Trends: Updating Classic Films to Be More Inclusive

Emma Watson as Belle in 'Beauty and the Beast' (The Leaky Cauldron)

Emma Watson as Belle in ‘Beauty and the Beast’ (The Leaky Cauldron)

Within the last few years, many films have been updates to classic films. While it’s no secret that Hollywood likes to recycle its own ideas, there’s now a push to make the films more inclusive.

The 2016 release of “Ghostbusters” brought one change to the classic film: the ghostbusters were all played by women (the very funny Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones). While some butthurt fanboys cried that the reboot  killed their childhood (actually, they usually used a much more brutal, assault-y verb for it), the movie brought in $46M+ on its opening weekend, and grossed $229M+ over its theatrical run.

“Ocean’s 8,” which will be released in (wait for it…) 2018, will also feature all female leads in its remake-of-a-remake. (Seriously, the first version involved Frank Sinatra and his boys’ club Rat Pack and was released in 1960.) But “Ocean’s 8” does one better than “Ghostbusters” in that it’s more diverse. In addition to Anne Hathaway and Cate Blanchett, Rihanna, Mindy Kaling and rapper Awkwakfina will also star in the ensemble. And that first cast photo looks lit.

This weekend, Disney is releasing a live-action version of “Beauty and the Beast.” This movie has a lot going for it: For starters, Emma Watson as the titular character gives it some feminist cred. Watson had a lot of input on the character, and  Belle doesn’t wear a corset and is an inventor. (Remember, in the original 1991 film, Belle’s father was the inventor with the wacky contraptions.)

Updating the characters to reflect modern times also extends to the supporting cast. Le Fou, muscle man Gaston’s main lackey, is now going to be gay. And in love with Gaston. Which puts a lot of things into perspective, actually. Though Le Fou will be the first openly gay character, he’s far from the only gay character that Disney has created.

The movie will also feature the first two interracial kisses in a Disney movie: one between wardrobe Madame de Garderobe (Audra McDonald) and harpsichord Cadenza (Stanley Tucci), and the other between candlestick Lumiere (Ewan McGregor) and feather duster Plumette (Gugu Mbatha-Raw). And Disney is here for it.

I can’t wait to see how Disney movies continue to grow and evolve in terms of representation in the future.

 

 

Showtime’s “Billions” Has TV’s First Non-Binary Character

Asia Kate Dillon on 'Billions' (The Advocate)

Asia Kate Dillon on ‘Billions’ (The Advocate)

With all the wokeness spreading, it was only a matter of time before entertainment began reflecting our new reality. And gender is part of that.

The second season of Showtime’s “Billions” introduced Taylor Mason, a character played by actor Asia Kate Dillon. Dillon self-identifies as non-binary, meaning they don’t identify as strictly male or female. (Dillon’s preferred pronouns are “they,” “them,” and “their.”) Not only is Dillon non-binary, but their character is too.

Taylor Mason is the first non-binary character on TV. When Dillon received the character description, it stated that the character was “female, non-binary.”

This is also the first time a non-binary actor has played a non-binary character. Let’s hope that Dillon and her “Billions” character bring non-binariness further into public knowledge.

Black Actor Oscar Nominations: By The Numbers

7 Best Supporting Actress Nominees Octavia Spencer, Viola Davis and Naomie Harris (The Wrap)

7 Best Supporting Actress Nominees Octavia Spencer, Viola Davis and Naomie Harris (The Wrap)

Remember how the last couple of Oscar ceremonies were plagued by a lack of diverse nominees, especially in the major categories? The Academy has appeared to learn from that. The change has become especially clear in the acting categories. This year, each acting category has at least one Black nominee.

Here are the stats:

Best Actor: Denzel Washington (“Fences”)

  • Washington is now the most nominated Black actor in Oscar history. He’s had six previous nominations, two for Best Supporting Actor and four for Best Actor. He won Best Supporting Actor in “Glory” in Best Actor for “Training Day” in 2001.

Best Actress: Ruth Negga (“Loving”)

Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali (“Moonlight”)

Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis (“Fences”), Naomie Harris (“Moonlight”), Octavia Spender (“Hidden Figures”)

  • This year is the first time an acting category has had three Black nominees. The last time an acting category had two Black nominees was in 1985, when Margaret Avery and Oprah Winfrey were both nominated for “The Color Purple.”
  • This is the second time the Best Supporting Actress category has had three non-white nominees. The first time was in 2007, with Jennifer Hudson for “Dreamgirls,” and Adriana Barraza and Rinko Kikuchi for “Babel” nominated.
  • Davis made history this year by becoming the first Black actress to score three Oscar nominations. Previously, Whoopi Goldberg was the only Black actress to have two Oscar nominations. She won the Oscar for her second nomination for her performance in “Ghost” in 1991.

The Fifty Shades Darker Trailer Is the Most-Viewed Trailer Ever in Its First 24 Hours

Jamie Dornan, 'Fifty Shades Darker' (EW.com)

Jamie Dornan, ‘Fifty Shades Darker’ (EW.com)

Guess who’s back? Back again?

Not Slim Shady. Everyone’s favorite telecommunications boy-genius/BDSM enthusiast/master manipulator Christian Grey and blank slate/everygirl/victim Ana Steele. Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson reprise their roles as the aforementioned twosome in the installment based on E.L. James’ second book Fifty Shades Darker.

The first trailer for the movie debuted on Wednesday, Sept. 14th and has already become notable for setting a new record: The trailer became the most-viewed trailer within 24 hours of its release.

The Fifty Shades Darker trailer was viewed 114M times within the first day of its release. It performed well across digital platforms, and received 2.5M views on the movie’s Facebook page only in the U.S. Internationally, the trailer was viewed 74.6M times, over double the number of domestic views.

The previous record for most-viewed trailer in the 24-hour period after its debut was 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens. That trailer received 112M views.

With these viewing numbers for an initial trailer, I think we can reasonably expect that the second movie will do fairly well in box office take when released. If past trends are anything to go by, the first movie sold a lot of advance tickets and became the “sixth R-rated movie to gross more than $500 million.”

Fifty Shades Darker will be released Feb. 10, 2017.

 

 

Trends: Emmys 2016 Diversity

Rami Malek, Emmys 2016 (Telegraph UK)

Rami Malek, Emmys 2016 (Telegraph UK)

The Emmy Awards aired this past Sunday night, honoring the best in TV. The twin themes  that popped out from the night were diversity and inclusion. And they played out in many ways.

Mr. Robot actor Rami Malek won Best Actor in a Drama Series, becoming the first Egyptian-American to do so. Malek also became the first non-white actor to win the award since 1998, when Andre Braugher won for Homicide: Life on the Street. On the actress side, Black-ish lead Tracee Ellis Ross was nominated for Best Actress in a Comedy Series. Though she didn’t win, Ellis was the first Black woman to be nominated for the award in 30 years; Phylicia Rashad was nominated in 1986 for The Cosby Show. Ellis was only the fifth Black woman ever to be nominated for Best Actress in a Comedy Series.

Inclusivity also prevailed behind the camera. Comedian Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang won Best Writing for a Comedy Series for Ansari’s Netflix series Master of None. (Ansari was also nominated for Best Actor in a Comedy Series.) Women directors were honored: Jill Soloway won Best Directing for a Comedy Series for Amazon’s Transparent, and Susanne Bier won Best Directing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special for AMC’s The Night Manager.

Diverse narratives are gaining more traction. Transparent actor Jeffrey Tambor won Best Actor in a Comedy Series for the second consecutive year for his role as a transwoman.

It was good to see some progress made this year in terms of inclusion, but there’s still a long way to go.

 

 

#ThrowbackThursday: Viola Davis Wins an Emmy, 2015

Viola Davis, Emmys 2015 (Betches)

Viola Davis, Emmys 2015 (Betches)

At the Emmys this past weekend, actress Viola Davis was nominated for Best Actress in a  Drama Series for her lead role in ABC’s “How to Get Away with Murder.” Though she didn’t win on Sunday night, she won the award in 2015, and made history in the process. Davis became the first Black woman to win the Best Actress award.

Crazy that seemingly simple milestones are still only now being surpassed.

How Common are Transgender Siblings?

Lana Wachowski (Slate)

Lana Wachowski (Slate)

The Wachowski brothers are now the Wachowski sisters.

The directing duo, known for 1999’s “The Matrix” and 2015’s “Jupiter Ascending, have each gone through their own transitions to become transwomen. Lana (formerly known as Larry) began her transition in 2012, and Lilly (formerly known as Andy) was recently reported to have been transitioning.

This high-profile occurrence begs the question: How common are transgender siblings?

I wasn’t able to find any hard data on this. My guess is that it’s pretty rare, so there probably haven’t been any studies devoted to it. There are some numbers around twins transitioning (both identical and fraternal pairs), but that wouldn’t apply to the Wachowskis. But when and/or if the scientific community gets around to studying this phenomenon, I’ll be curious to see the numbers.