Sunday, December 20, 2015

Interview with Walter Goggins

With a great white shark of a grin and a maniacal laugh that's at once infectious and chilling, it's no wonder that Walton Goggins so often plays shady characters. As Justified's Boyd Crowder, the actor was first seen as a white supremacist bombing black churches in an episode that was meant to be the character's last gasp, but Goggins's performance was so mesmerizing that his death scene was reshot. Crowder made it to the last scene in the series as Deputy Raylan Givens's main antagonist and ally, a complex, charismatic and surprisingly sympathetic man who's at least as much victim as perpetrator.

Goggins is now co-starring in Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight, an Agatha Christie-esque mystery in the guise of a western, in which a motley collection of shady individuals trapped inside an enclosed space spin stories, spar, and kill one another as the question of who's behind the murders and other mysteries are gradually revealed. Chris Mannix is another of Goggins's antiheroes turned unlikely hero, a vigilante who's just been appointed sheriff of Red Rock, Wyoming, and a proud but defeated Confederate who forms an initially reluctant alliance with a former Union officer—and a black one at that (Samuel L. Jackson's Major Marquis Warren).

When we spoke earlier this month, Goggins was analytical, witty, and sincere as he talked about having come to terms with playing “that guy,” being grateful for the opportunity to play smart, complicated characters for the past few years, and the Zen of discovering a new character.

Thursday, December 17, 2015


Sisters may be too formulaic to pose a challenge to the status quo and too silly to be mistaken for a manifesto, but it’s more than just another party-to-end-all-parties bromance with women in the starring roles. The plot (childishly furious that their parents have sold their childhood home, two 40-ish sisters throw one last wild party, hoping to scotch the deal, and spurring a series of epiphanies) may be as predictable as the sunset, but its strong girl-power vibe and steady thrum of rueful early-middle-aged self-awareness keep it from degenerating into the knee-jerk misogyny and mean-spirited outsider-shaming that often turn this kind of comedy into a cinematic bullying session.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Best Movies of 2015

Here is Slant's list of the top 25 films of the year, which I contributed to.

And here are my picks

Top 10
Mad Max: Fury Road
Coming Home
Son of Saul
We Come as Friends
Salt of the Earth
Diary of a Teenage Girl
45 Years
It Follows

Honorable mentions:
The Look of Silence, Spotlight, Carol, Joy, Of Horses and Men, In Jackson Heights, Madame Phung’s Last Journey, Mustang, What We Do In the Shadows, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Best TV Shows of 2015

Here's Slant's list of the top 25 shows of the year, which I contributed to.

And here are my picks:

Top 10
The Knick
The Americans
Jane the Virgin
Mad Men
You’re the Worst
Master of None

honorable mentions (too much good stuff to stick to just 10):
The Leftovers, Jessica Jones, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, The Mindy Project, Episodes, Bojack Horseman, Black Jesus, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Silicon Valley, South Park, Veep, Homeland, The Middle, Playing House, Girls, Doll & Em