Lisa Marie’s Early Oscar Predictions for June

2013 oscars

It’s the end of the month and that means that it’s time for me to post my monthly predictions!

What has chanced since I last made my predictions in May?  Though it was acclaimed by critics, the box office failure of In The Heights has probably ended that film’s time as an Oscar contender.  For all the musicals that are coming out this year, only Spielberg’s West Side Story really seems like a good bet to emerge as a major contender.  Dear Evan Hansen was pretty much eliminated from consideration as soon as its trailer dropped.  Tick, Tick …. Boom seems to be destined to be loved by theater kids while being dismissed by everyone else.  I’d love to see Joe Wright and Peter Dinklage nominated but my instincts are telling me that Cyrano will probably not be a huge contender.  In the end, West Side Story seems like the most likely musical nominee.

I’ve been reading up on Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog, which is set to premiere at Venice and then be released via Netflix.  Based on a novel by Thomas Savage, this sounds like the type of film that could potentially be a strong contender, depending on what approach Campion takes the story.  The main character of Phil Burbank is the type of bigger-than-life role that could lead to Oscar glory.  (The closest recent equivalent to Phil would probably be Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood.)  Phil is a sharply intelligent but cruelly manipulative Montana rancher, the type who brags about castrating cattle while quoting Ovid and who goes out of his way to bully anyone who he considers to be effeminate.  Of course, there’s a secret behind all of Phil’s cruelty and how the film handles that secret will have a lot to do with how strongly the film comes on during awards season.  Phil is being played by Benedict Cumberbatch, which is …. interesting casting.  (Personally, I probably would have begged Michael Fassbender to take the role.)  Still, it seems like Phil could be the type of change-of-pace role that, should Cumberbatch’s casting pay off, could lead to Oscar glory.

Coming up in July, we’ve got Cannes and we’ll be getting our first look at contenders like Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch.  Though Cannes is hardly a reliable precursor, the Oscar race should start to become a bit clearer as the festival start up and the contenders — many of which we’ve been waiting to see for over two years — will finally start to be released.  Until then, take all predictions with a grain of salt!

If you’re curious to see how my thinking has developed, check out my predictions for March and April and May.

Best Picture

The French Dispatch

House of Gucci

A Journal for Jordan

Nightmare Alley

Parallel Mothers


The Power of the Dog

Soggy Bottom

The Tragedy of MacBeth

West Side Story

Best Director

Pedro Almodovar for Parallel Mothers

Paul Thomas Anderson for Soggy Bottom

Jane Campion for The Power of the Dog

Ridley Scott for House of Gucci

Denzel Washington for A Journal For Jordan

Best Actor

Clifton Collins, Jr. in Jockey

Benedict Cumberbatch in The Power of the Dog

Michael B. Jordan in A Journal for Jordan

Will Smith in King Richard

Denzel Washington in The Tragedy of MacBeth

Best Actress

Jessica Chastain in The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Penelope Cruz in Parallel Mothers

Jennifer Hudson in Respect

Nicole Kidman in Being the Ricardos

Tessa Thompson in Passing

Best Supporting Actor

Adam Driver in The Last Duel

Bradley Cooper in Soggy Bottom

Willem DaFoe in Nightmare Alley

Bill Murray in The French Dispatch

Jesse Plemons in The Power of the Dog

Best Supporting Actress

Kirsten Dunst in The Power of the Dog

Vera Farmiga in The Many Saints of Newark

Marlee Matlin in CODA

Frances McDormand in The Tragedy of MacBeth

Ruth Negga in Passing


Music Video of the Day: Future Shock by Marc Collin, feat. Clara Luciana (2019, dir by Marc Collin)

Both this song and the scenes in the videos are taken from one of my favorite films of last year, The Shock of the Future. A tribute to the women who helped to create electronic music, The Shock of the Future is a rather inspiring film and it can currently be viewed on Tubi. So, go watch it!

But watch the music video first.


The Many Saints of Newark Promises A Look At The Early Life of Tony Soprano

The Many Saints of Newark, which is finally going to be released on October 1st after being delayed by the pandemic, is a prequel to The Sopranos. It features Tony Soprano as a teenager, struggling to decide between entering the family business or going to college and — if The Test Dream episode is to be believed — maybe becoming a teacher or a coach. That’s a big decision for anyone to make. Of course, since The Many Saints of Newark is a prequel, we already know that’s going to happen. That’s kind of the problem with prequels. You can drag out the story for as long as you want but, eventually, you’re going to reach the point where everyone originally came in.

As you may have picked up on, I’m not totally sure that this film is really necessary. As I say this as someone who loves The Sopranos and who is planning on rewatchinng the entire series later in July. Thanks to the show’s use of flashbacks and the scenes of Tony talking to Dr. Melfi, it’s not as if we don’t already know about Tony’s childhood. I’m not sure that there’s a lot for the prequel to show us, beyond maybe clearing up who was actually responsible for the death of Dickie Moltisanti. If Tony ends up killing Dickie, it’ll cast his later treatment (and murder) of Christopher into an entirely new light.

Still, I’m definitely going to watch The Many Saints of Newark when it’s released on October 1st. Vera Farmiga as Livia Soprano seems like perfect casting and I’m also interested in seeing how Michael Gandolfini does at playing the young version of the character made famous by his father, the much-missed James Gandolfini. Apparently, Billy Magnussen will be playing the youngish version of Paulie Walnuts. In what world does Billy Magnussen grow up to be Tony Sirico? Ray Liotta also has a role in The Many Saints of Newark, which feels appropriate considering how much The Sopranos owed to the success of Goodfellas.

The trailer for The Many Saints of Newark was released today. And here it is:

Still Teetering On The Brink : Sue Coe And Stephen F. Eisenman’s “American Fascism Now”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

There’s a school of thought which posits that we really dodged a bullet with the last election : yeah, Trump is still out there making noise, but he left office whether he wanted to or not, and now we can go about the business of steering this flagging ship we call America back toward a course of normalcy. Never mind the fact that “normalcy” isn’t a great state of affairs for many people, and their utter contempt for the political establishment was one of the biggest factors in President Goldenshower’s rise to power, this view is entirely too optimistic even leaving aside Biden’s own pro-corporate, militaristic leanings — the threat, you see, isn’t over, largely because it didn’t start with Trump and it never really went away.

I should be clear that by “the threat,” I refer to the potential for the US to descend into an overtly fascist, authoritarian…

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Music Video of the Day: Europa and the Pirate Twins (1981, directed by Thomas Dolby and Simon Maggs)

The lyrics to this Thomas Dolby song seem to be self-explanatory.  When they were teenagers, the narrator met a girl named Europa, they fell in love while spending their days walking along the beach, and then Europa moved away.  (Dolby sings that “the war” took her away, which sounds ominous but which makes sense when you consider that Dolby’s 1982 album, The Golden Age of Wireless, was based on the idea of him being a part of the first generation since World War II.  “The war took her away” is probably meant to be a comment on how relationships that were once ended by a world war were now just being ended by a parent getting a new job in a new country or town.)  Years later, Europa’s a star and Dolby tries to see her, just to be ushered away by one of her bodyguards.  But, in Dolby’s heart, they’ll always be pirate twins on the beach.

The video has come to be considered a classic example of early 80s music videos, mixing the future and the past and allowing Dolby to capitalize on his nerdy but cool persona.  (I’ve always felt that if Peter Parker became a musician instead of a Spider-Man, his music would have sounded much like Thomas Dolby’s.)  The machines link the song to the future but the black-and-white images bring us to the past, capturing the feel of Dolby’s song.


The TSL’s Grindhouse: Live Like A Cop, Die Like A Man (dir by Ruggero Deodato)

The 1976 film, Live Like A Cop Die Like A Man, takes place during the Christmas season.

We know this because the film opens with a man dressed like Santa Claus standing on a street corner in Rome and impotently watching as a woman is dragged behind a motorcycle by two men who were attempting to snatch her purse.  When she doesn’t let go of her purse, one of the men hops off the motorcycle and proceeds to kick her in the face until she stops moving.  Suddenly, two other men — our heroes, as it were — came driving up on a motorcycle of their own.  A chase ensues, through the streets of Rome, during which a blind man’s dog is graphically run over.  The chase which, it must be said, is very well-shot and directed, lasts for over 10 ten minutes and it ends with the two thieves being executed by, once again, our nominal heroes.

A lot of people are executed over the course of Live Like A Cop, Die Like A Man.  That’s because Detectives Fred (Marc Porel) and Tony (Ray Lovelock) have been given a license to kill anyone who breaks the law.  The film is a bit vague on just how exactly the license works and why, apparently, it’s only been given to Fred and Tony.  One major set piece features several dozen cops all waiting outside a house, powerless to get the three criminals within, until Fred and Tony arrive.  Fred and Tony, of course, solve the problem by killing everyone.  Why couldn’t the other cops have done that?  The film doesn’t really make that clear.

Admittedly, Fred and Tony aren’t the first movie cops to get results through unorthodox means.  The French Connection was a popular film in the 70s and it inspired a whole genre of Italian rip-offs, of which Live Like A Cop Die Like A Man is a definite example.  What sets Fred and Tony apart from cops like Popeye Doyle and Dirty Harry is the amount of joy that Fred and Tony seem to get out of killing people.  Early on, they show up at a party and proceed to set all of the cars on fire. They also set two criminals on fire, with Fred doing a happy little dance as the two men go up in flames.  It’s disturbing but there’s also a strange integrity to the film’s shameless embrace of violence.  Live Like A Cop, Die Like A Man doesn’t pretend to be about anything other than satisfying the vigilante fantasies of its audience.

And indeed, it should be considered that Live Like A Cop, Die Like A Man was released during the so-called Years of Lead, when a combination of political terrorism and open crime had made violence an almost daily part of Italian life.  When you’re living day-to-day with the knowledge that you could be blown up at any minute by the Red Brigade, the Ordine Nero, or the Mafia, I imagine that there would be something appealing about watching two young men who are perfectly willing to just shoot anyone who appears to be up to no-good.  It’s easy to imagine that, for audiences in 1976, the random violence of this episodic film mirrored the random violence of everyday life.  Though Live Like A Cop, Die Like A Man was obviously inspired by The French Connection, it perhaps has more in common with the original Death Wish, with the main difference being that Live Like A Cop’s vigilantes are officially sanctioned.

The film also places a good deal of importance on just how close Tony and Fred are supposed to be.  They live together in a ramshackle flat, they apparently spend all of their free time together, and, towards the end of the film, the only thing that keeps the two of them from taking part in a threesome is the sound of someone else being shot.  Unfortunately, Ray Lovelock and Marc Porel did not get along in real life and, as a result, there was never a Live Like A Cop Die Like A Man Part IILive Like A Cop would also be director Ruggero Deodato’s only stab at the polizieschi genre.  He went on, of course, to direct Cannibal Holocaust and The House on the Edge of the Park.  (Interestingly, Tony and Fred’s relationship is mirrored, to sinister effect, by the relationship between the characters played by David Hess and Giovanni Lombardo Radice in House On The Edge of the Park.)  Live Like A Cop, Die Like A Man has gone on to become a bit of a cult film and, as offensive as some will find it to be, it’s also so over-the-top in its violence and its celebration of officially sanctioned bad behavior that it becomes rather fascinating to watch.  It’s so without shame or apology that it’s hard to look away from it, even though you may want to.

“Yankee Doodle Strangler” : David G. Caldwell Whistles Past The Graveyard Of Half-Assed Comics

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

For the past several years, cartoonists such as Harry Nordlinger, Josh Simmons, Corinne Halbert, and Julia Gfrorer (to name just a handful) have been doing some incredibly provocative and effective horror work in the small press and self-publishing world, and you can add the name of Huntsville, Alabama’s David G. Caldwell to that list — in fact, you could have added it long time ago, as he’s been at it for a good few years now, as well. And maybe you did, if you’re wiser and generally more “up” on things than I am, but I’m just getting around to it now because, well, I just became aware of his work quite recently.

Still, now’s as good a time as any to check this guy’s stuff out, given that he’s just collected his long-running strip Yankee Doodle Strangler (originally serialized both digitally and in mini-comics form) in two different packages…

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Building A Better Bonehead Funnybook : “Mondo Groovy” Issue Two

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

As is no secret to regular readers of this blog, I’m not all about “high-brow” comics here, even if the majority of books I review fall loosely into that already-loose category. Nor am I necessarily all about comics that are executed with a high degree of so-called “professionalism.” If I were forced to pin down what I am about, in a nutshell, I’d say that my tastes run toward comics that are produced with intent, and that succeed in realizing their intentions, whatever they may be.

Which brings us to issue two of cartoonist C.J. Patterson’s self-published series Mondo Groovy, a book with obviously-discernible intent that’s executed in precisely the fashion necessary in order to realize said intention — it just so happens that what Patterson and writing partner Jeremy Rogers intend to do is to regale audiences with a steady stream of dick and fart jokes.


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