If you’ve been to a PG-13 action movie lately, you might have thought, Man, it sure seems like there’s a lot of violence for a PG-13 flick.
Turns out you were right. A new study by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania has found that gun violence in PG-13 movies began to exceed that found in R-rated movies as far back as 2012. The reason, it seems, has to do with the exploding (no pun intended) success of comic book movies, in particular.
In other movie news, Oscar nominations took center stage yesterday. The musical La La Land netted 14 noms (including one for Best Picture), a record-setting haul that tied the number earned by Titanic and All About Eve. The other Best Picture nominees are: Arrival, Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, Lion, Manchester by the Sea and Moonlight. Mel Gibson seems to be back in Tinseltown’s good graces after a decade out of them, scoring a Best Director nomination for the heroic-but-bloody World War II drama Hacksaw Ridge. The Academy also nominated a record six black actors for awards this year, squelching criticism that nominees lacked diversity the last two years.
Other interesting nominee news includes the fact that actress Michelle Williams hasn’t even seen the movie (Manchester by the Sea) that she was nominated for. Meanwhile, Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda’s songwriting for Moana‘s theme song “How Far I’ll Go” earned a nomination for Best Original Song. If Miranda wins, he’ll be just the fifth person ever to earn the much-coveted EGOT sweep, the quadfecta of Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards. The only other entertainers who’ve done so are Mel Brooks, Whoopi Goldberg, Audrey Hepburn and Rita Moreno.
Notable snubs this year include Martin Scorsese’s Silence, a story of persecution in 17th-century Japan, as well as Amy Adams’ failure to earn a nod for her critically hailed role in Arrival. Perhaps most shockingly, Disney/Pixar’s Finding Dory failed to get a look for Best Animated Feature.
Another movie controversy that blew up last week involved allegations of animal cruelty on the set of the family movie A Dog’s Purpose. A producer for the film suggests that a video showing animal handlers trying to coax a clearly frightened dog into what appears to be roiling water isn’t what it seems to be. The filmmakers, as well as star Dennis Quaid, have also been quick to rebut charges of animal cruelty leveled by the activist organization PETA.
Meanwhile, the creator of Hulu’s dramatic series The Path, which focuses on a New Age spiritual movement, talked with The Hollywood Reporter about television studios’ growing willingness to address issues of faith and religion. “Faith is one of the biggest human questions that we all face,” Jessica Goldberg said. “Most people in their lives will go through some kind of questioning at some point in their life. It’s rare to find a person that’s just born into something and then completely stays with it without some sort of grappling. And then people born without it, things happen—someone gets sick, or you have to deal with suffering, or you see something painful in your life. I think because it is such a human question. It’s something we all think about.”
Back on network TV, some are concerned Season 21 of ABC’s long-running dating reality series The Bachelor is off to its most sexually explicit start yet. Katie Yoder of the Media Research Center told Fox News, “This season, in particular, ‘The Bachelor’ is sending the message that entertainment is based on sex.”
And while we might think such criticisms fall on deaf ears, sometimes they work. Fox News also reports that the producers of AMC’s notoriously gruesome series The Walking Dead actually chose to tone down the gore after fans voiced concerns about the show’s excessive violence in this season’s premiere. Executive producer Gale Anne Hurd said, “We were able to look at the feedback on the level of violence. We did tone it down for episodes we were still filming for later on in the season.”
That said, TV’s hardly stopped pushing the boundaries. The forthcoming Freeform series Famous in Love, starring former Disney actress Bella Thorne, looks to follow in the footsteps of other infamously racy teen shows, such as Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars. In fact, the latter’s executive producer, I. Marlene King, is one of the writers this time around. She told a group of TV critics that the new series will feature “occasional side boob, side butt, and amazing clothes, great hair and beautiful cast, as well as a menage a quatre.”
Finally, the Star Wars fanboys and girls out there would be using their Force powers to find us if we failed to report that the title of Episode VIII has been revealed: The Last Jedi. As is often the case with the Star Wars titles, this one has launched a Star Destroyer full of speculation regarding who the titular last Jedi might be.