The Return of Joe Pesci
It took a lot of pleading to convince Joe Pesci to come out of retirement for The Irishman, but it was worth every arduous effort. The legendary actor’s performance in Martin Scorsese’s mob epic is one of the best of his storied career, and seeing him alongside Robert De Niro for one last hurrah was touching. The actors made us sympathize with gangsters in a movie that’s surprisingly moving considering its subject matter. Hopefully, the film doesn’t mark Pesci’s final onscreen appearance, but if it does, what a perfect way to say goodbye.
The Breakout Success of Lil Nas X
Hip-hop and country music have been strange bedfellows for years, but Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” married both genres in a way that appealed to the masses. The song broke Billboard chart records and became a worldwide hit, whilst simultaneously propelling an unknown 19-year-old talent into the stratosphere. Since then, the rapper has been using his platform to promote inclusion in the hip-hop and country communities, both of which are hardly known as beacons of LGBTQ representation. Lil Nas X is a phenomenon who appeared out of nowhere to shatter ceilings — both musically and culturally — and his success is well deserved.
Roman Reigns Beat Leukemia and Became a Movie Star
WWE superstars moving to Hollywood is nothing new, but Roman Reigns’ journey to Tinsel Town is more feel-good than most. Last year, the pro wrestler revealed that he had been diagnosed with leukemia. However, instead of letting the illness defeat him, he kept active and pursued some big opportunities. This led to him joining the cast of Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, in which his character helps the titular heroes fight Idris Elba’s villainous Brixton. Seeing Reigns overcome difficult real-life odds to get there was inspiring, and now that he’s beaten the illness, his star will continue to shine.
The Oscars Embraced Diversity
This year’s Academy Awards ceremony saw its fair share of controversy, but that was always going to happen. However, while there were some unpopular decisions made on the night, the ceremony was also a huge victory for diversity, with women and people of color being acknowledged more so than ever before. The success of BlackKklansman gave Spike Lee some long-overdue recognition at the event, while Roma’s Alfonso Cuaron became the first filmmaker to win Best Director and Best Cinematographer for the same movie. Domee Shi, meanwhile, became the first woman of color to win the prize for Best Short Film with Pixar’s Bao. The list of notable accolades goes on, and hopefully, next year’s event gives us more feel-good moments.
Olivia Wilde Made an Instant Comedy Classic
Booksmart didn’t enjoy the mammoth box office success that it deserved to, but it’s a film that’s going to mean a lot to a helluva lot of young people for years to come. Female-focused raunchy coming-of-age comedies are few and far between, but Olivia Wilde‘s film also broke new ground by ignoring traditional teen movie stereotypes to tell a story that focuses on the unity between young characters. Booksmart will have staying power, and future comedies can learn a lot from its humor, heart, and emotional honesty.