Dry your eyes, pop culture fanatics, you made it through the 10 saddest moments in movies from the past year. Sadly, (and we really want to emphasize that) we're going to remind you of the 10 moments on television that made you totally lose it. On the bright side, at least you can cry over your favorite TV shows from the comfort of your own home! From shocking character deaths to heartbreaking discoveries, TV really turned up the waterworks quotient this year. But, don't be cry for too long. To spare you (and your non-waterproof mascara) we threw in a few happy tears moments, too. Brace yourselves, there are MAJOR SPOILERS and MAJOR SADNESS ahead in the top 10 tearjerker TV moments from 2012.
The Walking Dead:
We spent Season 2 being bored to tears by The Walking Dead, so imagine our surprise when we spent Season 3 crying actual tears. For Lori. Let that one sink it. We're still trying to do the same with Lori's (Sarah Wayne Callies) stunningly sad death, in which her own son Carl (Chandler Riggs) had to put her out of misery after a C-section.
It became more and more apparent as Season 5 went on that things weren't going to end well for poor Lane Pryce (Jared Harris), but no one ever imagined it would be so damn depressing. After Don (Jon Hamm) found out about Lane's embezzlement scheme, he asked him to resign, but Lane left Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce in a much more harrowing fashion: he hung himself in his office. It's an image no Mad Men fan will ever be able to shake.
NBC's underrated gem of a drama is always a reliable go-to show when you need a good cry. But this season, it's been a reliable go-to when you need a full-on ugly cry. When Kristina (a seriously Emmy-worthy Monica Potter) discovered she has breast cancer, she had to break the terrible news to her family, starting with her husband Adam (Peter Krause), who could tell with just one look that it was everything they hoped it wasn't. Still, even at her worst, Kristina has continually put the brave in Braverman this season.
When Mark Sloane (Eric Dane) died on Grey's Anatomy, it was heartbreaking. He had just professed his love for Lexie (Chyler Leigh), only to watch her die. After she died, he clung to life long enough to make it back to Seattle Grace Mercy West to say goodbye to his daughter and all of his friends. Then, he joined his soul mate in death. — Sydney Bucksbaum
Kurt (Chris Colfer) finally worked up the nerve to start forgiving Blaine (Darren Criss) for cheating on him. He called Blaine; you could see the relief in the latter's face when Kurt offered Blaine the chance for a mature conversation over Christmas break. And then, to cap it all off, they exchanged tearful "I love yous," proving there might still be hope left for these two soul mates. — Sydney Bucksbaum
The Vampire Diaries:
Alaric Saltzman (Matthew Davis) was forced to transition into a vampire-vampire-hunter, he made the choice to not complete the process so his friends would be safe, knowing he would die. He shared one last bottle of whiskey with his friend Damon, and passed peacefully... that is, until a possessed Bonnie (Kat Graham) swooped in at the last minute to complete the process for him. After he died permanently, he showed up as a ghost to say his final goodbye to Jeremy, telling him he has to be the man of the house. Alaric made one more surprise cameo at the beginning of this season, invisible to everyone including Damon (Ian Somerhalder). He sat next to Damon, listening to him rant about being left alone, and summed everything up in one simple sentence: "I miss you too, buddy." — Sydney Bucksbaum
Sons of Anarchy:
The death of Jax Teller’s best friend Opie (Ryan Hurst) was one of the most brutal, heartbreaking deaths in the series history, and probably TV history. Not only did Opie sacrifice himself for the club, submitting to a prison brawl orchestrated by the warden in which multiple inmates are allowed to beat him to death, but we saw every second of it. Left to defend himself with only a lead pipe, Opie is quickly brought to his knees, killed by the final screen-center blow to the back of the head while Jax watches from the next room. No amount of tears could wash that image from an SoA fan’s mind. — Kelsea Stahler
The legendary (and long awaited) “Virtual Systems Analysis” episode of Community sent viewers full-force into the brain of Abed Nadir (Danny Pudi), which is at once hilarious, horrifying, and heartbreaking. When the conclusion of the episode landed Abed into a manifestation of his biggest fears — recalling memories of his time being ostracized, bullied, and shoved into lockers during his middle school days — the oft masked inner pain of the character was revealed vividly. Abed’s psychological journey reminded us that no matter how old we grow or how far we go, the children within us — and all the sadness we earned in childhood — will follow us diligently throughout, just aching to take over whenever something frightening or hurtful happens.” — Michael Arbeiter
The stellar Season 3 of Louie could make us laugh until we cried (i.e. the doll scene in the finale), but sometimes the groundbreaking show just plain broke our hearts. When Louie (Louis C.K.) went on his date with Liz/Tape Recorder (the brilliant Parker Posey) in "Daddy's Girlfriend, Pt. 2", it became apparent she is someone who is suffering. When they finally make it to the roof, she tells a worried Louie "The only way I'd fall is if I jumped. That's why you're afraid to come over here. Because a part of you wants to jump, because it'd be so easy. But I don't want to jump. I'd never do that. I'm having too good of a time." But its obvious, from the sadness and desperation in her eyes, she's thought about it. She's always thinking about it. The scene is even sadder when you know what eventually happens to her character at the end of the season.
Parks and Recreation:
See! Like we promised, it's not all super sad stuff. Who didn't cry the happiest of happy tears when Sexy Elf King Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) proposed to the world's greatest human ever Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler)? She didn't want to forget a single moment of the romantic surprise, and neither did we.
[Photo credits: AMC (2), NBC, ABC, Fox, The CW, FX, NBC, FX, NBC]
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Staff Picks: The 15 Best TV Shows of 2012 (And the 5 Worst)
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The man-child: a staple character for modern comedy and notoriously known for being played one-note. They get the laugh they get out.
But turning the lovable goofball or zoned-out knucklehead into something more is no easy task—which makes Paul Rudd's work in Our Idiot Brother that much more impressive. Rudd's Earth-friendly farmer Ned (the closest thing to a new Lebowski we've seen since the original) finds himself down on his luck after being entrapped by a police officer looking for pot. After a stint in jail he abandons his rural hippie commune for the big city to take shelter with his three sisters. Unfortunately for Ned his three siblings Liz (Emily Mortimer) Miranda (Elizabeth Banks) and Natalie (Zooey Deschanel) are as equally displaced and confused from the ebb and flow of life—albeit with severely different perspectives of the world.
Liz struggles to put her kid in private school and keep her marriage to documentary filmmaker/scumbag Dylan (Steve Coogan) intact. Miranda claws her way to the top of Vanity Fair's editorial staff and shuns her flirtatious neighbor (Adam Scott). Natalie stresses over her commitment issues with girlfriend Cindy (Rashida Jones) leaving little time or patience for Ned's bumbling antics. Sound like a lot of plot? While the manic lives of Ned's sisters click symbolically with his journey to get back on his feet it makes for one sporadic narrative.
Like a series of vignettes Our Idiot Brother never gels but when director Jesse Peretz finds a moment of unadulterated Nedisms to throw up on screen the movie hits big. Whether it's Ned teaching his nephew how to fight accidentally romancing his sister's interview subject or infiltrating his ex-girlfriend's house to steal his dog Willie Nelson the movie relies heavily on Ned's antics and its smart to do so. But thin throughlines for its supporting don't hold a candle to Rudd doing his thing.
And its a testament to Rudd's versatility—the man has done everything from Shakespeare and raunchy Judd Apatow comedies after all—that makes the movie watchable. Rudd gives dimensionality to his nincompoop character allowing darker emotions to creep in when necessary. There's a point in the film when Ned gives up fighting for his type-A sisters' affection and it's some of the best material Rudd's ever delivered. But like one of Ned's lit joints Our Idiot Brother can quickly fizzle out leading to plodding plot twists and sentimental conclusions. Mortimer Banks and Deschanel are great actresses—here they drift through their scenes and come out in the end changed. Because they have to.
Our Idiot Brother tries to take the Apatow model to the indie scene and comes through with so-so results. Only Rudd's able to find something to latch on to to build upon to warm up to. In an unexpected twist it's the man-child who seems the most grown up.
S1E9: One of my major complaints about The Killing -- which I outlined last week -- has been that everything continues to happen JUST AT THE RIGHT TIME. Not only are the plot twists poorly written and predictable, but I just DON'T CARE about them. Why don't I CARE? Oh, I don't know, maybe it's because the show focuses SO HARD on EVERY MOMENT, trying to make each moment feel like the MOST IMPORTANT MOMENT EVER but really it's not the MOST IMPORTANT MOMENT EVER. For some reason, the writers think that great drama relies on TWISTS and TURNS -- and although there is some obvious TRUTH to that -- when we don't care about the CHARACTERS, we don't care about the TWISTS and TURNS. And we especially don't care about the plot twists when there is a plot twist in EVERY scene. It's like that boy who cried wolf. If we continue to get ASSAULTED with these twists that don't pay off, then we will eventually become numb to ANY type of emotion that the show wants to pull from us -- EVEN IF IT PUTS CREEPY MUSIC BEHIND THE MYSTERIOUS TWIST TO EMPHASIZE JUST HOW CREEPY IT IS. SEE, LOOK, CREEPY. AM I POINTING THESE PROBLEMS OUT IN A LOUD ENOUGH WAY FOR YOU?
Unfortunately, this type of storytelling continued in The Killing with "Undertow." Even though the show has a few more episodes to perhaps save itself with, I just don't see how it can. Beyond these problems, there's just nothing compelling about the characters on the show. Everyone just feels like a cliche. You've got your cops, politicians and religious folks; and, well, there are no individual characters within those worlds that are very engrossing. Everyone is just exactly what you would expect a cop, politician or religious figure to be like -- and that's infuriating. Usually by a season's 9th episode, we know a good amount about the emotional struggle the characters have gone through in the series -- and it's this emotional struggle that separates them from cliches -- but The Killing hasn't given us much outside of few lines from characters about family or past-problems here and there. Even with our lead character Linden, who we are, I guess, supposed to be seeing "lose it again" in the job, I honestly don't care if she loses it because I don't understand why that's a big deal. Nor am I even seeing exactly just how she's "losing it." (Compare her to say, McNulty in The Wire. Now that's a cop who loses his life in the job.) The result is just flat storytelling that doesn't really give us anything that we are or want to be invested in.
"It's over. They're arresting the teacher." -Mitch
Did ya hear that? Bennet is guilty! Okay, everybody? He's guilty damnit! Don't you remember last week at the end of the episode when he spoke in Arabic (and in English just long enough to evoke suspicion from us)? Apparently, he was talking to somebody about Rosie's death -- at least, that's what we were supposed to believe. Oh but wait, actually, that's not the truth. As we learn (for about the millionth time), Bennet didn't kill Rosie -- but not until The Killing does everything it can to make us think that even though we know that Bennet didn't kill Rosie, maybe Bennet killed Rosie. "Undertow" spent its cop story this week with Holder and Linden trying to get an arrest warrant, failing (mainly so they could make that stupid joke about The Patriot Act), getting a tip from Bennet's wife containing Muhammad's number, chasing him down, catching him, only to have Muhammad reveal that they were actually trying to save a 12-year-old Somali girl named Aisha from a traditional marriage and ritual circumcision. Heroes!
Seriously though, what the fuck? So, if this is the case and Bennet and Muhammad are actually a dynamic duo of civil rights protection, why the hell are we just learning about this in episode 9? If you were being investigated for a girl's murder -- so much that you were banned from your job (that you love) and your marriage was on the rocks -- wouldn't you try and be as transparent as possible? I understand that they needed to be secretive about Aisha, and I don't mean to downplay that part of the plot, but it just felt so strange that Bennet hadn't even mentioned this to anyone. I'm not saying that he needed to go to the cops, but maybe his wife? Or, I don't know, maybe Stan when he's trying to kill him? It's just silly and I don't understand why the show wasted so much time with this terrorism crap for such a weak and predictable payoff.
"You both played the same games." -Pastor
Meanwhile in the political realm, Darren is spending his days at bars, putting Nina Simone on the jukebox, drinking whiskey and apparently doing everything else he can to live out episodes of Mad Men. His smear campaign has backfired, as the mayor claims that he's had a vasectomy and hasn't been able to have children for years, so a love-child with an intern would be impossible. Immediately following his press conference, though, we learn that's a blatant lie as he tells his assistant they need to "pay that girl double whatever they're paying her now," and I'm honestly kind of surprised that he didn't laugh diabolically after that sentence. So what does Darren do? Well, after being associated with a criminal and then being accused of a smear-campaign, he does the logical thing and approaches Tom Drexler for $5 million because that guy is squeaky clean -- you know, with his reputation for strippers, parties and such. Once again, I don't really know what Darren is thinking -- but hey, it'll probably conveniently work out.
Drexler donating the money depends if Darren can make a basketball shot -- because why don't we bet a $5 million campaign donation on a basketball shot? -- and we aren't shown if he makes the shot or not (tune in next week!) but honestly, I don't care one bit. Darren Richmond has become the most boring character on the show. He's your standard politician -- a good guy who wants to do some good but can't because of all the other evil politicians in the world, so he stoops to their level and, oh my gosh, it backfires! This is just another plot that we've seen time and time again, and nothing about it in The Killing makes it fresh.
"You promised." -Mitch
So that brings us to Mitch and Stan, who are still grieving terribly (which is understandable, especially considering this is still only 9 days after the murder). But, even the parents -- who started out as one of the best parts of the show -- have become tiresome and one-dimensional. Mitch is just… horrible. I'm sorry, but I just can't stand her scenes anymore. She reminds me of Jack's heavy breathing in the latter seasons of Lost. Seriously, TV actors: heavy breathing does not equal acting.
Can someone else please tell me why we haven't really learned anything about the relationship between Mitch and Stan? Or what's up with her weird sister? The family moments are some of the least interesting aspects of the show, when in fact, they should be the most interesting. If the writers wanted us to care about Rosie's murder, they'd show us more of her life. They'd show us the impact it's had on the Larsens' marriage (more than just Mitch being mad Stan didn't kill Bennet). We'd learn where Stan and Mitch were that weekend. We'd see them interact more with their other children. Frankly, we'd see them just do anything that'd give us a sense of their relationship. Instead, we have corny scenes where Stan puts together a bike for another little girl and sends her on her way, or we have Mitch showing up for two seconds at the police station to say something like, "Hey, you promised you'd get Bennet! You meanies!"
At this point, especially with the last scene that featured Stan beating the shit out of Bennet (presumably killing him even though he's not the murderer, but then again, for now the trillionth time, maybe Bennet is the murderer) and Belko beating up on something else (a rock?), it's pretty freaking obvious that Belko is Rosie's murderer. Now, if we only didn't have to watch the next four episodes of The Killing to learn that.
The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.
Easy A a teen sex comedy with no actual sex aims rather conspicuously to plumb the best bits of Diablo Cody and Alexander Payne in its upside-down self-consciously campy take on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. In the role of its high-school Hester Prynne is Emma Stone the sly husky heroine of last year’s surprise hit Zombieland. Tested by a film that is far less clever than its director Will Gluck or screenwriter Bert Royal would have us believe (and they desperately want us to believe) she passes with flying colors delivering a performance that should elevate her into the upper echelon of actresses possessing brains and beauty in equal measure.
Stone plays Olive the kind of quick-witted hyper-literate teen that our educational system produces in ever-diminishing numbers. (If it ever produced them to begin with.) More knowing and sophisticated than others her age she is nonetheless not immune to the pressure of peers and the dread of being labeled a loser. Under duress by a prying friend (Aly Michalka) to dish the details of her birthday weekend a rather mundane affair mainly spent jumping on her bed to the tune of Natasha Bedingfield’s pop monstrosity “Pocket Full of Sunshine ” she feels compelled to embellish a bit and concocts an entirely fictional account of losing her virginity (dubbed the “V-Card” by Royal trying too hard) to a boy from a junior college across town.
Word of Olive’s deflowering spreads with startling speed aided by the incessant rumor-mongering of a catty Evangelical eavesdropper (Amanda Bynes). Suddenly branded a tramp on account of a seemingly harmless little lie Olive opts to embrace her newly tarnished reputation and put it to good use. In a viciously stratified social environment where even the most awkward acne-plagued pariah can earn respect and even admiration from members of the upper castes for having gone All the Way Olive anoints herself the Mother Theresa of (fake) sluts bestowing her blessing upon downtrodden gents in need of a reputation boost. And she resolves to look the part too traipsing around in scandalous bustiers and affixing the letter “A” to her chest.
There are limits to Easy A’s Scarlet Letter conceit overly Glee-ful tone forced repartee and pop-culture references (John Hughes is invoked so many times he should get a producer credit). Which is why director Gluck must be grateful to have found Stone who handles the verbal calisthenics of Royal’s script with charm and verve and a certain effortless appeal that keeps us engaged even as the film wallows in contrived irony and heavy-handedness. Keep your eye on her.