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Sunday, December 10, 2017

Alan's Golden Globe Nominee Predictions 2018

NBC Golden Globe Awards
The Golden Globes are voted on The Hollywood Foreign press, which is 89 foreign journalists who choose to live in Southern California — so who knows what they think? Apparently, I do. I have an 87.5% accuracy rate in the past, so here goes.

Best Picture (Drama) 

Call Me By Your Name 
The Post

The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Spoilers: The Darkest Hour, The Florida Project, All the Money in the World

Best Picture (Comedy or Musical) 

Get Out
I, Tonya 
Lady Bird
The Disaster Artist

The Big Sick
Spoilers: The Greatest Showman, Downsizing, Victorial & Abdul, Beauty and The Beast

Best Actor (Drama) 
Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread
Jake Gyllenhaal, Stronger
Timothée Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name
Tom Hanks, The Post 

Spoilers: Christian Bale, Hostiles, Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq. 

Best Actress (Drama) 
Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Meryl Streep, The Post
Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
Jessica Chastain, Molly’s Game
Vicky Krieps, Phantom Thread 

Spoilers: Jennifer Lawrence, mother!, Michelle Williams, All The Money In The World, Salma Hayek, Beatriz at Dinner

Best Actor (Comedy or Musical) 
Matt Damon, Downsizing 
Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
James Franco, The Disaster Artist
Hugh Jackman, The Greatest Showman
Kumail Nanjiani, The Big Sick
Spoiler: Steve Carrell, Battle of the Sexes

Best Actress (Musical or Comedy) 

Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
Zoe Kazan, The Big Sick
Emma Stone, The Battle of the Sexes
Judi Dench, Victoria and Abdul 

Spoilers: Annette Benning , Film Stars Don’t Live In Liverpool, Helen Mirren, The Leisure Seeker, Kate Winslet, Wonder Wheel, Gal Gadot, Wonder Woman  
Best Supporting Actor (All categories) 
Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water
Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
Michael Stuhlbarg, Call Me By Your Name
Christopher Plummer, All The Money In The World 

Spoilers: Armie Hammer, Call Me By Your Name, Jason Mitchell, Mudbound Patrick Stewart, Logan  
Best Supporting Actress (All categories) 
Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Holly Hunter, The Big Sick
Rosamund Pike, Hostiles
Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread 

Spoilers: Tiffany Haddish for Girls Trip, Kristen Scott Thomas for Darkest Hour, Mary J. Blige for Mudbound, Allison Williams for Get Out!

Best Director 

Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water
Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
Jordan Peele, Get Out
Steven Spielberg, The Post 

Spoilers: Luca Guadagnino, Call Me By Your Name, Martin McDonagh for Three Billboards; Ridley Scott for All the Money in the World, or Joe Wright, Darkest Hour Good luck, all! Nominations will be announced 7:00 a.m. Monday, December 11.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The case for Logan as one of the ten Best Pictures of the year

dc vs. marvel

Why a nomination for Logan is super deserved

With the exception of Nolan’s World War II film Dunkirk, and Spielberg’s journalism drama The Post, the 2017 Best Picture Oscar race is free of the usual categories we expect to see. It’s the kind of year where the next likely nominations are a horror film (Get Out) and a creature feature (The Shape of Water). With a small lot of films that worked in 2017, perhaps this is the type of year where a quality super hero film could join the ranks of Best Picture nominees.

I’m not talking about Patty Jenkins’ crowd-pleasing Wonder Woman, I’m talking about
Logan, director James Mangold's modern Western that elevated the superhero genre to new heights and made audiences forget it was a comic-book movie.

Logan is unburdened of comic book trappings. There is no doomsday villain nemesis, aliens invading our planet or superpower origin story. This down-to-earth film expertly fulfills the promise of the moment we were first introduced to Hugh Jackman and his Eastwood-gruff character in 2000. The R-rated Logan is gritty, raw, original and before the film is over, we finally get to see Wolverine let loose on film. It’s about bloody time; Logan is the Wolverine movie we've waited 17 years for.

It should also be noted that Jackman and the esquisite Patrick Stewart share some powerfully-written scenes that rise above the format. Fans were pleased and first-timers have a stand-alone film to love. Cue the sunset.

Most superhero films aren’t worth ten bucks which makes me respect this one even more. With Logan, Jackman’s Wolverine (the single most iconic onscreen superhero) finally has his The Dark Knight. Oscar voters, I suggest a nomination for Best Picture contender Logan.

The Ten Buck Review: Worth ten bucks.

The Shape of Water

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Sink in and enjoy a fairy tale.

With Shape of Water, Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro (Pacific Rim, Pan’s Labyrinth) tosses a feature creature into the Oscar race during an unusual year that will likely feature a horror film and perhaps a super hero franchise. 

Shape is kinda weird, kinda wonderful and kinda impossible to look away from.

Sally Hawkins (Happy-Go-Lucky, Blue Jasmine) plays Elisa, a mute cleaning lady who makes a monstrous discovery in her 1960s America workplace. Doug Jones ( Del Toro's Hellboy) plays the beast to her beauty and that’s about as much as I’m going to say about a story that has to be experienced before discussing. Richard Jenkins and Octavia Spencer play her friends. Michael Shannan, the film’s cold war baddie.

Del Toro directs this fairy tale with old Hollywood magic, gathering full romantic sensibilities while somehow telling a pulp novel monster story. The story goes far into creepy territory but it’s so well crafted — touching on themes of love, social intolerance and the human need for companions — that no one will be caught laughing.

In a nutshell: H2OMG! It’s weird — and wonderful. It’s clearly going to be the love it/hate it film of the year.

Award potential: It’s a master class of craft and the most likely film to gather the most Academy Award nominations this year, perhaps 12.

Expect a splash of support for this film with nods for Best Film, Director (Del Toro), Cinematography (Dan Laustesen), Screenplay (Del Toro and Vanessa Taylor), Actress (Hawkins’ face showcased every emotion), Supporting Actor (Richard Jenkins), Art Direction (Paul D. Austerberry), Score (Alexandre Desplat), Makeup, Film Editing, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing. 

Octavia Spencer is repeating her one-note performance too often in similar roles and I expect she will be rightfully overlooked this time.

The ten buck review: Worth ten bucks.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Lady Bird

good comedy to rent best films of 2017 fun
Lady Bird is the word.

Just when you think you’ve seen every coming-of-age story, Lady Bird flies into the fall movie season. 

Actress (Frances Ha) and writer Greta Gerwig’s solo directorial debut centers on a high-school senior about to leave the nest. She is determined to declare her independence and become someone more than ordinary.

Saoirse Rona (Atonement, Brooklyn) stars as the adorkable “Lady Bird,” and is a fitting Gerwig proxy. In both Rona’s performance and this film, the art is in the keenly observed details. Gerwig articulates every nuance of Lady Bird’s 2002 Sacramento middle class life, and those details graduate up to an irresistible film. 

It certainly helps that all supporting players are fully realized. Lady Bird’s hypercritical mom and unmotivated dad, played by Laurie Metcalf and Tracie Latts, are not one-note stereotypes. And although it was probably tempting to do otherwise, neither are the leaders of her Catholic school. Nor her girlfriends. Nor her boyfriends. Every relationship in this film eventually tugs at your heart.
Watching Ronan spread her wings as Lady Bird is a joy. It is of the best most entertaining stories about adolescence in years.

In a nutshell: This coming of age film gets an A+ for authenticity and originality. 

Award potential: Metcalf, fresh off her Tony win for Broadway's A Doll's House: Part 2, is sure to be a Best Supporting Actress front-runner in what may be her richest role yet. 

Look for nominations for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay and Best Actress as well. A Best Director nod would be a powerful statement towards the originality of Gerwig’s work, but is less likely than above. Lady Bird should do big business with Golden Globe nominations in the Comedy or Musical category. 

The ten buck review: Worth ten bucks.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Justice League

A League Of Their Own. 

Today's model of success for the major movie studios is to build a universe of franchise films, and not create a good film or two. Justice League is the poster child for that unfortunate model, as it spends half of its running time setting up the future films, which is quite a boring ride for a viewer.

It's clear that DC should have collected a few good films before assembling its comic book crown jewel— the collection of A-team heroes that call themselves the Justice League. JL even soils all the goodwill from summer's winning Wonder Woman by turning her (Gal Gadot) into nothing more than a sexist comedian at the expense of a joyless Batman (Ben Affleck), Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and that super duper guy we all know comes back.

DC is much better at TV with Greg Berlanti's "Arrowverse." By the time the established and loved B-characters characters from Arrow, Flash and Supergirl assembled for a guest episode, it was breezily exciting.

Justice League could use some breeze and excitement, but it's too muddled down in establishing other films (the upcoming Aquaman, Flash and Cyborg) or trying to explain past ones (Man of Steel, Superman v. Batman) to find any rhythm. I didn't expect Justice League to be an award-worthy film such as Logan, but it should definitely be the most exciting movie available to comic book fans.

This hot mess doesn't know what to look like either. Aquaman's world has one look, Superman and Batman another. There is attempt to unify the mess with lightning bolts I guess, but imagine how thrilling this could be with a unified look such as what illustrator Alex Ross created for the pages of DC.

What did work? Flash's character, essentially Quicksilver from the Marvel films, adds much needed comic breaks throughout and I looked forward to every scene with the quick-witted speedster. Those big bug baddies, previously seen in BvS, were a stunning foil for action sequences. All of Bruce Waynes toys and vehicles — and Danny Elfman.

If you're as antsy for something to think about as I was during most of the film, focus on how composer Danny Elfman brilliantly weaved all the current hero themes plus his classic Batman (1989) and John Williams' Superman (1978) themes into a coherent musical tapestry. Maybe he should write and direct the next film.

Spoiler alert: In the final act, the bad guy gets big and a hero throws a thing at it to destroy it.

Simply put: Gloomy scene. Group shot. Confusing setup scene.Witty retort by Flash. Repeat for two hours. Ugh, go see the Thor movie instead.

Award potential: Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) and Lois Lane's (Amy Adams) dialogue in the corn field and Cavill's stiff acting should garner some super-sized Razzie attention.

The ten buck review: Not worth ten bucks.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Murder On The Orient Express

big disappointing movies
Hercule Poirot, I'd like to confess. 

I'd like to confess that for most of the year I've been tremendously excited about the possibilities of director Kenneth Branagh resurrecting Agatha Christie whodunits for modern cinema. And I've been thrilled with the killer cast of suspects: Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeifer, Daisy Ridley, Derek Jacobi, Penelope Cruz, Josh Gad and a train-full more. I deduced that this would be one of my favorites of the year, and fell victim to my inflated expectations. It's an OK film at best.

Branagh got some things right. The casting, fresh cinematography and his own performance as the mustached Poirot suggest a franchise of murder mysteries for years to come. 

However, the performances roll in as a hot mess. Dench and Gad's characters, who were standouts in the book, never seem to have a memorable moment onscreen despite the talent playing them. The lush look of this film is over the top and fantastical, which freshens up the classic nature of the story. I wish that same approach had been applied to the performances. Fresh from seeing Thor: Ragnarock enliven its serious series (initiated by Branagh), I couldn't help but wonder how that form of wit would have worked wonders here. The characters play their parts as if they're in TV's Sherlock, but come across more like dinner theater camp. I'm kinda embarrassed for everyone involved.

I can only see this movie as it should have been. For everyone who was hoping this film would resurrect whodunits, a crime had definitely taken place. 

In a nutshell: A train full of witty Brits never leaves the station.

Award potential: None.

The Ten Buck Review: Not worth ten bucks.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best films of 2017 what should I rent stream
Signs of the times.

2017 has been such a poor year for movies and such a strong one for television that it’s tempting to say this entry is “as good as HBO.”

Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) purchases three billboards to make a statement and draws fire from the chief of police (Woody Harrelson), an officer (Sam Rockwell) and half of the town of Ebbing, Missouri. 

Mildred’s quest for justice is a timely match to the many moods of TrumpAmerica and McDormand milks every zingy comic scene and every heart-tugging moment. Put this film on the shelf next to her winning performances in Fargo (1996) and Olive Kitteridge (2014).

Writer-Director Martin McDonagh (Best Screenplay Academy Award winner for In Bruges, 2006) gives us a revenge-and-justice film that suggests consequences for all actions, including revenge. It’s a dark comedy, but it’s a whole lot more fun than another redemptive small town film Nebraska (2013) or pretty much any film this year.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri ushers in the 2017 Oscar-quality movie season. It’s such a thrill to see a good movie in the theater again that I may go buy three billboards to spread the word.

Simply put: Start the bonfire. It's the brightest spark of quality film this year.

Award potential: Oscar-wise, it's this year’s Manchester by the Sea with expected nominations in all major categories and front-runners in the acting and screenplay ones. McDormand is a lock and I’m thrilled to say that Sam Rockwell will likely get a nomination for his scene-stealing role as a backwards cop with mama issues.

The ten buck review:
Worth ten bucks