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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Winter holiday entertainment: Oscars and television

Leonardo DiCaprio is a force in “The Wolf of Wall Street,” one of the best films of the year. (SOURCE: MCT CAMPUS)

A lot of entertainment is released during the winter months, hoping to attract the attention of families gathered for the holidays, or even those who are trapped due to snowstorms. Because the amount of viewers is so great during the winter period, we see a lot of movies and new television become available for consumers to choose from. While it would be impossible to talk about everything that premiered, we have gathered some of the biggest premieres, which unfortunately vary in quality.

Winter usually means all the big studios will release their big Oscar contender movies to make to nominee deadline. While bigger movies such as “The Hobbit” also get released, it is usually these smaller dramas that get the end-of-the-year attention. With the Oscar nominees recently announced, what better time to look over a few of these films?

“American Hustle” is probably the biggest nominee, with great performances from Amy Adams, Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence highlighting the film. The movie follows Bale’s Irving Rosenfeld, a con-man who is forced to cooperate with the FBI, as he and his lady pal Sydney (Amy Adams) must try and oneu-up the mafia, corrupt politicians, insane wives and the FBI, all in an attempt to earn money and live the American dream of the 1970s.

The film has some great acting and absolutely gorgeous atmosphere, but the film falls apart when it comes to basic storytelling and directing. David Russell has made some great movies before, but they were always lighthearted. “American Hustle” takes itself way too seriously, to the point where it is not fun to watch these characters interact. It is a great film to view, it is just a shame about the content you are viewing.

On the other hand, “The Wolf of Wall Street” tackles the same exact idea of the “American Dream” and turns that idea into one of the most entertaining films of the year. The film is based on the true story of Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) as he rises into superstardom on Wall Street, and his eventual fall from grace. While the film is based on a true story, director Martin Scorsese blows every situation out of proportion. Because of this the film is filled to the brim with as much sex, nudity, drugs and F-bombs as possible.

DiCaprio is a force in this film, as he continues to push his life to more and more extremes. As much as the film is billed as a drama, it is the screenplay and DiCaprio’s absurdity that makes this a raunchy dark comedy. You will cheer for his victories, be envious of his activities and laugh at his failures. The film runs at three hours long, but it keeps moving and is so captivating that you will not even notice the time flying past.  Simply put, “The Wolf of Wall Street” is the best-made film of the year. There really is something in this film for anyone, you even get to see Leonardo DiCaprio naked.

Finally, the Oscar-snubbed “Inside Llewyn Davis” follows the titular character Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) through a week in his life as a struggling folk-musician during the hard winter in 1960’s New York City. While the previous two films were big-bombastic films about these people’s success, “Inside Llewyn Davis” focuses purely on failure. From Davis’ struggle to make it as a musician, to his failure to maintain any form of relationship or employment, the Coen Brothers (of “Raising Arizona” and “The Big Lebowski” fame) bring out a fantastic character with tremendous care and tenderness.

Make no mistake, “Inside Llewyn Davis” is not a happy movie. It constantly shows how one’s life can always reach a new low, but yet the movie also has some genuine sweet and funny moments. This is probably the Coen Brother’s smallest film, as it really is not about anything. We simply have a character that we follow his every action. It allows us to really feel for these characters and makes them feel real. “Inside Llewyn Davis” will probably be the most underappreciated film of the year, which is a shame because it deserves as much praise as some of the other Oscar nominated films, especially the film’s cat.

While movies were busy fighting for the Oscar nomination, television was getting ready for the return of many big names. Probably the biggest return was the premiere of the third season of “Sherlock.” Although it has been two years since the second season ended, this season picks up directly after the cliffhanger ending. I will not go into spoilers, but eventually Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Watson (Martin Freeman) are brought back into the world of detective work while dealing with the fallout of last season. A fourth season has already been confirmed, but no date has been announced.

“Community” also returned for its fifth season this month, but more importantly Dan Harmon returned after leaving the show in season four. While the past season was a very divisive season-you either hated it or loved it-this season is receiving almost unanimous praise. The first episode titled “RePilot” treats the new season almost like a reboot of the series, with a return of the classic “Community” style. That means episodes dedicated to insane ideas, like a giant game of “the floor is made of lava.”

Besides the return of Dan Harmon to the creative team and as show runner, this season also will also see the departure of Donald Glover’s character Troy, who has been a part of the show since the beginning. This season also will see the return of Jon Oliver’s character, and will see Jonathan Banks of “Breaking Bad” join the cast as a new professor at Greendale. Clearly, Dan Harmon is hoping to return “Community” to its former glory with all the changes and additions being made this season. Sure, having Glover leave the show will clearly impact it in a big way, but it seems like Harmon will not let that affect the show at all. Six seasons and a movie is quickly becoming more and more likely to happen, especially with the quality of this season so far.

Finally, one of the more interesting premieres was Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s “HitRecord on TV,” a show made through collaboration between celebrities and artists from around the world. Every episode is based on a theme word that anyone can contribute to.

The show is based on Levitt’s website of the same name, which is a call to arms of the artists of the world as a way for them to get their work out into the open. Because of this the show is almost entirely user created, giving it a charming if not jarring feel. Naturally there is some celebrity interaction, as Levitt hosts the show and celebrity guest do come on. The first episode saw Levitt going into a song and dance routine with Tony Danza.

Entertainment extends beyond film and television, but with so much entertainment being released it is impossible to see it all. Everyone has their preferences and tastes, which helps keep people through the cold winter months.

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