Last week’s Monday I had a HBO day, apparently. I started my morning with the last episode of Game of Thrones of course but as I’ve subscribed HBO Nordic just because GoT and I just paid one more month, I decided to take advantage of it and watch something else too as it is full of helluva good series. I started with
BIG LITTLE LIES (2017)
Starring Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Alexander Skarsgård, Adam Scott, Laura Dern, Zoë Kravitz, James Tupper & Jeffrey Nordling
Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée
Written by David E. Kelly and Liane Moriarty
Synopsis (IMDb): “The apparently perfect lives of three mothers of first graders unravel to the point of murder.”
When I started writing this post I put on the soundtrack of the series. It’s really, really good and nails the tone of Big Little Lies perfectly. Perfectly. It’s this easy, breezy Californian vibe there but when you really listen to it, you can hear the undertone. And that is the way Big Little Lies is told. All is good before you dig deeper.
Big Little Lies is the celebration of mature female talent. Thankfully there are still roles for women over 40. And all these women in this series deliver big time. BLL is nominated for 10 Primetime Emmys and five of them are for acting (and one for casting) and I think everyone is deserved. Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon are competing against each other in Lead actresses’ category as are Shailene Woodley and Laura Dern in Supporting. The only man nominated is Alexander Skarsgård for playing the husband of Kidman’s character. Men are supporting characters in this story but all of them are needed to carry the story. All women here are remarkable but then again, the characters are well-written. I actually think I’ve would have liked to read the novel first as I appreciate how the story is told and how you get to know more about everyone little by little. Get to understand them. Dern has the flashiest role, maybe even the most thin-layered but nonetheless it’s pleasure to watch her play. Woodley’s character is the quiet, tough one and she nails it too. Although I thought she could have taken more out of it. So, in my mind Dern wins the supporting role in BLL. The lead is celebration of two amazingly talented individuals. But as I think, Kidman has been playing this kind of role quite often (or then I just think I see her crying on screen a lot. And I mean A LOT.), it’s Witherspoon’s game. She’s awesome. At the beginning of the series you hate her character but in the end you can’t but love her. She’s flesh and blood, she’s real. And she acts every little detail out of her. I just love how Reese Witherspoon gets better and better when she gets older. She’s always been good but she’s slightly becoming one of the best.
BLL is also nominated for writing and like I’ve already mentioned, it’s well-told. I actually watched it in a one go. Perfect for binge as it is only seven episodes. It is also nominated for directing and cinematography and also both of those are deserved. Jean-Marc Vallée is here as good as he was with his Oscar winning Dallas Buyers Club and the cinematography is beautiful, it captures the atmosphere of all of it superbly. Everything is in order here. Even though I’ve used a word “perfect” here, it is not perfect but it’s close enough. I recommend.
Rating: ****½ (out of 5)
P.S. This soundtrack is REALLY good!
THE NIGHT OF (2016)
Starring Riz Ahmed, John Turturro, Bill Camp, Sofia Black-D’Elia & Michael Kenneth Williams
Created by Steve Zaillian & Richard Price
Synposis (IMDb): “After a night of partying with a female stranger, a man wakes up to find her stabbed to death and is charged with her murder.”
As if Big Little Lies wasn’t good enough, I started watching another series that I’ve only heard raves and had had on my watchlist for ages (a few months that is). And again, I was not disappointed. HBO’s monthly fee is surely justified. Though I’m not sure how they could top themselves anymore? (Btw, take a good look on that poster, it’s amazing, isn’t it?)
The Night of is also nominated for 10 Emmys and was nominated for three Golden Globes and bunch of other awards and it has also won some. And again, it deserves all the praise (I feel like I’m repeating myself, but you know, HBO earns it, they just make such a great television these days).
There are three nominations at Emmys for actors them being Riz Ahmed in the main role, John Turturro who has been also put in the Lead category although I think his role is still supporting one even though it’s a big role. Bill Camp and Michael Kenneth Williams are placed in Supporting. Camp, Williams and Turturro are excellent, of course. Especially the latter is able to flex his muscles (figuratively) in a meaty role but then again, he has always been excellent and has been cast to the roles like this before. The Night of is Riz Ahmed’s show. He’s unbelievable. There are only eight (although some of them are 1,5 hours long) episodes but the transformation that he goes through during the series is… I don’t know, I’m lost of words. Stunning. Incredible. Even shocking. I truly hope he’ll get his Emmy. He should. Just look at the last episode and then go back to the first one and see the transformation. Not just the physical stuff but especially his eyes. How one does that? I have no idea. What an acting. I’m a fan.
Looking at those Emmy nominations I keep reading “outstanding” and in this case it’s exactly the right word to describe this one. It is outstanding. I watched it too in one go. Even though it was the second of the day and time was sometime 2am I couldn’t stop. No way. Way too good for that. And I absolutely loved it that I had no idea what’s going to happen next. But not in the shocking way of Game of Thrones but in this real way, like how life happens. One just has to adapt to survive. And one has to learn to live with one’s decisions and consequences that those cause. Everything here is top-notch; writing, directing, cinematography, music (!) and especially acting. It is one terrific story told perfectly. Watch it.
Rating: ***** (out of 5)