Andre Holland in ‘High Flying Bird’: You don’t have to be part of a growing contingent of NBA obsessives to appreciate this new film, which takes a timely look at the race and power dynamics at play in a league that has seen players seize greater control over their own destinies. But in addition to showcasing the reliably sublime work of director Steven Soderbergh (who shot the film on an iPhone), the film is another showpiece for Holland, who plays an ambitious agent who topples the league’s imbalanced structure from within. Holland was a scene-stealer on Soderbergh’s “The Knick” and the Oscar-winning “Moonlight,” and “Bird” shows he can soar as a lead.
H.E.R.: Congratulations to this enigmatic 21-year-old singer-songwriter (a.k.a. Gabi Wilson). In addition to taking home two Grammys in the R&B category last weekend, she also offered one of the night’s most memorable moments with a brilliant performance of “Hard Place” that inspired a generation to go shopping for clear electric guitars. Plus, she lost out in the best new artist category to Dua Lipa, who may well also have a long career like some previous winners (Adele, Norah Jones) or flicker out like others (fun., Macklemore, Dexy’s Midnight Runners). Still, we’re going to need to hear a lot more from H.E.R. soon.
The return of David Spade: With the rise of social media, YouTube and non-traditional venues supporting a DIY aesthetic, comedy is booming with a wider variety of fresh voices and perspectives gaining an audience than ever. And yet, Comedy Central chose to use the time slot behind “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah ”to launch a new late-night show with “Joe Dirt” himself, David Spade. For all the recognition of Spade’s snide pop-culture segments on “SNL” for a certain generation, the decision remains puzzling. If Comedy Central really wanted a familiar voice in that time slot, Larry Wilmore was probably available.
The Oscars’ war on itself: For being a storied night built on the idea of celebrating movies, the Academy Awards sure sound embarrassed by the prospect of doing so with the recent announcement that the celebrity-deficient categories of editing, cinematography, live action short, makeup and hairstyling would be awarded during commercial break. While this surely frees up precious new minutes for the Oscars to remind you how wonderful movies are, the move reinforces the impression that the show is really most directed at celebrating fame, and all those pesky categories that allow movies to be made really must be magical.
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