Lisa Marie’s Oscar Predictions for December

Well, the year’s nearly over and that means that it is time for me to post my final Oscar predictions for 2021.  The race has gotten much clearer with the start of the precursor season.  The critics love The Power of the Dog.  However, it’s perhaps a bit too early to declare it the front runner.  I want to see how things go with the Guilds in January before I bestow that title on any film.

A few thoughts:

There are ten Best Picture nominees this year so we won’t have any of that, “Here’s a random number of nominees” crap.  In theory, that should open the door for some unconventional nominees that might have missed the cut-off in previous years.  Again, I said, “In theory.”  They tried this 10 nominee thing before and it didn’t really lead to the results that a lot of people were expecting.

Still, I’m going to swing out on a web and predict a Best Picture nomination for Spider-Man: No Way Home.  It’s got Disney and Sony behind it.  It’s making a ton of money despite not playing in China.  It’ the film that’s currently giving the industry hope that there’s a future outside of the streaming sites.  Plus, after the nominations of Black Panther and Joker, it might be time to give the whole “They’ll never nominate a comic book movie!” argument a rest.  

I’m also going to predict a Best Picture nomination for Drive My Car, which has been getting a lot of attention from the critics.  

The critics also loved West Side Story but now, it’s probably best known for being a bust at the box office.  I still think the movie will be nominated but I don’t think it’ll win.  And I think it’s a lot less likely that Rita Moreno will pick up a nomination.  People seem to have moved on from the movie.  Again, this could all change once the Guilds start announcing their nominations.

The critics are split on Don’t Look Up.  I personally think it’s one of the worst films of 2021.  But the film will be nominated for much the same reason that The Big Short and Vice were nominated.  There’s a lot of Academy members who agree with McKay’s politics.  And the people who do like Don’t Look Up really, really like it.  And I also think there’s probably enough people annoyed with Elon Musk that Mark Rylance will sneak into the supporting actor race.

Belfast has not been dominating the early part of awards season but I think it will come on strong once the Guilds start announce their nominations.

Anywya, 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 and November!

Best Picture



Don’t Look Up

Drive My Car


King Richard

Licorice Pizza

The Power of the Dog

Spider-Man: No Way Home

West Side Story

Best Director

Paul Thomas Anderson for Licorice Pizza

Kenneth Branagh for Belfast

Jane Campion for The Power of the Dog

Ryusuke Hamaguchi for Drive My Car

Denis Villeneueve for Dune

Best Actor

Benedict Cumberbatch in The Power of the Dog

Peter Dinklage in Cyrano

Andrew Gardield for tick….tick….BOOM!

Will Smith in King Richard

Denzel Washington in The Tragedy of MacBeth

Best Actress

Jessica Chastain in The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Lady Gaga in House of Gucci

Alana Haim in Licorice Pizza

Kristen Stewart in Spencer

Rachel Zegler in West Side Story

Best Supporting Actor

Bradley Cooper in Licorice Pizza

Ciaran Hinds in Belfast

Troy Kostur in CODA

Mark Rylance in Don’t Look Up

Kodi Smit-McPhee in The Power of the Dog

Best Supporting Actress

Ariana DeBose in West Side Story

Ann Dowd in Mass

Kirsten Dunst in The Power of the Dog

Aunjanue Ellis in King Richard

Marlee Matlin in CODA


Catching Up With The Films of 2021: After We Fell (dir by Castille Landon)

After We Fell continues the story of Tessa and Hardin, the world’s most boring couple.

If you’ve seen After and After We Collided, you know the story of Tessa (Josephine Langford) and Hardin (Hero Fiennes-Tiffin).  You know that Tessa has an alcoholic father and that she met and fell in love with Hardin during her first semester of college.  You know that Hardin is a British bad boy with a lot of really lame tattoos but he also really likes The Great Gatsby.  Hardin’s from a wealthy family and he’s a recovering alcoholic.  Hardin may come across like a sullen jerk but that’s just because no one but Tessa understands who he truly is.  Blah blah blah.

Hardin and Tessa spent the first two movies having a bunch of boring relationship problems and that’s pretty much what they spend the third movie doing, as well.  There’s a lot of tastefully filmed sex scenes but no one’s going to mistake these films for Fifty Shades of Grey.  Whenever Hardin and Tessa have sex in After We Collided, there’s a close-up of Hardin grabbing a condom.  The one time that Hardin doesn’t grab a condom, it leads to one of the film’s few plot developments.  It’s the rule of Chekhov’s Condom.  If a condom is used in the first act, a condom will not be used in the second act, and there will be consequences in the third act.

There’s not really much of a plot to this one.  Tessa takes a job in Seattle.  Hardin doesn’t want her to go to Seattle.  Tessa’s drunk dad shows up.  Hardin bonds with the drunk dad.  Hardin’s mother gets married so the film’s action moves to London.

When Hardin and Tessa visit his mom, Hardin’s mom says, “I set your bed up, Hardin.”

“I was expecting to stay on the floor,” Hardin replies.


The After films wouldn’t be so bad if Hardin wasn’t such an annoying douchebag.  And it would help is Tessa actually had a personality that went beyond her relationship with Hardin.  They’re a boring couple.  Whatever chemistry Fiennes-Tiffin and Langford had in the first two films is totally missing in After We Fell.  When they have phone sex, you feel bad for whoever at the NSA is having to transcribe their conversation.  They have no interests outside of each other and listening to middlebrow music.  Hardin continually fears that Tessa is going to leave him but Tessa wouldn’t exist if she wasn’t half of a couple and neither would Hardin.  They’re not individuals.  They have no personality outside of worrying about each other, fighting with each other, and talking about each other.  One gets the feeling that they are the couple that everyone tries to avoid at a party.  “Don’t get stuck in a corner with those two unless you’re ready to spend the entire night listening to the story about that time Hardin was reading The Great Gatsby in the student union….”

The film ends with the promise of “To be continued.”  I’m looking forward to After The Divorce.

Here Are The 2021 Nominations of The North Carolina Film Critics Association!

The North Carolina Film Critics Association will be announcing their winners on January 5th!

Here are their nominees:

Drive My Car
The French Dispatch
The Green Knight
Licorice Pizza
The Power of the Dog
West Side Story
The Worst Person in the World

The Sparks Brothers
Summer of Soul
The Velvet Underground

The Mitchells vs. The Machines
Raya and the Last Dragon

Drive My Car
A Hero
Riders of Justice
The Worst Person in the World

David Lowery – The Green Knight
Denis Villeneuve – Dune
Jane Campion – The Power of the Dog
Paul Thomas Anderson – Licorice Pizza
Steven Spielberg – West Side Story

Nightmare Alley
The Power of the Dog
The Tragedy of Macbeth
West Side Story

Andrew Garfield – tick, tick… BOOM!
Benedict Cumberbatch – The Power of the Dog
Dev Patel – The Green Knight
Nicolas Cage – Pig
Will Smith – King Richard

Alex Wolff – Pig
Jason Isaacs – Mass
Jeffrey Wright – The French Dispatch
Kodi Smit-McPhee – The Power of the Dog
Woody Norman – C’mon C’mon

Alana Haim – Licorice Pizza
Jessica Chastain – The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Kristen Stewart – Spencer
Olivia Colman – The Lost Daughter
Renate Reinsve – The Worst Person in the World

Aunjanue Ellis – King Richard
Ann Dowd – Mass
Ariana DeBose – West Side Story
Kirsten Dunst – The Power of the Dog
Ruth Negga – Passing

Abbi Jacobson – The Mitchells vs. The Machines
Danny McBride – The Mitchells vs. The Machines
Jacob Tremblay – Luca
Kelly Marie Tran – Raya and the Last Dragon
Stephanie Beatriz – Encanto

The French Dispatch
Licorice Pizza
The Power of the Dog

C’mon C’mon
The French Dispatch
Licorice Pizza

Drive My Car
The Green Knight
The Power of the Dog

The French Dispatch
The Last Duel
The Power of the Dog
West Side Story

The Green Knight
The Matrix Resurrections
Spider-Man: No Way Home
The Suicide Squad

Black Widow
The Matrix Resurrections
No Time To Die
Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Spider-Man: No Way Home

Last Night in Soho
Nightmare Alley

The Eyes of Tammy Faye
House of Gucci
Nightmare Alley

The French Dispatch
The Green Knight
Nightmare Alley
West Side Story

Don’t Look Up
No Time To Die
The Power of the Dog

Every Letter – Cyrano
Guns Go Bang – The Harder They Fall
Just Look Up – Don’t Look Up
No Time To Die – No Time To Die
So May We Start – Annette

Nightmare Alley
No Time To Die
tick, tick… BOOM!
West Side Story

Fran Kranz – Mass
Lin-Manuel Miranda – tick, tick… BOOM!
Maggie Gyllenhaal – The Lost Daughter
Michael Sarnoski – Pig
Rebecca Hall – Passing

Alana Haim – Licorice Pizza
Cooper Hoffman – Licorice Pizza
Emilia Jones – CODA
Woody Norman – C’mon C’mon
Rachel Zegler – West Side Story

Anthony Mackie (Falcon and the Winter Soldier; Synchronic; Outside the Wire; The Woman in the Window) – Studied at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts
Ariana DeBose (West Side Story; Schmigadoon) – From Raleigh, North Carolina
Brian Tyree Henry (Eternals; The Woman in the Window; Godzilla vs. Kong) – From Fayetteville, North Carolina
Jonathan Majors (The Harder They Fall, Loki) – Studied at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts
Stephen McKinley Henderson (Dune; Bruised) – Studied at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts

My Top 25 Albums of 2021

This is the first year I relied exclusively on Bandcamp for downloads, and I think the artist notifications and trending recommendations paid off a lot. The last time I felt comfortable pushing my aoty list past 20 without resorting to entries that felt like filler name recognition was 2011. This year I ended up at 25 with plenty of potential honorable mentions.

25. Panopticon – …and Again into the Light

post-black metal

Sample track: Rope Burn Exit

I never quite understood why Austin Lunn kept his fiddle and amplifier in separate closets, but, for the most part up to this point, his folk and metal passages tended to make room for each other. They still do stylistically, but the violin has a free hand to enhance the black metal throughout this album in a way I feel he’d only offered brief glimpses at before. The result is a very lush, full recording that’s maybe a bit too post-rocky to fill my tasteometer on a regular basis but offers a very immersive experience when the mood strikes.

24. Mystras – Empires Vanquished and Dismantled

medieval black metal

Sample track: The Fall of the Kingdom of Jerusalem

Ayloss projects always take a while to grow on me, but seven spins in I’m not feeling the magic that lead me to give his last effort as Mystras album of the year. Luckily, it’s not all he had to offer in 2021, and it’s still pretty enjoyable. The feeling his style gives me is rewarding at its weakest, and I certainly wouldn’t call Empires that. It just hasn’t risen above him doing that thing I love to become a sequence of individually outstanding tracks for me, yet. I wouldn’t be surprised if I regret placing this so low down the line.

23. Urdôl Ur – Seven Portals to the Arcane Realms

There should be a specific term for this like dungeon metal or something

Sample track: Munloire

I eat this stuff up and always have and likely always will. It’s just Summoning worship. Listen to it if you worship Summoning. I bet if it had been released in time to binge through October I’d have placed it higher.

22. 1914 – Where Fear and Weapons Meet

epic black/death metal

Sample track: FN .380 ACP#19074

The cheese of story-focused lyrics told with a less than ideal grasp on English can’t hold back this album from feeling pretty epic. The orchestration and cinematic flare pair well with a theme of World War I, and that thematic continuity is what really holds my interest. Polished big label production doesn’t always do much for my aesthetically, but it has a lot of neat moments and the concept album feel to it keeps me engaged. Not sure it will stick with me long, but I found it very approachable and thoroughly enjoyed the sessions I had with it.

21. Boris – No World Tour In Your Head 2021

punk, hardcore, Boris things

Sample track: Quicksilver

I don’t have the energy to accurately count how many releases Boris put out this year. It’s around 20. They offered very little in the way of new songs, but in COVID’s touring void they dusted off a massive volume of live recordings, issued in a mix of independent albums and tack-on bonuses to rereleases of old material. Collectively, they might comprise my favorite listening experience of 2021. But this is an album list, and releases like SMILE -Live at Wolf Creek and Tokyo Wonder Land were recorded years ago anyway. No World Tour In Your Head 2021 is more than worthy to champion this collection–a frantic explosion of pent up energy channeled into a live studio performance of their most recent full length album.

20. Mare Cognitum – Solar Paroxysm

post-black metal

Sample track: Ataraxia Tunnels

A post-oriented bm album that I might have raved about ten years ago lacks quite the same feeling of originality today. I enjoyed most of this in a forgettable sort of way, which is to say I did enjoy it but wasn’t inspired by the overarching sound the way I’d been with say, Panopticon’s Kentucky when this forlorn but subtly joyful approach was much more of a novelty. The album is very back-loaded though, in my opinion, with Luminous Accretion shipping an intensity I can’t so easily ignore and then Ataraxia Tunnels vastly overshadowing everything before it. The emotional grip of the closing track was enough to propel it up my charts. It’s a real treat, though I wish the rest of the album conveyed the same sense of urgency.

19. Conjureth – Majestic Dissolve

death metal

Sample track: Wet Flesh Vortex

Anything you could need to know about this band is explained within the first ten seconds of the opening track. Top tier sitting in commute traffic with the windows down jams from start to finish.

18. Lamp of Murmuur – Submission and Slavery

gothic black metal

Sample track: Deformed Erotic Visage

Basing two ten minute tracks on a thirty minute album around the same riff was an interesting creative liberty that probably paid off. It doesn’t take much exposure to remember Submission and Slavery. It has an endearing lack of polish–an amateurish approach that aligns well with their black metal aesthetic. Add in some quality post-punk interludes and unexpected Knopflerian solos, and you’ve got an album that feels charmingly distinct. A later discovery, it grew on me fast and may well continue to.

17. Trhä – lhum jolhduc

post-black metal

Sample track: dôlh (0:00 through 14:00)

This is a raw spastic emotional rollercoaster. dôlh breaks my heart in seconds and is an absolute triumph while it holds. The slower passages don’t always sustain my interest as much as I want them to, but it’s one of many solid releases this mysterious new project brought to the table in 2021.

16. Non Serviam – Le Cœur Bat

the soundtrack to my dog telling me to kill the president

Sample track: Inno Individualista

This definitely takes the cake for the weirdest thing I’ve heard this year, or any other time I can remember. The only album I can think to compare it to is Peste Noire’s L’Ordure à l’état Pur, which is a feat in itself. I’ve listened to it a ton and never actually attempted to wrap my head around it for fear I might succeed and shatter the mystery. Suffice to say I feel at zero risk of that without trying. I picked up the hour and a half long deluxe edition and have no idea where the album proper is supposed to end, but it never needs to end really.

15. Trhä – inagape

atmospheric black metal

Sample track: tegëndë dicámbrhëha (0:00 through 11:30)

This just dropped December 24th and moved straight off of Bandcamp onto my year end roster. Tracks that are memorable like lhum jolhduc but with less down time sold me fast. Who knows how high it could have risen given more time. Whoever this guy is, his three 2021 albums mark him as the best new thing in atmospheric black metal, and I hope 2022 is just as prolific.

14. Veilburner – Lurkers in the Capsule of Skull

psychedelic death metal

Sample track: Lurkers in the Capsule of Skull

I regret forgetting about this band for a while. I missed a few albums between Noumenon and Lurkers, and chances are they were all great. Veilburner has a knack for never overselling his pop sensibilities. The album’s loaded with memorable moments that seldom repeat–easter eggs well suited for the passive way I engage most metal. It’s easy to avoid overfamiliarizing myself and reexperience the ride with the same enticing curiosity it offered on first exposure. A tough one to rank, this shifted in and out of my top 10 a lot. I found myself appreciating it more than most but directly enjoying a few others more.

13. Portal – Avow

death metal noise

Sample track: Catafalque

I had a friend die to COVID this year, and this album pretty accurately reflected how I felt about it. It’s viscerally ugly and barely pretends to be music. I find it deeply satisfying when my mood calls for harsh intensity stripped of meaningful melodic progression.

12. Koldovstvo – Ни царя, ни бога

melodic atmospheric black metal

Sample track: IV

Enchanting and mysterious bm hailing from somewhere between Russia and Oregon. I love how the album cover sets the mood for me. Its muffled voices and melodies resonate the damaged eloquence of Victorian ghosts drifting about in their hubris, lamenting the hollow halls of some abandoned estate.

11. Alkerdeel – Slonk

black metal

Sample track: Vier

Smooth doomy black n groovy, unforgiving but chill. The fabulous bass line in the first metal passage doesn’t stick around, but it sets a tone that hangs with me for the entire album. It’s no bullshit black metal that feels simultaneously raw and thick, carefully paced and relentlessly plowing forward.

10. Spectral Wound – A Diabolic Thirst

black metal

Sample track: Frigid and Spellbound

This album flows like extremely violent butter through a headbanging indulgence into every reason I still love classic Immortal and Gorgoroth. It’s deliciously aggressive and uncompromising. I picked it up in a pretty large batch of purchases, and I didn’t get through half of them before coming back to it. It’s since become a short term staple, especially in the car. Every track is instantly captivating. The progression is always satisfying. Traditional but flawless.

9. Kvadrat – Ψυχική Αποσύνθεση

moody death/black metal

Sample track: Αποξένωση

This vibes Ulcerate hard and the opening track is sick. It’s only 23 minutes, and it’s the artist’s first debut under any name that I can find. A great ride with lots of promise for things to come.

8. A Compendium of Curiosities – The Resting Place of Dreams

dungeon synth

Sample track: Hope Never Dies Forever

Along with two hour+ metal opuses, Ayloss found the time this year to record three dungeon synth albums and a pretty outlandish martial mix. The Resting Place of Dreams in particular fully captivated me on a higher level than any dungeon synth I’ve heard before it. The tones on this album are just goddamn gorgeous, and he didn’t hesitate to drop instantly memorable melodies he could have saved for his higher visibility projects. It might not be his most galaxy brain work of the year, but in terms of personal enjoyment, the numbers don’t lie; I accumulated 250 plays of Ayloss’s dungeon synth collection in 2021, and it’s still going strong.

7. Mechina – Siege

symphonic djent

Sample track: Blood Feud Erotica

A djent noodler of epic proportions, the album starts off slow but satisfying and continues to perfect on a sound I think Mechina has gotten better at with every album. If you like to surf symphonic waves while semi-automatic bubbles blast into your ears, you will probably enjoy this. The climax on Blood Feud Erotica is my favorite Mechina moment to date and oh God why did they name it that.

6. Ad Nauseam – Imperative Imperceptible Impulse

avant-garde death metal

Sample track: Human Interface to No God

Chaos shouldn’t feel this right. It’s a challenging slog given undivided attention, but it hits a perfect sweet spot as a moody background piece that constantly engages my senses while engulfing me in lush intensity. Too unpredictable to ever grow stale, too aesthetically pleasing to overwhelm.

5. Këkht Aräkh – Pale Swordsman

emo black metal

Sample track: Thorns

Not to be confused with the screamo black metal pioneered by Cara Neir before they evolved into video game grindcore, this album is for true cult sad boys only. Këkht Aräkh’s ability to convey emotion through heavily memed-out black metal tropes is pretty compelling. Quality metal moods blend with melancholy sweet piano and vocal interludes to craft an album I fell in love with completely.

4. Trhä – endlhëtonëg

atmospheric black metal, ambient

Sample track: endlhëdëhaj (9:15 through 19:30)

Cast your gaze into the dreamy void. “Atmospheric” fails to convey the extent to which Trhä’s heavy synth over washed out blast beats conjures a surreal ethereal voyage. It’s proven especially aesthetically pleasing at Christmas time, though I’m letting the kiddos stick to Vince Guaraldi.

3. The Armed – Ultrapop

glitzy digital post-hardcore

Sample track: All Futures

I’m not sure how this actually feels like a pop album, because they seem to have figured out how to turn amplifiers up to 12, but it does. An endless barrage of catchy riffs and choruses bludgeoned into my face with rainbow-tinted brass knuckles. Their ability to start off in hyperdrive and make every track climax anyway is insane.

2. Spectral Lore – Ετερόφωτος

medieval black metal

Sample track: Ετερόφωτος

Hollow echoey tones that conjure scenes of rain and spring time. Endless transitions from one intriguing melody and mood to the next, delivered in Ayloss’s trademark warp speed tremolo. This album is hard to enjoy passively for all the right reasons. It rips me out of my environment and casts me into some amalgamation of the artist’s. Every track is so vivid and thick with content, I feel like I’m still discovering it dozens of plays later. Ayloss continues to cement his legacy in my mind as the best song writer of the past decade.

The only drawback is the 19 minute closer Terean, a drug out ambient noise piece. I don’t find it particularly compelling as that style goes. Ετερόφωτος clocks just shy of an hour without it and otherwise closes with a song that very much feels like a closer (and transitions into some unexpected and quite welcome Tool worship in the process). I’m often finding myself listening out Terean afterwards waiting for something more while the better half of me knows I’d be more satisfied just skipping the thing. A pety complaint to focus on, but something had to separate this from the winner.

1. The Ruins of Beverast – The Thule Grimoires

industrial/doom/black metal

Sample track: Kromlec’h Knell

An aural journey that felt inspired on first encounter and never let up all year. Blut Aus Nordian grooves traveling through vivid, harsh landscapes that achieve their threat level via robust song-crafting rather than excess. It’s a genre-spanning masterpiece. I never gave Ruins of Beverast extensive attention prior to this year, but I’ll absolutely be deep diving the discography after I’ve wrapped up 2021.

Previous years on Shattered Lens:

2011 / 2012 / 2013 / 2014 / 2015 / 2016 / 2017 / 2018 / 2019 / 2020