2018 Emmy Predictions: Comedy and Variety

LaKeith Stanfield, Donald Glover and Brian Tyree Henry in Atlanta
COMEDY SERIES
Atlanta (FX)
Barry (HBO)
Black-ish (ABC)
Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)
GLOW (Netflix)
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon)
Silicon Valley (HBO)
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)

Could win: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Should win: Barry
Will win: Atlanta
Should have been nominated: The Good Place (NBC)

Donald Glover as Teddy Perkins in Atlanta
COMEDY ACTOR
Anthony Anderson, Black-ish
Ted Danson, The Good Place
Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm
Bill Hader, Barry
Donald Glover, Atlanta
William H. Macy, Shameless

Could win: Ted Danson
Should win: Bill Hader
Will win: Donald Glover
Should have been nominated: Pete Holmes, Crashing

Rachel Brosnahan in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
COMEDY ACTRESS
Pamela Adlon, Better Things
Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Allison Janney, Mom
Issa Rae, Insecure
Tracee Ellis Ross, Black-ish
Lily Tomlin, Grace and Frankie

Could win: Tracee Ellis Ross
Should win: Lily Tomlin
Will win: Rachel Brosnahan
Should have been nominated: Kristen Bell, The Good Place

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Things I Wrote: Summer 2018

I continue to be terrible about consistently posting about my published work. Here’s what I wrote this summer.

REVIEWS
Adrift (College Movie Review)
Ocean’s 8 (College Movie Review)
Tag (College Movie Review)
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (College Movie Review)
Sicario: Day of the Soldado (College Movie Review)
Ant-Man and the Wasp (Central Track)
Sorry to Bother You (College Movie Review)
Skyscraper (Central Track)
Whitney (College Movie Review)
The Equalizer 2 (College Movie Review)
Mission: Impossible – Fallout (College Movie Review)
The Meg (College Movie Review)
40 Years in the Making: The Magic Music Movie (College Movie Review)

LISTS (for College Movie Review)
Every Peter Berg Film, Ranked Worst to Best

ARTICLES (for Central Track)
Coming Attractions (June)
Coming Attractions (July)
Coming Attractions (August)

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What I Watched This Week: 2 Sep 2018

NEW SHOWS
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – “The Gang Makes Paddy’s Great Again” (B+) / season premiere
A rare occasion when I wish the episode had more plot than it actually does, this is another self-referential reboot, like Season 8’s “The Gang Recycles Their Trash.” Mindy Kaling made a great foil, and I hope she shows up again, but Dennis’ spectacular re-appearance was perfect.

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Streaming Picks: September 2018

FILMS
Top Picks
Adaptation – Hulu 9/1
Chinatown – Prime 9/1
Hold the Dark – Netflix 9/28
The first two are great films that got nominated for quite a few Oscars in their day. The former contains the best performance Nicolas Cage has given this century, along with a wild turn from Meryl Streep and an award-winning performance from Chris Cooper. The latter is Roman Polanski’s noir masterpiece that’s one of the best L.A. movies of all time.

Hold the Dark is the latest work from Jeremy Saulnier, whose previous efforts – Blue Ruin and Green Room – are twisted low-budget gems. This is first time playing with Netflix money, which means he won’t have to compromise to get a bigger budget.

Recent Selections
Future World – Prime 9/2
Flower – Hulu 9/3
The Miracle Season – Hulu 9/3
Beirut – Prime 9/4
Black Panther – Netflix 9/4
Crescent – Prime 9/4
Daphne & Velma – Hulu 9/4
Monochrome – Hulu 9/4
The Strangers: Prey at Night – Prime 9/4
Women and Sometimes Men – Hulu 9/4
Pistorius – Prime 9/6
Stronger – Prime and Hulu 9/8
Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami – Hulu 9/10
Bodysnatch – Hulu 9/11
Natural Vice – Hulu 9/11
Higher Power – Hulu 9/13
High Fantasy – Prime 9/14
The Housemaid – Hulu 9/14
Alien Invasion: SUM1 – Hulu 9/15
On Chesil Beach – Prime 9/15
B.B. King: On the Road – Hulu 9/20
Boom for Real – Hulu 9/20
Sacrifice – Hulu 9/20
This Is Home: A Refugee Story – Prime and Hulu 9/20
My Little Pony – Prime and Hulu 9/21
Love After Love – Hulu 9/22
Hot Summer Nights – Prime 9/22
Gemini – Hulu 9/24
Afterlife – Hulu 9/25
A Wrinkle in Time – Netflix 9/25
The Hurricane Heist – Netflix 9/26
Escape Plan 2 – Prime 9/27
Hannah – Prime 9/28
Plonger – Prime 9/28
Suburbicon – Prime and Hulu 9/28
Jigsaw – Prime 9/29

Originals
La Catedral del Mar – Netflix 9/1
Monkey Twins – Netflix 9/1
Sisters – Netflix 9/1
City of Joy – Netflix 9/7
The Most Assassinated Woman in the World – Netflix 9/7
Next Gen – Netflix 9/7
Sierra Burgess Is a Loser – Netflix 9/7
Life – Netflix 9/12
On My Skin – Netflix 9/12
Bleach – Netflix 9/14
The Land of Steady Habits – Netflix 9/14
Last Hope – Netflix 9/14
Quincy – Netflix 9/18
Dragon Pilot: Hisone & Masotan – Netflix 9/21
Nappily Ever After – Netflix 9/21
The 3rd Eye – Netflix 9/28
Forest of Piano – Netflix 9/28
Lessons from a School Shooting: Notes from Dunblane – Netflix 9/28
Lost Song – Netflix 9/28
Two Catalonias – Netflix 9/28
King Lear – Prime TBD

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What I Watched This Week: 26 Aug 2018

NEW SHOWS
Sharp Objects – “Milk” (A) / series finale
A devastating finale that ratchets up the tension, allows it to quiet down, then pulls the rug out from under you. Patricia Clarkson is almost guaranteed an Emmy for this next year, but it should really be Eliza Scanlon as Amma, who hides the darkest of secrets.

Who Is America? – “107” (A-) / series finale
Sacha Baron Cohen did save the best for last, featuring an Antifa infiltration that hinges on Girls trivia, and the incredible O.J. interview that was worth this whole insane endeavor. This is probably the end, and that’s probably for the best given how uneven the series was. But it was an interesting experiment.

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What I Watched This Week: 19 Aug 2018

NEW SHOWS
Sharp Objects – “Falling” (A)
A devastating penultimate episode, as Camille’s history of bad decisions leads her to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Richard comes away with more questions than answers digging into Camille’s past, but it’s clear my theory was right, though we’ll find out the extent to which I was right next week.

Who Is America? – “106” (C)
Each segment was just profoundly unfunny, with the food critic eating prison food coming closest to scoring laughs. And man, if you can’t find a way to make fun of Jill Stein. What are you even doing?

CURRENT SHOWS & SPECIALS
The Comedy Central Roast of Bruce Willis (B)
Willis is a good sport, but the show follows the same formula: a somewhat funny comedian gets a few burns, a hot new comic tries to make a name for himself/herself, a D-lister shows up to do a terrible job, and Jeff Ross shows why he’s the king. This roast was only transcendent when Ed Norton got up and gave a bitter monologue about how he acts his ass off but doesn’t have much to show for it. (OK, the Demi Moore cameo was pretty great, too.)

BINGEING
Orange Is the New Black – Season 6 (B average)
After what might be its strongest season yet, the show had no idea where to go after that, so it tried a bit of everything: new characters, new setting, new conflicts. But along the way it lost some crucial characters, tried some plotlines that went nowhere and lost its focus. But the last three episodes made it a journey worth taking, with its finale in particular serving as a gut-punch as characters are denied justice, with black and brown women suffering while the white woman goes free.

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What I Watched This Week: 12 Aug 2018

NEW SHOWS
Sharp Objects – “Cherry” (B+)
It’s the little details that make this episode: the looks, the hidden words, the people just out of frame. Any potential breakthrough that Camille might have is always going to be undercut by her family. No wonder her dead sister tells her, “It’s not safe for you here.”

Who Is America? – “105” (B)
The most consistently funny episode thus far, but it’s already starting to repeat itself. Cohen needs to mix it up.

OLD SHOWS
ER (Season 2) – “Hell and High Water” (B+)
It’s certainly not on the quality level of “Love’s Labor Lost,” but no wonder it was the highest-rated regular episode of TV ever. This is blockbuster TV, featuring the biggest star on TV acting heroically in an episode that must have been murder to shoot, with an extremely emotional through line.

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Too Early for This: Oscar Picks – 15 Aug 2018

Normally, I don’t do intros for these, but on August 8, the Academy announced they’re making some changes to shorten the length of the broadcast. Unfortunately, that shortchanges the brief time in the spotlight for the craftspeople who really make the movies. They’re also adding an “achievement in popular film award.” Until we know what the parameters of that are, I won’t add my predictions. But suffice to say, this could really mess things up.

BEST PICTURE
Backseat
Beautiful Boy
First Man
The Favourite
If Beale Street Could Talk
Mary, Queen of Scots
On the Basis of Sex
Roma
Widows

The skinny: I used to start with 10, but that doesn’t make much sense. Since modifying their rules, we haven’t had 10 nominees, and right now there’s not a tenth film that makes much sense as a Best Picture nominee. So here are the nine, none of which have even premiered yet. That’s not fair to the excellent films we’ve already gotten, but almost all of these are slated for either big festival premieres or prime release dates.

BEST DIRECTOR
Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite
Damien Chazelle, First Man
Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk
Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
Steve McQueen, Widows

The skinny: It could be Chazelle vs. Jenkins yet again, with Lanthimos as the lone first-time nominee. While this list is still all dudes, it would be one of the most – if not the most – international slate this category has ever had.

BEST ACTOR
Christian Bale, Backseat
Timothée Chalamet, Beautiful Boy
Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate
Ryan Gosling, First Man
Joaquin Phoenix, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot

The skinny: If this line-up holds (which it almost certainly won’t), this would be the first time all five nominees would be for actors playing real-life people. (It almost happened back in 2005, though Clint Eastwood’s boxing coach took Liam Neeson’s spot as Alfred Kinsey.) Bale certainly looks like Dick Cheney, though we’ll see if he’s truly transformed himself, and if Adam McKay’s historical dramedy is received more like Primary Colors or W.

BEST ACTRESS
Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Viola Davis, Widows
Felicity Jones, On the Basis of Sex
Saoirse Ronan, Mary, Queen of Scots
Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

The skinny: Colman would be the lone first-time nominee, and she’s been putting in great work for a long time, though mostly on television. Viola Davis and Saoirse Ronan now seem like perennial nominees, though Felicity Jones is likely the frontrunner, playing the young Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

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What I Watched This Week: 5 Aug 2018

NEW SHOWS
Sharp Objects – “Closer” (A-)
Calhoun Day was wholly invented for the show, but it’s a grand showcase for everything we’ve learned about Wind Gap so far, but also as tipping point for the characters, especially the trio of ladies. Camille finally bares her scars to her sister and mother, as well as Richard. Even Adora shows something resembling humanity. It’s not surprising that tempers flared on a hot, boozy day in small-town Missouri after a grisly murder. It was bound to blow up.

Who Is America? – “104” (B+)
The most consistently funny episode yet. Yes, Sacha Baron Cohen gets his participants to say some truly absurd things, but they often say it themselves without any provocation, like the Utah lawmaker who wants to make every adult who ever looks at pornography online to be a part of a trackable database. But he also nails the little details, like his YouTube personality who unboxes Shopkins toys (totally real) while getting Joe Arpaio to talk about how awesome Trump is.

Demetri Martin: The Overthinker (B+)
I realize now I’ve been watching Martin since I was in high school. Even if this special isn’t as clever as his past work, he still tickles my funny bone with his very dry observations and sketches.

OLD SHOWS
ER (Season 1) – “Love’s Labor Lost” (A)
My wife recently started bingeing this show on Hulu. While I don’t have the time to keep up, I knew I wanted to make time for this episode, which has appeared on dozens of “best episodes ever” list. It more than lived up to the hype. A devastating, heart-pounding hour masterfully directed by Mimi Leder and powerfully acted by Anthony Edwards. I can’t believe he didn’t win the Emmy.

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What I Watched This Week: 29 Jul 2018

NEW SHOWS
Sharp Objects – “Ripe” (A)
The best episode yet, furthering the plot while also perfecting the quick edits and ominous flashes. Even Adora is revealed to be more than a one-dimensional busybody and guilt-tripper.

Who Is America? – “103” (B-)
What’s more important: effort or execution? Through three episodes, Sacha Baron Cohen has wild success with getting MAGA chuds to thoroughly embarrass themselves while he plays an ex-Mossad agent. But his other characters don’t work nearly as well, especially his “super-woke” healer. But I still have to give him some credit for his second segment, where he tries to “bridge the divide” between a conservative politician and a rapper. It’s not that funny, but it takes some cojones to try to make the point that sometimes white liberals are part of the problem.

BINGEING
Better Call Saul – Season 2 (A-)
Though there are less big action moments than Breaking Bad, in many ways it’s a superior show, with the drama coming from two people having a conversation. Some people would find that boring, but Better Call Saul makes it exhilarating. Jimmy has always sought to bend the rules, and that will get him in serious legal trouble, mainly because his straight-arrow brother Chuck is just as manipulative as he is. But let’s give praise where it’s due: the incredible character of Kim. Rhea Seahorn is giving an incredible performance, even as she might be overshadowed by Bob Odenkirk and Michael McKean. Oh, and Jonathan Banks, too, adding layers of humanity to his jaded enforcer.

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