Martin Freeman – The 2014 Showman of the Year

snl my name is martin

Posted by Kim and Sage

Middle fingers up for Martin Freeman, our Showman of the Year!

2014 marks our second annual awarding of this title, and the criteria are getting a little more clear. Just like 2013 winner Tom Hiddleston, Martin represents the range of what we appreciate here at Head Over Feels: unquestionable talent, a heavy impact on pop and fandom culture, cuteness, and – above all – a proclivity to burst into spontaneous dance. He’s also got the best face in the business; an endearing fondness for ascots and colorful socks; plus the lovely and equally talented Amanda Abbington for a partner. (Great taste.) And Martin’s kept us entertained throughout the year, from Sherlock‘s third series run in January all the way to The Hobbit‘s Christmas release.

Yes, mainstream fame now belongs to our Fisher Prince Man. (And he’s just going to have to deal with it.) Having adored him since a DVD of the original run of The Office found its way into my hands, I felt a massive swelling of pride (and a few falling tears) to see him standing in front of the house band in Studio 8H. And I’ve got a feeling that Martin Freeman won’t need to introduce himself to American audiences for much longer.

–Sage

Stuff happens to John and John happens to stuff, on Sherlock:

watson am i a pretty lady

It’s no wonder the Sherlock fandom is certifiably insane. It’s pure torture that we are only blessed with Martin’s John Watson every three years or so.  NINE EPISODES.  That’s all we’ve had.  It feels like more and it feels like nothing all at the same time.  Sherlock Series Three lasted a blissful 12 days, if you went by the UK Schedule, which obviously we did.  It was over as soon as it started.  Series Three hooked up with us and then refused to cuddle afterwards…but we were fine with it.  Sage has said it before, but most of the series felt like a love letter to the fans, giving us everything we wanted and more.  We got to see John grieve over losing Sherlock and then his OUTRAGE at his return (poor bb didn’t know what to do with himself).  We got to see John fall in love with Mary (she can stay cause she understands that John needs his boyfriend as much as his wife) and subsequently stand by her when her shady past came to light.  Is there anything more romantic than “The problems of your past are your business. The problems of your future are my privilege.”? I don’t think so.

john watson his last vow

The highlight of Series Three, however, was John and Sherlock’s drunken Stag Night.  I’m not gonna SAY Martin’s delivery of “Yeah, but am I pretty lady?” tipped the scales in his favor when it came to him winning this honor, but I’m not going to deny it either.  I think I can safely speak for Sage when I say we would have watched an entire episode of those drunk idiots gleefully clueing for looks.

Well, now he can say “Fuck you, I won a BAFTA and an Emmy.”  Also, I don’t think I will ever forgive the circumstances that made him miss the Emmys this year, therefore denying us an acceptance speech. (FINE.  It’s because he was playing Richard III in London.  Whatever.) Martin and Benedict BOTH won and NEITHER were there…probably because they knew that their collective wins and speeches would have plunged Tumblr into a black hole, never to be heard from again.  Worth it, I would say. (And I think Tumblr would agree.)

— Kim

Recreating mid-’90s indie magic in Fargo:

fargo bad boy

There were a lot of things that could have gone wrong with Noah Hawley’s miniseries adaptation of the Coen Brothers’ 1996 film. It could have turned off viewers by re-writing a beloved screenplay, alienated new fans by being too precious about the material, or missed the tiny, moving target that is the movie’s brand of dark comedy. But Team Fargo succeeded by combining serious respect for its inspiration with audaciously doing its own thing. “Its own thing” included casting an internet-famous British actor to take the lead as a Minnesotan sad-sack who becomes a soulless bastard. Cut to Martin being nominated for all the awards.

fargo nifty pens

To begin with, HOW DOES THAT ACCENT COME OUT OF HIM? I might not believe it if he hadn’t DONE IT FOR ME HIMSELF. Yes, this year I got a few minutes with Martin on the red carpet for the Paley Center preview of the show, and I managed to somehow stay upright and vaguely human for the entire interview. We chatted about the challenges of the part (including the dialect) and of the brutal weather on location. I waited until the end to begin gushing about his work on this past season of Sherlock, which he graciously endured and thanked me for. It was because of him that I tuned into the PBS premiere in the first place. (Benedict Whom-berbatch?) He’s my favorite living actor and I’ll be forever grateful that I had the chance to tell him how much I appreciate the humanity he brings to every role. I also want to note that a small group of fans waited just beyond the red carpet and I witnessed their interaction. One such fan – who’d worn a suit for the occasion – held out his hand and said it was a pleasure to meet him. Martin shook his hand heartily, thanked him for coming, and even complimented his ensemble (“Very sharp.”), all without a hint of irony. CLASS. I feel that some interpret Martin’s sarcastic humor as ungratefulness or an unwillingness to engage with the adoring masses. But what I saw was sincere. My hero-worship of him only got worse that day.

fargo lester diner

ANYWAY, FARGO. If you watched it, you get it. If you didn’t, get on it. Those people didn’t hack each other up in sub-zero temperatures for you to not tune in. Dontcha know.

–Sage

Taking on Richard III, and our beard fetish:

We weren’t there, as we tragically live in America, but we are SURE he was awesome.  Plus, beard porn.

In lieu of being able to share our own experiences, let’s look at Martin’s reviews, shall we?

The Guardian: Martin Freeman is an original, not massively humped Richard, who coolly examines each phrase as if it were a poisoned proposition. Contained and caustic, he gets his way not by seductive snarling; not even exactly by fear, but by careful planning.

The Guardian (again): It’s fair to say that Freeman’s Richard is perfectly suited to the concept. This is no grandiose villain but a dapper, smooth-haired figure who only gradually reveals his psychopathic tendencies. And although Freeman chops up the verse into neat little segments rather than giving us the architecture of a speech, he has the capacity to make each phrase tell: “simple, plain Clarence”, for instance, becomes a withering put-down of his gullible brother.

 

Variety: He nails the self-satisfied psychopathic side with tiny, well-placed bursts of self-satisfied humour. Even when furious at his loss of control and power, he always keeps the audience with him because he never shouts or loses control.

HuffPo: Martin Freeman has a well-deserved reputation for interesting approaches to text and impeccable comic timing and both those talents are well-used here. He has a great knack for using pauses for dramatic effect and sources of humour, such as when he’s asked to address the nobles, all of whom he will of course murder on his way to the top, the disdain is palpable as he starts “Amongst this princely…heap.”

The Independent: Freeman gives a highly intelligent, calculatedly understated performance, full of witty mocking touches in his rapid line-readings (he refers to “this princely….heap” with a comically fastidious pause) and creating a rapport of shared superiority with the audience over his dupes.

BEARD.

You get the picture.

— Kim

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The Best Performances of 2014

Posted by Kim and Sage

We’ve named our Top 20 moments of 2014 (re-live those moments here and here) and now it’s time to turn our eyes to our favorite individual performances of the year. As usual, we make the disclaimer that we are but two modest bloggers and cannot see everything, so try not to get too worked up if your favorite isn’t here. Still, we live for nothing if not to celebrate great work when we see it. Help us do that, won’t you?

1) Julianne Nicholson – Masters of Sex

masters of sex lillian

Guys, I don’t understand why EVERYONE isn’t talking about Masters of Sex.   I’m still in the midst of watching season two (I watch it on my iPad at the gym, which must make for amazing over the shoulder watching for whoever is on the machine next to me.)  While Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan’s performances carry the bulk of the weight, Masters is incredibly rich in its supporting and recurring characters.  I love Julianne Nicholson’s Lillian DePaul because she is the anti-Virginia.  Where Virginia is warm and emotive, Lillian is awkward and tenacious and to the point.  Lillian is abrasive and seems to always be clawing her way up, believing her intelligence should stand on its own, whereas Virginia smoothly slides herself into the places she needs to be, unafraid to use her feminine wiles.  These women are two sides of the same coin, which is why they gravitate towards each other (even if Lillian does it kicking and screaming).  Obviously, the relationship between Virginia and Bill is the driving force of the show, but the unsung relationship of the show is Lillian and Virginia and what these two women learn from each other.  Virginia helps soften Lillian and teaches her that sometimes intelligence and passion isn’t enough to get you where you want to be, while Lillian, in her incredibly rigid way, teaches Virginia to expect MORE from herself and respect her own intelligence.  It’s a fascinating relationship and I love how Lillian isn’t afraid to call Virginia out for the way the affair with Bill is offensive to her.

“Don’t you understand what you’ve done makes it harder for every woman who comes after you?  Easier for every man that has designs on that same woman?”

The best friendships are the ones where one is not afraid to call the other out.  “Giants” is a spectacular episode for that very reason, as Lillian and Virginia end up screaming at each other in her office.  Neither is in the right, as Lillian disregards Virginia’s emotions, while Virginia refuses to admit that she is doing anything WRONG. (“We’re participating in the study” is the LAMEST excuse ever.)  It’s the kind of fight that would end a weaker friendship.  But when Lillian’s cancer flares up at the end of the episode and she passes out, who does she call?  Virginia. (“I am scared though, for what’s ahead, which means I can’t really afford to be upset with you now, can I?”) And Virginia comes because her friend needs her. FRIENDSHIP.

Don’t even get me started on when Virginia tucks Lillian into bed and kisses her forehead like one of her children.  The pain is too real right now.

Nicholson is so wonderful in the role because she allows you to see the woman behind Lillian’s brittle exterior.  It could have easily been a one-note character, but instead you see a woman terrified that she is losing the one thing she has always counted on and the only thing about herself she’s always prized: her mind.  Lillian has so many wonderful unexpected moments, like when she pulls a bottle of liquor out of her desk to have a post-work drink with Austin or when she slyly refuses to outright apologize to Virginia after their fight (acknowledging the non-apology IS the apology).  Given her character’s diagnosis, I always knew Julianne’s time on the show was limited…but that doesn’t mean I didn’t sob like a baby when Lillian died.  Because she did it on her own terms, blazing her path on her own, like she had always done.  HERO.

— Kim

2) John Barrowman – Arrow

arrow barrowmanarrow barrowman

You all know that John Barrowman can do no wrong in our eyes and we love Arrow for bringing him back to our television screens on a regular basis.  There is little to nothing redeeming about Malcolm Merlyn.  He’s a ruthless business man and an even more ruthless assassin.  His only loyalty is to himself.  Just when you think there might be hope for him in the form of love for his daughter, he turns around and drugs Thea, forcing her to murder Sara (with no memory of doing so) for some reason I’m STILL not entirely sure of other than fridging one female character whilst taking away the other’s agency. (Seriously, writers.  This is supposed to one of the most pro-lady shows on TV and you are failing this gender.)  It takes an actor with an innate sense of over-the-top theatricality to make all of these dastardly deeds seem grounded and realistic.  Luckily, John Barrowman has that in spades.  What elevates Barrowman’s performance is the fact that you can SEE how much fun he is having bringing this bastard to life.  He chews all the scenery with a fervor usually reserved for meals at five-star restaurants.  It’s nothing short of delightful.

— Kim

3) Jenna Coleman – Doctor Who

doctor who jenna coleman

2014: The Year of Clara Oswald.

Before Series 8 premiered, I was very lukewarm on Clara as a character.  This is not a slam against Jenna Coleman at all…she’s always been wonderful on the show, she was just saddled with bad writing and being reduced to a plot device.  Clara was a cipher, a puzzle for The Doctor to figure out, which did not do much for her in terms of a personality.  She showed flashes of who she was outside of being “The Impossible Girl” in “The Day of the Doctor” but that was lost in “The Time of the Doctor”.  Then Matt Smith regenerated into Peter Capaldi and EVERYTHING changed.  In the wake of having the Doctor go through an identity crisis, Clara’s personality solidified and what emerged was WONDERFUL.  Clara became a Type-A control freak who desperately wanted to “have it all” in her life.  Gone were the days of her being a nanny (really…what was that?) and she blossomed in her position as an English Teacher.  She moved past her hero-worship of The Doctor and became unafraid to push his buttons and call him out on his shit.  She demanded more of him because she KNEW the type of man he was capable of being and she did not accept him being any less.  She fell in love but refused to compromise herself or bend to Danny Pink’s demands of the relationship.  She is passionate, she is self-assured, she is empathetic, and she is ruthless.  She is devoted to The Doctor to a fault and she’s addicted to the life that he has shown her though their travels.  She is incredibly difficult and complex.  She’s not an easy woman content with simple pleasures, and I love her all the more for it.

With better material, Jenna emerged as a brilliant actress who was capable of bringing incredible pathos to Doctor Who.  In Peter Capaldi, she got a scene partner who pushed her to bring her A-Game every episode…and she did.  Their chemistry is electric and unexpected and thoroughly watchable (and shippable WHOOPS).  If you had asked me a year ago if I was ready for Clara to move on, I would have probably said yes.  Now?  I screamed with joy and almost flailed off my bed when she was confirmed for Series 9.  Don’t ever leave me, Jenna.

— Kim

4) Jesse L. Martin – The Flash

the flash jesse l martin

I’m still grappling with the notion that Jesse Martin can play a character with an adult child. For heaven’s sake, who’s holding down the anarchist movement at MIT??

Regardless. With Coach Taylor out of the game, Jesse’s Detective Joe West is the best dad on TV right now. Built on the sturdy base of Arrow, The Flash hit the ground running (hee) this year. The series boasts quality writing and very un-cheesy effects. But The Flash‘s ace in the hole? Its superhero casting. Grant Gustin is a find – heroic and unequivocally good, but without laying on the “gee, whiz” routine. I love the ingenuity of casting erstwhile nice guy Tom Cavanagh as the ambiguously unsavory Dr. Wells. And then, there’s Jesse. He’s just so WARM, you guys. I want him to bear-hug me into a coma.

I’m a sucker for a father/son relationship, especially a non-traditional one. And with Barry Allen’s biological dad (heeeeeey Mitch Leery) taking the rap for his wife’s murder, it’s Joe who’s held that position for most of Barry’s life. Like its sister show, The Flash wins at humanizing its heroes by focusing on the people who build them up and give them a reason to do what they do. In Joe, Barry has a boss, an ally, a possible future in-law, and the family he needs to keep on being that light. He’s the guy behind the guy.

When you first moved in with us, I thought it was going to be too much. I was already a single dad, finances were tough and you were a little boy who just lost his mother. But, man, I was wrong. Within two weeks you changed the whole dynamic of the house. Suddenly the house was filled with this light, this energy. I mean, you brightened up everything. You’ve seen more darkness than any man will in a lifetime and you never let it dim your soul. So there I was thinking that I’m changing your life by taking you in, but the truth is, you changed mine. So don’t lose that light, now, Bar. The world may need The Flash, but I need my Barry Allen. Let’s go home.

I think there’s something in my eye…

–Sage

5) Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl

gone girl rosamund pike

While everyone hemmed and hawed over the casting of Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike situated herself comfortably in the title role of this whole nasty business. (Also, Ben Affleck is an actor. He’s going to do movies. You may as well get used to it.) And she nailed it. Amy Dunne is a Hitchcock blond on Adderall. She’s cunning, merciless, vulnerable, and utterly insane. She scared the bejesus out of me. But because she also did that to every man in America, I root for her. Just a little bit.

–Sage

6) Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything

The only thing I can compare Eddie Redmayne’s performance in The Theory of Everything to is Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot.  Both are extraordinary PHYSICAL performances that could easily feel gimmicky or like a blatant awards grab…but they are so rooted in the humanity of the men that they are portraying that they feel nothing but completely natural.  The difference in the performances is that Christy Brown was BORN with cerebral palsy, while Stephen Hawking went through a gradual decline thanks to ALS.  This gives Redmayne the opportunity to also grapple with the incredible struggle of being a healthy and brilliant young man being crippled by a horrible disease.  It’s a daunting challenge for any actor and Eddie Redmayne immerses himself in the challenge fully. The result is extraordinary. Physically, I don’t know how Eddie managed to contort his body for hours at a time…just looking at that gif makes my neck hurt.  The best part is how, despite the deterioration of his body, Eddie always keeps Hawking’s MIND alive.  It’s an incredibly aware and alive performance.  The wheels never stop turning, his eyes never lose the sly twinkle, even after he is no longer able to use his voice.  That’s right. In the final act of the movie, Hawking loses his ability to speak, leaving Eddie Redmayne with only his FACE to convey all the things going on in Stephen’s mind.  It’s mind-boggling.

— Kim

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The Top 20 Television Moments of 2014 – Part Two

Posted by Kim and Sage

When we posted our first ten moments of the year at the end of last week, one of our favorite commenters (you know who you are) said that she expected to see the How I Met Your Mother finale on the second half of the list.  “Absolutely not,” I countered.  Sure, the HIMYM finale has made a lot of other end-of-the-year lists, but for us, memorable does NOT equal best.  The HIMYM finale is memorable for all the wrong reasons.  It’s memorable for the rage it unleashes (I can’t begin to count the number of extremely heated debates I’ve had about that episode this year) and that rage does not have a place on our year-end countdown.  Am I still sad about the major death on The Good Wife?  Obviously.  Do I still talk about that death in all sorts of passionate “THAT WAS AMAZING TELEVISION” kind of terms?  YES.

That right there is the Head Over Feels definition of “Top Moment”, folks.

Looking at our 20 picks, I’m extremely proud at the breadth of television we’ve covered this year and our choices for the best of the best.  We’ve got comedies, dramas (both soapy and Comic Booky), reality shows, awards shows, and “news/talk” shows represented.  We MAY have a television problem.  It’s a problem we love to have.

— Kim

11) “Why is your penis on a dead girl’s phone?” – How To Get Away With Murder

Must See TV is but a distant, childhood memory. (Maybe because NBC doesn’t know how to treasure its comedies anymore, hmmm?) Thursday nights now belong to Shondaland.

One of the buzziest new series of the season, How to Get Away with Murder has a showrunner in Peter Nowalk and is overseen by drama queen Shonda Rhimes. Not a carbon copy of Grey’s or Scandal, HTGAWM quickly established itself as its own thing: a gothic mash-up of ’90s procedurals, primetime soaps and dark comedy, with the incomparable Viola Davis leading a cast of young unknowns.

Annalise Keating is fascinating. We’re a full half-season into the life of the show and still no closer to figuring out the law professor’s motivations than we were in the first minutes of the pilot. Viola plays Keating’s deep vulnerability to perfection, but any show of emotion is eventually revealed as another tool of manipulation. Does she feel anything? Or is she smart enough to know not to?

The focus of this pilot season has been the apparent murder of Keating’s husband Sam. Ever the doting spouse at university cocktail parties, Sam – like Annalise – isn’t what he seems. He was mixed up with a student, whose body ended up bloated and floating in a water tower. Already revealed as a cheater, could Sam be a murderer too? I honestly doubt that Annalise didn’t a) already know her husband was messing around, or b) cared one bit that he did. When would she have time? Between desk sex sessions with her giant cop boyfriend? No. This is a shakedown, my friends. Annalise always gets her man.

It’s the most striking scene in a show designed to fuel water cooler conversation. Annalise sits at her vanity and peels away the day. She wipes off all vestiges of the beauty standards imposed on women – on black women – and it’s not a dainty business. She uses pressure, rubbing the make-up away like she’s angry at herself for putting it on in the first place. She’s taking turpentine to a masterpiece she just finished painting. But when she confronts her suspect – a man she’s shared a bed with for years – she’s not going to do it as star defense attorney Annalise or molder of young minds Annalise. She’s going to do it as the bare canvas onto which she paints those identities.

And that LINE. Funny, shocking, emasculating. This is HTGAWM in nine simple words. And may the series bring us several more moments as indelible as this.

–Sage

12) Don and Peggy have a dance – Mad Men

Reminder to all the awards bodies out there: Mad Men did indeed air episodes in 2014 and they were EXQUISITE so SHAME ON YOU for completely ignoring them in awards season.  Did the division of the 14 episode season into 2 “mini seasons” probably mess with the notorious slow-burn pace of a typical Mad Men season?  Absolutely.  Just when it felt like it was getting started the “season” was over!  Does that mean that the episodes are any less in quality?  Absolutely not.  “The Strategy” will surely stand in the pantheon of fantastic Mad Men episodes alongside “The Suitcase” and “The Other Woman”.  It was a beautiful episode, from Joanie turning down Bob Benson’s marriage of convenience (“I want love.  And I’d rather die hoping that happens than make some arrangement.”) to the way Pete longs for the family that he so carelessly threw away to the way Peggy and Don are at each other’s throats over the pitch to Burger Chef.  What transitions the episode from good to GREAT is the scene with Peggy and Don in her office as Peggy finally cracks the pitch.  Just like Don knew she would.

Peggy: Does this family exist anymore? Are there people who eat dinner and smile at each other instead of watching TV? Did you ever do that with your family?
Don: I don’t remember.
Peggy: What the hell do I know about being a mom? I just turned 30, Don.
Don: Shit. When?
Peggy: A couple of weeks ago.
Don: It doesn’t matter.
Peggy: I kept it a secret as long as I could. Now I’m one of those women lying about her age. I hate them.
Don: I worry about a lot of things, but I don’t worry about you.
Peggy: What do you have to worry about?
Don: That I never did anything, and that I don’t have anyone.
Peggy: I was in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania. I looked in the window of so many station wagons. What did I do wrong?
Don: You’re doing great.

PEGGY OLSON.  I have always loved her but I related to her SO much in this moment.  It was a rough season for Peggy.  She is still a woman trying to make her way in a man’s world (remember Pete thinks saying “She’s as good as any woman in the field” is a compliment) and she’s a woman wrestling with the life choices she’s made that have led her down an “untraditional” path.  Should she have gone another way?  Would she have been happy going the married and kids route?  She knows that she would not have…but she also knows that she is alone and that’s a daily struggle for her.

The Don and Peggy relationship has always been the core of Mad Men.  They are so alike, those two.  It’s why Don is so hard on her.  He sees her potential for greatness and her potential to surpass him, which both excites and terrifies him.  It’s often WHY he struggles to praise her because she’s making the same choices he has made (identity theft aside) and he knows how it’s turned out for him.  He wants more for his Peggy.  He sees her self-doubt and he offers her comfort in the only way he knows how…with a smile of pride and a dance.

And now, the end is here
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I’ll say it clear
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain
I’ve lived a life that’s full
I traveled each and ev’ry highway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way…

The song choice may have been a bit on the nose, but in reality, there is no better song for these two lost souls to share a fleeting moment of connection and comfort over.  The next day will be back to business as usual.  Another pitch.  Another meeting.  They’ll probably be back at each other’s throats soon enough.  But for that moment…in that dance…they know that they can do it their own way and not have to be alone.  It’s beautiful.

— Kim

13) Amy Poehler wins The Pudding

The worst part of being nominated for any award is that despite your best efforts, you start to want the pudding. You spend weeks thinking about how it doesn’t matter and it’s all just an honor and then seconds before the name of the winner is announced everything inside you screams…”GIMME THAT PUDDING!!”

In Yes Please, Amy P. details the backstage machinations of all the plans she and her fellow nominees have concocted to get their minds off what she calls “the pudding.” And they’re all wonderful – the faux beauty pageant, Dog President, play-swapping speeches with JLD. But in 2014, the pudding finally went where it had needed to go for a long, long time. Amy Poehler won the Golden Globe.

It’s not special because anyone should give a shit about awards or that anyone is under the illusion that they always go to the right people. What was special about Amy’s win is that is that it was FOR Parks. I don’t mean that the nomination was for her work on Parks, I mean that this was an award for the entire show. One of the finest comedic ensembles on television in this decade or any other has been snubbed left and right for reasons that I can’t begin to understand. Amy, often the show’s sole nomination, has gone home empty-handed year after year. (Even the announcer sounds bewildered when he points out that this is her “first win.”)

So. When Amy’s name was FINALLY called and the Parks crew went ballistic, anyone could see that she was taking this one for the team. They stood and applauded and pointed at their girl. “Whoaaaa, Parks!” she shouted out to them, as I cried like a child. “The best cast in comedy and drama, as far as I’m concerned.” And the pudding was spread around, as it should be.

–Sage

14) Cristina and Meredith dance it out one last time – Grey’s Anatomy

Cristina: Wait, we’ll call each other at least twice a month and we’ll text each other all the time.
Meredith: I hate texting.
Cristina: TEXT ME! Don’t let Owen get all dark and twisty. Take care of him. And Alex, take care of Alex. He needs to be mocked at least once a day or he’ll be insufferable. Don’t get on any tiny little planes that can crash or stick your hand in a body cavity that has a bomb in it or offer your life to a gunman. Don’t do that. Don’t be a hero. You’re my person. I need you alive. You make me brave. Okay, now we dance it out.

There was really no other way for Sandra Oh’s Cristina Yang to leave Grey’s Anatomy.  I sat through a good portion of the season ten finale, “Fear (of the unknown)” waiting for something absolutely horrible to happen to my beloved Cristina.  Shonda Rhimes DOES love to kill her characters, after all, especially on Grey’s Anatomy.  Thankfully, she had other plans for Cristina Yang.  Cristina Yang was going to ride off into the sunset…erm…Switzerland.  She was going to take her favorite student Smash Williams (honestly, I never learned his ACTUAL character name) to Switzerland with her so she could continue to teach him and extend her legacy.  She was going to change the face of cardiothoracic surgery and win all the awards now that she was free from GSMH.  She was going to do all of that…after dancing it out with her person one last time.

Cue me sobbing, especially since Cristina and Meredith danced to Tegan and Sara’s “Where Does the Good Go?” which was used prominently in the fourth episode of the series.  Grey’s has ALWAYS been good with the musical callbacks and the Twisted Sisters’ jubilant dancing was a perfect way to reflect on EVERYTHING they had been through together.  Ectopic Pregnancies and Dirty Mistressing.  Bombs in body cavities.  Near drownings.  Mass shoot-outs.  Plane crashes.  Marriages.  Divorces.  Births.  Career jealousy and competition.  Meredith and Cristina have been through it all together, and while their bond has been TESTED, it’s never been broken.  When someone is your person, they are your person for life.  OTP of the show.

Cristina’s absence has left a gaping hole on Grey’s Anatomy this season and I miss her terribly.  Yet, her influence is still felt in Meredith’s life, as every single action she’s taken this season goes back to this truth bomb her best friend dropped right before she left.

Cristina: I gotta go. You stay here. You are a gifted surgeon with an extraordinary mind. Don’t let what he wants eclipse what you need. He’s very dreamy, but he’s not the sun. You are.

You can’t GET more OTP than that.  (And if Sandra Oh doesn’t come back for the eventual series finale, I will cry SO MUCH.)

— Kim

15) John Oliver Breaks the FCC – Last Week Tonight

We were predisposed to love Last Week Tonight, because John Oliver brought us such joy as a Daily Show correspondent, and also because he’s “got a real big penis and drinks lots of tea.”

But we couldn’t have predicted the impact the show would have, pretty much from the moment it hit HBO. With Colbert on his way out, surely there’d be room for more comedy news on our TVs. But what could have weekly report have over a daily one?

Simply this: because LWT doesn’t have the responsibility to recap a full day (or seven days) of the news cycle, it’s expertly developed its signature, long-form style. John and the writers hit on a piece of information, usually something that they can’t believe no one has forced us to fully understand before, and they report the daylights out of it. The result is sharp, hilarious, fully fleshed-out segments that have been known to end in a call to action. And John’s fans are ready to go to work.

The cable companies have figured out the great truth of America: If you want to do something evil, put it inside something boring.

The first time we saw the true power of LWT‘s ready-for-viral reports was when they shined a light on the proposed de-democratization of the interwebs. Net Neutrality is a terrifying prospect – essentially making the internet a pay-to-play situation and enabling hateful cable providers to hold companies seeking hosting hostage. No one seemed sufficiently freaked out by this, possibly because the language used to describe it was drier than an English sense of humor. LWT spend ten minutes laying it all out for us (we have an attention span when there are Taco Bell jokes), and then dropped the challenge. The FCC had opened its site for feedback on the proposition. Knowing that this was the job web trolls didn’t realize they had been training for all along, John called on the underworld network of internet commentors to rise up and fight. (“Good evening, monsters.”)

And fight they did. Viewers were driven to the site and responded in such a massive way that FCC.gov actually crashed. And Last Week Tonight moved on to further crusade for truth, justice, and sex-crazed space geckos everywhere.

–Sage

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The Top 20 Television Moments of 2014 – Part One

hannibal love your work

Posted by Kim and Sage

As all our shows go home for their winter breaks (with 60 pounds of laundry for mom!), it’s time to embark on our annual year-end coverage!

We kick off our celebration of all things 2014 with part one of our Top 20 TV Moments. Trust us when we tell you that this has been a 12-month discussion; we’ve been analyzing and re-analyzing our picks since this year was even a thing.

A few disclaimers:

1. These moments are presented in no particular order. Feel free to rank in the comments, but we’re not doing the dirty work for you.

2. Spoilers obviously present. If you are phobic, you might want to scroll down and take a look at the tags to keep yourself safe.

That said, here are half of our favorite TV moments from this jam-packed year. Remember – there are ten more coming. So you can’t yell at us for leaving anything out. Yet.

1) Sherlock kisses Molly – Sherlock

Watching any episode of Sherlock is a heady experience. They are few and they are precious. When I watch one for the first time, I’m caught between a desperate need for the adventure’s conclusion and “DON’T FORGET ONE MOMENT OF THIS, SAGE.” It’s a thin line to walk.

After two years of the waiting game, season three opened with an escape sequence of Bond-ian proportions. And the cherry on top of the whole sexy spy act was the moment that Sherlock Holmes crashed through a glass window like a damn hero and reminded Molly Hooper why she keeps on dealing with his nonsense.

It is a genuine, pearl-clutching moment and, as Kim just said to me, “pure fanservice.” Up until this point, this swashbuckling, bodice-ripping Holmes only existed in fan fiction. And then Benedict Cumberbatch is on our TV screens (laptop screens, for those of us who are crap at waiting) ruffling his Sherlock locks (Just keep the curls for ONE hiatus, BC. We’re begging you.) and taking Molly’s face in his hands to give her something to remember him by. It was barely January and the first entry on this list was locked down like a cell block.

I maintain that this moment is canon, even if the rest of Anderson’s action-fantasy is not. My reasons for this are four-fold. Firstly: Molly Hooper deserves this. I want so much to believe that Sherlock acknowledged her sacrifice; she had more to lose than anyone. Secondly, they’re suuuuuper weird around each other the rest of the season, especially when the conversation comes down to love and sex. Something totally went down. Next, we find Molly in Sherlock’s mind palace in “The Last Vow.” She’s vital to him. And finally: I ship it and I want this and this is about me.

Irregardless of the reality of the situation, this was good, panty-droppin’ stuff. I’ll leave you with Louise Brealey’s thoughts on the matter, because she sees us.

louise tweet kiss

And maybe she is us.

–Sage

2) Pierce Hawthorne’s Last Will and Testament – Community

Season Five of Community was a mixed bag creatively, especially in the back half of the season after Donald Glover left the show.  Maybe it is because the show blew its wad on the one-two punch of “Cooperative Polygraphy” and “Geothermal Escapism” because those two episodes were perfect send-offs for two of the Original Greendale Seven, Pierce Hawthorne and Troy Barnes.  The final scene of “Cooperative Polygraphy” is the perfect mix of sweet and sour that is oh so Community that I am going to just paste all of the dialogue here.

Mr. Stone: Britta Perry Do you know that you hate yourself more than you should and that your passion inspired me?
Britta: No.
Abed: That’s true.  She didn’t know.
Mr. Stone: To Miss Perry, I leave my iPod Nano filled with music to take life less seriously by.
Shirley: Oh, that’s nice.
Mr. Stone: I also leave you this liquid nitrogen cooled cylinder of my hyper-virile sperm in case your lesbian lifestyle one day wears out and you wish to raise an army of geniuses.  Shirley?
Shirley: Hmm?
Mr. Stone: Did you know that you are not only a credit to your race and gender, but to our species, and that I was intimidated by your strength of character and business acumen? To Shirley Bennett, I leave my spacious timeshare in Florida, where she can take What’s-his-name and however many children she has now. I also leave you a cylinder of my sperm. Annie Edison. Did you know that you were always my favorite?
Annie: You mentioned it once, but…
Mr. Stone: I leave you this tiara, which you once refused to accept. It’s the same tiara I used to wear when my mother would verbally assault me for not being a little girl. Also sperm. Jeff Winger, did you know you’re gay?

Jeff: No.
Mr. Stone: Agree to disagree. To you, I leave this bottle of fine scotch so that you’re less tempted to drink this cylinder of even finer sperm. Abed Nadir, did you know that you are insane and nothing that you said ever made any sense to me?
Abed: Yep.
Mr. Stone: Here’s your sperm. Troy Barnes, did you know that you possess the greatest gift life can give: The heart of a hero. And that it’s up to you not to waste it like I did?
Troy: I think.
Mr. Stone: To Troy, I leave the obligatory sperm.
Troy: Maybe it’s because everyone else got one, and because it’s an old man’s semen, but, um, I’m kind of disappointed.
Mr. Stone: In addition, I am prepared to leave Troy Barnes my remaining shares in the Hawthorne Wipes company, currently valued at $14.3 million. On one condition. You must first sail my boat, the Childish Tycoon, by yourself around the entire world.
Troy: What?
Mr. Stone: When I was 23, my father asked me to do the same thing to earn my adulthood and his fortune. Of course I cheated and floated off the coast of Belize for a year doing coke with John Denver. I always regretted it. I’d like to give you a chance to do what I never did…Become your own man.

The INSTANT Britta was given the iPod nano, I started sobbing and cursing Dan Harmon’s brilliance because of the above image, hilariously from one of the most loathed episodes of Community, season one’s “The Art of Discourse”.  It’s a little serendipitous that Chevy Chase left the show in 2014 (hell, it’s serendipitous the show was still even AIRING in 2014) and while I doubt that this moment was planned from season one, the fact that the writers added in this callback shows JUST how much attention they pay to the rich history of the show (and that makes me angry when they DON’T pay attention like when they create a brother for Annie Edison out of NOWHERE.  I digress).  The whole scene was a love letter to the fans of the show, between the iPod, Annie’s Tiara, and Pierce getting one more “Gay” dig in at Jeff.  But most of all what this scene did is exemplify that Pierce, though he may have been a bastard and he may have been bad at showing it, truly loved and respected  his study group friends.  They were his family and he loved them and at the end of the day, he wanted to be sure they knew that.  The gifts he gave to them all proved that he knew all of them better than they thought he did…and that he believed in them.  And finding people who believe in you and love you FOR your weirdness?  That’s what Community is all about, my friends.

— Kim

3) Diamond Dan Dances for Mindy – The Mindy Project

For most of the year, Danny and Mindy’s first kiss on the airplane had a solid slot locked down on this list.   On September 16th, everything changed.  Sage and I were at a screening of Gillian Anderson’s A Streetcar Named Desire the night of the season three premiere of The Mindy Project.  When we emerged emotionally exhausted from the screening, both of us had multiple (spoiler-free) text messages from friends making sure we were alive.  I rushed home as fast as the MTA would carry me and immediately queued up “We’re A Couple Now, Haters”.  When it was revealed that Danny Castellano had a stripper past, I immediately started saying Hail Mindys that we would get to see Chris Messina show off his moves (as we all knew he had them, thanks to “Christmas Party Sex Trap”).  And in the last minutes of the episode, my prayers were answered and I curled up on the couch making dying animal noises at my television screen.  “What did I do to deserve this wonderous moment,” I wailed at my TV.  “I must have been very very good this year.”  And then I promptly texted Sage to check to see if she was conscious.  (She was.  Barely.)

Danny Castellano dancing to “American Woman” for his girlfriend is important for many reasons, not just for the fact that these gifs exist on the internet to cheer you up on a dreary day from here to eternity.  (Seriously…having a shit day?  Stare at these gifs for a while.) Diamond Dan is important because in a culture where it’s usually the woman doing the sexy striptease (Magic Mike aside), Mindy Kaling flipped the script and had the MAN be the one being blatantly objectified, while the woman greedily watches.  As Sage pointed out in her recap of this episode, the fact that both Danny and Mindy are DEAD SERIOUS in this scene is what makes it so special.  Mindy is not hooting and hollering like so many women tend to be portrayed as doing in a male stripper situation.  Danny is not doing some half-assed version of his routine as a joke.  He does the routine full-out, never taking his eyes off her.  In his seriousness, he makes it known that he completely trusts Mindy with his past. He also makes it known that this is a seduction to please HER and that there are going to be some SERIOUS sexytimes to follow.

He IS like a thirsty camel at a desert oasis, after all.

— Kim (and I am sure you won’t mind one more gif so here you go.  I SAVED THE BEST FOR LAST.)

4) Clara Gets a Phone Call – Doctor Who

It took us about 30 seconds to accept the Twelfth as our Doctor and savior, but Clara Oswald needed just a bit more time. “Deep Breath” did a fabulous job of transitioning a companion from a familiar, cuddly Doctor to his more dangerous and less knowable regeneration. And we can argue over the rules and what we consider to be the breaking of them, but that won’t make this surprise cameo by Matt Smith any less powerful.

My heart aches for anyone who was spoiled for this scene. I myself was sitting in the dark among a few thousand Whovians (annnnnnd Peter and Jenna and Moffat, thank you very much) at the Ziegfeld screening when Eleven called Clara from Trenzalore. I promptly burst into tears.

Clara: Hello? Hello?
Eleven: It’s me.
Clara: Yes, it’s you. Who’s this?
Eleven: It’s me Clara. The Doctor.
Clara: What do you mean “The Doctor”?
Eleven: I’m phoning you from Trenzalore, from before I changed. It’s all still to happen to me. It’s coming. Oh, it’s coming. Not long now. I can…feel it.
Clara: Why? Why did you do this?
Eleven: Because I think it’s gonna be a whopper. And I think you might be scared. And however scared you are, Clara, the man you are with right now, the man I hope you are with, believe me, he is more scared than can imagine right now, and he needs you. Is that The Doctor?
Twelve: Is that the Doctor?
Clara: Yes.
Eleven: He sounds old. Please tell me I didn’t get old. I was young. Oh. Is he gray?
Clara: Yes.
Eleven: Clara, please, hey, for me. Help him. Go on. And don’t be afraid. Goodbye Clara. Miss ya.

Most of the criticism that this scene was met with accused it of being gimmicky – a shortcut to full companion/audience acceptance of Twelve. For me, it was a proper goodbye to Eleven, since “Time of the Doctor” was a sloppy travesty.

Moreover, I don’t think that the call left the writers or the actors off the hook. If anything, Matt’s appearance highlighted the stark differences between Eleven and Twelve. “Miss ya,” Eleven says, with so much emotion in his voice that it hurts to hear it, right before Twelve reacts to Clara’s hug like she’s crawling with cooties. These are different men, and we’re going to deal with that. You better believe we’re gonna deal with that.

“Deep Breath” is a suspenseful debut in need of an emotional center. This scene brought us a welcome quiet moment for the Doctor and his companion to take stock and get back on the same page. And all three stars acted the hell out of it. Matt with his weary cheerfulness; Jenna putting on her brave face because she knows it’s the right thing to do; and Peter infusing this thorny Doctor with heart wrenching vulnerability. (“Please…just see me.”) Things for Clara and Twelve wouldn’t be easy from this point on, but at least she finally saw the person standing right in front of her.

–Sage

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Nicole Beharie: The Most Perfect Sunflower 2014

She’s trying not to cry on finding out that she’s the Most Perfect Sunflower

Posted by Kim and Sage

We should know by now that when we issue the SleepyHeads a challenge, they always rise to the occasion.  When John Cho won Most Handsome Young Man, we wondered if they would keep the award in the family when it came to the ladies (as the men of Sleepy have held the title for the past 2 years).  Congrats, guys!!!!! Nicole Beharie is your Most Perfect Sunflower of 2014.

While she faced some fierce competition from our runner-up, Nicole had the lead for most of the voting window.  What we DID love about this poll for the ladies is that the votes for all of our nominees spread out pretty evenly.  We loved people telling us that this poll was harder than it was for the men.  So all of our ladies should be proud and know that they are all perfect sunflowers on their own.

But for now, let’s celebrate our winner!  We already waxed poetic on WHY Nicole deserved to win the title when we wrote about all the nominees.  So let’s just have a photo essay on her beauty and her personality, shall we?

Nicole will be retiring to the Hall of Fame of Perfect people next year, joining her co-stars Tom Mison and John Cho.  So….Lyndie Greenwood for Perfect Sunflower 2015? Challenge extended.

If they ever make a live action version of The Princess and The Frog, I humbly submit Nikki as Tiana.

Perfect Sunflower = delivering sass whilst looking like a Disney Princess

I don’t understand how someone who is 5’1″ has legs this long.

YOU BETTER WERK.

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“That’s for the smart kids!” – The Mindy Project Recap

mindy project danny got in

Season 3, Episode 11: Christmas
Posted by Sage

One of the lessons that Mindy Kaling obviously brought over to her show from The Office is that there’s inherent drama in a seemingly simple round of workplace Secret Santa. Last year, Christmas at Shulman & Associates yielded the Dance of A Millon Rewatches. (We’re obligated to mention it on this blog at least once a week or the Messina Mafia repossesses our laptops.) And this year, the gifts are even more personal.

Though Danny pulled Morgan’s name this year (enjoy those AAA’s, buddy!), Mindy is still expecting the customary grand gesture. She thinks she finds evidence that her Christmas gift will come in the form of a diamond when snooping through Danny’s stuff in an effort to answer this age-old query: “When’s this idiot gonna lock me down?”

mindy project engagement

Turns out Danny had used his Catholic Rewards card at “Forever Stone” to lock down his dream burial plot, not his dream girl. Looking a little too far ahead there, Dr. C. Mindy (looking like a fucking angel, I should mention) is understandably crestfallen at their fancy, romantic Christmas dinner and lets the disappointment lead her back to an opportunity she’d all but written off.

I’m a huge fan of Dr. Fishman, not just because Niecey Nash is such a welcome addition to the cast. The doctors needed an authority figure in their lives, and much to his chagrin, Jeremy ain’t it. This week, Jean opens a door for Mindy by recommending her for a fellowship at Stanford. Once pulled – kicking, screaming and threatened – into her teaching duties, Mindy actually excels at them. And don’t tell me her success isn’t due in some part to mimicking pop culture’s most inspirational teachers. (You know Mindy fancies herself one part Mr. Holland and two parts Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds.) She shows her students that doctors have a duty to see the person hauling around that pregnant belly. I know that I personally would welcome the distractions Dr. L would bring to my labor. For future reference: my favorite Wayne World’s scene is the one where Stacy gives Wayne a gun rack. Just kidding, I’m never subjecting myself to the horror of parenthood childbirth.

At first, Mindy pursues the fellowship because she feels defeated. She might even be trying to scare Danny into making a move. But she accidentally gets attached to the idea. She’s earned it. There’s a concrete reward that she can obtain – one that’s going to make her an even better doctor and teacher. That’s the kind of satisfaction you can only get from your career or, like, distance running. You will get out what you put in. And if you’re seeking that kind of one-to-one output from a relationship, you’re doing it wrong.

danny ken burns

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Awards Season is here! Thoughts on the Golden Globe Nominations

Posted by Kim

I can’t believe we’re going into our THIRD awards season as a blog, you guys.  Time flies when you’re consuming pop culture!  Awards Season kicked off in earnest this week (even though Critics have been announcing their awards since Thanksgiving) with both the Screen Actors Guild and the Golden Globes announcing their nominations.  The Golden Globes is consistently our favorite awards show, thanks to the free-flowing champagne, the TV and Film Worlds colliding, and (for the past 2 years) hosts and queens of the Universe Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Tina and Amy will be returning as hosts again this year AND George Clooney is getting the DeMille, so the night is already shaping up to be a good one (WHAT WILL AMAL WEAR???).  Let’s get right to discussing the nominees, as I have a lot of feelings.

Best Motion Picture, Drama
Boyhood
Foxcatcher
The Imitation Game
Selma
The Theory of Everything

I’ve seen Foxcatcher and The Theory of Everything.   While I enjoyed both movies (Theory especially), neither of them EXCITED me in the way that movies like The Social Network, Up In The Air, and 12 Years a Slave have in the past.  Neither of them screamed BEST PICTURE.  They were both more acting showcases.  I clearly have a lot of catching up to do.  Boyhood has been a big player in the critics awards, so it has to be the one to beat here.  But don’t count out Theory and Imitation…this IS the Foreign Press we’re talking about here.

The biggest snub to me in this category is Wild, which has been one of my favorites of the year.  Earlier this week Nathaniel Rogers of The Film Experience (one of the most pro-Actress sites out there) pondered if Wild wasn’t catching on (other than for Witherspoon) because it’s a lady fronted film.  I think he’s right, especially when you look at the accolades racked up by similar male-led films like 127 Hours and Into the Wild.

WOMEN!  Amirite?

Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
Birdman
Into the Woods
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Pride
St. Vincent

This category seems tailor-made for a big glossy musical like Into the Woods (IS IT CHRISTMAS DAY YET?), but with 7 total nominations, Birdman is the obvious favorite here.  Confession time.  I HATED Birdman.  I admired a lot about it, but as a whole, the movie just left me with a “WHY??” feeling.  So if it continues to win all the things, it’s going to be a VERY long awards season for me. People were very excited this morning to see Pride on this list, so it has bumped to the top of my must see list.

I would have loved to have seen Begin Again in this category but it’s summer release is probably playing against it (and all the Once comparisons).  One movie I am THRILLED to NOT see here is the atrocious remake of Annie.  Guys.  It’s SO BAD.

Best Animated Motion Picture
Big Hero 6
The Book of Life
The Boxtrolls
The Lego Movie
How to Train Your Dragon 2

The Lego Movie is one of the biggest commercial hits of the year AND it was critically adored.  Game Over, me thinks.

Best Director
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Ava DuVernay, Selma
David Fincher, Gone Girl
Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Birdman
Richard Linklater, Boyhood

This is a super exciting category!  I was thrilled to see David Fincher included.  Also, I’m counting Linklater’s nomination as retroactive love for the Before Trilogy.

And Interstellar has to be dead in the water now, as far as major awards, right?  I’m sure it will get a slew of tech nominations, but better luck next time, Chris Nolan.

Best Actor, Drama
Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler
David Oyelowo, Selma
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

These five men, along with Birdman‘s Michael Keaton, are the ones fighting for the Oscar nominations.  6 men, 5 slots.  WHO MISSES OUT?

This one is hard to predict for me.  Eddie Redmayne is PHENOMENAL but is he famous enough (he’s also SUPER young)?  This is my one hesitation with him.  Yeah, yeah, people keep throwing Adrien Brody at me when I say that.  But Brody is the exception to the rule when it comes to awards.  Can it just be a three-way tie with Redmayne, Carell, and Benny Batch?  Eddie and Benny can share custody of the trophy since they are besties.

Best Actress, Drama
Jennifer Aniston, Cake
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Wild is the best work of Reese’s career, hands down.  I love Julianne and Jenn, but I’m super annoyed that their films are only doing awards qualifying runs, meaning that the fact I live in NYC probably means that *I* will be able to see them before the awards, but the general public will not.  Such a disservice.  Don’t count out Pike, who turned in one of the most chilling performances of the year in Gone Girl. 

Best Actor, Musical or Comedy
Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Michael Keaton, Birdman
Bill Murray, St. Vincent
Joaquin Phoenix, Inherent Vice
Christoph Waltz, Big Eyes

This should be a cakewalk for Batman…erm…Birdman.  Super sad not to see James Corden here.  Don’t worry, Craig.  You’re still number one in our hearts.

Best Actress, Musical or Comedy
Amy Adams, Big Eyes
Emily Blunt, Into the Woods
Helen Mirren, The Hundred-Foot Journey
Julianne Moore, Maps to the Stars
Quvenzhané Wallis, Annie

Guys, I don’t want to hate on a child, but it is a TRAVESTY they nominated Wallis.  Annie is horrendous and she essentially sleepwalks through the movie.  You NEED to have a belter for Annie and a belter she is not.  She’s also not good at lip-synching and all the charm and promise she showed in Beasts of the Southern Wild is missing here.  (Perhaps this is the fault of the director?  It’s just bad.)  The Hundred Foot Journey was one of the most purely enjoyable movies of the year, but I expect its memory is too distant for the voters.  Moore will PROBABLY win in drama.  So it comes down to Blunt and Adams.  Amy is wonderful in Big Eyes, but Blunt’s role is showier and the most traditional musical/comedy performance here (as honestly, I don’t know what Big Eyes is doing in comedy).  I give the edge to Mrs. Krasinski.

(The fifth slot SHOULD have gone to Keira Knightley for Begin Again)

Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Emma Stone, Birdman
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

The big snub here is Laura Dern, who is absolutely luminous as Reese Witherspoon’s mother in Wild.  I don’t understand how this performance is not getting traction.  What I also don’t really get is how Emma Stone IS getting awards traction, other than riding on the coattails of all the Birdman love.  Don’t get me wrong, Emma is great in the movie, it just didn’t feel like an awards type of performance.  Meryl surely has the most attention grabbing role, but I suspect that if Blunt wins in Leading Actress, they may go in a different direction with this category.  Patricia Arquette has been getting all the critical love, so if she wins here, her road to Oscar looks pretty golden.

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The Head Over Feels Most Perfect Sunflower 2014

Posted by Kim and Sage

We’ve always said we are equal opportunity objectifiers here at Head Over Feels.  The Men have had their turn and in a fight to the finish, John Cho was crowned The Most Handsome Young Man.  Now we turn our eyes to the ladies.  This poll took a hiatus last year (SORRY WE ARE THE WORST) so Alison Brie and Christina Hendricks have enjoyed a long reign at the top.  You might notice that we changed the title from “Sexiest Woman Alive” to “Most Perfect Sunflower”, mainly in an homage to life hero Leslie Knope and her adoration of her best friend Ann Perkins.  But “Most Perfect Sunflower” also perfectly encompasses how we feel about these women.  Sure, they are all beautiful and sexy…but you won’t see any lingerie shoots in this post.  (Hey, we avoided shirtlessness for most of the guys, Stephen Amell aside, and it’s hard to find a picture where Amell is NOT shirtless)  We love these women for their looks AND their personalities.  These are the women who delight us on a weekly basis and the women we most want to have a slumber party with.  They are our (fantasy) friends and they are our role models and they are our beauty icons.  Perfect sunflowers, all of them.

Be sure to vote in the poll at the end of this post.  Voting will close December 14th (this coming Sunday) at 9 PM.  Let your voice be heard.

Gillian Anderson

What the hell kind of reverse-aging voodoo is going on here and how do I get in on it?

When I look at Gillian Anderson’s face, a neon-sign in my brain flashes the word “LUMINOUS.” Somebody left the light on inside her, and its our privilege to bask in it.

Obviously, Gillian could be considered a Head Over Feels poster girl solely for her near 15-year run as Special Agent Dana Scully, blessed be her name. But the actress is having a renaissance of sorts. She’s been steadily working since the show ended, obviously. But the world-at-large seems to be rediscovering the actress thanks to her consistency, interesting choices, and, of course, hotness.

Let’s start with Hannibal, in which Gillian plays the exquisitely named Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier. She fits into that gorgeous, opulent world like a figure into a painting. Step back, Olivia Pope. I could watch this lady drink red wine in expensive blouses allll day long. Bedelia will be back this coming season, under some…different circumstances. (No spoilers here!) Gillian is a regular this go-round, which means that one of the most beautiful shows to look at just got more so.

Then there’s The Fall‘s Stella Gibson, the second best law enforcement professional Gillian’s ever played. For those of you who haven’t experienced this woman yet, DO. She oozes capability and sexual confidence, smashing the patriarchy to itty bitty pieces while she tracks an Irish serial killer. It’s required viewing for media-consuming feminists.

On stage, Gillian took on the legendary role of Blanche DuBois in the Young Vic’s production of A Streetcar Named Desire. We saw it when Fathom Events hosted showings of the production in movie theaters across the country and walked out asking ourselves how the hell she pulled that off eight shows a week. I was exhausted just sitting on my ass and watching her Southern Belle flame-out.

Beyond her range-y talent (did I mention she wrote a BOOK?) and ever-growing sexiness, what elevates Gillian Anderson to Perfect Sunflower level is her laugh. There are whole YouTube tributes dedicated to it. It’s totally un-self-conscious – when Gillian breaks, she breaks hard. And how can anyone on set be annoyed that the take is ruined when they’ve got this one giggling away in their presence? I’ve been a fan of this very singular laugh since The X-Files wrap party blooper reels started making their way onto the internet in the mid-’90’s. And I’m delighted that it and the cheeky sense of humor behind it haven’t diminished in the slightest. Gillian reminds me of a young Meryl in a lot of ways. She brings a profound sense of fun and play to even the most somber roles, and she never takes herself too seriously. No wonder David’s still sprung after all these years.

–Sage

Nicole Beharie

The men of Sleepy Hollow have dominated the contest for the Men with Tom Mison winning in 2013 and John Cho winning this year’s poll.  Now we turn to Sleepy‘s pint-sized leading lady and SHAME ON US for waiting this long to celebrate the wonder that is Nicole Beharie.  Nicole is a KNOCK-OUT, y’all.  She’s got this beautiful (and glowing) skin, fantastic hair that looks amazing both in its natural and straightened state, Disney Princess eyes, fierce eyebrows (which I am beginning to think is a casting requirement on Sleepy Hollow), and lips to rival Angelina Jolie’s.  Her smile is like sunshine.  But what my favorite thing about Nikki is that her supermodel looks aren’t off-putting or intimidating.  She is utterly approachable and warm and we may envy her beauty, but we never hate her for it.  And unlike her counterparts on other procedural shows, you never look at Abigail Mills and don’t believe that she is a cop who could kick your ass (practical demon chasing footwear FTW!).

Her ASS though. Perfection.

Don’t even get me started on how amazing Grace Abigail Mills is and how wonderfully Nikki brings her to life.  Abbie’s brilliant, she’s determined, she’s tough…but she also feels things incredibly deeply and is fiercely devoted to the people she cares about.  She’s been through a lot of shit in her life, so she’s emotionally guarded for very good reasons.  That’s why it’s so amazing that she opened her heart (not even in the romantic sense) so quickly to Ichabod Crane.  Ichabod, with all his freely expressed emotions, may be the heart of Sleepy Hollow, but Abbie is the SOUL.  Sleepy Hollow works because of Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie’s performances (and I love that they are as wonderful together OFFSCREEN as they are ON).  Their chemistry rivals David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson’s (hence the reason we often compare Ichabbie to Mulder and Scully).  It’s lightning in a bottle and Nicole’s performance is so grounded and honest that you always believe her, whether she’s chasing down Wendigos or teaching Ichabod the ins and outs of baseball.  We’ve been promised a big Abbie story for the back half of Season Two, and I for one, can’t wait to see what Nikki does with it.  If it’s anything like her performance in “Mama”, we’re in for a real treat.

Like Gillian Anderson’s giggle, what elevates Nikki to Most Perfect Sunflower status is her DELIGHTFUL facial expressions.  The woman has zero poker face in interviews.  (NEVER FORGET her face as she watched Tom play Marry, Fuck, Kill at SDCC this year.) Her reactions are priceless and begging to be made into gifs.  I just love that she has a great sense of humor and also wears her heart on her sleeve.  Having interviewed her at NYCC 2013, I can say that she is a DELIGHT in person and I could make a flip book of all her facial expressions.

Y’all know we love a gal who can rock some polka dots.  (Note from Sage: taking this picture was one of my proudest moments of NYCC)

Nicole Beharie looking fab at #NYCC! #SleepyHollow

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The gauntlet has been thrown down, Sleepyheads?  Don’t you think Nikki is worthy of Most Perfect Sunflower?  Tom certainly seems to think so.

— Kim

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