Television Without Pity is a voting member of the New York Film Critics Online, an organization of New York-based online critics, which convened yesterday to hand out their annual awards honoring the best in film for 2011. The silent-film homage The Artist proved to be the big winner, going home with three awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. (We weren't alone in giving that film top honors -- The Artist has also been named Best Picture by the New York Film Critics Circle, Boston Society of Film Critics and the Washington D.C. Area Film Critics. It's also currently the closest to what resembles a frontrunner for the Best Picture Oscar.) NYFCO departed from the mainstream consensus with two less expected picks -- Michael Shannon was named Best Actor for his searing work in Take Shelter, while Joe Cornish picked up Debut Director honors for his terrific alien invasion movie, Attack the Block. For a full list of winners, along with links to our original coverage of those films, click below.
Like a lot of people, my gateway into Marc Maron's vital WTF podcast was the once-struggling stand-up comic's famous two-part chat with estranged pal Louis C.K., which I initially heard excerpted on another show and immediately tracked it down to its source. It's a remarkable conversation, with both guys mining personal territory that's usually omitted from the public forum, particular in the context of an ostensible celebrity interview.
There's a debate at the TWoP offices about whether Parks and Recreation is too nice, too pleasant and just plain obnoxious in that "Kumbaya" naively optimistic kind of way. If you've read anything I've ever written about this show and my unceasing love for it, you'll know which side I stand on, but I think it's an interesting point, especially without absurdist 30 Rock and often-dark Community (if last night's premiere is any indication) airing alongside the series. Our Pawnee friends go through waves of highs and lows -- my fellow LesliBen shippers will agree -- and right now, things are just very good for the group of characters we've come to know, love and root for. Parks & Rec has no intention of being like Breaking Bad in trying to get us to root against the protagonist, but instead tells a story of an odd collection of people navigating themselves through an even stranger small city. The surprises aren't in everything working out okay in the end, but rather, in how the gang is going to solve their problems and who they're going to pass along the way. It's almost like a legal procedural (hence all of the West Wing comparisons last season), but with way more calzones.
In case Daniel Craig hadn't proved it enough this season, sometimes action stars should just stick to action. This weekend, Jeremy Renner hosted Saturday Night Live and in all honesty, we were rooting for him. He's pretty adorable for someone who plays a badass all the time, and seeing a comedic side would have been great. Unfortunately, that side doesn't seem to exist. The opening monologue was awkward, especially with a technical issue just a few minutes in, and it pretty much set the tone for the rest of the episode. It wasn't completely Renner's fault, though; most of the sketches didn't have promise to begin with. The worst of the night barely included him. It was the third installment of "The Californians," a sketch that was funny the first time, a little less so the second and this time, sort of uncomfortable. With much of the cast breaking when there wasn't anything to laugh at, it seemed like the painful sketch would never end. Here are the few sketches that may be worth watching, or were at least better by comparison:
If you didn't see Catfish the movie, here's quick breakdown: An immediately hateable photographer "falls in love" with a person he meets over the Internet and drives across the country to see her, only to find that instead of the gorgeous young lady she claimed to be, she was an older woman with a far less perfect... well, everything. There was controversy surrounding whether or not the truly douche-y Nev Schulman and the filmmakers were falsifying parts of the story to make for a better movie -- and in my opinion, they probably were -- but honestly, none of that really mattered when it came to why Catfish was so fascinating. They never explicitly talked about it in the film, nor do they touch on it in the new MTV docuseries, but this quest to unmask people hiding behind social media -- or as the show puts it, "help couples who have never met in real life" -- reveals something about that Twitter hashtags and YouTube videos can't quite communicate: Society has seriously fucked us all up.
Let's be honest, whenever a host pulls double duty as the musical guest, everyone's expectations are pretty low. It's a tough thing to do for anyone who isn't Justin Timberlake -- who got a little shout out from Bruno Mars in his monologue. Lucky for us, after the mandatory debate cold open and an impressive if not very funny monologue, Mars lead a solid episode. Besides being Mars' debut as a host, this episode marked a few firsts. It was the first time new featured player Aidy Bryant was given more than one line and featured the season's first appearance of Stefon, who, of course, didn't disappoint. Here's a look at some of this week's best sketches that would make Justin proud.
Fair warning: It's kind of hard to read some of the notes I wrote during "There's Something I Need to Tell You..." because I'm bad at typing while hysterically crying. I probably shouldn't have watched a bunch of Google Chrome commercials before Parenthood came on (especially not this one), so that's partly my fault, but also this episode was basically a solid 40-odd minutes of heartstrings-pulling.
Aside from ruining "Funkytown" for me, "Left Field" was another pleasant outing for Parenthood. Though it didn't pack as much punch as the season premiere, the episode moved the plot forward and proved that Ray Romano is not being used in vain. The main reason I enjoyed "Left Field" is because Drew didn't get Amy preggers. I was sure that after the show made such a big deal about the littlest Holt finally getting some during last season's finale, we'd come back to see his girlfriend five months pregnant. I feel bad for the guy and everything about his first heart break, but I have no doubt that if he's still upset even after talking to Hank, Amber will give him a pep talk and all faith will be resorted. That or he'll sleep with Amy's best friend. Either way.
Maybe Dan Harmon will finally have something good to talk about often and in a very public way.
Everyone can go back to their regularly scheduled lives now -- American Idol has finally announced next season's newest judge.
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