Last night, Saturday Night Live made its triumphant return to television after an extended holiday break – a month! – with host Jennifer Lawrence and musical guest the Lumineers, and it goes without saying that this was the best episode in five weeks. Then again, being that it’s Awards Season, last night’s episode should be given the honorific Best Episode in Five Weeks. Better yet, it’s only right that we honor the best performances of the first show of the new year. . . .
BEST HOST (IN A COMEDY OR MUSICAL): Jennifer Lawrence. The Golden Globe-winning actress and star of Silver Linings Playbook and The Hunger Games was solid throughout the night, from her monologue (where she smoothly trash-talked her Academy Awards competition, including a nine year old and an 85 year old), to guesting on “Girlfriends Talk Show,” the side-splitting sketch co-starring Cecily Strong and Aidy Bryant. Lawrence brilliantly and totally found her seemingly-confident, brash, teenage goth self, in playing the coolest girl in school, Jessie, leader of the band Vag Hat.
BEST SKETCH BASED ON A TUMBLR: Verismo Home Brewing System by Starbucks. While drawing heavily from the popular tumblr Starbucks Spelling – which features the worst misspellings of customers’ names – this commercial did successfully veer into new territory with the machine’s sour attitude and nonchalance when it comes to fulfilling correct orders at home.
BEST PORTRAYAL OF A CELEBRITY IN A LIVE SKETCH (SHORT): In a very close call between Jason Sudekis (an extremely bitter and hostile Lance Armstrong), Kate McKinnon (as Jodie Foster, who in a very post-meta way, referenced Foster’s Golden Globes reference of Molly Shannon’s famous “I’m 50” line, which happened to originate on SNL), and Bobby Moynihan (playing the star Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o), the award goes to the tremendous Moynihan. In speaking to Piers Morgan (Taran Killam), Moynihan’s wide-eyed and slack-jawed Te’o was riveting and hilarious, confused and focused all at the same time, and gave further life to a story that, unlike Te’o’s fictional girlfriend, would not die.
BEST COSTUMES (BY A DUO OR GROUP): The Hobbit Series Trailers. Even if you haven’t seen the Peter Jackson films, this pre-produced video sketch was golden. Within the premise of further dividing the Hobbit series into 18 separate films, the only thing better than Jason Sudekis, Bobby Moynihan, Fred Armisen, Jennifer Lawrence, Taran Killam, and Tim Robinson dressed in spot-on Hobbit garb, was the idea of putting them in the mundane situations, like a large group of friends splitting a bill, or building Ikea furniture, or running late because a girlfriend is still getting dressed . . . just in Middle Earth.
BEST TELEVISION ADAPTATION: “Top Dog Chef.” This canine take on the popular reality cooking show is pretty self-explanatory, but the fun is in the details. Padma Leash Me. Tom Collie-Cio. Mario Bark-Tali. Contestants unexpectedly leaving the show to chase UPS trucks. Judges going wild when a door bell rings. Very, very smart.
BEST ACTOR IN A WEEKEND UPDATE: Regardless of the fact that there was only one guest at the Weekend Update desk, this award goes to Bobby Moynihan, hands down, in his role as Anthony Crispino, the secondhand news correspondent. The mustachioed, mulleted Crispino, whose clothes are secondhand, and whose head is constantly on a swivel, got his news perfectly wrong as ever, reporting on Golden Globes going to Fargo and its director, the Aflac Duck, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian expecting scabies, and Daniel Ray Lewis retiring from the NFL.
Moynihan’s characters may be morons, but they’re all genius, and his breakout season continues (without a holiday vacation!) next week with host Adam Levine, and musical guest Kendrick Lamar.
Last Week’s Recap: ‘SNL’ Opens With a Children’s Choir Singing ‘Silent Night’