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Funny Ladies

Funny Ladies (photo)

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Christopher Hitchens once courted controversy by penning an article entitled “Why Women Aren’t Funny” in Vanity Fair, to which this year’s Spirit Awards almost seem intended as a pointed rebuke. The funny business was good for both sexes in 2010, but extraordinary for those without the Y chromosome, resulting a group of pictures that heralds what’s new and next for comedy.

Of course, one of the most nominated films of the evening is “The Kids Are All Right,” Lisa Cholodenko’s comedy about the children of lesbian parents (Annette Bening and Julianne Moore) who seek out their biological father (Mark Ruffalo). Cholodenko, who had been best known for drama, took a turn towards comedy with her latest, with the help of longtime comedy screenwriter Stuart Blumberg (“The Girl Next Door,” “Keeping the Faith”), and as it turns out, the sun-dappled San Fernando Valley that seemed so foreboding in her music biz family drama “Laurel Canyon” was ripe for something a little more lighthearted. It’s a sly maneuver on the writer/director’s part since she gets at something deeper under the guise of getting laughs, but that’s true in the case of nearly every one of this year’s nominated funnywomen.

In the case of Lena Dunham’s triple-nominated “Tiny Furniture,” the film’s writer/director/star takes the well-worn story of a college grad overcome by ambivalence about where her life will take her and transforms it into an often hilarious and introspective unromantic comedy built around her unique comic persona after she breaks up with one boyfriend and gauges the interest of potentially another while struggling to discover who she is. Though Dunham is nominated in the Best First Feature and Best First Screenplay categories, it is arguable it’s her second time around doing both, having honed a dry wit and a proclivity to wring humor from soul-baring on the hour-long feature “Creative Nonfiction” a year earlier. Then again, perhaps it’s why “Tiny Furniture” is accomplished as it is, paving the way for Dunham’s upcoming Judd Apatow-produced series on HBO and serving as just the first of what one can expect to be many signature films from the multihyphenate.

Equally fearless if only in an acting capacity — at least on “Greenberg,” since she’s been a credited writer elsewhere — Greta Gerwig’s Best Female Lead-nominated performance in Noah Baumbach’s dramedy about a misanthropic New Yorker (Ben Stiller) trying to regain control of his life while housesitting for his brother in Los Angeles gave the film a light as bright as Gerwig’s ear-to-ear grin, even if she was playing a more self-destructive character than the one in the film’s title. There’s a reason Gerwig has been the actress seemingly anointed by Hollywood to crossover from the low-budget mumblecore movement since her easygoing charms in films like Joe Swanberg’s “Hannah Takes the Stairs” and the Duplass brothers’ “Baghead” are infectious. Yet it’s Gerwig’s vulnerability – a reason she especially adept at both drama and comedy – that has already landed her roles in this year’s “No Strings Attached,” “Arthur” and the eagerly anticipated return of Whit Stillman, “Damsels in Distress” because her humor comes from such a warm, relatable and human place.

Those very same qualities could describe the films of Nicole Holofcener, who could be considered the dean of this year’s class of Spirit Award-nominated comediennes. Appropriately enough, she isn’t only nominated for her screenplay for “Please Give,” the sharply drawn dramedy about a New York family (Catherine Keener, Oliver Platt and Sarah Steele) waiting on their elderly neighbor (Ann Guilbert) to pass on so they can expand their apartment, but that the film will be honored with the Robert Altman Award, which one of the Spirit Awards’ most distinguished prizes to celebrate the year’s finest ensemble cast. There are no small parts in Holofcener’s work, a belief that all these women share in common – that, and a funny bone.

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

via GIPHY

Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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