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Sunday, January 7, 2018

I, Tonya

Oscar nominee predictions 2018
As the title I Tonya suggests, the infamous Harding was the key witness to the most bizarre period of professional ice skating history, and anyone watching this film should prepare to hear her version of the truth to that story.

Hollywood starlet Margot Robbie disappears into the role of Harding, an athletic performer who never fit into the mold of ice skating princess. It's why she was too often compared to competitor Nancy Kerrigan, and it's why we root for this "white trash" underdog throughout this film.

More than a TV story of the week, it's a crafted comedy with some serious subjects. Harding was a victim of abuse by her mother, her husband, and us, as the film is clear to point out while wagging its finger at the audience. I,Tonya simultaneously asks us to root for this American athlete with the raw skills to be a champion, while begging us to laugh at her life and the people who surrounded her. It's a confusing space for the viewer.

Director Craig Gillespie shot this film as if it's a documentary, which did make me wish I was watching one. While full of strong performances and guilt-filled laughs, it's an enjoyable but slight film.

In a nutshell: An entertaining but forgettable film, where a documentary would have been just fine.

Award potential: The mother-daughter performances will bot be rewarded with nominations, but I don't predict much else for Oscars. Allison Janney, as Tonya's mom LaVona steals every scene she's in. Her over-the-top performance will be in a tight race with a quieter (and more touching) mother-daughter performance, Laurie Metcalf's performance in Lady Bird.

The Ten Buck Review: It's a wild story. Worth ten bucks.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Golden Globe Predictions - Who will win on Sunday night?

A creature feature and a horror movie could win Best Picture? And James Franco wins too? Get out!

Predicted wins
The Shape of Water: 3
Get Out: 1
James Franco: 1
Dunkirk: 0

Those are some weirdo stats above, but historically, the Hollywood Foreign Press is kinda weird and all-over-the-place; Working Girl, Mrs. Doubtfire and The Hangover have actually won Best Motion Picture Comedy, and The Martian won it just two years ago, despite not being a comedy. But rest easy, The Ten Buck Review has an 82% correct prediction rate that could help you win your awards pool (or at least look really darn smart during the telecast). Here's what's gonna happen:

Best Picture – Drama:
Winner: The Shape Of Water
Spoiler: The Post

The well-crafted Shape was splashy enough with voters to edge out The Post. Plus, newspaper films don't make headlines with this group; Spotlight, which took the Oscar for Best Picture, lost to The Revenant at the Globes that same year (2015).

And a war film (Dunkirk) winning in this environment? Not only does love trump war this year, but there are 56 years of history saying it won't get the prize many think it will. No film with only three nominations has won Best Picture since The Guns of Navarone (1961).

Best Picture – Comedy or Musical:

Winner: Get Out
Spoiler: Lady Bird 

Although it's the safer bet, I think the critically-praised Lady Bird excels at too familiar territory to go the distance with a group that likes to surprise. The Hollywood Foreign Press might go all get out and choose to reward the most original story.

If the comedy decisions are too tough and split votes, those wacky voters might choose the only musical nominated, which would make a nice bookshelf story. The Greatest Showman won Best Picture Drama in 1952, Golden Globes second year.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama:

Winner: Timothée Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name
Spoiler: Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

It’s seems like a good year for anyone who plays Churchill. Oldman appears to be a perceived lock, which sets up a potential surprise star-making moment: Chalamet’s breakthrough, tearful performances in Call Me By Your Name and Lady Bird would deliver a great TV moment. Picture the peachy newcomer besting the heavily-decorated Oldman, Denzel, Hanks and Day-Lewis. It doesn't help that Globes love newcomers and old Oldman claimed the second-rate Golden Globes are "bent" (2012).

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama:
Winner: Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Spoiler: Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water

The only person who could beat the loud artistry of McDormand is the quiet artistry of Sally Hawkins. "Loud" wins at the Globes, unless they vote Streep just to see what she'd have to say at the podium.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy:
Winner: James Franco, The Disaster Artist
Spoiler: Daniel Kaluuva, Get Out

Franco is seriously the ranking lead in the Comedy category, but I think he had too much fun on this film, setting up a tighter race than most predict. Daniel Kalluva is the other standout, and that vote is the HFP’s best bet for a diversity of winners.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy:

Winner: Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
Spoiler: Margot Robbie, I, Tonya

It's a close one. Both are the Golden Globe ideal and voters would love to party with either afterwards. In a close race, I'd look at the overall nominations. It seems they have awarded Lady Bird a little more than I, Tonya, which gets the silver.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture:
Winner: Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
Upset: Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri
The toughest category of the bunch should come down to Dafoe versus Rockwell in two of the best performances of the year. Unfortunately for Rockwell, Dafoe's character is the nicest of the two.

Christopher Plummer could upset as a statement vote against the Weinstein-Spacey era. It's the type of Hollywood lore that voters want to take note of. 

This is the race to watch.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture:

Winner: Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Spoiler: Larie Metcalf, Lady Bird

The Best Actress (Comedy or Musical) and Best Supporting Actress races are both a close race with the mother/daughter teams in these two films. It's too close to call with TV and movie vets Janney and Metcalf. I think the more showy performance takes it.

Best Director – Motion Picture:
Winner: Guillermo Del Toro, The Shape Of Water
Spoiler: Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk

Despite all the Christopher Nolan talk this past summer, Del Toro has this one locked.

Best Screenplay – Motion Picture:
Winner: Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
Upset: Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

McDonagh is the front runner but I think reverse discrimination could come into play in a #metoo year and voters who expected Gerwig to be in the top 5 directors should give her the ege. Plus, who doesn’t want to see Greta’s acceptance speech? It should be the best of the night. (Franco should easilily take "weirdest speech.")

Best Original Score – Motion Picture: 
Winner: The Shape Of Water
Upset: Dunkirk

In a shocker to many, I predict WWII awards-bait Dunkirk will go home without any wins.

Best Original Song – Motion Picture 
Winner: "Remember Me," Coco 
Upset: "This is Me," The Greatest Showman

The winning team behind La La Land and this years Showman could repeat, but their star faded during the TV musical production of A Christmas Story in December. I bet the Hollywood Foreign Press will be loco for internationally-themed songs of Coco.

Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language
Winner: The Square
Spoiler: First They Killed My Father

Two favorites, but The Square is the talk in all circles this year, and should win.

Best Animated Film:
Winner: Coco
Spoiler: The Breadwinner

The team behind Coco should prepare their speech early.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

4 films to see before the Golden Globes

Golden Globes 2018

If you want to spruce up your movie conversation before the Globes, but you don’t have time to see twenty movies by Sunday, try these fab four films that should rule the conversation all night.

1. The Shape Of Water
I predict the most wins of the night (3) for this quirky film: Best Picture (Drama), Best Director, Best Score and a possible fourth for Best Actress (Drama) Sally Hawkins.

You’ll have to see this love it/hate it film to understand how a creature feature could beat out a timely Streep/Hanks drama or World War II epic. (In theaters.)

2. Lady Bird
Although it has a potential to win Best Picture (Comedy or Musical), the strongest bets go to Saoirse Ronan for Best Actress (Comedy or Musical) and writer- director Great Gerwig for Best Screenplay. Gerwig will likely serve up the best acceptance speech of the night.

Lady Bird, a comedy about adolescence, is the word, and the acceptance speeches could stack up. Laurie Metcalf is in a tight race with Allison Janey (I , Tonya) for Best Supporting Actress, and look for Timothée Chalamet's debut in this film. He's a Best Supporting Actor nominee for Call Me By Your Name and will be the "it" actor of the night. 

Whether Lady Bird wins two, three or four awards, you’ll hear it singing all night. (In theaters.)

3. Get Out!

If Lady Bird doesn’t take Best Picture (Comedy or Musical), this one will, and Daniel Kaluuva should win Best Actor (Comedy or Musical). If a horror movie takes Best Picture, you’ll want to have an opinion ready. Bonus: you can watch this one at home (Streaming.)

4. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
My favorite film, of these four, features Frances McDormand, who should win Best Actress (Drama), and Best Supporting Actor (Drama) nominee Sam Rockwell, who will probably lose by just a few votes to Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project. 

It’s a lot funnier than you’d expect plus writer-director Martin McDonagh should win Best Screenplay (Drama). It’s so good I should buy three billboards to make sure you don’t miss it.

The Ten Buck Review: All four are ten buck worthy.

Molly's Game

oscar predictions
All in. 

Prior to seeing Molly’s Game, I wasn’t very excited about this film that landed during the most competitive movie month of the year. The trailer edits seemed to emphasize a soulless Jessica Chastain proving she could “be tough.” I know this already ; she was credible and awesome in Zero Dark Thirty.

I got the cards wrong. 

Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut features Chastain effortlessly playing a complicated character who occasionally has some Sorkin-quality speeches to share. She plays real-life poker princess Molly Bloom, an Olympic-class skier who later ran the exclusive high-stakes poker games for the rich and famous — and caught the eye of the FBI. 

Sorkin directs the film in the same energetic pace of his own dialogue. Although he won’t be credited with inventing anything new as director, his tricks and cheats work. His storytelling devices borrow heavily from films such as The Big Short (2015) and The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), keeping this story fast-paced — despite the reliance on flashbacks, trade explanations and voiceovers. 

It’s an energetic, captivating, true story that won’t change your life, but it will have you Googling stuff for two hours after. (Tobey Maquire, Leonardo DiCaprio and Ben Affleck is the answer to your first google.) I’d call that ten buck worthy. 

In a nutshell: With a witty script and rat-a-tat-tat editing, it delivers a good hand for a lively night at the movies. It's a nice break in a sea of serious films.

Award potential: It’s a good film, but not one of the year’s 10 best so don’t expect a nomination for Best Picture or first-time director Sorkin. Sorkin will likely receive a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.

In past years, Chastain’s portrayal of Bloom and her Cinemax-style fashion would be as Oscar-bound as Julia Roberts turn in Erin Brockovich (2000), but it is the sixth best performance this year in a category that is locked. 

Her inclusion would mean a shutout for Sally Hawkins, Frances McDormand, Margot Robbie, Saoirse Ronan or Meryl Streep. I wouldn’t take that bet.

The ten buck review: Worth ten bucks.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Eight movie wishes for 2018

On the eve of 2018, I’d like to share eight movie wishes for the coming year. Perhaps some Hollywood magic will make every one of them come true. 

I wish for:

1. Ready Player One (March) to be as good as the combination of the page-turning book + director Steven Spielberg magic. Anything short of “This generation’s Back To The Future,” and I’m like, totally disappointed.

2. Oscars to get over itself and last year’s envelope mishap, and focus on the films and craft. Ugh, I know the marketing angle of that will be hard to resist, but it’s a tacky tactic and I can hear the tired Kimmel jokes already. He’s better than that.

3. The Overboard remake (April), starring Anna Faris,to be the modern Goldie Hawn style comedy that we did not get last year with Snatched. I also want her to get back together with Chris Pratt, so that we can have an Overboard/Jurassic World crossover. Not really.

4. AMC Theatres to settle its dispute with Movie Pass, so that I can use mine to see writer-director Damine Chazelle’s (La La Land, Whiplash) new 2018 film First Man and writer-director Barry Jenkin’s (Moonlight) new and curiously titled film,  If Beale Street Could Talk.

5. That the opening date move of A Star Is Born from May to December 2018 is a sign that this film is strong enough to delay it to award season — and not in need of time to fix. This remake stars Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in the Redford and Streisand roles and I’m intrigued.

6. The new Star Wars story, Solo (May) to be good enough for audiences to want more than one.

7. More Laura Dern in 2018. Everything she touched last year was better for it: Big Little Lies, The Founder, Twin Peaks and Star Wars: The Last Jedi

8. A supercalifragilisticexpialidocious year at the movies. To be blunt, I’m counting on Mary Poppins Returns (December), starring Emily Blunt and Lin Manuel Miranda, to save the year. 

Happy 2018, everybody!

Friday, December 15, 2017

The Florida Project

Best films of 2017 2018 Oscar Academy Awards Oscars
State of shock.

After about 15 minutes of watching the brat kids at the centerpiece of Sean Baker’s (Tangerine) The Florida Project, I wanted to walk out of the theater. I’m glad I didn’t; it won me over.  

There are two sides to this film; much like the views of life in this outside-Orlando town is to the children and adults who inhabit this film. It’s no accident that the very real moments on screen happen outside of the most magical place on earth, in the Sunshine State.  

Credit to Baker and the actors, the characters slowly become more real than most onscreen. Plus, Alexix Zabé's camera work pulls you into this world, and William Dafoe has rarely been better.  

The realism isn’t as perfected as Richard Linklater's (Boyhood), but it’s approaching that level of film excellence. Except for the final minutes, there are no film cheats nor trite treatments of borderline poverty in America. Baker got it just right, and this film will surely stick with you long after watching.

In a nutshell: Not a Friday night film getaway, but you should find the right time to see this story

Award potential: The Academy Award nominations will likely be kinder to this film than those of Golden Globes, who like big stars, and SAG which focuses on ensemble casts. 

Expect nominations for Best Movie and Best Supporting Actor (Dafoe) and possible nominations for Best Screenplay (Baker), Best Cinematography (Zabé) and Best Supporting Actress (Brooklynn Prince), a long shot for the young actress.

The ten buck review: Worth ten bucks.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Disaster Artist

brothers in film
A cinematic mess-terpiece.

If the title of “worst filmmaker” has not previously been awarded to director Ed Wood (Plan 9 From Outer Space), then that dubious honor would have to go to Tommy Wiseau for The Room, a 2003 cult classic still shown today under the billing of “the worst movie ever made.”

Hilariously, that mess of a movie became its own bit of mess-terpiece cinema, as audiences have lined up for midnight laughs ever since. Fourteen years later, it has inspired another bit of cinema. If you enjoy stories from Hollywood, this will be one of your favorite films this year.

The Disaster Artist takes us behind the scenes of that disaster and provides us with one of the funnier films of the year. James Franco brings on the biggest laughs as Tommy. His brother, Dave Franco, brings laughs but mostly heart to the film as Tommy’s friend, roommate and The Room co-star Greg Sestero. Seth Rogen, as filmmaker Sandy Schklair, delivers the rest.

It's not necessary to have seen The Room to enjoy this film about friendship, dreams and accidental art. But afterwards, you’ll probably want to.
In a nutshell: Definitely not the worst movie of this year

Award potential: Franco’s memorable performance puts him on the short list for Best Actor Oscar nods, but to me there is a sense that he’s having more fun making this film than should be allowed. That, plus his disastrous Oscar-hosting stint, should put him on the snub list by the time we get to Oscar nomination time. The film and Franco should do well in the comedy category at the Golden Globes.

The ten buck review: Worth ten bucks.