Whenever SNL breaks out the “guest host answers audience questions” template for the opening monologue, it feels like a sign that the writers waited until the last possible moment to write this bit and couldn’t come up with anything better. And yet, when they use this formula for Chris Hemsworth, it works for one reason and one reason alone: their guest host has a couple of famous (and not-so-famous) brothers who can join him on stage.
Fox’s new series Empire is huge. Like, insanely, impossibly, jaw-droppingly huge. In an age where ratings are steadily declining across the board as audiences cut cables and enter the brave new world of streaming, it’s a phenomenon. And like all phenomenons, it has to get targeted by SNL. In the most recent digital short, Empire is re-imagined with a brand new character: Chip the office manager, played by guest host Chris Hemsworth.
The internet will never stop arguing about when it is okay to show films with explicit content to children. But, there is one thing that we’re pretty sure everyone can agree on: showing the violent and disturbing The ABCs of Death to five classes of unsuspecting students is an act of irresponsible idiocy on just about every conceivable level. Columbus, Ohio substitute teacher Sheila Kearns was rightfully let go from her job back in 2013 when she screened the film for her substitute Spanish classes, but the courts have handed down an additional punishment: 90 days in jail.
After six years, one of the Oscars’ boldest (and most desperate) experiments may be coming to an end. In 2009, the Academy Awards changed its rules to allow up to 10 films to receive Best Picture nominations. The thought process was simple enough: with double the potential nominees, more mainstream fare could get nominated and ratings for the annual Oscars telecast would increase. But that didn’t work. This year’s ceremony was a disaster (in more ways than one) and the Academy is apparently ready to call this whole thing off and return to the old ways.
Even when it’s at its best, modern SNL is rarely shocking. Funny, strange, silly and clever, sure. But shocking? Nah. The show doesn’t seem to set out to offend every week. So when the show broke out a fake commercial that depicted 50 Shades of Grey star and guest host Dakota Johnson joining the radical terrorist group ISIS, jaws rightfully hit the ground. Who approved this? And could they start approving more sketches?
With Dakota Johnson guest hosting, last night’s SNL had no shortage of 50 Shades of Grey jokes. For her part, Johnson seemed equally bemused and embarrassed by her controversial new hit, rolling with whatever the show threw at her and always coming out looking far better than her naysayers expected. Her ability to make fun of herself and the film that has turned her into an overnight movie star really came together in the only sketch of the night that required her to play herself.
Modern SNL has one of the strongest female line-ups in the show’s history, so it’s always a pleasure when the writers give this group of extremely funny ladies a chance to shine together. This sketch is a weird one because it feels like such an odd and specific concept that must have been a real pain in the butt to pitch in the writer’s room, but the execution is simply sublime: a group of women start being brutally honest with the people in their lives and immediately celebrate to the impossibly catchy sounds of Sara Bareilles’ “Brave.”
As the kids of the ‘80s and early ‘90s are dragged kicking and screaming into middle age, their nostalgia for the things they enjoyed in childhood has only grown stronger. And Hollywood has responded in kind, taking those childhood obsessions and transforming them into movies that are specifically crafted to appeal to adults with fond memories instead of kids. That’s why director Joseph Kahn’s new grim ‘n gritty Power Rangers short film is brilliant and unsettling in equal measure. On one hand, it’s exquisitely made and just tongue-in-cheek enough. On the other, it’s exactly the kind of movie that we’re worried will actually get made in the next few years.
Last year, John Travolta took the Oscar stage to introduce Idina Menzel so she could perform “Let It Go” from Frozen. What should have been a very simple, teleprompter-aided introduction quickly became a Big Deal when Travolta stumbled over his words. Instead of “Idina Menzel,” Travolta said “Adele Dazeem.” An internet meme was born and everyone added another great John Travolta joke to their repertoire. The 2015 Oscars decided to revisit that memorable flub and the results were weird, awkward, and yeah, pretty funny.
For many viewers, the Oscars are are chance to snark and make fun of everything that happens on stage (and can you blame ‘em?). But then the “In Memoriam” segment comes around and reduces even the most cynical person to puddle of bubbling tears. The 2015 Oscars “In Memoriam” is no different, offering a whirlwind tour through a year’s worth of beloved people who passed away. Get ready ... it’s about to get a little dusty in here.
The Oscars may not carry the same amount of commercial clout as the Super Bowl, but it still offers advertisers an opportunity to appeal to a very specific audience. In this case, it’s Apple and legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese teaming up to sell the cinematic potential of the iPad. And yes, this commercial wants to tug on your heartstrings.
Every single film production hits snags and runs into problems. Some are just a little more public than others. Now, the troubles facing the upcoming Mission: Impossible 5 have become public and they certainly sound bad on paper: Production has been temporarily shut down while director Christopher McQuarrie rushes to fix what is apparently an “unsatisfactory” ending. That’s an ominous sign for a movie that recently had its release date pushed up from December to July.
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