Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Top 10 TV Programs of 2015-2016

In less than 24 hours, the Emmy nominations for the 2015-2016 TV season and with that, we begin the final goodbyes to the past year of small screen programming. And what a great year it was, notably on the comedy side where shows both old and new brought as much depth and refined craft as their typically more esteemed drama counterparts. The laughers really brought it this year, proving that indeed, we are experiencing a renaissance for the TV comedy. Overall, there was much to love in this age of "too much TV", including stellar work from Variety Specials like "Lemonade" and anthologies like "Fargo". As such, I'm proud to present my Top 10 Programs of the 2015-2016 TV season:

Top 10 Acting Performances of 2015-2016 TV

Looking back on the landscape of the 2015-2016 TV season, one thing is clear. The miniseries is where it's at for the best performances. From the understated tragedy of Oscar Isaac's character arc in "Show Me A Hero" to the fragile vulnerability of Lili Taylor on "American Crime", the various limited series provided a bevy of compelling characters and the A-grade acting to match. As a result, this year's Top 10 Performances was overwhelmingly dominated by shows with close-ended storylines. Below you'll find the full list of the Top 10 Performances that struck a chord with me this year.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

My Emmy Ballot: Drama

N.B. These ballots are based on the official submissions and follow the Emmy rules for nominations (i.e. 10 for Programs, 6 for Actors and 5 for Casting). All ballots are in ranked order, with winners in bold.

As always, the drama categories were once again fiercely competitive this past TV season, especially among the lead performers, with many gifted actors delivering superlative work. Indeed, the quality of acting was the main draw for me this year, which explains my obvious love for one show in particular. While most fans are singing the praises of Season 4 (I still need to catch up) of "Orange is the New Black", I'm still in awe of the brilliantly character-focused work of Season 3, which produced one of the most moving and cathartic seasons of television I've ever seen. As a result, this heavily female-driven show nearly swept my drama ballots this year, leaving room only for Louis CK's disarming dramatic performance on "Horace and Pete" and Graham McTavish's rambuctious turn as Dougal MacKenzie on "Outlander".

Here's my full list of winners and runners-up for the Drama categories for 2015-2016:

Saturday, July 9, 2016

My Emmy Ballot: Comedy

N.B. These ballots are based on the official submissions and follow the Emmy rules for nominations (i.e. 10 for Programs, 6 for Actors and 5 for Casting). All ballots are in ranked order, with winners in bold.

Looking back on the 2015-2016 season, there's no doubt that the Comedy Series categories will be some of the strongest at this year's Emmy race. With the allure of "Modern Family" finally starting to wane for many viewers (including myself, a former champion of the show), the "Next Big Thing" has come from surprising new places. Indeed, all my Comedy winners this year are first-timers. And of course, one of the most exciting developments is the diversity within the quality, which is evident all over my ballots. Much of that is thanks to the greatly improved "Black-ish", which had an endlessly hilarious season that also touched on the zeitgeist in thoughtful ways. Showrunner Kenya Barris et al. certainly proved that you don't need to be on cable to fuel a conversation (or thinkpiece).

So without further ado, here are my picks for the best of the best in the various Comedy categories for 2015-2016:

Friday, July 8, 2016

NEW TV 2015-2016: Final Report Card

Wow, what another exciting year of television it's been, highlighted by a strong crop of fresh new programs. Among them, the comedies, miniseries and specials have been particularly impressive, with the level of acting, ambition and general talent on display continuing to redefine the boundaries of the medium. This year, I caught up with a grand total of 18 new shows. Here's a graded rundown of all of them:

Wednesday, July 6, 2016


This week on Hit me with your best shot, we went back to the 1980s with the Mike Nichols film "Working Girl", the readers' choice from the recent poll at The Film Experience. When it was announced as the winner, Nathaniel was understandably surprised by this atypical choice (especially considering the more visually expressive competition). But this gloriously dated time capsule (the hair! the clothes! the music!) still offered much to look at in its examination of workplace politics through its main characters, played by Melanie Griffith, Sigourney Weaver and Harrison Ford.

And what fascinating characters they are. I can imagine Melanie Griffith's performance being more divisive, especially when compared with the awe-inspiring confidence and effortless radiance of Sigourney Weaver. But she plays the part so well, perfectly tapping in to the despair of being "so close, yet so far" from your dreams.

Throughout the film, cinematographer Michael Balhaus does a great job in highlighting the difference in the personalities between the two women. Weaver always manages to "pop" within each frame, while Griffith often seems to blend in. It's particularly noticeable towards the end of the film, as even during the height of Griffith's reinvention as a successful woman, she immediately feels like a pretender when Weaver returns.

In spite of the great shot compositions towards the big climax however, I still came back to a scene from earlier in the film.

Click below for my favourite shot...