Awards Show Round Up: Tony Awards 2018

Hey, last night were the Tonys! I haven’t been entering as many Broadway lottos recently, so I’d only seen a couple nominees, but it’s always a fun show regardless, though I have some quibbles. (No theater fan needed that Springsteen monologue, but you know what we do want – the BEST PLAYWRIGHT’s speech!!!!)

Anyway, Josh Gorban and Sara Bareilles were super charming, and started the night with a dueling piano performance, which I was pretty into:

And the speeches started out great too. I love Andrew Garfield a lot:

Give Laurie Metcalf every award, always:

Lindsay Mendez is a National Treasure:

Carousel is one of the only things I had seen, and “Blow High, Blow Low,” is a highlight of this production so I was very glad they chose it for their performances:

(Also, Justin Peck is a genius, and I would have liked the opportunity to hear his speech as well. Thanks, CBS!)

It seems like Ari’el Statchel has an interesting life and I would like to read a long form profile of him, if any papers/writers out there are taking requests:

Then this moment happened with the Parkland theater kids and I just sobbed for a long time:

I’m not a filmmaker, but if I were, and she would agree to it (I don’t think she would), I would make a movie about Glenda Jackson’s life. This woman won 2 Oscars (without ever attending the ceremony to accept either) then quit acting to be a member of the British Parliament, then came back and won a Tony. (And get her director’s name wrong):

I actually very much enjoyed Frozen’s performance, because it felt like an old school musical and the score is good and I think I would like it:

Tony Kushner is the best. That’s just a fact:

I kind of can’t believe that this is Tony Shaloub’s first Tony:

Fashion wise it was a pretty standard night, but there were a few looks I loved!

 

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Carey Mulligan in Giambattista Valli (Photo Credit: Getty)

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Laurie Metcalf in Christian Siriano (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

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Lindsay Mendez in Randi Rahm (Photo Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)

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Uzo Aduba in Christina Ottaviano (Photo Credit: Dimitrio Kambouris/Getty Images North America)

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Melissa Benoist in Dior (Photo Credit: Getty, WENN)

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Christine Baranski in Alexandre Vauthier (Photo Credit: Getty)

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Jessie Mueller in Lela Rose (Photo Credit: Getty)

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Hailey Kilgore in Zac Posen (Photo Credit: Getty)

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Mid Afternoon Pick Me Up Playlist

I have a really fun weekend planned (I’m going to see Lizzo and HAIM at Radio City Music Hall tomorrow!) but that combined with our mini-summer temperatures and gray clouds is making it very hard for me to focus on bibliographies right now. Here are some upbeat songs I’m listening to keep my eyes open at the very least.

Truth Hurts – Lizzo 

Crisis Fest – Sunflower Bean

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I saw them play Bowery Ballroom last week and they were really fun, and I still really suck at taking show photos

Homemade Dynamite – Lorde

Alfie’s Song (Not So Typical Love Song) – Bleachers

Finesse (Remix) – Bruno Mars feat. Cardi B

Anna – Harry Styles

(For some reason he left this song off his album, even though it’s super fun and includes a George Michael sample, which you should all know by now makes it automatically my new favorite song.)

California – Grimes

Little of Your Love – HAIM

Let Me Down Easy – Gang of Youths

I was going to apologize for the quality of this video, but it also really captures how fun this song is live.  (Here’s a link to the album version of the song.) Also – I really suck at concert shots:

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Long Live –Taylor Swift

You thought you were getting a Friday playlist with no Taylor? Have we not met?

Best Picture Baking Project: Chicago

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Hey! Remember when I used to do this! It’s been over a year since the last one (which you may recall involved a botched attempt at mixing, cake, alcohol, and fire), but I finally got my act together last night and made some “Frango” mint brownies in honor of Chicago, the first musical to win Best Picture since 1969 when it won in 2003 (none as won since, though for about 3 minutes in 2016, La La Land thought they had…) Anyway, focusing on an actual best picture winner:

Had I seen this one before? 

Yes. As a musical theater middle and high schooler I watched this countless times. But I don’t actually remember when I last saw it. I had a glowing memory of it as a near perfect movie in my head, and…it doesn’t quite live up to that but it is a really fun adaptation that makes Bob Fosse mainstream somehow, which I appreciate.

Top 3 observations on this viewing? 

  1. Despite what my boyfriend referred to as, “a troubling pattern of violence against men,” this song holds up:
    And see Mya there! This movie is full of cameos! Including Dominic West! And Chita Rivera! And Lucy Liu! I’m sure that I was excited about Ms. Liu at the time, but last night I was the most excited to see Chita, since she was in the original broadway cast of Chicago and it’s pretty cool that she was included here.

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2. I remember people talked a lot about Richard Gere was miscast in a musical, because he can’t sing. But Billy Flynn isn’t a hard part to sing, the issue is that he can’t dance/give himself over to the unreality of a musical number. He sounds fine, he just looks so uncomfortable.

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Look at those shoulders! He is so tense

3. Every single character in this movie is a sociopath, except Amos (John C. Reilly). I knew it was about murders, and the beginnings of a vampiric crime press, but I mean seriously these are all the worst humans. Except Amos, bless his dumb little heart. He deserves so much better than these monsters.

What did it beat? Did it deserve to win? 

Gangs of New York – I’ve never seen all of this, I’ve heard good things, and it’s Scorsese…

The Hours – I love this movie, but it is so small and quiet, this nomination feels like its win

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers  – I have attempted to watch this multiple times and fallen asleep each time. (I will eventually see it when I get to Return of the King on this list…I promise).

The Pianist – Ooomph. This one is a gut punch.

So, it was a real grab bag of a year. At the time I was thrilled for Chicago and probably I’d still give it to them today. The Pianist is probably a better film, but Chicago is a more impressive production, which is technically what the Best Picture award is for.

Bechdel Test pass? 

Yes! They may all be horrendous criminals who murder men for revenge or money but they also have names! And they talk about their ambitions and fears and crimes.

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I wanted an old timey Chicago dessert, and all I could think of was Frango mints. I found a recipe for Frango mint fudge. But longtime readers know how fudge tends to go for me. So I adapted this recipe for mint chocolate brownies (mostly by simplifying it) and invented my own version of the classic treat:

Frango Mint Brownies 

Ingredients 

  • 1 box of fudgey brownie mix
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 8 tablespoons of butter softened to almost melted
  • 2 tablespoons of milk
  • 1.5 teaspoons mint extract
  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions 

  • Mix and bake brownies in a 9 by 13 in pan (I baked mine only 28 minutes for more of a cakey texture)
  • While they’re baking/cooling (I popped mine in the freezer) combine powdered sugar, milk, butter, and mint extract in a large bowl using a mixer
  • When brownies are cool, spread mint cream mixture evenly over the top
  • Top with a layer of chocolate chips
  • Place in fridge or freezer to cool/solidify
  • Slice and serve!

 

 

 

And the Nominees Are 2018: Round 4

All the nominations are out! You can see my reactions to today’s Oscar noms on Twitter. (They are generally positive!) But I haven’t done an update of what I’ve seen in awhile. I still have a couple of big nominees to see, and a lot of documentary and foreign films to catch up with, but I’m excited that the BAFTAs give me an opportunity to share a few other favorites!

Lady Macbeth

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I really thought I had written notes about this after I saw it. (This will be an unfortunate theme.) But other than my poem (link below) I don’t seem to have recorded my response to this anywhere. Which may have been a problem, except for certain images of this are burned into my memory.

It’s not a Shakespeare adaptation, but Florence Pugh‘s protagonist has the bard’s twisted lady’s cold power (and misguided passion) and she conveys more with a lifted corner of a lip than many actresses do with a monologue. This is a thriller not for the faint of heart. (I honestly don’t know if I would have gone if someone had told me the whole plot.) But it, like Mudbound actually now that I think about it, does a great job of exploring the ways that various forms of oppression and power intersect, magnify, and counteract each other, often with violent, heartbreaking consequences.

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You can read my poem about this film, here.

God’s Own Country

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I somehow forgot to write notes about this beautiful film after seeing it this fall. Which is a shame, because I remember being overcome with its beauty and humanity. It’s a quiet, lovely story about an isolated, fuck up of a farmer (Josh O’ Connor), meets and falls for the soft spoken migrant worker he hires to help with the lambing (Alec Secareanu).

The plot synopsis could make it sound like a romance novel, but in the hands of writer director Francis Lee, its a nuanced portrait of a young man coming to terms with the fact that he may not be as stuck as thinks (and therefore he has to take some responsibility for his actions.) It’s also a beautifully shot portrait of a life connected to the land of northern England, something that is disappearing in our modern age. (The farm it was filmed on had been converted to a housing development before the movie was released in the states.) But more than any of those philosophical things it’s a love story and it’s a good one and you should watch it.

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You can read my poem about this film, here.

Phantom Thread

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I went into this knowing that the folks at the Next Picture Show were planning to pair it with Hichcock’s Rebecca and so I spent a lot of the movie making connections between these two stories, and they aren’t hard to find. This is a moody, tense story of a relationship between a quiet young woman (the new-to-me but luminous Vicky Krieps) and a persnickety, yet glamorous older man (the always fantastically compelling Daniel Day-Lewis). There’s even a steely, Mrs. Danvers character in the form of his sister, Cecil (the creepily stoic Lesley Manville).

But, this movie also has its own, unique strange beauty. Although the relationship machinations are often excruciatingly awkward, the world they take place in, a post World War II London fashion house, is sumptuous and captured beautifully by Paul Thomas Anderson. (Of course, because he is a genius.)

My boyfriend called this an “emotional horror movie,” complete with jump scares and almost unbearable tension. He found it much harder to watch than I did, but the description is apt. But I mean that as a compliment, not a moment of screen time is wasted and while their actions get increasingly crazy as time progresses they never fall into cliché.

Also, the score, by Johnny Greenwood, is a fantastic indicator of mood and motion. It may be my favorite soundtrack of the year. (And I’ve already added two other film scores to my phone this year, which I never do.)

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You can read my poem about this film, here,

yI, Tonya

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Well, this one is wild. Its jarring tone could definitely be off-putting, but I loved it’s freewheeling, winking style. Tonya Harding’s story is so strange that is a screenwriter invented it, we wouldn’t buy it. But Steven Rogers gets around that by acknowledging the purely subjective and “wildly contradictory” accounts of those involved in the infamous case.

The performances are all fantastic. Allison Janney and Margot Robbie of course, but my favorite may have been Sebastian Stan as Jeff Gillooly. He best embodies the film’s quick careening from campy fun to chilling violence. He was a revelation for me.

Also, the skating scenes are great, and the soundtrack is outstanding.

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You can read my poem about this film, here.

All the Money In the World

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Michelle Williams is a marvel. She kept me interested in this mess of a movie, even as it went past the 2 hour a mark. To be fair, Christopher Plummer‘s last minute step-in is also a great turn, but this is really Williams’s movie and I’m here for that. (As for Mr. Wahlberg, I’ve liked him other things, but here he could be replaced by a cardboard-cut-out here and be equally compelling.)

I didn’t know much about the Gettys before this and their particular brand of conspicuous consumption and dysfunction is depressingly interesting, but I feel like Ridley Scott never decided exactly what he wanted the tone of this to be, so it felt a bit muddled.

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You can read my poem about this film, here.

The Greatest Showman

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I was baffled by the gulf between the ridiculing critical response to this and the incredibly enthusiastic audience reaction. Well, after seeing it last night, I think I understand, but am now slightly baffled by the film itself. This is a good old-fashioned movie musical. It’s bright and shiny and filed with large production numbers.

Hugh Jackman is as charming and magnetic as always. Michelle Williams, though underutilized as an actress here, is luminously beautiful and can sing! The assembled “human oddities” Jackman’s P.T. Barnum collects are all talented. The duet between Zendaya and Zac Efron is genuinely moving.

But…um…I have about a million questions.

  • Why didn’t they use the score of the already written, Tony- winning musical about P.T. Barnum?
  • If this was set in the 1800s why are they dancing like they are in a Michael Jackson video? Or an old-timey installment of High School Musical? 
  • What are Michelle Williams and Rebecca Ferguson doing here? Give them something to do or don’t waste their time.
  • Is it wishful, revisionist history to look at Barnum’s “freak shows” as spaces of empowerment for the marginalized? I’d like to read actual scholarship on this if anyone knows of any.
  • But like, again, they could have had this song:

 

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You can read my poem about this film, here.

5 More Songs from Julia (and a couple from me)

I don’t know if Julia thought she was starting a series for my blog when she started texting me random song recs, but apparently she was. What can I say, she has good taste in music, and I’ve mostly been listening to Reputation on repeat lately. Oh and this:

Anyway here are her newest picks:

Pretend You’re Missing Me – Betty Who

Lake Tahoe – Jaws of Love

New Rules – Dua Lipa

Sit Next to Me – Foster the People

Borrowed Lives – Pierce Fulton feat. NVDES

Also, this video of two Broadway greats singing T. Swift exists, so Merry Christmas:

5 Songs from Julia

Hello every one! I know I’ve been a negligent blogger this year. But Critic’s Choice nominations come out tomorrow so awards season posts will ramp up very soon!

In the meantime, here is a mini-playlist frequent-adventure-costar Julia sent me in a text last week:

One Foot – Walk the Moon

Surround Me – LÉON 

So I Met Someone –  VHS Collection 

Love You Like That – Dagny

Desire Lines – Deerhunter 

(This one we both discovered through watching Busy Phillips’s Instagram story, which I cannot recommend highly enough. As I said to Jules a few weeks ago, she’s the best virtual friend to have.)

Also bonus – Julia and I may try to learn the HAIM girl walking based choreography at some point, all are welcome to audition for the role of third fake sister.

Thanks for the free blog content Jules! Here’s a picture of us when it was warm out and we were in the same city:

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Happy Friday Music

Although a gray cloud has descended over Astoria this afternoon, I have a lot of fun plans this weekend, and thought I would post a soundtrack to start your weekend off on fun foot. (Full disclosure, a lot of these songs come from the TBTL Song of the Summer contest.)

Praying – Kesha

OK, so this may not be the most “fun” foot to start on, but this video of fans reacting to her high note is…

Sinking – Super Defense

In & Out – Beth Ditto 

Want You Back– HAIM

Bambi– Jidenna

Sweet Creature– Harry Styles

Also, just to follow up from last post, yes he can act. And you should see Dunkirk. (I’m sure I’ll be blogging more about this around awards season…)

Spirit– Belle Game

Dirty Work– Steely Dan

I was including this as a tribute to Walter Becker (who recently passed away), but the fact that the second video to pop up on a YouTube search is an American Hustle clip reel is pretty great.

Hey Now – The Regrettes

Long Weekend Music

I’ve got a fun long weekend planned for myself, including 2 NYC theater adventures, and quick solo trip to Washington DC. So, expect a full post on Tuesday (or Wednesday depending on how tired/buried in emails I am…)

But for now, here’s some music I’ll be listening to on the Megabus:

Most Girls – Hailee Steinfeld

Note to dudes, “You’re not like other girls,” isn’t a great compliment. I like most other girls. If you’re trying to say I’m special to you, just say that.

Gonna Get Along Without You Now – She & Him

I Would Die 4 U – Prince & the Revolution

Although I’m obviously sad about the reason, I am excited that Prince’s catalog is finally available online/streaming.

You & I – Ingrid Michaelson

Kiwi – Harry Styles

Because I am really enjoying all the boys’ post One Direction moment right now. (Except Zayn, because I’ve never liked him…) And I really can’t wait to see how Harry is in Dunkirk.

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Dime Store Cowgirl – Kacey Musgraves

Liability – Lorde

Feel It Still– Portugal the Man

Shine On Me – George Auerbach

Is this basically a rip off of George Harrison’s “Got My Mind Set On You?” – Yes. But that’s a damn good song, and so is this, so who cares.

Woman – Kesha feat. The Dap Kings horns

I could write a whole post about how excited I am that Kesha is back, and I cannot wait for this full album, but for today I’ll just say that this song is my summer anthem. (Though it’s not safe for work FYI…)

 

Award Show Round Up: Tonys 2017

Is it just me, or was last night’s Tony’s telecast sort of underwhelming? I mean, don’t get me wrong, an underwhelming Tony’s is still one of my favorite nights of the year, but still. Maybe it’s just hard to follow the Hamiltonys, but also, Kevin Spacey didn’t ever really seem very comfortable up there. Maybe having the running joke of the evening be “why is he hosting?” without ever really giving an answer to that question wasn’t the best strategy. (An answer other than a string of 90s-era impressions I mean.)

But enough snark, here were my favorite moments of the night:

I haven’t seen Oslo, or had any real desire to really, but I liked that this was the first speech of the night:

I also have zero desire to see Hello, Dolly! (Sorry, but it’s just not actually a good play, you won’t convince me that it is. You certainly won’t convince me by having David Hyde Pierce sing a song that was clearly originally cut for a reason.) But…I have loved Gavin Creel for a very long time (once he hugged me on stage at the end of Hair and it was thrilling:

(And I love that Sutton presented his Tony!)

But I would have given the Tony to Andrew Rannells for Falsettos, I loved their performance (it’s a hard show to excerpt from), but I am so excited it’s going to be broadcast. You should all go see it, even if you didn’t love this clip, because the show as a whole is a masterpiece.

Anyone who happens to have an extra ticket to Dear Evan Hansen I am an excellent theater date:

It’s pretty gross that James Earl Jones’s Lifetime Achievement Award was relegated to the commercial break. Especially to make time for what, an extended Bill Clinton joke that seemed to be aimed pretty squarely at being mean to Hillary? (Sorry guys, the more I think about last night, the more I realize I may hate Kevin Spacey.)

Kevin Kline will always make me happy:

Also, in shows I need to see:

Do I know anyone who has seen Bandstand is this the only good number or something? I keep hearing it’s not good, but this looks very good! I need opinions:

Before I get to dresses one last snarky question, does Kevin Spacey know he’s not actually Bobby Darin? (Though I do love Patti of course.)

Now, fashion!

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Rachel Bay Jones in Christian Siriano (Photo Credit: Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)

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Olivia Wilde in Michael Kors Collection (Photo Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)

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Laura Linney in Derek Lam (Photo Credit: CNN)

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Cynthia Erivo in Chris Gelinas (Photo Credit: Jemal Countess)

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Sarah Paulson in Rodarte (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

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Alison Janney in Cristina Ottaviano (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

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Laurie Metcalf in Christian Siriano (Photo Credit: Evan Agostini/Invision, via Associated Press)

Coming Clean about Purple Rain*

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Can anyone in this movie act? — No.

Is the dialogue straight up awful? — Yes.

Are the sexual politics at best questionable? — Well, there’s a scene where a woman is literally thrown in a dumpster for daring to ask something of a man…so, yeah. (It is done by the villain, but it’s played for laughs, so…)

Is it still, somehow, a masterpiece? Absolutely.

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I’ve been trying to piece together why this movie is so magical since the minute I walked out of a free screening at the Brooklyn Bazaar Wednesday night. It’s obviously a lot to do with the music, and I’ll always be thankful for the experience of singing along to “Purple Rain” with a ballroom filled with tipsy strangers. But, that can’t be all of it, because then I would just want this to be a concert film, and that’s not how I feel at all.

It may be that for all its soppy melodrama, and petrified-wooded performances, the film does have a unique and striking (if a bit dated) visual style. The lighting design and cinematography (by Donald E. Thorin) do a lot to elevate the action.

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But, lets be real, the magic here is Prince himself. Not just in his musical performances (though goddamn), but as a presence onscreen. That mad had a two hour face, and the ability to simultaneously be winking at the audience and be completely vulnerable and in the moment. Sure, the world of this movie is absurd, but his emotion was real and so its easy to get swept up with him for the ride.

 

*This series used to be called “Classics from the Queue, but no one has a Netflix Queue anymore, and that title never really got across this idea that these were movie I had lied about seeing so these posts will now be called “Coming Clean” reviews.