What I Watched, What You Watched #59

As we grow closer to the day of the Oscars, I’m going all out in terms of Oscar viewing. I saw a whopping nine films (technically more if you break them down), and even managed to review one of them. That would be Black Panther, a monumental achievement in the film community, one filled with thematic richness and cultural impact. I’m thrilled to see it made $200 million this weekend, and I look forward to seeing that number climb.

I also went to the theaters to see the Oscar Nominated Shorts, which were all shockingly good. Seriously, normally there are one or two bad films in the batch, but this year has no missteps. I will have a write-up on them later this week, and we can break them down further there, but I would definitely say they are worth seeing. As for the rest, I saw a little bit of this and that at home: a couple of films from this year, a couple of romantic “classics,” and the beginning of my Oscar Nominee Best Performance viewings. I started with Personal Shopper with Kristen Stewart, which was an intelligent, creepy thriller, even if I felt A Ghost Story tackled some similar themes better. Then, around Valentine’s Day, I started watching some romantic films. I saw this year’s Professor Marston and the Wonder Woman, which was an odd, original, wonderful film about the complicated nature of love and its impact on creating Wonder Woman. Then I saw You’ve Got Mail, which was so fascinatingly, intentionally cliché, I couldn’t help but love it – Nora Ephron is a remarkable writer, and Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan are wonderful at playing the “Tom Hanks” and “Meg Ryan” types. Unfortunately, I ended this retrospective with The Notebook, which I had avoided seeing until now out of fear that I would hate it. And guess what? While James Garner, Ryan Gosling, and Rachel McAdams can act their asses off, I was right – it is terrible. Fortunately, I ended my week with The Messenger, the 2009 film that earned Woody Harrelson an Oscar nom about the soldiers who have to tell families about the deaths of their children. And while the film isn’t perfect (I really didn’t care about the plot in between the two men meeting families), it did play as an interesting companion piece to Up in the Air, filled with emotionally fraught performances and a great Steve Buscemi (Harrelson is great too). I’d recommend it.

Television was fairly uneventful, especially considering everything is on break until after the Olympics are over. I managed to watch a few Olympic events (including the incredible performance by Mirai Nagasu), and the only takeaway I have right now is that Adam Rippon is my spirit animal. I also saw the new episode of The Assassination of Gianni Verscace, which added a new, nuanced take to the show, which has completely redeemed itself after a rough first episode, and while it hasn’t reached the levels of The People vs. O.J. Simpson, it is still an intriguing, fascinating watch. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend also ended its third season, and while I’m not a big fan of the decision they made (although it does feel like the deserved conclusion), I still give it credit for grand storytelling and a remarkable third season. And above all else, I have spent this week watching (nay, binging) The Office for reasons I don’t fully understand. I guess it’s because I hadn’t seen the first three seasons in their entirety previously, and I wanted to see the journey that the characters (especially Michael, Jim, and Pam) took over the course of nine years). And I do want to say this: it is easy to overlook the American version of the show for its lack of taking huge risks and the way teen girls idolize (perhaps unhealthily) the show’s romantic subplots. However, with the exception of season eight (which I haven’t reached yet but remember from way back when), I dare you to find me another show that is that consistently well-written, captured an era and a location so intelligently, and had that many characters who had unique and individual personalities. It can’t be done. The show is somehow incredibly over and underrated. It’s truly fascinating.

Well, that wraps up this week. What about you? Any big shows you watched this week? What about Oscar contenders? And are you one of the millions who went to see Black Panther opening weekend? Let me know in the comments!

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