What I Watched This Week: 7 Jul 2019

Big Little Lies – “Kill Me” (A)
“You’re drowning,” Bonnie’s mom tells her as she emerges from her coma. She’s not the only one. As Celeste and Jane try to find some normalcy with their recently suspended boys, it’s clear none of them are actually keeping their heads above water. And I don’t even know what sort of kinky shit Ed is about to get up to with the wife of the man Madeline cheated on him with.

Aziz Ansari: Right Now (B+)
I’m still wrestling with the non-apology apology at the beginning, but the bulk of the special is often quite hilarious, with Ansari’s trademark delivery skewering the Wokeness Olympics, as well as his own past material.

The Handmaid’s Tale – “Unfit” (A)
I’m kind of alone on this island of thinking this seasons has been good, but this is the first truly great episode of the season, as we explore the past of Aunt Lydia, whose mind has been so warped by the philosophy of Gilead, she couldn’t even enjoy life. There was another path, where she could have been a great teacher, mentor and lover, but she chose darkness.

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2019 Emmy Picks: Limited Series and TV Movies

I have some time this summer, so I’m resurrecting this series where I try to predict who will be the nominees at this year’s Emmy Awards. With a lot of last year’s nominees ineligible, in theory it will be easy to predict who the Academy will make room for. But it probably won’t, especially in loaded categories like Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie. Check out my picks for the Limited Series and TV Movie categories below.

Chernobyl (HBO)
Escape at Dannemora (Showtime)
Fosse/Verdon (FX)
Sharp Objects (HBO)
True Detective (HBO)
When They See Us (Netflix)

Potential Spoilers:
The Act (Hulu)
Catch-22 (Hulu)
Good Omens (Amazon)
I Am the Night (TNT)
The Little Drummer Girl (AMC)
Maniac (Netflix)
A Very English Scandal (Amazon)

In my dreams: N/A

The skinny: Despite a lot of acclaimed shows, this is down to two that premiered in late May: HBO’s Chernobyl and Netflix’s When They See Us. Both are big downers with extreme attention to detail about real-life tragedies. Chernobyl has the lead, simply because more people have actually seen it, but this will be close.

Fionn Whitehead in Black Mirror: Bandersnatch
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (Netflix)
Brexit (HBO)
Deadwood (HBO)
King Lear (Amazon)
Native Son (HBO)

Potential Spoilers:
Icebox (HBO)
O.G. (HBO)

In my dreams: N/A

The skinny: Black Mirror has won the last two years, so I’m not expecting that to change now, especially with the technical accomplishment of Bandersnatch.

Mahershala Ali in True Detective
Mahershala Ali, True Detective
Jared Harris, Chernobyl
Benicio Del Toro, Escape at Dannemora
Hugh Grant, A Very English Scandal
Anthony Hopkins, King Lear
Sam Rockwell, Fosse/Verdon

Potential Spoilers:
Benedict Cumberbatch, Brexit
Peter Dinklage, My Dinner with Hervé
Jamie Foxx, Live in Front of a Studio Audience
Woody Harrelson, Live in Front of a Studio Audience
Jonah Hill, Maniac
Jharrel Jerome, When They See Us
John Malkovich, Agatha Christie’s ABC Murders
Ian McShane, Deadwood
Ashton Sanders, Native Son
Michael Shannon, The Little Drummer Girl
Alexander Skarsgard, The Little Drummer Girl
Jeffrey Wright, O.G.

In my dreams: Timothy Olyphant, Deadwood

The skinny: An extremely stacked category, but this is Ali’s to lose. He’s tremendous in the role, and just won an Oscar for being the only good part of Green Book.

Amy Adams in Sharp Objects
Amy Adams, Sharp Objects
Patricia Arquette, Escape at Dannemora
Joey King, The Act
Florence Pugh, The Little Drummer Girl
Emma Stone, Maniac
Michelle Williams, Fosse/Verdon

Potential Spoilers:
Connie Britton, Dirty John
Aunjanue Ellis, When They See Us
Niecy Nash, When They See Us

In my dreams: Paula Malcomson or Molly Parker, Deadwood

The skinny: While Adams has had this locked down since last summer, a late surge from Patricia Arquette and Michelle Williams could mean she loses yet another award. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

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2019 Emmy Picks: Drama

I have some time this summer, so I’m resurrecting this series where I try to predict who will be the nominees at this year’s Emmy Awards. With a lot of last year’s nominees ineligible, in theory it will be easy to predict who the Academy will make room for. But it probably won’t, especially in loaded categories like Actress in a Drama Series. Check out my picks for the Drama categories below.

The Night King on Game of Thrones
Better Call Saul (AMC)
Game of Thrones (HBO)
Homecoming (Amazon)
Killing Eve (BBC America)
Ozark (Netflix)
Succession (HBO)
This Is Us (NBC)

Potential Spoilers:
Billions (Showtime) – never nominated
Bodyguard (Netflix) – new show
Pose (FX) – new show

Ineligible: The Americans, The Crown, The Handmaid’s Tale, Stranger Things, Westworld

In my dreams: N/A

The skinny: With The Americans over and everyone else delayed or getting out of Game of Thrones‘ way, this category is wide open. There should be plenty of room for last year’s favorites that missed the cut here (Killing Eve, Ozark) and new shows (Homecoming, Succession), plus Better Call Saul, which was ineligible last year. While there’s plenty of love for Pose and Bodyguard, I think the power of HBO and Amazon will hold those new shows back. But of course, none of this matters, because Game of Thrones is winning yet again.

Richard Madden in Bodyguard
Jason Bateman, Ozark
Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us
Kit Harington, Game of Thrones
Richard Madden, Bodyguard
Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
Billy Porter, Pose

Potential Spoilers:
Kevin Costner, Yellowstone (1 win for Actor in a Limited Series for Hatfields & McCoys)
Brian Cox, Succession (1 win for Supporting Actor in a Limited Series for Nuremburg)
Stephan James, Homecoming (never nominated)
Jeremy Strong, Succession (never nominated)
Milo Ventimiglia, This Is Us (2)

Ineligible: Ed Harris, Matthew Rhys, Jeffrey Wright

In my dreams: Rufus Sewell, The Man in the High Castle

The skinny: I genuinely have no idea who might win this year, but I’m pretty confident in this line-up. I think Ventimiglia’s reduced role this season means he’ll lose his slot, leaving room for newbies like Richard Madden and Billy Porter.

Julia Roberts in Homecoming
Jodie Comer, Killing Eve
Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones
Laura Linney, Ozark
Mandy Moore, This Is Us
Sandra Oh, Killing Eve
Julia Roberts, Homecoming

Potential Spoilers:
Christine Baranski, The Good Fight (6 nominations for this role on The Good Wife)
Sarah Snook, Succession (never nominated)
Robin Wright, House of Cards (5)

Ineligible: Claire Foy, Tatiana Maslany, Elisabeth Moss, Keri Russell, Evan Rachel Wood

In my dreams: Keeley Hawes, Bodyguard

The skinny: Another wide-open race, which means Jodie Comer and Mandy Moore will finally get their due. But House of Cards‘ limp finish means Robin Wright is toast. Now can it be a tie between Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh?

Peter Dinklage in Game of Thrones
Jonathan Banks, Better Call Saul
Bobby Cannavale, Homecoming
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Game of Thrones
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Giancarlo Esposito, Better Call Saul
Justin Hartley, This Is Us

Potential Spoilers:
Kieran Culkin, Succession (never nominated)
Asia Kate Dillon, Billions (never nominated)
Matthew Macfadyen, Succession (never nominated)
Alan Ruck, Succession (never nominated)

Ineligible: Joseph Fiennes, David Harbour, Mandy Patinkin, Matt Smith

In my dreams: Shea Whigham, Homecoming

The skinny: It is well past time for Banks to get his, which means Dinklage is bound to win once again. (To be fair, no above-the-line talent involved in this season of Game of Thrones deserves an Emmy.) I think the Succession bros cancel each other out, but Macfadyen has the showiest role and thus might sneak in ahead of Justin Hartley.

Maisie Williams in Game of Thrones
Julia Garner, Ozark
Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
Chrissy Metz, This Is Us
Rhea Seehorn, Better Call Saul
Sophie Turner, Game of Thrones
Maisie Williams, Game of Thrones

Potential Spoilers:
Gwendoline Christie, Game of Thrones (never nominated)
Susan Kelechi Watson, This Is Us (never nominated)

Ineligible: Alexis Bledel, Millie Bobby Brown, Ann Dowd, Vanessa Kirby, Thandie Newton, Yvonne Strahovski

In my dreams: Fiona Shaw, Killing Eve

The skinny: They’re really gonna nominate three ladies for Game of Thrones and one of them isn’t going to be Gwendoline Christie. What a damn shame. At least Rhea Seehorn will finally get a long overdue nod. Almost the entire slate will be new this year, which will hopefully keep this category unpredictable.

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2019 Emmy Picks: Comedy and Variety

I have some time this summer, so I’m resurrecting this series where I try to predict who will be the nominees at this year’s Emmy Awards. With a lot of last year’s nominees ineligible, in theory it will be easy to predict who the Academy will make room for. But it probably won’t, especially in loaded categories like Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. Check out my picks for the Comedy and Variety categories below.

The cast of Veep
The Good Place
The Kominsky Method
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Ineligible: Atlanta, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Silicon Valley

Potential Spoilers:
Dead to Me (Netflix) – new show
Russian Doll (Netflix) – new show

In my dreams: Fleabag

The skinny: Veep‘s last hurrah has this in a walk, though personally Barry should win for defying expectations and turning in a second season in some ways even better than the first.

Bill Hader in Barry
Anthony Anderson, Black-ish
Ted Danson, The Good Place
Michael Douglas, The Kominsky Method
Bill Hader, Barry
William H. Macy, Shameless
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory

Potential Spoilers:
Jim Carrey, Kidding (never nominated for acting)
John Goodman, The Connors (7 nominations for this role on Roseanne)
Eugene Levy, Schitt’s Creek (never nominated for acting)
Randall Park, Fresh off the Boat (never nominated)

Ineligible: Larry David, Donald Glover

In my dreams: Pete Holmes, Crashing

The skinny: There’s a small possibility Jim Parsons could win for his final turn as Sheldon Cooper, but he hasn’t been nominated since 2014. Also, let’s just reiterate: He has four Emmys already. FOUR. That is a crime. So Bill Hader can and should win once again.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus in Veep
Pamela Adlon, Better Things
Candice Bergen, Murphy Brown
Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Allison Janney, Mom
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Natasha Lyonne, Russian Doll
Issa Rae, Insecure
Tracee Ellis Ross, Black-ish

Potential Spoilers:
Christina Applegate, Dead to Me (2 nominations in this category for Samantha Who?)
Kristen Bell, The Good Place (never nominated)
Alison Brie, GLOW (never nominated)
Aidy Bryant, Shrill (1 nomination for Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for Saturday Night Live)
Linda Cardellini, Dead to Me (1 nomination for Guest Actress in a Drama Series for Mad Men)
Jane Fonda, Grace and Frankie (1)
Ellie Kemper, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (2)
Catherine O’Hara, Schitt’s Creek (1 nomination for Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for Temple Grandin)
Lily Tomlin, Grace and Frankie (4)
Tracey Ullman, Tracey Ullman’s Show (4 wins for acting: 2 for Individual Performance in a a Variety or Music Program for The Best of the Tracey Ullman Show and Tracey Takes on New York; 2 for Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for Love & War and Ally McBeal)
Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Fleabag (never nominated for acting)

Ineligible: None

In my dreams: Maya Rudolph, Forever

The skinny: By far the most crowded category, with none of last year’s eight nominees ineligible. The only new blood I’m expecting is Natasha Lyonne (who could have a serious shot were she not running against Julia Louis-Dreyfus). Also, Emmys gonna Emmy and bring back Candice Bergen, who once won so many times here she took herself out of contention. But how great would it be to see the likes of Catherine O’Hara or Phoebe Waller-Bridge here?

Henry Winkler in Barry
Alan Arkin, The Kominsky Method
Alec Baldwin, Saturday Night Live
Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Tony Hale, Veep
Tony Shalhoub, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Matt Walsh, Veep
Henry Winkler, Barry

Potential Spoilers:
Ed Asner, Dead to Me (7 nominations in this category including 3 wins for The Mary Tyler Moore Show)
Anthony Carrigan, Barry (never nominated)
Gary Cole, Veep (1 nomination for this role as Guest Actor in a Comedy Series)
William Jackson Harper, The Good Place (never nominated)
Manny Jacinto, The Good Place (never nominated)
Marc Maron, GLOW (never nominated)
Andrew Scott, Fleabag (never nominated)
Timothy Simons, Veep (never nominated)
Kenan Thompson, Saturday Night Live (1)

Ineligible: Louie Anderson, Brian Tyree Henry

In my dreams: Kevin Dunn, Veep

The skinny: Maybe we’ll all be spared another nomination for Alec Baldwin’s tired Trump impression and let a worthy actor take the spot, but complacency comes easy to this group. My worst fear is that Timothy Simons, who has been crushing it on Veep since the very beginning – but especially the last two seasons – will become like Nick Offerman, crafting one of the all-time great TV characters with nothing to show for it.

Alex Borstein in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Alex Borstein, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Aidy Bryant, Saturday Night Live
Anna Chlumsky, Veep
Betty Gilpin, GLOW
Leslie Jones, Saturday Night Live
Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live
Laurie Metcalf, The Connors
Megan Mullally, Will & Grace

Potential Spoilers:
D’Arcy Carden, The Good Place (never nominated)
Olivia Colman, Fleabag (1 nomination for Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie for The Night Manager)
Sarah Goldberg, Barry (never nominated)
Jameela Jamil, The Good Place (never nominated)
Rita Moreno, One Day at a Time (6 previous acting nominations in other categories, including 2 wins)

Ineligible: Zazie Beetz

In my dreams: Paula Pell, A.P. Bio

The skinny: I think they can probably give Aidy Bryant and Leslie Jones some time off, and replace them with the ladies of The Good Place, but the most deserving nominee (Sarah Goldberg) is going to have a tough time breaking into this group.

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What I Watched This Week: 30 Jun 2019

Big Little Lies – “She Knows” (A-)
As the women try to find some sense of normalcy while everything is falling apart, things go from bad to worse for all of them. But the biggest twist is that as manipulative and judgmental as Mary Louise is, she’s got a point about Celeste being in a bad place to parent her kids.

The Handmaid’s Tale – “Under His Eye” (B+)
Speaking of going from bad to worse, Gilead ramps up its public executions of conspirers, resulting in the clearest example yet of the banality of evil. Having to hang people and then get on your way to other errands is some seriously disturbing shit. But now June’s daughter is gone, and she nearly murders the handmaid who ratted out the people helping her be reunited.

Stranger Things – Season 3 (B+ average)
Superior to Season 2, even if things couldn’t help but feel like we’ve done all this before. The show improved by focusing on what works – the relationships and references – and spending a little bit less time on mythology. The finale would be an excellent stopping point, but ain’t no way Netflix is going to end it there, and unfortunately might even reverse some of its big, show-altering decisions down the line. But for now, this was a terrific summer experience.

Chernobyl (A- average)
Bleak as hell, but an exceptionally well-done procedural. Yes, some of its dialogue was a bit on-the-nose, but the acting was tremendous, the direction superb and the make-up effects truly disturbing. I can see why this was a sensation.

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Streaming Picks: July 2019

Top Picks
Under the Silver Lake – Prime 7/1
Drop Dead Gorgeous – Hulu 7/5
Apollo 11 – Hulu 7/20
Inglourious Basterds – Netflix 7/22

It’s actually an incredible month for movies on streaming platforms this month, which is a truly rare thing. Two of the year’s best films are already streaming, which is great for folks who missed them earlier in the year. Under the Silver Lake is David Robert Mitchell’s maligned, misunderstood neo-noir starring Andrew Garfield. You have to be tuned to its wavelength, but there are pleasures galore for people who are. Seeing Apollo 11 at Sundance this year is an experience I’ll never forget, but seeing it at home on a giant TV is an acceptable alternative.

And while Netflix does feature a lot of Martin Scorsese’s early work, none of those ’70s films are my favorites. Instead I’m saying “Bawn jorno” to Quentin Tarantino’s second-best film: the World War II alt-history epic Inglourious Basterds. Hard to believe it’s already been 10 years.

But really the most important news is that Drop Dead Gorgeous, one of the absolute funniest movies of all time, is finally streaming. This mockumentary about beauty pageants in small-town Minnesota has me laughing from beginning to end, features one of the most jaw-droppingly offensive musical numbers ever conceived, and includes Allison Janney throwing 100mph as local horndog Loretta.

Recent Selections
The Last Word – Hulu 7/2
The Brink – Hulu 7/4
Woman at War – Hulu 7/4
Marshall – Prime 7/7
Mary Poppins Returns – Netflix 7/9
Never Grow Old – Prime 7/13
Tabaluga – Prime 7/14
The Last Man – Hulu 7/18
Secret Obsession – Netflix 7/18
Trading Paint – Prime 7/19
Time Freak – Prime and Hulu 7/22
Serenity – Prime 7/23
Hellboy – Prime 7/23
I Trapped the Devil – Hulu 7/26
The Field Guide to Evil – Hulu 7/26
A Vigilante – Prime 7/27
After Darkness – Prime and Hulu 7/29
The Haunting of Sharon Tate – Prime 7/29
Along with the Gods: The Last 49 Days – Hulu 7/31
Arctic – Prime 7/31

Peterloo – Prime 7/3
Cities of Last Things – Netflix 7/11
4 latas – Netflix 7/12
Kidnapping Stella – Netflix 7/12
Point Blank – Netflix 7/12
Boi – Netflix 7/26
Girls with Balls – Netflix 7/26
The Son – Netflix 7/26
The Red Sea Diving Resort – Netflix 7/31

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What I Watched This Week: 23 Jun 2019

Big Little Lies – “The End of the World” (A-)
The title is both literal and metaphorical, as the parents get in an uproar over the doom-and-gloom climate change curriculum at their kids’ school, and all the worlds the women had built come crashing down. It’s a dark contrast to the gorgeous surroundings, but it makes the show that much better.

The Handmaid’s Tale – “Household” (A-)
The show is almost always great when it leans into full-on horror. A trip to D.C. reveals just how much better June has it in Boston. In the nation’s desecrated capital, handmaids aren’t allowed to speak, and many have their lips literally sewn shut. And then there’s Chris Meloni, great as always, threatening war with Canada and alluding to some impulses that are almost certainly illegal in the country he serves.

Big Little Lies – “Tell-Tale Hearts” (A)
A pretty astonishing hour of television as secrets are revealed and the lies people had been telling themselves get questioned. Plus, Meryl did the necklace-on-the-chin thing.

The Handmaid’s Tale – “Unknown Caller” (B+)
An act of kindness extended from Luke to Serena backfires, as the reunion with Holly brings her back to her selfish impulses. Now, she’ll use the full force of her husband’s position with the Gilead government to get the baby that’s not really hers back.

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What I Watched This Week: 16 Jun 2019

Deadwood – Season 2 (A- average)
The show takes a leap as the consequences of everyone’s actions come to pass. Ian McShane cements his performance of Al Swearengen in the pantheon of great TV performances, even though (or especially because) he spent much of the first half of the season silent, except for painful screams as he suffered from kidney stones. Getting dragged into society tooth-and-nail, there’s a lot of violence as the showdown between who will annex the camp begins.

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What I Watched This Week: 9 Jun 2019

Big Little Lies – “What Have They Done?” (B+) / season premiere
It has been two years, so I suppose some re-introductions are necessary. But the show will only get better and deeper as the season goes along. Meryl Streep of course kills it, but I was more impressed by Adam Scott, finally doing more than being a cuckold.

The Handmaid’s Tale – “God Bless the Child” (B)
Most of this episode is the best the show has been all season. But for some reasons all the scenes with Alexis Bledel and Clea DuVall fell extremely flat, holding it back from greatness.

A.P. Bio
“Ride the Ram” (B+)
“Kinda Sorta” (A-) / series finale
While the show never quite became something great, this was the most purely enjoyable watch of 2019. This pair of episodes is a fitting end, as Jack realizes the error of his ways and embraces Toledo, and especially his friendship with Durbin and relationship with Lynette. But his shift never feels out of character. I wish this could have lasted longer, but I’m glad we got these 26 delightful episodes.

King of the Hill (Season 9) – “Ms. Wakefield” (A-)
A rare episode I’d never seen, this is an extremely dark but ultimately heartwarming Christmas episode. An elderly woman (guest star Marion Ross) comes to visit the Hill house. She used to live there, at least until her sister died. And now she refuses to leave until she does the same. It’s a pretty morbid premise, and shockingly everyone is against Hank, who finds the whole thing extremely disturbing. It’s still impressive how excellent this show remained to the end.

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What I Watched This Week: 2 Jun 2019

The Handmaid’s Tale
“Night” (B+) / season premiere
“Mary and Martha” (B)
“Useful” (B)

If you were out after last season – which I thought improved upon Season 1 in many ways, frustrating finale notwithstanding – it’s doubtful these first three episodes will pull you back in. But the performances and cinematography are still excellent, even when the writing’s not as powerful as it used to be. Plus, it’s not like this show is in any way relevant to the real world.

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