Final 'Avengers' Trailer Promises Lots of Action, Possible Deaths

The rumors about the new Avengers movie is that Captain America for sure may meet his end, as well as some of the other regulars, like Tony Stark or Hawkeye, etc. Actor's contracts are up, which has a lot to do with it, but there's actually one more movie to come, which was filmed at the same time, so maybe nobody goes out in this particular one. I'm not a huge fan of the Avengers series (although I am starting to like some of the newer Marvel standalones, like Thor: Ragnarok, Spider-Man and Black Panther), but this is the best trailer I've seen for it so far. The movie was moved up to April 27th, away from direct competition with Deadpool 2, and it looks set to make ALL the money, based on the reaction so far.

'Love, Simon' Scores With Critics

I almost missed the boat on this movie, having just become aware of it recently, but it's coming out tomorrow and it's actually getting quite good reviews, currently sitting at 88% on Rotten Tomatoes. Directed by Greg Berlanti, who's most known now for his media empire and as co-creator of the CW superhero shows (and others, like Riverdale, etc.), this movie is rather groundbreaking, in that it's a teen comedy from a major studio in the John Hughes vein, but about a gay teenager (Nick Robinson) looking for love of his own. I may have to check this one out.

Jude Law is Young Dumbledore in 'Fantastic Beasts' Sequel

I must have read somewhere that Jude Law was going to be Dumbledore, but I'd forgotten, because him showing up in this trailer was a surprise to me. The first Fantastic Beasts movie had some good moments but was pretty mediocre overall. I don't think it helps that Eddie Redmayne's Newt Scamander isn't exactly a dynamic or exciting hero to root for. But that whole cast is back again this time for The Crimes of Grindelwald, which was promised by Johnny Depp's brief appearance in the other movie. I still think the series could benefit from protagonists that are more appealing (Jude Law is actually a step in the right direction there), but I'm sure the movie will be passable enough. I am curious though, Is David Yates ever going to stop directing these movies?

Emily Blunt Takes on an Iconic Role in 'Mary Poppins Returns'

Hmm. What do you guys think of this teaser? On the one hand, you'd think it'd be impossible for someone to take over a role that Julie Andrews made famous, especially in what's supposed to be an actual, canonical sequel, but on the other (and I hate to say this)...are there millions of kids who have very likely never even seen the 1964 classic Disney musical? Probably not. I dressed up for Halloween as Mary Poppins one year and every kid who saw me thought I was supposed to be Nanny McPhee (if they even had a guess). I do think Emily Blunt appears to be trying to imitate Dame Julie's voice in this split second that we see of her. I think I'd need to see a little more footage before having an opinion on this one.

Lightning Round Reviews, Part 4: Yet Still More of 2017

That's right, I'm still not quite finished with last year, but I promise that Part 5 is definitely going to be the final wrap-up. This happens when many of the films you want to see don't become available until the first few months of the following year. For now, here's the next batch of what I've finally caught up with:


 The past brought back to life

The past brought back to life

A fascinating film that tracks the history of a place called Dawson City, where a treasure trove of silent film reels were discovered underground in the late 1970’s, to be restored and preserved for the collection of long lost films. Filmmaker Bill Morrison traces the history of the tiny Canadian city located in the Yukon, which has seen the ups and downs of its construction and reconstruction ever since hordes of prospectors filed in in the early days of the Klondike gold rush, and he documents that history through photographs, newspaper articles and film reels, many from the discovered collection. The movie is a near silent film itself, with a haunting score that accompanies the history lesson playing out over the images through onscreen text. It’s a parallel history of not just the city, but of film and America itself, and a must watch for movie lovers in particular.


IT * * 1/2

 Pennywise the dancing clown is back

Pennywise the dancing clown is back

A new version of It tackles the Stephen King novel while moving the period setting from the 1950’s to the 1980’s in order to cash in on the Stranger Things-inspired nostalgia fest (one of the kids, Finn Wolfhard, actually is from Stranger Things). The result is only okay. Director Andy Muschietti helms his second feature (his first, Mama, was superior) and does manage to create some decent suspense in fits and starts. I also imagine this Pennywise, played by Bill Skarsgard, is a far more terrifying entity than Tim Curry’s hilariously over the top version from the 1990 TV miniseries, but the kids are one note stereotypes and the updated time period adds nothing to the story but throwaway references to Michael Jackson’s Pepsi commercial and New Kids on the Block. Actually it probably would have benefited from remaining in the 50’s, upping the creepy, old-fashioned horror and plausibility of the small town setting. I did like the screen presence of one of the child actors, Sophia Lillis, who happens to be a dead ringer for a young Amy Adams, but the cliches and silliness of the climactic battle with Pennywise wear the movie down.


FACES PLACES * * * 1/2

 A joyful trip through France and memory

A joyful trip through France and memory

Legendary filmmaker Agnes Varda teams up with French photographer JR for an unconventional documentary that sees them roaming the French countryside, surprising people in villages, farms and factories to persuade them to have their pictures taken and posted as massive prints on the sides of buildings, walls, etc. It’s a sweet, whimsical adventure that shows the still flourishing mind and creativity of the 88-year-old Varda, who remains every bit as interested in the lives of ordinary human beings as she ever was in her long filmmaking career. Most of the film is spontaneous and natural, as she prefers an approach that allows for improvised interaction, but every once in a while you see the emotional heart that makes its way in to create a poignant, cinematic moment. A lovely, soulful cap on a lifetime of imagination.



 The new Justice League is kind of a bust

The new Justice League is kind of a bust

A silly, simple, brightened up, under two hour entry in the normally depressing DCEU, that’s pretty forgettable yet not as painful as the previous Zack Snyder helmed films in this franchise. That may be because he didn’t quite finish this one, as Joss Whedon was called in to do extensive reshoots and rewrites. The result is a kind of a mess, yet due to the forcibly lightened tone and extremely simple Saturday morning cartoon plot (there’s a villain invading Earth who needs to collect three world destroying boxes, it’s up to the team to stop him), unlike the dreadful Batman v. Superman, it’s not confusing, depressing or slow. Does this make it better? I guess? Certainly more watchable. Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg team up to bring Superman back to life and stop the bad guy, in that order, and they do. That’s about it. Lots of jokes (something never before seen in these movies), two bad visual effects battles (although not nearly as long or oppressive as anything in Man of Steel, BvS or Suicide Squad, thank goodness), and the odd return of the iconic Danny Elfman Batman score from the Tim Burton movies, and the John Williams Superman theme from the Chris Reeve films. It’s a movie that wants really badly for you to like it, but the most I can say about this one is that I didn’t feel assaulted by it. It’s behind Wonder Woman in terms of quality for the DC movies, but boy is that a low bar. My guess is not high enough for a sequel.


DARKEST HOUR * * * 1/2

 Gary Oldman's Winston is a force to be reckoned with

Gary Oldman's Winston is a force to be reckoned with

Gary Oldman delivers a towering performance in Joe Wright’s Winston Churchill biopic, which, in an amazing coincidence of timing, happens to end seemingly hours before Dunkirk starts, thus serving as the perfect vehicle for a back to back double feature, if you were so inclined. Wright has directed period dramas before, but this time it's kind of a one man show, depicting Winston Churchill at the moment of his being made prime minister in 1940, when it seemed Europe was falling left and right and it looked ever likelier that Great Britain was to be next. In fact, had it not been for the man in charge, had it been any other man in that position, it may well have done so. Most of Churchill’s cabinet was in favor of capitulating to Hitler to negotiate for peace, while Churchill alternately defied his own party and agonized over how to buy his country time. Wright understands that this film belongs entirely to Oldman, who dominates the screen in a transformative, electric, entirely convincing performance. Oldman has always been capable of subtlety and underplaying when necessary, yet he can also be over the top and grandstanding when he feels like it. His Churchill is an irascible character who frightens or confounds everyone around him, yet is never too big for the film itself, which Wright directs with energy and verve. Taking place in the dark, smoke filled halls of Parliament and underground war room meetings, this is a political drama that unfolds with tension and suspense, thanks to Wright’s focus and snappy pacing, its meticulous crafting, literate script and one unforgettable star turn at its center. It’s a highly entertaining look at a terrifying moment in British (and world) history. 



 That's one way to tame an insufferable man

That's one way to tame an insufferable man

A delightfully twisted love story that slowly pulls you into its hypnotizing atmosphere before throwing you for a loop at the end and making you second guess everything you saw. Paul Thomas Anderson has created one of his most fully realized films, with every luscious detail of 1950’s fashion designer Reynolds Woodcock’s obsessive and painstaking creative process fleshed out in full, as well as the kinks and desires of his personal life, seen through the eyes of his latest paramour and muse, Alma (played by newcomer Vicki Krieps). Despite a lack of screen presence in Krieps (which is tough when you’re playing against the great Daniel Day-Lewis), the relationship between them develops in idiosyncratic and eventually unexpected ways, ultimately thrilling once you realize what kind of well-suited match this really is. This is a film that invents a universe all its own and casts a spell on its audience. Should you choose to surrender yourself to its particular enchantment, you will be richly rewarded.

2018 Oscar Predictions, Part 5: Best Picture and Best Director

Oh, man. Best Picture and Director. I feel confident about Director, not at ALL in Picture. I’m taking a huge risk on the biggest category this year.


  • Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
  • Jordan Peele, Get Out
  • Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
  • Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread
  • Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water

Guillermo del Toro has got this in the bag, after having won at the Golden Globes, Critics Choice, DGA and BAFTA. He’s a virtual lock and also very deserving, so it’ll be nice to see him up there for what’s definitely one of his best movies. I’m perfectly happy to see him win this.

Winner: Guillermo del Toro

Alternate: Christopher Nolan (maybe like a 1% chance for an upset)


  • Call My By Your Name
  • Darkest Hour
  • Dunkirk
  • Get Out
  • Lady Bird
  • Phantom Thread
  • The Post
  • The Shape of Water
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Oh, boy. So, here’s the thing. I’m predicting Get Out to win, but this would be a huge upset. The truth is this category is wide open- I can see a path for any one of at least five movies to win here, so I’ll just lay out the case of each of them:

 'Shape of Water' SHOULD be the frontrunner, having the two biggest guild wins, PGA and DGA under its belt...but is it?

'Shape of Water' SHOULD be the frontrunner, having the two biggest guild wins, PGA and DGA under its belt...but is it?

THE SHAPE OF WATER- The movie that should be considered the frontrunner because it won the PGA and the DGA, along with the non-industry Critics Choice award. Normally PGA and DGA adds up to the Oscar….but it didn’t last year with La La Land, remember? So that’s a potential thorn in its side. It lost the Golden Globe and the BAFTA and the SAG award, but won those two critical guild awards.

 'Three Billboards' is the actors choice (SAG) and the Brits (swept the BAFTAS)- could it overtake the others, or is it still too divisive?

'Three Billboards' is the actors choice (SAG) and the Brits (swept the BAFTAS)- could it overtake the others, or is it still too divisive?

THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI- I was thrilled when this movie didn’t get a Best Director nomination, since I thought that considerably lessened its chances, but I have to face facts. The movie seems to be beloved by non-American voters, who gave it the Golden Globe, but more importantly the BAFTA. And they didn’t just give it Best Film at the BAFTAS, they gave it Best Film AND Best British Film, along with the acting winners AND the screenplay. The Brits LOVE this movie. And they are a significant part of the Academy, so it’s possible that even voters whose first choice might be other British films like Darkest Hour or Dunkirk, will rank this one behind those, which could help it on the weird, preferential ballot that decides Best Picture. The other thing in its favor are the SAG wins. It won three SAG awards- ensemble plus the two actors, which shows us that the actors are behind it. That is something La La Land did not have last year, because that movie wasn’t even nominated for the SAG ensemble. Sometimes in split picture/director years, the SAG winner is the one that takes it, because the actors branch is the biggest one in the Academy. It could be that missing the directing nomination was a fluke and the movie is strong enough to win without it. Gulp.

 'Get Out' may be the most broadly liked, consensus choice- but with only 4 nominations, it's a real wild card winner

'Get Out' may be the most broadly liked, consensus choice- but with only 4 nominations, it's a real wild card winner

GET OUT- This is my choice, and basically I’m flying blind aside from its one guild win, at the WGA. That would follow the Moonlight precedent from last year, but the truth is I’m making a lot of assumptions in choosing this to win, because what I’m assuming is that it’s a consensus choice that will do well on the preferential ballot, that American voters like it a LOT more than overseas ones, and they will rank it higher in their choices for Best Picture. It’s not favored to win any other Oscars except possibly Screenplay, which would put in the rare position of only winning two, which Spotlight did a couple years ago. And then there’s the fact that it only has four nominations overall. Moonlight had seven, indicating support all the way down the branches- it’s very rare to win without some craft support. The last one that did this was 1980’s Ordinary People (and even that had six nominations because it had two more acting ones). But it’s my favorite of the nominees, it's arguably THE movie of 2017 in terms of relevance and I believe it deserves to win, so I’m taking a massive risk here and going for it.

LADY BIRD- This is still theoretically possible, but unlikely, since it has no guild wins at all in its favor, just some scattered critics wins. Again, it’s kind of the same rationale as Get Out, the idea that this movie will do well on the ballot because it’s broadly liked.

 'Lady Bird' was loved by a lot of people, but can it win the big prize and nothing else?

'Lady Bird' was loved by a lot of people, but can it win the big prize and nothing else?

DUNKIRK- This might seem like a choice that came of nowhere, since it hasn’t won anything except some tech awards, like editing and sound, but it may also be a non-divisive film that could rise to the top of the ballots in a close race with other competitors.

So there you go. As I wrote this, I realized that I almost talked myself into picking Three Billboards, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. I’m sticking with Get Out. I’m going all in on what’s essentially a dark horse choice, so I’m going to give you some percentage odds.

Winner: Get Out (I’m giving it a 26% chance to win)

Alternate: The Shape of Water (maybe 35%) or Three Billboards (33%)

Dark Horse: Lady Bird (5%), then Dunkirk (1%)

2018 Oscar Predictions, Part 4: Acting

Oy. We’re at the actors now, which is my most hated category this year. Why? Because I disagree with the seemingly locked frontrunners in almost all of these categories. Ugh. Wake me when it’s over.


  • Timothee Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name
  • Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread
  • Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
  • Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
  • Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Gary Oldman is going to win, and this is the one I’m most okay with, because I did think he was amazing in Darkest Hour. I don’t even know what else to say about it though, because he’s won all four major precursors- Golden Globe, Critics Choice, SAG and BAFTA. It’s a done deal for the veteran character actor.

Winner: Gary Oldman


  • Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
  • Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
  • Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
  • Meryl Streep, The Post

I can’t predict anyone other than McDormand. I HATED that movie so much and I can’t tell you how how much it bothers me that it’s going to win all these awards on Oscar night, but like Oldman and the two other frontrunners, she won every single precursor award, so there’s no justification for choosing anyone else. By the way, people don’t lose the Oscar if they win all four of those awards- it’s never happened. I suppose there’s a first time for everything and maybe Saoirse Ronan can take it if they want to give Lady Bird something, but I don’t see it happening. 

Winner: Frances McDormand

Alternate: Saoirse Ronan


  • Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
  • Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water
  • Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World
  • Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

My mood darkens more and more as I go down this list. Two nominations here for Billboards is more of an indication how much the actors loved that awful movie and I can’t explain it. Rockwell didn’t lose a single precursor, so I guess he’s got it (it should belong to Willem Dafoe).

Winner: Sam Rockwell

Alternate: Willem Dafoe


  • Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
  • Allison Janney, I, Tonya
  • Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread
  • Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
  • Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water

Now this one gives me a little bit of a pause, but not a whole lot, since again, Janney won every single precursor (this is the first time that’s ever happened with the same four actors, oddly enough). But….I, Tonya wasn’t that loved by the Academy so there’s a slim chance they could give it to someone who was in a Best Picture nominee, like Laurie Metcalf or even Lesley Manville. Do they want to give Lady Bird any awards at all? This could be the place to go to honor it. I actually did like Allison Janney in I, Tonya (although her part was so much smaller and more one note than Metcalf’s), so I’m slightly less irked about this particular win.

Winner: Allison Janney

Alternate: Laurie Metcalf

Dark Horse: Lesley Manville