Fallen behind in the world of visual entertainment? Well fret no more as Cal Behrendt takes a look at some exciting new shows and movies that have dropped in the last two weeks!
The 70th Primetime Emmy Awards (NBC)
The biggest award show for the television industry, the 2018 Emmys (hosted by SNL’s Michael Che and Colin Jost) were a very mixed bag. Bill Hader and Henry Winkler — who won his first-ever Emmy despite five previous nominations stretching back to 1976 — picked up Emmys for their work in Barry. The Academy finally recognised some of the best talent to grace our screens in a long time, but even a shock mid-telecast proposal couldn’t even save a trainwreck of a ceremony.
Even a shock mid-telecast proposal couldn’t even save a trainwreck of a ceremony
Arguably the biggest surprise of the night was The Americans picking up two Emmys for its swan song run. Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg picked up the Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series Emmy for the series finale START. In the same episode, Matthew Rhys finally picked up the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his performance as Phillip Jennings (one of my all-time favourite characters and acting performances).
But despite this, the Emmys still dropped the ball in many spots. How the hell did Keri Russell not win Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, and how did the consensus worst season of Game of Thrones win Best Drama Series ahead of The Americans? To me, nothing was worse so than the awkward-as-hell gags where Che and Jost kept cutting back to Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen — self-claimed Emmy ‘experts’ — throughout the ceremony. These gags were painfully unfunny and poorly timed, and they really took away from the rest of the telecast. It only shined in the unexpected moments, like Glenn Weiss’ proposal to Jan Svendsen, and Sandra Oh awarding the Emmy to LaLa Land after ripping the envelope.
How the hell did Keri Russell not win Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series?
BoJack Horseman Season Five (Netflix)
Everybody’s favourite sad horse show has returned for another season. Once again, creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg and the crew have created a strong season of one of the best shows currently running. Season Five continues to make these characters feel so real that it is hard to believe this is a cartoon about anthropomorphic animals.
Everybody’s favourite sad horse show has returned for another season
The season also hits many topical issues right on the head, from the perfectly-timed examination of #MeToo to casting race-appropriate actors and actresses. Season Five is a perfect addition to a series that seems to get stronger every year. Once again we have a handful of standout episodes, but the episode Free Churro stands high and proud above everything else this show has done. It pushes the boundaries of what an animated show should be doing. If this episode and Will Arnett’s performance don’t find their way into the Emmy winners circle in 2019, I will be madder about this than I will be about Twin Peaks‘ Emmy snubs.
American Vandal Season Two (Netflix)
Also dropping on the same day as BoJack, true-crime mockumentary series American Vandal makes its return. Season Two introduces a new setting and crime, with the crew travelling to Washington to investigate the ‘Turd Burglar’ — a student who is doing crap-filled pranks at St Bernardine’s. It could have easily been a re-tread of the first season, but Season Two expands on a lot of the previous issues to make yet another engrossing season. Not only do we get another fantastic mystery filled with twists and turns, but we also get a perfect examination of high school culture and how, in this social media-driven age, a lot of us feel lonelier than ever.
But American Vandal is not content with just doing all that. It also pulls together a number of strong performances to anchor the season: from Travis Tope’s oddly charming Kevin McClain to Melvin Gregg’s MVP performance as DeMarcus Tillman, a basketball prodigy who, underneath the bright and popular exterior, is an insecure individual who just wants to be loved for something other than his basketball. American Vandal Season Two is a fantastic follow-up and shows why this program has quietly become one of the best shows out there.
American Vandal Season Two…shows why this program has quietly become one of the best shows out there.
Maniac Season One (Netflix)
Jonah Hill and Emma Stone star in this Cary Fukunaga-directed miniseries about two strangers who connect during a pharmaceutical trial. Many critics have praised the performances and the direction as well as the overall aesthetic of the series. I think my friend summed it up the best so far: “No idea what’s going on, but Jonah Hill and Emma Stone are great. It is well and truly some weird shit.”
It is well and truly some weird shit.
American Horror Story Season Eight (FX)
The long-running FX horror anthology has returned for another season with the eighth instalment, Apocalypse, which marks a departure from previous seasons. Not only is it set in the futuristic year of 2021, but it crosses over two past seasons — Season One’s Murder House and Season Three’s Coven — into one story. Two episodes have aired so far, and early reviews state that it’s another solid entry into the franchise.
The Good Cop Season One (Netflix)
Do you like Josh Groban? Well then, I have the show for you! This Netflix police procedural stars Groban as a cop who goes by-the-book rather than become like his father (played by Tony Danza), who went to prison for being a dirty cop. The Good Cop sees them pair up to solve mysteries in New York, in a premise that sounds as 90s NBC-core as you can get. Most of the reviews I have read have pegged it as pretty mediocre, but if you love shows like Law and Order running in the background while you do other stuff you’ll get a kick out of The Good Cop.
A premise that sounds as 90s NBC-core as you can get
Lizzie (Saban Films/Roadside Attractions)
The story of axe-murderer Lizzie Borden has been covered a lot over recent years. But this biographical thriller directed by Craig William Macneill jumps on top of the crowd, covering the story from a more feminist angle. According to critics, Chloë Sevigny and Kristen Stewart turn in strong performances as Lizzie Borden and Bridget Sullivan respectively, but it appears a common complaint is the story is not as gripping as it could be.
Colette (Bleecker Street/Lionsgate)
Colette follows the life of French novelist Gabrielle Colette, with Keira Knightley taking on the main role. It’s directed by Wash Westmoreland, one of the most interesting names in the business, having directed 2014’s Still Alice.
Early reviews have been glowing across the board, with critics praising the performance of Knightley who turns in one of the strongest performances in her career to date. Also praised is the direction and overarching themes of feminism and the battle against misogyny Colette experienced. Colette won’t be released in Australia for a while yet, but keep your eyes open for this film when it does release. It’s a potential early Oscar contender.
Early reviews have been glowing across the board
The Sisters Brothers (Annapurna Pictures)
This Western dark comedy focuses on a pair of hitmen searching for a chemist in 1800’s America. It features one of the most stacked acting lists I have seen in a while: John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix take on the titular roles of the Sisters brothers alongside Jake Gyllenhaal, Riz Ahmed, Allison Tolman and Carol Kane. Early reviews peg this film as one driven strongly by the Western genre whilst focusing on a strong character study of family and familial relationships. This movie has already picked up an award for director Jacques Audiard, who claimed the Silver Lion for Best Director at the 2018 Venice International Film Festival. This film will definitely be one to watch when it drops in Australia in the near future.