2013 Roundup: Ben and Nina’s Movies of the Year

Wasn’t this a damn good year for movies? While the summer blockbuster season wasn’t so up to par, there were some gems just waiting for us at the end of the year, with the Oscars sure to be one of the most exciting in years. It was hard for me to pick 5 definitive films that defined 2013, but lo and behold, here are my picks for the movies that made 2013 a great year!

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2013 Roundup: Ben and Nina’s TV Shows of the Year

What a crazy good year for TV – well, sometimes. For every Orange is the New Black you have a Dads, and so on and so forth. Here, Ben and I pick our favorites and what we consider to be the most important TV this year, new or old – if it’s old, we’re discussing the current season, obviously. Onwards!

EDITOR’S NOTE: All of our lists are in no particular order.

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2013 Roundup: Nina’s Albums of the Year

Hey, guys! Merry Post-Christmas week – may it be full of juice cleanses, gym visits, and crippling food guilt. I’ll be kicking off our 2013 Roundup with my 5 most important pop albums of the year, since I’m pretty sure Ben only listens to cast recordings and accordion music! (Love you, buddy.) We’ll be doing our TV and movie lists this week as well, which will be our combined picks. Click the cut to see all five!

EDITOR’S NOTE: All of our lists will be in no particular order.

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Awards Season Review: Inside Llewyn Davis

Oscar Isaac as Llewyn Davis.

Man, do the Coens ever know how to direct, write, and shoot a goddamn movie. Inside Llewyn Davis is their most unrelentingly bleak effort in years. The movie is beautiful, tragic, and seemingly plotless (I’m having some deja-vu to my last review), but comes full circle in a staggering way. It’s the very definition of a “black comedy;” every time you laugh, you feel bad about it a minute later.

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Awards Season Review: American Hustle

Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams.

David O. Russell seems to be on a character study schedule – one year, it’s down and out brothers in The Fighter; the next, it’s a couple who find solace in the other’s crazy, in Silver Linings Playbook; and this year, it’s hustlers, housewives and corrupt government men in American Hustle. Russell is famously concerned with characters over plot. In fact, despite its apparently tightly written script, many moments in Hustle were improvised, which concerned one of its stars, Christian Bale – to which Russell responded that “[he] hates plots.” This piece of trivia alone will divide the movie’s viewers, and so far, it HAS been pretty divisive. A review from Ben, my co-editor, is forthcoming, and while I enjoyed the film, he actually almost walked out. So we’ll get to that in a few days.

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Awards Season Review: Saving Mr. Banks


Despite what one may think after seeing Saving Mr. Banks, Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers never did end up liking the film adaptation of her most famous work. She hated it with a passion. Any historical account of the matter will let you know that. But then what is the duty of a film like this one? Is it ok to subvert the truth for the sake of telling an entertaining story?

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Review: Anchorman 2

You should know this by now, but: Will Ferrell as Ron Burgundy, with Christina Applegate as Veronica Corningstone.

Last night, I was lucky enough to see a premiere of Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., which opened with a live interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper and David Koechner, otherwise known as Champ Kind. Koechner, in the middle of the interview, pointed out that when the sequel was announced, people were… well, really concerned. Luckily, there was no reason for concern. Anchorman 2 is exactly what you would expect from an Anchorman sequel, and for me, that wasn’t a problem at all.

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Review: Beyoncé

Note: I intended to post my album review on Monday, but started out with a track by track analysis, which I gave up on fairly quickly – NOBODY actually wants to listen to me dissect seventeen music videos. So, I scrapped that in favor of more of an overview, so as to bore people less.

With just one move – a record-breaking, secretly released, visual and auditory spectacle of an album – Beyoncé is back on top, after a few years out of the game. Beyoncé, her fifth studio album, could be called a memoir of Queen Bey, although it’s not exactly chronological – maybe it’s more of a personal introspection. Whatever you want to call it, it is deeply personal, which is interesting from such a notoriously private woman. The album is self-assured, powerful, sexy, luxurious, and (here I go, dropping the F-bomb) feminist. The fourteen songs are a great album on their own, but with the accompanying, exquisitely shot videos that form a fascinating narrative, the whole package becomes epic.

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ICYMI: Friday, December 13


Uh oh, guys. It’s Friday the Thirteenth. But instead of Jason coming for us, we’ve got confused Don Draper and Queen Bey to deal with.

-As literally everyone on the planet, dead or alive, now knows, Beyoncé dropped a surprise album either really early this morning or sometime last night (I’m having trouble figuring out which one) and subsequently BROKE THE INTERNET. The “visual album” is fourteen songs and SEVENTEEN videos and is available on iTunes now. I don’t think I’ve ever seen my newsfeeds flip a shit this intensely before. Jennifer Lawrence could choose today to put that turkey on her head and dance naked in The Daily Show‘s studio and no one would notice. Brb while I buy this album real fast.

-Apparently, SNL has been secretly auditioning black women?! I don’t really understand the need for secrecy, especially because I’ve seen or heard of a handful of the ladies listed in the article and they’re all hilarious. I’ve been secretly dreaming they’ll kidnap Jessica Williams from The Daily Show but I would miss her special reports WAY too much. Anyway, come on, SNL! Hire one of these women and stop putting Kenan in dresses!!

South Park, in its infinite wisdom, took on Kimye this week, running with the joke that Kim is actually a hobbit who’s just amazing at Photoshop, which sends Kanye goes on a press tour to prove his fiancée is NOT a Tolkien creature (though her pipe smoking habit and that one time she slayed a dragon with a bunch of dwarves are hard to explain). They make fun of Bound 2, obviously, and even throw in an “Imma let you finish” joke about the Pope winning Time‘s Person of the Year (which goes to show how quick Stone and Parker are, since that happened, I believe, ON WEDNESDAY.) As is to be expected, everything about it is brilliant.

-Re: less brilliant shows, Tosh.0 has been renewed for three more seasons (through season 8). I’m just not a big fan of Daniel “Sexist rape jokes are hilarious!” Tosh, though.

-Writers for Fast and Furious 7 are scrambling to rewrite parts of the movie in an effort to use the scenes that Paul Walker shot before his death. There are a lot of legal and financial issues related to this too, but it also seems very difficult to retire a character in a series about car racing when the actor died imitating art. Let’s all hope they find a tasteful way, somehow.

Dann Florek, aka Captain Cragen, is leaving Law and Order: SVU. This comes on the heels of Richard Belzer’s exit, and to be honest, I never really got over Christopher Meloni leaving. When is enough enough, NBC?!

Netflix has picked up a cartoon from Will Arnett and Aaron Paul called BoJack Horseman about a washed up horse star trying to reclaim his former glory and drinking a lot of whiskey. Amy Sedaris is also lending her voice to the project. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that this sounds like the greatest show that has ever been or will ever be.

-In cute videos, Jimmy Fallon found footage of Amy Adams’ first onscreen work and they watched it together on his show. It’s a Grease themed bank commercial, so of course it’s amazing.

-And finally, the first teaser for Doctor Who‘s Christmas special (and Matt Smith’s final episode) dropped. I’m a few seasons behind, so I need time to deal with my emotions over saying goodbye to the adorable and hilarious Matt Smith. Wah.

Best of lists coming soon! Some time off will be taken for the holidays, so the lists will be up in the next week or so. Now, go spend too much money on gifts people don’t need!

Golden Globes Nominations: Same Old, Same Old.


(We apologize about the formatting of this article, we had to discuss this over GChat, and thus the spacing came out weird. We’ll make sure this doesn’t happen on future posts!)

BEN:  Oh, The Golden Globes. My favorite awards ceremony, just because of how seriously some people take them. People don’t realize that the Hollywood Foreign Press (who run the Globes) are a tiny committee most interested in promoting star power, especially when it comes to the film acting categories.

NINA:  And this year, the HFPA made some totally left-field choices – snubbing things like Mad Men and Game of Thrones, throwing James Spader into the mix (why?) and excluding the late, great James Gandolfini from a nomination for Enough Said because “he can’t come to the show.” Keepin’ it classy, guys. Let’s go over some snubs, shockers, and just the rest of the insanity you can expect from the Globes.