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Highlights from the 2018 People’s Choice Awards

Highlights from the 2018 People’s Choice Awards

And that concludes Sunday’s 44th annual People’s Choice Awards. The show— featuring performances from Rita Ora, Nicki Minaj and Tyga, and John Legend—returned to TV for the first time on E! and broadcasted live from nine to 11pm from Santa Monica. Hollywood A-listers gathered at the viewer-voted ceremony to witness an interesting and memorable group of winners grace the stage. Here are the highlights.

Best movie goes to…

Avengers: Infinity Wars was named best movie of the year. The mega-blockbuster superhero movie also received the Action Movie of 2018 award and saw Scarlett Johansson take home best female movie star for her performance as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow.

You go, Danai

Black Panther’s Danai Gurira accepted the award for Action Movie Star of 2018, besting four of the world’s biggest male movie stars (Chris Hemsworth, Ryan Reynolds, Chadwich Boseman and Chris Pratt). Gurira referred to her fellow nominees as “very beautiful men”, a statement that both inverts the patriarchy and elicits no argument from us.

Queen Nicki Minaj

Nicki Minaj was crowned female artist of the year and her LP, Queen, was also professed album of the year. It was Minaj’s acceptance speeches that made her an even bigger winner in our eyes.

“I wanna dedicate this award to Kim Kardashian’s ass in that dress,” she said, while receiving the Album of 2018 reward.

The 35-year-old later thanked the designer, Donatella Versace for her outfit, as well as Black Panther star, Michael B. Jordan, “because he’s going to be taking it off me tonight.”

Shadowhunters Sweep

It’s clear that fans of Shadowhunters are devastated that the series, which is based on The Mortal Instruments book series, may be ending prematurely. With the show awarded TV show of 2018 and Bingeworthy Show of 2018, and Katherine McNamara and Harry Shum Jr. also claiming big wins, the People’s Choice Awards has surely given the cast a memorable send off.

Melissa McCarthy, A.K.A People’s Icon 

Comedy actress, Melissa McCarthy, was honored with the first-ever People’s Icon award, acknowledged for her television and film work, which includes roles in Mike and Molly (2010), Bridesmaids (2011) and Spy (2015).

“Thank you for making it possible for me to do something I love more than anything else,” she said during her acceptance speech.

Spice up your life

Victoria Beckham referenced the Spice Girls hit song Wannabe during her acceptance speech for the Fashion Icon Award. Coming after her band-mates announced a reunion tour that would not include Beckham, fans can be sure that Posh Spice’s dedication to fashion and “girl power” will still give them what they really, really want.

“I wanted to show that if I can do it then really anyone can do it, and what you achieve really can be limitless,” Beckham said. “If you really, really—I can’t help it—if you really, really want it.”

Touching tributes

The People’s Choice Awards fell on Veterans Day and many stars took time to honour the veterans in their speeches. Scarlett Johansson dedicated her award to “the men and women of the armed forces who put their lives on the line every day so we don’t have to”.

Blake Shelton donned a red, white and blue ribbon on his lapel in honor of his veteran father, and Bryan Stevenson spoke out about recent mass shootings, the #MeToo movement and racial inequality during his speech for the People’s Champion Award.

“It’s Veterans Day, it’s important that we honor all our veterans, but it’s important to remember that black veterans after World War I and World War II were menaced and targeted and lynched because of this narrative of racial difference, and today we’re still burdened by that history,” he said.

Attendees also frequently touched on the devastating Woolsey Fire, raging less than 40 miles away from the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California. Mila Kunis, Melissa McCarthy, and Kim Kardashian West were among many who thanked firefighters for their tireless work.

Accepting a best reality TV show prize for Keeping Up with The Kardashians, West dedicated the award to “all the firefighters, the law enforcement and the first responders, we really truly appreciate what you have done for all of us.”

Winners

With 46 awards lined up and only 22 given out during the red carpet and live telecast, the winner’s list is deliciously long.

The show witnessed Korean boy band, BTS secure multiple awards for their song and video Idol. Shawn Mendes was named male artist of the year, Jim Parsons announced Comedy TV Star of 2018, Chadwick Boseman crowned male movie star of the year, and Taylor Swift and Shane Dawson also claimed wins. When receiving his award for Nighttime Talk Show of 2018, Jimmy Fallon was met with laughs for thanking “my better half, my rock, my soulmate…Justin Timberlake”.

Popular high school drama, Riverdale won best drama show, Fifty Shades Freed: best drama movie, and Incredibles 2: best family movie.

A full list of winners can be found, here.

Further reading: “We Solved it!” Diversity at the Emmys

Eight Life Lessons ‘Hocus Pocus’ Taught Us

Eight Life Lessons ‘Hocus Pocus’ Taught Us

Say what you like about this campy film that features a talking cat, catchy musical numbers and extortionate levels of cringe, but we think Hocus Pocus is a masterpiece.

This Halloween, the iconic cult-classic that is Hocus Pocus is 25 years old. With the film out-performing other family-friendly Halloween movies in a survey by Redbox, it’s not just the nostalgia of secretly watching this as a child, even though our parents said it would give us nightmares, that makes this movie worthy of its dedicated 90s-kid following.

The story of the Sanderson sisters inaugurates a hanging, a resurrection and a mission to suck the souls out of the children of Salem, Massachusetts. Brilliantly played by Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker, the witches are just a few of the strong characters that helped this movie shape a generation of millennials. Child murdering aside, here are eight powerful life lessons that can be learned during 96 minutes of pure magic.

 Women are awesome

Sure, the Sanderson sisters may kill children, but you’d probably be lying if you said you didn’t want to be a part of their coven when you were growing up. These hilarious witches are quick-witted, powerful and know how to confidently take charge to get the dirty work done.

Sisterhood is definitely, and literally, the word here—each sister has her own unique talents that serve to compliment those of her siblings’. The sisters are the only ones who understand how to calm each other down and, even though they don’t always see eye-to-eye, they unite on their quest to take on modern society. We’re including Allison (Vinessa Shaw) and Dani (Thora Birch)—the brave girls who scheme against these witches—in this, too.

Another great thing about Hocus Pocus is how sexually aware the female characters are. Sarah Sanderson may be borderline inappropriate, but she’s definitely not afraid to express her desires. She flirts, plays with and kisses a variety of men throughout the film for her own sexual pleasure, a trait that screams modern feminist. Also refreshing is the scene in which Max (Omri Katz) lights the black-flame candle that summons the witches back from the grave. Instead of the sweet, virginal girl trope that often dominates horror films, a virginal boy proves that he should have listened to his sister—sorry Max.

Always be yourself

Salem society clearly has its qualms about the Sanderson sisters, and the hair and makeup team were obviously out to get them too. Frankly, the witches couldn’t care less. By embracing their weirdness, they turn being different into something powerful and intimidating. As it turns out, eternal beauty is overrated when you’re faced with the imminent problem of being reduced to dust. The lesson: Always be yourself, unless you can be a badass witch and survive until morning.

Squads stick together

Max, Allison, Dani and Thackery (Sean Murray) vs. Winifred, Mary and Sarah. By sticking together, both sides are able to put up a good fight. Whether it’s providing back-up vocals when a member of the group launches into unexpected song, or drinking a youth-sucking potion so that your little sister doesn’t have to, having each other’s backs is everything.

Reading is magical

Clearly, books hold all the answers; just don’t steal them if you want to avoid child-murdering witches. On the other hand, perhaps if the Sanderson sister’s had made the effort to memorize a few spells, they’d have been more successful. We’ll take knowledge over youthful looks any day.

Tomorrow is a new day 

At the end of the day, you can rest assured knowing that no matter how traumatized you may have become; the day’s problems will be reduced to stardust before dawn arrives. Hopefully, if you don’t die first, or get turned into a cat.

Being young is powerful, and so is being old

The Sanderson sister’s are obsessed with youth, reminding us that being young is desirable and we should probably make the most of it. In fact, whether your duty is to rid society of evil witches or speak out on social media, young people definitely have the power to change the world.

That being said, it is clear that society has burdened adults with the impossible task of reversing nature’s clock. Instead of spending your entire paycheck on anti-aging products and dermal fillers, steal the life essence of a child or refer to the above point: “Always be yourself”. 

Family is the best

If your big brother has ever given up his future with a pretty girl to drink a deadly potion and save your life, then you can undoubtedly relate to this one. Really, Hocus Pocus is about family. Thackery Binx spends 300 years plagued by the fact that he couldn’t save his sister; the Sanderson sisters literally support each other through life and death; and Max eventually realizes that his annoying little sister has been there for him all along and sacrifices everything for her.

This family-film was also the first to teach us how to give our parents a break. Mom and Dad have their own lives and personalities in this movie and even occasionally enjoy dressing up as Madonna for Halloween.

Yabbos means breasts

“What do you call them again, Max? Yabbos?”

Further reading: The 12 Best Netflix Movies to Watch This Halloween

10 Spooky Books to Read this Halloween

10 Spooky Books to Read this Halloween

Whilst I appreciate a good jump-scare horror film, nothing can quite beat the many nights spent reading Goosebumps by the light of a friend’s shaking torch that permeate my childhood memories. Stories have been used to scare us since the beginning of time and it’s chilling in itself to realize that just a few words on paper can stimulate a consuming sense of dread.

Halloween is the perfect time to curl up with one of these spooky books—just make sure to leave the lights on.

House of Leaves, Mark Z. Danielewski

This dark tale is about a family who discover that their new home is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside—and so much more. Deserving of its cult following, the experimental novel immerses you to fumble blindly over color, footnotes, upside-down text and your own nightmares. The only spoiler that I can give is that the dedication page reads: “This is not for you.”

The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson

You may think you have exhausted your tolerance of haunted houses—that is until Shirley Jackson takes you to Hill House. This slow-burning psychological horror was the inspiration for the new 10-part Netflix series and tells the unnerving story of four strangers and their journey into the depths of Hill House. 

Bird Box, Josh Malerman

Interweaving the past and the present, this horror novel follows Malorie and her two young children as they flee to safety. The main problem is that something is outside, and glimpsing it has driven everyone to deathly violence. Blindfolded, Malorie is unable to see what’s following them.

Sharp Objects, Gillian Flynn From the author of Gone Girl, comes an even-more-disturbing thriller. Reporter, Camille Preaker returns to her hometown to cover the murders of two young girls and is confronted by her own, twisted demons. If you’re triggered by cutting you should stay away from this one, though.

Pet Sematary, Stephen King 

It would have been rude not to include Stephen King on this list and Pet Sematary is frequently referenced as his scariest book. Set in rural Maine, the suspenseful, slow burning horror features the Creed family and their recent move to an idyllic home. When the family cat dies, they ignorantly bury it near an old pet cemetery. The ending of this one might just leave you too terrified to turn the page.

Silent Child, Sarah A. Denzil

In the summer of 2006, six-year-old Aiden fell into a river during a flood and drowned. His body was never recovered. Fast forward 10 years and when Aiden staggers out of the woods, injured and mute, his mother must attempt to reconnect with her son and figure out who took him.

Shutter Island, Dennis Lehane

Set in 1954, Shutter Island follows US Marshal Teddy Daniels as he arrives to investigate the disappearance of a patient at Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane. The strange case exposes human experimentation, war tactics, a killer hurricane and a protagonist who is left as messed up, disoriented and desperate to figure out the mystery as you are.

The Grave Tender, Eliza Maxwell

This southern gothic suspense novel is beautifully written and haunting. When Hadley returns to her hometown—where she’d witnessed her mother set herself on fire—she discovers that her family is surrounded by dark secrets. This book deals with several forms of abuse and trigger warnings include: rape, incest, domestic abuse and child molestation.

The Last Time I Lied, Riley Sager

If you like to be kept guessing, this spooky mystery is for you. Emma remembers her days at Camp Nightingale, playing two truths and a lie with her friends—until they all went missing. When she is asked to return to the camp as a painting instructor, Emma discovers that all is not as it seems. Her past and present collide as she seeks to discover the truth.

Hocus Pocus and the All-New Sequel, A W Jantha

Did you know that Hocus Pocus the book and a brand new sequel were released in July this year? You’re welcome.

Further reading: The Most Haunted Universities in the World

A Prayer Before Dawn

Joe Cole on A Prayer Before Dawn

As soon as Joe Cole and I are connected for this interview, it’s as though I am greeted by an old friend; he is relaxed, chirpy and prepared for a good old natter. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think I was talking to a colleague, a peer, but the British actor is more than that. His rising star within the cinematic landscape began modestly with secondary roles in UK procedural soaps but his career soon catapulted, making his face a familiar screen-favorite among the leading actors of our generation—and I suspect we will be seeing much more of him in the future, too. Cole has made appearances in Green Room (2015), Eye on Juliet (2017), and, perhaps most notably, in the critically acclaimed British period drama, Peaky Blinders (2013-present), as the razor-sharp John Shelby.

But fans should focus their attentions to the 29-year-old’s latest major role as Billy Moore in A Prayer Before Dawn. This gritty, primal boxing drama is based on the true memoirs of Billy Moore, a UK boxer who moved to Thailand and found himself incarcerated in two of Thailand’s most notorious prisons after dabbling in drugs and crime. While inside, Moore takes up Muay Thai boxing in an effort to—quite literally—fight his way out of prison. The film, which received Official Selection at 2017’s Cannes Film Festival, was released July 20 2018, and has lauded much critical acclaim since. (“It seems like people are enjoying the movie,” Cole says, humbly.)

Getting into character

Getting into the mindset of a true-to-life character—who is still alive—is unlike anything the actor has ever experienced before. “I actually met him [Billy Moore] when I was doing Peaky Blinders,” says Cole. “He’s a super charismatic, interesting guy with incredible anecdotes and life experience and he’s a joy to have around…So I got to know him really well and he opened up to me more and more in the build-up to shooting the movie. It was kind of amazing—he really gave himself to me, more than what’s in the book.”

I ask the actor how did this role come to him and what did he have to do to prepare for such a versatile character? “I actually share an agent with the director,” he explains. The film’s director, Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire, made his stamp directing hard-hitting cult movies including Johnny Mad Dog (2008) and A Dios (2001). For his arguably bravest venture yet, the French director had his eyes firmly set on Cole to play his latest leading man after seeing his performance in prior films. “I trained a lot. I got to Thailand and was put in these real gritty Thai boxing camps where you wash with a bucket of water and kind of just really get stuck in and have these Thai guys beat you up for 10 hours a day [laughs],” Cole says. “That’s essentially what I did; and I ate Pad Thai.”

 “I remember at one point I got a massage off of three murderers at the same time—getting a massage from three guys who’ve killed three people!”—Joe Cole

A new experience

What makes this award-nominated film so interesting and special is that, besides Cole himself and Thai actor Vithaya Pansringarm, the characters we see on screen are non-actors. Ex-convicts, boxers still incarcerated and locals found in bars were anointed with these exceptional starring roles, where a glaring sense of truth underpins the entire narrative.

“It’s an all-encompassing life experience,” Cole says. “It was a real experience, you know, working with ex-cons, prisoner boxers, a trans girl who we found in a club in Thailand and just all these people who hadn’t acted before and shooting in a real prison and what comes with that. It was just pretty amazing.” To my utter disbelief, the 29-year-old actor tells me, “I remember at one point, I got a massage off of three murderers at the same time—getting a massage from three guys who’ve killed three people!”

Cole fondly recalls non-professional members of the film’s crew who helped bring a deft authenticity to the narrative as a whole. “I remember a guy teaching me how to smoke Ya ba [a drug containing caffeine and methamphetamines], which is one of the drugs Billy [Moore] smokes in prison. He was the assistant props guy. He’d spent a few years in prison and was addicted to Ya ba. So he showed me how to make this Ya ba pipe and he’s actually done it for real, you know?

“Jean [is] a real advocate of getting the ‘truth’ in there. I’ve worked on films where directors have just said, ‘That’s fine, it looks good,’ whereas Jean is all about truth and authenticity ad he wants to listen to the real people. He doesn’t want to listen to the people who think they know, he wants to listen to the people who do know and they worked in front of and behind the camera. We spent a lot of time listening to those guys.”

Cole explains to me that all of the sparring that occurs during the film’s fight scenes is completely real. “We had to actually be physical with each other, and when you’re doing that 18 hours a day, it takes its toll. I remember I nearly got knocked out by a Southeast Asian boxing champion who also spent seven years in the prison in which we filmed. He showed me his bed where he slept, which was just a bit of floor space, and we actually shot in that cell a bit. And he actually nearly knocked me out [laughs],”—by accident, he adds hastily.

A new frontier

Acting is a notoriously difficult industry in which to succeed, so I thought it only pertinent to dig into how the Kingston-born-and-raised star did it himself. “I suppose it was the thing I was best at, at school,” Cole confesses. But it may surprise you, reader, that this actor is self-made in a way that makes you think that anyone can do this. “I didn’t know any actors, I didn’t have family [in the industry], obviously my little brother now [Finn Cole, Peaky Blinders]. But I didn’t know anybody in the industry. I never saw it as a logistical career path.” Cole tells me that his moment of career clarity came at a point when he had failed his A Levels at school and had been dealing with a bad breakup, all while watching his peers go off to university. “I just thought, you know what? This sucks. I need to pull my finger out.” After taking a drama course at the National Youth Theatre in London, Cole confesses that acting took over his life. “It is all I thought about. It was kind of weird. I was very passionate and obsessed almost. I was writing a lot; I wrote a television show that helped me get a better agent, and I was more interested in writing my television show than I was going out clubbing, for example. It was almost a necessity.” Cole’s advice for aspiring actors is not to simply ‘dream big’ or ‘aim for the stars’; it’s more rational than that. “I say this often to young aspiring actors: You’ve got to really want it; you’ve got to really, really want it.” He explains that to get to where is he now, he focused on what actors just one echelon above him in terms of career were doing. “When I hadn’t done any television work, I was looking at those actors who had done bits and pieces on television and trying to copy what they were doing. And then after that, I was looking at the next level of actor and seeing what they were doing and trying to replicate that.”

“I say this often to young aspiring actors: You’ve got to really want it; you’ve got to really, really want it”—Joe Cole

Looking forward

Cole’s mission to depict interesting and diverse characters and tell culturally taboo stories doesn’t stop here; in fact, this actor is just getting started. “I’ve just finished a show on Channel 4 [viewers can access this channel online] called Pure,” he tells me. “[Pure is] a true story based on this woman’s memoirs [Rose Bretécher]. She had a condition called Pure OCD which is a form of OCD where you have very vivid and intrusive thoughts constantly. In her case, it’s sexual thoughts. I play a guy with a porn addiction, who the main character meets, and we try to help each other with our problems.”

If this conversation wasn’t inspiring, then I don’t know what is; A Prayer Before Dawn will be available to buy on DVD from September 24 2018.

This feature was originally published in College News magazine, Fall Edition 2018.

The Most Haunted Universities in the World

The Most Haunted Universities in the World

Are you brave enough to study at one of the world’s most haunted universities? Settle down for some college ghost stories that are sure to get you in the Halloween spirit.

University of St Andrews, Scotland

 As well as being Scotland’s oldest University (dating back almost six centuries), the University of St Andrews is considered one of the country’s most haunted places. The weathered, gothic building is home to over a dozen ghosts, including a piper and a ghost ship.

A phantom monk also protects St Rule’s Tower in St Andrews Cathedral but it is the apparition of the White Lady who is most well-known at the university. Said to be one of the ladies-in-waiting of Mary, Queen of Scots, the grieving beauty resides inside the wall of a desecrated abbey and takes nocturnal strolls across the cathedral grounds. In 1868, stonemasons broke into a sealed chamber where they discovered an open coffin containing the preserved body of a young woman in a white dress…

Gettysburg College, USA

America’s most haunted college, Gettysburg College was the site of the brutal Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War. Unsurprisingly, ghosts are commonplace at this site, with frequent spectral activity occurring at Penn Hall—the oldest building on campus that served as a hospital and morgue during the battle.

Here, the most popular ghosts include armed sentinels, a little boy with a blue face known as the ‘blue boy’ and bloodstained Civil War doctors that haunt the basement.

University of Toronto, Canada 

The University of Toronto actually conducts haunted tours of the campus, so certain are they of the many specters that parade the halls. The Christie Mansion building was the site of a 19th century illicit love affair and death. The mansion’s owner kept his mistress hidden in a secret chamber behind the library (room 29), where she hung herself with her bed sheets.

Most famously, Russian stonemason, Ivan Reznikoff, attacked his colleague, Paul Diablos with an axe for his affairs with Reznikoff’s fiancé. Diablos stabbed the Russian with a knife and hid the body in a ventilation shaft. The university claims that an axe mark can still be seen and workers later discovered the skeleton of a man wearing a belt buckle with Reznikoff’s emblem in a ventilation shaft, after the building partly burned down.

Heidelberg University, Germany 

Many professors from Heidelberg University were sent to concentration camps during Nazi Germany, and two were also said to have been murdered. The most disturbing part of campus is the University’s clinic, where women who were forced to undergo sterilization under eugenic experiments can be heard weeping and screaming.

Chalkboards erase themselves and mysterious words appear on them over night, even though the halls are kept locked. It is also said that the smell of smoke and burning leather still lingers at the site where banned books were burned before WW2.

University of Northern Colorado, USA

The University of Northern Colorado warns prospective students about its phantom residents with a dedicated page on the university’s website. With a ghost story for every single building on campus, a less scary but memorable account of ‘Stoney Ghosty’, the spirit of a student who overdosed on drugs, claims that he is eternalized by the smell of marijuana.

On the other hand, the presence of another student haunts the attic where she was found hanging. Bullied by her peers, Edith would hide away and play with marbles. Students have reported hearing the noise of marbles rolling across the floor, and her ghost has often been sighted outside the Wiebking and Wilson dormitories.

Nagasaki University, Japan

The ghosts at Nagasaki’s medical school are said to be victims of the atomic bomb released by the US on 9 August 1945. The smell of burning flesh reeks the hallways, accompanied by ghostly figures and the screams of the 800 staff and students who were killed in the blast.

Chinese University of Hong Kong, China 

If you’re a male and you visit the Chinese University of Hong Kong, you could fall prey to the faceless ghost that haunts Single Braid Road, which runs beside campus.

The woman has long, braided hair and, legend has it, had her face ripped off after jumping from a moving train. With a train station at the end of the road, young men who tread the path alone risk being traumatized by the faceless specter. 

Smith College, USA

The largest women’s college in America is also one of the most haunted and has centuries of murders, accidents and epidemics peppered throughout its history. Smith’s website continually updates it’s list of reported ghosts, including a senior who died after forgetting to turn the gas oven off, a little boy who died after being locked in the attic, and a pining mother who cries for the baby she murdered in life.

Another infamous story describes the haunting of the Sessions House, where a British soldier and an American girl would meet on a hidden staircase during the Revolutionary War. The staircase is real, and new students are often set the task of finding it on Halloween. The ghost of General Burgoyne has been sighted wandering Sessions House looking for his love, and other students have seen the pair rendezvousing on the secret stair.

Further reading: Six of the Best Books to Read This Fall

The 12 Best Netflix Movies to Watch This Halloween

The 12 Best Netflix Movies to Watch This Halloween

A recent survey by Redbox.com found that, after 45 years, The Exorcist (1973) is still the scariest movie that members have ever seen. Hocus Pocus (1993) is also celebrating a milestone anniversary this year, and it’s no surprise to hear that the iconic, 25-year-old classic out-performed all other family-friendly Halloween movies.

Whether you prefer fun or frightening, staying in with Netflix beats trick or treating—just ask the survey. We’re giving you 12 spooky movie options that you can stream for the best October ever.

The survey also showed that 72 percent of responders prefer popcorn to candy, so you should probably watch Children Of The Corn (1984) too. Happy Halloween!

  1. Scooby-Doo (2002)

Anyone who says this isn’t the best film ever made is lying—or just isn’t that nostalgic. The live-action re-imagining of the classic cartoon involves cults, spirits, brainwashing and meddling kids.

  1. It Follows (2014)

This horror film seems to be about an STD—except it takes the form of an evil spirit that sets out to murder its victim. Pass it on to survive.

  1. The Sixth Sense (1999)

This classic psychological thriller follows Bruce Willis as his character tries to help a young boy who is visited by ghosts. If you haven’t already been spoiled on the ending, your Halloween just got 100 times better.

  1. Coraline (2009)

Coraline is based on Neil Gaiman’s slightly disturbing children’s book. It follows a young girl who discovers an exciting parallel universe. Once you get over how creepy the character’s button-eyes are, this movie is awesome.

  1. The Babadook (2014)

On the surface, this monster movie seems like a terrifying horror film. Deep down, it is a terrifying horror film that cleverly explores the stresses of being a single parent and the manifestation of grief and depression.

  1. The Conjuring (2013) 

The Conjuring is inspired by a true story, and it’s petrifying. The movie follows paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren, as they attempt to help a family who are being terrorized by a malevolent spirit.

  1. The Boy (2016)

Creepy doll movies are perfect for Halloween, and this one is no exception. When a young nanny breaks the list of rules for looking after a life-size doll, it becomes clear why the parents treat it like a real boy.

  1. Hotel Transylvania (2012)

If you need a break from the horrors, Hotel Transylvania’s monsters-meet-humans adventure is charming and fun. It was also voted as the fifth family-friendly favourite in the Redbox survey.

  1. Would You Rather (2013)

We dare you to tear your eyes away from this gruesome horror. The intense movie follows a group of unfortunate characters at a dinner party. In a merciless twist, the host forces them to play a sadistic game or pay the price.

  1. Curse of Chucky (2012) 

What screams Halloween more than Chucky? Another sequel. This installment is actually one of the most atmospheric and scary Chucky films, and follows a grieving daughter whose niece has a creepy doll.

  1. Van Helsing (2004)

This monster hunter saga is mainly here because it has Hugh Jackman and Kate Beckinsale in, but it’s also a thrilling roller-coaster ride of entertainment.

  1. Raw (2016) 

This one is best viewed on an empty stomach, so put the popcorn down. At school, a vegetarian girl is convinced to eat raw meat for the first time and develops a craving for flesh. This movie is famous for causing audience members to faint at the Toronto International Film Festival. Go on, we dare you.

Further reading: Why Netflix’s Sierra Burgess Is A Loser Is Problematic

Mumford & Sons Debuted New Single “Guiding Light” On The Tonight Show

Mumford & Sons Debuted New Single “Guiding Light” On The Tonight Show

British folk-rock sensation, Mumford & Sons, took to the stage on The Tonight Show to debut their new single, Guiding Light. Monday night’s show also welcomed lead singer, Marcus Mumford, to the couch, where he let slip a hilarious story involving Bruce Springsteen.

Mumford told host, Jimmy Fallon that the band is “still mixing the record” for their upcoming album, Deltaset for release on November 16.

“Is this the first time you’ve promoted an album that’s not finished?” asked Fallon. Mumford laughed as he tried to reassure himself: “Yeah, but this is the modern world. It’s going to be fine!”

Marcus’ bubbly and sweet personality soon had the crowd ‘aw-ing—specifically in response to the singer’s touching words about band mates Ben Lovett, Ted Dwane and Winston Marshall.

“We all write.

“I hope that means we can be a band for a longer time…They’re also my three favorite song writers, like, in the world,” he told Fallon.

Listing work by Miles Davis and Lauryn Hill as two of the first albums he ever bought, Mumford also noted that he grew up listening to Bruce Springsteen. When asked if the band had ever met Springsteen, Mumford informed Fallon that they had met a couple of times, most memorably at a festival in Belgium.

Springsteen invited the band onto the stage with him, during which Mumford was so nervous that he “forgot the lyrics to Hungry Heart.” Mumford’s retelling of the story also touches on a pair of maracas and was followed by an equally entertaining plot that involved one of the bands earliest escapades.

As the interview came to a close, Marcus confirmed that Mumford & Sons would definitely be going on tour for Delta.

The extensive sixty-date worldwide arena tour will begin later this year. Full tour details will be revealed on October 4.

The album was, of course, written collectively by the band and produced by Paul Epworth. It marks 10 years since the band’s formation.

Speaking about Delta to DJ, Annie Mac, Winston Marshall has said: “I think at the beginning [of recording the album] we kind of fell back in love with the old instruments we didn’t play on Wilder Mind like the acoustic stuff and the more folky instruments but [we were] conscious [about] how we can make these instruments sound not like these instruments which opened up a whole new world for us…”

Watch the full interview, here.

Watch Mumford & Son’s performance of “Guiding Light”, here.

Why Netflix’s Sierra Burgess Is A Loser Is Problematic

Why Netflix’s Sierra Burgess Is A Loser Is Problematic

2018 is becoming the year of the hit or miss Netflix rom-com. The streaming sensation’s most recent success, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, is a charming and mature exploration of identity, family and young love. With emerging teenage heartthrob, Noah Centineo, also appearing as a new love interest in Sierra Burgess Is A Loser just a few weeks later, it’s hard to see how Netflix got this film so wrong.

Netflix’s Stranger Things star, Shannon Purser has been promoted from sidekick to leading lady in Sierra Burgess—what should have been a heartwarming move towards body positivity. With a respectable, talented cast and undeniably positive themes of friendship, it’s a shame that pretty much the rest of the Sierra Burgess plot makes us feel uncomfortable. Indeed, for a film that was supposed to subvert the stereotypes of teenage rom-coms, every joke served to insult its own integrity.

Sierra Burgess is loosely based on the 1897 play, Cyrano de Bergerac, and follows an intelligent misfit who accepts her unpopularity at school with the help of family, friendship and integrity. Sounds good so far, right?

When stereotypical it-girl, Veronica (Kristine Froseth), gives Sierra’s phone number to Jamey (Noah Centineo) as a joke, and he texts the number thinking he’s messaging Veronica, Sierra just goes along with it. Perhaps if Sierra had any incentive to do so—perhaps if she had ever actually met Jamey—we’d sympathize with her character or see this moment as comedic. As it goes, we see Sierra cat fishing Jamey throughout the film by pretending to be Veronica, without her permission.

Luckily for Sierra, Veronica doesn’t seem to mind this, and goes on to help Sierra to continue to deceive Jamey in exchange for tutoring. Notably, the tutoring stems from a guy calling Veronica “dumb” and serves as an attempt—not to prove him wrong—but to impress him. Veronica even allows Sierra to coerce her into face timing Jamey and, at one point, actually goes on a date with him. We’ll forgive you for being such a dreamboat, but come on Jamey; she has a completely different voice!

As this scene comes to a head, Netflix also throws in a huge consent fail. Jamey asks to kiss Veronica, at which point she promptly puts her hands over his eyes and switches places with Sierra, who has been eavesdropping on the date from underneath Jamey’s car. Cringingly similar to ‘The Houdini’ manoeuvre, this PG-13 version is still ringing all of the alarm bells.

Bizarre, cat-fishing scenes aside, this message does not promote body positivity or self-acceptance to its young viewers. Instead, it seems that the only way Sierra can get a guy to kiss her is through force, and by pretending to be someone she’s not—a thin, blonde socialite. Even as Sierra and Veronica become unsuspecting best friends, a scene where Veronica plucks Sierra’s eyebrows reminds us that grooming is still considered a way to fit in to gendered society.

In a more positive light, another casting success for the film was the role of Jamey’s deaf little brother, who is played by the deaf actor, Cochise Zornoza. Unfortunately, a scene where Sierra bumps into Jamey in real life and pretends to be deaf so that he won’t recognise her voice, does not help its cause. Prominent deaf activist and male model, Nyle DiMarco, was one of the first to point out why.

“So one of my close friends’ deaf brother is in Sierra Burgess”, he tweeted.

“When I learned, I was elated. Finally more deaf actors/representation & ASL inclusion in films

“… Only to find out the deaf character was written and used for a terrible joke.

“PS- pretending to be deaf is NOT ok.”

Viewers have also been quick to point out that the slut shaming in Sierra Burgess, as well as a number of LGBT and mental illness jokes, is totally not okay. For a movie with the slogan “Just Be You”, it really just romanticizes cat fishing and manipulation. In a somewhat undeserving resolution, Jamey tells Sierra that “even though she isn’t everyone’s type,” she’s perfect for him—charming.

Whilst I think that the idea of teenage love bringing out unexplored insecurities is relatable—and I did relate to Sierra on a few different levels—this film was just far too problematic to work for me. I’m also definitely on team Veronica—sorry Barb.

Emmys

“We Solved it!” Diversity at the Emmys

The Primetime Emmys televised jokes about diversity, but failed to select a diverse winning pool.

After president Donald Trump called last year’s Emmy ratings “the worst ever”, the 2018 Primetime Emmy Awards took things to a new level. A record-low audience of 10.2 million put the Emmys down 11 percent from the past two years.

The declining popularity of live broadcasted television left the much anticipated 70th Emmy ceremony struggling—but the awkwardness didn’t stop there.

Yet again, major diversity issues presented themselves throughout the three-hour show. As the hosts, Michael Che and Colin Jost, made jokes about Christianity, and more and more white actors took to the stage to collect awards, the atmosphere was detectable from the faces of cringing audience members.

Expectations

The 2017 ceremony seemed to signal the start of a progressive movement, away from historic ideologies. All three lead actor awards were given to men from diverse backgrounds and other categories were also more equally distributed than previous ceremonies. Winners included Sterling K. Brown, Riz Ahmed, Lena Waithe and Atlanta.

This year, the promising prospect continued as the nominee pool included a record 36 non-white actors—a 20 percent increase from 2017. Hollywood was quick to make this known before announcing its winners.

What actually happened?

The show began with the musical opening number: “We Solved It!” Kate McKinnon, Kenan Thompson, Kristen Bell and RuPaul (to name but a few) mocked the industry with a poignant song about diversity.

The song referenced Sandra Oh—the first Asian woman to ever be nominated for a lead actress Emmy: “There were none, now there’s one. And so we’re done!” It appeared that, whilst the joke seemed slightly awkward, the 2018 ceremony was being set up to include a diverse and inspiring winner’s circle.

Oh didn’t win—“It’s an honor just to be Asian,” she joked.

Instead, this year’s emphasis on diversity served to draw attention to the fact that only three non-white recipients received awards during the main broadcast.

On a pre-recorded clip, Michael Che did present what he called the “Reparation Emmys”.

“As a black comedian, for so many years our TV legends and heroes have gone unrecognized,

“So this year as host, I took it upon myself to finally right some of those wrongs. I present: The Reparation Emmys,” Che said.

The awards credited Marla Gibbs (The Jeffersons), Kadeem Hardison (A Different World), Jaleel White (Family Matters), Jimmie Walker (Good Times), Tichina Arnold (Everybody Hates Chris), and John Witherspoon (The Wayan Bros). Gibbs had previously been nominated five times and never won.

As the night unfolded, Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel became the first streaming show to win an Emmy, and Regina Kind (Seven Seconds) and Thandie Newton (Westworld) also took home trophies. Darren Criss, whose mother is Filipino, also took home Best Actor in a Limited Series for his role in The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.

Game of Thrones, previously criticized for lacking diversity, ended the ceremony by once again winning Outstanding Drama. With the show’s final season coming up, more diverse winners from the production in the near future seem unlikely.

Highlights of the Emmys

In a strange turn of events, Glen Weiss shocked everyone, including girlfriend Jan Svendsen, by proposing to her while accepting his reward for Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special.

Jenifer Lewis wore a bedazzled custom-made outfit by Nike, thanking them for supporting the football player and activist Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick famously kneeled during the national anthem to protest against racial injustice.

A host of celebrities also used their outfits to advocate political agendas. Accessories included Planned Parenthood and “I Am a Voter” badges, and ACLU blue ribbons. Sarah Sophie Flicker also arrived with a “Stop Kavanaugh” message drawn onto her arm.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel star, Rachel Brosnahan, even urged people to vote in the upcoming midterm elections during her acceptance speech, and comedian Hannah Gadsby infused hers with parody.

“I mean, for somebody like me—a nobody, from nowhere—gets this sweet gig, free suit, new boots, just ’cause I don’t like men? That’s a joke, of course. Just jokes, fellas, calm down.

“Hashtag: NotAllMenButALotOfEm. No, it is just jokes, but what are jokes these days? We don’t know. Nobody knows what jokes are. Especially not men! Am I right, fellas? That’s why I’m presenting alone,” she said.

After a somewhat uncomfortable show, the reality of technical and societal change seems to be placing stress on traditional live network broadcasts. This year, the Emmys used the Primetime awards to force us to recognise that they have become more self-aware, but their enlightenment failed to deliver entertainment and implication.

The Creative Arts Emmys actually showcased a record number of non-white winners, but with much less press than the Primetime awards, a lot of these happened offstage. Clearly, Hollywood still has a long way to go on its road to diversity.

Further reading: The Relevancy of BlacKkKlansman

Mac Miller Death

Mac Miller’s Death is Tragic—But It’s Not Ariana Grande’s Fault

American rapper Mac Miller died of an alleged drug overdose on September 7. He was just 26 years old. Miller had suffered with substance abuse since the age of 15, famously admitting to Noisy that using drugs was “dangerous, dude. But they’re awesome”. The announcement shook the core of the music industry and, although I wasn’t an avid fan, it shook me. Not only did the industry lose an intelligent, energetic talent, but his death comes at an age so close to my own that it’s also a frightening reminder of my own mortality.

In a statement, Miller’s family described him as “a bright light in this world for his family, friends and fans.” Meanwhile, close friends and colleagues took to the Twittersphere to obituarise the young star. Post Malone said, “You changed so many lives. Had so much love in your heart…Never a more kind and sincere and beautiful person”, while singer Charlie Puth said, “I can’t keep losing friends like this…I wish I spent more time with you these past weeks…I’m so sorry”.

Yet, erupting through these mournful messages almost as quickly as the news broke, was a more sinister and dangerous narrative: The blame for Miller’s death, in the eyes of some, was not his history of substance abuse or his mental health, but his ex-girlfriend Ariana Grande.

In a now edited article by TMZ, the outlet that first reported the death, a reporter wrote: “Miller has had trouble recently with substance abuse…in the wake of his breakup with Ariana Grande.” Fans of the rapper flooded the internet to lay blame at Grande’s feet. One Twitter user was reported by UNILAD as saying, “@ArianaGrande look what you did to Mac Miller! He needed support and you weren’t there for him so he could move on. Instead you got engaged with another after two weeks of dating just to f**k with Mac Miller!” Another said, “[…] Yeah I get why he would be upset and why he would wanna take drugs bc drugs stop all of the pain for a while. So honestly it is sorta her [Grande’s] fault”. Grande has since deactivated the comments section on her Instagram account following a surge of misogynistic, hateful and relentless abuse hurled at her following his death.

Elsewhere, global news outlets published loud headlines referring to the K.I.D.S artist as simply “Ariana Grande’s ex-boyfriend”. These shamelessly shifted the attention to Grande, which diminishes Miller’s legacy as an accomplished musician, producer and artist, to simply the ex-boyfriend of a famous pop star.

“Headlines referring to Miller as ‘Ariana Grande’s ex-boyfriend’ diminish his legacy as an accomplished musician, producer and artist to simply the ex-boyfriend of a famous pop star”

Grande also faced similar online harassment at the hands of Miller’s fans after a hit and run incident that occurred in May 2018. More recently, when cameras caught the moment a pastor touched Grande’s breast at Aretha Franklin’s funeral earlier this month, many focused instead on the length of her dress—as if that was the reason such atrocious behavior occurred.

Grande isn’t the first woman to be demonized for refusing to shoulder and absorb the trauma and behaviors of men. Yoko Ono was famously blamed for the breakup of the Beatles. Rock star Courtney Love is still blamed for her husband Kurt Cobain’s drug addiction and subsequent suicide, too—a deeply harmful phenomenon that blurts out the expectation that women are obligated caretakers.

“Grande isn’t the first woman to be demonized for refusing to shoulder and absorb the trauma and behaviors of men”

Should Grande have stayed with the rapper to see him recover from his addictions before moving on? Absolutely not—especially at the expense of her own mental wellbeing—and she shouldn’t have to feel guilt for it either. It seems it’s easier to ignore the glaring, complicated and insidious disease that is addiction than it is to blame one single person—much easier if it’s an ex.