Downton Abbey Returns
One of the most pleasant pop culture surprises of 2011 was Downton Abbey, a came-out-of-nowhere British miniseries from writer Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park) that made Masterpiece Theatre and Edwardian England exciting again. Pulling from a wide array of influences including Jane Austen, Upstairs Downstairs and your choice of Victorian novel marriage plots, the 7-hour run laid out a sneakily engrossing tapestry of servants’ quarter intrigue, family squabble and romantic scandal. (For all you slackers, season one is streaming on Netflix) And reader, it is back. The season two kickoff on PBS this Sunday begins two years from the end of season one and finds the Abbey’s characters thrust into the thick of World War I. And I have no doubt that our beloved aristocrats and servants will more than rise to the dramatic occasions that event is sure to provide. Lady Mary + Matthew 4Eva.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Now that the holidays are dunzo, you can get back to the really important things – like catching up on all the movies you’ll need to see by Oscar night. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy isn’t necessarily high on that list – it has some minor buzz for Gary Oldman and a possible nomination in its adapted screenplay – but I do not plan on missing out on this. It’s got a crackerjack cast in Oldman, Colin Firth, Toby Jones and Tom Hardy and a crackerjack director in Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In). And the big prize in all these crackerjacks is the story material – John le Carre’s 1974 spy novel of the same name. And I could use a dense, cool and sleek spy thriller, couldn’t you?
Entertainment Weekly Tablet App
We here at CulturePoppe love our EW. I mean we love our EW. The only thing I can think of that’s better than a brand new issue in my mailbox is a brand new interactive issue downloaded to my iPad in seconds. If you’re a print subscriber, the digital subscription is free. If you’re not a subscriber, it’s worth it just to get this digital version, complete with story and review links to watch trailers, buy television episodes, look up movie showtimes, download movies and music and more – all from your digital EW issue. Annnnd you can keep your old issues in your digital library. No more threats to be nominated for Hoarders because of your precious stack of old EWs. Find it on your iPad, Nook Color, Nook Tablet, Kindle Fire, or whatever doomaflatchie you may have. This week’s issue – the annual “The Oscar Race is On” issue – will help you plan out your awards timetable for the next two months.
Speaking of the Oscars (sorry, Oscar fever is running high at CulturePoppe), if you’re looking to finally win your office pool this year, you could do a lot worse for insider insight than the Oscar Talk podcast from In Contention, an awards blog that provides some great essay and commentary reading during Oscar season. The podcast is hosted by In Contention’s Kris Tapley and Thompson on Hollywood’s Anne Thompson. The two have lots of great debate on the movies and the season. You can subscribe on iTunes.
Midnight in Paris
I should have just called this Friday Five: Oscar Edition. One of my favorite films of 2011 and one that is right in the thick of the Oscar race is Woody Allen’s love letter to Paris and the arts in the 1920s. Midnight in Paris was one of the most beloved movies – by both critics and audiences – last year, became Woody Allen’s most successful film at the box office, and is still in theaters six months later. Even better, it just came out on Blu-ray and DVD so I can watch it anytime I damn well please. And that will probably be often. Paris is one of the most watchable and repeatable films I’ve seen in some time. The writing and acting sparkle, the locations and costumes are delicious, the whole vibe is pure magic.