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I went to see DOWNHILL, expecting it to be entertaining, and it was not very good. First off, it’s a drama…not a comedy…and by the end I just didn’t care.

Sonic The Hedgehog zooms past the competition at the box office with $57 million

Sonic the Hedgehog made its big debut over President’s Day weekend and it zoomed all the way to the top of the box office. Not only did the film make an estimated $57 during its first week in theaters, but it also claimed the title of biggest North American debut for a movie based on a video game.

Second place goes to Birds of Prey with an estimated $17.1 million during its second week, followed by Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island in third with $12.4 million. Rounding out the top five are The Photograph ($12.3 million), and Bad Boys for Life with $11.3 million, according to Comscore.

Sonic the Hedgehog made a big splash in theaters as fans of the original 1991 Sega game and newcomers were curious about what adventures the quick, blue and white critter would be getting into on the big screen. In the film, Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) and his new human best friend Tom Wachowski (James Marsden) team up to stop the evil scientist Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey), who wants to take over the world by stealing Sonic’s super speed abilities.

The Jeff Fowler directed film (his debut) co-stars Tika Sumpter, Adam Pally, Neal P. McDonough, and Natasha Rothwell.

In November, it was announced that Fowler was taking Sonic back to the drawing board after the film’s first trailer was criticized by fans who noticed the critter had an infinite amount of human teeth. It seems to have been a good move, Sonic the Hedgehog is certified fresh by Rotten Tomatoes critics and moviegoers gave it an A, via Cinemascore.

The 1977 series Fantasy Island was rebirthed into a 2020 horror film of the same name by the folks at Blumhouse, and their efforts did not go unnoticed. In its new iteration, five people win a contest that’ll take them to the luxurious yet remote island where it’s said their fantasies will come true. When Gwen (Maggie Q), Patrick (Austin Stowell), Brax (Jimmy O. Yang), JD (Ryan Hansen), and Melanie (Lucy Hale) arrive, they meet a whole cast of characters including the island’s keeper Mr. Roarke (Michael Peña) who warns them that they have to see their fantasies all the way through.

The Jeff Wadlow directed film also co-stars Paris Fitz-Henley, Portia Doubleday, Kim Coates, and Michael Rooker.

Fantasy Island is certified rotten on Rotten Tomatoes, but moviegoers liked it a bit more. Cinemascore reports the horror title earned a C-.

Issa Rae and LaKeith Stanfield star in the romantic drama The Photograph, a movie about two people brought together by circumstance. Rae stars as Mae Morton, the estranged daughter of a famous photographer (played by Courtney B. Vance) who meets and falls for the journalist (Stanfield) covering her late mother. It is through her mother’s mistakes that Morton can learn how to move forward and let herself love and be loved, but will she?

The Stella Meghie directed film also co-stars Chelsea Peretti, Jasmine Cephas Jonas, Lil Rel Howery, and Rae’s Insecure co-star Y’Lan Noel.

The Photograph is certified fresh via Rotten Tomatoes and Cinemascore reports the film earned a B+ from moviegoers.

Downhill stars Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus as married couple Pete and Billie Staunton in the dark comedy that follows the pair as their life is turned upside down after an avalanche scare during a family ski trip. Will the Staunton’s stay together after re-evaluating their life and their marriage?

The Nat Faxon and Jim Rash directed film, loosely based on the 2014 Swedish movie called Force Majeure, co-stars Miranda Otto, Zach Woods, and Kristofer Hivju.

EW gave the film a B saying, “As an attempt to scale the craggy heights of a marriage in crisis, Downhill may be more bunny slope than black diamond — a force mineure, but still worth the trip.” Cinemascore wasn’t as kind to the Indie, it earned a D from moviegoers.

Overall, box office is up 9.1 percent year-to-date, according to Comscore. Check out the Feb. 14-16 numbers below:

Sonic the Headehog — $57 million
Birds of Prey — $17.1 million
Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island —$12.4 million
The Photograph — $12.3 million
Bad Boy for Life — $11.3 million
1917 — $8 million
Jumanji: The Next Level — $6 million
Parasite — $6 million
Dolittle — $5 million
Downhill — $5 million

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I want to see BIRDS OF PREY but I’m in absolutely no rush.

Birds of Prey soars to the top of the box office with $33.3 million

The box office has a new leader as Birds of Prey bumps Bad Boys for Life ($12 million) to second place with an estimated $33.3 million during its opening weekend.

The number three spot belongs to war epic 1917 with $9 million, followed by the Robert Downey Jr. led Dolittle in fourth with an estimated $7 million, according to Comscore. Rounding out the top five Jumanji: The Next Level with an estimated $6 million.

Birds of Prey is the long awaited Harley Quinn film starring Margot Robbie, who brought to the life the comic book character she originally portrayed in 2016’s Suicide Squad. The superhero story picks up after Quinn has been dumped by The Joker and joined a squad of bad ass females: Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), and Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), to save a young girl from the hands of an evil crime lord.

The Cathy Yan-directed film co-stars Ali Wong, Chris Messina, Ewan McGregor, and Ella Jay Basco.

Moviegoers gave the film a B+, according to Cinemascore.

Overall, box office is up 9.6 percent year-to-date, according to Comscore. Check out the Feb. 7-9 numbers below:

Birds of Prey— $33.3 million
Bad Boy for Life— $12 million
1917—$9 million
Dolittle— $7 million
Jumanji: The Next Level— $6 million
The Gentlemen— $4.2 million
Gretel and Hansel—$4 million
Knives Out—$2.4 million
Little Women—$2.3 million
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker—$2.2 million

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Somehow they always seem to miss someone. May they all Rest In Peace.

Luke Perry, Cameron Boyce omitted from Oscars In Memoriam

The 2020 Oscars In Memoriam honored many of Hollywood’s fallen from the last year, including recent losses Kirk Douglas and Kobe Bryant. But the Academy left out two prominent stars who passed away in 2019 — Luke Perry and Cameron Boyce.

Each year there are always snubs, valued members of the entertainment industry who don’t make it into the limited amount of time allotted fo the segment. But these omissions feel especially perplexing, especially Perry — his final onscreen appearance was one of the Best Picture nominees, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Perry died March 4, shortly after last year’s Feb. 24 ceremony, after suffering a stroke, so many assumed he was an automatic in for this year’s In Memoriam segment.

Boyce was a younger star, one whose life was cut short due to complications from epilepsy before his final appearance in Disney Channel’s Descendants 3 last summer.

The In Memoriam was a beautiful segment otherwise, underscored by a powerful performance of Paul McCartney’s “Yesterday” from record-breaking Grammy winner Billie Eilish and her brother/producer Finneas.

The montage was book-ended by two deaths still very fresh to fans. Kobe Bryant, who died alongside his daughter and seven other people in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, was the first person honored, showcased with a photo of him from his 2018 Oscar win. It featured Bryant’s image alongside one of his most famous quotes, which read, “Life is too short to get bogged down and discouraged. You have to keep moving.”

The tribute — which included John Singleton, Doris Day, Peter Mayhew, and many more — ended with Kirk Douglas, the Hollywood legend who died only this last week at the age of 103.

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A Brief Recap

‘Parasite’ earned four wins, including best picture, while ‘1917’ nabbed three honors at the 92nd Academy Awards.

On Sunday night in Los Angeles, Neon’s Parasite claimed four wins at the 92nd Academy Awards, including best picture, best director Bong Joon Ho, international feature film and original screenplay. Universal’s 1917 nabbed three wins, for visual effects, cinematography and sound mixing.

Another three films earned two honors each. Warner Bros.’ Joker won in the acting category for Joaquin Phoenix and for original score. Sony’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood won for Brad Pitt in the supporting actor category and for production design. 20th Century’s Ford v Ferrari won for film editing and sound editing.

Renée Zellweger claimed the best actress win for Roadside Attractions’ Judy, Laura Dern earned a win for Netflix’s Marriage Story in the supporting actress category, while Taika Waititi claimed the adapted screenplay honor for Searchlight’s JoJo Rabbit.

Pixar’s Toy Story 4 nabbed the animated feature prize, while Paramount’s Rocketman won for original song.

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PARASITE was a very good movie, but I expected 1917 to at least get Best Director as it was more of an Oscar Movie. Maybe the times are changing.

How ‘Parasite’ made Oscars history as the first foreign-language best picture winner

By the time Leonardo DiCaprio crashed the poolside “Parasite” party at the Sunset Tower Hotel on the weekend of the Golden Globes, the awards-season momentum for Bong Joon Ho’s acclaimed thriller had been building for months.

“Parasite” premiered at Cannes in May, unanimously winning the fetival’s prestigious Palme d’Or prize, the first in a series of firsts for its filmmaker and for his native South Korea. It resurfaced in September at the Telluride and Toronto film festivals, key stops on the awards circuit, before opening in theaters in mid-October, selling out all of its shows and breaking box office records.

By that juncture, it was no longer a question of whether the film, distributed in the U.S. by Neon (a company founded just three years ago), would earn South Korea its first nomination in the Oscars’ international feature category. Now the ambitions were greater: Could “Parasite” become the first non-English language movie to win best picture?

It did just that Sunday night, also winning Oscars for director, original screenplay and international feature. By the end of the evening, Bong had taken the stage four times to accept trophies.

“My initial thought from the first time I saw it — and then immediately watched it again — was, ‘This could win,’” says Perception PR awards consultant Lea Yardum, whose company ran the “Parasite” campaign. “Everybody thought from the beginning it was a multi-category play.”

The biggest obstacle blocking “Parasite” was the academy’s spotty history rewarding global cinema. Bong got out in front of this reticence with a great bit of shade thrown while accepting the foreign film award at the Golden Globes in early January.

“Once you overcome the 1-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films,” he said.

Of course, Alfonso Cuarón also lobbed a few pointed remarks campaigning for “Roma” last year, including a barbed line when accepting the Oscar last year for foreign-language film. “I grew up watching foreign-language films and learning so much from them — films like ‘Citizen Kane,’ ‘Jaws,’ ‘Rashomon,’ ‘The Godfather’ and ‘Breathless,’ ” he noted.

“Roma” won Cuarón Oscars for director and cinematography, but he lost the Oscars’ top prize to a more traditional crowd-pleaser, Peter Farrelly’s dramedy of racial reconciliation, “Green Book.”

“Parasite,” likewise, was competing this season against a movie that looked like many previous best picture winners: Sam Mendes’ war drama “1917,” a film honored by the producers and directors guilds.

But the similarities ended there. Cuarón’s black-and-white, meditative memoir was a movie more admired than loved. “Parasite” earned plenty of raves from reviewers, winning a clutch of critics group prizes in December. But its unpredictable, entertaining and, ultimately, devastating story of two families on opposite sides of the class divide also elicited a deep, publicly professed devotion among its fans, newcomers and #BongHive members alike.

This adoration played out at event after event. At a Screen Actors Guild nomination committee screening last fall, a moderator politely asked that the audience — a group given to rushing the stage for selfies and small talk after events — to remain in their seats so Bong could leave quickly for another affair. When the Q&A ended, the audience obeyed, giving Bong a standing ovation and almost bowing toward him in unison as he left the theater.

Bong has long enjoyed that kind of following in America, akin to the allegiance shown toward Paul Thomas Anderson by longtime supporters. But with “Parasite,” he also demonstrated a tireless energy during the long awards season, charming voters with his authentic, gracious spirit, his humor and the way he celebrated his cast’s ensemble win at the SAG Awards, filming them like a proud dad.

Like the Oscar for best picture, that SAG Awards win was historic. And the thunderous applause that greeted it — and the earlier cheering when the movie’s cast simply walked onstage — was another indication of the passion people felt about “Parasite.”

But as important as the SAG Awards win was, the nomination itself, announced in December, was even more significant. Because the cast — including Song Kang Ho, Chang Hyae Jin, Lee Sun Kyun, Choi Woo Shik, Park So Dam and Lee Jung Eun — spent much of the season working on movies at home in South Korea, the film’s awards team faced challenges connecting them with voters. The recognition from the Screen Actors Guild voters gave them some space to make those introductions.

By this point, “Parasite” was an indie box office hit, thanks to a smart, patient distribution plan engineered by Neon head Tom Quinn. Bong and Quinn had worked together previously on four films, leading to Quinn landing the North American rights to “Parasite” in October 2018. Coupled with the ecstatic reviews, the movie’s commercial success (it has grossed $34 million to date in the States and a massive $72 million at home), drove awards voters to screenings that took place not just in the usual locales, but in spots like Koreatown, not a ZIP Code normally associated with academy members.

Bong attended most of them, leading to a long-running lament about having to stand at American parties, a contrast to South Korea, where people sit down, talk and eat. The good-natured complaint was his lone regret from an exciting season that ended with a historic jolt felt around the world.

“After winning best international feature, I thought I was done for the day and was ready to relax,” Bong said, on his third trip to the stage, accepting the director prize.

He wasn’t done — and neither was “Parasite.”

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“Hey Britain — heard you just became single. Welcome to the club!”

Lack of diversity lamented at British film awards as war epic 1917 wins big

Gut-wrenching First World War epic 1917 was the big winner at Sunday’s British Academy Film Awards (BAFTAs), winning seven awards including best picture and best director.

Sam Mendes’s homegrown drama bested hotly tipped American contenders Joker, The Irishman and Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood at a glitzy London event that was overshadowed by criticism of the nominees’ lack of diversity — even from some of the nominees themselves.

Director Mendes based 1917 on his grandfather’s wartime experiences. Shot in sinuous long takes that immerse viewers in the action, it follows two British soldiers on a perilous mission across no man’s land to try to avert a suicidal offensive.

1917 was also named best British film and won the cinematography prize — Roger Deakins’s fifth win in that category. It also took the prizes for production design, sound and visual effects.

Joaquin Phoenix was named best actor for Joker, and Renée Zellweger took the best actress prize for the Judy Garland biopic Judy.

Victory at the BAFTAs is often a good predictor for the work that will be recognized at Hollywood’s Academy Awards, being held this year on Feb. 9. Like the Oscars, the British awards this year were heavily male and white.

No women were nominated as best director for the seventh year running, and all 20 nominees in the lead and supporting performer categories were white.

Phoenix slammed the lack of diversity in his acceptance speech, saying it sent “a very clear message to people of colour that ‘You’re not welcome here.”‘

Awards organizers called it “disappointing” that there were no performers of colour among the acting nominees, who are chosen by 6,500 academy members who work in the U.K. and international film industry.

The rising star award — the one trophy decided by the public — went to black British actor Micheal Ward.

British star Cynthia Erivo, who is Oscar-nominated for her performance as abolitionist Harriet Tubman in Harriet but was snubbed by Britain’s Academy, declined an invitation to perform at Sunday’s award ceremony in protest.

The British Academy has promised to review its voting procedures.

“We’ve announced a wide-ranging review. We’re going to be looking at everything across the board in terms of the awards process,” said BAFTA chairwoman Pippa Harris.

“But also I think it’s fair to say this is an industry-wide issue. It takes everyone to look at what they’re doing,” she said. “Awards are right at the end of a whole process, and so we need to look at the types of films being made, the opportunities that people are getting, how the films are being promoted. All of these things play a part.”

Presenting the best-director award, Australian actress Rebel Wilson quipped that she could never achieve what the nominees did: “I just don’t have the balls.”

Scarlett Johansson, a best-actress nominee for Marriage Story, said the lack of recognition for female directors was disappointing.

“So many women made great films this year. And I think it just goes to show you that there is a systemic problem that is very prevalent. And it’s something that I think we’re aware of but have to continue to fight against and make greater strides towards.”

Hours before the event and several miles away, three people were wounded and a knifeman shot dead by police in what police called a terrorism-related attack. The BBC cancelled plans to broadcast interviews from the red carpet on its news channel as a result.

Brad Pitt was named best supporting actor for Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood.

He didn’t attend, but sent a jokey acceptance speech, read out by his co-star Margot Robbie

“Hey Britain — heard you just became single. Welcome to the club,” he said — one of several references during the ceremony to the U.K.’s exit from the European Union, which became official on Friday.

Pitt also referenced recent tumult in Britain’s Royal Family, saying he was going to name the trophy Harry, “because he’s really excited about bringing it back to the states with him.”

Laura Dern was named best supporting actress for playing a take-no-prisoners divorce lawyer in Marriage Story. She noted that her mother, Dianne Ladd, had won the exact same prize in 1975, when Dern was six, for Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.

Bong Joon-ho’s Korean-language drama Parasite was named best foreign-language film and also took the prize for best original screenplay

The Lord of the Rings and Planet of the Apes star Andy Serkis — the maestro of motion-capture acting — was handed a prize for outstanding British contribution to cinema.

Falling two days after Britain left the European Union, the evening couldn’t avoid the subject of Brexit.

“We know it’s been a hard week for you guys and it’s very nice to take a little bit of your gold, back home — where it belongs,” joked New Zealand director Taika Waititi as he collected the best adapted screenplay prize for Jojo Rabbit.

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I watched documentaries and the movie GROUNDHOG DAY on Netflix this weekend. Didn’t even think about going to a theatre.

Bad Boys for Life zooms past competition for third week in a row at the box office

Bad Boys for Life is taking another lap past the finish line at the box office.

For the third week in a row, the Will Smith and Martin Lawrence film took the lead with an estimated $18 million, according to Comscore. Following behind in second place is Sam Mendes’ 1917 with $10 million, and Dolittle in third with $8 million. Closing out the top five is newcomer Gretel and Hansel ($6.1 million), and The Gentlemen ($6 million).

A weekend like Super Bowl keeps people at home much more than a regular weekend. It’s important to keep that in mind while seeing numbers that are normal than usual.

Bad Boys for Life is taking another lap past the finish line at the box office.

For the third week in a row, the Will Smith and Martin Lawrence film took the lead with an estimated $18 million, according to Comscore. Following behind in second place is Sam Mendes’ 1917 with $10 million, and Dolittle in third with $8 million. Closing out the top five is newcomer Gretel and Hansel ($6.1 million), and The Gentlemen ($6 million).

A weekend like Super Bowl keeps people at home much more than a regular weekend. It’s important to keep that in mind while seeing numbers that are normal than usual.

Blake Lively made her big return to the big screen since welcoming her third child with husband Ryan Reynolds this weekend in The Rhythm Section. The action drama tells the story of a grieving daughter (Lively) hellbent on revenge after discovering the plane crash that killed her family wasn’t an accident at all.

The Reed Morano-directed film, based on the Mark Burnell novel of the same name, co-stars Jude Law, Sterling K. Brown, and Max Casella.

EW gave the film a C saying, “Lively digs gamely into the grit of her character, but there’s so little heft behind the script that she often comes across as sullen, or just painfully clueless. (The story also makes her British, though you’d only know it every third or fourth word.). Moviegoers mostly agree, they’ve rated it a C+, according to Cinemascore.

Overall, box office is up 10.8 percent year-to-date, according to Comscore. Check out the Jan. 31-Feb. 2. numbers below:

Bad Boy for Life— $18 million
1917—$10 million
Dolittle— $8 million
Gretel and Hansel—$6.1 million
The Gentlemen— $6 million
Jumanji: The Next Level— $6 million
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker—$3.2 million
The Turning—$3 million
Little Women—$3 million
The Rhythm Section—$2.8

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“Neil Peart had the hands of God.”

Dave Grohl on Rush Drummer Neil Peart: ‘We All Learned From Him’

Dave Grohl, a Neil Peart acolyte who inducted Rush into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013, penned a tribute to the drummer following news of Peart’s death Friday.

“Today, the world lost a true giant in the history of rock & roll,” Grohl said in a statement to Rolling Stone. “An inspiration to millions with an unmistakable sound who spawned generations of musicians (like myself) to pick up two sticks and chase a dream. A kind, thoughtful, brilliant man who ruled our radios and turntables not only with his drumming, but also his beautiful words.”

Grohl continued, “I still vividly remember my first listen of 2112 when I was young. It was the first time I really listened to a drummer. And since that day, music has never been the same. His power, precision, and composition was incomparable. He was called ‘The Professor’ for a reason: We all learned from him.”

As Grohl told Rolling Stone in 2013, ahead of Rush’s Rock Hall induction, it was Peart’s work that inspired him to pick up the drumsticks. “When I got 2112 when I was eight years old, it fucking changed the direction of my life. I heard the drums. It made me want to become a drummer,” Grohl said.

The Foo Fighters frontman and former Nirvana drummer also reminisced about meeting Peart for the first time during rehearsals for the Rock Hall ceremony. “I was coming to rehearsal and I was meeting Neil for the first time, and this man was as influential as any religion or any hero or any person in someone’s life. He said, ‘So nice to meet you. Can I make you a coffee?’ And he made me a coffee, man,” Grohl said in 2013. “And later on that night, I went to dinner and had a couple glasses of wine, and I started fucking crying because my hero made me a fucking coffee. It was unbelievable, man. So that’s kind of how this whole experience has been.”

Both Peart and Grohl landed in the upper echelon of Rolling Stone‘s list of the 100 Greatest Drummers of All Time. Grohl, like many drummers in rock, paid tribute to one of the greatest to ever play the instrument. “Thank you, Neil, for making our lives a better place with your music. You will be forever remembered and sorely missed by all of us. And my heartfelt condolences to the Rush family,” he wrote. “God bless Neil Peart.”

Grohl’s Foo Fighters bandmate Taylor Hawkins had a more succinct, yet equally poignant, statement. “Neil Peart had the hands of God,” he tells Rolling Stone. “End of story.”

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I am beyond shock and heartbreak. Thank you for everything, Professor. #RIPNeilPeart

Neil Peart, Rush Drummer Who Set a New Standard for Rock Virtuosity, Dead at 67

Neil Peart, the virtuoso drummer and lyricist for Rush, died Tuesday, January 7th, in Santa Monica, California, at age 67, according to Elliot Mintz, a family spokesperson. The cause was brain cancer, which Peart had been quietly battling for three-and-a-half years. A representative for the band confirmed the news to Rolling Stone.

Peart was one of rock’s greatest drummers, with a flamboyant yet precise style that paid homage to his hero, the Who’s Keith Moon, while expanding the technical and imaginative possibilities of his instrument. He joined singer-bassist Geddy Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson in Rush in 1974, and his musicianship and literate, philosophical lyrics – which initially drew on Ayn Rand and science fiction, and later became more personal and emotive – helped make the trio one of the classic-rock era’s essential bands. His drum fills on songs like “Tom Sawyer” were pop hooks in their own right, each one an indelible mini-composition; his lengthy drum solos, carefully constructed and packed with drama, were highlights of every Rush concert.

In a statement released Friday afternoon, Lee and Lifeson called Peart their “friend, soul brother and bandmate over 45 years,” and said he had been “incredibly brave” in his battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. “We ask that friends, fans, and media alike understandably respect the family’s need for privacy and peace at this extremely painful and difficult time,” Lee and Lifeson wrote. “Those wishing to express their condolences can choose a cancer research group or charity of their choice and make a donation in Neil Peart’s name. Rest in peace, brother.”

A rigorous autodidact, Peart was also the author of numerous books, beginning with 1996’s The Masked Rider: Cycling in West Africa, which chronicled a 1988 bicycle tour in Cameroon – in that memoir, he recalled an impromptu hand-drum performance that drew an entire village to watch.

Peart never stopped believing in the possibilities of rock (“a gift beyond price,” he called it in Rush’s 1980 track “The Spirit of Radio”) and despised what he saw as over-commercialization of the music industry and dumbed-down artists he saw as “panderers.” “It’s about being your own hero,” he told Rolling Stone in 2015. “I set out to never betray the values that 16-year-old had, to never sell out, to never bow to the man. A compromise is what I can never accept.”

Peart was a drummer’s drummer, beloved by his peers; he won prizes in Modern Drummer’s annual readers’ poll 38 times, and was a formative influence on countless young players. “His power, precision, and composition was incomparable,” Dave Grohl said in a statement released Friday. “He was called ‘The Professor’ for a reason: We all learned from him.”

“Neil is the most air-drummed-to drummer of all time,” former Police drummer Stewart Copeland told Rolling Stone in 2015. “Neil pushes that band, which has a lot of musicality, a lot of ideas crammed into every eight bars — but he keeps the throb, which is the important thing. And he can do that while doing all kinds of cool shit.”

Rush finished their final tour in August of 2015, after releasing their last album, Clockwork Angels, in 2012. Peart was done with the road. He questioned whether he could stay physically capable of playing his demanding parts, and was eager to spend more time with his wife, Carrie Nuttal, and daughter Olivia.

On August 10th, 1997, Peart’s 19-year-old daughter, Selena, died in a single-car accident on the long drive to her university in Toronto. Five months later, Selena’s mother — Peart’s common-law wife of 23 years, Jackie Taylor – was diagnosed with terminal cancer, quickly succumbing. Shattered, Peart told his bandmates to consider him retired, and embarked on a solitary motorcycle trip across the United States. He remarried in 2000, and found his way back to Rush by 2001.

Peart grew up in Port Dalhousie, a middle-class Canadian suburb 70 miles from Toronto, where he took his first drum lessons at age 13. As a teen, he permed his hair, took to wearing a cape and purple boots on the city bus, and scrawled “God is dead” on his bedroom wall. At one point, he got in trouble for pounding out beats on his desk during class. His teacher’s idea of punishment was to insist that he bang on his desk nonstop for an hour’s worth of detention, time he happily spent re-creating Keith Moon’s parts from Tommy.

Peart joined Rush just after the recording of their first album, replacing original drummer John Rutsey. His breakthrough with the band came with 1976’s 2112 — the first side of the album was a rock opera set in that far-future year, combining Peart’s sci-fi vision and Rand-ian ideology (which he later disavowed, calling himself a “bleeding-heart libertarian”) with explosive prog theatrics. A later milestone came with the 1982 “Subdivisions,” an autobiographical tale of suburban misery (“The suburbs have no charms to soothe the restless dreams of youth”).

“A lot of the early fantasy stuff was just for fun,” Peart told Rolling Stone. “Because I didn’t believe yet that I could put something real into a song. ‘Subdivisions’ happened to be an anthem for a lot of people who grew up under those circumstances, and from then on, I realized what I most wanted to put in a song was human experience.”

Around then, Rush’s music become more concise, without losing its complexity. “When punk and New Wave came,” Peart told Rolling Stone, “we were young enough to gently incorporate it into our music, rather than getting reactionary about it — like other musicians who I heard saying, ‘What are we supposed to do now, forget how to play?’ We were fans enough to go, ‘Oh, we want that too.’ And by [1981’s] Moving Pictures, we nailed it, learning how to be seamlessly complex and to compact a large arrangement into a concise statement.”

Always suspicious of showbiz, Peart spent much of his downtime on the road in Rush’s early days buried in a stack of books. In the final years, he avoided the usual touring routine by traveling from gig to gig via motorcycle, taking off shortly after each show’s conclusion.

In the Nineties, he produced two tribute albums to jazz legend Buddy Rich, and at a moment when many of his fans already considered him the world’s best rock drummer, Peart began taking lessons with Freddie Gruber, a jazz player and noted drum instructor. Peart credited Gruber (and another teacher, Peter Erskine) with helping him re-create his technique and sense of time from scratch, leading him to a more fluid approach and a deeper groove. “What is a master but a master student?” Peart told Rolling Stone in 2012. “There’s a responsibility on you to keep getting better.”

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Once again this year, especially in the case of ROCKETMAN, I wondered if the Hollywood Foreign Press Association had even seen some of the films they were giving awards to. Oh well, it was a mostly enjoyable night.

Streaming wins big at Golden Globes as host Ricky Gervais roasts Hollywood

Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Laura Dern won awards at Sunday’s Golden Globes, but they were all upstaged by the ceremony’s torched-earth opening by returning host Ricky Gervais.

Gervais opened the 77th Golden Globes by declaring movies irrelevant, pretending to confuse Joe Pesci for Baby Yoda, calling the Hollywood Foreign Press Association racist and declaring Netflix’s takeover of Hollywood complete.

Gervais, who has a series on Netflix, said he could summarize the three-hour award show with a simple phrase: “Well done, Netflix. You win.” The streaming giant came into the Globes with a commanding 34 nods: 17 in film categories and 17 in television categories.

Hosting the Globes for the fifth, and according to him last time, Gervais was perhaps even more cutting than before. He told executives in the room that journalist Ronan Farrow, who has exposed cases of sexual misconduct, was coming for them. He said something vulgar that got bleeped about Judi Dench’s part in Cats. And most of all, he mocked Hollywood hypocrisy, skewering stars for working for companies like Apple, Amazon and the Walt Disney Co. while giving speeches urging social change.

“If ISIS started a streaming service, you’d call your agent,” Gervais told the starry crowd Sunday at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills.

“You’re in no position to lecture the public about anything,” he added. “You know nothing about the real world. Most of you spent less time in school than Greta Thunberg, so if you win, come up, accept your award, thank your agent and your god and [expletive] off.”

Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood began what was expected to be a good night for Tarantino’s Los Angeles fable with a win for best screenplay.

Best foreign language film went to Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite, the Cannes Palme d’Or winning sensation from South Korea. Despite being an organization of foreign journalists, the HFPA doesn’t include foreign films in its top categories, thus ruling out Parasite, a likely best picture nominee at next month’s Oscars.

One of the night’s biggest surprises came in the best directing category. Sam Mendes won for his war film 1917, a First World War tale made to appear it was made in one long shot, besting Martin Scorsese (The Irishman) and Tarantino.

“There is not one director in the world that is not in the shadow of Martin Scorsese,” Mendes said.

1917 later claimed another major prize, taking the win for best dramatic film.

Laura Dern, the best supporting actress front-runner for her performance as a divorce attorney in Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story, won her fifth Globe. Her win denied Jennifer Lopez, the Hustlers star, her first major acting award.

Elton John and Bernie Taupin won the evening’s most heavyweight battle, besting Beyoncé and Taylor Swift. Their I’m Gonna Love Me Again won best song. “It’s the first time I’ve ever won an award with him,” said Elton of his song-writing partner. “Ever.”

Missing Link picked up an unexpected win for best animated feature film over films like Toy Story 4 and Lion King. No one was more surprised than its director, Chris Butler. “I’m flabbergasted,” he said.

The first award of the night went, fittingly, to a streaming service series. Ramy Youssef won best actor in a TV series comedy or musical for his Hulu show Ramy. Best actor in a limited series went to Russell Crowe for the Showtime series The Loudest Voice. He wasn’t in attendance because of raging wildfires in his native Australia.

“Make no mistake, the tragedy unfolding in Australia is climate-changed based,” Crowe said in a statement read by presenters Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon.

Ahead of Sunday’s show, some wondered how much the rising tensions with Iran would be talked about following the U.S. targeted killing on Friday of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani. But in the show’s first hour, the fires in Australia were the most mentioned news event.

Waller-Bridge followed up her Emmy haul by winning best comedy series and best actress in a comedy series. She thanked former President Barack Obama for putting Fleabag on his best-of-2019 list. With a grin, she added: “As some of you may know, he’s always been on mine.”

Waller-Bridge’s co-star Andrew Scott missed out on the category’s supporting actor award, which Stellan Skarsgard took for HBO’s Chernobyl.

HBO was also triumphant in best TV drama, where the second season of Succession bested Netflix’s The Crown and Apple TV Plus’ first Globe nominee, The Morning Show. Brian Cox, the Rupert Murdoch-like patriarch of Succession, also won best actor in a drama series.

Tom Hanks, also a nominee for his supporting turn as Fred Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, received the Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award. The Carol Burnett Award, a similar honorary award given for television accomplishment, was given to Ellen DeGeneres. She was movingly introduced by Kate McKinnon who said DeGeneres’ example guided her in her own coming out.

“The only thing that made it less scary was seeing Ellen on TV,” said McKinnon.

Hanks’ speech had its own emotional moment. Just as he was beginning comments that would touch on the importance of actors being on time, Hanks caught sight of his wife and four children at a table near the stage and choked up.

“A man is blessed with the family’s sitting down front like that,” said Hanks.