The 38th season of SNL was not its best. After Mick Jagger sang Kristen Wiig off the show last year in an emotional farewell (Andy Samberg and Abby Elliott departed with her), this season’s exits — both rumored and confirmed — were given a subtler treatment. This season's 21 episodes were occasionally brilliant, but more often they seemed to belong to a kind of blameless nowheresville in need of some substantial bulldozing. The veterans — Fred Armisen has been kicking around for 10 seasons, while Jason Sudeikis became a featured player in 2005 — have appeared understandably tired; the death of the Digital Short haunted bad episodes, whispering, "Remember me fondly?" from a corner of the ceiling. The writing was not universally bad, but it was uneven, perhaps even more so than in previous seasons. And whereas Wiig’s exit was somehow gut-wrenching (which "Ruby Tuesday" "She's a Rainbow" can be), when Bill Hader and Armisen bid good-bye to Lorne Michaels & Co., it felt like the right time for them to go. Sudeikis is probably out as well, and head writer and "Weekend Update" anchor Seth Meyers will only be able to stay with the show through the fall until he takes over Late Night, which means that next season has no choice but to attempt an evolutionary leap. Again. It might be auspicious: Kate McKinnon and Cecily Strong have proven to be formidable additions to the roster, and Taran Killam and Bobby Moynihan have each hit their stride; there’s also the opportunity to bring in more people of color, wackier writers, and to mess with the format in a way that might shake the stale cooties out of the sheets a little bit. You have to know when to leave the party, and this mass exodus seems to indicate that it’s time to flip on the lights and survey the room. Being the host of this kind of show isn’t exactly a thankless exercise, but the host was not the point. Ben Affleck was tasked with competing for attention not only with musical guest Kanye West, whose head was basically spinning on his neck in a self-consuming Yeezus rapture-state (love you, ’Ye), but the departing cast members' curtain calls. Did he succeed? Of course not, but he wasn’t meant to.
This weekend's Saturday Night Live has the auspices of greatness. It's not only the season finale, but also the last episode for Bill Hader (and quite possibly for Fred Armisen and Jason Sudeikis as well). And while Hader has already said there's nothing as dramatic planned for his good-bye as Kristen Wiig's lovely "She's a Rainbow" bit — they gotta do something nice, right? Also: Ben Affleck returns to host, but this time as an Oscar-winning director and if you think somehow Matt Damon won't be getting involved to cut his buddy down to size, youh ahh fawkin' crazy. And then there's Kanye as a musical guest: Not only is he embroiled in the most dramatic childbirth process since that of Jesus, he's also got a God-complex album everyone can't wait to hear. Plus, the last time he did SNL, it looked like this.
After going the better part of a decade without making a film after the Best Picture Oscar nominee The Thin Red Line, Terrence Malick is on a tear, following up 2011’s Tree of Life with To the Wonder (available on demand the same day as its theatrical release), less than two years later.
While Malick's most recent films may seem daunting in their scale — set against the backdrop of World War II (in the case of Line), or trying to cover all of life on Earth through the lens of a single family (OK, I never saw Tree of Life, but I know I saw dinosaurs in the trailer) — To the Wonder features a story that actually seems like a topic that could be fully covered on film. Ben Affleck returns to acting in someone else's movie to play a man torn between his love for two different women: a beautiful European (Olga Kurylenko) who's moved to the U.S. to be with him, and an American (Canadian Rachel McAdams, stretching) he's known since they were kids. Also present — and forebodingly narrating the trailer — is Javier Bardem as a priest, and let's hope one who sticks closer to the Eat Pray Love end of the spectrum than, say, Skyfall.
Pretty much the one thing I remember from Quantum of Solace (which is, let’s be honest, by far the most forgettable Daniel Craig Bond film) is Ukrainian model/actress Olga Kurylenko striding across the desert in a designer ball gown. Seeing as roughly 80 percent of Bond girls are as interchangeable as men’s magazine covers, I consider that a noteworthy accomplishment. Since then Kurylenko has continued to battle Bond-ian fungibility with eclectic credits in films like hyperkinetic writer/director Martin McDonagh’s Seven Psychopaths and Mitch Glazer’s show about the good ol’ days of Cuban crony capitalism, Magic City. This summer, Kurylenko stars in two films that, if not for her, would never even be mentioned in the same breath: Terrence Malick’s latest art house/spiritual experience, To the Wonderwith Ben Affleck, and the sci-fi mega-movie Oblivion with Tom Cruise.
That’s not so much eclectic as paradoxical, but paradoxical sure can be fun. I chatted with her about twirling through Malick's latest film, Cruise’s incomparable running abilities, and the one thing that a big Hollywood blockbuster and a Malick movie have in common. Read on below!
OK, har har, in Revolution's intermittently power-deficient dystopia, an Affleck — presumably Ben, but don't discount Casey, he's always been the stealth-Affleck — is the governor of whatever California's become after it's been robbed of its life-defining solar panels, Priuses, and Vitamixed kale smoothies. Is that any crazier than a not-too-distant future when dudes with soap-opera-level acting chops are fighting with swords and crossbows? Probably not. And we get to imagine Governargo Affleck doffing his uniform shirt at the slightest provocation, mumbling something about how with all the washing machines taken offline by the worldwide Maytag outage he's just doing what he can to keep his clothes clean. Or that he's only gone into politics to re-revive his acting career, which went ice cold again in 2021 after he abused his directorial authority to disastrously cast himself as Luke Skywalker III in Star Wars: Episode IX. This wasn't the worst idea this show has had.
Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle got together at the Comedy Cellar, texted Jay-Z, and left late-night voice mails for Lenny Kravitz and Arsenio Hall. They also discussed — joked? After midnight it's anybody's guess — touring together. RumorWatch continues with another drip from the Celebrity Survivor faucet. THIS IS PROBST'S LAST ATTEMPT. Jeff Bridges, come on, man. Haven't you always wanted to try your hand at puzzles? I think you could win this thing. Twelve more celebrities and we might have a green light.
There's always an element of fatalism with making Oscar predictions. You actually hope you're wrong. You want to be right because people conflate educated awards-guessing with expertise. But when you have to sit and watch more than 190 minutes of the Academy Awards, you really don't want a predicted outcome. You want to be wrong about who the majority of 6,000 or so people will say was the best supporting actor of 2013. You want to go in with a little conventional wisdom and know that Tommy Lee Jones will win so that when Octavia Spencer opens her envelope and says Christoph Waltz's name, you can stare at the television and just say, "Wow."
Waltz was a surprise in a season of surprises. This was the year voters decided to pee into millions of Oscar pools. It was the year that everything started to seem refreshingly upside down: no Tarantino or Paul Thomas Anderson or Kathryn Bigelow or Wes Anderson up for Best Director, but Benh Zeitlin?
An Obama-inspired fantasy trilogy called Queen of the Tearling has landed a seven-figure deal. Quick! You dictate, I'll type! Jimmy Carter and the werewolves! There's a magic crystal buried somewhere in Mount St. Helens! Throw some virgins in! We gotta move on this!!
On Sunday night, the Screen Actors Guild gathered its members at L.A.'s Shrine Auditorium for its annual celebration of their shared craft, a delightful ceremony free of the annoying focus-pulling that plagues awards shows that insist on handing out statuettes to the unwashed masses who scratch out a living on the wrong side of the camera. Unfortunately, not every SAG Awards nominee gets to take home the coveted Actor, the highest honor thespians can receive from their brothers- and sisters-in-arms; for every five stars receiving the validation of a nomination, four will find themselves confronted with the challenge of making gritted teeth seem like a smile, and white-hot jealousy like warm magnanimity as the cameras mercilessly probe their reactions for any sign of disappointment. And so here we are, the morning after the Saggies (they don't call them the Saggies, but they should), to relive last night's victories through the faces of the defeated. When you're this good at your job, you can make misery look a lot like triumph. Well, most of the time.
For 10 years now, Jimmy Kimmel (a Friend of Grantland) has been signing off with a dismissive nod to a certain A-lister: "Our apologies to Matt Damon, we ran out of time." This endless, ruthless bumping of Mr. Jason Bourne has led the two down some peculiar roads over the years: There was Kimmel's ex Sarah Silverman shtupping Damon, and admitting as much in a gorgeous musical medley; there was Kimmel shtupping Ben Affleck right back. And, despite all that pain and damage the rivalry had wrought, on it went: Matt Damon, an American treasure if ever there was one, bumped from the show, over and over again. Last night, after all those years of mental anguish and scorn, Damon sought his revenge. Sensibly, he duct-taped Kimmel to a chair, stuffed a tie in his mouth, then did Kimmel's show instead. Oh, what a sight it was! Filled with celebrity friends — from Robin Williams to Andy Garcia, Sheryl Crow to Benny Affleck — and secret audition footage and jokes about Siri and the joyous glee of a man enjoying a whole elaborate Count of Monte Cristo thing. Now this is how you exact years-in-the-making revenge. Matt Damon, you're an inspiration to us all.
Justin Bieber Cheated on Selena Gomez a Lot: "HIGH ON DRUGS, TEEN STAR JUSTIN BIEBER CHEATED ON SELENA GOMEZ WITH A SEXY STRANGER." Just before the holidays, Bieb had a "drug-fueled hookup with another girl." The drug was mostly weed, and the girl was voluptuous 22-year-old L.A. nursing student Mimi Jenson. They were introduced by Lil' Twist, and went to a weed store in Hollywood, a McDonald's, and then back to the hotel. There they "did a lot more than eat." I bet they got a hundred-piece McNuggets. They also "smoked pot and used a baby bottle to measure out the ingredients for sizzurp, the street cocktail made famous by Three 6 Mafia and Ke$ha." Mull that sentence, please.
Lindsay Lohan Is a High-Paid Escort: According to her father, Michael Lohan, Lindsay "is getting paid to date rich men. Dina is pimpin her out. It's disgusting." A second source confirms the story. "The dates last for days, and the guys pay for everything — hotel, travel costs, food, whatever — as well as jewelry and other gifts." While she might just be receiving a fee to act as "arm candy for wealthy men who like to be seen with beautiful and famous women." Clients include Prince Haji Abdul Azim, third in line to the throne of Brunei, and Spanish-American painter Domingo Zapata.
"Domingo let Lindsay live in his penthouse at the Bowery Hotel in NYC for free and at his L.A. pad at Chateau Marmont." Zapata rescinded his kindness after Lohan's hit-and-run incident in September. "He said that Lindsay kept taking, taking, taking and asking for more — cars, dinners, clothes, everything." Lohan is now hanging out with "Vikram Chatwal a.k.a. The Turban Cowboy, who owns a chain of luxury hotels." Is that a self-appointed nickname? Michael Lohan says "Dina is exploiting Lindsay because she's broke too and gets 20 percent of everything Lindsay makes." Michael Lohan is not the most reputable source, though. A friend of Lindsay's says her escort work is "no big deal" because Lohan is "totally broke and in serious debt, and no one will hire her." Plus Lindsay thinks of it as a kind of method research for some future role. "Being an escort is just an easy way for her to stay above water. [Lindsay] says she's an actress and won't turn down getting paid good money to act a certain way!"
On Jodie Foster's Not-Quite-Coming-Out Party
Cecil B. DeMille was an absurdly prolific showman-producer. He oversaw flamboyant biblical and pseudo-biblical pageants like The Ten Commandments, Samson and Delilah, and The Greatest Show on Earth. They were epics of delirium and decadence that lavished the upside of sin, then sent you home relieved that the sinner isn't you. He manufactured dual celebrations of vice and virtue, vulgarity and purity.
There isn't much about DeMille that has to do with Jodie Foster. But the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the people responsible for the Golden Globes, named their lifetime achievement award in DeMille's name, and as the recipient at last night's ceremony Foster was less her famously reserved public self and more someone DeMille might have enjoyed: a contradiction.
With this year's Oscar nominees snubs, an atypically cohesive consensus has already formed, at least within the Best Director category: no Quentin Tarantino? No Ben Affleck?! No Kathryn Bigelow?!!
Yesterday, attempting to make sense of the peculiarity of the field, our own Wesley Morris wrote, "[the nominated directors'] movies contain no unresolved moral messes for an audience to wrestle with, unlike, say, Zero Dark Thirty, which has been dogged by the torture question ... There are even greater terrors in Django Unchained, but I think the older white men of the directors branch didn't find Tarantino's slaughter of slave owners palatable enough to commend him for it ... Plus, if Django would have waited six or seven years, he could have just been freed by Lincoln. As for Ben Affleck, I think he's made directing look too easy for himself."
But knowing a nation of critics is scratching its heads is small solace for not getting a shot at cuddling up in bed with a shiny new Oscar. So how are our snubbed directors taking it?
You can be honest. When Seth MacFarlane and Emma Stone announced the Oscar nominations this morning, you were nervous they were going to go all Baseball Writers' Association of America and say, "This year there are no nominees." Of course, if you're Ben Affleck or Kathryn Bigelow or even Tom Hooper and Quentin Tarantino, isn't that kind of what happened? 2012 was a strong movie year, and that's pretty much demonstrated by the dozen or so legitimate candidates for the five directing slots, two of which, at least, seemed preordained for Affleck, who made Argo, and Bigelow, who made Zero Dark Thirty. But when the names of Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild) and Michael Haneke (Amour) and David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook) were called alongside Steven Spielberg (Lincoln) and Ang Lee (Life of Pi), somebody in my one-person living room turned into the Retta Twitter feed and said, "Oh, no they didn't!" But they did. And what did they do?