the entire thing was staged!
Current Rabbit Hole – that damn Oscars envelope
I gasped at my television last Sunday night when that close-up of Best Picture envelope said Moonlight and not La La Land. The internet is still reeling in the mayhem of the #oscarsfail with nonstop coverage and debate over how presenter Warren Beatty ended up with the envelope for Best Actress instead of Best Picture. As the The New Yorker writes: “an old Hollywood genre had suddenly revived: the whodunit.”
The first to question Envelopegate was Emma herself, mentioning in the press room moments after, “I was holding my Best Actress in a Leading Role card that entire time. So, whatever story that was, I had that card.” We now know that there were two envelopes – one for each backstage wing – but that didn’t stop the Reddit theories from quickly forming (the latest – “the entire thing was staged!”)
The answer, apparently, is that Brian Cullinan, the PricewaterhouseCoopers accountant in charge of handing off envelopes, was too distracted tweeting about Emma Stone to pay attention to envelopes. Nothing like the classic narcissism of checking your retweets to distract you from your job (though the entire team was told explicitly to not be on social media during the show).
Of course, a lot of us were glad that the flub at least revealed that Moonlight was the true Best Picture winner over the Hollywood navel-gazing La La Land. The chaos of the moment prevented Moonlight writer/director Barry Jenkins from giving a proper acceptance speech, but thanks to the internet, you can read his intended speech here at The Hollywood Reporter.
The real award goes to Twitter though, for its perpetual ability to make everything so much worse.
In Defense of the Bottle Episode
I love a bottle episode. The term comes from the phrase “ship in a bottle” and describes a stand-alone television episode separate from the show’s main storyline, usually featuring a minimal cast and a static setting. They’re often lauded as cheap fixes when cast mates are away or scripts need to be changed in a pinch, but they also lead to some of the most brilliant television I’ve seen. Community perfected the bottle after nailing it with that first paintball episode, “Modern Warfare,” at the end of season one. Breaking Bad also did this concept well in Season 3 with “The Fly,” in which Jesse and Walter attempt to kill a lone fly in the lab that threatens to contaminate their batch (spoiler: the episode becomes about a lot more than a fly).
The chance to examine character closely outside of a traditional A and B plotline is the strength of a bottle episode, and this week, one episode that really showcases this concept is Girls’ “American Bitch.” Girls has tried the bottle formula before in the past to some success (with “Taking out the Trash” in Season 3 and “The Panic in Central Park” in Season 5). But this week’s might be their best yet: Hannah spends the afternoon in the apartment of famed writer Chuck Palmer (played by the amazing Matthew Rhys) after she writes an article accusing him of taking advantage of starry-eyed undergrads. The episode is an elongated power struggle as Chuck tries to defend his side of the story and Hannah continues to push back. He eventually gets an apology out of Hannah (through some flattery and subtle manipulation) and they seem to almost bond, even, until the moment he asks Hannah to lay down with him (she obliges) and he flops his exposed penis onto her leg. It seems that Chuck had been manipulating Hannah all along, inviting her into his apartment to prove that she was no different than any of the girls, making her story now hypocritical and therefore, invalid.
And yes, Hannah does fall for it and ends up touching his junk – but she also releases it quickly and jumps away in disgust, and by god, just maybe, our little Hannah is learning something. Allowing her the full twenty-eight minutes to go from timid house guest, to passionate feminist, to apologist, to victim, to self-aware really shows how strong and entertaining a bottle episode can be, when it’s done right.
The Legend of Immaculate Gameplay – Nintendo (finally) releases Breath of the Wild
Nintendo released its newest console, the Switch, on March 3rd, and with it came the long-awaited new Legend of Zelda title, Breath of the Wild. Despite the obvious money-grabbing tactics of making Zelda a launch title, the game is in no way a rushed decision: this follow-up to 2011’s Skyward Sword has been in the works for years, with a new teaser trailer every year at Nintendo’s E3 event. Even in its development phase, it was being called the Skyrim version of Zelda, promising a massive open world for endless exploration.
So far Breath of the Wild seems worth the wait, as it’s seeing near perfect reviews and already on its way to becoming one of the highest rated video games of all time. On top of being gorgeously designed, the game offers more than enough side quests and mini-games to make any Zelda fan happy, on top of a rich story that’s got diehards buzzing about timeline placement. (Best way to waste an afternoon: dive down the hole that is timeline theories).
If you’re like me and unable to pick up this newest title anytime soon, you can watch some of the immersive gameplay in one of a dozen streaming channels. It’ll be better than watching your boyfriend play in a smelly room with three of his college friends, promise.