As a committed Oscar movie viewer, I’m happy to say that the chore of seeing every nominated movie this year has actually left me deeply satisfied. Most of my favorite movies of the last year (plus the last two months) have been nominated. I want to mention the one movie that has zero nominations and encourage you to go see it as part of this movie frenzy: Patterson (Adam Driver, bus driver, poetry, Jim Jarmusch).
The Oscars are going to break my heart and award La La Land everything, but the speeches will be great this year. A preview:
What is great about a musical? La La Land seems to think that the most important thing to learn from Singing in the Rain is that things were better in the past. Please remember, however, that the whole point of Singing in the Rain was: “embrace innovation.” La La Land, a movie I’m practically alone in disliking, is about to win a bunch of awards and its director/writer Damien Chazelle will be congratulated for bringing back the movie musical. This is a shame and a misunderstanding of musicals. (I want to recognize Richard Brody’s perfect take down of the film, for which most of this will merely be an extended illustration, plus more references to Crazy Ex-Girlfriend).
La La Land is a musical in form but not in spirit. The tragedy is that we are living in a moment when many excellent things are being made in the spirit of a musical, but not in its classical form.
Here are some things that are actually great about musicals:
I’m reverent of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s commitment to the essence of musical theater and its bravery in getting rid of the all the stuff that old people feel nostalgic about when they think of musicals (or when they think they are thinking of musicals). Hey, what if everyone’s not white? What if the music is in the vernacular of the era? What if we use the ability to have fantasy set pieces to emphasize the actual mental illness and unhealthiness of romantic constructs? La La Land’s doubling down on the nostalgia of musicals is not only regressive, it’s not in the spirit of musicals.
These are not the best things (Moonlight, Fates and Furies, Better Call Saul). These are the things I enjoyed the most; the things that I had so much pleasure consuming I wish I could experience them again for the first time.
5. I really got back into romance novels this year, but realized that romance novels are universally terrible at plotting. You know who is great at plots? Young adult writers! Thus the perfect combination is romance + YA. I give you Sarah J. Maas’s second series A Court of Thorns and Roses. The other great thing about Maas is that she heralds the end of Hunger Games/Twilight mimicry in YA. Maas is not interested in metaphors that knock you over the head with their social relevancy or toying with our repressed desires. No, Maas trusts that you are a nerd who is deeply interested in elfish political systems that have no parallels to our own world. And she is a truly sex positive author who assumes you’ve already worked out your desire for elf ears.
6. The Everlane Street Shoe-best purchase I made this year. They make me feel fresh like Ellen.
7. It’s a tie! The Durrells of Corfu and Poldark. I have, as of now, still not convinced anyone to watch the Durrells. It is only six episodes people! Please get on it, I desperately need to discuss the finale with someone. I also have to apologize to friend of the blog Liz, who has been telling me to watch Poldark for the last six months. An eighteenth century mining operation, a love triangle, class intrigue: why did I resist this show?! This is also a reminder to you all to just give in and watch whatever people tell you to watch.
If my logic is sound, meet your future Star Wars star: Juan Diego Botto
I say this because no sooner do I gain a new boyfriend, than George Lucas casts him for a Star Wars movie. Ask anyone who has known me for 10 years, Dirty Dancing Havana nights IS and WILL ALWAYS BE my favorite movie. Did you know that dancing caused the Cuban Revolution? Look it up. Anyways, Diego Luna is long overdue for another starring role. Riz Ahmed and I got together just this year. And of course MAAADDDSSS.
Juan Diego Botto is starring with Lady Mary in the Lady Mary Breaks Bad Show on TNT (real name: Good Behavior). This show is unexpectedly great. And by great I mean (following Willa Paskin) that the show is genuinely committed to romance.
The most important decision that the showrunners of Younger made was to cast Sutton Foster. I think she plausibly passes for 26. But aside from her natural features the makeover within the show provides crucial lessons about how to look younger.
This realization has caused me to reflect on my twenty plus years of pro-short hair experience. When I was in third grade my mom cut all my hair off because what person in their right mind wants to brush a little girl’s hair?
Since then I have always embraced haircuts as a way to radically transform myself. Mostly this has been unsuccessful.
Giving up on cutting my hair is giving up on the possibility of finally achieving the dream that Meg Ryan embedded in all our hearts in 1998: a haircut for the female gaze.
The one truth that I never seemed to accept about the Meg Ryan-dream is that you have to get your hair cut and colored every three weeks. My parents have very chic short cuts, and they get highlights and LOWLIGHTS. I’m not even sure what a lowlight is.
Now that I have entered the point in my life where I seem to disappear into the background, merging into the mass of neutered older ladies in their boring work attire, I guess I have to say goodbye to the dream of being cool and unfussy and acquire some more hair. Also, I made an appointment for some balayage. That hair is not going to sun-kiss itself.
Also for no reason, here is the greatest tribute to Sutton Foster:
If you are wondering how to prepare for your Gilmore Girls binge, please review’s C.’s guide from many years past.
Fall premiere season has come and gone. What remains?
PBS is trying so hard to keep us in the post-Downton Abby era, and they are doing a great job. The Durrells of Corfu is perfection. Also my friend Liz wants you to watch Poldark. And my mom wants you to watch Indian Summer. So watch them all! The seasons are short. But I’ll say this for the Durrells: it has PUPPIES. Also, Call the Midwife has been renewed for three more seasons!
Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend are going strong on the CW. To watch the current seasons you need to go to CW.com or their app to stream them for free. All previous seasons are on Netflix. Jane in particular has found a groove it could stay in forever (less crime lords, more lost cousins and mistaken identity).
Insecure on HBO was the best of the premium dramedy crop this fall. Better Things and Atlanta also maintained a very high quality throughout their seasons.
I think Westworld is boring. If it’s all fake, what are the stakes?! Other people seem to like it a lot though, so whatever. It’s on the list of shows that I have to watch in order to discuss with other people. Why can’t I get people to watch better tv?
Pitch is still dumb, and I LOVE IT.
Younger is the show I’m most excited to watch every week.
Speechless is probably the best new show of the season. Also in this time of darkness, you need its optimism. The Good Place has also turned out to be more Parks and Recs and less 30 Rock. So give it a try if you want to see Ted Danson as the Leslie Knope of Heaven (and why wouldn’t you?).
Queen Sugar only gets better every episode. Have you ever wondered how long it takes sugar to crystalize between harvest and milling? This show has answers.
The Disappointment Pile: Westworld, Masters of Sex, Luke Cage, The Crown, This is Us, and Divorce.
On the horizon: Top Chef is back this week and I’ve never needed it more. Can you imagine anything more soothing than Tom Collichio’s take on a crudo?
Also, PLAYING HOUSE WILL RETURN IN 2017! Reason enough to keep living. Every episode is streaming on USA btw.
I address you directly, my five readers:
Christiane – as we test run this Indigo Balm together, I like to think that we are both cringing at the same moment as the smell of a hippie’s compost pile hits our face. Report: I have not broken out and it feels very moisturizing, but the smell is so intense I can’t imagine another human being will ever sleep in the same bed with me.
Mom – Continue using the Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery moisturizer and retinol serum.
Kerry and Liz- DON’T WORRY. Paula’s Choice has brought back the Moisture Boost due to popular demand! We complained and they heard us. I’m so relieved.
Kerry has also taught us about Dermalogica Active Moist, maybe the most disgusting name for a moisturizer ever. It’s great, but it costs $40 😦
For those of us who can’t be bothered to buy things on the internet, please remember that Cerave PM moisturizer is not only good, it is so lightweight and moisturizing that you can put it on a finicky man and he won’t complain that there is goop on his face. I also encourage said man to use the AM version of this because it has a good SPF and I don’t want him to die.
Finally, for those of you who are not afraid of internet shopping and like cheap stuff (I’m assuming this is you Julie) this amazing moisturizer is under $6 and is super good.
Jennifer, I remember that you are also an oil lady (I always pat some oil on before or after my moisturizer), and you might really appreciate the high quality and cheapness of this rose hip seed oil.
And let us remember there is no substitute for air moisture. Let us all invest in humidifiers.
All us educated elites have become okay with country music ever since 1) Connie Britton warbled into our living rooms on Nashville 2) Kacey Musgraves openly critiqued the limitations of white, small-town America 3) Cam and Maron Morris gave us Beyonce-like girl anthems. We all graduated to Miranda Lambert, Chris Stapleton, and Jason Eady, and now identify as “country music” supporters (also quick shout out to Stapleton and Eady for providing my go to crying soundtrack).
If you, like me, have ever tried to channel that love by turning on the country music radio station, it is shocking to be confronted by the incredibly dumb and retrograde music of Luke Bryan and the many many other terrible male country singers who are actually popular in the real (as opposed to our adopted) country music demographic. I bet Luke Bryan is voting for Trump.
But, I have found one guy who seems to exist comfortably between both worlds: Jon Pardi. His songs are clever and funny and the themes are very grown up: work is boring, romancing his wife, and Nashville as a company town. If Nashville the show just made him a character I’d probably start watching again (don’t forget, it has not really died and will continue on the cable channel CMT, sigh).
In related news: I think I’m going to start wearing cowboy boots again. But don’t worry, I’m not going to wear them with my white leather jacket.