“If I am a fool, it is, at least, a doubting one; and I envy no one the certainty of his self-approved wisdom.”—Lord Byron
Brad Pitt’s Oscar Chances
Oscar nominations won’t be announced until mid-January, but we already have a strong sense of who might win. This week saw nominations announced from two important Oscar precursors: the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild Awards. Each brought their surprises (the Globes recognized Beanie Feldstein for Booksmart and multiple actors from Knives Out, while the SAGs gave surprise nominations to Lupita Nyong’o for Us and Jamie Foxx for Just Mercy), but both also confirmed the trajectories for the likeliest winners of the major acting awards. While Jennifer Lopez is, indeed, still favored to score a supporting actress nomination for Hustlers at the Oscars, Laura Dern remains the front-runner for the actual win thanks to her role in Marriage Story. After decades as one of the business’s most recognizable stars, Brad Pitt is still on track to take home his first acting Oscar (in a supporting role) for Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood. It also appears that this year’s biggest surprise—that Renée Zellweger could take home her second Oscar for playing Judy Garland—is now guaranteed. The outstanding question seems to be who will win for best actor. In one corner, there’s Joaquin Phoenix, who is long overdue for the award in many critics’ minds. However, he’s nominated for Joker, which is not only a comic book movie but a controversial one at that. In the other corner, there’s Adam Driver for the much meme’d Marriage Story (adding to his narrative: His role in this year’s The Report has also been called awards-worthy, and then there’s the fact that he’s also starring in the grand finale of the main Star Wars saga). The two are essentially neck and neck at this point, but perhaps we’re being naive by assuming that the other races are so settled. After all, we all thought Glenn Close was supposed to hoist up her first trophy last year, and look how that turned out. Hope you’re enjoying that statue, Olivia.
Has any fruit ever had a moment in the culture like peaches have had over the past few years? We suppose apples had their heyday during America’s pioneer era, what with Johnny Appleseed and the pie and whatnot. Cherries, for some reason, remind of us the ‘80s. But peaches have really been on an unprecedented cultural high in the late 2010s. There is, of course, the baser reason of their symbolic emoji use, one Kim Kardashian has co-opted for various merch drops and a fragrance bottled in a glazed peach-shaped container. Then there’s the provocative symbolic use in both Call Me by Your Name and this year’s Parasite. It’s also been employed in more than a few impeachment jokes as well. Meanwhile, the humble banana has seen its natural emoji double meaning usurped by the eggplant, and has mostly been relegated to millennial Twitter jokes about how single people always buy too many to eat before they go rotten. And yet, perhaps the banana is making its cultural comeback? The fruit was top of mind last weekend thanks to Art Basel Miami Beach. The art world prankster Maurizio Cattelan had gallery assistants affix an actual banana to a gallery booth wall with duct tape, titled it Comedian, and then sold three editions of it as art for $120,000 to $150,000. The piece caused a commotion online and at the fair. Lines to see the piece became uncontrollable, someone ate the banana, and the gallery decided to remove it. But the drama wasn’t over. Someone then someone scribbled “Epstein Didn’t Kill Himself” where it once hung. The Internet, as it will, responded with memes, and multiple celebrities also chimed in. It’s safe to say Cattelan expected some of the response, and the mundane nature of the lowly banana likely only underscored his point. In an interview earlier this year, though, Cattelan spoke of the impact of the fruit. “Bananas are important. As humans, they remind us of a lot of other things,” he said. “It is also a topos of modern and contemporary art—from Giorgio de Chirico’s 1913 canvas The Uncertainty of the Poet to Andy Warhol’s 1967 cover for the Velvet Underground & Nico’s debut album—many artists played with the peculiarities of its shape, politicizing it and carving out meanings in their own right.”
Cut Gems, As It Were
It’s finally that time of year when all those movies you’ve heard the critics rave about online finally make their way to theaters. This weekend, you’ll get your first viewing of Uncut Gems, which brings the directors Josh and Benny Safdie together with Adam Sandler, in one of his rare prestige roles. Fittingly, it is technically about uncut gems, but it’s also about so much more. It’s hard to explain. However, most people should be familiar with the broad strokes of the plot of Bombshell. It’s ripped from the headlines about the sexual harassment scandal over at Fox News, and assembles an all-star team of actresses (Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, and Margot Robbie) playing an all-star team of Fox News personalities as they finally take on their sleazy boss, Roger Ailes. Clint Eastwood’s Richard Jewell is also ripped from the headlines. In this case, it’s about the security guard who was hounded by the media as the main suspect in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing, but was later revealed to be a hero. Ironically (especially given the fact that it’s up against Bombshell), the film has come under controversy for reviving an ugly trope about female journalists. In less Oscar-baiting fare, there’s also Jumanji 2: The Next Level and the cross-holiday horror film Black Christmas. All are in wide-release, but indie cinephiles also have the release of a new Terrance Mallick film, A Hidden Life, to look forward to this weekend.
Television, meanwhile, has begun to give itself over to holiday specials and TV movies, but Netflix does have a curious offering. A week after captivating the Internet with the awards contender Marriage Story, it’s going full blockbuster with 6 Underground. It brings together the A-list action director Michael Bay, the A-list action star Ryan Reynolds, and an A-list budget of $150 million (quite a Netflix flex). Reviews, of course, are middling, but that’s never kept a Michael Bay movie from finding success before.
Well, it finally happened: A TikTok star has scored a major fashion campaign. Hedi Slimane has picked 18-year-old Noen Eubanks as the new face of Celine menswear. The eBoy has racked up 7.5 million followers on the teen-friendly platform, and we’re sure his accession probably means something culturally. Then again, Slimane does go for a specific look in his models—Eubanks is a Hedi boy through and through.