MCN Commentary & Analysis

The State of Oscar. 120119

I guess it’s time to drop some pleasure and pain. All the movies that are expected to compete for Top Eight Oscar slots (Picture, Director, Actors, Writers) have been seen. The season is short. The NY Film Critics Circle will announce on Wednesday. LA Film Critics Association will announce next Sunday, as will BFCA. The Globes a day later. SAG, two days after that. That’s pretty much it until 2020 throws us all into madness.

And let me apologize for the delay of a Gurus chart this last week… still working out the functionality of the new site. The charts will post soon.

But I am not a chart. I am me. And I think the season has become a lot less complicated than it felt just a couple weeks ago.

In alphabetical order… The Irishman, Jojo Rabbit, Marriage Story, 1917, Once Upon A Time … In Hollywood seem to be in lockdown for Best Picture slots.

After that, there are five more titles that are in good position, but could use a little help from this week’s voters. In alphabetical order… Bombshell, Ford v Ferrari, Little Women, Parasite, The Two Popes.

After that, there are the Upset Specials that really, really need help from one of the critics groups if they are going to have a chance… (alphabetically) A Beautiful Day in The Neighborhood, Dolemite Is My Name, The Farewell, Joker, Just Mercy.

It is not impossible to imagine one or even two of the “middle” titles getting pushed from their berth. Each carries strengths and vulnerabilities. But I would not be remotely surprised if the Top 9 end up being the 9 nominees.

It gets more complicated as you get into the acting categories. In Best Actor, the second most crowded category, six of the “Top Nine” BP films have male leads in pursuit… but only Adam Driver seems truly locked down in that group, along with Joaquin Phoenix in Joker. That doesn’t mean that De Niro and DiCaprio are not highly likely. They are. But it’s a little dicey.

Jonathan Pryce seems highly likely, as The Two Popes quietly builds strength after a relatively late start among the Netflix offerings. Netflix and Eddie Murphy are both pushing the Eddie Murphy button hard. Ford v Ferrari is underrated as a broad consensus Best Picture candidate and along with it, the great performance by Christian Bale. There is an intense constituency for Pain and Glory, which may not get it to Best Picture, but could push Antonio Banderas into a slot. And while 1917 is a “director’s picture,” write off George MacKay at your own risk.

In the most overpopulated category, Supporting Actor, there is a lot of movement available for few open slots. Ask people and they will tell you that one of The Three Ps, Pitt/Pesci/Pacino will win Supporting Actor. Voters seem to feel strongly about one and not the others so much. But that makes it seem awfully likely that all three will get in.

So that leaves two slots for seven or eight serious contenders. (In alphabetical order) Alda, Dafoe, Foxx, Hanks, Hopkins, LaBeouf, Lithgow, Snipes. There is a sincere love for Alan Alda, who also has a great role in Marriage Story, that may well push him ahead of the rest. And the pedigree of Hanks and Hopkins, both playing real people we have a certain intimacy with, seems to push them to the top of the list (though only one can likely get in). But people love Snipes in Dolemite and that would draw a unique segment of voters. Dafoe is loved by The Academy and the movie has got that A24 magic. LaBeouf, who could have been the great comeback story of the season, has probably cut his own awards throat by being too particular and narrow for a guy who is playing his own father in a movie he wrute about his own life. And the dark horse, who could shock the world and win or not get nominated at all, is John Lithgow, who brings a deeply uncomfortable humanity to Roger Ailes in Bombshell, making his performance the one most attached to the moment, as Ailes’ self-perception is more than a little reflective of the bottle-blonde in the White House.

Actresses, as usual, got short shrift in the awards-movie area this year… again. La Streep gives two terrific performances, but one is too cameo and the other is in a movie that isn’t getting traction. It says a lot, to me at least, that the only Best Actress nominee of the last five years who is in position to be nominated in Lead is Saoirse Ronan. Best Actress nominee Margot Robbie is a serious contender in Supporting.

Renee Zellweger seemed a mortal lock for Judy from screening one. Hard to see star/producer/chameleon Charlize Theron not getting a nod for Bombshell. And Saoirse is wonderful in Little Women and profoundly appreciated by the actors’ branch. So that’s three.

Scarlett Johansson’s time for awards seems to be here and Marriage Story seems inevitable as one of those nominations.

And then The Controversial Four. Or are they controversial at all? (alphabetical) Awkwafina, Erivo, Nyong’o, Woodard. Two relative newcomers. One young Oscar winner. And one great acting veteran who has been doing the work for decades.

Or you could position it as first-time dramatic actress in a mostly foreign language film, enormously promising newcomer in a movie that found an audience but not a lot of love for the film, star of a delightful horror movie with a political edge that no one can quite explain, and a veteran actress we all love in a movie that hasn’t been released by its small distributor that has focused enormous energy on another film that is chasing Best Picture, Screenplay, and Director.

Some would say that that last paragraph was a long excuse for racism. I’m not buying. Racism in The Academy is real. The new invites have not removed it. But one of these four actresses of color is pretty sure to get in, regardless of the efforts of other actresses in similarly challenging postures (Moss, Pugh, Turner-Smith).

It’s not The Academy’s tradition of being less interested in actors of color that is in play… It’s the long history of embracing stars who are doing more good work in dramatic roles. Of the four projected locks, two have Oscars, one has multiple nominations, and one is the story of a star turning a corner fully to being accepted as a quality actress.

Yes, Nyong’o has an Oscar too. Yes, an actor in another Jordan Peele thriller got a nomination. But Us doesn’t have the traction that Get Out did… which is why no one thinks it is a likely Best Picture nominee, Peele isn’t being discussed for Director, and the screenplay, which could get in, is not a frontrunner.

In any case, I am just thankful that one of these actresses is pretty surely getting in. And not because of #OscarSoWhite, but because they are all underdogs by traditional Academy standards and one will overcome that.

On the other hand, the lack of top end roles this year for the twenty Best Actress nominees of the last five years is sad, as poor a reflection on Hollywood as the last of dramas being made with black leads who are not already proven stars.

In Supporting Actress, the stats for former nominees is even worse. Twenty-three of the twenty-four nominees (Emma Stone twice) of the last five years are out of play this year. Only Laura Dern repeats, for Marriage Story, and is one of the favorites to win.

Also worse than Lead Actress, the rest of the potential nominees in the category are all soft… soft enough that Jennifer Lopez in Hustlers seems like a lock when in years past, that movie would push her into a fight for the last slot. (Again, not because of the color of her skin, but because of the genre of the film.)

This is not to say, at all, that I don’t value the other female supporting performances this season. I do. But there is a legitimately vague feeling about exactly who is going to land.

I would bet on Margot Robbie for the third slot in Bombshell. She has put together a string of great performances that have also varied quite a bit. (And I am still sad about her performance and Ronan’s in Mary, Queen of Scots getting buried by the discomfort with the film. Both were spectacular.)

It has been my position since Toronto that Scarlett Johansson would be double-nominated, the second for Supporting in Jojo Rabbit. This is being poo-pooed by some. But her turn, along with Thomasin McKenzie, are the emotional centers of the film. And when Johansson pretends the role of the man of the house in one sequence, my heart nearly exploded from all the layers of sadness and pain and love in that moment. One of the great moments of this year in cinema. But who knows whether it will be enough?

It gets even more murky after that. Florence Pugh is great, and great in Little Women, but that nomination does not feel like a lock at all. Shuzhen Zhao in The Farewell gives a beautiful performance, but she seems even further from the gold than Awkwafina, for the same reasons. Da’Vine Joy Randolph is great in Dolemite Is My Name, but I don’t know that the film has that kind of momentum to carry a supporting actress (or actor) in. Julia Butters has a great scene in Once Upon A Time … in Hollywood, but man, does that seem unlikely to score a Judi Dench slot. Taylor Russell steals Waves from all others… but it will be a challenge to push her into the race hard enough to overcome those who have been talked about for months. Richard Jewell and The Report aren’t going to push any actors into slots. And while Nicole Kidman is perfection in a very challenging role in Bombshell, the role feels like the third wheel on that bicycle.

Director is the category most often swayed by a surprise in the DGA voting, though their nominations will be announced on the same day as nomination voting ends for Oscar, so DGA will not likely change much this year. Scorsese, Tarantino, and Mendes seem to be guaranteed slots. And then, again, it gets dicey. Amongst three, Bong, Waititi, and Gerwig seem the most likely to take the last two slots. And then, there are legitimate threats from beyond that group. Almodóvar and Meirelles have been surprise nominees in the past. Todd Phillips flipped the comic book genre and has many admirers. Noah Baumbach made a movie that a lot of people love deeply, though he is a lock for screenplay and perhaps less likely for Director, given the many, many great options this year. And James Mangold has made an absolutely beautiful film that is both intimate and action heavy in Ford v Ferrari, a film the media seems to sleep on for some reason.

I would be truly shocked if the Top Three and at least one of the Next Three doesn’t get nominations. And with Bong in that Next Three, he would be seen by many as an outsider nominee without even pushing to the next group.

But in this shortened season (that should always be this short… it is the right place for The Academy to go, even if they find it inconvenient and uncomfortable) and as many as 10 nominees, there is a lot of room for jostling of candidates just based on how the movies settle in over the next month. Movies and work that seem to be just on the edge could become frontrunners. And frontrunners could fall back farther than we would now imagine.

So… let’s talk in a week and see if anything has really changed.

35 Responses to “The State of Oscar. 120119”

  1. Chris says:

    I guess I have a blind spot because I do not like the movie (although it may contain my favorite ScarJo performance ever), but is ‘Jojo” really a lock? Or even a legit best picture contender? I am skeptical.

  2. Polita says:

    I’m in the same boat as Chris. I still have to watch it, but I don’t feel Jojo at all by people’s impressions. At least the ones I follow.
    Marriage Story/Irishman/OUTIH feels like locks for everything. TIFF rarely misses things out, but I do wonder… Feels like a Joker situation looking at aggregate scores websites (it does even worst) and it doesn’t have the box office behind it either… Two Popes though…

  3. movieman says:

    If it was a 1994 Miramax release (or a 2010 TWC release), “The Two Popes” would be the odds-on Best Picture favorite.
    But it’s 2019 and Harvey Weinstein is, for all intents and purposes, dead.
    It’s a lovely movie w/ two wonderful (co-lead) performances, but it seems like an artifact from a different Oscar era.

  4. MarkVH says:

    No chance for A Hidden Life to sneak in, huh?

  5. Hcat says:

    I’m just fumbling in the dark but I would think Waves would have more of the inside lane than Two Popes.

    Hidden Life getting a nod might just be a question of resources, if they are pushing the Box Office Ford and the critic darling JoJo is there room at the table for Life.

    From the sound of things a screenplay nod for Knives Out would be a nice surprise.

    And so there is just no Netflix Stigma anymore? Their movies will just be welcomed with open arms because they had four walled qualifying runs?

  6. Hcat says:

    Box Office hit Ford

    No edit button in the new house, will have to be more careful moving forward.

  7. Chris says:

    While I’m at it, I’m also intrigued that “Just Mercy” is not on anyone’s Oscar radar. It’s exactly the kind of movie that usually cleans up — prestigious, major studio, big stars, “important” themes, based-on-a-true-story, Tim Blake Nelson is due and gives the sort of showy performance that regularly wins supporting Oscars — and, to top that off, it’s actually good. But it seems to be disappearing even before it appears in theaters.

  8. Stella's Boy says:

    Having just seen Knives Out I can safely say it deserves no nominations. Should have seen Queen & Slim instead. Will make sure to take care of that soon. Waves starts here on Friday. Can’t wait to see it.

  9. Hcat says:

    Queen and Slim! I thought there was a title he didn’t mention that I thought was in the running. It opened pretty well and I have read some strong things about it.

    Stella, please expand, what turned you off of Knives? Have only encountered good reviews but haven’t talked to anyone who has actually seen it yet (my coworkers are more Hallmark Christmas people). Was it too mannered? Pleased with itself?

  10. Stella's Boy says:

    No spoilers. Knives Out gets my vote for one of the year’s most overrated. The cast is very good (enjoyed Craig’s performance quite a bit) and there are genuinely funny moments here and there. But it is tedious and painfully overlong. I was bored through most of it and didn’t find the mystery all that involving. At a certain point far from the end the truth becomes incredibly obvious and after that it lost me completely. It’s definitely too pleased with itself and isn’t as smart as it think it is. I’m not one of those people who claims to guess the endings or see twists coming from a mile away but in this case I figured it out immediately and everything I expected to happen did. There are some juicy bits with the family squabbling but they are few and far between and they are all horrible people in very familiar and obvious ways. I do not understand the rapturous reviews. It’s a Redbox at best.

  11. palmtree says:

    I liked Knives Out too but I wouldn’t call it an awards contender. It’s just a really good quirky character piece that used to happen all the time but now is a rarity. We’re lucky to have it, but I don’t know that it rises to awards status. Score maybe? Screenplay if they’re lucky.

  12. David Poland says:

    I think we have too many war movies and while I love the film, it seems to challenge a lot of people, even to sit through the whole thing.

  13. RAMS says:

    If the tv movie “The Irishman” wins Best Picture, the Academy Awards will officially be The Streaming Awards. And I will officially declare them gone with the wind.

  14. movieman says:

    I agree w/ SB that “Knives Out” is a tad overrated. To be perfectly honest, I had a hard time staying awake…and I saw it at a 7:00 P.M. show.
    It felt like there was a tight 95-minute movie buried underneath a lot of extraneous padding.

    “Bombshell” is fun, and Charlize and Nicole are terrific. Had a hard time taking Lithgow as Ailes seriously because his prosthetics were frankly terrible.

    At first I was a little puzzled by Greta Gerwig’s decision to adopt a “Fractured Narrative” approach to “Little Women” by jumping from past to present. But her experiment with form ultimately pays off very nicely.
    I hadn’t expected that my favorite performances in an exemplary cast would be turned in by Timothee Chalament and (largely because Amy is traditionally the least sympathetic character) Florence Pugh who I’ve loved since “Lady Macbeth.”
    Y’know, I didn’t even mind Streep. Gerwig kept her hamminess largely in check, and the minuscule size of the role definitely helped.
    Another gorgeous Alexandre Desplat score, btw.

    “…seems to challenge a lot of people, even to sit through the whole thing.”
    I’m assuming that you’re referring to “1917,” Dave, since I’m blanking on another 2019 war movie.
    “A challenge…to sit through the whole thing”?
    It runs a terse 110 minutes before end credits, and the whole thing is so breathlessly paced it’s hard to imagine anyone growing impatient with it.
    Plus, it’s a movie that works nearly as well on a TV screen as the biggest theater screen.

  15. Serg says:

    I’ve not been too impressed by Waititi’s other films like some, but I did expect more from JoJo. It just lacks any forward momentum.
    Not to mention, the only real heroic thing in a movie (satirical intent or not) full of disgusting ideas and thoughts expressed out loud, non ironically by the characters, isn’t done by the lead but by once again, Sam Rockwell playing a bona fide a*hole of a human in his charming, lovable buffoon way, that gets “redeemed” in the end in spite of being a garbage person throughout. Seriously, Sam’s so great and nice. How’d he get THIS type cast?.
    Tom McKenzie is as exciting a young actor working today and has phenomenal potential, but there’s hardly a thing for her to do in this picture. A lot of style like a Wes movie without much of the substance. Actually found myself thinking “what would Ricky and Stephen” have done with this premise, and then saw Stephen in the movie. Makes sense. It’s one of those movies that remind you of its influences on every frame, while not adding up to how good those films by those filmmakers are.
    At least no mention of the laughable Hustlers who some were saying had Oscar hopes. Any movie that pretends like anyone ever professionally stripped to Fiona Apple is asking for a Razzie.
    Too bad there’s only crickets for The Lighthouse and The Nightingale. We all know the Academy doesn’t care about rewarding great cinema. They only care about protecting tradition, at the expense of new voices, new visions, new definitions of what this art form will be as it changes and evolves, like it always has and always will.

  16. movieman says:

    I hated the first hour of “JoJo.” It’s like an overeager puppy desperately craving your attention and love.
    But when Stephen Merchant enters the movie, it suddenly calms down. For the first time things mattered, and there were actual consequences. I was surprised at how effective and affecting the third act was.
    My favorite performance was turned in by Archie Yates as JoJo’s friend, Yorki. He’s legitimately adorable and funny as hell to boot. Hard to believe it was his first movie.

    Liked “The Lighthouse,” but the scene towards the end when Robert Pattinson references (Herman) Melville and calls Dafoe a parody completely rang false. No way would Pattinson’s character be familiar with “Moby Dick” (or know the word “parody” for that matter). It completely took me out of the movie. Otherwise, it’s a gorgeously shot, impeccably acted chamber drama. Pleasantly surprised that it’s done as (relatively) well as it has. Had no idea Chris Columbus was one of the producers.

  17. hcat says:

    Movieman, I think David was referring to A Hidden Life as the war movie that is a long sit.

    So I take it that Cats is more greatest showman than Les Mis as far as its Oscar Chances? I would think any somewhat prestige musical would be in the conversation is simply because the amount of grown up theater kids present in the academy.

  18. Rams says:

    Since you saw 1917 on a screener and not on “the biggest screen” possible, how can you say it plays as well on television versus the better option? Unless you went to a screening, the film opens on a limited basis December 25th. MP

  19. movieman says:

    Saw it a screening before the screener arrived, Roma. Then promptly watched it again. Nothing was lost.

  20. movieman says:

    Saw two beauties yesterday:

    Malick’s “A Hidden Life” which, believe it or not, has more dialogue (i.e., people actually talking to each other; what a concept!) in any Malick film ever.
    It’s predictably gorgeous, superbly acted (Malick has never been known as an “Actor’s Director”) and more accessible to non-cineastes than any Terry movie since, well, probably “Badlands.”
    My only complaint is that, for some reason, the German-language dialogue isn’t subtitled.
    I don’t understand why it’s not making more of a splash on the awards circuit.
    It’s the kind of movie Harvey could have sold the s**t out of during Oscar season.

    Finally got Warner Brothers’ digital app to work for me and was able to see “Richard Jewell.”
    It’s Clint’s best since “American Sniper,” and deserves to be in the awards discussion if just for Paul Walter Hauser’s fantastic lead performance. I’m also betting on it becoming a December sleeper that plays well into the new year, too.
    Bizarre that WB is giving it the bum rush: they sent out DVD screeners of “Joker,” “Just Mercy” and–I kid you not–“Motherless Brooklyn” (whose awards chances died at the closing night of the New York Film Festival), but not “Jewell.”

  21. Christian says:

    Glad to hear you loved “A Hidden Life,” MM. It’s superb. Its lack of awards traction had me thinking it might simply be too overtly religious a story – a big plus in my book, but not, I’m thinking, in yours necessarily, right? Perhaps I suspect wrongly, but it seems like such a broadly applicable story in this day and age and is so beautifully crafted from top to bottom that I would think it’d be a bigger part of the year-end discussion. If not, no big deal. It’s an instant spiritual classic, a landmark piece of work that will be watched and appreciated for decades. As I’ve been telling others, it also caps what seems to me to be the film-related story of the year: Veteran directors Tarantino, Scorsese and Malick delivering arguably the best films of their careers. We’re living through that moment, and it’s amazing to behold – the antidote to all the worrisome pieces about filmmaking and moviegoing in decline.

  22. Rams says:

    I hope Scorsese has a seminar soon on how he created “The Irishman” for viewing on your smart phone. To paraphrase Norma Desmond: We had faces, it’s the pictures that got small. David Lean who understood what the BIG screen was all about, is probably rolling in his grave about now.

  23. movieman says:

    No, not the most overtly religious or spiritual person here, Christian; but I respect everyone’s choices.
    I’m not sure whether I’d say that “A Hidden Life” is Malick’s best film: it is, however, his strongest overall work since “Tree of Life” (and I happen to be someone who actually liked his last three movies).
    Haven’t ran into you on here since the format change–and since seeing “Waves.”
    Totally share your enthusiasm about the Shults film.
    Find it peculiar that A24 is apparently putting all their awards dollars into “Uncut Gems” when “Waves” seems like the kind of film that could have been a Best Picture contender in previous years.
    This may strike some as a controversial remark, but I’m going to say it anyway.
    Could the reason “Waves” isn’t making, well, the waves it deserves is because it was written/directed by a white dude?
    I can’t help thinking that if it had been directed by, say, Barry Jenkins it would have gained a lot more traction.
    While it’s interesting–and something of a relief–that no critics I’ve read have attacked Shults for cultural appropriation, I’m wondering if his skin color may have hurt the film’s awards chances. Especially in the post-“Green Book” era.

  24. Stella's Boy says:

    Clint making a movie that is selling itself so hard as being the truth and then completely making up that the female reporter slept with someone for information is fucking gross and reprehensible. Fuck him and fuck that movie.

  25. movieman says:

    The Olivia Wilde character is the one glaring flaw in “Richard Jewell,” SB.
    But it doesn’t wreck the movie. (Wilde’s swinging-for-the-fences performance is actually a lot of fun.)
    And the film never plays like an anti-Deep State/anti-MSM screed.
    Remember: the script was in development long before Trump began his reign of terror.
    Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill were going to play the (I’m assuming) Rockwell and Hauser roles at an early stage in the development process. In fact, Leo is still on board as a producer.
    Hell, the two wokest movie critics in America–the NYT’s Dargis and Scott–both put “RJ” on their best-of-2019 list.
    That sounds like a ringing endorsement to me.

  26. Stella's Boy says:

    Yeah I read the Vanity Fair story back in the day and am fully aware of its development history. I also don’t sit around waiting for some kind of validation from critics you perceive as “woke” or whatever. It’s a glaring flaw that causes me to lose interest. Plenty of other movies I’d rather see. I’ve hated all the Clint movies I’ve seen lately. He’s a crazy old man.

  27. movieman says:

    I wasn’t seeking approval (from the NYT critics) to like the film, SB, lol.
    I was merely pointing out that any fears the movie was a right-wing manifesto are baseless.
    And that it’s unlikely the film would be receiving such acclaim from crix who pride themselves on progressivism/”wokeness” if it were.
    Not trying to pick a fight, just sticking up for a movie that I really, really liked. As well as a director whose body of work I’ve admired (w/ some exceptions) for decades.

  28. Stella's Boy says:

    You love yourself those labels. Only person I know who constantly calls people woke and SJW and all that crap is my rabidly right-wing father-in-law. Not sure why you’d want to be in that kind of company. Critics like problematic movies all the time. And it might not be a right-wing manifesto. I’m just not interested. Hated The Mule and American Sniper. Will be passing on Richard Jewell.

  29. movieman says:

    I guess I’m a Democrat rather than a “Twitter Democrat,” SB. Which doesn’t mean that I loathe Trump–and pray for his ouster– any less than you do, lol.
    Btw, what is “SJW”?

  30. SideshowBill says:

    Dang! Haven’t been here in a while but the Knives Out dislike is surprising. Just saw it and loved every minute. Was never bored as there were far too many wonderful character actors working. Sorry that some of ya didn’t enjoy it. I’d love to see awards attention for Jamie Lee because she has been fucking underrated for decades. A screenplay nod would be nice though. It’s a nifty piece of writing even though it may not add up to much but a good punchline, and may not warrant further viewing.

    I haven’t seen much else lately. Dying for Uncut Gems. It looks like a heart attack.

    Non-Oscar but I found Antrum to be a clever and superbly constructed and performed creep show. Found it genuinely creepy at times. In the Found Footage Horror Oscars it’d be a shoegaze-in.

  31. movieman says:

    Bill- I actually re-watched “Knives Off” last night and–surprise!–enjoyed it a lot more the second time around.
    The fact that narcoleptic-ish episodes spiked my first viewing experience probably explains why so much of it seemed springtime fresh to me, lol.
    I had a much easier time connecting the puzzle pieces this time (I’d completely missed the car chase, believe it or not), and found it a vastly more satisfying experience.
    Still think it’s a tad bloated, but much better than I originally thought.
    As far as Oscar prospects go, a screenplay nomination wouldn’t be out of the question, nor would a supporting nod for never-been-nominated Daniel Craig.

  32. Christian says:

    MM: So glad you saw “Waves” and loved it. It’s a keeper. I’m not sure why it’s not catching on, but I’m skeptical that Shults’ race plays a major role – if only because I doubt people know Shults’ race, or bothered to look into after seeing the film (which they didn’t do in any case).

    I think the race question may potentially have a greater effect on the awards chances of THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO (which seem pretty slim at the moment, no?), but even then, I’m not sure. I think it’s more likely that awards voters simply haven’t prioritized LAST BLACK MAN or WAVES. But the question would be, why? Maybe I’m being too generous toward voters.

    The movies I still need to see before feeling comfortable finalizing a Best Films of 2019 list: 1917, UNCUT GEMS, the new STAR WARS. I think that’s it?

  33. Stella's Boy says:

    I like a lot of the pieces of Knives Out but not the whole. Some of the performances are spectacular. Love the production design. It has several really funny moments. But it doesn’t work at all as a mystery and it’s way overlong. As a woke SJW far be it from me to defend the rich but I found its portrayal of the wealthy to be uninspired and predictable. Overall the writing is just not very good. But at least it’s much better than Joker.

    I started Last Black Man in San Francisco yesterday. Watched over an hour but didn’t get the chance to finish it. I absolutely love what I’ve seen so far. So, so good. Much better than most of the awards contenders that’s for sure.

    Love that the AJC is pushing back against Richard Jewell. As they should. Shameful.

  34. Stella's Boy says:

    Finished it. Wonderful movie. One of the year’s best. Wish it was getting more love but not surprised it isn’t.

  35. Christian says:

    Returning to add how gratifying the reviews of “A Hidden Life” are that dropped today. After a muted reception for the film during awards season (so far), I’d begun to wonder if my enthusiasm would be an outlier. I haven’t checked RT for the film’s rating, but several critics I read regularly have gushed about the film today (I’ve been reposting those reviews on social media; I can’t help it!). I sometimes go my own way in my views of certain films, but I was confident this one was overpowering enough that others would simply have to acknowledge the film’s power. They have, and I’m reassured.

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The New York Times

"Netflix, the great disrupter whose algorithms and direct-to-consumer platform have forced powerful media incumbents to rethink their economic models, now seems to need a big strategy change itself. It got me thinking about the simple idea that my film and TV production company Blumhouse is built on: If you give artists a lot of creative freedom and a little money upfront but a big stake in the movie’s or TV show’s commercial success, more often than not the result will be both commercial (the filmmakers are incentivized to make films that will resonate with audiences) and artistically interesting (creative freedom!). This approach has yielded movies as varied as Get Out (made for $4.5 million, with worldwide box office receipts of more than $250 million), Whiplash (made for $3.3 million, winner of three Academy Awards), The Invisible Man (made for $7 million, earned more than $140 million) and Paranormal Activity (made for $15,000, grossed more than $190 million).From the beginning, the most important strategy I used to persuade artists to work with me was to make radically transparent deals: We usually paid the artists (“participants” in Hollywood lingo) the absolute minimum allowable by union contracts upfront, with the promise of healthy bonuses based on actual box office results—instead of the opaque 'percentage points' that artists are usually offered. Anyone can see box office results immediately, so creators don’t quarrel with the payouts. In fact, when it comes time for an artist to collect a bonus based on box office receipts, I email a video clip of myself dropping the check off at FedEx to the recipient."
Jason Blum Sees Room For "Scrappier" Netflix

The New York Times | April 30, 2022

"As a critic Gavin was entertaining, wry, questioning, sensitive, perceptive"
Critic-Filmmaker Gavin Millar Was 84; Films Include Cream In My Coffee, Dreamchild

April 29, 2022

The New York Times

Disney Executive Geoff Morrell Out After Less Than Four Months

The New York Times | April 29, 2022

The Video Section See All

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The Podcast Section See All