Movie theaters are open for business again. and the film world is abuzz with new release dates, in-person festivals, an accelerating Oscar race, an array of Covid-19 protocols and anxious prognostications. Is this the death of cinema (again) or its glorious rebirth? Or has it mutated into something new altogether, a two-headed Disney-Netflix monster with art somewhere in its genome? Our chief film critics, Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott, have some thoughts on these matters. They also asked some industry veterans to weigh in.
MANOHLA DARGIS Hello, friend — it’s been awhile. I recently returned from a book leave and having failed to win the lottery, I am back (happily!). I ignored most of the movie news while I was gone, though was sad to learn about the closure of my favorite theater here in Los Angeles, the ArcLight Hollywood, which was felled by the lockdowns. It felt like the beginning of the end of something, but here we are in a new season that looks more like 2019 than 2020 — even with requests to see our vax cards. What’d I miss?
A.O. SCOTT You didn’t miss much, except for a few episodes in the continuing discourse — part soap opera, part séance, part tech seminar — about the Future of Movies. Judged solely from the slate of upcoming releases (some held back from 2020), that future looks a lot like the recent past. The fall will see new work from both Andersons, Wes and P.T. Jane Campion’s first feature in more than a decade. A new James Bond. The predominance of familiar directors and stars along with newly minted auteurs (like Chloé Zhao, following her best picture win for “Nomadland” with a Marvel spectacle) creates a reassuring sense of continuity. Cinema as we have known it seems to still exist.
At the same time — though not for the first time — it is widely feared to be in mortal peril. Some of that anxiety is Covid-specific. Nobody knows when or how this thing will end, and whether audiences will return to theaters in sufficient numbers to revive the old business models. The pandemic is not the only factor, and the future of movies and moviegoing may depend less on virus mutations or consumer preferences than on corporate strategy.
If Covid stretches on, we will lose more art-house theaters, resulting in less box office revenue. At some point there won’t be enough theaters to generate sufficient revenue to justify releasing a movie theatrically. If you lay on how the past 18 months have changed viewing habits, it looks even worse: the art-house audience is more mature, and that demographic has so far not been eager to return to cinemas.
— Richard Abramowitz, founder and chief executive of the distributor Abramorama
DARGIS That we’re social animals is what made me think that we’d get back into theaters, that and there’s too much money at stake. Moviegoing has been up and down forever. But for decades the major studios have been eroding exhibition — the moviegoing habit itself — with a business model that banks on a handful of youth-baiting tentpoles and some monster weekends. Their audience flocks to the theaters for a bit, and everyone else waits for home video (or not). I looked at the numbers for the last “Avengers” movie: it opened in American theaters in April 2019 and played through September, but it sucked up more than 90 percent of its domestic haul in 30 days.
I imagine that a lot of people waited to see it, just as earlier generations waited for stuff to hit TV, cable, video — all once viewed as a threat to moviegoing. For a time, these different avenues seemed fairly complementary. But the habit of on-demand, whenever, wherever watching has proved overwhelming, which is bad for exhibition but good for the multinational companies that own the studios because they also own the companies which funnel stuff into homes. So, maybe these multinationals will shift exclusively to streaming. Maybe they’ll re-embrace theaters or buy them all up. In the end, I am far more worried about nonindustrial cinema and if its audience will return to theaters.
Sure, there’s the occasional blockbuster they may want to see as an Imax experience and want to have that shared community experience, but like everything in the world, with the multitude of choices available and given time, effort and expense to go to the movies, most opt to see movies in the comfort of their homes.
— Marcus Hu, co-founder of the distributor Strand Releasing
SCOTT The small screen is definitely getting bigger, whether we like it or not. Subscription revenue is unlikely ever to match blockbuster box-office numbers, but for a lot of independent-minded filmmakers, streaming offers money for projects the big studios don’t make anymore. For a long time, the big studios have been concentrating their resources on franchise, I.P.-driven entertainment at the expense of stand-alone features aimed at adult audiences. Streaming has picked up some of that slack.
The upshot is that what you and I and others in our rapidly aging demographic understood by “going to the movies” may have been replaced by a different menu of choices and practices. What I mean is the idea of the movie theater as a destination, independent of a particular film that might be showing. A lot of the time, you’d just go and see whatever was there, and there was always something — art, trash or in between — worth the price of the ticket, which wasn’t all that much. A movie habit was easy enough to acquire, and a lot of us did.
Kids nowadays haven’t developed it in quite the same way. They have more screens, more options and different reasons for buying a ticket. I’m not lamenting, just observing. What I wonder about is the effect of these changes on the art form that we’re still calling by the anachronistic names cinema and film.
The studios stopped making the kinds of movies I make around the time we were finishing “Moneyball” — I remember an exec telling me he would have passed on it if it had come to him then. In the years it took to get that movie made, the world for that kind of movie turned.
— Rachel Horovitz, producer
DARGIS Let’s check back in 50 years to see how streaming affected cinema, which is always a moving target. To be honest, while it’s interesting to see how the big companies are handling the newest normal, the work I tend to love has long had a separate ecology, with its own way of doing things, its own community and relations. In 1991, Julie Dash’s “Daughters of the Dust” needed a slow release, critical love and word of mouth to make a dent, and the same is true of most of the movies we care about now. As a friend asked the other day, would Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite” be “Parasite” if it had only been streamed? We both think the answer is no — it would still be great, but not a cultural sensation.
Movies, unlike branded entertainment, need to live in the world, not just on personal devices. This isn’t about the putative romance of moviegoing, but how people experience art and culture, because while we’re talking about infrastructure, we are also talking about pleasure — the pleasure of the cinematic object, and the pleasure of your company and conversation. It’s frustrating that people keep writing lazy obituaries for cinema, something they have no feeling for or interest in. I don’t love all that’s transpired in movie history — the shift from film to digital, the loss of technical competency — but I remain buoyed by the persistence of the art and how its ecologies adapt and persevere.
Even so, and I think I’ve said this before, I do increasingly view the segment of the movie world that I most worry about as akin to jazz. It’s something usually appreciated by a niche audience but that needs new blood — the kids you mentioned — to truly sustain it.
Theatrical films will have exclusive windows in theaters, but those windows will be shorter and more flexible. But movies that matter, that have cultural impact, will again play exclusively in movie theaters for some time, likely 45 days.
— Tom Rothman, chairman and chief executive of Sony Pictures’ Motion Picture Group
SCOTT I guess I’m always optimistic about the tenacity of artists and the curiosity of audiences, and aware that the good work most often gets done against the grain of whatever the system is at a given moment. But it’s nonetheless important to be critical of that system, and reasonable to wonder how its current iteration might stymie some kinds of originality while encouraging others.
There’s no going back to any previous golden age, and the gold rubs off pretty quickly when you take a close look. The old studios whose products earned the designation “classical” were built on exploitation and predation, and ruled by autocratic moguls. Things were not much better, from an ethical or political standpoint, in the New Hollywood ’70s or the indie ’90s.
Still, great and weird movies were being made then, as they are now. But I fear that many of them will languish in the streaming algorithms or in the margins of micro-distribution, estranged from even the smallish publics that might have discovered them. One cause for alarm — which has nothing to do with streaming per se — is the mass extinction of the local newspapers and alt-weeklies that nourished local film scenes across the country. The health of movies is connected to the health of journalism.
[I worry] that the economic challenges will force the art-house cinemas away from the smaller titles that add significantly to diversity and inclusion in our cinematic landscape. Additionally, that the downsizing of newspaper and media coverage for smaller films will force the theater owners’ hands in these decisions.
— Dennis Doros, co-founder of Milestone Films
DARGIS The pandemic has brought specific issues to the fore — at the least, maybe improved theater ventilation will put an end to watching multiplex fodder in a miasma of despair and stale popcorn. More to your last point, I think that mostly what the pandemic has done is underscore, again, that all of us are still navigating the world created by the internet, which changed how we labor, play, read, watch, think. The movie industry has a history of different production-distribution-exhibition models that work until they don’t, yet throughout these shifts, movies kept being made and people kept watching them, and I imagine they’ll keep getting made and we’ll keep watching and talking about all of it.
SCOTT Let’s hope so! Otherwise we may both find ourselves on permanent book leave.
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Any bed can provide a place to sleep, but a canopy bed does something more.
“You can create a room within a room,” said Sandra Nunnerley, an interior designer in New York. “It’s like a cocoon.”
That’s why she installed a custom canopy bed in her New York apartment and frequently specifies them for clients’ homes, as well. “They’re heavenly to sleep under,” she said.
There are various ways of getting a canopy effect. One is to buy a bed with a canopy structure; another is to do what Ms. Nunnerley did in her home: Mount a fabric canopy on the ceiling that suspends curtains at the corners of the bed.
Either way, a canopy can provide an extra touch of comfort heading into fall.
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2021 Emmy Winners: ‘Queen’s Gambit’, ‘The Crown’ and More
Shows on streaming services dominated many people’s spare time during the pandemic. Many of those shows ended up dominating this year’s Emmys as well.
The 73rd annual Emmy Awards were held on Sunday night in Los Angeles, where they were hosted by the comedian Cedric the Entertainer. Netflix won two of the top awards, including best drama for the British royal drama “The Crown,” and best limited series for the chess-prodigy odyssey “The Queen’s Gambit.” “Ted Lasso” on Apple TV+ won for best comedy series.
Winners in the acting categories included Kate Winslet, Jean Smart, Jason Sudeikis and Olivia Colman. Michaela Coel, the creator, writer, co-director and star of the HBO limited series “I May Destroy You,” won for best writing in a limited series, her first Emmy. She also became the first Black woman to win in that category.
A complete list of winners is below.
Best Limited Series
“The Queen’s Gambit” (Netflix)
“The Crown” (Netflix)
“Ted Lasso” (Apple TV+)
Outstanding Variety Special, Pre-Recorded
Outstanding Variety Special, Live
“Stephen Colbert’s Election Night 2020”
Best Actor, Drama
Josh O’Connor, “The Crown”
Best Actress, Drama
Olivia Colman, “The Crown”
Best Actor, Limited Series or TV Movie
Ewan McGregor, “Halston”
Best Actress, Limited Series or TV Movie
Kate Winslet, “Mare of Easttown”
Writing for a Limited Series, Movie or Drama Special
Michaela Coel, “I May Destroy You”
Directing for a Limited Series
Scott Frank, “The Queen’s Gambit”
Reality Competition Program
“RuPaul’s Drag Race”
Best Actor, Comedy
Jason Sudeikis, “Ted Lasso”
Best Actress, Comedy
Jean Smart, “Hacks”
Directing for a Comedy Series
Lucia Aniello, “Hacks” (“There Is No Line”)
Writing for a Comedy Series
Lucia Aniello, Paul W. Downs and Jen Statsky, “Hacks” (“There Is No Line”)
Variety Sketch Series
“Saturday Night Live”
Variety Talk Series
“Last Week Tonight With John Oliver”
Writing for a Variety Series
“Last Week Tonight With John Oliver”
Supporting Actor, Drama
Tobias Menzies, “The Crown”
Supporting Actress, Drama
Gillian Anderson, “The Crown”
Directing for a Drama Series
Jessica Hobbs, “The Crown” (“War”)
Writing for a Drama Series
Peter Morgan, “The Crown” (“War”)
Supporting Actor, Limited Series or Movie
Evan Peters, “Mare of Easttown”
Supporting Actress, Limited Series or a Movie
Julianne Nicholson, “Mare of Easttown”
Supporting Actor, Comedy
Brett Goldstein, “Ted Lasso”
Supporting Actress, Comedy
Hannah Waddingham, “Ted Lasso”
Directing for a Variety Special
Directing for a Variety Series
Don Roy King, “Saturday Night Live”
Guest Actress, Comedy
Maya Rudolph, “Saturday Night Live”
Guest Actor, Comedy
Dave Chappelle, “Saturday Night Live”
Guest Actress, Drama
Claire Foy, “The Crown”
Guest Actor, Drama
Courtney B. Vance, “Lovecraft Country”
“Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square” (Netflix)
Emmy Awards 2021: ‘The Crown,’ ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ and ‘Ted Lasso’ Take Top Honors
Chief fashion critic
And now there is the inevitable dressing-as-the-carpet moments, courtesy of Sarah Paulson, Catherine O’Hara and Tracee Ellis Ross. Happens every time.
Chief fashion critic
With that velvet green Tom Ford suit, Jason Sudeikis is part of the male peacocking trend. Maybe this is the official end of the penguin suit as red-carpet wear? What do you guys think?
There’s also Seth Rogen, wearing a pumpkin jacket with brown pants. I welcome the end of the formal black suit. But there is also a happy medium, right? See Josh O’Connor in his sharp tux (with tails!) wearing a flower instead of a bow tie. Both peacock-y and traditional.
Tonight, the Emmys red carpet comes on the heels of the extravagant Met Gala, the wild VMAs and the glitzy Venice Film Festival. How will the television awards show compare to the rest of the attractions in this month’s fashion circus? Watch as we find out.
Chief fashion critic
So far this is a pretty tame carpet compared to what we’ve seen over the last month. There have been a lot of black suits — on the women, as much as the men. Maybe more than the men? Not much sheer. Not that much sparkle. Nothing that makes my jaw drop on the floor or scratch my head. (Except Emma Corrin, and maybe Aidy Bryant; what was that Heidi look?) A lot that would qualify as “tasteful” and “appropriate,” like Yara Shahidi’s emerald Dior. It feels a little anticlimatic.
Just as I read this, Kate Winslet — one of the biggest stars of the night — materialized in a completely unremarkable black Giorgio Armani Privé gown. So yes.
Chief fashion critic
Elizabeth Olsen — Wanda — is doing her part for the family, wearing The Row, the brand created by her sisters Mary-Kate and Ashley, and one that isn’t often seen on the red carpet, since it tends to be more Zen than zowie!
It’s nice to see The Row! The brand didn’t have a presence at New York Fashion Week this month, nor did the Olsens make their regular appearance up at the Met Gala. And that white caftan gown is dreamy (from what we can see of it).
A win for Mj Rodriguez could be one of the night’s biggest moments. Rodriguez’s performance as Blanca Evangelista in FX’s “Pose” earned her a nomination in the best actress in a drama race, the first time a transgender person has been up for the award. To pull it off, Rodriguez will have to beat Emma Corrin, the favorite for her role as a young Princess Diana in “The Crown.”
“Saturday Night Live” nominee Bowen Yang is here in metallic platform boots! First power shoe of the evening.
Chief fashion critic
Kathryn Hahn, meanwhile, has a power belt. And there are a lot of power jewels going around.
Chief fashion critic
Talking about “The Crown” and the remote London red carpet — Emma Corrin just appeared, channeling what may be Princess Diana’s psyche? She’s got a bonnet, a matching strapless gown and matching opera gloves with very pointy black fingernails.
Chief fashion critic
The host of the night, Cedric the Entertainer, is in a celadon-green tux. The men are, once again, making statements.
We’re seeing more cast members of “The Crown” trickle onto the carpet. Gillian Anderson is wearing a white gown by Chloé (no surprise there — she wore a black gown by Chloé to the Met Gala) with a little midriff and a lot of tassel action.
Update! It turns out some of the cast (including Anderson and Olivia Colman) is walking the red carpet from an Emmys event in London. Not Josh O’Connor, though! Prince Charles is in Los Angeles.
Michael K. Williams, the beloved star of “The Wire” who was found dead on Sept. 6, is nominated for best supporting actor in a drama for the recently canceled HBO series “Lovecraft Country.” If he does win — and he is a slight favorite over Tobias Menzies from “The Crown” — it will not be because Emmys voters wanted to give him the award posthumously. The Emmy voting period ended before Williams’s death.
Chief fashion critic
OK: Billy Porter is here. And he has … wings? Now things are taking off.
Chief fashion critic
And Josh O’Connor, a.k.a. Prince Charles, is making an entrance in Loewe, with a big black flower at his neck instead of the traditional black tie. He pretty much always wears Jonathan Anderson, the Irish designer behind Loewe, on the red carpet, though their relationship seems less like the modern pay-to-play arrangement, and more like a meeting of creative minds.
Chief fashion critic
The Emmys red carpet is about to start, but I have to say, after the pageantry of the Met red carpet, the kookiness of the VMAs and the glamour of the Venice Film Festival, it’s hard to imagine there are any dresses left. Is this Emmys going to be anticlimactic? Or are actors like Anya Taylor-Joy — who is a face of Dior — Billy Porter, Gillian Anderson and Emma Corrin going to try to top what’s come before? What do you think, Jess?
Hi Vanessa! I’m usually in favor of red-carpet weirdness, but I don’t think I can handle any more swords, robot babies, or horse heads as accessories (all of which made appearances at the Met on Monday). So yes, right now the Emmys red carpet is seeming pretty low stakes. But I bet there will be a few surprises. I think we’re long past the days of Jason Sudeikis wearing a tie-dye hoodie while Zooming from a living room (into the Golden Globes, to be fair). There will be some glitz. There must be some glitz! I see Dolly Parton was already named an Emmy winner for her Netflix Christmas special. Maybe the “Bridgerton” cast will come in costume.
Chief fashion critic
That would be something to see. One thing that seems clear, though, is that all those predictions about people wanting to go all out with color and sparkles and feathers and express themselves post-isolation is definitely coming true on the red carpet.
It appears that Apple’s streaming service, not quite two years old, is on the verge of getting its first major Emmys win, thanks to an aphorism-spouting, fish-out-of-water soccer coach.
The feel-good Apple TV+ comedy “Ted Lasso” is the favorite in the comedy category. Nominated for its rookie season, which had its premiere in August 2020, the show already won best cast in a comedy last weekend. The winner of that award has gone on to win best comedy six years in a row. “Ted Lasso” also cleaned up at the Television Critics Association Awards earlier this month, winning best new series, best comedy and best overall show.
Jason Sudeikis, the former “Saturday Night Live” stalwart, is poised to win multiple Emmys, including for best writing and best actor in a comedy series. Those would be his first Emmy wins.
A long shot competitor for best comedy is the HBO Max series “Hacks,” starring Jean Smart, who is also likely to win her fourth acting Emmy, for her role as a Joan Rivers-like stand-up comic.
When it comes to comedy this year, the broadcast and cable networks are on the outside looking in: They earned only one nomination in the category, from ABC’s “black-ish,” its lowest combined total in the history of the Emmys.
At long last, it should be the year that a streaming platform is triumphant at the Emmys.
The tech companies upended the entertainment industry years ago, but they’ve had mixed results breaking through with members of the Television Academy, who vote on the winners. That will likely come to an end on Sunday when the envelopes are unsealed at the 73rd Emmy Awards.
“The Crown,” the lush Netflix drama chronicling the British royal family, is the heavy favorite to win one of the night’s biggest awards — best drama — on the strength of its fourth season, which took viewers into the 1980s as it portrayed the relationship of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.
“The Crown” already picked up four Emmys in the first batch of awards handed out during last weekend’s Creative Arts Emmy Awards, which recognizes achievements in technical categories.
Netflix built a considerable lead over its television and streaming rivals at the Creative Arts Emmys, all but guaranteeing that it will win more awards than any other studio, streaming platform or TV network.
A best drama win for “The Crown” would also be a significant first for Netflix. The streaming service has never won a top series award, despite a whopping 30 nominations in best drama, comedy and limited series from 2013 to 2020. Only one streaming service, Hulu, has won best drama, an award that went to “The Handmaid’s Tale” four years ago.
It would be a fitting win in a ceremony that is recognizing the best shows aired or streamed amid the pandemic. During the stay-at-home months last year and early this year, people increasingly turned away from cable and embraced streaming video entertainment, accelerating a trend that was already underway.
While “The Crown” is the favorite, keep an eye out for spoilers in the best drama race. “The Mandalorian,” the Star Wars action adventure show on Disney+, picked up seven technical awards last weekend, and Television Academy voters love themselves some popular, action-packed entertainment, as evinced by the success of “Game of Thrones,” which won best drama a record-tying four times.
A show with an outside shot is “Bridgerton,” the popular Netflix bodice-ripper from the super producer Shonda Rhimes. FX’s “Pose,” nominated for its final, emotional season, has the best chance at an upset of any of the cable or network series nominated.
Year after year, the Emmy Awards have sought a master of ceremonies who can reverse its declining trends in viewership and bring audiences back to this annual broadcast honoring the television industry. Maybe what the show needs is an all-around entertainer.
So for this Sunday, the Emmys have enlisted Cedric the Entertainer, the veteran stand-up and star of the CBS comedy “The Neighborhood,” to host the show, bucking a recent tradition of drawing from the talent pool of late-night TV.
Cedric, 57, knows he has his work cut out for him: It’s not easy for people to get invested in the Emmys while the pandemic continues and when there is little overlap between the fan bases for nominated shows like “Ted Lasso,” “The Crown” and “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
But he is hoping that this year’s Emmys — which, unlike last year’s largely virtual event, will have an in-person ceremony at the Event Deck at L.A. Live, in Los Angeles — will encourage viewers to come back by fostering a spirit of inclusivity.
As Cedric said in a video interview last month, “I want to bring a familiarity that comes with my brand of stand-up. I’m somebody you know. I’m your cousin or your uncle, and we’re here to celebrate each other.”
“I’m there to do every job that a host is supposed to do,” he continued. “I may go and kick it with people. You may see me do a food-pass tray — have some crudités, my friend. Please, go in my closet, wear one of my jackets, you’re fine.”
There’s sure to be both drama and comedy at the 73rd annual Primetime Emmy Awards, which will be mostly an in-person edition of the show. Hosted by Cedric the Entertainer, the comedian and star of CBS’s “The Neighborhood,” the awards will be handed out Sunday night in Los Angeles before a limited audience, and will honor the pandemic-era television programs that got us through lockdown.
What time do the festivities start?
The ceremony begins at 8 p.m. Eastern, 5 p.m. Pacific. On television, CBS is the official broadcaster. If you have a cable login, you can watch online via cbs.com, or if you’re a CBS subscriber, via the CBS app.
The show will also air live and on demand on the streaming service Paramount+, which is one of the cheapest options for streaming the Emmys. Paramount+ offers a one-week free trial or is available starting at $5 per month. Other livestreaming services that also offer access to the channel include Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV or FuboTV. All require subscriptions that start at $65 per month, though many are offering free trials.
Is there a red carpet?
This year’s attendees will still have the chance to sashay down a red carpet, albeit a limited one with only about a dozen media outlets. The cable channel E! will have preshow entertainment and then red carpet coverage beginning at 4:30 p.m. Eastern. Livestreams from the red carpet will be available on the websites of People and Entertainment Weekly starting at 7 p.m.
Who will be presenting?
Among the approximately 50 stars scheduled to hand out statuettes are Annaleigh Ashford, Awkwafina, Stephen Colbert, Misty Copeland, Michael Douglas, Ava DuVernay, and Taraji P. Henson, Gayle King, Daniel Levy, Eugene Levy, LL Cool J, Annie Murphy, Catherine O’Hara, Dolly Parton, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Patrick Stewart and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Reggie Watts, the band leader on “The Late Late Show With James Corden,” will serve as D.J. for the evening, and the R&B artist Leon Bridges and Jon Batiste of “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” will perform a special “In Memoriam” song written by Bridges.