Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Top 10 TV Programs of 2017-2018


Maybe I've become spoilt for choice over the years, but I must confess that the overall TV programming in 2017-2018 didn't feel as groundbreaking as seasons past. Apart from a few exceptions - including a returning powerhouse duo from the ever reliable FX - the top programs I watched this year were mostly stalwart favourites offering familiar pleasures. Still, the ever growing TV landscape did provide some freshman entries which underlined the boundless potential of peak TV. As eclectic as ever, the best of TV provided a diverse range of entertainment to suit virtually all tastes. Here are those Top 10 Programs of the 2017-2018 TV Season:

  1. Queen Sugar (OWN)
  2. The Americans (FX)
  3. Patton Oswalt: Annihilation (Netflix)
  4. Outlander (Starz)
  5. Godless (Netflix)
  6. Insecure (HBO)
  7. Orange is the New Black (Netflix)
  8. Game of Thrones (HBO)
  9. Atlanta (FX)
  10. The Good Fight (CBS All Access)

Honorable Mention: Queer Eye

Top 10 Acting Performances of 2017-2018 TV

Best Casting: Godless, GLOW, Queen Sugar

While the 2016-2017 season brought a heavenly smorgasbord of outstanding female performances, I found myself unexpectedly drawn more to the scintillating men of the small screen this year. Indeed, my Top 10 Acting Performances features 6 such male actors who challenged themselves with daring work that proved integral to the success of their respective shows. Crude, bizarre and even downright psychotic, these MVPs never played within the comfort zone.

Equally impressive were their 4 female counterparts on this list, who all portrayed leaders in their own right and brilliantly navigated the associated complexities relating to racial oppression and capitalism. Altogether, their characters may live in vastly different eras and locales. But they are all uncompromising portrayals that get to the heart of what it means to live in America. Here are my Top 10 Acting Performances of the 2017-2018 TV Season.
  1. Darren Criss, The Assassination of Gianni Versace
  2. Donald Glover, Atlanta
  3. Marc Maron, GLOW
  4. Dawn-Lyen Gardner, Queen Sugar
  5. Rutina Wesley, Queen Sugar
  6. Keri Russell, The Americans
  7. Matthew Rhys, The Americans
  8. Jon Jon Briones, The Assassination of Gianni Versace
  9. Brian Tyree Henry, Atlanta
  10. Danielle Brooks, Orange Is the New Black

Monday, April 30, 2018

20 Most Anticipated Performances of 2018

While movie lovers around the world are gearing up for another jam-packed summer slate of effects-driven films, more discerning cinephiles will also be eagerly anticipating movie magic of a different sort. Indeed, in the coming months and throughout the fall, audiences will be treated to the crème de la crème of arguably cinema's most spectacular element - the actors. Some of them will go on to garner Oscar buzz, while others will live on as fan favorites. Either way, the standout performers will never be forgotten. As we look ahead to what the remainder of 2018 has to offer, here are my 20 Most Anticipated Performances of 2018:

REVIEW: In the Last Days of the City


How do you capture the essence of a city? Is it the people, the buildings, the sounds? In Tamer El Said’s elegiac debut film “In the Last Days of the City“, one man wrestles with this central question as he attempts to capture a cinematic portrait of a place that no longer feels like home.

Read more at The Awards Circuit

REVIEW: Godard Mon Amour


There’s a cruel irony that runs through “Godard Mon Amour“, the latest nostalgia-tinged effort from Michel Hazanavicius. Its titular subject – famed pioneer of the French New Wave Jean Luc Godard – was known for his anti-establishment, inventive style of filmmaking. The name Godard is, therefore, one of the last names you would associate with a genre as old-fashioned as the biopic. But in perhaps one of the boldest moves of his career, Hazanavicius makes a valiant, if misguided attempt at capturing a key moment in the auteur’s life.

Read more at The Awards Circuit

REVIEW: Zama


Early in Lucrecia Martel’s historical drama “Zama“, there’s a portentous scene that sets the one for the rest of the film. In it, a man recalls the story of a species of fish that spends its entire life swimming to and fro against the tide of the water, forever remaining in one place. The significance of this anecdote isn’t immediately apparent. But as this story unfolds, it becomes a metaphor for the film itself, which follows a man who is actively going nowhere.

Read more at The Awards Circuit

REVIEW: Boyz n the Hood


During the recently concluded awards season, the Hollywood Reporter published an interesting article in honor of the success of “Get Out”. In it, all of the African-American directing nominees in the history of the Oscars gathered for a candid discussion about their experiences in the industry. Before even reading the article, the accompanying photo was already telling in two significant ways. Firstly, the paltry 4 nominees couldn’t even fill a single year’s quota of nominees. And secondly, the oldest nominated film represented was “Boyz n the Hood“, released just 27 years ago in the summer of 1991. Though the blaxploitation movement had already emerged out of the civil rights movement and Spike Lee had given us the seminal “Do the Right Thing” two years earlier, it wasn’t until “Boyz n the Hood” that a black director finally received that public stamp of industry approval.

Read more at The Awards Circuit

REVIEW: The China Hustle


By no fault of its own, Jed Rothstein’s “The China Hustle” is an eye-opening yet somewhat underwhelming documentary. Thanks to prominent media coverage and a slew of fiction and non-fiction films about the 2008 economic crisis, its revelations of fraud will hardly alarm even the most casually informed viewer. Many Americans have already become disillusioned with the nation’s financial institutions. But this fascinating documentary further adds an unexpected piece to a global puzzle of capitalism gone mad.

Read more at The Awards Circuit

REVIEW: Keep the Change


As the spirit of activism attempts to upend longstanding Hollywood paradigms, efforts at more inclusive filmmaking practices is a trending topic. Indeed, Frances McDormand recently sent the world into a googling frenzy when she ended her Oscar acceptance speech with the word “inclusion rider”. But what do we mean when we say “inclusion”? Too often our discussions around diversity are quite literally “black and white”. But the fabric of our modern society is a technicolor quilt of varied experiences, all of which deserved to be treated with the level of sincere empathy that writer-director Rachel Israel brings to “Keep the Change“. In this award-winning debut feature, Israel delivers a precious take on the classic romantic comedy, casting a pair of autistic characters as its lovestruck leads.

Read more at The Awards Circuit

REVIEW: Claire's Camera


In the opening moments of Hong Sang-soo’s “Claire’s Camera“, a film sales assistant named Manhee (Kim Min-hee) is fired during a work trip at the Cannes Film Festival. The reasoning for her dismissal is a lack of trust, as her boss claims that she lacks honesty. As we follow her subsequent aimless drifting through this seaside city, the notion of truth becomes a primary concern for the film, which commits steadfastly to understated realism.

Read more at The Awards Circuit