Best ___ Of 2015: Some Really Specific Superlatives

2015 is over, and so is vacation. For a lot of us, this is the first day back at work for a week or two, and I, for one, am not ready. How not ready? I’m just going to bury my head in the sands of time and think about 2015 for a few more minutes. By now all of the year’s Best Of lists are out – best movie, best new television show, and so on. However, I think a few categories were left off the lists. From best Ham4Ham performance to best original song by a fictional artist, there’s a lot more of 2015 left to enjoy*.

*There isn’t, though. It’s over. Better get back to work after this. Yuck.

Best Ham4Ham performance of 2015: Love For The Techies Day

We aren’t going to talk about the best musical of 2015 – there’s no need, because I think we all agree here (#WeAreAHamiltonBlogNow). So how about the best performance from Ham 4 Ham, the Hamilton lottery? There are a lot of excellent contenders and you could make a solid argument for a handful of them, but I’m going with one of the more unorthodox performances: Love for the Techies Day. The whole company performed the Ten Duel Commandments, but it wasn’t just amazing because the entire cast was there. The stage manager called out all of the cues, and when you realize that he does that for the entire show, every day, you’ll be blown away.

Best dance craze of 2015: Whip & Nae Nae

… and NOT because it’s a good dance, but because it has followed the classic Dance Craze trajectory. It is easy enough that anybody can execute it, though maybe not well. It started as a reasonably “cool” thing to do, then trickled down to the elementary school set. From there, it has traveled way up the age bracket, and there’s a good chance that your mom or aunt has learned it at a wedding (possibly from a child). In a lot of ways, the nae nae is like the Macarena of 2015. Complete with annoying song that we’re all sick of.

Best viral video with a puppy in it: Drunk Girls Get Surprised With Puppies

This was not an easy choice, and I am fully open to more puppy video suggestions because I can’t get enough. I am particularly partial to puppies making friends with other species. But this one basically summed up my internal monologue when I see a puppy, so I’m going with it. Also my favorite puppy/horse video is from 2014, anyway.

Best viral video with a kitten in it: Meet Koko’s New Kittens

Koko always wanted a baby, but she got kittens instead. Apparently when a human does that it’s “sad” (whatever) but it sure is adorable when a gorilla did it. The gorilla is so gentle I want to cry.

Best new Netflix series – comedy: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

The magic starts with the theme song and just keeps going. Master of None is a close second, but I’m not considering it a full-out *comedy* (we’ll explain).

Best new Netflix series – drama: Jessica Jones

I don’t know if this makes my opinion more or less valid (probably less?) but I’ve never seen a superhero show before. What I like is that it’s plot- and character- driven (and I realize that most superhero dramas are…) and there aren’t too many action sequences unless they actually move the story forward. Gratuitous action sequences are just something that tends to make me lose interest and avoid the genre. As a character study alone, I’m pleasantly surprised by how good this show is. [Full disclosure: real life got a little too real and I haven’t seen the last 3 episodes yet but I heard they’re excellent.]

Best new Netflix series – documentary: Making a Murderer

This isn’t the last you’ll hear from us about Making a Murderer, so I won’t say too much now. We both love how this filled the Serial-shaped hole in our lives (the new season of Serial is still good, but different).

Honorable mention for best documentary: Master of None, because I know it’s a comedy but it was also the REALEST thing I’ve seen in a while.

Best 90s television reunion: Saved By The Bell on Jimmy Fallon

This was 100% more Bayside-like than that weird school in the Lifetime movie about Saved By The Bell. I wonder at what point Mark Paul Gosselaar and Mario Lopez will stop looking exactly like 1993-era  Zach Morris and A.C. Slater given the right hair and wardrobe.

Best 2000s television reunion: Gilmore Girls 

And not just because we were there.  It’s not often that the entire cast of a show will reunite like that, and it’s even better now that we know that the series will be getting the sign-off it deserved.

Best original song by a fictional artist: Drip Drop – Hakeem Lyon on Empire

We love original songs by fictional artists so much that we did a whole playlist on the topic, but if we did that today there’s a chance it would just be Drip Drop ten times. Just think, a year ago at this time we had no idea what Empire was going to unleash on all of us.

Best children’s movie for adults: Inside Out

It’s great for kids, too, but something about this one really grabs most adults, plus a lot of the references to things like art and psychology are geared toward the grown-ups, anyway. Fair warning: this is also 2015’s Best Children’s Movie To Cry During, based on an informal survey of … us. We both cried.

Best uncanny resemblance between a  celebrity and a presidential candidate: Larry David/ Bernie Sanders

Many of the best impressions are performed by people who look nothing like the subject they’re impersonating. Still, there’s something so exciting when a politician has a ready-made celebrity doppelgänger (see: Tina Fey and Sarah Palin). It looks like we’ll all be feeling the Bern for at least a while longer, so let’s all hope that Larry David is willing to reprise his spot-on, no-effort impersonation.

Best surprisingly heartwarming pop culture moment: Shia LaBoeuf watches the Even Stevens movie

 

I don’t know how I feel about Shia LaBoeuf, but I DO know how I feel about Even Stevens: that it’s an essential part of my childhood television cannon, and when I say childhood I mean that it aired when I was in high school and was made for 8-year-olds. Shia’s latest performance art piece, #AllMyMovies, involved him… watching all of his movies. Yet when I watch all of Shia LaBoeuf’s movies, it’s not performance art, it’s just a weird Saturday. Anyway, his reactions to Even Stevens were actually precious.

The Art of Shia LaBeouf

So Shia LaBeouf did another thing. No, he didn’t have another run-in with the law (this time around, at least). No, he didn’t put another paper bag on his head (this time around, at least). No, he didn’t let strangers sit across from him at a table (this time around he let strangers sit next to him, at least). America’s favorite actor named Shia kicked off his latest stunt last week, called #AllMyMovies, a three-day experimental performance art installation in which he sat and watched all his films in reverse chronological order for 72 hours straight – more or less – and invited fans to watch them with him. Basically Shia binge-watched himself nonstop for three days.

But the best part about this was the livestream available on the project’s website, which had a camera directly on Shia the entire time. The caveat was that there was no sound, so you couldn’t hear if he said anything outloud, or know which point in the movie they were in. There was a schedule available online as to the start time and list of movies playing (as I found out from a number of #AllMyMovies followers after rhetorically inquiring on Twitter), so plenty of folks at home, with no time on their hands apparently, could sync up with Shia.

I decided to see what all the fuss was all about and logged in to the site, partly because I was curious, and partly because I have a severe case of pop culture FOMO. This is what I saw:

Legit. This is what one would see if they went to the live stream. After I realized nothing was wrong with my computer and there really wasn’t any sound, I started losing interest. Maybe it was because he was in New York and it was like 3am his time and he was catatonic anyways, or maybe he didn’t care for the movie. I didn’t even know what movie he was watching at that point, so like, who cared? But then I searched the hashtag on Twitter, and that led to a whole other world, and it all started making sense.

The dedicated fans who had stayed up into the wee hours of the morning had been following Shia since the beginning. Since Shia was the only static person in frame, they started to pick up the minutia of everything else around him, i.e. the fans in the visible background.

At one point during my viewing, there was a dude behind Shia that looked like Josh Peck. A blurry Josh Peck, which led to me researching if it was actually Josh Peck – it wasn’t. But that doesn’t mean there weren’t a fair share of “celebrities” in the audience. By celebrities, I mean the folks around Shia who got nicknamed by the Internet. There was Glasses Girls 1 & 2 during Constantine and The Greatest Game Ever Played, Kurt Fauxbain and Jack Sparrow in front of him at Surf’s Up and Hat Girl, who even scored a parody Twitter account. And her Hat got an account too. The Internet, man.

According to multiple #AllMyMovies-goers, video and photography was strictly prohibited inside the theater, and if fans had gifts, they had to give it to someone else who would relay the items to Shia. There were some people that decided to act like a true fan and ask for a pic with him:

Or act like a normal human and congratulate him on his excellent scene:

or casually offer candy:

*a staff member at the Angelika said Shia went through 15 bags of Sour Patch Kids during his 3-day stay!*

Then you have that one person who fucks it up and legit causes you second-hand embarrassment even though you know it’s inevitable:

Aside from the fans, watching Shia’s reaction to watching himself was hard to take your eyes off of. Here are just a few choice reactions from his marathon:

Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Transformers: Dark Side of The Moon

*He basically hated all the Transformers films. At one point he even goes into the aisle and lays down to take a nap.

Holes

The Even Stevens Movie

It’s worth noting that this FREE performance art piece has apparently been in the works for a year, so it’s not some paper bag type gimmick that he decided to do on a whim. In fact, a Twitter user noted that after Shia got arrested in Texas last month, he had tweeted his first line to every one of his movies sequentially, a move that obviously shows he had at least some thought into it. He even wrote on the wall of the Angelika thanking them for hosting the “crazy” marathon, proving he’s aware that the concept of watching all his films and capturing his response is insane.

But like any type of art, it’s totally objective. I don’t necessarily *get* performance art, but I understand it enough to consider it art. In this particular case, a number of reasons could make the case for Shia’s binge-watch as “real art”. Through the literal lens of the camera directly facing Shia, we see a number of reactions from the actor and the people around him. It shows the psychology of human interaction in an unlikely setting, their response to celebrity, the mere fact staying awake for lengthy periods of time can change your mental state. The same goes for Shia. I’m assuming he intended to view his movies in reverse knowing full well he’d be loopy by the time he reached the point where he was a child actor. As seen above, he seemed to be the most content and happy while watching Surf’s Up and The Even Stevens Movie (watch him watch it synced with the actual film. Cinnamon roll.) – albeit both are classified as kids’ films – one has to wonder if the reason he’s emitting so much joy is to show that he’s just like us – he sometimes longs for the days of innocence and finds comfort in a show like Evens Stevens, which helped him become a star and occurred during some of the most important developmental years of his life. Then there’s the whole fascination of watching Shia watch a screen for hours on end. Like I said, I fell victim to the FOMO, but it’s interesting to see how involved and passionate they get with something as simple as a livestream of a dude in a dark theater.

So, it goes back to this – what’s the point of this charade? Are we supposed to look inward and reflect on what it would be like for us to relive moments of our lives on the big screen with strangers for three days? Or does this put another notch on Shia’s “egotistical” nature? That here he is, doing a performance art piece, seeing his career as an actor in reverse, and perhaps he’s searching for what made him fall in love with acting in the first place? To watch his bizarre rise and fall in the industry? To show just how odd the idea of fame is in general? We might never know unless Shia explains it point blank to us, but to be honest, we don’t need that. We need to respect his desire to keep creating art that fulfills him. As long as he’s not hurting anyone in the process,  who cares? We’re talking about it now, aren’t we? And maybe that’s what he wanted all along.

shia

Shia LaBeouf: Pulling a Joaquin Phoenix or Amanda Bynes?

Last week, we were reminded that Shia LaBeouf may have lost his damn mind. In case you hadn’t heard, Louis Stevens attended Thursday’s performance of Cabaret on Broadway, but he wasn’t able to see how it ended since he was escorted out of the theater by police, arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. Earlier in the day, he was spotted chasing down a homeless man (more on that later), and this was just in a day’s work. This past year, he’s been doing a lot of crazy things, so one must ask – is this real or all for show?

Two cases we can look at are the Joaquin Phoenix complex and the Amanda Bynes complex.

Joaquin Phoenix

In late 2008, Joaquin announced he was retiring from acting in order to focus on his music career, which, okay a lot of actors do. But JP wanted to become a rapper. Like a legit hip-hop star. He started appearing in public with the long hair and scruffy beard, as seen above, and had a series of super odd appearances, including the infamous David Letterman interview in 2009.

In 2010, the film I’m Still Here by actor/director Casey Affleck (and JP’s brother-in-law) debuted at the Venice Film Festival. It wasn’t until after the movie was released that Casey revealed that JP had gone through two years of this performance art as an uber Joaquin Phoenix and it was all for the sake of the movie. That’s right kids, JP hadn’t actually lost his mind.

Amanda Bynes

Amanda’s fall from fame began around 2012, when she was arrested and charged for a DUI. That same year, she was charged for two alleged hit and run incidents, which were later dismissed after reaching a settlement with the victims. Her license was suspended, but was caught and cited for driving on it and had her car impounded.

In 2013, she was arrested for criminal possession of marijuana, attempted tampering with evidence, and reckless endangerment after she threw a bong out the window of her 36th floor apartment in Manhattan (which she insisted was a vase).  That summer in California, Bynes allegedly started a small fire in the driveway of some person’s house and was hospitalized and put under a 3 day mental health evaluation hold. She was later transferred to a “specialized treatment in a private facility” outside of Los Angeles and in December, she was released to her parents, who were granted a temporary conservatorship over her.

She now takes classes at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in LA (aka the same school Lauren Conrad went to).

Alright, with this information, let’s take a look at a timeline of Shia LaBeouf’s troubles over the past year, and try to determine if he’s more of a Phoenix or Bynes…

February 2013: LaBeouf’s Broadway Beef with Baldwin

Shia was due to star alongside Alec Baldwin and Tom Sturridge in the play Orphans, making his Broadway debut. However shortly into rehearsals and weeks before previews were to begin, the producers announced that Shia was leaving the show “due to creative differences”, but rumors swirled that Shia had a dramatic bust-up with Alec, thus leading to his firing.

Ben Foster ultimately replaced him, but Shia didn’t go down with a fight. That same day, he posted his audition for the show on his Twitter (the vid has since been taken down). Two days later, he returned with a screenshot of an email from the show’s director, who wrote, “I’m too old for disagreeable situations. You’re one hell of a great actor. Alec is who he is. You are who you are. You two are incompatible. I should have known it.”

In the e-mail between Shia and Alec, Shia seemingly apologizes, Alec accepts, and Shia wishes him good luck on the show.

Shia even posted an e-mail from Tom Sturridge saying what an honor it was to work with him in the brief time they had together. Shia continued talking about theatre/the craft on Twitter:

the theater belongs not to the great but to the brash. acting is not for gentlemen, or bureaucratic-academics. what they do is antiart. actors used to be buried with a stake through the heart. those peoples performances so troubled on-lookers that they feared their ghosts. those actors moved the audience not such that they were admitted to graduate school, or recieved a complimentary review. but such that the audience feared for their soul. now that seems to me something to aim for. invent nothing, deny nothing, speak up, stand up, stay out of school.

What’s interesting about this is that Shia’s “apology” is eerily similar to that from an Esquire article from 2009 by Tom Chiarella called “What is a Man”.  Take note of this.

December 2013: Plagiarism Accusations

Shia debuted his first project as a director online with a short film on HowardCantour.com. Except the only problem was that his directing debut was exactly the same as author Daniel Clowes’ 2007 graphic novella called “Justin M. Damiano”. Like same dialogue, visuals – everything was the same.

But Shia, thinking another apology would clear it all up, yet again took to Twitter and said:

Oh yeah, he plagiarized the apology AGAIN – but decided Yahoo! Answers was the way to go this time? Legit copied and pasted some rando talking about plagiarism.

Later in December, it was revealed that comic books Shia wrote in 2012 were ALSO a rip off from text from authors Charles Bukowski and a French writer named Benoit Duteurtre, and his mea culpa on Twitter came in the form of this:

^^ Tiger Woods’ apology for cheating^^

^^ Former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara about the execution of the Vietnam War, as written in his memoir. ^^

Not to mention his apologies in the form of Kanye, Shepard Fairey and Mark Zuckerberg.

January 2014: Sky High Apologies

In addition to his Twitter “apology”, Shia made a grander gesture to the graphic novelist by hiring a skywriter over Los Angeles to write “I am sorry Daniel Clowes”

February 2014: I Am Not Famous Anymore

Shia attends the Berlin Film Festival for his new film Nymphomaniac (which is weird enough on its own). During the press conference, a reporter asked him about all the sex scenes in the movie and Shia oddly quoted a famous French soccer player Eric Cantona, and said, “When the seagulls follow the trawler, it’s because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea,” then just up and left.

Later that night, he returned to promote the film on the red carpet – but wore this accessory that hasn’t exactly become a trend since.

A few days later, back in Los Angeles, Shia opened up his own art exhibit called #IAMSORRY, which again, was extremely similar to artist Marina Abramovic’s famous 2010 installation/documentary “The Artist is Present” at the MoMa in New York, where she sat at a table and visitors could sit across from her and just stare at each other.

In Shia’s version, visitors entered the space and were asked to pick an item off a table, including a “leather whip, a pair of pliers, a vase of daisies, an Optimus Prime Transformer toy, a bowl of Hershey’s kisses, a bowl of folded slips of paper containing tweets about LaBeouf, a large bottle of Jack Daniels, a small bottle of Brut cologne, a pink ukulele, and the graphic novel The Death-Ray by Daniel Clowes,” according to Buzzfeed.

In the next room was Shia, sitting at a table, weawring a tux and paper bag over his head just like the one at the Berlin Film Festival. The visitor would then sit across from him and according to most reports, he would just sit there, but some lucky folks were able to get him to take the bag off or get a handshake.

True story: this art exhibit was not that far from my office, and I drove past it but was too scared/didn’t want to wait in line to go in! I’m not good with eye contact anyways.

Photo Feb 14, 9 18 23 PM

June 2014

It had been a while since Shia had caused a stir – mainly because he was off filming a movie with Brad Pitt in Europe, and Mrs. Jolie was probs setting him straight over there. But then we were all reminded last week that Shia Shenans is alive and well.

Before his Cabaret incident, Shia began loading up on margaritas while watching the World Cup at a bar in NYC late Thursday afternoon. By 5pm, he was outside another bar, chatting people up and taking pix/videos with people on the sidewalk.

View this post on Instagram

Ma nigga ma nigga #ShiaLabeouf

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And then… Shia allegedly chased down a homeless man in Times Square for a bag of McDonald’s… you can view the bizzare video here.

As if that activity wasn’t enough for one day, Shia went to see Michelle Williams and Alan Cumming in Cabaret, which takes place at the Studio 54 theater. Because it’s supposed to feel like a – cabaret – the set up isn’t like a traditional theater, and the actors, including MC Alan Cumming, go through the audience during their performance. According to eyewitnesses, Shia was smoking a joint and slapping Alan on the ass as he walked by. He also apparently was yelling lewd things to the Kit Kat Girls on stage, and during Michelle’s solo, he was dropping bottles and falling out of his chair.

Once the police had him in custody, he was yelling a bunch of “Fuck yous!” and calling them the F word, screaming, “This is fucking bullshit. Do you know my life? Do you know who the fuck I am? Do you know who I am?” Oh lawd.

Shia spent the night in jail and on Friday, he came before a judge and was officially charged with criminal trespass, disorderly conduct and harassment.

♦  ♦  ♦

So, here we are, folks. On a scale of Joaquin Phoenix to Amanda Bynes, just how crazy has Shia become? While we can just make assumptions as mere bystanders, my best guess is that it’s leaning more towards a Joaquin than anything. The fact that he keeps using plagiarized apologies, that he seemed completely normal to fans on the street last week – it all seems more calculated than mere insanity. But who knows, he fooled me when he played a mentally challenged kid in the classic DCOM Tru Confessions. What do I know? Actually – here’s what I do know. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a secret documentary or he clearly needs professional help:

Get it together, Holes.

 

Bleth & More Fictional Couples Who Should Marry IRL

It happened, y’all. Two of the most beloved characters in millennial TV history are getting married IRL!

If you haven’t heard yet, Blair Waldorf and Seth Cohen (Bleth) are engaged!!!

Okay, so it’s actually Leighton Meester and Adam Brody. Two things came to my mind upon hearing this: 1) UGH now Seth and Summer will NEVER be together. 2) Blair and Seth. Weird.

It did not occur to me until a good minute later that these folks are not their fictional characters, because I am too engrossed in the lives of TV characters instead of my own real life. (It’s fine, I’m not the only one. The internet is stuck in the land of Newport & the Upper East Side too).

Anyways, while the idea of Queen B and lovable geek Seth getting together seems almost impossible that it could actually be true love, it got me thinking – what other characters from 90s/00s TV shows would actually be really compatible? Here are a few I came up with. Agree? Disagree? Want to add more to the list? Let us know!

Jenny Oliver
To continue with the Gossip Girl/The OC crossover, I present to you Jenny Humphrey and Oliver Trask. Jenny was a good girl gone bad, while Oliver was just a nutjob gone cray cray. Put them together and you have a big ball of insanity, which is probably not condusive to you know, living a normal life, but at least they would be happy together?

lisa carlton
When you think about it, these two could have actually gotten together. Lisa lived in the Pacific Palisades on Saved by the Bell while Carlton lived (with the Fresh Prince) in Bel-Air. It’s only like a “20 minute” commute, so it’s totes easy for Lisa to pick up Carlton and the two (read: just Lisa) can go shopping on his credit card. Not to mention, she would have a BFF in his sister Hillary.

ruthie ben
I’m going to pretend that Ruthie is still 8 years old on 7th Heaven and Ben is 6 on Friends, because I can’t handle the fact that Grown up Ruthie is posing half naked in magazines and Ben has split into twins and one of them works in a restaurant. These two were both troublemakers at some point in their respective series so while Ben avoids hanging out with Sting’s son, he can just casually date/hold hands with Ruthie and everything will be okay.

jonathan erik
Alright, before you leave a nasty comment, I realize that Jonathan Bower from Who’s the Boss was never actually gay on the show. It was the ’80s/90s, they couldn’t do that. On the other hand, Danny Pinaturo, the actor, actually is gay, so lets pretend new came out later in life and started dating Eric Van der Woodsen from Gossip Girl. Eric, since he grew up in the age where coming out isn’t as big of a deal as it used to be, has had his fair share of bfs, so he could teach Jonathan a little something about being ‘out’. In public.

kimmy neal
Ah Gibbler. The annoying sometimes charming BFF/neighbor to the Tanner family on Full House. She’s the type of person that would only get on with someone that’s just as weird and freaky as her. Enter Neal Schweiber from Freaks and Geeks. If you’re not familiar (what’s wrong with you? Watch that shit now), Neal is part of the Geek section of Freaks and Geeks. He thinks he’s a ladies man but, let’s face it. He’s not. Except with Gibbler.

jessie randy
There’s an episode of Saved by the Bell called Cut Day (is it disgusting I didn’t even have to look that up?) where Jessie finds a love connection with Graham – a boy she’s NEVER met or seen before in this high school where we see the same students over and over again – after they bond over protesting the delivery of styrofoam cups to the cafeteria and chaining themselves to lockers. Meanwhile, over on Home Improvement, Randy Taylor was kind of the odd man out in the family, as he cared more about environmental and civil rights and even became a vegetarian, much to the chagrin of Tim the Toolman Taylor. JTT decided to leave the show to go to college IRL, so the writers shipped Randy off to Costa Rica with his girlfriend in an attempt to save the rainforest. Basically, these two belong together in Colorado living a crunchy granola vegan lifestyle or for Americorps in – where else – Costa Rica.

kate dickKate Sanders was the bitchy, popular girl on Lizzie McGuire and Dick Casablancas, well Dick lived up to his first name. I realize that maybe there’s a slight age difference here, but theoretically, Kate and Dick would be a match made in heaven. And provide plenty of fodder for Veronica Mars’ flawless snark.

cher joeyLest we forget, Clueless was so popular that it spawned a TV show. Even though it only lasted for three seasons, Cher was still Cher and swimming in the middle of a bunch of Monets in Beverly Hills. Joey may have been a dumb jock on Blossom, but all he really needs is someone who is like him but smarter, and Cher can totally fit that role for him.

ren parisOkay, okay. These two aren’t lesbians. But bear with me for a second. Ren Stevens was a Type A overachiever on Even Stevens. Paris Geller was a Type A overachiever on Gilmore Girls. The ultimate power couple? And just think about it – these two could EASILY be lesbians. Like if one day they returned and it was revealed they’ve switched teams and gone all Piper Chapman over the past couple of years, I wouldn’t be surprised.

bliss feenyHonestly, I don’t know why no one ever thought of this before. Two teachers from beloved teen sitcoms, each providing life lessons for their students/adopted kids? Goood Morning, Mrs. Feeny.