I Watched Forever Strong (2008, dir. by Ryan Little)

Rick Penning (Sean Faris) is the captain of his high school rugby team and the team’s highest scorer.  He’s also the son of the team’s coach (Neal McDonough).  Coach Penning is obsessed with winning at all costs and refuses to tell his son that he’s proud of him.  Coach Penning believes that emotion equals weakness and that only losers brag about doing their best.  After a loss to the Highland High school rugby team, which is coached by Larry Gelwix (Gary Cole), Rick and his teammates blow of steam by drinking, driving, and crashing a car.

Rick is sentenced to juvie but his case officer (Sean Astin) can see that Rick needs rugby in his life so he arranges for Rick to play with the Highland Team.  At first, Rick resents the new team and doesn’t want to follow Coach Gelwix’s advice on or off the field.  Coach Gelwix makes the team do community projects while they’re not training and Rick says that’s not his thing.  Rick just wants to score points and he doesn’t care about teamwork.  But the team and the coach eventually win Rick over and, once Rick gets over being selfish and starts playing for the team instead of just himself, Highland High starts winning games and Rick becomes the team’s newest captain.  But, when Rick gets paroled from juvie, he’s sent back home to his father, who expects Rick to reveal all of Highland’s secret plays and weaknesses.  When Rick refuses to betray Coach Gelwix, his former teammates frame him and get him sent back to juvie.  Rick ends up playing for Highland again, just in time for the state championship and a chance to lead Highland against his father’s team.

Forever Strong had a good message but, from the first minute, I know what was going to happen and how it was going to all end.  The story was pretty predictable and the movie seemed to assume that everyone watching would already know everything that they needed to know about rugby.  At my high school, athletics pretty much meant football.  I don’t think we even had a rugby team.  (If we did, we never cheered at their games, which I feel bad about.)  Whenever everyone in the movie was arguing about the right way to play rugby and which position on the team was the most important, I was lost.  I did like Gary Cole as Coach Gelwix.  He was the type of coach that every parent should hope coaches their child’s team.

What If Lisa Had All The Power: 2019 Emmy Nominations Edition

In a few hours, the 2019 Emmy nominations will be announced!

Since I love awards and I love making lists, it’s an annual tradition that I list who and what would be nominated if I had all the power.  Keep in mind that what you’re seeing below are not necessarily my predictions of what or who will actually be nominated.  Many of the shows listed below will probably be ignored tomorrow morning.  Instead, this is a list of the nominees and winners if I was the one who was solely responsible for picking them.

Because I got off to a late start this year, I’m only listing the major categories below.  I may go back and do a full, 100-category list sometime tomorrow.  Who knows?  I do love making lists.

Anyway, here’s what would be nominated and what would win if I had all the power!  (Winners are listed in bold.)

(Want to see who and what was nominated for Emmy consideration this year?  Click here!)

(Want to see my picks for last year?  Click here!)

(Want to see my picks for 2012?  I know, that’s kinda random.  Anyway, click here!)


Outstanding Comedy Series


Brooklyn Nine-Nine


It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

One Day At A Time



Outstanding Drama Series

Better Call Saul



Game of Thrones

The Magicians

My Brilliant Friend



Outstanding Limited Series



The Haunting of Hill House

I Am The Night


Sharp Objects

True Detective

A Very English Scandal

Outstanding Television Movie

The Bad Seed

Bandersnatch (Black Mirror)



King Lear

Native Son

No One Would Tell



Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Iain Armitage in Young Sheldon

Ted Danson in The Good Place

Bill Hader in Barry

Pete Holmes in Crashing

Glenn Howerton in A.P. Bio

Andy Samberg in Brooklyn Nine Nine

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Penn Badgley in You

Jason Bateman in Ozark

James Franco in The Deuce

John Krasinski in Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan

Bob Odenkirk in Better Call Saul

Dominic West in The Affair

Outstanding Lead Actor In a Limited Series

Hugh Grant in A Very English Scandal

Jared Harris in Chernobyl

Jonah Hill in Maniac

Chris Pine in I Am The Night

Sam Rockwell in Fosse/Verdon

Henry Thomas in The Haunting of Hill House

Outstanding Lead Actor In An Original Movie

Benedict Cumberbatch in Brexit

Anthony Hopkins in King Lear

Rob Lowe in The Bad Seed

Ian McShane in Deadwood

Timothy Olyphant in Deadwood

Jeffrey Wright in O.G.

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy Series

Melissa Barrera in Vida

Kristen Bell in The Good Place

Alison Brie in GLOW

Rachel Brosnahan in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Julia Louis-Dreyfus in Veep

Zoe Perry in Young Sheldon

Outstanding Lead Actress in A Drama Series

Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones

Gaia Girace in My Brilliant Friend

Maggie Gyllenhaal in The Deuce

Laura Linney in Ozark

Margherita Mazzucco in My Brilliant Friend

Anna Paquin in Flack

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series

Amy Adams in Sharp Objects

India Eisley in I Am The Night

Carla Gugino in The Haunting of Hill House

Charlotte Hope in The Spanish Princess

Emma Stone in Maniac

Michelle Williams in Fosse/Verdon

Outstanding Lead Actress in an Original Movie

Shannen Doherty in No One Would Tell

Chelsea Frei in Victoria Gotti: My Father’s Daughter

McKenna Grace in The Bad Seed

Paula Malcolmson in Deadwood

Molly Parker in Deadwood

Christina Ricci in Escaping The Madhouse: The Nellie Bly Story

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series

Fred Armisen in Documentary Now!

Andre Braugher in Brooklyn Nine Nine

Anthony Carrigan in Barry

Tony Hale in Veep

Sam Richardson in Veep

Stephen Root in Barry

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series

Jonathan Banks in Better Call Saul

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in Game of Thrones

Peter Dinklage in Game of Thrones

Giancarlo Esposito in Better Call Saul

Peter Mullan in Ozark

Luca Padovan in You

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Limited Series

Stephen Dorff in True Detective

Timothy Hutton in The Haunting of Hill House

Chris Messina in Sharp Objects

Stellan Skarsgard in Chernobyl

Justin Thereoux in Maniac

Ben Whishaw in A Very English Scandal

Outstanding Supporting Actor In An Original Movie

Jim Broadbent in King Lear

Bill Camp in Native Son

Theothus Carter in O.G.

Rory Kinnear in Brexit

Gerald McRaney in Deadwood

Will Poulter in Bandersnatch (Black Mirror)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in A Comedy Series

Caroline Aaron in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Alex Borstein in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Anna Chlumsky in Veep

Sarah Goldberg in Barry

Rita Moreno in One Day At A Time

Sarah Sutherland in Veep

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Drama Series

Summer Bishil in The Magicians

Elisa Del Genio in My Brilliant Friend

Julia Garner in Ozark

Lena Headey in Game of Thrones

Elizabeth Lail in You

Shay Mitchell in You

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Limited Series

Jessie Buckley in Chernobyl

Patricia Clarkson in Sharp Objects

Sally Field in Maniac

Patricia Hodge in A Very English Scandal

Connie Nielsen in I Am The Night

Emily Watson in Chernobyl

Outstanding Supporting Actress In An Original Movie

Kim Dickens in Deadwood

Florence Pugh in King Lear

Margaret Qualley in Favorite Son

Emma Thompson in King Lear

Emily Watson in King Lear

Robin Weigert in Deadwood


Film Review: Easy A (directed by Will Gluck)

For some reason, I didn’t see Easy A during its initial run even though it was one of those films that, every time I saw the commercial, seemed to be beckoning me to come down to the theater.  All of my girlfriends saw it and loved it and told me that I had to see it because apparently they sat through the whole movie going, “Oh, that’s so Lisa.”  And then, before long, every guyfriend of mine ended up seeing the film and they all came back to me and said, “You have to see this film because my date kept going, ‘Oh, that’s so Lisa!'”  Of course, when I heard that, it was time for me to start doing the whole talk-to-the-hand motion  and going, “Oh no, she didn’t!” because that’s what you do when a guy says that his girlfriend was talking about you.  Anyway, I got so busy pretending to be on Maury that I ended up missing my chance to see Easy A in a real theater.

Instead, I had to settle for seeing in a dollar theater on Thursday and can I just get off topic here for a few minutes?  Can I?  Will you indulge me for just a second for me to speak the truth?  Okay, I know that some people kinda think I’m a film snob because I’m always raving about the Angelika and finding excuses to mention that I don’t have the read the subtitles when I go to a French film.  Well, so be it.  Call me a film snob because I am now convinced that Dante’s Inferno is a dollar movie theater.  Seriously, until I saw Red and Easy A this week, I just assumed that people with really bad hygiene just didn’t go to the movies.  Now, I see that they just hang out at the dollar theaters.  And here’s the thing — even though they’re only paying a dollar, they still can’t show up for the freaking movie on time!  Seriously, what is the deal with these dumbfug toadsuckers who just want to come in to the theater 30 minutes late and then spend 10 more minutes wandering around in the dark looking for a seat.  Look, you can look in a newspaper, you can look online, you can call the mutherfracking theater — IT IS NOT THAT HARD TO FIND OUT WHEN YOUR FREAKING MOVIE IS STARTING, PEOPLE!    And then, you  not only show up late but you bring your own food with you because, of course, who doesn’t want to spend an hour listening to you trying to open up one of those loud, crinkly bags of Sun Chips while everyone else is trying to pay attention to the movie?  I mean, you’re already late, you only paid a froking dollar to get in — JUST BUY SOME FRICKING POPCORN, YOU SELF-CENTERED, MYNA BIRD-LOOKING, DUMBFUG MOTHAFRACKER!  I MEAN…GAWD!

I’m sorry…where was I?

Oh yeah, Easy A.  It’s a good movie, probably one of the best high school films I’ve ever seen.  How good was this movie?  I still loved it even though I was watching it in Dante’s Inferno.

Emma Stone plays Olive, a high school student who — in order to get out of going on a weekend camping trip with her best friend — tells a lie about having a date with a boy named George.  (And I can’t blame her because seriously, camping?  BLEH!)  The next Monday, Olive is asked for the details of her imaginary date and her inability to give anything more than the vaguest of details is interpreted to mean that she lost her virginity over the weekend.  (Vagueness being interpreted as sluttiness happens far more often than most of us like to admit.)  Olive’s story about losing her V-card is overheard by Marianne (Amanda Bynes) and soon the entire school is aware that Olive is no longer hymenally challenged.  In short, Olive is now … a girl with a reputation! (Cue ominous music and Vincent Price laughter.)

Soon, Olive — previously a perfectly content wallflower — is the most notorious student at school.  Popular boys want to talk to her.  Unpopular girls want to be her.  At first, Olive tries to tell people the truth, that she was just telling a story.  After people refuse to believe her, Olive starts to go with the flow and enjoy the benefits that come from being extremely popular.  After her gay friend asks her to pretend that she had sex with him in order to help him survive the homophobic world of high school, Olive finds herself being given money and giftcards from other boys in school, all of whom are paying for the right to say that they’ve had sex with her.  Olive decides to embrace her new role of faux-fatale by dressing like she’s on the CW and stitching an A (a la the Scarlet Letter) on all of her clothes. 

And then, she starts to discover the truth about having a reputation in high school.  A reputation makes you both popular and an outcast at the same time and Olive finds herself trapped in a web made up not so much by her lies as by everyone else’s assumptions.  Can Olive escape and find happiness?  Can she find true love with Todd (played by Penn “Oh. My. God! He’s so freaking hot!” Badgley)?  Will she get a chance to have the pointless musical number that she assures us, at one point, her story truly does need?  Will Emma Stone receive an Oscar nomination for her performance as Olive?

Well, the answer to that last question is probably no (though she did receive a Golden Globe nomination) because Easy A is not the type of movie that usually gets nominated for Oscars.  And that’s a shame because Stone gives one of the best performances of the year here.  In the comedic scenes, she manages to generate a hundred more genuine laughs than Annette Bening did in The Kids Are All Right and in the dramatic scenes, she proves herself to an actress of true range.  If you want to see some truly great acting, just consider the scene where Olive goes on her first actual date since becoming known as “the school slut.”  Staring out nervously talking too much and giddily laughing at her own private dates (one of the many scenes that made me go, “Oh my God!  I do that too!”), Stone effortlessly transitions to having an emotional breakdown in a parking lot after discovering that her date has no interest in her and is only with her because he heard she would be an easy lay.  I don’t think there’s a girl over the age of 15 who doesn’t know how painful that feels, to be reduced only to what strangers think of you.  It’s a pain that stays with you and Stone captures it perfectly and, silly as it may sound and at the risk of going all girl power here, I almost felt that when I saw Olive triumphing over it that there was hope for me and for everyone else.

Easy A rang very true to me, not the least because I was one of the girls with a “reputation” while I was in high school.  Then again, I don’t think there’s many girls who didn’t have a reputation for something in school.  Some of us had a reputation for doing it and some had a reputation for not but in the end, it was usually all used to keep us in the same prison of insecurity, resentment, and entrapment.  To its credit, Easy A not only captures the negative side of having a reputation but also realizes and show that having a reputation can be fun and liberating as well.

Even beyond such larger concerns, Easy A is an entertaining, funny movie that not only rings true but is genuinely likable in way that a similar film like Juno never was.  I mean, I loved Juno but in the end, you couldn’t hep but feel that the film was mostly about screenwriter Diablo Cody trying to make herself into a cooler teenager than she actually was.  (And that’s not meant as a criticism, just an impression.)  Juno was almost too perfect and too brilliantly sarcastic.  You liked her but never quite believed in her.  Olive, as played by Emma Stone, is a normal teenager who doesn’t always say the perfect thing and, who most of the time, is just as much of a dork as the rest of us.  My favorite sequence in the whole film is one where Olive ends up spending a weekend growing obsessed with the song “Pocketful of Sunshine” and it wasn’t because it fed into some sort of wish-fulfillment fantasy.  Instead, it was because it was a scene that made me very honestly think, “Oh my God, I’ve done that so many times.”

Easy A is a surprisingly thoughtful and intelligent movie that just happens to be disguised as a breezy, teen comedy.  That high school, in general, is a world full of fucked up ideas and attitudes about sex is no great secret but Easy A is smart enough to realize that the real world is pretty much just one big high school.  I saw the movie too late to include it on my list of the Top 25 Films of 2010 but it is one of the best films of 2010.