Dear readers, it has been a rough week for me. Not one, but two of my favorite characters died in the respective midseason finales of “The Walking Dead” and “Supernatural.” Not only must I mourn their losses, I also must wait until January and February to see what happens next.
December is a bad time for TV, because all of your favorite shows go on a month and a half long hiatus, leaving you with horrendous cliffhangers and emotional pain. Really, there’s no reason to turn on the television at all except to watch ABC Family’s delightful “25 Days of Christmas” movie marathons. Or football, if you’re into that sort of thing.
But there is no need to despair! All the quality TV may be gone, but late November/early December is a beautiful time. It’s Christmas season, but more importantly…it’s Oscar season!
Guys, you have no idea how much I love Oscar season. Snow is theoretically falling, and the smell of competition is in the air! This is the time when many of the movies vying for recognition are going to be released. In this month, we have a plethora of heavy-hitters. Next weekend, we have The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, which will be mediocre but earn a ton of money and probably be nominated for a few Academy Awards in special effects. But what I’m really looking forward to seeing on December 13 is American Hustle, from David O. Russell. Russell most recently directed Silver Linings Playbook and The Fighter, and his newest film features some of the best actors of our time. Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Jennifer Lawrence star in what looks to be an over-the-top, excellent portrayal of con-men and corruption in 1970s New Jersey.
American Hustle. Photo courtesy of Francois Duhamel/EW.
And on December 25, the most wonderful presents that anyone can receive are this year’s big Oscar contenders opening in theaters! There’s August: Osage County, which is about a terrible, dysfunctional family. They have a reunion, shenanigans ensue. It stars Meryl Streep, so you know that it’s going to be a big deal this season.
If you’re in the mood for a family movie, but without all the drug addiction and fighting, I suggest you check out Disney’s Saving Mr. Banks. Starring Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks, who hasn’t been nominated for an Oscar in thirteen years, this feel-good movie is about how the movie Mary Poppins was made. Literally everyone loves Mary Poppins, so I’m hopeful. Even though it’s the origin story we never wanted, it will still be better than Superman’s origin story in Man of Steel.
And Leo is back in the game! Leonardo DiCaprio, longtime sufferer of the always-the-nominee syndrome when it comes to awards shows, may finally have his shot at the big one with The Wolf of Wall Street. Directed by Martin Scorsese, this refreshing tale of corporate greed features Leo as a generally charming bad boy businessman in the 1990s. This will be a real change from when he played a generally charming bad boy in Romeo + Juliet, or a generally charming bad boy poor person in Titanic, or a generally charming bad boy slave owner in Django Unchained, or a generally charming bad boy rich person in The Great Gatsby…I jest, of course. He wasn’t that charming in The Departed.
Leo. Photo courtesy of EW.
You see, lots of great movies are coming out in the upcoming month, but lots of great movies have already come out this year. 12 Years a Slave, anyone? Furthermore, this year’s race for Best Actor is looking extremely competitive already. Chiwetel Ejiofer is basically a lock for his phenomenal performance in 12 Years a Slave, but he’s facing some pretty big names. Matthew McConaughey has been earning rave reviews as a Texan man with AIDS in Dallas Buyers Club, and old school movie star Robert Redford is being lauded by the media for his portrayal of a fisher lost at sea. Tom Hanks might even have a double billing in the Best Actor race, both as Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks and as the titular character in Captain Phillips. Everyone agrees: this is the race to watch.
So guys, don’t despair the lack of substantive television too much, because you have been given the gift of really good movies. Go forth, and spend all of your money buying ridiculously overpriced tickets and refreshments. It’ll be worth it, to see these movies and get in the Oscar-prediction loop. The songs really have it right about December: it’s the most wonderful time of the year.
Well, it’s been quite the semester, Jumbos! Happy finals week and may the odds be ever in your favor.
IN NEWS: The Daily News Department compiled a “semester in review,” itemizing many of the changes that the campus has seen over the past 12 weeks. Be sure to take a look at this before you start studying!
ALSO IN NEWS: Police shut down TDC on Saturday night. While this isn’t breaking news for anyone, perhaps this will clarify some of the more confused facts that have been spread.
IN FEATURES: In an interview with President Monaco (with video to follow), the Daily was able to talk and inquire about the changes on campus, how it’s progressing or not, housing funding, and other relevant matters to students.
TODAY’S EDITORIAL: The Daily takes on the shenanigans that happened on Saturday night at TDC, laying down the law, and calling for more accountability.
IN ARTS: And who isn’t looking forward to this year’s Oscar season! The Arts sections hedged its bets in some of the season’s top box office winners, but do you agree?
IN SPORTS: Jumbos turned in some of the best races of their careers as the men’s swimming and diving team finished third out of eight at the MIT Winter Invitational this weekend. Tufts totaled 607 points, behind only MIT’s 1,322.5 and Keene State’s 980.5.
Good luck on finals, everyone. Peace, love, and the Daily.
By Denise Amisial
Good luck with all of your work, Jumbos! This too shall pass.
IN NEWS: The university’s faculty health insurance plan will offer new benefits to transgender faculty, including coverage for gender reassignment surgery starting this January. This is a major win for the LGBTQ community at large, in case that needed to be reiterated!
IN ARTS: Check out this Daily exclusive interview with Oscar Issac who talked about his performance as Llewyn Davis in the upcoming Coen Brothers film, “Inside Llewyn Davis.” The movie details the life and troubles of Davis, a struggling folk artist living in New York in the 1960s.
IN SPORTS: The women’s swimming and diving team remains winless on the season after suffering its fourth straight loss on Wednesday evening in a dual meet at Wellesley College.
I’ve heard the phrase, “I think I’m dying” about 50 times in the last 4 days. That’s right, folks, it’s Hell Week! There are traditionally two meanings of “Hell Week” in college: the week during which pledges are hazed at frats, and the week before finals and reading period. Given that it’s currently early December, I think you’re safe in assuming this blog post is going to be about the horrors of the last week of classes, end of semester projects, and finals.
Like most of you, I too, am dying of work. The juggling act that is Hell Week has hit me hard. What makes it worse is that Thanksgiving came really late this year. This means that we only have one week of classes before exams, and that week is genuinely hell. We only have one single week to finish all our final projects and last minute essay submissions before the onset of finals. But wait! Some classes, like Intro to Psychology, have midterms this week too! Oh, and don’t forget those teachers who’ve set their final exams during Hell Week! Isn’t life just great?
I highly recommend you don’t neglect your extracurricular activities this week either. You joined them because you like them, remember? Use them as a break between study sessions, and if you really love your extracurriculars, you’ll know that using them as a break is not only efficient, but satisfying too.
Also, don’t forget about your friends! They’re a great source of inspiration for that last minute essay, and your own personal psychiatrists when you think you’re actually going to lose it from an overload of work. Studying with friends is also a really efficient method of getting through material, especially if you use the “divide and conquer method.” Just remember not to get too distracted.
I urge you to remember that everyone is going through this: your roommate, your friends, and even your seniors. So if someone is a bit snappy, just imagine yourself in his or her situation right before your final paper was due. Try to be quiet in the library so that others can get work done too. You’ll most likely be more productive yourself. If you just can’t work with other people, try your room. It may be a bit small, but it beats not being able to get work done at all.
Just as a little goodbye to this semester, I read that it’s been scientifically proven that when you smile, you actually make yourself happier. Next time you walk past that person you think you might know, why not smile at them? It’ll make both their day and yours much better, I promise.
Finally, good luck for Hell Week, good luck for finals, and I wish you the best for next semester. Just remember, December 19th is only 14 days away. You’re almost there! Okay, I should really get back to work now…
IN NEWS: Tufts’ improv comedy troupe Cheap Sox on Nov. 23 was named champion of the annual New England Regional College Improv Tournament, held this year at Central Square’s ImprovBoston theater. The troupe will travel to Chicago to compete in the final leg of the competition against other regional victors on March 1.
IN FEATURES: Local art studio empowers adults with disabilities and engage in activities focusing on creativity, vocational training and wellness.
IN ARTS: From the successes at CBS, to the ratings woes at NBC, to the triumphs of cable channels like AMC and FX, this year’s fall television season has seen its share of highs and lows. Fall television season ratings are buzzing around.
IN SPORTS: With nearly 20 games gone by, the NBA has put almost a quarter of its season in the books and the early season has been full of surprises.
My mother raised me to love pie, action movies, and musical theatre. It is because of her theater snob persona that I have seen upwards of thirty Broadway shows, and am a total elitist myself. So what really creams my corn is when studios put movie stars in movie musicals.
Film actors are awesome, don’t get me wrong, but some of them really shouldn’t be onscreen singing. Look at Audrey Hepburn! Amazing actress and human being, but she couldn’t carry a note worth a damn. In My Fair Lady, that’s not her voice singing about “wouldn’t it be loverly,” it’s Marni Nixon wasn’t even mentioned in the credits. But of course, they had to cast Audrey. Julie Andrews, who had played Eliza Doolittle on Broadway, wasn’t famous enough yet.
Julie Andrews as Eliza Doolittle on Broadway. Courtesy of The Seattle Times.
Studios don’t cast Broadway stars for precisely that reason, really: mainstream America doesn’t know who they are. Of course, some Broadway musical actors do make the transition, Julie Andrews being one of them, but mostly the two spheres of theater and film remain separate.
And so, we have Meryl Streep in the film adaptation of Mamma Mia! and Russell Crowe as Javert in Les Miserables. These are awesome, award-winning actors, but they should not have been cast in those movies. It’s not that they can’t sing, it’s that they can’t sing at the level of a Broadway star. Russell Crowe wasn’t bad as Javert, he just didn’t have the vocal skills needed to portray the character. Listen to Norm Lewis singing “Stars” once, and you’ll understand what I’m trying to say.
Of course, there have been some pretty good movie musicals. High School Musical, for one. I’m just kidding! Mostly. No, I’m talking about the old favorites: Singin’ in the Rain, The Sound of Music, West Side Story, Cabaret. But those movies were made back in the time when movie musicals were the norm, not an excuse to haphazardly throw together famous people singing. Movie stars were made because they could sing and dance; it was expected of them. It was a simpler time. Audiences would be happy with Gene Kelly dancing and wooing the girl. They didn’t need explosions and CGI and ridiculous plot twists.
Times have changed, and studios realize now that in order for movie musicals to be successful, there needs to be something to bring the audience in. What’s better than watching respected actors wear embarrassing outfits and sing awkwardly? As critics are so fond of saying, Hollywood’s “Golden Age” is over, and the age of the singing star with it.
The obvious caveat to everything I just said: animated musicals. Those are the bomb diggity.
So they’re making a movie adaptation of Into the Woods. This is worrisome on many counts, because Into the Woods features music written by Stephen Sondheim. As any theater buff can tell you, Sondheim is basically God and the Devil, because his music is beyond brilliant but also ridiculously difficult.
I’m excited in part, because the movie has Christine Baranski, James Corden (Craig from Doctor Who), and Billy Magnussen in it. I’ve seen all three on Broadway, and they were all awesome. However, I saw all of them in three respective plays, not musicals. Still, I have hope. The film will also have Anna Kendrick, whom we know can sing from her performance in that modern classic, Pitch Perfect. Chris Pine’s in it too, but he’s just so pretty, so I have no critical words yet.
Chris Pine and Anna Kendrick on the set of Into the Woods. Courtesy of Fame Flynet/Huffington Post.
Now here’s where I’m worried: Johnny Depp and Meryl Streep are cast in two of the biggest roles, the Wolf and the Witch, respectively. Depp proved in Sweeney Todd that he has a good voice, but I don’t know if he has the power to pull off the Wolf. Hopefully his acting skills will help him pull it off. But Streep as the Witch? The Witch is an incredibly complex part, both vocally and dramatically.
The film comes out almost exactly one year from now, Christmas 2014. My expectations aren’t high, but I suppose the theater snob in me will just have to wait and see.
By Jehan Madhani