How much should politics and entertainment intersect? The dumb-dumbs who voted to put a talentless, rapey celebrity into the nation’s most powerful political office say they shouldn’t at all. So out of respect to all those people who should really go fuck themselves for what they’ve done to our country, we present the Fifth Annual Esseffies, guaranteed to be devoid of any political content whatsoever.
Best Musical Moment to Die For
“Life After Happily Ever After (Reprise)” and “Wind in my Hair (Reprise)” from Tangled: Before Ever After
Already suffering from overexposure, Disney’s premier Princess brand took a major hit with the chilly reception to Olaf’s Frozen Adventure. But Frozen’s predecessor came back with the belated Tangled: Before Ever After, which in turn launched the shockingly good Tangled: The Series. The show’s unglamorous depiction of the stifling life of female royalty makes it a TV-Y7 companion to The Crown, and Rapunzel may be the first Disney Princess not to want the job.
Before Ever After’s denouement occurs shortly after the King has invoked his martial right to forbid her from leaving the walls of the kingdom, essentially locking her in yet another tower, making Rapunzel’s reprise of two earlier songs deeply bittersweet. Note her epic eye-roll during the words “happily ever after,” a hype she no longer believes, but she starts getting her mojo back with “Wind in my Hair (Reprise)” — and vocalist Mandy Moore just nails the line “that beautiful wind blowing through.” The first season of Tangled: The Series delivers on the song’s promise — and uses an inferior version as its theme — but taken as a self-contained work, Before Ever After ends with Rapunzel shouting into the void, definitely a first for a Disney Princess.
Widest Acting Range by Old Guys
Michael Cristofer in Chronic and Javier Cámara in Truman
As E-Corp CEO Philip Price in the series Mr. Robot, Michael Cristofer oozes the entitlement of a man who knows he’s untouchable. But in Chronic, he’s a stroke sufferer who relies entirely on Tim Roth’s hospice nurse for the most basic and personal of needs, giving a performance utterly devoid of vanity or shame. Meanwhile, Cámara’s Cardinal Gutierrez in The Young Pope is a man barely in touch with his own emotions, but in Truman … well, as Russ Hanneman would say, this guy fucks.
Luckiest Sonofabitch in the Whole Goddamn World
Jeff Roth of The New York Times clip archive in Obit
Movies often imply that working in an archive is a punishment or career-killer, but as seen in the documentary Obit, The New York Times’s “Morgue” curator Jeff Roth has the best job ever: filer (and re-filer) of over 10,000 drawers of barely-cataloged pictures and articles from the Times and 28 other publications. Most haven’t been seen in decades, and Roth is the first to admit that it’s mathematically impossible for him to know what’s in the majority of the drawers. For a researcher, it’s further proof that Vitamin D is overrated.
Best Pwnage of Dumb Boys, Episode III
The Backlash Against Character Development in Star Wars: The Last Jedi
The new Star Wars trilogy just can’t win. Despite being a fun romp filled with beloved characters old and new, J.J. Abrams’ The Force Awakens got criticized for being too much like the original Star Wars. Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi was another fun romp filled with beloved characters old and new — Rose + Finn 4-EVA — yet it was criticized for not being enough like Star Wars.
It stands to reason that people who refuse to grow emotionally themselves would get upset in particular about Luke Skywalker developing as a character, since the last thing they want in their fantasy movies about space wizards are recognizable humans who react in emotionally plausible ways to traumatic experiences. The one plus-side is that even if you’re woke, you’re still allowed to refer to angry fanboys as “you people” — e.g., “You people are fucking idiots.”
Best Way to Rile Up a Different Set of Randos
Don’t Enjoy a Movie About Statutory Rape
Watch Call Me By Your Name, expecting to love it like everyone else. Be honest that you found the film underwhelming, Armie Hammer bland, and the age difference between the leads to be off-putting. When your review becomes one of the nine keeping the film from being 100-percent Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, sit back and let the randos fill the comments and your Twitter notifications with insults and demands that you be fired for having a personal opinion different from their own. It’s fun! As a bonus, be sure to reference age-of-consent laws, since a guaranteed way to attract pitchfork-wielding crowds on the internet is to suggest that statutes intended to protect children from predatory adults are a good thing.
Most Misleading Poster for an Otherwise Good Movie
The Big Sick’s Stuffed Giraffe
The initially generic-looking poster contained subtle clues as to what the movie’s truly about in the form of Zoe Kazan wearing a hospital ID bracelet, and other cast members wearing Visitor stickers and/or carrying flowers. But the most striking detail is that Kumail Nanjiani is holding a stuffed giraffe, thus creating a reasonable expectation that a stuffed giraffe will play a role in the film. In fact, the stuffed giraffe is onscreen for half a minute, tops. Don’t tease us with stuffed giraffes and then not deliver on the stuffed giraffes, Hollywood!
Best Philosophical Debate Waged in World Cinema
Humanity vs. Bestiary in The Untamed (Mexico), Unleashed (U.S.), We Are the Flesh (Mexico), Wild (Germany), and Zoology (Russia)
Ever since Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, many hairless apes have been offended by the notion that they’re also animals. But filmmakers from all over the world have been exploring the thin line between people and beasts, sometimes in a very light ways (Unleashed) and sometimes very dark (We Are the Flesh), but it’s never less than thought-provoking.
The One-And-Done-Club of 2017
Hairless-ape languages are capable of amazing, poetic combinations of words, and yet the trend continues for single-word titles that tell you nothing about the film. (Silly monkeys!) 2017’s list of often-witless brevity includes but is not limited to Afterimage, Amnesia, Antiporno, Apprentice, Badsville, Baywatch, Blind, Bluebeard, Breathe, Bugs, Burden, Champion, Charged, Chavela, CHiPS, Chronic, Chuck, Churchill, Clash, Coco, Collide, Colossal, Columbus, Dalida, Dayveon, Dealt, Dean, Demons, Detour, Detroit, Dina, Dolores, Downsizing, Dreamboat, Duckweed, Dunkirk, Emily, Escapes, Explosion, Felicite, Ferdinand, Flatliners, Footnotes, Frantz, Geostorm, Gifted, Gilbert, Glory, Gold, Gook, Graduation, Harmonium, Heal, Inhumans, Inseparables, It, Jane, Jasmine, Jigsaw, Justice, Kedi, Kidnap, Landline, LBJ (close enough), Leap!, Lemon, Life, Logan, Lovesong, Lowriders, Lucky, Lycan, Machines, Manifesto, Marshall, Maudie, Maurice (reissue), Menashe, Miles, Moka, mother!, Mubarakan, Mully, Nails, Natasha, Neruda, 1945, Nocturama, Novitiate, Obit, Oro, Polina, Overdrive, Paradise, Permanent, Phillauri, Planetarium, Porto, Prevenge, Quest [I], Quest [II], Raees, Raw, Reset [I], Reset [II], Ribbons, Rings, Risk, Sacred, Santoalla, Shadowman, Shot, Singularity, Sleepless, Sleight, Snatched, Spettacolo, Split, Step, Stronger, Suburbicon, Suntan, Thelma, Tomorrow, Trafficked, Trophy, Truman, Tubelight, Uncertain, Unforgettable, Unleashed, Unrest, Wakefield, Wild, Wilson, Wonder, Wonderstruck, and Zoology.
This year’s special mention for No Fucks Given is Benedict Andrews’s Una, which in Spanish translates to “A.” Even better, it’s based on a play called Blackbird, which was evidently way too many letters.
The “Why Do You Even Still Have a Career?” Award
Mel Gibson, again
The trailer for Daddy’s Home 2 played in front of My Little Pony: The Movie, resulting in this critic pacing irritably outside the theater on several occasions while pondering the above question. In this post-Weinsteinian reckoning, the argument that Gibson should be forgiven for the horrible things he’s said and done — the virulent racism, or the violence against his child’s mother, whom he said “fucking deserved it” after he broke her teeth — simply because he was drinking holds less water than ever. Put another way, it is not okay that Mel Gibson is an abusive, anti-Semitic drunkard who can commit heinous acts and say horrible things without suffering any lasting consequences because he’s a powerful white man. To hell with him and his stupid, oft-bearded face.