Last night I watched best picture front runner Birdman. I'd had an exhausting week and was really tired. This morning, after having slept for 9 hours, I got up and did a workout while watching last week's Empire. I enjoyed Empire a lot more.
Now, let's first of all not understate the importance of attitude when partaking of artistic endeavor. When you're tired and raggedy, nothing is going to be as good as the thing you're watching while your endorphins are all revved up and you've gotten plenty of sleep.
Birdman had these amazing performances. Ed Norton, Emma Stone and Michael Keaton were all so good. And Amy Ryan should be way more famous than she is. I thought those long tracking shots were interesting and made everything feel really exciting. But fundamentally, I just don't think neurotic, desperate asshole actors are nearly as interesting as Hollywood does. Birdman is a movie about actors for actors, I think. Which is fine. It's why I really like The IT Crowd.
Empire is a primetime soap. It's Dynasty meets The Lion in Winter where Henry II is a Russell Simmons-style hip hop mogul (it is not King Lear and everyone needs to stop saying that). And it embodies the main way TV is beating movies nowadays, in that its breakout character is a hot, fascinating, talented, complicated 40-plus woman played by an actress you can hardly stand to take your eyes off of. I am so #hereforCookie.
You never see stories about people like Cookie. That show, in its glitzy, soapy way is showing us something I really don't think we've seen before in mainstream pop culture. And I cannot get enough!
Empire is telling us a new story in an old, but tried and true way. Birdman told us an old story in an exciting, daring new way.
Or maybe I was just tired last night and feeling good this morning. Either way, Michael Keaton and Taraji P Henson are both world class actors. I'm just way more interested in Cookie than I am in Riggan.
Who died. Come on.