Slate's Culture Blog

Jan. 25 2015 11:04 PM

Zachary Quinto and Neal Dodson on J.C. Chandor and Chandor’s Movie About the BP Oil Spill

Check out all Slate’s interviews from the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.

While Zachary Quinto is most well-known for his performances as the pointy-eared Spock in J.J. Abrams’ rebooted Star Trek movies, he’s also quickly found success as a producer, working on such Oscar-nominated movies as the Wall Street financial collapse thriller Margin Call (in which he also starred) and the Robert Redford survival drama All Is Lost.

Both of those movies, as well as the acclaimed 2014 crime drama A Most Violent Year, were directed by then-newcomer J.C. Chandor and produced by Before the Door, the company Quinto founded with fellow producers Neal Dodson and Corey Moosa. We asked Quinto and Dodson how they discovered Chandor, why they trusted him enough to make a movie that takes place entirely in water and has only about one line of dialogue, and what they could tell us about his next project, a “big, dramatic blockbuster” about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that will star Mark Wahlberg.

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Jan. 25 2015 10:20 PM

Here Are the Winners of the 2015 Screen Actors Guild Awards

This year’s Screen Actors Guild Award winners were announced Sunday night, marking the latest installment of an awards race that increasingly seems to be a battle between Richard Linklater’s Boyhood and Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman. The latter won the biggest award of the evening—best cast in a motion picture—but Boyhood's Patricia Arquette took home best supporting actress, further supporting the notion that the two films are neck-and-neck for Oscar glory.

The SAG awards tend to be a fairly good Oscar predictor—actors, after all, constitute one of the largest voting blocs of the Academy. But though this year’s nominations echoed the Oscars’ in their notable snubbing of Selma, the winners were some of year’s most diverse: Viola Davis (How To Get Away With Murder) and Uzo Aduba (Orange Is The New Black) swept the awards for actress in a TV series, and Orange Is The New Black, perhaps the most diverse show on television, won best cast in a comedy series.  

The other big surprises of the night: Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) stunned the field with a win for best actor, Kevin Spacey beat the True Detective men for best actor in a drama series, and William H. Macy finally gained some recognition for his work in Shameless.

Below is a full list of the winners.

Jan. 25 2015 5:26 PM

Zachary Quinto on Why He Wanted to Make a Movie About an “Ex-Gay” Activist

Check out all Slate’s interviews from the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.

Perhaps the most controversial movie at this year’s Sundance Film Festival is I Am Michael, which stars James Franco as Michael Glatze, the prominent gay rights activist who became a Christian, turned against his old allies, and declared that he was no longer gay.

Zachary Quinto stars opposite Franco as Bennett, Glatze’s longtime boyfriend. We asked the openly gay actor (who was joined for the interview by producer Neal Dodson) whether he’d had an opportunity to meet Glatze and his ex-boyfriend, and why he wanted to make a movie about the controversial figure.

Jan. 25 2015 12:42 PM

SNL Sends Up Ballghazi and The Bachelor 

Country musician Blake Shelton hosted SNL last night, and the episode followed his lead: earnest, charming, and likable enough, but not very funny. We did get the inevitable Deflategate sketch, in which Beck Bennett dons Bill Belichick’s rolled-up dress shirt and gruff manner while Taran Killam plays a very dim-witted version of Tom Brady. Many ball jokes are made, but I’m not sure this is funnier than the actual press conference:

Jan. 24 2015 11:57 PM

Michael Shannon and Ramin Bahrani on How Shannon Improvised His Last Line in 99 Homes

Check out all Slate’s interviews from the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.

In Ramin Bahrani’s new movie 99 Homes, Michael Shannon delivers one of his most frightening performances yet as a real estate shark who preys on a construction worker (Andrew Garfield) and his mother (Laura Dern) in the midst of the 2007 to 2009 housing crisis. We sat down with Bahrani and Shannon at the Sundance Film Festival this week to discuss how they drew upon Wall Street’s Gordon Gekko and why Bahrani dedicated the movie to Roger Ebert.

In our last video segment from the interview, Bahrani and Shannon talk about how Shannon improvised his last line for the movie’s closing scene.

Jan. 24 2015 8:31 PM

Rihanna, Kanye West, and Paul McCartney Go Country in “Four Five Seconds”          

Earlier this week, Kanye West made a surprise appearance at the iHeartMedia Music Summit to preview a new duet with Rihanna. That song, “Four Five Seconds,” has arrived online, and though it’s unclear whether it will feature on West or Rihanna’s new album, it marks a striking departure for both artists.


(via Tumblr)

Paul McCartney supplies some gentle acoustic strumming as West and Rihanna belt out a deeply personal, hugely melodic, and country-tinged tune about heartbreak and redemption. It’s only the second new Kanye song we’ve heard, but it’s worth noting that it shares a few traits with “Only One”—sensitive, confessional songwriting, sparse and acoustic instrumentation, and not a drum beat in sight. The track can be streamed above or downloaded on Rihanna’s website.

Jan. 24 2015 3:26 PM

Ramin Bahrani on Why He Dedicated His New Movie to Roger Ebert

Check out all Slate’s interviews from the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.

There was no greater champion of writer-director Ramin Bahrani than Roger Ebert. In 2009, the movie critic called Bahrani “the new great American director” and “the new director of the decade.” In 2013, RogerEbert.com published the last interview Ebert conducted, which was with Bahrani.

It was in that interview that Bahrani revealed the title of his new movie, 99 Homes, which Bahrani dedicated to Ebert at the Venice Film Festival. For the next week, Brow Beat is doing interviews from Sundance, and we asked Bahrani how the late movie critic has influenced his work.

Jan. 24 2015 2:43 PM

Once Again, the NFL Gets a Very Funny Bad Lip Reading

Perhaps my favorite Bad Lip Reading tradition is their annual and hilarious work with the burly, boisterous players and coaches in the NFL.

This year’s edition doesn’t disappoint, though it’s worth noting that we don't really need dubbing to find incredibly surreal, bizarre things coming out of a football player’s mouth.

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Jan. 24 2015 12:56 PM

Just About Every Famous Detroit Rapper Stars in Eminem’s “Detroit vs. Everybody” Video

Back in November, Eminem put out Shady XV, an album that ostensibly paired some new songs with the greatest hits of his label, Shady Records. Put simply, it was not that good a record, with the “greatest hits” mostly comprising mediocre Shady deep cuts and 50 Cent favorites. But “Detroit vs. Everybody,” a fun anthem featuring an array of Motor City rappers, was an album highlight, and it now has a video that’s worth watching just for the star power on display.

Big Sean, Danny Brown, Royce Da 5’9”, Trick Trick, and “Try Me” sensation Dej Loaf all join Eminem on the track, celebrating their city over a circular piano riff and boom bap beat. It’s a rousing posse cut, and a rare bright spot in Eminem’s subpar recent work.

Jan. 24 2015 12:33 PM

Michael Shannon and Ramin Bahrani on Creating the Gordon Gekko of Real Estate

Check out all Slate’s interviews from the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.

In 99 Homes, the new thriller from acclaimed director Ramin Bahrani (Chop Shop, Man Push Cart, Goodbye Solo), Michael Shannon portrays a real estate shark who preys on the victims of the 2007 to 2009 housing crisis, including a construction worker (Andrew Garfield) and his mother (Laura Dern).

One of the sources Bahrani drew upon for Shannon’s character was Wall Street’s Gordon Gekko, the devilish creation with whom Oliver Stone and Michael Douglas meant to villainize greedy traders but unwittingly inspired a generation of new ones. All this week, Brow Beat is doing interviews from the Sundance Film Festival, and we asked Bahrani and Shannon how they created such a frightening and fully realized character without glamorizing him.

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