Getty Images/Paul Marotta
Meryl Streep, National Board of Review Awards
Back in January, Streep presented the best actress award to Emma Thompson and her introduction would go down as the biggest, most public diss of Walt Disney. But the strong words she spoke about her friend were just as memorable.
Highlight of the Speech:Emma considers carefully what the f**k she is putting out into the culture! Emma thinks, "Is this helpful?" Not, "Will it build my brand?" Not, "Will it give me billions?" Not, "Does this express me? Me! Me! My unique and fabulous self, into all eternity, in every universe, for all time!" That's a phrase from my Disney contract. I'm serious! "Will I get a sequel out of it, or a boat? Or a perfume contract?" (Read the full speech here.)
Lesson Learned: There's something to be said for actors and artists who are legitimately concerned with their craft and the stories behind the work they're doing. In a pop culture, celebrity-obsessed world that celebrates the brand, it's important to celebrate people like Thompson as well.
Lupita Nyong'o, Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon
In February Nyong'o accepted the Best Breakthrough Performance Award at Essence Magazine's Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon. Instead of speaking merely from her own heart, she spoke from the heart of a fan who'd sent her a powerful and heartbreaking letter.
Highlight of the Speech: "Dear Lupita," it reads, "I think you’re really lucky to be this Black but yet this successful in Hollywood overnight. I was just about to buy Dencia’s Whitenicious cream to lighten my skin when you appeared on the world map and saved me." I remember a time when I too felt unbeautiful. I put on the TV and only saw pale skin...my mother again would say to me, "You can’t eat beauty. It doesn’t feed you."... And what my mother meant when she said you can’t eat beauty was that you can’t rely on how you look to sustain you. What does sustain us... what is fundamentally beautiful is compassion for yourself and for those around you. That kind of beauty enflames the heart and enchants the soul. It is what got Patsey in so much trouble with her master, but it is also what has kept her story alive to this day. We remember the beauty of her spirit even after the beauty of her body has faded away. (Read the full speech here.)
Lesson Learned: It's wonderful that we are embracing Lupita Nyong'o's beauty, and that we're expanding the concept of beauty itself. And it's wonderful that a young girl can look at Nyong'o and choose to embrace her own skin color. But it's also important that we teach people that who you are at your core (call it essence, or spirit, or personality) is something more powerful, more memorable, and more lasting than physical appearance.
Amy Schumer, Ms. Foundation for Women Gloria Awards and Gala
In a hilariously NSFW speech the comedian opened up about an awkward sexual encounter that could have been more traumatic, were it not for her sense of humor. She spoke about turning that moment into an empowering instance of change.
Highlight of the Speech: I can be reduced to that lost college freshman so quickly sometimes, I want to quit. Not performing, but being a woman altogether. I want to throw my hands in the air, after reading a mean Twitter comment, and say, "All right! You got it. You figured me out. I'm not pretty. I'm not thin. I do not deserve to use my voice. I'll start wearing a burqa and start waiting tables at a pancake house. All my self-worth is based on what you can see." But then I think, F**k that. I am not laying in that freshman year bed anymore ever again. I am a woman with thoughts and questions and s**t to say. I say if I'm beautiful. I say if I'm strong. You will not determine my story — I will. I will speak and share and f**k and love and I will never apologize to the frightened millions who resent that they never had it in them to do it. I stand here and I am amazing, for you. Not because of you. I am not who I sleep with. I am not my weight. I am not my mother. I am myself. And I am all of you, and I thank you. (Read the full speech here.)
Lesson Learned: First of all, we should all stop being hateful towards people (yes, even celebrity people) on Twitter. And secondly, sometimes you have to get out of that freshman year bed, dust yourself off, stop apologizing, and go be your incredible self.
Gabourey Sidibe, Ms. Foundation for Women Gloria Awards and Gala
In another fantastic speech about confidence, Sidibe did what few of us expected her to do and actually admitted to being "an a**hole" in school. But in admitting to her flaws she also exposed the flaws of an entire industry that repeatedly asks her (and not someone like Rihanna) "How are you so confident?"
Highlight of the Speech: I was a snob. I thought I was better than the kids in my class, and I let them know it. That's why they didn't like me. I think the reason I thought so highly of myself all the time was because no one else ever did... Sometimes when I'm being interviewed by a fashion reporter, I can see it in her eyes, "How is she getting away with this? Why is she so confident? How does she deal with that body? Oh my God, I'm going to catch fat!" What I would say, is my mom moved my brother and I to my aunt's house. Her name is Dorothy Pitman Hughes, she is a feminist, an activist, and a lifelong friend of Gloria Steinem. Every day, I had to get up and go to school where everyone made fun of me, and I had to go home to where everyone made fun of me... In the morning on the way out to the world, I passed by a portrait of my aunt and Gloria together. Side by side they stood, one with long beautiful hair and one with the most beautiful, round, Afro hair I had ever seen, both with their fists held high in the air. Powerful. Confident. And every day as I would leave the house... I would give that photo a fist right back. And I'd march off into battle. [She starts crying] I didn't know that I was being inspired then. (Read the full speech here.)
Lesson Learned: It's not always the direct influence of a person, but sometimes it's something simpler — a photo, an image, an idea you hear about — that changes your life and changes your way of looking at things.
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There are few things more powerful than the loss of somebody close to you. There are few concepts that can compete in the realms of emotional or psychological oomph, save perhaps for the long-awaited reunion with a loved one. TV knows this. It seems that television writers are keenly aware that killing off a beloved character or bringing someone back from the dead (either literally, or figuratively with a "they weren't really dead" move) is a surefire way to bring the audience to its knees. Is this fair play? Or is this all too easy — a cheap trick (kind of like the "uh-oh, someone's pregnant" trope) used on too many shows over the years to get viewers to commit to a series for at least a few more episodes?
Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans will remember that Sarah Michelle Gellar's character died twice throughout the series. In the Season 1 finale, the Master drowned her and she lay dead until Xander and Angel arrived, and Xander was able to resurrect her through CPR. But a more permanent death took place in the Season 5 finale. After her battle royale with Glory, Buffy made the ultimate sacrifice to save her sister and the world. This time she was really, really dead. In the Season 6 opener Willow, Tara, Xander and Anya brought her back to life with a spell; this was and was not the best idea ever.
So killing off characters, and bringing characters back is obviously not new to television — in fact, it's starting to feel a bit repetitious. Even on Buffy, it was all a little too convenient at times, but it made for a great plot! Especially when you consider the fact that Buffy came back "wrong" in Season Six and suffered throughout, unable to tell her friends that they had, in a way, ruined her by bringing her back to life. The nature of BtVS also called for this supernatural storyline, but if something like this takes place in a show that isn't partly based on fantasy, it can feel soap-y or trope-y.
The Good Wife fans and Scandal Gladiators were each dealt a blow recently via the loss of beloved characters Will Gardner and James Novak. Will's death on The Good Wife was an unbelievable shock and truly hit fans hard, but it was later explained when news broke that actor Josh Charles had asked to be written off the show. Of all the ways the writers could have written his exit (and they had about a year to do it), a courtroom shooting had to be the most dramatic. The death of a character like Will also opens up room for so much more to happen with the other characters. Does Diane become the new Will? Does Alicia totally lose her mind? There are so many possibilities! And, therefore, so many more reasons for viewers to keep watching, to vow to never miss an episode. It should be said though, that The Good Wife does an especially good job of doling out the drama in very realistic ways.
The loss of James Novak (played by Dan Bucatinsky) on Scandal was indeed a shock, and writers did some very fascinating stuff with the dialogue surrounding his death. But it could also be argued that this was another "too easy" move to get audiences all hyped up. Scandal may indeed be getting too dramatic for its own good: people keep getting killed off and we are constantly being introduced to characters who we thought were long gone or dead — namely Olivia Pope's parents Eli/Rowan and Maya Pope. Sometimes this works out smoothly (like when we found out Huck had a missing family in the "Seven Fifty-Two" episode), but it frequently crosses the line. Writers should tread carefully. Killing the beloved and raising the dead can bring in more viewers, but it can also alienate those of us who don't want new plot development to be too unrealistic. Shows like ABC's Revenge caught some backlash and lost the interest of many viewers during Season 2, partly in repsonse to so-called plot twists that were getting to be a bit too predictable.
And then we have ABC's new series, Resurrection. The entire premise is based on the idea of raising the dead and killing the beloved! Loved ones return to their familes after years and years of being presumed dead. Things, by definition, get all crazy. One has to wonder if these shows are playing on the most basic human emotions — most anyone will react strongly to seeing a parent embrace a child they thought drowned 32 years ago. It's akin to the idea that it's easier to make someone cry than it is to make them laugh. If writers can keep core audiences in tears (or on the brink of 'em), they have a better chance of keeping their audiences. But that doesn't make it good storytelling.
So in the end, perhaps we, the viewers, are partly (even largely) to blame. If these shows didn't bring on the drama, would we be as aggressively committed (even as we protest to too much drama)? We have to consider our own role in the decisions that are being made concerning our favorite shows. And if we ask for more unique storylines that aren't dependent on the old tricks of the trade, maybe fresher, more interesting material will develop.
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There's a problem plaguing millions of Instagram users the world over and we're here to address it. Of all of the hot actors on Instagram, which ones -- specifically -- should you be targeting? Sure, you have lots of options but sometimes it can be overwhelming. So we've narrowed it down to four. Yes, four hot guys on Instagram you absolutely must follow now. These dudes have mastered the art of the selfie and or Vine, and for that we thank them. Enjoy, folks!
Michael B. Jordan
The 26 year-old actor has an upcoming movie with Zac Efron on the way (That Awkward Moment), so there are all of these really cute pics of the two of them together. He also does this thing with his bottom lip... and yeah. Hottie McHotterson.
Kellan Lutz as Hercules, Kellan Lutz with a puppy, Kellan Lutz as a motivational speaker -- it's all right here for you on his Instagram.
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson
Another hottie getting ready to play Hercules, Dwayne may not be everybody's cup 'a tea, but for those of us who like a guy with a lot of meat (and muscle) on his bones, this is the account to follow. His workout pics are ... everything. Plus, he loves his mama. Can't go wrong there!
The Grey's Anatomy actor actually shares more photos of food than he does of himself, but when he does post a pic, it's well worth the wait. Like this Golden Globes photo that you'll now be hanging on the proverbial wall of your teenage dreams.
A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.