Wait, it’s 2015?? But that’s the year Back to the Future 2 features flying skateboards! Here are the songs I’ve been enjoying since 2015 began – some overlapping 2014 just a bit. Here’s hoping this year gives us more weird mega-pop like Sia, under-the-radar folk like First Aid Kit, and irresistible fabulousity like Stromae. And maybe less blinkered tackiness pretending to be “Fancy.” (Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars are a decent start, wouldn’t you agree?)
Raf Rundell and Joe Goddard’s boldly bizarre second album folds time and space; you can travel from the streets of South Africa to 1970s London clubs and back again while listening. This is their most straight-up pop song and I can’t stop gyrating.
All right here’s the thing I took a melatonin pill about eight minutes ago so I have until that sucker kicks in to scrawl down some thoughts on this year’s Oscars. I’m telling you right now, this shit’s not gonna be perfect. Honesty and authority: those are the values guiding my 2015 resolutions. So in the spirit of practicing honesty and authority, I’m going to describe who would win which Academy Awards if I ran the show. My verdicts will be honest and backed with real evidence (my well-informed opinions, duh) and they will be declared without apology because authority.
The 2015 Best Picture Winner (if I was running this bitch)
Some of the things I’m about to say are going to sound blasphemous or even kind of inflammatory but that’s kind of the point – we all have different perceptions and tastes and come tomorrow morning, we’ll all have plenty of snubs to bitch about. With the surfeit of awards shows plaguing red carpets everywhere (am I complaining no I am not) the Oscars at this point don’t hold a lot of surprises (Keaton, Moore, Simmons, Arquette, Linklater & Boyhood, let’s just call it right now) but there’s still something fun about an award that signals the very top of an industry’s craft, even if it’s just because some dude says it’s so. And as long as we all acknowledge this months-long process of back-patting is little more than a sham, in an echo chamber, dressed in a very pretty gown, we can bitch about snubs all we want. Because it’s about culture, people. And taste. I have it, you don’t. Let the rabble-rousing begin!
Posted in Pop Culture
Tagged Academy Awards, Acting, Awards, Criticism, Film, Imelda Staunton, Josh Brolin, Julianne Moore, Oscars, Ralph Fiennes, Selma
It’s almost 2015, bitches. Let’s do this.
“Guess why I smile? Uh, because it’s worth it.” – Marcel the Shell
- “I have arms. I’m a pretty good fighter.” – Academy Award winner Marion Cotillard.
- “You have to have Darth Vader, you can’t just have Obi-Wan Kenobi.” – Inherent Vice scene stealer Josh Brolin!
- “I can’t look at myself in the mirror if [my] standup sucks; that’s like being a chef and cooking a fake cake or something.” – my longtime hero Jenny Slate, whose fantastic performance in Obvious Child would have my vote for Best Actress.
- “He’s just a totally fucked-up mess for the rest of his life. But a strong one.” – Logan Lerman on his character in the WWII thriller Fury.
- “Until I can find the emotional truth of the character, by sitting with people and hearing their experience—that’s the only way I can find how to emotionally connect.” – the faaabulous Michelle Monaghan (just Golden Globe-nominated for her work on True Detective) on her indie showcase Fort Bliss.
- Director JV Mercanti offered some useful advice I’d never heard before…
- Eric Tucker of up-and-coming theater company Bedlam is making some truly tremendous theater to get himself and his friends on the map…
- Micah Stock gets to share a stage with Nathan Lane and Stockard Channing every night in It’s Only a Play…
- Curious about how some of 2014’s best movies were cast? Check out The Grand Budapest Hotel‘s Douglas Aibel, Pride‘s Fiona Weir, Interstellar‘s John Papsidera, A Most Violent Year‘s Tiffany Little Canfield, & Selma‘s Aisha Coley…
- And most importantly, 33 pieces of advice from actors who chatted with Backstage this year!
Posted in Jack, Pop Culture, Theater
Tagged Acting, Backstage, Broadway, Criticism, Film, Jenny Slate, Josh Brolin, Marion Cotillard, SmartReads, Theater
For my second Backstage cover story, I sat down with Emily Blunt (at the Four Seasons New York, no less!) to chat about her work as the Baker’s Wife in the big screen adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods. It was truly one of the highlights of my 2014. In addition to the topics I was able to include in the article, we talked about how annoying it is that some high schools skip the musical’s second act, what project she’d like to tackle next – a Western! – and the embedded nerve she got from filming Edge of Tomorrow while wearing an 85-pound metal suit. She is every bit as charming and down-to-earth as you might imagine, and her performance in Into the Woods, as with all her other movies, is superb. Don’t miss it!
Photo source: Matt Doyle
Posted in Jack, Pop Culture, Theater
Tagged Acting, Backstage, Criticism, Emily Blunt, Film, Into the Woods, Meryl Streep, SmartReads, Stephen Sondheim, Theater
‘Tis the season for gift giving! Not sure what to get your theater geek cousin? Your therapist? That boy you’ve been sort of seeing who says he likes your smile but refuses to have a “check-in” conversation and now you’re just sort of wading through a gray area relationship-wise? Fear no more! Over at TDF Stages, I wrote up a list of 12 theater-related books for the 12 days of Christmas/the postmodern holiday pastiche we’ve been lazily referring to as “Christmas.” It also doubles as my wish list. FYI. Happy Holidays!
Your Holiday Gift Guide: Theatre Books
Mandy Patinkin singing Arlen & Harburg’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”: A Step-by-Step Reaction
Bylines are not clickable on Backstage unfortunately, so these little updates are the best way to check out what I’ve been up to writing-wise. Do what I do when browsing a writer’s body of work: spend 4.3 seconds scanning for juicy buzzwords, and click what tickles your fancy. Here we go!
Photo source: Janice Yi/NPR
- Say you prefer cute listicles and slideshows (who’s got the attention span for anything else, amiright?): famous actors’ former day jobs, inspirational film monologues, and yet more Robin Williams in recent commercials featuring famous actors.
- What about famous theater personalities? Turns out, they’re just like us! We’ve got the amicable John Gallagher Jr., the colorful Seth Rudetsky, the gregarious Celia Keenan-Bolger, the hilarious Tracee Chimo, and especially playwright Suzan-Lori Parks, who gave probably the best phone interview ever. (“I’m just saying, like, praise be to you all who have made plays over the years! Here I am now following in your footsteps.”)
- Looking for a web series to invest some internet-dawdling time with? Try Capitol Hill (silly), or Video Game High School (epic), Augie Alone (hysterical), or really any of these.
- Or perhaps you want some practical advice, Backstage-style? There’s Stefanie O’Connell and her wonderful finance website, Carmen Zilles, who is now performing at the theater at which she interned, up-and-coming superhero B.J. Britt, the Naked Angels’ fabulous reading series Tuesdays@9, Ryan R. Williams and his real talk, and the Lincoln-quoting David H. Lawrence XVII. Lots of great food for thought.
- Random, but still worth a look: I interviewed one of my heroes at NPR, Michel Martin, after a fascinating panel about racial diversity on Broadway with four awesome playwrights, as well as the creator of vegan ballet slippers, and the head of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. This holiday season, donate!