her best actress Oscar last year. From her lips to Hollywood’s ears. No one is okay with the Academy Awards the way they are, and everyone seems sure that they know how to fix them. Cut out the montages, bring back honorary award presentations, give stunt performers their own category, let ranked-choice voting determine every category and not just best picture, overhaul the membership ranks, hold the event before the guilds spoil the surprise, find a host with the magic demographic-spanning mojo necessary to double the show’s recent audience pools, nominate bigger hits, nominate only hits.
But first, as McDormand herself called for during her speech, “a moment of perspective.” A crop of articles have popped up over the last two weeks looking back at the brutal showdown between Saving Private Ryan and Shakespeare In Love at the 1999 Academy Awards, when Harvey Weinstein was at the height of his nefarious powers. Every retrospective piece accepts as common wisdom that it was probably the most obnoxious awards season in history, one that indeed set the stage for every grinding assault we’ve paid witness to ever since. But did anyone two decades ago have to endure dozens of weekly Oscar podcasters and hundreds of underpaid web writers musing, “What do the Academy Awards want to be moving forward, exactly? Who should voters represent in this fractured media environment, exactly?” How much whiskey we can safely use to wash down our Lexapro, exactly?
Amid the fox-in-a-henhouse milieu of ceaseless moral outrage serving as this awards season’s backdrop, and amid the self-obsessed entertainers now wrestling with the idea that they now have to be “content providers,” all anyone seems concerned about is what an Oscar means in the future, and whether next year’s versions of Black Panther and Bryan Singer’s Bohemian Rhapsody have a seat at the table. What everyone’s forgetting is what the Oscars have always been. In other words, the industry’s existential crisis has polluted this race so thoroughly that it feels eerily similar to the 2016 election cycle all over again, and Oscar’s clearly splintered voting blocs may become ground zero for a Make the Academy Great Again watershed.
In 1956, the Oscars took a turn toward small, quotidian, neo-realish movies, awarding Marty the top prize. The correction was swift and sure the following year, with a full slate of elephantine epics underlining the movie industry’s intimidation at the new threat of television. Moonlight’s shocking triumph two years ago was similarly answered by the safe, whimsical The Shape of Water, a choice that reaffirmed the academy’s commitment to politically innocuous liberalism in artistically conservative digs. Call us cynical, but we know which of the last couple go-arounds feels like the real academy. Which is why so many are banking on the formally dazzling humanism of Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma and so few on the vital, merciless fury of Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman.
And even if we give the benefit of the doubt to the academy’s new members, there’s that righteous, reactionary fervor in the air against those attempting to “cancel” Green Book. Those attacking the film from every conceivable angle have also ignored the one that matters to most people: the pleasure principle. Can anyone blame Hollywood for getting its back up on behalf of a laughably old-fashioned but seamlessly mounted road movie-cum-buddy pic that reassures people that the world they’re leaving is better than the one they found? That’s, as they say, the future that liberals and Oscar want.
Will Win: Green Book
Should Win: BlacKkKlansman
Oscar 2019 Winner Predictions: Adapted Screenplay
After walking back almost all of its bad decisions ahead of this year’s Oscars, there’s no way AMPAS isn’t going to do the right thing here.
Eric and I have done a good job this year of only selectively stealing each other’s behind-the-scenes jokes. We have, though, not been polite about stepping on each other’s toes in other ways. Okay, maybe just Eric, who in his impeccable take on the original screenplay free-for-all detailed how the guilds this year have almost willfully gone out of their way to “not tip the Oscar race too clearly toward any one film.” Case in point: Can You Ever Forgive Me? winning the WGA’s adapted screenplay trophy over presumed Oscar frontrunner BlacKkKlansman. A glitch in the matrix? We think so. Eric and I are still in agreement that the race for best picture this year is pretty wide open, though maybe a little less so in the wake of what seemed like an easy win for the Spike Lee joint. Nevertheless, we all know that there’s no Oscar narrative more powerful than “it’s about goddamn time,” and it was so powerful this year that even the diversity-challenged BAFTAs got the memo, giving their adapted screenplay prize to Lee, Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, and Kevin Willmott. To bamboozle Lee at this point would, admittedly, be so very 2019, but given that it’s walked back almost all of its bad decisions ahead of this year’s Oscars, there’s no way AMPAS isn’t going to do the right thing.
Will Win: BlacKkKlansman
Could Win: Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Should Win: BlacKkKlansman