Lisa Marie’s Oscar Predictions for November

It’s time for my monthly Oscar predictions!  Awards Season is going to begin in just another two days and the Oscar picture has become a lot more clearer.  

Last month, I was ready to write off West Side Story as a contender.  However, following both the film’s recent screening and the death of Stephen Sondheim, it’s now once again very much a contender.  If nothing else, Rita Moreno seems like the clear front runner for Supporting Actress.  This would be her first nomination since she won an Oscar for appearing in the original West Side Story.  Who can resist that narrative?

I’ve also added Licorice Pizza back to my list of nominees.  At first, I thought it sounded too slight to be a contender but the enthusiasm that I’m seeing for the film would seem to indicate that I was incorrect.

As always, keep in mind that I don’t claim to be an expert.  The picture is a bit clearer but I don’t claim to have any inside information or anything like that.  These are just my guesses, for better or worse.  To see how my thinking has evolved,  check out my predictions for March and April and May and June and July and August and September and October!

Best Picture

Being the Ricardos



House of Gucci

King Richard

Licorice Pizza

The Lost Daughter

Nightmare Alley

The Power of the Dog

West Side Story

Best Director

Paul Thomas Anderson for Licorice Pizza

Kenneth Branagh for Belfast

Jane Campion for The Power of the Dog

Guillermo del Toro for Nightmare Alley

Steven Spielberg for West Side Story

Best Actor

Benedict Cumberbatch in The Power of the Dog

Peter Dinklage in Cyrano

Jude Hill in Belfast

Will Smith in King Richard

Denzel Washington in The Tragedy of MacBeth

Best Actress

Lady Gaga in House of Gucci

Jennifer Hudson in Respect

Nicole Kidman in Being the Ricardos

Kristen Stewart in Spencer

Rachel Zegler in West Side Story

Best Supporting Actor

Ben Affleck in The Tender Bar

Bradley Cooper in Licorice Pizza

Ciaran Hinds in Belfast

Jared Leto in House of Gucci

Kodi Smit-McPhee in The Power of the Dog

Best Supporting Actress

Ann Dowd in Mass

Kirsten Dunst in The Power of the Dog

Aunjanue Ellis in King Richard

Marlee Matlin in CODA

Rita Moreno in West Side Story


All That, Plus The Kitchen Sink : Chris Cajero Cilla And Greg Petix’s “Swonknibus”

Whether you love comics like this or hate them, the simple fact is that we need more like them : legitimate “anything goes” creative free-for-alls that have nothing limiting them other than the scope of the author’s imagination — or, in the case, the authors’ imaginations, plural.

The “comic like this” in question is Swonknibus, a newly-released collection of cartoonist Chris Cajero Cilla and writer Greg Petix’s weekly Swonk strip that ran in the pages of the University of Arizona student newspaper The Daily Wildcat from 1995-97. It’s more than that, of course — Cilla published this under the auspices of his own Sardine Can Press (apparently there’s also a hardback version available as a print-on-demand job from Lulu) and has seen fit to include an intriguing smattering of ‘zine content he created with Petix from roughly the same time period, and to round the entire package out with three pages of extensive footnotes — but for purposes of this review, all you really need to know is that if Swonk is to your tastes, the supplemental material is sure to be as well, and if it’s not, then it won’t be. Fair enough?

How, then, to best decide whether or not Swonk is, indeed, to your tastes? Well, let’s see — if you like random pop culture references, even more random pop culture send-ups, absurdism thinly veiled as satire, absurdism for its own sake, satire for its own sake, political humor, entirely amoral humor, gross-out humor, gross-out shit that isn’t humorous, stand-alone strips, multi-part strips, recurring characters, one-off characters, and all kinds of stuff that either does or should make you feel at least a little bit guilty for laughing at it, then congratulations. You’ve come to the right place. There’s something in here to both please and offend just about everybody.

I’m a longtime admirer of Cilla’s comics, but this is my first time even hearing of Swonk, let alone actually seeing it, and as such it’s interesting to note the ways in which it both is and isn’t what a person would expect from the “warts and all” early work of someone who would go on to become an auteur cartoonist. A fair amount of the divergence from expectation can likely be chalked up to Petix’s influence, of course — he wrote this material, after all — but it’s equally interesting to note how markedly similar their sensibilities are in so many key respects, and therefore easy to see why collaboration was such a natural thing for them. They both share a decidedly askew view of reality and aren’t afraid to take the piss out of just about anyone and anything, but they both have a gift for making nonsense make sense (if — errrmmm — that makes sense), and so don’t be too surprised if much of what’s on offer here ends up feeling to you like it could just as well have been the product of one mind rather than two.

Still, in many ways, that’s the ultimate mark of success for endeavors such as this one, is it not? When what’s on the page reflects the creative output of two people who are on the same page, the results are often terrific, dare I even say alchemical, and so they are here — albeit with an added caveat, that being : if you take offense at the notion of being offended (not even necessarily easily offended) and can’t get past it, you’d do well to avoid this collection altogether. There are absolutely no sacred cows in the world of Swonk, and while that makes he strip very much an artistic inheritor of the underground legacy, well — if the undergrounds bugged you, this will too. And for many of the same reasons.
For my own part, though, what can I say? I loved this book. But then slapdash regurgitations direct and unfiltered from the id have always been my cup of tea, and while I’m not at all dismissive of those whose life experiences have led them to develop more delicate sensibilities for any number of entirely valid reasons, I don’t think all comics should be forced to cater to said sensibilities by any stretch — especially when there are already so many comics that do so as a matter of course. It takes a cast-iron stomach and maybe even a vacationing conscience to enjoy much of Swonknibus — but if you have at least one or the other, preferably both, then you’re in for a great time.


Swonknibus is available for $12.00 from the Sardine Can Press Storenvy site at

Also, this review is “brought to you” by my Patreon site, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly rants and ramblings on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and politics. Subscribing is the best way to support my continuing work, so I’d be very appreciative if you’d take a moment to give it a look by directing your kind attention to

Here Are The Gotham Winners!

The Gotham Awards were held last night and the big winners were CODA and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s The Lost Daughter.  The Gothams aren’t exactly the biggest or most influential of the Oscar precursors but they were are one of the first so a victory can only help!

The winners are listed in bold:

Best Feature
“The Green Knight”
“The Lost Daughter”
“Test Pattern”

Best Documentary Feature
“Faya Dayi”
“Summer Of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised)”

Best International Feature
“Drive My Car”
“The Souvenir Part II”
“What Do We See When We Look at the Sky?”
“The Worst Person In The World”

Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award
Maggie Gyllenhaal for “The Lost Daughter”
Edson Oda for “Nine Days”
Rebecca Hall for “Passing”
Emma Seligman for “Shiva Baby”
Shatara Michelle Ford for “Test Pattern”

Best Screenplay
“The Card Counter,” Paul Schrader
“El Planeta,” Amalia Ulman
“The Green Knight,” David Lowery
“The Lost Daughter,” Maggie Gyllenhaal
“Passing,” Rebecca Hall
“Red Rocket,” Sean Baker & Chris Bergoch

Outstanding Lead Performance
Olivia Colman in “The Lost Daughter”
Frankie Faison in “The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain”
Michael Greyeyes in “Wild Indian”
Brittany S. Hall in “Test Pattern”
Oscar Isaac in “The Card Counter”
Taylour Paige in “Zola”
Joaquin Phoenix in “C’mon C’mon”
Simon Rex in “Red Rocket”
Lili Taylor in “Paper Spiders”
Tessa Thompson in “Passing”

Outstanding Supporting Performance
Reed Birney in “Mass”
Jessie Buckley in “The Lost Daughter”
Colman Domingo in “Zola”
Gaby Hoffmann in “C’mon C’mon”
Troy Kotsur in “CODA”
Marlee Matlin in “CODA”
Ruth Negga in “Passing”

Breakthrough Performer
Emilia Jones in “CODA”
Natalie Morales in “Language Lessons”
Rachel Sennott in Shiva Baby”
Suzanna Son in “Red Rocket”
Amalia Ulman in “El Planeta”

Breakthrough Series – Long Format (over 40 minutes)
“The Good Lord Bird”
“It’s A Sin”
“Small Axe”
“Squid Game”
“The Underground Railroad”
“The White Lotus”

Breakthrough Series – Short Format (under 40 minutes)
“Reservation Dogs”
“Run the World”
“We Are Lady Parts”

Breakthrough Nonfiction Series
“City So Real”
“Exterminate All the Brutes”
“How To with John Wilson”
“Philly D.A.”

Outstanding Performance in a New Series
Jennifer Coolidge in “The White Lotus”
Michael Greyeyes in “Rutherford Falls”
Ethan Hawke in “The Good Lord Bird”
Devery Jacobs in “Reservation Dogs”
Lee Jung-jae in “Squid Game”
Thuso Mbedu in “The Underground Railroad”
Jean Smart in “Hacks”
Omar Sy in “Lupin”
Anya Taylor-Joy in “The Queen’s Gambit”
Anjana Vasan in “We Are Lady Parts”

(Incidentally, I’m probably the only person not involved with the show to have noticed the victory for Philly D.A.  I’m just going to be honest and say that is one of my least favorite results ever.  Philly D.A. was a pure propaganda, nothing more.)

Rawness And Refinement : R. Kikuo Johnson’s “No One Else”

On paper, at any rate, R. Kikuo Johnson’s cartooning sounds like the kind of thing that an admittedly uncultured slob like yours truly wouldn’t — maybe even shouldn’t — find appealing : sleek, visually literate, evocative to the point of being achingly so at times, this is the kind of classy stuff one would expect to find in the pages of The New Yorker. And so it is that Johnson has spent much a good chunk of the past several years plying his trade for that venerable bastion of the Eastern self-appointed intelligentsia, which is no sin by any means : it’s just not, roughly speaking, “my thing.”

Still, every now and again it pays to stretch oneself beyond the limits of one’s own largely illusory “comfort zone” and to see just what it is that everybody else is reading — and there’s no doubt that Johnson’s long-awaited new graphic novel, No One Else (Fantagraphics, 2021) will be among the year’s most talked-about releases, especially when it comes to the so-called “bookstore crowd.” If one wanted to take a cynical view of things, in fact, it wouldn’t necessarily be at all out of line to say this comic essentially plays directly to that demographic’s sensibilities, being — as the title of this review would suggest — an inherently refined work by its very nature. But it’s that other world in the title, “rawness,” that kept me turning the pages with this one —

Maui resident Charlene, our nominal protagonist, has it rough from the outset : struggling to juggle work as a nurse with being a single mother to her son, Brandon, and caring for her aging, dementia-afflicted father is enough to drive anyone around the bend, but she’s found a way to center herself within the maelstrom of career and familial insanity by carving out a kind of necessary emotional distance bordering on aloofness that may not be healthy for those around her at all times, but preserves a sense of self for her within a life that affords almost no such mental health luxuries. When the old man dies she soldiers on as best she can, maintaining a disconcertingly businesslike demeanor at all times even as events at home clearly begin to overwhelm her, but when her estranged brother (who, for the record, she never even mentioned their father’s passing to) returns to the island, right after she decides to chuck her job in order to study for the med school entrance exam, and then her kid’s beloved cat disappears, the thin thread tethering her to the rest of humanity begins to fray — not that she’s even capable of verbalizing such things.

If there’s one shill Johnson excels at above all else, it’s representing Woody Allen-esque emotional austerity in a manner every bit as understated as such a mindset/personality type demands in order to come across as authentic. Where his visual metaphors (in this case a recurring motif of burning sugar cane fields) can come off as heavy-handed at best, too obvious by half at worst, his depictions of everyday life and its quiet alienations are never less than absolutely masterful. In a manner not entirely unlike Adrian Tomine back when he was still trying, Johnson’s characters say volumes by saying very little and letting his art do the talking. Brandon’s father is never mentioned, but we know the kid misses him all the same; Charlene’s vocabulary doesn’t even include the word “loneliness,” but we know it’s eating her alive; her father’s physical and mental abuse is never explicitly referenced until the late going, but it hangs over every page regardless. This is powerful, emotionally raw stuff, covered in the “nothing to see here, folks” trappings of multiple layers of mostly-silent denial.

To that end, while this is a brisk enough read, it’s nevertheless a draining and difficult one. Family dysfunction is never pretty, of course, family dysfunction that’s forever swept under the rug even less so, but damn if this isn’t the way reality plays out for any number of people attempting to get by in a late-stage capitalist economy that largely survives on the denial of intimacy at all levels in order to keep chugging along while it destroys the very natural world upon which its (and our) survival is dependent. In much the same way as his characters, Johnson addresses this without directly addressing it, hence those rather clumsy metaphors just referenced, but when he allows his characters to address it for him by dint of their actions and reactions, or lack thereof, the results are equal parts sublime and harrowing.

Yes, this is a self-consciously “sophisticated” comic. And while its central characters have their struggles, it’s fair to say they don’t seem terribly challenged in terms of making ends meet economically — apart from a very brief scene where Charlene’s credit card is turned down to pay for her med school exam, which seems to be resolved “off-page” in fairly short order. That in no way invalidates their traumas or mental and emotional hardships, though, and to dismiss them outright as the trials and tribulations of the “privileged” is to engage in a sort of reverse-snobbery that I don’t care to be a part of. Johnson is a master of his craft, and I can always appreciate exceptional cartooning, regardless of whether or not said style of cartooning is my usual cup of tea. There are other ways of making really good comics than the various and sundry methodologies and aesthetic approaches that I prefer — Johnson’s book serves as a very welcome reminder that understatement can sometimes be the most powerful statement of all.


No One Else is available for $16.99 from the Fantagraphics website at

Also, this review is “brought to you” by my Patreon site, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly rants and ramblings on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and politics for as little as a dollar a month. Subscribing is the best way to support my continuing work, so I’d be very appreciative indeed if you’d take a moment to give it a look by directing your kind attention to

Lisa Marie’s Week In Review: 11/22/21 — 11/28/21

It’s been a week of celebrations!  We celebrated Erin’s birthday!  We celebrated Thanksgiving!  We celebrated Arleigh’s birthday!  And now, with all of that celebrating behind us, I’m tired.  Let’s do this.

Films I Watched:

  1. A Mother’s Lie (2021)
  2. A Predator Returns (2021)
  3. A Professor’s Vengeance (2021)
  4. A Very Brady Christmas (1988)
  5. Abduction Runs In The Family (2021)
  6. Body Brokers (2021)
  7. Burning Little Lies (2021)
  8. Dying to Belong (2021)
  9. Empire Records (1995)
  10. The Old Man Who Cried Wolf (1970)
  11. Passing (2021)
  12. The Ruins (2008)
  13. Runaway (1984)
  14. V.C. Andrews’ Pearl In The Mist (2021)
  15. V.C. Andrews’s Ruby (2021)

Television Shows I Watched:

  1. Allo Allo
  2. Baywatch Hawaii
  3. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
  4. Cowboys v Raiders Football Game
  5. Dexter: New Blood
  6. Fear The Walking Dead
  7. Open All Hours
  8. Survivor
  9. Upstart Crow
  10. The Walking Dead: World Beyond

Music To Which I Listened:

  1. Adi Ulmansky
  2. Bob Dylan
  3. The Crystal Method
  4. David Guetta
  5. Dido
  6. Dillon Francis
  7. DJ Judaa
  8. DJ Snake
  9. The Eagles
  10. Emma Muscat
  11. Foo Fighters
  12. Galantis
  13. Hazel English
  14. The Heavy
  15. Jarah Gibson
  16. Katy Perry
  17. Kedr Livanskiy
  18. Little Mix
  19. Martin Garrix
  20. Mattiel
  21. Muse
  22. Pigeonhed
  23. Player
  24. Public Service Broadcasting
  25. Rebecca Black
  26. Saint Motel
  27. Sleigh Bells

News From Last Week:

  1. Stephen Sondheim Dies
  2. James Rocci, film critic, dies at 53.
  3. Don Phillips, casting director of Dazed and Confused and Fast Times At Ridgemont High, dies
  4. Matthew McConaughey Decides to Not Run for Texas Governor

Links From Last Week:

  1. Stephen Sondheim made art the made life seem more real
  2. The World’s Common Tater’s Week in Books, Movies, and TV 11/26/21
  3. RIP Stephen Sondheim! His Brilliant Musical Career – And Cult Film Gem “The Last Of Sheila…”

Links From The Site:

  1. Jeff wished you a happy thanksgiving with a scene from WKRP!
  2. Erin shared: Planet Stories, The Night Horseman, Acre of Love, Arboretum Path, The Case Against Myself, Detective Short Stories, and Mortgage on Life!
  3. I shared my week in TV!  I shared music videos from: Emma Muscat, Kedr Livasnkiy, Player, Rebecca Black, Katy Perry, Adi Ulmansky, and Mattiel! I reviewed Fear the Walking Dead, Dexter, Abduction Runs In The Family, Pearl in the Mist, Ruby, A Professor’s Vengeance, A Predator Returns, and A Mother’s Lie! I wished Arleigh a happy birthday and a happy Thanksgiving to all!

More From Us:

  1. Ryan has a patreon!  Consider subscribing!
  2. At reality TV Chat Blog, I reviewed the latest episode of Survivor!
  3. At my music site, I shared songs from Adi Ulmansky, Public Service Broadcasting, Saint Motel, Dido, Foo Fighters, Jarah Gibson, and Sleigh Bells! 
  4. At her photography site, Erin shared Woodpecker, Humpty Dumpty, Clouds at Sunset, Courtyard, JFK Memorial, Change, and Christmas is Coming!
  5. At Pop Politics, Jeff wrote about the airport!

Want to check out last week?  Click here!