Live Blogging the 2016 Golden Globes Red Carpet

Posted by Kim and Sage

HAPPY AWARDS SEASON AND GOD BLESS US EVERY ONE. We’re expecting some major fashion on the Red Carpet tonight with the likes of Cate Blanchett, Charlize Theron, Lady Gaga and Kate Winslet in attendance. Who will stun and who will shock? We’ve got our eyes on newcomers like Brie Larson and Team Outlander hoping they will make a splash. (If Sam Heughan wears a kilt, please send help.) Is Jennifer Lawrence FINALLY free of her terrible Dior contract or will the label continue to do her wrong? Will the mani-cam rise again like a dark phoenix? Come back to this space at 6 PM EST for all the fashion and inane questions. We’ll bring the wine.

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The Best Performances of 2015

Posted by Kim and Sage

Sure, it’s 2016 now, but I’m still writing 2015 on my checks and I am still digesting all the great pop culture I took in over the past year, so we’re still allowed to talk about what blew us away in 2015.  We’ve already discussed our favorite moments on television for 2015 (find those posts here and here) and now it’s time to turn our attention to our favorite performances of the year. These are the characters who got under our skin. These are the actors who we would squeal in delight upon seeing their names in the credits. These are the performances that we’ll still be talking about when 2015 is but a distant twinkle in our eye. Who made the cut? Read on to find out! –Kim

1) Taraji P. Henson – Empire

On paper, Cookie Lyon was ALWAYS going to be an amazing character. While the story of Empire may be about her sons, it’s Cookie who has the redemption arc. She has the deep well of rage and the overwhelming to desire to take back what is rightfully hers and she has the razor-sharp wit to make every word that comes out of her mouth a catchphrase. Cookie was ALWAYS going to be great…but in the hands of Taraji P. Henson, Cookie Lyon became an instant icon. In every aspect of her performance, it is clear that Taraji has been waiting for Cookie her whole life. Watching Empire every week is like taking a masterclass in swagger. There is nothing more joyful to me than seeing an actor RELISH their role and Taraji does just that. It would be very easy to crossover into scenery chewing caricature with a character as LARGE as Cookie but Taraji never does. You always see the hint of vulnerability in her eyes behind the hurricane force bluster. Cookie is, after all, a woman who sacrificed everything for a man who turned out to be a shit. What’s not relatable about that? You tell ’em, Boo Boo Kitty. –Kim

2) Michelle Gomez – Doctor Who

When it comes to Doctor Who, I usually prefer that ingredients like classic, recurring villains are sprinkled in with a light hand. But Michelle Gomez’s “ba-na-naaaas!” interpretation of The Master, the Doctor’s long-haul BFF (Best Frenemy Forever) has me singing a different tune. The series 9 opening two-parter, “The Magician’s Apprentice”/”The Witch’s Familiar,” left me longing for Missy to take up residence in the TARDIS permanently. It’s to Michelle’s immense credit that much of the silly chatter following the Master’s change in gender died down soon after she sunk her teeth into the part. And sink her teeth in, she did. Michelle makes the Missy/Master her own with controlled mania and scathing one-liners. (“Murdering a Dalek. I’m a Time Lady; it’s our golf.”) I’m always, always happy to see her, even if the Doctor feels a little more conflicted. –Sage

3) Sam Heughan – Outlander

When his costars Caitriona Balfe and Tobias Menzies scored Golden Globe nominations for their work on Outlander, I was FLABBERGASTED that Sam Heughan didn’t. Perhaps the Leading Actor in a Drama field was too crowded (the likely culprit) or perhaps the voting body was just threatened by the fact that someone THAT PRETTY could be a damn good actor too (less likely but still probable). Jamie Fraser is unabashedly the stuff of fantasy and the fact that Sam Heughan LOOKS like he just stepped out of the pages of a romance novel, with the muscles and the chiseled cheekbones and the ginger curls and the ACCENT, just amps up the fantasy factor even more. It would have been easy for Outlander to just rest on Sam’s looks and let him spout lines like “Does it ever stop? The wanting you?” or “I said I was a virgin, not a monk” and let us all swoon. But nope. Outlander is way better than that. Sam had already shown incredible depth as an actor in all of Jamie’s flashbacks (who DIDN’T recoil when he was flogged until he passed out?) but he took it to an entirely different level when Jamie was tortured by Black Jack Randall. His single tear STILL haunts me. –Kim

4) Matt DamonThe Martian

Matt has always been my favorite, okay? (He needs to double-down on checking that privilege, but I believe in him.) He’s my little Will Hunting, with the tight t-shirts and the “equations and shit.” He’s my shameless Owen, Jack’s fiercest (and straightest) competition for the open spot in the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus, in the most outstanding episode of Will & Grace ever produced. And he’s my Jason Bourne, soon to return to the HQ spy franchise that doesn’t name its female characters after their own vaginas. He surprised me again in Ridley Scott’s The Martian as stranded astronaut/botanist Mark Watney. The Martian is Matt’s Castaway moment. He’s sans scene partner for the majority of the film. Even when he’s engaging with an actual person, it’s through some kind of device. And yet, Mark is flesh and blood to the audience, defined by his own determination and the humor he holds on to like a life preserver. The movie’s thesis is that any human life is worth preserving, even in the face of preposterous odds. But consider that his crew, the entire space program, and the whole planet may have rallied around Mark Watney just because Matt Damon made him such a deadass great guy. –Sage

5) Bill Hader – Trainwreck

God, I want to live in a world where the Adam Scotts and the Joel McHales and the Bill Haders are our romantic leads ALL THE TIME. I was so glad I was surrounded by girlfriends on either side of me when we saw Trainwreck in theatres because I made dying animal noises every time Bill Hader’s Aaron Conners was onscreen.  I had always been a fan of Bill’s (Stefon for LYFE) but his performance in Trainwreck made me see him in an entirely new light. Aaron is devastatingly sexy yet adorably awkward. He’s confident but not afraid to make himself vulnerable. He watches Downton Abbey with LeBron James. He sees through Amy’s bullshit and is not afraid to call her on it. He’s so REAL it almost hurts. But the best thing about him is that he says what he WANTS, for God’s sake.  There are no pretenses with him. Observe and imagine my very vocal reaction to this exchange…

AARON: Off the record, do you want to go grab some dinner?
AMY: Yeah, Aaron I think you are so great. But I’m a writer, I’m your writer and you’re my subject. From now on we need to keep it professional. You know?
AARON: No. I think we really like each other and we should start dating.
AMY: No. I’m saying– I’m confused. Am I not communicating this right?
AARON: No, I hear you. I’m saying I disagree. Do you like me?
AMY: Yes.
AARON: I really like you, so we should be a couple. 

DREAM MAN. May 2016 bring us ALL the Romantic Leading Men like Aaron Conners. The world will be a better place. –Kim

6) Krysten Ritter – Jessica Jones

Nothing about Jessica Jones is comfortable. There are no reminders that everything’s going to be okay, and even the people you want to trust can be turned against you in as little time it takes Kilgrave to grind out a few words. Krysten Ritter stands in the middle of that fire, leather jacket collar turned up against the flames and defiance dialed to 11. And even when she’s scared out of her mind and second-guessing her every action, she makes you want to stand there with her. I can’t imagine anyone but Krysten in this part; the rest of the ensemble is fearsomely well-cast and the writing and directing are tops, but this performance is the lynchpin. Krysten does Jessica justice, not just as a sloppy recluse turned low-key superhero, but as a rape survivor and a real, live, functioning adult dealing with mental health issues. One season in, and she’s already an icon. –Sage

7) Gina Rodriguez – Jane the Virgin

I can’t emphasize enough what a treasure both Gina Rodriguez and Jane the Virgin are. JTV swept the Feelies for a reason and it’s not just because Jaime Camil plugged us, though it certainly helped. (Thanks for the love, Ro!) It swept because Jane the Virgin is the most heartfelt, warm, outrageous, and FUNNY show on TV right now. It has helped fill the giant hole that Parks and Recreation left in my heart. Jane the Virgin would absolutely not work without the terrific performances of its cast and Gina’s Jane is the anchor. Her performance is one of the most fully realized on television right now and I feel sorry for anyone who HASN’T experienced it. Jane is spirited and Jane is funny and Jane is strong and Jane is brave. Gina breathes such LIFE into her from the sparkle in her eyes to her delightful cackle to her gleeful dance moves. But she also brings a beautiful vulnerability to the role (please to see the above gif). Gina can go from laughing to having tears in her eyes in a matter of seconds and she takes the viewers on that journey with her. You root for Jane and you want her to succeed in all areas of her life. It’s all just real and warm and I want Jane/Gina to be my best friend. If she’s not nominated for an Emmy this year, I’ll be leading the riots. –Kim

8) Charlize Theron – Mad Max: Fury Road

I love Mad Max: Fury Road so much? Like, a straight-up action movie has never meant so much to me, a connoisseur of Hugh Grant rom-coms and corseted literary adaptations. But then again, no other action movie has given me Charlize Theron sporting a buzz cut and a metal arm, driving the getaway “car” for a harem of freed sex slaves. The movie treats Imperator Furiosa like it would any male hero, except when it doesn’t. She’s stoic and dogged, and has no problem barking out orders to Max. But this fight is personal for her in a way that she knows it can’t be for him. I’d love to see Charlize get an Oscar nomination for this, actually, in the hopes of creating more Amazonian warrior roles for women in the future. (Please.) But I suppose I can settle for seeing Mad Max on the top of so many critics’ end-of-year lists and some fierce Furiosa cosplays at Comic Con. –Sage

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“It’s like loving the stars themselves.” – Doctor Who Recap, “The Husbands Of River Song”

doctor diver

Doctor Who Series 9, Episode 13
“The Husbands of River Song”
Posted by Sage

Especially in the Tennant era, Christmas specials functioned as transitional episodes. “Christmas Invasion,” “The Runaway Bride,” and “Voyage of the Damned” are between-season interludes to get audiences acclimated to a change, whether it’s a new-new Doctor sword-fighting in his PJs or a companion’s recent departure. I knew, because of Jenna Coleman’s announcement, that “The Husbands of River Song” would be that kind of Christmas special too. And I worried. Steven Moffat has no objectivity when it comes to this character. And I’m still in mourning. Could Moffat write River the way he wanted and still be sensitive to Clara’s memory? It helped that he nearly wrote out the Doctor’s grief completely. But just nearly.

Will “The Husbands of River Song” go down in Doctor Who history as one of the show’s finest holiday episodes? No, of course not. But it serves its purpose. I am satisfied by the end of Clara Oswald’s story, but that didn’t mean I was ready to welcome a new companion the moment the credits of “Hell Bent” started to roll. But this episode functioned as a narrative stepping stone. A palate cleanser. And guess what? Peter Capaldi has chemistry with everyone, so bring on that new TARDIS roommate, whoever he, she, or it may be.

Alex Kingston was one of the headlining guests at Chicago TARDIS 2015. And though some trailers and promotional images had been released for the episode, there was little she could share in the way of details. What she could tell us about the ownership some of the men in her life feel over River Song is about as surprising as a “Hello, sweetie” in one of her episodes. For a time, Moffat considered making series 9 his last as showrunner. And if that season’s special would be the last he’d ever write, he wanted River on it. And then there’s Matt, who apparently confronted Alex in the wee hours of her own wedding reception to express his jealousy that “his” wife would be working with another Doctor. See what I mean about the objectivity? It’s sweet, yeah, but this favoritism is what’s always made me uncomfortable about Dr. Song as a character.

There’s a huge and passionate River Song fandom, and more power to ’em. Not being a card-carrying member, I went into this Christmas special reminding myself that maybe I wasn’t the intended audience, and that that was okay. To my surprise, this episode was the most effective use of River’s character since her debut in “The Silence in the Library” two-parter, and at no point did I feel like she was being ranked ahead of Clara. Nor that their characters were even being compared. And honestly, PHEW.

River is at best when she is allowed to be vulnerable, same as the Doctor. I grow frustrated with her in series 6, because she’s rarely anything less than perfectly confident and aggravatingly inaccessible. She’s, like, the opposite of a Mary Sue: a male fantasy of sexual domination and the “cougar” trope, armed with poisonous lipstick and an arsenal of innuendo. What could be more boring?

That’s how River starts off in this episode too, but more of her is eventually, finally revealed. Moffat has grown in this area, as “Hell Bent” certainly proves. And River benefits from his feminist leveling-up as well. The Doctor runs into Dr. Song (or is dragged to her, more accurately) on the planet Mendorax Dellora in the year 5434, by Nardole, a bumbling jester of sorts. (Matt Lucas is great, but Nardole is sadly extraneous. I won’t be mentioning him again.) River has called for a surgeon, and she and her minion think the Doctor is it. He’s thrilled to see her, of course. (“Rivaaaaaaaahhhh!”) She hasn’t a blessed clue who he is. And she wants to retain her anonymity as well.

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The Doctor goes along with the misunderstanding for two reasons: first, he’s dying to see what River’s gotten up to (and he’s sure she’ll eventually need his help); and second, he’s waiting for her to recognize him. He can’t believe she hasn’t already; he’s well aware she’s cleverer than him in a laundry list of ways.

you knowyou know 2
 

River has called for a surgeon to aid her husband, King Hydroflax, who has a foreign object lodged in his brain. She tends to him – while the Doctor looks on incredulously – laying on the endearments and the promises of eternal loyalty. By the way, King Hydroflax isn’t, strictly speaking, a person. But if anyone could get a murderous 10-foot-tall android with a human head to settle down with her, it’s River. The Doctor hates this. A lot. And he’s always been a bit shit at covering up his jealousy. (“That’s who you’re married to? Not….anybody else?”)

river husband

This marriage, not unlike any of her others probably, is a long con. The projectile that’s killing Hydroflax is the Halassi Androvar – the most valuable diamond in universe – and River wants it. She engaged the services of a surgeon not to save the brutish dictator, but to pull a Queen of Hearts. (“I basically married the diamond.”) Why does she need a professional to go “off with his head” if his survival isn’t a necessity? I assume that she just got the an obscenely expensive manicure at some swanky space salon or some such. That doesn’t matter, nor does the rest of the episode’s weak-ish plotting. What does matter is that River Song was once married to Stephen Fry, and the Doctor’s still not over that either.

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TL;DR: River and the Doctor escape Hydroflax’s flying saucer (that’s what it is!) with his head in a duffel bag. He’s still alive and threatening them (“Oh, zip it.”), and his metal body is on the hunt for a replacement cranium. River rendezvous with another husband, the young and handsome Ramone, who’s been assisting her the whole time. Her getaway vehicle is the TARDIS; a reveal that leaves the Doctor looking annoyed, but not shocked. One of River’s strengths as a character is that her life outside of what we see on the show is so rich. The possibilities are endless, especially if she’s made a habit on borrowing “Dad’s” car when he’s otherwise engaged. There’s literally never a dull moment with River, no matter when Doctor Who catches up with her. She’s always neck-deep in some scheme, with a few needy men seduced into doing her bidding. (“I’ll see you on Temple Beach. I’ve already picked out your swimwear.”) She may not be my favorite companion, but she is kind of my hero.

Between all the kissing (“As an activity, it’s not hugely varied, is it?”) and the decapitated despot in his luggage, the Doctor isn’t having a great time. That is, until he realizes that he can finally give himself and his TARDIS the awed reaction that they both deserve. It’s the comedic high point of the episode and a sad reminder that all of series 9 was far too serious for the a show led by the guy who played Malcolm Tucker.

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Once River has her ride and a fresh drink (did the Doctor even know the TARDIS has a bar cart?), it’s off to the Starship Harmony & Redemption. That’s a space cruise with a very nice name intended for a lot of very not-nice people, and the best place to find a buyer who won’t mind snuffing out Hydroflax in order to fish out his prize. (“Suites are reserved for planet burners.”) The Doctor is still nipping along at River’s heels, increasingly desperate for the other shoe to drop. How can she not know him? Is he so changed? And where did she get her wallet gallery of his 12 other faces?

doctor photos

That sad ‘lil flip. 🙁

River’s inability or unwillingness to recognize her “surgeon” for who he really is gives the Doctor the first chance he’s had to anonymously observe her. On the surface, she’s all one-liners and sparkly dresses, as per usual. He’s the only one of her husbands who can spot the melancholy under the glamour. The source? Her salacious travel read. It’s her own story, which she fears is rapidly coming to a close.

diary

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