- Oscar-winner Adam Sandler and J. Lo?
- What the hell is Millie Bobby Brown doing?
- Every day I am thankful for Kelly Clarkson.
- But really, go see Hustlers.
- And binge Unbelievable.
One time, a few years ago, I was walking through Hudson River Park on the West Side of Manhattan. I heard a helicopter overhead and looked up, the way you always do when you hear a helicopter overhead. At that exact moment, a bird pooped into my eye. Directly into it, like a tactical missile launch as part of some avian war plan: “Operation Ruin Kevin’s Day. Tweet.”
As far as experiences my eyeballs have had in my life, I would rank that above watching several Adam Sandler performances.
This is all relevant because Sandler is now being talked about as the frontrunner for Best Actor at the Oscars. Truly anything is possible, kids.
Sandler’s diehard fans—bless your hearts—can calm down right now. This is no denial of a certain appeal that Sandler has to a movie-going audience. He delivers that expertly, and often with an ease that approaches egregious laziness. Good for him! And yes, I’ve seen Punch-Drunk Love. I also do not think one solid acting performance 17 years ago warrants absolution for... everything else he has thrust upon us since.
But after this past week’s Toronto International Film Festival, where his film Uncut Gems, directed by the Safie brothers, premiered, he is being hailed a major Best Actor contender. I am not questioning that he deserves the praise. I am marveling that it is happening at all. In fact—and while it is foolish to do any sort of real awards forecasting at this point—the Oscar race thus far is one of the more shocking early seasons in memory.
After years of being underappreciated for her movie-star magnetism, Jennifer Lopez has emerged an awards frontrunner for her role as a stripper in Hustlers. As a lifelong J. Lo movie apologist, I find this much deserved. Everyone who I first said “J. Lo should get an Oscar for this!” to after first screening Hustlers found this, apparently, shocking enough to question my sanity. (I am indeed crazy, but also correct!)
Renée Zellweger is getting raves for her performance as Judy Garland in Judy. That might track for most. After all, Zellweger is an Oscar-winning actress. But when you remember that Zellweger hadn’t had a major starring role outside of Bridget Jones’s Baby in over a decade, the idea of her taking on Judy Garland, of all challenges, could have ended up a total trainwreck. Thank God it didn’t.
There are other peculiarities. The discourse surrounding Joker may finally kill me, though there seems to be a certainty that Joaquin Phoenix will be a major Best Actor contender. Scarlett Johansson will have to navigate Oscar campaigning for two roles—Marriage Story and Jojo Rabbit—without saying anything else about Woody Allen or whitewashing ethnic roles and trees that will contribute to the already-loud movement to have her “canceled.” Oh, and that movie, Jojo Rabbit? It’s being talked about as a Best Picture spoiler. It’s also a comedy about Hitler.
There are a million other things to talk about already in this year’s race. Will we emotionally survive seeing Tom Hanks play Mr. Rogers? Or Greta Gerwig’s take on Little Women, for that matter? Is Brad Pitt going to win an Oscar? Will anyone possibly convince me to see a movie called Ford v Ferrari? AND WHAT ABOUT CATS?
There are no easy answers.
This week I saw countless headlines and tweets scroll through my timeline asking a variation on the question, “What the bloody hell is Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown doing in her skincare routine?”
There are, as it happens, few questions in the world that I am less interested in the answer to, so I ignored it. And ignored it. Until links to stories about it assaulted me so many times it was as if the Demagorgon was attacking me with it telepathically from the Upside Down. (Or something. I already forgot what happened in that show.)
I did finally click on the story, this story about Millie Bobby Brown’s nighttime skincare routine, of all godforsaken things. I am so glad I did. I can’t get over it. To promote her vegan skincare line Florence By Mills, the young star posted a video of herself on her Instagram and on YouTube using the products. Allegedly. You see, girl did not use the products. (Watch the video here.)
It is one of the most truly wild things I’ve seen. Brown pulls out her Florence By Mills scrub, facewash, moisturizer, and other products, narrating what each one does as she “squirts them in her hand” and “applies to them her face” and “rinses them off.” She very clearly does not do any of those things.
She is clearly miming rubbing the products into her skin. There is nothing in her hand, no product actually going on her face. The camera cuts every time she goes to wash and rinse. She mysteriously returns each time with her face completely dry and, after all these products and rinses, her eye makeup and foundation still very clearly on, unsmudged and unbothered. Here are before and after screenshots, made by Buzzfeed:
Fans called her out on Instagram immediately, mystified how, if she’s using these products, her eye makeup is still applied and accused her of not using the products at all, thus being a false saleswoman for the line.
She filmed an entire video pretending to remove her makeup, clearly keeps her makeup on, and thought no one would notice? Why? What is the purpose? I can’t believe I’m thinking about this so much.
Truthfully, I think all of the controversy is overblown. I have been sent test products from Florence By Mills and have found that it works in exactly the fashion it seems to in Brown’s demonstration video. Here is what my makeup looks like after use:
Critics should never judge a talk show or late-night show by its first week. It takes too long to settle into a groove, to figure out how it will differentiate itself from the pack, to find its voice. That said, The Kelly Clarkson Show is quite possibly already the greatest daytime talk show since Oprah.
Critics should also never judge a talk show or late-night show without, you know, actually watching it, but having only seen four clips from it. But here I am and I stand by my statement.
First of all, Kelly Clarkson begins each episode by performing “Kellyoke.” (Here’s her doing “Bad Romance.”) One of my very specific pop-culture joys is watching Clarkson sing other artists’ songs better than they do, which she has done both each night with a different song on her tour and also at award shows in front of said artists’ faces. It can’t be undersold how smart it is to have Clarkson begin each episode by singing a fun song. Ellen’s dancing is shook.
Second of all, one of her first guests was Jennifer Garner, who ranks among Clarkson as the Best Celebrities We Have Right Now. They bond over being competitive about games, and it is endearing and joyful and fun to watch. This isn’t Pulitzer-winning interviewing here. It’s ridiculous afternoon fun. It’s what we need.
There’s a joke that resurfaces often—I don’t know who originated it—that Kelly Clarkson winning American Idol is the last time democracy worked in America. Heh. But maybe.
I would write about Hustlers forever, if asked. (Here’s my review, and my interview with co-star Julia Stiles. Give! Me! Those! Clicks!) But because I want to make sure that you all go see it and don’t do it dirty like you did to Widows, the best movie of last season that you left abandoned and sad at the box office, here’s one more thing to sell you on it.
Early on in the film, after J. Lo’s explosive entrance doing a stripping routine to “Criminal” by Fiona Apple, she retires to the rooftop of the club. She is wearing a floor-length fur coat over a shimmering bikini. When the camera trains on her, she is in a reclining position, smoking a cigarette. Constance Wu’s character walks up to her shivering. J. Lo beckons to her and opens her coat: “Come on, climb into my fur.”
At that moment, the theater ceiling parted, a golden light showered me, and the booming voice of God spoke calmly. “Welcome, my son. You have reached Heaven. There’s nothing left for you down there.”
While I’m aggressively recommending things for you to watch this weekend, please watch Unbelievable on Netflix. I reviewed it here. (Please! Click!) It’s an exceptional telling of a horrific true story. A teenage girl is raped, and the detectives convince her to tell her she lied. The media seizes on her false report, ruining her life. Elsewhere, two female detectives are investigating two other rapes that, unbeknownst to them, share exact details of the girl’s case.
You’ll be floored watching all of these threads tangle and intersect in the pursuit of justice, while simultaneously enraged by the unfairness and institutional incompetence at every stage of the story. Toni Collette, Merritt Wever, Katilyn Dever, Danielle Macdonald, Annaleigh Ashford, Elizabeth Marvel, and Bridget Everett all star, delivering powerhouse performances. But it’s the impact of the story that will have you rapt.
What to watch this week:
Mr. Inbetween: FX’s dramedy about a man juggling fatherhood and his career as a hitman is far fresher than that logline suggests.
Unbelievable: I cannot recommend this enough.
Undone: A fascinating step forward for animated series.
What to skip this week:
The Goldfinch: But you saw the trailer and already knew that.
Comedy Central Roast of Alec Baldwin: I truly hate these things. They’re vile.