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.
When it was revealed that director Paul Feig was going to reboot Ghostbusters with an all-female cast, the general assumption was that Ghostbusters 3 was dead and buried. Gone forever. Kaput. Never to be mentioned again. But, Dan Aykroyd never got that memo. Aykroyd, who co-wrote and starred in the original films, has spent years talking up Ghostbusters 3 and he’s not going to let silly little things like an actual, official, studio-sanctioned remake with a cast and release date get in the way.
After years of false starts and delays, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales finally began filming in Australia yesterday. And that’s not a moment too soon for the franchise’s star, Johnny Depp, who hasn’t headlined a hit since 2011’s Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. So, this brings up two important questions. First, will a fifth Captain Jack Sparrow adventure resuscitate Depp in a post-Mortdecai world? Secondly, can new directors Espen Sandberg and Joachim Rønning inject new life into a series that ran out of steam two movies ago?
In between all of the tributes and montages and musical performances, the SNL 40th Anniversary Special actually found time for some original content. Right after a montage celebrating the short films that have been featured on the show over the years, Zach Galifianakis took to the stage to introduce a new digital short from Andy Samberg and Adam Sandler. Unlike most of Samberg’s original shorts, which usually traded in genial silliness, this one looked inward and examined a subject that everyone who has ever been on the show should be familiar with: breaking character.
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