Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog

Dec. 7 2016 11:18 AM

The Honest Trailer for Suicide Squad Makes Perfectly Clear Why Everyone Mocked This Overblown Mess of a Movie

Critics weren’t exactly crazy about Suicide Squad, DC’s star-studded follow-up to the maligned Batman v Superman—and if you were a little mystified as to why, Screen Junkies has rendered the movie’s (obvious) flaws bitingly clear in their latest Honest Trailer.

As expected, the trailer spends plenty of time going after the movie’s thin characterization, hackneyed dialogue—“Warner Bros. probably regrets spending just six weeks on the script of this one”—and excessive soundtrack. But the most savage commentary is reserved for what was once the movie’s most anticipated element: Jared Leto as The Joker.

Dec. 7 2016 9:10 AM

2017 Grammy Nominations: The Snubs and Surprises

This article originally appeared in Vulture.

The 2017 Grammy nominations are out, and it’s clear that next February will be a heavyweight bout between Beyoncé and Adele, who are both nominated for Record of the Year, Album of the Year, and Song of the Year and netted nine and five noms, respectively. Unsurprisingly, they’re both up for Album of the Year alongside Justin Bieber, Drake, and (slightly more surprisingly) Sturgill Simpson. And while the Big Four categories will likely dominate the conversation from now until the ceremony on Feb. 12, there were plenty of shocks of both the good and bad variety in the very large field of nominees. Let’s take a closer look at all the biggest wins and most glaring missteps from this year’s Grammy noms.

Dec. 7 2016 7:33 AM

All the Disney Predecessors Behind the Characters in Moana, in One Chart

You’d be hard-pressed to find a review of Moana that doesn’t point out how it gives off strong nostalgic vibes from Disney’s renaissance era—the late-’80s–mid-’90s period that saw a wave of critical and commercial hits that drew heavily from Broadway musicals. The most obvious throwback within the studio’s latest film is the demigod Maui, voiced by Dwayne Johnson, who feels like Robin Williams’ memorable Genie character refitted for the modern age. They two characters only share an ability to shape-shift but also a very similar send-off in their films’ respective finales—bidding their newly acquired friend and partner in adventure a fond goodbye, then flying away joyously, drawing circles in the sky.

Moana's characters, as it turns out, share a lot of DNA with their Disney forebears. Even more than Frozen, which took seemingly deliberate cues from its predecessors while updating them for modern sensibilities, this latest film traces shamelessly over the Disney blueprint. (This is not surprising seeing as Moana's directors, Ron Clements and John Musker, were also responsible for The Little Mermaid and Aladdin.)

So here’s a breakdown of the many ancestors of Moana.

Dec. 7 2016 12:17 AM

The Women of Ocean’s Eight Will Face Off Against Damian Lewis

Ocean’s Eight, the all-female Ocean’s Eleven spinoff, has its villain, and it’s Homeland’s Damian Lewis. Variety reports that Lewis, who’s been seen on set, is playing Sandra Bullock’s ex-lover and the target of the film’s central robbery.

Ocean’s Eight, opening on June 8, 2018, follows Steven Soderbergh’s trilogy Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Twelve, and Ocean’s Thirteen, each of which centered on a complicated heist executed by Danny Ocean (George Clooney) and a gang of A-list con artists. (Ocean’s Eleven was itself a very loose remake of Ocean’s 11, a 1960 Rat Pack vehicle.) This time around, Gary Ross is taking over directorial duties from Soderbergh; the screenplay is by Ross and Olivia Milch. Lewis’ backstory marks at least one change in the series template: The villains of the Soderbergh films were Andy Garcia, Vincent Cassel, and Al Pacino, none of whom played George Clooney’s ex-lovers.


For the female version, the team has been cut down to eight: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter, Mindy Kaling, Awkwafina, and Sarah Paulson. Bullock will play Danny Ocean’s sister, leaving the door open for cameos from the earlier films. That’s a great lineup, but honestly, it seems like Rihanna would be more than capable of pulling this off on her own.

Dec. 6 2016 10:48 PM

Watch Bob Odenkirk Tell the Story of Disco Demolition Night on Drunk History

Back in September, the WSNS broadcast of 1979’s Disco Demolition Night showed up online, giving Slate readers the chance to watch the disco-fueled catastrophe unfold in real time. The only problem was that the video, including, as it did, a complete baseball game, ran for more than three hours. Now there’s a quicker, funnier way to get the Disco Demolition Night experience: Have Bob Odenkirk tell you about it. As part of Drunk History’s “Shit Shows” episode, Odenkirk gets lit and explains everything that happened that fateful night in July.

Dec. 6 2016 3:28 PM

O.J: Made in America, 13th, and Weiner Make Oscar’s Documentary Shortlist

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has officially narrowed the field for the Best Documentary Oscar, announcing the 15 movies that have made this year’s shortlist. The list, from which the five nominees and the eventual winner will be chosen, is fairly short on surprises, although there are a few notable omissions, like the Leonardo DiCaprio–fronted climate change documentary Before the Flood and Barbara Kopple’s Miss Sharon Jones!, a portrait of the recently deceased soul singer. Netflix continues to make a strong showing in the category, with The Ivory Game and Ava DuVernay’s 13th, and the academy apparently agrees with the New York Film Critics Circle that despite its length and episode structure, O.J.: Made in America is a movie and not a TV miniseries—or at least, a movie and a TV miniseries. The academy has been hostile in past to formally adventurous documentaries, but there are several in the mix this year, including Kristen Johnston’s Cameraperson and Gianfranco Rosi’s Fire at Sea, which could become the first movie to be nominated for Best Documentary and Best Foreign-Langage Film, since it’s Italy’s official submission for the award.

Dec. 6 2016 1:18 PM

Chris Rock Is Going on Tour for the First Time in Almost a Decade

This has been a rough year, but here, at last, is something to look forward to in 2017: Chris Rock will be going on tour for the first time in almost a decade. The comedian announced the decision in Facebook Live video on Monday night.

“I, Christopher Julius Rock, have an important announcement to make tonight,” said Rock in the video. “Tonight I am announcing that I, Chris Rock, am going on tour.” The Total Blackout Tour, which is set to kick off in February 2017, will be Rock’s first in nine years.


Earlier this year it was announced that Rock has two specials coming to Netflix, and the tour only further solidifies Rock’s return to stand-up. Its name is a probable allusion to Rock’s time hosting the Oscars last year, during a ceremony marked by a noticeable lack of diversity. Given that 2017 will be the first year of a Trump presidency, the timing could not be better.

Tickets go on sale Dec. 7 via Ticketmaster.

Tour Dates:

2/14 – Durham, NC - Durham Performing Arts Center
2/16 – Cincinnati, OH - Aronoff Center for the Arts
2/18 – Columbus, OH - Palace Theatre
2/21 – Niagra Falls, ON - Fallsview Casino Resort
2/22 – Niagra Falls, ON - Fallsview Casino Resort
2/23 – Niagra Falls, ON - Fallsview Casino Resort
2/24 – Reno, NV - Reno Events Center
2/25 – Phoenix, AZ - Comerica Theatre
3/3 – Denver, CO - Bellco Theatre
3/5 – Richmond, VA - Altria Theater
3/10 – Minneapolis, MN - Orpheum Theatre
3/24 – Birmingham, AL - BJCC Concert Hall
3/25 – New Orleans, LA - Saenger Theatre
3/29 – Hollywood, FL - Hard Rock Live
4/6 – Tulsa, OK - River Spirit Casino Resort
4/7 – Thackerville, OK - Global Event Center at WinStar World Casino
4/8 – St. Louis, MO - Peabody Opera House
4/14 – Tampa, FL - David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts
4/19 – Cleveland, OH - State Theatre
4/22 – Uncasville, CT - Mohegan Sun
4/28 – Detroit, MI - Fox Theatre
5/3 – Indianapolis, IN - Murat Theatre
5/5 – Pittsburgh, PA - Benedum Center
5/13 – Sugar Land, TX - Smart Financial Center
5/14 – Austin, TX - Bass Concert Hall
5/17 – Pittsburgh, PA - Benedum Center
5/25 – Cherokee, NC - Harrah’s Cherokee Resort Event Center
5/26 – Atlanta, GA - Fox Theatre
6/3 – Atlantic City, NJ - Borgata Event Center

Dec. 6 2016 12:51 PM

Samantha Bee and Full Frontal Take On Fake News and Conspiracy Theories

News stories about fake news are all the rage lately: Its influence on the election is increasingly well-documented, as is its continued (and dangerous) ability to push insane conspiracy theories into the mainstream. With journalists and companies like Google and Facebook playing catch-up on finding ways to counter the fake news industry, Samantha Bee and her correspondent Mike Rubens decided to go straight to the source on Monday night’s Full Frontal.

Rubens sat down with fake news “pioneer” Jestin Coler for a wide-ranging discussion on what, exactly, he tries to achieve through his work. The conversation drove Rubens crazier with each incoming detail: that Coler is a liberal who voted for Hillary Clinton in November, that his goal is to “expose” the alt-right as a group that doesn’t care about facts, and that—most disturbingly—this past year’s barrage of shared misinformation is just the tip of the iceberg. As Rubens summed it all up to Coler: “You’re just the opportunistic infection that came in.”


Of course, as Bee implicitly noted earlier in the show, there are other ways to bolster the value of fake news—like, say, aggressively challenging the legitimacy of our elections. “I can’t think of anything classier than crying conspiracy when you lose,” Bee quipped about North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory. “Oh, yes I can: crying conspiracy when you win!”

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.