The best of entertainment from October 2019, as chosen by Red Bee’s entertainment experts.
BEST TV DRAMA: THE LOUDEST VOICE
Watching episode one of The Loudest Voice on Sky Atlantic so soon after the tumultuous finale of Succession provoked initial doubts about the quality of the writing, but Showtime’s 7-part Roger Ailes biopic rewards persistence. The drama traces the final 20 years of the life of the mastermind behind Fox News, who led it to become America’s most-watched cable news network by following an unashamedly populist, Republican agenda before his resignation in 2016, amidst allegations of sexual harassment, and death the following year. As a star vehicle for Russell Crowe, who convinces from the first minute in increasingly grotesque prosthetics, we’re sure it won’t go empty-handed in the forthcoming awards season. For the TV marketing geeks amongst us, The Loudest Voice also offers a fascinating perspective on the recent history of our industry and a timeless lesson from Crowe’s loathsome genius of a character: successfully positioning a cable TV brand “is about one thing: niche. The loyalty of a passionate few” and, to maintain an audience, more than anything else you need to “turn out the base”.
BEST FILM: JOKER
Cinema seems to be all prequels, sequels and universe spin-offs lately, with very little original storytelling or risk taking, so our expectations were low for DC’s Joker origin story. But we were pleasantly surprised. This didn’t feel anything like its shiny comic book predecessors. Instead, it was a dark and disturbing tale of one poor man’s struggle with mental health, resulting in him becoming the eponymous rictus-grinning maniac. With stunning cinematography, a glorious soundtrack and a sublime performance from Joaquin Phoenix, it felt nothing like a cookie-cutter superhero film, and everything like an Oscar contender for 2020. If its run for awards season glory is hampered by the overblown negative discourse around the film’s violent content, it will be a great shame, as much of the press seem to have overlooked the poignant beauty in the film’s craft. Credit to Warner Bros for taking a genuine risk on a very bankable property, and doing something truly unexpected for a tired genre. Perhaps there’s a future in prequels after all.
BEST PODCAST: THE TRAINEE SEXOLOGIST
A perfect, outrageously funny, light-hearted podcast featuring commentary on all things sex and relationships. It chronicles Morgan Penn’s journey into the world of counselling and becoming a certified sex therapist, after making the switch from a normal job in media. It follows in a similar vein to My Dad Wrote a Porno, with Penn’s supportive best friend Sharyn Casey reacting with bemusement as she discusses her latest bizarre experiences. BE WARNED: it is not for the faint of heart.
BEST SPORT: RUGBY WORLD CUP 2019
For fans of the oval-shaped ball, the Rugby World Cup 2019 has been a validation of everything that makes their sport special. Exemplary displays of sportsmanship between sides and coaches that for 80 minutes were locked in fierce, physical competition. Rival fans unsegregated and in full partisan voice. Fast, technical and brutally powerful displays of skills and athleticism. The humility that saw the Canadian team helping sweep roads after Typhoon Hagibis, and the passion of the Japanese home fans as their “cherry blossoms” thrilled the tournament. All of this has been brilliantly brought to life by the host broadcasters ITV, BBC Radio 5 Live, and the many podcasts, in particular The Rugby Pod with Andy Goode and Jim Hamilton, that champion all of those unique assets of the game all year round. Camaraderie, humour, intelligence and the occasional sing song. Now all England need to do is win the thing!
BEST EXHIBITION: TIM WALKER - WONDERFUL THINGS, V&A
A fantastical, fully-immersive and surreal experience, this exhibition celebrates and showcases photographer Tim Walker’s great breadth of work. Famously known for his twisted fashion fairy tales, Wonderful Things consists of a series of shoots that take their inspiration from items that can be found in the V&A Museum. As well as photographs, the gallery is bursting with props and sketchbooks from each shoot, giving the audience a vivid glimpse into his unique and wonderful imagination.
Stay tuned for more in November