That’s a wrap for the 89th Academy Awards Ceremony!

What a night! The ceremony opened with a lively performance of “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” by Justin Timberlake along with some backup dancers. It set the tone for an upbeat and fun show. Jimmy Kimmel’s monologue was surprisingly funny; I was pleased with his jokes and surprises. The bus full of tourists was definitely one of my favorite parts of the night because (as far as we know) it was honest. Kimmel’s famous “Mean Tweets” segment, which is celebrities reading mean tweets about themselves, added his personal touch to the night. My other favorite bit was when Kimmel was talking to Sunny Pawar, the 8 year-old star of the first half of Lion. He didn’t win anything but it was apparent that he was psyched to just be there.

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I did end up seeing all but one of the movies nominated for Best Picture (I didn’t see Hell or High Water). I am upset that Hidden Figures and Lion didn’t win anything because they both told such incredible and true stories.

However, I can honestly say that all the awards that won were well deserved. I am especially thrilled that La La Land won for cinematography and the soundtrack/song. I still listen to that soundtrack everyday and it is breathtaking. Emma Stone’s performance was so raw and heartfelt (as I describe in another post about the film) and I am so happy she won Best Actress in a Leading Role! John Legend performed a medley consisting of “Audition and “City of Stars,” which were both nominated for Original Song (“City of Stars” won in that category). Damien Chazelle is now the youngest to take home the award for Directing. This honor opens a whole new world for him as a director because he has now earned the trust of producers and executives. I am excited to see what he creates in the future!

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ESPN’s 8-hour special entitled OJ: Made in America won for Documentary Feature. Yes, I did watch all 8 hours of it (and it was worth it). It didn’t just go through the trial; it went all the way back to the LA riots and gave background information on all those events, which is important to know in the context of OJ’s trial. Netflix’s The White Helmets won for Documentary Short. The 40-minute documentary is about a group in Syria called The White Helmets who are the first on site right after a bombing to save innocent lives and help those who are stuck under rubble. It’s fast-paced and informative that’s worth the watch.

Viola Davis received the award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Fences. Her speech was elegant and sincere (not to mention that she looked absolutely stunning in her red gown). Mahershala Ali won in the male category for the same award. He is the first Muslim to win an Oscar, which is groundbreaking especially because of the current political climate and the discrimination against Muslims. Though he doesn’t have a lot of screen time in Moonlight, his character is very important and plays a huge role in shaping the main character, Chiron.

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Another actress who looked beautiful in a red gown was 16-year-old Auli’i Cravalho (above), who is the voice of Moana. She sang “How Far I’ll Go,” which was nominated for Original Song, with an original prologue by Lin-Manuel Miranda. During her performance, she unfortunately got hit in the head with a flag that one of the backup dancers were holding, but she kept going like a professional and she made it look like it didn’t even happen! Zootopia won for Best Animated Feature, which I was so excited about because it was such an amazing movie that everyone should watch, not just kids! There are messages in the film about discrimination and friendship that are so important for children to see and understand. It’s currently streaming on Netflix so if you don’t know what to watch, definitely give it a shot (I promise you’ll be crying at the end).

Of course, one of the most talked about moments of the night was when La La Land was mistakenly announced for winner of Best Picture. It was just a bad situation because they were halfway through their acceptance speeches when they realized they didn’t win! It took away from the excitement for Moonlight. Nevertheless, I am glad that Moonlight ended up winning Best Picture because the film tells a story that might be uncomfortable for some but it’s a conversation that needs to happen and shouldn’t be ignored.

I can’t end this blog post without mentioning that Taraji P. Henson and Janelle Monae looked AMAZING. They were without a doubt my two favorites on the Red Carpet last night. Just see for yourselves.

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A Valentine’s Day Comedy Special

If you watch a lot of stand up and comedy shows on Netflix, you probably got a notification about “Michael Bolton’s Big, Sexy Valentine’s Day Special.” Since I had no other plans, I decided to watch it (also because I saw Fred Armisen on one of the thumbnails). I had no idea what to expect because I don’t really know much about Bolton. I do love a random Netflix comedy special that didn’t have a lot of publicity leading up to it!

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It was weird, dirty, and original. It was great. Scott Aukerman (“Comedy Bang Bang”) and Akiva Schaffer (The Lonely Island) co-directed the special with an all-star cast. Andy Samberg, Sarah Silverman, Maya Rudolph, and Will Forte are just a few of the comedians who appear in the show. There is singing, dancing, sketches, and weird romance (and maybe even an appearance from Santa Clause). I don’t want to give too much away so I’m going to stop. But if you don’t like SNL, then you’re probably going to hate Michael Bolton’s special, so don’t watch it. If you DO Like SNL and you wouldn’t mind if it even went a step further, then why are you still reading this? GO WATCH!

Netflix’s growth for second quarter disappoints

Netflix is a word that has become part of our everyday vocabulary. Instead saying, “I’m going to watch (insert show or movie),” people say, “I’m going to watch Netflix.” Founded in 1997, Netflix is one of the oldest online streaming services, which originally started as only a DVD delivery service. Since starting the online streaming in 2007, it has expanded globally. It is now available in almost every country. The most recent forecast for growth, however, was disappointing for investors. The company announced that in the second quarter of the year, it expects to add only two million new subscribers outside of the US, which is 1.5 million less than what analysts had expected. The news resulted in the shares going down more than 10%. Netflix is predicting that they will break-even in profit by the end of 2016.

With more and more competition popping up everyday, it might be hard for Netflix to keep up. One thing they have going for them is that they have no ads (and they better not start). Hulu has ads, which is usually the number one reason people get turned off by it (it’s not just a quick 10 or 15 second ad, they’re the length of a regular commercial break on TV). The reason each of the separate streaming services are able to keep up with one another is because most of them have original series’ on their sites, which get people to stay with their monthly subscription. In my opinion, the television show selection on Netflix is fantastic, though movies, not so much (but let’s be honest, it’s so easy to find free online movies nowadays). The growing online streaming industry is competitive so the only way to keep up is to keep producing original content. Netflix is also lucky because of its millions of loyal subscribers, who have been members for years before binge-watching was even a term.

Louis C.K.’s web series, ‘Horace and Pete’ comes to an end

Louis C.K. created, wrote, produced and starred in a web series called Horace and Pete that is exclusively available on his website for purchase. He ended the show without any warning to its fans until after the final episode was released. The season has ten episodes, which, now that the show has ended, can be purchased for $31. When the episodes were being released, the pilot was $5, the second episode was $2, and the rest were $3. Louis C.K. said that each episode costed $500,000, which has not yet been paid off from purchases. The show co-starred Steve Buscemi and had guest stars like Edie Falco, Jessica Lange, Aidy Bryant, Nina Arianda, and Alan Alda. Even with the wide variety of stars and big names on the credits, the comedian chose not to do any type of promotion for his show, which is highly unusual. He did say that now that the show has ended, he is dying to talk about it (and hopes that by the end of the summer, the show will pay itself off).

I watched the first episode of the show (I found out about it from one of my professors). From what I saw, it looked as though it was filmed like a stage production. In other words, they were very long takes and almost no cuts; the camera would just follow the actors around on the set. What Louis did was an interesting experiment for himself. It does not really prove much for the rest of the industry because there are probably very few actors who would have a successful show just by posting it on their website without any type of promotion, not even a single tweet. The material in each episode was very topical at the time it was released, which shows that it was filmed very recently. There would be a television on in the background showing Donald Trump saying something he said two days before the episode was released. I do plan on watching the rest of the show because it is unique and and refreshing, as it is not a traditional, formulaic series. It is funny, yet every time I laughed, I also questioned whether that line was supposed to be humorous. It was uncomfortable, in a way, which made it that much more enjoyable and desirable to watch. As Louis C.K. said in a press release to fans, Take your time watching it. Give it time. It doesn’t really follow any rhythms that you’re used to. So watch that one and wait a week and think about it.”

 

Original Article: http://variety.com/2016/tv/news/louis-ck-horace-and-pete-ends-1201755083/

Strong Ratings for ‘Grease: Live!’

On Sunday night, the much anticipated musical, “Grease: Live!” starring Julianne Hough as Sandy and Aaron Tveit as Danny Zuko, aired on Fox. There was speculation leading up to the event that they were going to delay the performance because of the rainy weather (there were multiple scenes outside) and that Vanessa Hudgens’ father passed away not even 24 hours before. Nevertheless, they put on an amazing show, and even Hudgens, who played Rizzo, did an outstanding job. The ratings were pretty high for a 3-hour live event. According to Variety, the musical “drew the best ratings for a musical since NBC’s “Sound of Music Live” in December 2013.” Overall, there was 12.2 million viewers from the hours of 7-10 PM; the number rose to 12.81 million during the last half hour. “Grease: Live!” even surpassed the number of viewers for the final season premiere of “American Idol.” There was also a huge social media presence with many using the hashtag #GreaseLive to talk about their opinions, most of which were positive.

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I always have very low expectations while watching these live musical television events because they are always based on a movie that was created many years ago and they can’t ever do it justice. However, as I am a fan of Vanessa Hudgens and Julianne Hough, I knew this would be no joke, so I was very much looking forward to it. Nowadays, the only time television gets high ratings is during a sports event or maybe a season premiere of a popular show; the ratings of Fox’s live musical event really show how much the audiences not only love the original movie from 1978, but also appreciate the revival and the modern adaptation. The work and effort of every single actor was evident through their intricate and careful portrayals of their characters, no matter how big or small the part. You may think three hours is a long time, but it was so enjoyable that I didn’t even notice 2 hours and 45 minutes had gone by during the final carnival scene. The cast and crew as a whole did an outstanding job, even through the wind and rain.

 

Original article: http://variety.com/2016/tv/news/grease-live-ratings-strong-fox-1201693599/