Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Pilot Review: Little America

Check out my one-minute take on every new pilot, which is embedded below and you can also watch by subscribing to movieswithabe on YouTube.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Pilot Review: Diary of a Future President

Check out my one-minute take on every new pilot, which is embedded below and you can also watch by subscribing to movieswithabe on YouTube.

What I’m Watching: The Good Place

The Good Place: Season 4, Episode 11 “Mondays, Am I Right?” (B+)

This show is almost completely done at this point, and I’m so glad to see a half-hour that was quite as productive as this one, working hard to develop the system that’s now going to be used to determine where humans are headed once they die. I was especially pleased to see a familiar face like Vicky, first introduced as the real Eleanor, who had time to take a break from ice cold yoga to demonstrate her flair for the dramatic and desire to be in charge of the new order of things. Tiya Sircar has always been one of the most underappreciated recurring players on this show, and I’m glad that she was given this formidable and purposeful sendoff. Michael didn’t seem to want to relinquish control, but I imagine that he knew exactly what he was doing all along. Tahani has grown enough as a person to realize that Vicky was just baiting her by pretending to be her sister, and I liked how she was immediately impressed by that angle of attack. It’s not entirely clear why Jason was hanging around with Chidi and Eleanor as they were trying to do actual important work, but he provided some almost entirely decent advice to Chidi that helped him realize the approach he needed to accept that Eleanor did in fact want to be with him. Eleanor’s preoccupation with trying to discover which presidents were secretly gay was an entertaining throwback to her less inspired self, which is part of what made her transformation as a character all the more completely watchable. The notion that they were automatically approved to go to the good place is appealing, and I’m so curious to see what the final two installments have in store.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Pilot Review: 68 Whiskey

Check out my one-minute take on every new pilot, which is embedded below and you can also watch by subscribing to movieswithabe on YouTube.

What I’m Watching: This Is Us

This Is Us: Season 4, Episode 10 “Light and Shadows” (B+)

This was a strong midseason premiere, picking up from the surprising revelations of the finale without jumping too far ahead on all of them. Kevin turning to a matchmaker didn’t go too well, highlighted by his date with a woman who was very clearly and unapologetically racist, and of course he’d go and spot an attractive woman who would then become the sole focus of his attention for the entirety of the day. Sophia Bush from “One Tree Hill” and “Chicago PD” was Lizzy, the woman who was absolutely perfect until she revealed that he was her celebrity hall pass and that she was married. It was quite the day that he threw for her, complete with a John Legend performance. That call from Sophie that he missed just as he was going on set likely has implications that will lead to the events we saw in the finale. Randall was indeed very pushy with getting his mother some help, and he clashed with Miguel when he came on too strong and asserted that he was doing the right thing. The results aren’t great, but we still haven’t seen what leads to a total blockade of communication with Randall. That final scene with an intruder is disconcerting, and I’m not sure what to make of it. It’s good that Toby didn’t have an affair, but his need to escape his son’s blindness is going to drive a serious wedge between him and Kate. Back in the past, it was interesting to see Jack actually break up with Rebecca, only to have her show up after being encouraged by her mother not to let a man she loved slip away from her.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

SAG Winner Predictions: Best Ensemble in a Comedy Series

The competition: Barry, Fleabag, The Kominsky Method, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Schitt’s Creek

For your information: Three of last year’s nominees are back. “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” which has three performers – Rachel Brosnahan, Alex Borstein, and Tony Shalhoub – nominated, is here for its third season, after winning this award on its first try last year. “Barry” and “The Kominsky Method” return for their second consecutive nominations with one and two actors nominated individually, respectively. “Schitt’s Creek” is in the running for the first time for its fifth season, with actress Catherine O’Hara nominated. “Fleabag,” which won the Emmy, Golden Globe, and Critics’ Choice Award, has two stars, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Andrew Scott, nominated.

Who should win? I mostly enjoyed what I saw of “Schitt’s Creek,” but it certainly wouldn’t be my choice. I don’t know that the whole ensemble of “The Kominsky Method” deserves the same praise as its stars, while “Barry” is a solid choice even if it doesn’t immediately come to mind. Between “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and “Fleabag,” I’m torn.
Who will win? It’s possible “Fleabag” wins here too, or “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” repeats, but I’m betting on Schitt’s Creek.

SAG Winner Predictions: Best Ensemble in a Drama Series

The competition: Big Little Lies, The Crown, Game of Thrones, The Handmaid’s Tale, Stranger Things

For your information: Only one of last year’s nominees, “The Handmaid’s Tale,” is back for a second bid. Only two-time winner “This Is Us” was also eligible and snubbed. Three shows that were previously nominated are back after a season off. This is the seventh nomination for “Game of Thrones” and the third for “The Crown.” It’s also the third for “Stranger Things,” which won in 2016. “Big Little Lies” competed as a limited series in 2017, so it wasn’t eligible then. It’s the only show with no individual acting nominations, though “CSI” did win this prize in 2004 with no performers singled out. “The Crown” has two, while all the others have one. “The Morning Show,” which has three solo bids, isn’t represented here. “Game of Thrones” won the Emmy, while “Succession,” which won the Globe and Critics Choice Award, isn’t nominated.

Who should win? This is a fantastic list. I liked “Big Little Lies” season two better than the first, and the cast was definitely strong. While “Game of Thrones” and “The Handmaid’s Tale” continue to be superb, I’d pick either “The Crown” or “Stranger Things” for an absolutely stunning assemblage of talent.
Who will win? I think Game of Thrones finally wins, unless “The Crown” can take it down.

SAG Winner Predictions: Best Female Actor in a Miniseries or Made-for-TV Movie

The competition: Patricia Arquette’s manipulative mother (The Act), Toni Collette’s determined detective (Unbelievable), Joey King’s sick child (The Act), Emily Watson’s nuclear physicist (Chernobyl), and Michelle Williams’ committed dancer (Fosse/Verdon).

For your information: Arquette won this award last year for “Escape at Dannemora” and in 2014 for her supporting role in “Boyhood,” and had three individual bids for the TV series “Medium.” Collette was nominated in 2009 for “The United States of Tara” and won as part of the “Little Miss Sunshine” cast in 2006. Watson was nominated in 1998 for “Hilary and Jackie” and in 2011 for “Appropriate Adult,” and won as part of the “Gosford Park” cast in 2001. Williams was nominated in 2005 for “Brokeback Mountain,” in 2011 for “My Week with Marilyn,” and in 2016 for “Manchester by the Sea.” This is King’s first nomination. Multiple actresses from one project have been nominated in the past, and often, one of them wins. Arquette won the Emmy and the Globe, Collette won the Critics’ Choice Award, and Williams, in the lead race, won all three.

Who should win? The only performance I watched in its entirety was Collette’s, and I’d love to see her win.
Who will win? Though Arquette is strong, she’s competing with someone else from her project, so Williams should be a safe choice.

Friday, January 17, 2020

SAG Winner Predictions: Best Male Actor in a Miniseries or Made-for-TV Movie

The competition: Mahershala Ali’s determined investigator (True Detective), Russell Crowe’s controlling executive (The Loudest Voice), Jared Harris’ Soviet scientist (Chernobyl), Jharrel Jerome’s wrongfully imprisoned defendant (When They See Us), and Sam Rockwell’s fervent director (Fosse/Verdon).

For your information: Ali and Rockwell have won the film award for supporting actor the past three years, for “Moonlight” and “Green Book,” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” respectively. Each also took home an ensemble prize for their film work. Rockwell contends this year as part of the “Jojo Rabbit” ensemble. Crowe won in 2001 for “A Beautiful Mind” and received four other individual nominations and six ensemble bids. Harris won in 2009 as part of the “Mad Men” ensemble. Jerome was previously nominated with Ali as part of the “Moonlight” cast. Jerome won the Emmy and the Critics’ Choice Award, and Crowe won the Globe.

Who should win? I only watched all of Crowe and Jerome’s work, and they’re both so fantastic in different ways.

Who will win? I’ll pick Crowe over Jerome, though it could be either of them or even Harris.

SAG Winner Predictions: Best Female Actor in a Comedy Series

The competition: Christina Applegate’s angry widow (Dead to Me), Alex Borstein’s sarcastic manager (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), Rachel Brosnahan’s budding comic (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), Catherine O’Hara’s eccentric actress (Schitt’s Creek), and Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s excitable cafĂ© owner (Fleabag).

For your information: Only two nominees are back from last year despite them all being eligible: defending champion Brosnahan and her costar Borstein. They both shared in the ensemble prize last year. Borstein took home a Critics’ Choice Award for the third season of her show. Applegate was nominated three times in a row in this category for “Samantha Who?” a decade ago. O’Hara was nominated in 2010 for “Temple Grandin.” This is the first nomination for Waller-Bridge, who won the Emmy, Globe, and Critics’ Choice Award. All but Applegate are also nominated as part of their ensembles. Out of nine times that two women from the same show have contended for this prize, only last year resulted in a win.

Who should win? I’m a big fan of this list even if my enthusiasm for O’Hara is less strong than most I know. Honestly, I’d be happy with any of the other four winning, though it’s the last hurrah for Waller-Bridge, who really was excellent.

Who will win? I’m tempted to predict Brosnahan to repeat but Waller-Bridge feels like a lock.

SAG Winner Predictions: Best Male Actor in a Comedy Series

The competition: Alan Arkin’s grieving agent (The Kominsky Method), Michael Douglas’ aging acting teacher (The Kominsky Method), Bill Hader’s hitman-turned-actor (Barry), Andrew Scott’s foul-mouthed priest (Fleabag), and Tony Shalhoub’s obsessive husband (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel).

For your information: Last year brought five new nominees, and now we have only one, in the form of Scott, who earns his first bid. Shalhoub, who was last year’s winner, was nominated seven times in 2002 and 2009 for “Monk,” winning twice. Arkin has two individual film nominations, for “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Argo,” and won as part of both ensembles. Douglas won both of his previous bids, an ensemble prize for the film “Traffic” and in 2013 for his starring role in the TV movie “Behind the Candelabra.” Hader, who won the Critics’ Choice Award and two consecutive Emmys, was nominated for the first time last year. The Golden Globe winner, Ramy Youssef, isn’t nominated. All five men contend as part of their ensembles. Of the eight times that two men from the same show were nominated and the one time three were, not one of them resulted in a win.

Who should win? I like all these a lot. Hader is very strong, and both Douglas and Arkin have superb comic timing. Shalhoub is fantastic as always, but I’d love to see Scott win for a truly terrific turn.

Who will win? I’m sure many would like to see Scott win as I would, and Hader might have a shot without his costar nominated this year, but I think Shalhoub will repeat.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

SAG Winner Predictions: Best Female Actor in a Drama Series

The competition: Jennifer Aniston’s morning show host (The Morning Show), Helena Bonham Carter’s reluctant princess (The Crown), Olivia Colman’s steadfast monarch (The Crown), Jodie Comer’s maniacal assassin (Killing Eve), and Elisabeth Moss’ rebellious handmaid (The Handmaid’s Tale).

For your information: Like the best actor race, this category includes just one nominee from last year, and unlike that category, the other four are here for the first times for these performances. Absent are last year’s winner in this race, Sandra Oh, and the Critics’ Choice Award winner, Regina King. Moss earns her third consecutive bid, adding to her career total that also includes two bids for “Mad Men” and one for “Top of the Lake.” Though she has won three Golden Globes, including one this year, and the Oscar last year, Colman has yet to win a SAG Award, contending last year for “The Favourite.” She is also nominated as part of the “Fleabag” ensemble. Aniston was nominated twice for “Friends,” won once as part of its cast, and was nominated in 2014 for her role in “Cake.” Bonham Carter was nominated in 1997 for “The Wings of the Dove” and in 2010 for “The King’s Speech,” for which she won as part of the ensemble, and also contended in 2013 for “Burton and Taylor.” This is the first bid for Comer, who won the Emmy this past year. Two nominees from the same show in this category aren’t uncommon, and, on a few occasions, one of them triumphs. Carter, Colman, and Moss are also nominated as part of their ensembles.

Who should win? This is a superb list. I’m not sure Aniston should be considered with these others, but she is good on her show. Moss is terrific as usual, and I really love Comer. I’d probably pick Bonham Carter or Colman but it’s hard to pick.

Who will win? I’d be surprised if this didn’t go to Golden Globe winner Colman.

SAG Winner Predictions: Best Male Actor in a Drama Series

The competition: Sterling K. Brown’s loyal father and brother (This Is Us), Steve Carell’s disgraced broadcaster (The Morning Show), Billy Crudup’s creative executive (The Morning Show), Peter Dinklage’s intellectual advisor (Game of Thrones), and David Harbour’s high-strung cop (Stranger Things).

For your information: This category doesn’t include the most recent Emmy winner, Billy Porter, the most recent Golden Globe winner, Brian Cox, the most recent Critics’ Choice Award winner, Jeremy Strong, or last year’s SAG winner, Jason Bateman – though he’s the only one who wasn’t eligible. It does feature three past nominees from this field. Brown was nominated last year, won the year before, and was also a contender three years ago for his role in “American Crime Story: The People vs. OJ Simpson.” Both Dinklage and Harbour were nominated two years ago when their shows were last eligible. Four-time Emmy winner Dinklage contended five years in a row for this role, was previously nominated for his film performance in “The Station Agent” in 2003, and won as part of the “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” ensemble cast in 2017. Harbour’s first and only solo bid was in 2017, when he also won as part of the show’s ensemble. Carell contended six times for “The Office,” won twice as part of that ensemble, was nominated for film performances in “Foxcatcher” in 2014 and “Battle of the Sexes” in 2017, and won as part of the “Little Miss Sunshine” ensemble in 2006. Crudup was previously nominated as a member of the “Almost Famous” cast in 2000 and won as part of the “Spotlight” ensemble in 2015. He won a Critics’ Choice Award for this role. This is the first time that four out of five nominees are supporting players on their shows. Only one supporting actor has ever won this award, and that was John Lithgow in 2016 for “The Crown.” From 2010 to 2015, this category saw three back-to-back winners. Two nominees from one show is very common, though only twice in the early years of the SAG Awards has one of them won. Only Dinklage and Harbour are nominated this year as part of their ensembles.

Who should win? I watch all of these! I like these choices a lot. Brown is just as good as he’s ever been. Both Carell and Harbour are great. Dinklage is fantastic as always. My choice would actually be Crudup, who’s such a formidable part of his show.

Who will win? This could go to Brown again, but I think Dinklage gets rewarded for years of standout work.

What I’m Watching: Legends of Tomorrow (Season Premiere)

Legends of Tomorrow: Season 5, Episode 1 “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Five” (B+)

Now this was a cool finale to this mega-crossover. I had to do a bit of reading after I watched so that I could fully comprehend what was going on, and also to note that many references to other DC projects and characters that I might have missed. It was a pretty startling and awesome opening, with Kara waking up and Alex acting like everything was normal, save for the fact that Lex Luthor was not only her boss but also receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. That’s a fascinating reframe in its own, since it means that this show will continue to exist in a world totally different from the one that we know, with all the same characters and similar relationships between most of them. The bigger head trip is that the multiverses we know have now turned into just one earth, which apparently has more to do with the fact that these shows first existed in different realities because they were developed for different networks. I’d hope this means more future collaborations, but I’m not sure that’s the case since contracts are still contracts and these actors won’t necessarily show up too much more even if they’re often together. I am curious to see how it impacts all five shows, with “Black Lightning,” a series I don’t watch, also potentially influenced. Superman and Lois also apparently have kids, something that’s sure to be a major plot point on their forthcoming new series. Hank’s ability to refresh the memories of those from this new unified earth is awfully convenient, though that’s only going to help those on the show he regularly frequents. I liked that this episode was legends-focused, with Mick autographing books as Rebecca and a giant Beebo attacking. This was a satisfying and transformative crossover in the end, and I’m eager to greet most of its involved shows with a renewed sense of purpose and hopefully quality.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

What I’m Watching: Arrow

Arrow: Season 8, Episode 8 “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Four” (B+)

There’s certainly no arguing the intensity of the first installment of this crossover in the new year, and though so little of it still makes sense to me, I’d say I enjoyed it. I liked that it opened with the Monitor before he had that role, eagerly traveling through time with his wife as the Monitor before he accidentally unleashed whatever energy it was that created the Anti-Monitor, who seems hell-bent on destroying everything he possibly can. Understandably, this hour was very Oliver-centric, in part because it’s the third-to-last episode this show will produce. I plan to check in for the penultimate one since it’s meant as a backdoor pilot for a potential spinoff, just the latest one to be announced after Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch got their own show borne of crossovers like this with “Superman and Lois.” But back to trying to save the entire universe and all that, it was definitely irritating in an appropriate way to have Lex modify himself so that he could double-cross Supergirl and try to achieve universal domination, but at least he made himself the paragon of truth, which was helpful when they all had to band together to focus their single energy on defeating the Anti-Monitor. It doesn’t look good for Oliver, which isn’t a problem given that his show is ending, but I also suspect that rebuilding everything won’t be quite so easy. Having Barry return to so many different points in their past before they knew each other was interesting, and hopefully it will be just as powerful to see him work to put things back together, especially since he was never supposed to return to his earth. I haven’t seen any of the films with him in it, but I recognized actor Ezra Miller’s voice as another Barry who was very confused about what was happening.