This is a preview of our pop culture newsletter The Daily Beast’s Obsessed, written by senior entertainment reporter Kevin Fallon. To receive the full newsletter in your inbox each week, sign up for it here.
- Promising Young Woman meets Paris Hilton.
- A Riz Ahmed appreciation.
- Gal Gadot, what you doing?
- A very dishy SoulCycle investigation.
The Year’s Best Movie Scene, Featuring Paris Hilton
Sometimes it takes almost 15 years to come to a painful realization. To admit something difficult, to confess a personal fault, to finally see things for what they truly are—and always were. To see, for example, that Paris Hilton may have created one of the millennium’s perfect pop songs.
To be fair, the best among us were always hip to the fact that, with her 2006 song “Stars Are Blind,” the socialite had somehow crafted the quintessential confection of swooning puppy love: the innocuous lyrics; a breathy, almost bored vocal made all the easier to sing along to; and a lilting beat like a beach ball bouncing in the wind down a sandy beach—somehow both embarrassingly reminiscent of Muzak, yet also soothing in a way that the chaotic bells and whistles elsewhere on the pop scene failed to embrace.
Now, all these years later, the song is finally cool.
After building buzz for almost an entire year off its Sundance debut in January, Promising Young Woman was finally released Christmas Day. The film, written and directed by rising talent Emerald Fennell, stars Carey Mulligan as a barista on a #MeToo revenge mission.
Fennell lays sticks of dynamite under every trope that exists for how to tell a thriller like this tackling such serious issues. Her film is girly, flirty, fashionable, acidically funny, and boasts a catchy soundtrack populated with bops by Britney Spears, Charli XCX, and, yes, Paris Hilton.
The truth is, the Paris Hilton “Stars Are Blind” scene may, when it comes down to it, be my favorite scene of the year.
Mulligan’s character, Cassie, is really trying to allow herself to exist in a world where justice is served, forgiveness happens, and happy things like love are possible. That’s how she ends up in the giggly throes of a budding romance with a former classmate played by Bo Burnham, delivering one of the most irresistible rom-com male lead performances in recent memory—you know, were he actually acting in a rom-com at all.
The big set piece that lets you know that the two really have fallen for each other takes place in a drug store. “Stars Are Blind” starts playing on the speakers, and Burnham’s character starts lip-syncing to it, goofily dancing up and down the aisles. He’s so charming that, instead of being mortified, Cassie joins in. It’s equal parts rapturous and ridiculous. It’s a perfect movie scene.
When I interviewed Fennell earlier this month (read that story here), I asked her about using Hilton’s song. It wasn’t just for attention or as a joke. It’s a choice that mattered at a pivotal point in a serious arc of a complicated movie.
“For me, that scene is so much about what falling in love feels like,” she said. “If you’re someone like Cassie who’s been alone for so long, who’s been on this kind of grim, relentless road, the thing that’s gonna pull you away from it needs to be extraordinary. So it needed to feel like the most romantic moment in the world, because even she has to not be able to resist it. And we as an audience will also be rooting for it. Because we want things to happen. We want romance to be able to save the day.”
Paris Hilton, savior of romance. That’s hot.
Riz Ahmed Is So Good in The Sound of Metal
Listen, it’s not possible to be first to everything. So it took almost a month of colleagues tweeting its praise and the homescreen on my Amazon Firestick practically bullying me with an advertisement every time I logged on to finally check out the new film The Sound of Metal. I’m so glad I did.
The film stars Riz Ahmed, the astonishing actor who made his “oh wow, hi, hello there…” arrival to our collective attention with the HBO limited crime series The Night Of. He plays a drummer and recovering addict whose life is upended when he begins to lose his hearing.
Ahmed gives one of those “holy shit, he was so good in that” performances that really takes you by surprise. And, while it’s entirely besides the point, he looks like this.
I’m surprised that Best Actor, the awards category I usually care least about (men, how boring) is shaping up to be my favorite race. There’s Ahmed, Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Anthony Hopkins (The Father), Delroy Lindo (Da Five Bloods), Steven Yeun (Minari), Kingsley Ben-Adir (One Night in Miami), and Tom Hanks (News of the World.) Though, please, keep the atrociously miscast Gary Oldman far from this race. (Mank u, next.)
And one last endorsement: Paul Raci, a hearing person who grew up with deaf parents, absolutely must be a part of the Supporting Actor awards conversation for his “I’m going to take your heart, fold it like a paper airplane, and toss it off a cliff” performance as the sober living manager.
Gal Gadot Continues to Stun
Good on Gal Gadot for her consistency, which in this case means bookending this god-awful year by being absolutely embarrassing on the internet.
I’m still too scarred by it to fully revisit that celeb-filled “Imagine” video she orchestrated at the beginning of the pandemic, but rest assured that it did happen and, yes, it can still hurt you. Now, the Wonder Woman 1984 actress has spent the last few days pretending to be her character, Diana Prince, on Instagram, posting pictures and writing captions as if she is the superhero herself.
Listen, I’m not “the audience,” whoever that may be, for these superhero movies. So rather than pass judgment on Wonder Woman 1984, I’ll just say it is a film that stars Kristen Wiig as a villain in ’80s leopard-print drag and yet somehow was described as highlighting “not only the dire state of the live-action superhero genre in film, but the dire state of Hollywood filmmaking as a whole.” Hmm.
In any case, here’s Gal Gadot pretending to be Wonder Woman eating a scoop of ice cream.
What Happens at SoulCycle… No Longer Stays There
Have I been known to cry on occasion while sweating on an indoor bicycle going nowhere while a dubstep remix of a Sia song blasts over the loudspeakers? No comment. Did I cringe, gasp, applaud, and, yes, even gag while reading Alex Abad-Santos’ Vox exposé on SoulCycle’s rise and fall(ish), and the underbelly beneath the cult of fitness exclusivity? Undeniably.
If you don’t read the whole thing, might I suggest hitting “command + F” for the word “tampon?”
Those relationships could create more problems, and an oft-repeated story of Soul sabotage centers on Kelly: While studios usually have lockers, the women in Greenwich would line up their handbags and makeup pouches neatly in a row in the studio bathroom, in order to reserve spots in front of the mirror to freshen up after class. Someone apparently thought Kelly was giving too much attention to one rider, who he let ride on the podium with him. Later, employees say, the rider found a used tampon in her purse.
Soul: It’s not the holidays if you’re not crying to a Pixar movie. (Friday on Disney+)
Promising Young Woman: A traumatizing delight. (Friday on VOD)
Wonder Woman 1984: At least you didn’t have to go to theaters just to be let down. (Friday on HBO Max)
The Masked Dancer: Like The Masked Singer, but with dancing, as was foretold in my nightmares. (Sunday on Fox)
The Daily Beast’s Obsessed
Everything we can’t stop loving, hating, and thinking about this week in pop culture.
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