The Beautiful, Devastating Leftovers

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The Walking Dead sucks so much. It’s not that it’s a bad zombie show, it’s that it completely misses the point of what it should be. The idea to me of every apocalypse type show isn’t the big event that made it all happen, but how this event affects the people on a personal level and how it messes up every single relationship and sense of normalcy. Sure, zombies are fun and the threat of them is scary, but what really matters is the universal idea of being without your sister, your father, your dog, whatever, who cares, what caused it, forget zombies, how are you dealing with this very real issue of this massive change to every facet of your life?

Enter the goddamn “Leftovers,” the most depressing show ever that I thought, “well, goddamn, I never thought a TV show would entirely get ME, and it kind of sucks when said show is one of the most depressing of all time and what that says about me, but here we are.” See, The Leftovers is a show about 2% of the population disappearing and instead of really focusing on exactly WHY that happened, it’s more concerned with HOLY SHIT, how am I supposed to deal with so-and-so randomly being eliminated from my life. It’s a show that really doesn’t care beyond some brief broad strokes how they got to this point and what could be the mysterious thing that caused everything to happen, but instead the here and now of these people dealing with this very real fallout.

I have upper echelon shows that I always refer to as my favourites, with the idea that nothing currently could touch them and certainly not right away. The Sopranos, The Wire, The Shield, Mad Men and The Simpsons are my big five perfect shows and I thought it would take awhile for something to sit in that company, but what The Leftovers has accomplished so audaciously building in quality season over season and with the absolute masterclass of a finale, it has shot right up there. I can’t remember the last time I’ve been moved and effected by a show like this. Not that there hasn’t been a good bunch of shows since then that I enjoyed, but it weirdly makes me feel alive that there is new art and television still able to be created that makes me feel so much (and it especially a show like this that puts FEEL in all caps) and evokes such emotion out of me like this one.

They only had three seasons and 28 episodes in total, but it was such assured and focused appointment TV that everything was struck with meaning and no note was left wasted. This is a show that literally got better season to season, and sure there’s only three seasons, but I’m remised to think of a show off the top of my head that did it quit like this. Its first season was more concerned traditionally with what you’d think about the show, where it was trying to find out more of the mysteries of what was behind this all, season 2 was delving deeper into these people and their progression beyond what happened and season 3 was about resolution and finding a way to move past things if you can and how it shaped your future life beyond just being defined by this event.

I could go on and on and on, but mainly I wanted to write this because of how perfect the finale was. The Leftovers was in a spot where it could’ve went ANYWHERE for the finale, it could’ve went all supernatural and really honed in on what caused everything, it could’ve just went weirdo insane, but what it ended up doing so beautifully was telling a small love story that played like a foreign film or something. Because at the heart, crux and end of it all, The Leftovers is a love story about Kevin and Norah. The whole hour plus episode was a literal masterclass of acting, emoting and reacting from Carrie Coon and Justin Theroux. I can’t even quantify how good both of them are and I’m going to be pulling my hair out when they don’t get any awards love. What made the finale so good on top of all that is you got the whole base love story/reconciliation angle that shaded in one side of things, and then you got Norah giving the mystery-interested people their answer of her going to the other side where the people on this world disappeared to and delivering the simple yet perfect yet devastating realization that they had their own “Leftovers” event but instead of 2% of their population disappearing they had 98% of theirs disappear to the other side. Norah realized she had no place in that world and came back to her original world. Now watching Carrie Coon deliver her monologue with such conviction it seems so true, and I believe her. But, there are others who believe she made up the whole thing to Kevin and that she did absolutely none of that. I don’t know if there’s an answer and I think it was precisely meant that way for you to interpret the meaning how you will. That’s where the finale works on another level, leaving that dangling thread for people to argue with years later, but nothing too extreme or over the top that it leaves people dissatisfied or missing a piece, just a lynchpin in how two different types of people approach one idea, can there be two truths?

This is basically 1,000 or so words of gushing, but damn am I so happy to do it when it feels like forever since I’ve felt this strongly for a show. I guess in a weird sort of way it’s kind of ironic that this soul-crushingly depressing show has reinvigorated some spirit inside of me, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. The Leftovers was a raw nerve of a show and one that wasn’t afraid to get to the rotten core of everyone and reveal said rottenness, but maybe also sparring a few seeds for some future revitalization. It never sacrificed the “real” just because maybe that would make for a more palatable TV show, it bared everything out front and dared you to stick around, because things might suck a lot in the moment, but there’s always that glimmer in the future, another person or an idea that keeps you moving and keeps you alive.

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‘Battlestar Galactica’: Season 1 Review

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I’ll never contend to be the biggest sci-fi fan, I tend to like my fiction grounded in reality without the additions of the fantastical like time traveling, clones, aliens, new worlds and so on. I especially don’t like these elements when they’re solely used off their gimmicks alone, while yes in certain context I may like some of these elements, but when they’re just added for a “cool” factor and have no bearing on the “real world” of the piece’s story, it remains just a gimmick for you to watch it and has no real value outside of that. Battlestar Galactica treats its science fiction smartly and allows the show to feel very much like a grounded in reality fiction story that just so happens to feature these elements.

Now I know Battlestar Galactica isn’t the first science fiction show to reflect or highlight real world ideas and concept through the eyes of a sci-fi world, but it certainly does well to exemplify that as a major tenant, but still includes base science fiction tropes because that’s what kind of show it is after all. The plot itself is very straightforward and basic, where the Cylons (a cyborg group of bad guys) destroyed the Colonies (planets where humans lived aka the good guys), and the Battlestar Galactica ship, one of the last remaining ships, takes upon itself to lead the survivors to a new safe haven and fight off whatever Cylon threats get in their way.

The mysteries and unknown of the Cylons is really well done, with the show positioning this creepy element to start the series mentioning how the Cylons had been unheard of for years until the day that they decided to destroy civilization, leading hanging questions of why and why now. The Cylons also have the ability to become fully humanoid where many of them are seen as clones to the actual human version of a person, adding another mysterious element and an easy move in the back-pocket of the show as they could reveal pretty much anyone as a undercover Cylon, so that always lurks in the background.

What truly makes Battlestar Galactica stand out is its very real world happenings and many different layers of a genre show that’s not always just a science fiction show. The battling members in charge between the commander of the Battlestar Galactica William Adama and the president of the Twelve Colonies Laura Roslin posits this struggle for power between the two where they try to play nice as much as possible, but their contention is always bubbling underneath. As such the show plays a lot of the time like a political show like The West Wing where it concerns much finagling and political discourse to enact measures and figure out what to do with these people when they’re not only on the run, but nobody is truly in power under any “legal” means.

Along with both leaders, pretty much everybody in the show is portrayed as being very strong, especially the female characters which you don’t often see, with Starbuck being our defacto underling protagonist as a badass pilot who doesn’t take orders from anyone. Number Six is our view into the head of humanoid Cylons who is as cunningly dangerous as she is beautiful, where they never really cheapen her by using her seduction as anything more than her trying to get her nefarious means any way she can.

Something that I love about this show, too, so far, is that it’s not really about happy endings so much and continues this underlying theme of depression throughout. If something happy happens be sure that within a few moments something will pop up to upend that. It’s refreshing to see a show that doesn’t consistently put their good guys on easy street and for every mission to be a cake walk, where here everything at least seems to be of more of an importance given the true underdog stakes that the Battlestar Galactica always seems to be facing against the Cylons.

The first season does a good job of setting up this world, posing questions, outlining the stakes and positioning characters and ideas to where things might go. It seems like a framework so easily susceptible to tension and upheaval which would exactly seem par for the course about a political show in the midst of an alien-cyborg attack. This world and story is wrought for deepening in not only the science fiction aspect, but also the human and societal aspect where both sides are so intrinsically tied it’s only guaranteed that aren’t going to get any easier in the increasingly changing landscape of Battlestar Galactica.

The 86th Annual Academy Awards: Picks

Oscars

I was all excited about my Oscar picks because I’m pretty confident in them, and am not really wavering on any of them, but then I see everyone (the mass majority) has the same picks as me. Also, I’m never confident in my picks, and since I am this year it basically means that they’re all wrong, so I look forward to Philomena winning best picture.

Best Picture: The actual best picture isn’t even nominated (Before Midnight), but the second best one 12 Years A Slave is and it’ll win. I do not now how Inside Llewyn Davis is not nominated, not that it’d win, but c’mon. For fun let’s rank the best picture nominees:

12 Years A Slave

Gravity

The Wolf Of Wall Street

Her

Dallas Buyers Club

Nebraska

American Hustle

Captain Phillips

Philomena

Best Actor: Chiewtel Ejiofor gave the best performance, one that’s still hard to shake even months after seeing it, but Matthew McConaughey wins, he was great, though, and I love him more than anyone now, so I’m cool with it.

Best Actress: Blue Jasmine was a pretty forgettable film, but Cate Blanchett wins for it, she was quite good.

Best Supporting Actor: Love me some Jared Leto and he wins it. I really don’t think he has any competition here.

Best Supporting Actress: I wish beyond anything that June Squibb takes this home, but goddamn Jennifer Lawrence is nominated, so of course she wins this.

Best Director: All great nominees, but Alfonso Cuarón wins because Gravity was so different than everything else.

Best Adapted Screenplay: 12 Years A Slave, although I could see something like Terence Winter’s The Wolf Of Wall Street sneaking up.

Best Original Screenplay: Spike Jonze wrote a damn masterpiece. What an exquisite piece of writing that deserves to be recognized.

Best Animated Film: I really could care less about animated movies, but obviously Frozen wins.

Costume Design: I’m gonna give this to The Great Gatsby because period pieces with lavish wardrobes usually win this.

Film Editing: Gotta love those Greengrass edited films.

Cinematography: Gravity looked nice.

Sound Editing: Gravity sounded nice.

Sound Mixing: Gravity sounded nice.

Music (Original Score): Gravity sounded nice.

Music (Original Song): People really seem to love that Frozen song.

Visual Effects: Gravity looked visual effect-y.

Production Design: The Great Gatsby looked nice.

Make-up And Hairstyling: Dallas Buyers Club seems to be the one.

Best Foreign Language Film: I’ve only seen The Great Beauty, and it was indeed a beauty to look at, if lacking in other parts, but I’ll still pick it to win.

Best Documentary: The Act Of Killing is the only one of these I’ve seen and it’s pretty damn good. It has the buzz coming in.

Documentary Short Subject: I’ll say The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life wins because it’s about the holocaust. The Academy loooves giving shit to holocaust films, so yeah, I’ll take this one.

Short Film: I have no clue about this, so I’m guessing The Voorman Problem.

Short Film (Animated): Get A Horse! sounds like fun!

*UPDATE POST OSCARS: I got 19/24 correct, which I guess on the outset seems good, but I really expected myself to do a lot better, but I think this is my best year yet at picking the winners, so I’ll take it!*

The 86th Annual Academy Awards Nominations Reaction

(ABC)

(ABC)

Best Picture:

Pretty great list of films, only haven’t seen Nebraska (which I’m almost literally dying to see) and Philomena, which I didn’t think it was necesary to see, but maybe I’m wrong. As with others, I can’t believe Inside Llewyn Davis didn’t get nominated, such a wonderful film in so many ways, and a Coen Brothers film, okay then. I think Before Midnight should be here, but of course it wouldn’t, it’s cool.

Best Actor:

Perfect list. Ejiofor deserves to win, but who knows.

Best Actress:

I’m a Bullock fan all the way, but I know Blanchett has been getting a lot of praise going into awards season. She is fantastic in Blue Jasmine, indeed, but really don’t think she matches Bullock in Gravity.

Best Supporting Actor:

Jonah Hill was good in The Wolf Of Wall Street, but not as great to get Oscar-worthy claim, but okay. I think Jared Leto takes this, but it’s a worthy category all around.

Best Supporting Actress:

Fine category, but I don’t think anyone has a chance against J-Law, and rightfully so.

Best Director:

I think Cuaron wins this like he won the Golden Globe, he tackled something unseen before in film, and even with the quality of director, I think he wins.

Best Documentary:

The only I’ve seen is The Act Of Killing, and it’s a juggernaut, I’d think it wins.

Best Adapted Screenplay:

Great selection, anyway it could go. As good as Before Midnight is, I think it’s down between 12 Years A Slave and The Wolf Of Wall Street. Might be a toss up.

Best Original Screenplay:

Her should take this in a great category.

A kind of more shorter and abrupt post than I expeceted, and also didn’t expect to predict winners, but here we are. I’ll probably predict EVERY category right before the awards, but these are just some quick reaction thoughts after the nominations have been posted. All in all, though, this has been one of my favourite years of film in recent memory, where I’ve trully loved quite a films as standouts like Before Midnight, 12 Years A Slave, The Wolf Of Wall Street, Gravity Inside Llewyn Davis, Her and Dallas Buyers Club. Just great stuff all around.

The 71st Annual Golden Globe Awards Reaction

(Reuters)

(Reuters)

Alright, so lets talk about some general actual Golden Globes ceremony shit before we get into the shit that actually matter (but, actually doesn’t as well). I’m an unabashed Ricky Gervais Golden Globes supporter, I’m a huge fan of his and absolutely loved when he was given the reigns to the show, and eventually a couple more. He was biting, funny and toed the line on not giving a fuck about who he was making fun of. Now, I love Tina Fey and Amy Poehler almost as much, and so I was sad last year when it wasn’t Gervais again, but Fey/Poehler were just as great. This year wasn’t any different and their monologue killed, with some great jokes on McConaughey, Clooney and DiCaprio.

As good as they are, they were sparingly seen throughout the telecast. As great as their straight-forward jokes are, I think they work best when they do bits. I always loved when they did those bits in the Emmys during the Best Comedic Actress category with all their nominees. Legend Julia Louis-Dreyfus played along with this in the monologue and later in the show, riffing off being nominated in film and TV, and it was wonderful. I liked the idea of Poehler playing off Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick’s daughter where she’s the onstage “shooer” (a technicale term), but it almost seemed to common-based SNL humour. But, yeah, Fey/Poehler were great, and if I can’t get Gervais, they’re really the next best.

Alright, so what the shit is up with giving Woody Allen the Cecil B. DeMille award if he’s not even going to be there? I mean, make no mistake, Allen deserved the award ten times over, but of course you know he’s not going to show up, so really why even bother. It’s incredibly weird dedicating 20 minutes to someone, and going so in depth on their career driving towards something so anti-climatic it just falls flat and then awkwardly going to commercial.

Actual winners, okay cool. Jennifer Lawrence is great in American Hustle, even if the film isn’t so itself and totally deserved to win. Lawrence is that great actress who can do actual awards calibre films along with blockbuster type films (“Hunger Games”) at the same time. Infinite props.

Bryan Cranston wins of course, and how was Liev Schreiber and James Spader nominated? lol

Breaking Bad won best dramatic series. WOW jk

I don’t know how Jon Voight wins for ‘Ray Donovan,’ I mean the show sucked, and he was alright, but there’s really no reason he wins against Josh Charles, who is great, Aaron Paul, who is terrific, and Corey Stoll who was fantastic and should have won.

I love Amy Adams, I really do, but I’m too much of a Before Midnight fan (which is a masterpiece) to let go that Julie Delpy didn’t win. Dreyfus and Gerwig were almost equally good to win. I mean, really I like them all, so it’s all good.

Robin Wright won best actress in a drama, which is fine, she was good, but I really didn’t think she was given all that much to do. She was good, but I don’t think the show really pushed her to do anything that great.

I loved Jared Leto winning, he was so deserving and I loved Dallas Buyers Club, even if it seems its been fallnig by the wayside in awards season, performances aside.

So stoked to see Spike Jonze win for writing Her. What a gorgeous film, not only visually, but how Jonze paced it all out.

How does Brooklyn Nine-Nine win best comedy? It’s an entirely fine, if slightly above average show, but to actually win? This was the most baffling award of the night. Not that the rest of the shows were that great, but I just don’t know how this wins, but I guess this was the Golden Globes. And also Andy Samberg wins? Again, the same as before, he’s funny, but award-worthy? Ehhhhhhhhhhh.

Amy Poehler wins for “Parks.” So happy, she’s the best, so much deserved.

Alfonso Cuaron was in the compnay of some great directors, but he was the most sensible winner. Not only was his film daring and different, but within it he created and pulled off something that didn’t seem possible a few years ago.

DiCaprio wins for best actor in a comedy which is hilarious as he said, Leo in a comedy, which is all sorts of great. But, really a tough category with Bale being amazing in American Hustle, Phonenix in Her, Isaac underratedly perfect in Inside Llewyn Davis and Bruce Dern supposedly great in Nebraska (which I’m so sad I haven’t seen yet).

American Hustle wins best comedy. Alright, then. It’s not like Her, Inside Llewyn Davis and The Wolf Of Wall Street were nominated against it…

Cate Blanchett winning for Blue Jasmine. Nice choice, even if I’m a Bullock fan myself.

I really love McConaughey winning for “Dallas” even if I think Ejiofor is more deserving. I’ve been in awe of Ejiofor’s performance since I’ve seen it, and think McConaughey would win in any other year, but hey, I guess it’s this year. McConaughey was so great, in his best role of his career, and pretty much turned me back into a fan of his.

Very happy that 12 Years A Slave won, after I thought it was falling by the wayside in awards season. I think Before Midnight is the best film of the year, but it’s too small to get any attention, and thus 12 Years A Slave is my second favourite film, and something that should be rewarded. Lets see if the moment pushed along to the Oscars.

My 12 Favourite TV Shows Of 2013

Enlightened Banner

So, these are my favourite shows of 2013. I’m not really going to call them the “best shows of 2013,” because that’s subjective and my mind is always changing, but these are the ones I enjoyed the most. And, yeah, don’t put too much stock in how I ranked them, because I have no clue, I like them all, and my opinion of them is always shifting and jockeying. In fact, I just thought of a new order to put them in…..

1. Enlightened

A simply beautiful show that masterfully handles comedy and drama better than either full-fledged dramas or comedies can. Elements of short stories and a long form narrative give the show everything it needs to be successful on a plot level. Laura Dern, Mike White, and Luke Wilson among others are perfect in their roles and inhibit areas of sadness that make their characters feel so, so real. I’m crushed it won’t get a third season, but I’m happy with what we got.

2. Breaking Bad

Not as high on it as a lot of people, but I still greatly enjoyed the ride. That’s the keyword, “ride.” I don’t think the show is particularly all that great, or even close to the best show of all time, but it was damn fun, suspenseful and entertaining that actually got me counting down until the next episode aired.

3. The Americans

The best new show of the year, a spy drama in the 80s. Faced under Cold War pre-texts a married Russian spy couple goes undercover in the States. Not only is it a action drama in that sense, but it also gets great depth out of it’s portrayal of a forced together and crumbling marriage and how to deal with these emotions in the face of geo-politics.

4. Orange Is The New Black

Even better than I anticipated after all of the hype. Mainly focalized in a women’s prison, it allowed the show to work through a formed structure and keep the action clicking along under one roof. Very funny and dark, and mixes these two elements perfectly.

5. The Good Wife

Has always been good, but season five has pushed things to a new level. After Alicia and co. have moved on from Lockhart/Gardner they face all sorts of new problems dealing with their own firm, and the fall out from where the once came. The best show on network TV, a procedural, but bucks all preconceived notions that come with that title, keeping it fresh every episode.

6. Hannibal

The most surprising show that not only turned out to be good, but was often great in spots. One of the few shows to have actual imagery that was frightening and rivaling most current horror movies. Hugh Dancy is utterly perfect as Will Graham, a frayed and conflicted Special Agent who gets unraveled to his last piece of yarn. Mads Mikkelsen is equally chilling as Hannibal, driving the suspense to a constant peak. I’m not sure what season two will bring, a lot of shit went down at the end of the first, but I’m just glad we’re getting some more of the show.

7. Justified

Consistently one of the best shows on TV. Olyphant continues to own the role, really like he was born to play it, and just oozes cool at every step. They always tell a compelling, intertwining and smart story with enough action and twists and turns to keep you guessing. The odd stand-alone episode only further cements how great this show is, and how in control of its motives it truly is.

8. Masters Of Sex

Was very unsure and luke-warm to the show at first, but progressively grew on me as the episodes wore on. As the sex studies experiments became more in-depth and real so did the relationships that it accidentally affected and changed for the better or worse. Michael Sheen is great as the withdrawn and calculated Masters, while Lizzy Caplan puts in excellent work as the driven assistant who becomes much more than that.

9. Mad Men

A down year of the show in my eyes, not that it wasn’t any good, but to the standards I hold this show (one of my favourites of all time), it wasn’t what I had hoped.

10. Game Of Thrones

I really like this show, but sometimes it becomes a slog for me becuase I really can’t stand fantasy. That being said, there were some fantastic episodes, of course “The Rains Of Castamere,” and there’s usually always some crazy shit going down or about to go down, with seemingly nobody safe.

11. Treme

I like this show a lot more than most, but I see why others don’t like it. Yeah, it comes off boring and not much plot propulsion, but it really is just about the characters, the city and the atmosphere of these intertwining people and the short stories trying to recover in their own way from disaster.

12. Homeland

Yeah, I was pretty disappointed with season three, and it turned me off of a lot of the show, but goddamn if I still like watching and see what ridiculous well they go to next. It’s an entirely different show from when it started out, and I never really know what they’re going to do next. That’s pretty much it, I look forward to watching the show still, and they continue to somehow keep roping me back in.

65th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards Wrap-Up

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Welp, the Emmys were something that happened last night, and oh, boy, were they terrible. I’m talking like worst I’ve ever seen. Bit after bit fell dead, and even while NPH was his usual charming, affable self, he didn’t do much to elevate the dead material. I usually quite enjoy the opening video or whatever excuse they use to plod out a bunch of celebs and lampoon the hit shows, but that was not to be seen. Instead, we watch NPH binge-watch a bunch of TV, and then the ghosts of Emmy hosting past came out, with Conan O’Brien literally looking like a ghost. We got some NPH dancing finally late, but then they gave over way too much time to the choreography category to give them a bit. Which is fine, I guess, but in the grand scheme of things it echoed a larger problem with the show in time management and allocation of things that ran too long, and stuff that could’ve been easily cut. I thought it was an alright idea to single out some of the bigger deaths of the year and have a close friend talk about them, but then some seemed so disconnected from the show and following a weird ‘60s theme that nobody was aware they were doing. A tribute to the 1960s by Carrie Underwood? Alright. Elton John singing one of his own songs (I think) as a tribute to Liberace, just because his bio-pic was nominated? Alright. There was just some weird, weird decisions that never worked individually or even in any sort of whole. Hey, now, on to the actual awards…

Man, what the hell happened here? There were surprises galore, and people I had written of to having no chance of winning, were walking out of the building with a new trophy. I’m terrible at predicting the Emmys, but even this year was an extra special disaster zone for me. Merritt Wever won, which was like whoa, I love her and all, she’s so, so great, but I never thought anybody would win something for last season of Nurse Jackie. Tony Hale and JLD won for Veep, which is awesome because that show is great, but I didn’t think JLD would actually win her fourth and Tony Hale like whoa. Jim Parsons won and well, yeah, even that wasn’t gonna change this year. Jeff Daniels now has a Emmy for best lead actor in a drama and hahaha, but what exactly is happening here? Now, Daniels is alright in The Newsroom, he’s good for what it is, but doesn’t hold a candle to the mainstays of Cranston, Lewis, Hamm and even Spacey. This pretty much assures that Jon Hamm will be the Steve Carell of the best actor drama category, never winning the awards for something he deserved so many times over. Bobby Cannavale now has an Emmy as well, and I did quite enjoy him on “Boardwalk,” but didn’t think he’d actually win. A well-deserved and yet again surprising win. Anna Gunn won, which I happily called, and now all the top three leads have at least one Emmy, with a fantastic chance to win another one next year. Claire Danes won, and water is also wet. Modern Family of course wasn’t going to get shut out all the way, Steve Levitan sauntered up the stage to deliver his annual acceptance speech for best comedy, and yeah. Best drama, running high off it being the most buzzworthy show now, Breaking Bad took home the title, and I of course thought there was a good chance, but thought a House Of Cards, Mad Men, or even the shaky season of Homeland would still beat it out. It’s going to be very hard to beat Breaking Bad next year, in basically all the dramatic categories, but there’s still a year left, let’s see what shakes out and hopefully we’re left with a better overall show next year. I can dream.