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.
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.
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?
Ugh. I do not like Illumination Studios' movies. This looks like some kind of updated version of The Grinch I guess, with all the stores and clothes and stuff, but I really just don't like any of the movies this studio puts out. Maybe if you're a fan of Despicable Me or Sing you'll look forward to this but not me.
If this is the beginning of a live action/CG Winnie the Pooh franchise, I'm not sure why they chose to call this Christopher Robin. Why not just Winnie the Pooh? I guess it's a good imitation by voice actor Jim Cummings of the iconic Sterling Holloway Pooh voice though. I wonder if it's also an attempt to cash in on the appeal of the Paddington movies.
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.
Well! The PGA/DGA stat held up this year! I got it wrong, but I'm very happy that it wasn't Three Billboards at least. The Shape of Water won four awards (Picture, Director, Score and Production Design) and is a lovely movie (and I DID give it the highest % odds to win, remember), so I guess 19/24 for me this year isn't too bad. It was a fairly subdued ceremony compared to last year, with Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway given a chance for a do-over to present Best Picture (correctly), and pulling it off this time. Jordan Peele made history in winning Best Original Screenplay for Get Out, and Frances McDormand gave the speech of the night when she called for all the female Oscar nominees to stand up and endorsed an "inclusion rider" for future projects, which is awesome. There were a lot of tributes to the #metoo movement, but some of that stuff rings a false note when you award people like Kobe Bryant with Oscars (really, Academy??). Jimmy Kimmel did his thing, and I still think he's one of the most comfortable Oscar hosts I've ever seen on that stage. Funny, topical, not too mean or nice. As an insider with pretty much everybody in Hollywood, he really could be the go to Oscar host for as long as they want him, kind of like Bob Hope was in the 50's and 60's.
2018 ACADEMY AWARD WINNERS:
- BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING: Darkest Hour
- BEST COSTUME DESIGN: Phantom Thread
- BEST DOCUMENTARY: Icarus
- BEST SOUND EDITING: Dunkirk
- BEST SOUND MIXING: Dunkirk
- BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN: The Shape of Water
- BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: A Fantastic Woman
- BEST ANIMATED SHORT: Dear Basketball
- BEST ANIMATED FEATURE: Coco
- BEST VISUAL EFFECTS: Blade Runner 2049
- BEST FILM EDITING: Dunkirk
- BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT: Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405
- BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT: The Silent Child
- BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Call Me By Your Name
- BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Get Out
- BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Blade Runner 2049
- BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: The Shape of Water
- BEST ORIGINAL SONG: “Remember Me” Coco
- BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
- BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Allison Janney, I, Tonya
- BEST ACTOR: Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
- BEST ACTRESS: Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
- BEST DIRECTOR: Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water
- BEST PICTURE: The Shape of Water
Other moments I liked: seeing Roger Deakins finally win an Oscar for cinematography after 13 nominations, and 89-year-old James Ivory win Adapted Screenplay after never winning an Oscar for his much loved Merchant-Ivory films like A Room With a View, Howards End and The Remains of the Day. There were ultimately very few surprised this year overall, which explains how I didn't do all that badly in my predictions (if I had only gone with my instinct for Blade Runner in Visual Effects and Dear Basketball in the short category- could have been 21/24).
Oooh! A good omen, perhaps? For four years running, the Indie Spirit award winner for Best Feature has also won Best Picture the next day at the Oscars. I'm in luck if it happens again this year. Funny, you wouldn't think that a movie that made $175 million at the box office would qualify as an independent film, but thank to the Spirits budget rules, it does. They also gave Lady Bird a prize here in screenplay, but I still think the film may get nothing tomorrow. Or maybe we'll see some sort of crazy four way split, with Lady Bird wining screenplay, Three Billboards the acting prizes, Guillermo del Toro for directing and then Get Out for Picture? Could a movie win Best Picture and nothing else? The last time it happened was 1932, with Grand Hotel. Maybe it's time for a crazy record to be broken.
2018 INDEPENDENT SPIRIT AWARD WINNERS:
- BEST FEATURE: Get Out
- BEST DIRECTOR: Jordan Peele – Get Out
- BEST FEMALE LEAD: Frances McDormand – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
- BEST MALE LEAD: Timothee Chalamet – Call Me By Your Name
- BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE: Allison Janney – I, Tonya
- BEST SUPPORTING MALE: Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
- BEST SCREENPLAY: Lady Bird
- BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY: The Big Sick
- BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Call Me By Your Name
- BEST EDITING: I, Tonya
- BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM: A Fantastic Woman
- BEST DOCUMENTARY: Faces Places
- BEST FIRST FEATURE: Ingrid Goes West
- JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD: Life and Nothing More
- ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD: Mudbound
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:
DAWSON CITY: FROZEN TIME * * *
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
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
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.
JUSTICE LEAGUE * *
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 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.
PHANTOM THREAD * * * 1/2
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.
Well, in case you were wondering what the worst movies of last year were, here's who took the honors at the Razzies last night. The Emoji Movie got Picture, Director and Screenplay, but there had to be something worse than that from 2017. I barely even remember it coming out, to be honest. It would have been a little more ballsy had they gone all in on mother!, especially after the backlash they got for daring to nominate Jennifer Lawrence in Worst Actress. Making bolder statements over going with the easy, lazy choices would boost the relevance of the Razzies anyway, if you ask me.
WORST PICTURE: The Emoji Movie
WORST ACTRESS: Tyler Perry (Boo 2! A Madea Halloween)
WORST ACTOR: Tom Cruise (The Mummy)
WORST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Mel Gibson (Daddy’s Home 2)
WORST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Kim Basinger (Fifty Shades Darker)
WORST SCREEN COMBO: “Any two obnoxious emojis” (The Emoji Movie)
WORST REMAKE, RIPOFF OR SEQUEL: Fifty Shades Darker
WORST DIRECTOR: Tony Leonidis (The Emoji Movie)
WORST SCREENPLAY: The Emoji Movie
SPECIAL ROTTEN TOMATOES AWARD: THE RAZZIE NOMINEE SO BAD YOU LOVED IT!: Baywatch
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
- 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:
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 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- 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.
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%)
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
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
- 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
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
- 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