Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog

Dec. 6 2016 12:06 PM

Watch the 25 Best Movies of 2016, in One Stunning Video Montage

Best-of lists are plentiful this time of year, but Indiewire critic David Ehrlich’s top 25 is special, and not only because it comes in video form. Using music and editing, Ehrlich puts movies in conversation with one another rather than having them compete: In 23rd and 22nd place, Lemonade and Kate Plays Christine aren’t just ranked in successive spots but connected as two movies about women seizing control of their public image (or, in the latter case, trying to). “The Greatest Love of All” links American Honey’s voyage of self-discovery, Indignation’s sexual guilt, and Toni Erdmann’s existential crisis, and Popstar: Never Stop Stopping’s tongue-in-cheek “I’m So Humble” fits Weiner so well the directors should consider adding it to the documentary’s DVD. The countdown’s intro also finds room for memorable moments in movies that otherwise didn’t make the cut, like the M.C. Escher chase scene from Doctor Strange, and makes a compelling argument that 2016 was a great year for both on-screen smoking and swimming pools. Once you’re done with 2016, take a look at previous video countdowns from 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, and 2011.

David Ehrlich’s Top 25 Movies of 2016

1. Moonlight

2. Sunset Song

3. Jackie

4. O.J.: Made in America

5. A Bigger Splash

6. Kubo and the Two Strings

7. The Fits

8. La La Land

9. The Lobster

10. The Love Witch

11. The Handmaiden

12. Toni Erdmann

13. Indignation

14. American Honey

15. The Witch

16. Hail, Caesar!

17. Silence

18. Swiss Army Man

19. Manchester by the Sea

20. Always Shine

21. Things to Come

22. Kate Plays Christine

23. Lemonade

24. High-Rise

25. Weiner

Dec. 6 2016 11:46 AM

Kanye West and Beyoncé Are Now the Third and Fifth Most Grammy-Nominated Humans of All Time

To the surprise of absolutely no one, Beyoncé leads this year’s Grammy nominations, announced Tuesday morning, with a total of nine nods for her critically acclaimed Lemonade. This brings her grand total of career nominations up to 62, making her the fifth most Grammy-nominated artist of all time. And Kanye West’s threat to boycott next year’s ceremony if Frank Ocean wasn’t nominated (Ocean did not submit his long-awaited albums for consideration) did not stop the Recording Academy from bestowing eight nominations upon the 39-year-old rapper-producer. He now has 65 career-spanning nominations, putting him just ahead of frenemy Jay Z (64) as the third most Grammy-nominated artist of all time.

Elsewhere, the Grammys voted as is to be expected, which is to say there were plenty of choices that were both wrongheaded and completely unsurprising. Justin Bieber’s uneven Purpose made it into the Album of the Year category and further cemented the success of his yearlong redemption narrative. Drake’s Views racked up quite a few nods because the academy has no qualms honoring lackluster blockbuster albums. And the Chainsmokers, the dude-bros behind the terrible but near-record-breaking No. 1 hit, managed to land three nominations, including one for Best New Artist.

On the brighter side, Chance the Rapper, whose wonderful Coloring Book mixtape helped lead the Grammys to change its eligibility rules, nabbed seven nods, including Best New Artist.

All of the nominees in the major categories are listed below, and you can check out the full list at the Grammys’ official website.

Dec. 6 2016 10:59 AM

Watch the Roots, Busta Rhymes, and Joell Ortiz Perform “My Shot” on The Tonight Show

Fresh off the release of The Hamilton Mixtape, Busta Rhymes, the Roots, and Joell Oritz brought their contribution to the album to The Tonight Show on Monday. “My Shot,” a remix of the musical’s swaggering original song of the same name, is one of the mixtape’s strongest tracks, and the performance did not disappoint. Host and Hamilton superfan Jimmy Fallon didn’t join in on the number, though he also has a (very bad) song on the album.

Though the performances were excellent, the production itself was a little … distracting. Black Thought opened the number by standing at the end of a long conference table, surrounded by men in suits, before retreating into a mosh pit and then up on stage. Then, Oritz took over from a podium before Busta arrived on the scene, wearing a fur-lined coat that a) would make Hercules Mulligan proud and b) may or may not have been chosen to distract from what was going on behind him.

To be fair, that’s probably what I look like while dancing to The Hamilton Mixtape too.

Dec. 6 2016 10:05 AM

Patti Smith Will Sing “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” in Bob Dylan’s Honor at the Nobel Prize Ceremony

He may not be showing up, but Bob Dylan’s presence will certainly be felt at the Nobel Prize ceremony and banquet on Dec. 10. The musical icon, who was named the Nobel Laureate in Literature back in October, has written a “speech of thanks” that will be read by an as-yet-unannounced person, according to the Associated Press. The news comes after Dylan—following a month of silence and confusion—confirmed that he would not be attending the ceremony himself due to “pre-existing commitments.”

Attendees of the event will also get a taste of Dylan’s music, if only from a different voice. It was confirmed via Facebook that the legendary Patti Smith will be performing Dylan’s 1962 protest song “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” earlier in the day, using an arrangement by Swedish conductor Hans Ek. Smith briefly toured with Dylan in 1995, and her poetic and activist sensibilities—while hardly substitutes for the man himself—should make for a welcome addition to the ceremony dedicated to honoring him.

Dec. 6 2016 8:03 AM

Westworld Is an Unlikely Success Story for HBO

This article originally appeared in Vulture.

It took three years, upward of $100 million in startup costs, and one halt in production, but HBO’s Westworld ended its first season on Sunday as what’s arguably the network’s most successful drama launch since Game of Thrones. It’s not just that the ratings for the J.J. Abrams–produced fantasy thriller have been strong, though with each episode pulling in an average audience of nearly 12 million viewers across multiple platforms, HBO execs are extremely satisfied. Westworld also worked because it managed to generate intense and sustained buzz throughout the fall, despite facing off against the return of AMC’s behemoth The Walking Dead and the usual slew of broadcast network fall premieres. Much the way Netflix’s Stranger Things dominated the pop-culture discussion over the summer, Westworld broke through fall’s TV clutter in a big way, so much so that the writers of Saturday Night Live felt comfortable using its plot as a punchline. One season does not guarantee long-term success, but for now, Westworld is a big (and much-needed) win for HBO—one made all the sweeter by the fact that many in Hollywood were convinced the show was destined to be a massive misfire.

Dec. 6 2016 7:33 AM

Lynn Nottage on Her Broadway-Bound Play, Sweat, and Why She’s Wary of “Poverty Porn”

Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright Lynn Nottage’s latest play, Sweat, tells the story of nine residents of Reading, Pennsylvania, as they deal with the threatened closure of the steel plant where most of them work. Set in 2000 and 2008, Sweat explores the characters’ response to their changing fortunes. The play, which was first produced at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and ran at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., can be seen at New York’s Public Theater through Dec. 18. The production will transfer to Broadway in the spring, with previews beginning at Studio 54 on March 4.

I spoke with Nottage about her development process, the crisis of capitalism, and what Sweat has to say about Donald Trump.

Dec. 5 2016 11:30 PM

Are Your Transformers Levels Low? Try This Transformers: The Last Knight Trailer!

Are you weary in BRAIN and BODY? Does your once-youthful blood need rejuvenating? Did you VOTE for TRUMP? Are you PETER THIEL? This new trailer for Transformers: The Last Knight is exactly what you need. Watch at bedtime and awaken with newly restored VIM and VIGOR. Watch in the morning for extra energy ALL DAY!

The new trailer for Transformers: The Last Knight RELIEVES INSTANTANEOUSLY:

Dec. 5 2016 10:34 PM

Watch the New Trailer for Legion, the Marvel Show from Fargo Creator Noah Hawley

Legion, FX’s Marvel TV show—the first set in the X-Men universe—has a new trailer. (Thanks to byzantine licensing agreements, the X-Men universe is separate from the Marvel Cinematic Universe of Daredevil, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the Avengers movies, et al.) The show is about the son of X-Men founder professor Charles Xavier: David Haller, aka Legion, played by Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens. Legion is a mutant like his father, but his powers are mitigated by mental illness, including a dissociative disorder.

The new trailer gives viewers a look at Jean Smart, who plays Haller’s therapist, offering the troubled mutant an unconventional way to “rewrite the story of your life.” It seems like it involves some sort of electrical sensor handles built into a table (looking suspiciously like the Domination game in Never Say Never Again), which is definitely unconventional. But then there’s not much conventional about Haller’s ability to send everything in the kitchen flying through the air either, so desperate times, desperate measures. Will Smart’s therapy save Haller before he loses control of his kitchen-destroying powers and destroys his kitchen forever? Audiences will find out on Feb. 8 when the show premieres.

Dec. 5 2016 5:51 PM

The Real Star of All These Young Pope Trailers Is Jude Law’s Sick Collection of Pope Hats

HBO’s The Young Pope stars Jude Law as an angsty Italian-American cardinal who ascends to the highest position in the church despite his youth and American-ness. Like a modern-day Borgias or a House of Cards with catechism, the series follows Law’s character, Lenny Belardo, as he navigates the treachery of the corrupt Catholic Church while waging a war on “rampant liberalism.” It’s a compelling premise:

But with each new trailer for the series, it becomes more and more apparent that these sneak peeks, while they do highlight the intrigue of the clergy and Law’s talents as an actor, have an ulterior motive: to show off Law’s incredible papal wardrobe. The Catholic Church is known for its assortment of funny hats, and Lenny’s are, in addition to being stylish, symbolically significant, so let’s examine them one by one, shall we?



First up, we have the zucchetto, a small skullcap suitable for daily wear and casual Vatican life. Lenny wears the zucchetto while looking out from balconies onto Vatican Square, as well as while striding down corridors, a trail of cardinals in tow. The zucchetto is great for when a pope just wants to go about his business without an enormous crown weighing him down.



Speaking of which, here we see Lenny adopting a papal tiara, an accessory that popes in the past century have rejected for its perception as “a symbol of the temporal power of the Popes.” Not suitable for daily wear, because of the whole “makes you look like a tyrant” thing and because, hey, those things are heavy. They are, however, appropriate for threatening to wage a war without end against your enemies, so well done, Lenny!



But the real star of the show so far seems to be this dapper cappello romano (literally: Roman hat) also known as a saturno, so named for its brim’s resemblance to Saturn’s rings.





Perched just so, this hat says, yes, I’m a bloodthirsty ruler with one-fifth of the world’s population under my leadership, but when I’m not dramatically kneeling at the bottom of a swimming pool, I like to look sharp, even a little playful. Just watch as I pair it with sunglasses and a cigarette—you’ll find I’m not like a regular pope. I’m a cool pope.

The Young Pope begins airing in the U.S. on Jan. 15.

Dec. 5 2016 2:31 PM

Jimmy Kimmel Is Your 2017 Oscars Host, and the Matt Damon Jokes Just Write Themselves

Jimmy Kimmel has been tapped to host the Oscars on Feb. 26, according to Variety and the Hollywood Reporter, marking the late-night host’s first time ever hosting the prestigious Academy Awards. The decision makes a lot of sense: Not only was Kimmel’s turn at hosting the Emmys in September a success, but the announcement comes on the back of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ new deal with ABC (which just so happens to be the home of Jimmy Kimmel Live!) allowing the network more creative input in the ceremony.

Last year’s Oscars were hosted by none other than Chris Rock, during a ceremony that was marked by a conspicuous lack of diversity, something Rock called out again and again. The Academy has announced plans to diversify and avoid the embarrassment of #OscarsSoWhite since then by including more women and people of color as voting members, and this year’s pool of nominees is already looking much more promising. That said, I’m not sure what message the academy is sending by sticking yet another white dude in the spotlight at a time when they are supposed to be committed to inclusion. Why not give the job to Leslie Jones? Melissa McCarthy? Mindy Kaling? Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele would make a great team. Plus, isn’t Wanda Sykes long overdue? At the very least, if Kimmel’s Emmys gig is any indicator, he should lob a few jokes at his own expense.

That is, when he isn’t lobbing them at Matt Damon. Kimmel has already mocked longtime nemesis Damon for passing on the role in Manchester by the Sea that has made Casey Affleck a Best Actor front-runner, so that’s pretty much a certainty. Just do us one favor, Jimmy: Don’t hand out any food to the audience. We’re begging you.