The critics have spoken. The guilds have spoken. The Golden Globes have spoken. And here we are feeling the ennui of another three months’ worth of Mondays weighing unusually heavy this year, though it really shouldn’t be. Not all Oscar seasons boast presumptive frontrunners as stubbornly unique and personal as Boyhood or The Grand Budapest Hotel, both of which seem at this point like they would’ve cracked the lineup even in the old (and correct) days of five-deep best picture slates we’ll be telling our grandchildren about. Not all Oscar seasons are gifted by the original, cantankerous spirit of the National Society of Film Critics, which is to say the spirit of the group as it was initially conceived, as a staunch, vanguard opponent to staid groupthink. (Try to ignore the remaining instances of “ditto” among their roster of winners and savor everyone flipping their shit over Godard’s surprise victory.) So why aren’t we in a better mood than usual? Probably because we’ve seen it all go south in so many horrifying ways time and time again, and thus this year’s left us feeling a bit like the Witch staring down the “Last Midnight.” Oscars aren’t good, they’re not bad, they’re just nice. We’re not nice, we’re the hitch, and we’re definitely right.
A Most Violent Year (#1–10 of 3)
1. “Ava DuVernay, Oprah Winfrey and David Oyelowo on the ’Divine Timing’ of Selma.” Variety’s Justin Chang interviews the director, actor, and producer.
“Striking a warm, down-to-earth tone as she rattles off historical names, dates and events with scholarly ease, DuVernay describes herself as having always been ’more of a Black Panthers/Malcolm X kind of girl,’ going back to her days growing up in Compton and pursuing African-American studies at UCLA. At the same time, she felt personally drawn to King and the Selma narrative (her father is from Montgomery and witnessed the marches), as well as the prospect of restoring something earthy and authentic to the civil rights movement, whose hallowed legacy, she felt, had been drained of much of its radicalism and vitality over the years. ’It’s so prestigious, and it’s so hard to touch and reach and feel,’ she explains. ’The heroism feels so elevated and unreachable, whereas the Panthers feel very grassroots.’”
1. “Lisa Kudrow’s Comeback Is A Rare Second Chance.” In 2005, Kudrow and Michael Patrick King created The Comeback for HBO, but, ahead of its time in its critique of celebrity, reality TV, and narcissism, it lasted only one season. Nine years later, they reveal the story behind the now-beloved cult comedy’s unlikely return.
“Kudrow had a different—and delayed—reaction to the show’s cancellation. ’I was sad, because I wouldn’t get to do it anymore,’ she said. ’I didn’t feel insulted. I felt—still—I was so proud of what we had done, honestly. And Michael was so angry. I thought, I’m not angry. Is that a problem?’ Years later, though, she was watching HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher alone in her house, and Maher made a joke about how you can make fun of a white man, because they have power, but, Kudrow remembered him saying, ’You don’t make fun of the victim. It’s not funny.’ Maher’s comment had nothing to do with The Comeback, but ’the penny dropped,’ she said.”