Here Are The 2022 Nominees of the Online Film Critics Society!

The winners will be announced tomorrow!

Best Picture
The Banshees of Inisherin
Everything Everywhere All at Once
The Fabelmans
Top Gun: Maverick
Women Talking

Best Animated Feature
Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish
Turning Red

Best Director
Todd Field – Tár
Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert – Everything Everywhere All at Once
Martin McDonagh – The Banshees of Inisherin
Steven Spielberg – The Fabelmans
Charlotte Wells – Aftersun

Best Lead Actor
Austin Butler – Elvis
Colin Farrell – The Banshees of Inisherin
Brendan Fraser – The Whale
Paul Mescal – Aftersun
Bill Nighy – Living

Best Lead Actress
Cate Blanchett – Tár
Viola Davis – The Woman King
Danielle Deadwyler – Till
Mia Goth – Pearl
Michelle Yeoh – Everything Everywhere All at Once

Best Supporting Actor
Paul Dano – The Fabelmans
Barry Keoghan – The Banshees of Inisherin
Brendan Gleeson – The Banshees of Inisherin
Brian Tyree Henry – Causeway
Ke Huy Quan – Everything Everywhere All at Once

Best Supporting Actress
Angela Bassett – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Dolly De Leon – Triangle of Sadness
Kerry Condon – The Banshees of Inisherin
Jamie Lee Curtis – Everything Everywhere All at Once
Stephanie Hsu – Everything Everywhere All at Once

Best Original Screenplay
The Banshees of Inisherin
Everything Everywhere All at Once
The Fabelmans

Best Adapted Screenplay
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
She Said
White Noise
Women Talking

Best Editing
Everything Everywhere All at Once
The Fabelmans
Top Gun: Maverick

Best Cinematography
The Banshees of Inisherin
The Fabelmans
Top Gun: Maverick

Best Original Score
The Banshees of Inisherin
The Batman
The Fabelmans
Women Talking

Best Production Design
Avatar: The Way of Water
Everything Everywhere All at Once
The Fabelmans

Best Costume Design
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Everything Everywhere All at Once
The Woman King

Best Visual Effects
Avatar: The Way of Water
Everything Everywhere All at Once
Top Gun: Maverick

Best Debut Feature
Aftersun – Charlotte Wells
Emily the Criminal – John Patton Ford
Funny Pages – Owen Kline
Hit the Road – Panah Panahi
Saint Omer – Alice Diop
Turning Red – Domee Shi

Best Film Not in the English Language
All Quiet on the Western Front
Decision to Leave
No Bears

Best Documentary Feature
All That Breathes
All the Beauty and the Bloodshed
Fire of Love
Good Night Oppy
Moonage Daydream

Retro Television Reviews: California Dreams 3.2 “Follow Your Dreams” and 3.3 “Budget Cuts”

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Saturdays, I will be reviewing California Dreams, which ran on NBC from 1992 to 1996.  The entire show is currently streaming on YouTube!

This week is all about aptitude tests and radio stations!

Episode 3.2 “Follow Your Dreams”

(Dir by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on September 17th, 1994)

The school guidance counselor (Christopher Hewett) gives everyone an aptitude test.  Mark discovers that he should be a guidance counselor.  Tiffani discovers she should be a vet.  Tony discovers that he should be a musician.  (Way to go, Tony!)  Lorena’s ideal career choice is fashion designer.  The same is true of Sly, largely because he copied off of Lorena’s test.  Jake, meanwhile, is told he should go into arranging flowers.

This comes at a bad time for Jake.  He’s been suffering from writer’s block and, when the test says that he has no artistic skills, he considers giving up music.  Fortunately, he changes his mind.  The Dreams already lost Matt, I doubt they could survive losing Jake.

Meanwhile, Sly briefly becomes Lorena’s boyfriend but that only lasts a day before she discovers that he copied her test.  She humiliates Sly by forcing him to dress up like a caveman for a school presentation.  (Sly actually looks good as a caveman so it doesn’t quite work.)  Fear not.  Sly and Lorena will eventually get a second chance in another season or two.

This was a good episode.  Tony turning into a pretentious beatboxer was especially amusing.

Episode 3.3 “Budget Cuts”

(Dir by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on September 24th, 1994)

What was the deal with Peter Engel-produced shows and school radio stations?

Saved By The Bell had a school radio station that was used to help save the Max.  City Guys had a radio station that became a major part of the show after Chris and Jamal abandoned work on the video yearbook.  Did Hang Time have a school radio station?  It honestly would not shock me if they did.

Anyway, California Dreams also has a school radio station and Sly has been named the general manager.  Of course, all of the Dreams get programs of their own.  Mark becomes a drama critic and upsets Tony by ridiculing his performance as Hamlet.  Sam gets a job running an advice show and tells people to go see Mrs. Doubtfire.  Jake gets a show called “Shut Up and Listen!”  And Lorena does a show about fashion.  (“Combats boots are hot but wearing them with tube socks is not.”)

The radio station is a huge success for everyone but Jake.  As Sly points out, people don’t want to be told to shut up and listen.  When Jake refuses to change his format, Sly fires him.  The audience gasps.  One scene later, Principal Blumford (played by character actor Earl Boen), enters the radio station and announces that the school board has decided to cut funding for the radio station!

I’m sure you can guess what happens next.  Lorena, Tiffani, and Sam want to start a petition to save the station.  Jake ridicules them for not being “real rebels” so Lorena proves him wrong by locking herself in the radio station and broadcasting without authorization.  Jake is so impressed that he not only makes out with Lorena (on the air) but he also attends a school board meeting and successfully argues that the station is important. Jake wears a suit to the meeting.  The audience goes crazy.  The episode ends with him and Lorena declaring their love for each other while everyone else celebrates the fact that the radio station has been saved.

This is actually my second time to review this episode.  The first time I reviewed it, I think I was a little bit dismissive but I better appreciated it this time.  Some of that’s because I’ve been watching One World, a show in which the cast had absolutely no chemistry.  After watching something like One World or some of the lesser episodes of City Guys, it’s easier to see just how well the cast of California Dreams played off of each other.  They’re believable as friends and bandmates and that definitely adds something to the show, regardless of how broad some of the humor may be.

The highlight of this episode?  Lorena calling Jake “fake Fonzi.”  What made it work was that Jake responded by saying, “Heeeey.”  A close second would be Principal Blumford announcing, “I’ll be back,” which was a nice shoutout to Earl Boen’s role in The Terminator franchise.

Next week …. more music!

Retro Television Review: Hang Time 3.1 “Team Captain” and 3.2 “Sexual Harassment”

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Mondays, I will be reviewing Hang Time, which ran on NBC from 1995 to 2000.  The entire show is currently streaming on YouTube!

Welcome to season 3 of Hang Time!  Two cast members leave and two join.  The theme song remains the same.

Episode 3.1 “Team Captain”

(Directed by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on September 13th, 1997)

A new school year begins at Deering High and …. wait a minute?  Where’s Josh!?  Where’s Amy!?  Two members of the cast have vanished without warning.  The new head cheerleader is Kristy Ford (Amber Barretto), who apparently is good friends with everyone on the show even though the viewers have never seen her before.  And replacing Josh as the new player who is obviously destined to become Julie’s boyfriend is Michael Manning (Adam Frost).  Michael has transferred to Deering and, unlike Josh, he can’t wait to play on the team!

Mary Beth spent her summer at space camp (even though there’s never been anything about Mary Beth that has suggested she would have any interest in space camp) and, while there, she met and kissed Saved By The Bell‘s Ryan Parker!  When the guilt-stricken Mary Beth tells Vince about what happened, Vince dumps her.  But then Vince decides to take Mary Beth back on the condition that Mary Beth basically do a bunch of things to prove her love for him.  This sounds like the set-up of a 70s porn flick but, since this is a TNBC show, Vince just asks Mary Beth to wait in line to buy tickets to the new Jim Carrey film.  Seriously, Mary Beth, don’t take that from him!  I would have picked Ryan over Vince too!

At the movies, Vince is approached by a girl with whom he cheated on Mary Beth over the summer.  Mary Beth responds by dumping a bunch of nachos on his crotch, once again proving herself to be the coolest girl in Indiana.

Meanwhile, Julie is angry because everyone on the team loves Michael and wants him to be team captain.  Julie gets upset that no one wants her to be team captain, despite the fact that she never bothered to tell anyone that she wanted the position and she expected that they would just give it to her.  This was a typical Julie storyline, in that Julie was totally self-centered but it was okay because she’s Julie.  Eventually, everyone on the team told Julie that they couldn’t possibly win without her and Julie got over being angry.

Episode 3.2 “Sexual Harassment” 

(Directed by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on September 13th, 1997)

In a sure sign that this episode was from the 90s, the men on the team agree to get tattoos but all of the guys get scared and change their minds.  Naturally, Julie takes this is an opportunity to make everyone else feel like crap by getting a fake tattoo and then scolding the guys for once again not making her feel like a part of the team.  Of course, as the last two seasons have shown, Julie is the only good player on the team and all of her teammates literally worship the ground that she walks on so I’m starting to feel that Julie just likes to complain about stuff.

Fortunately, that was only the B-plot.  In the main plot, Mary Beth accidentally spent the team’s entire budget in just one weekend.  In order to pay the team back, she got a job as a waitress at The Warehouse.  Her boss was the Warehouse’s assistant manager, Tom (Jeremy Vincent Garrett), a former Deering basketball star who apparently used to play for Coach Fuller even though we’ve never seen the character before and the show literally started with Fuller showing up the first day of his coaching job.  Tom turns out to be a total creep who is always giving Mary Beth unwanted back rubs and pressuring her to stay late with him.  The storyline was handled in a surprisingly mature fashion, considering that this was a TNBC show.  A lot of credit for that goes to Megan Parlen and Jeremy Vincent Garrett, who both gave believable performances even when the show itself threatened to get a bit cartoonish.  At the end of the episode, Fuller ordered Tom to leave his gym and, for once, the audience’s applause felt earned.

October Positivity: Buying Time (dir by Michael Cargile)

2019’s Buying Time opens in the future.

It’s not a particularly happy future.  Many things have been declared illegal and forbidden, all in the name of the public good.  Secret police roam the streets.  Those who refuse to obey the system are arrested and held in dark cells.  It’s all for the benefit of the people, of course.  (Not me, us and all that nonsense.)

Adam Demus (Drew Garrett) is arrested for street racing and tossed into a dark cell.  Adam is a rebel, though he doesn’t seem to be sure what exactly it is that he’s rebelling against.  To Adam’s shock and anger, his father, Nick (Jake Head) is brought into the cell.  It is quickly established that Nick used to be an abusive drunk and that he regularly beat both Adam and Adam’s mother.  Adam wants nothing to do with Nick but Nick asks him to just listen to his story.  Seeing as how the cell is locked, Adam doesn’t really have much choice.  While Nick speaks, the government monitors everything that he says.  They’re just waiting for him to say one certain thing so that they can make their move.

Nick talks about his youth and how he was once also a street racer.  In the years before the new government came to power, Nick would spend every night racing against two brother, Ben and Pete.  But then, one night, a terrible accident landed Ben in the hospital.  Having nearly died, Ben declared himself to be a Christian and, instead of racing, he now wanted to preach.  Pete wasn’t particularly happy about that.  In fact, outside of their mother and the local preacher, no one was happy about that.  Ben would still go to the street races but now, he would try to preach and he would go on and on about how breaking the law went against God’s will.  Finally, Nick called Ben’s bluff and challenged him to a race.  If Ben won the race, he would be allowed to preach and everyone would listen to him.  If Nick won the race …. well, who knows?  I guess Ben would just have to go to some other illegal event and try to preach there.  (One can only imagine how his message would have gone down at a cockfight.)  Anyway, if you’ve ever seen a faith-based film, you’ll know that this all leads to tragedy, a sudden conversion, and eventually a scene where the government declares that Christianity is now forbidden.

Due to its structure, Buying Time has an odd feel to it.  Indeed, it feels like two separate movies and it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that the interrogation scenes were conceived and added after the scenes involving Ben and Pete.  All in all, it’s a pretty heavy-handed film and Ben and Pete are not particularly likable characters.  Ben is preachy.  Peter is resentful.  Even their mom is a bit full-of-herself.  That said, I do like fast cars and I don’t care much for the government so I appreciated the film on those two levels.  It’s interesting to note that, as a viewer, I never really bought Ben’s sudden conversion to Christianity but I totally believed that the government would have no problem taking away everyone’s rights.  I guess that says a lot about the state of the world today.

October Positivity: Remember The Goal (dir by Dave Christiano)

The 2016 film, Remember the Goal, is all about running track.

Well, actually, I guess it’s not all about running track.  It’s also about the importance of teamwork.  It’s also about the importance of remaining humble, respecting authority, and doing what your coach tells you to do.  In short, it’s a film that makes me happy that I wasn’t on the track team in high school.  I’m not really a fan of authority or doing what other people tell me to do.  For that matter, I’m not really much of a team person.  I’m an individualist who enjoys being around other individualists.  I’m a big believer that people can work together while still allowing everyone to do their own thing and at their own pace.

In short, Coach Courtney Smith-Donnelly (Allee Sutton Hethcoat) would probably not want me on her track team and that’s okay.  Though I will say that, a few years ago, I took up running because I was told that it might help to ease my asthma and it totally has.  I start nearly every morning with a good run.  I enjoy running.  It helps me to clear my head and get my thoughts in order.  Plus, it keeps my legs looking good.

But anyway, back to the film.

Courtney is the new coach at the local Christian school.  Unfortunately, her coaching techniques prove to be controversial.  She wants the members of the track team to pace themselves and to only run at a certain tempo, even if it means losing the race.  Courtney is trying to teach the team how to conserve their energy so that they’ll still have it when they get to State.  All of the parents, though, are upset because they want their daughters to win every race instead of spending all of their time preparing for the state competition.  They’re also not happy when Courtney starts tells them that they need to stop putting so much pressure on their children and instead just have faith in Courtney’s plans.

Meanwhile, the five girls on the team all deal with typical high school problems.  One of them likes a guy but her father has forbidden her from dating and, since this is a Christian film, she decides to honor her father’s wishes.  Another girl has just started smoking weed and, when confronted about it, she replies (quite correctly) that the Bible doesn’t say anything about smoking.  She also points out that most teenagers her age are experimenting with new things.  “An alcoholic starts with just one drink!” her friend replies, “A drug addict starts with just one joint!”  Uhmmm, that’s not really true but it’s enough to get her friend to give up the weed with roots in Hell.

This is another Dave Christiano film that takes a popular genre — in this case, a sports movie — and uses it to push a faith-based message.  The coach continually quotes Corinthians and the end of the film literally compares coaching a cross country team to Jesus raising the dead.  It’s a bit much, even if it’s not quite as preachy as his earlier films.  (No one is condemned to Hell in this film, for example.)  Christiano makes the unfortunate decision to have the final race play out in slow motion.  That’s several minutes of nonstop slow motion.  Unfortunately, slow motion and running are not a great combination, especially when some members of the cast are obviously more experienced runners than others.

Anyway, the main message here (beyond the religious one) seems to be that there’s no “self” in team.  What fun is that, though?  I’ll keep running for myself.

The TSL’s Horror Grindhouse: Cutting Class (dir by Raspo Pallenberg)

Someone is murdering the students and the teachers at the local high school and it’s up to Paula Carson (Jill Schoelen), the studious daughter of the local DA (Martin Mull), to figure out who is responsible!

Though the principal (Roddy McDowall, who seemed to be cast as a lot of bizarre school employees during the latter half of his career) is a perv and the janitor (Robert Glaudini) fancies himself as being some sort of bizarre ninja with a mop, it soon becomes apparent that there’s really only two viable suspects. One of them is Brian Woods (Donavon Leitch), who has just returned home after spending several months in a mental hospital where he was regularly given electroshock therapy. The other is Dwight Ingalls (Brad Pitt), the alcoholic jock who is under tremendous pressure to win a basketball scholarship and who also happens to be Paula’s boyfriend! Brian and Dwight were friends when they were younger. Now, Dwight spends all of his time bullying Brian and Brian spends all of his time staring at Paula. Who could the murderer be!?

Actually, you won’t be surprised at all when the identity of the murderer is revealed. You’ve probably already guessed who the killer is. A campy slasher film from 1989, Cutting Class doesn’t exactly win any points for originality. If Cutting Class is remembered for anything, it’s for providing Brad Pitt with an early leading role. Pitt, it should be said, is totally convincing as Dwight. On the one hand, he’s such a jerk that it’s difficult to really like him but, on the other hand, he looks like Brad Pitt so you totally can’t blame Paula for putting up with him. For that matter, both Leitch and Schoelen give convincing performances as well. When you’ve got a trio as talented as these three, it’s kind of a shame that Cutting Class wasn’t a better film.

Cutting Class tries to mix horror and comedy but the comedy is too broad (Roddy McDowall leers like a cartoon wolf) while the horror is not quite horrific enough and, as such, the film never really settles on a consistent or an interesting tone. Whenever the film starts to get into a horror grove, Martin Mull shows up like a character in an overplayed Saturday Night Live skit. Whenever the film starts to find itself as a comedy, someone is horribly murdered and you’re totally taken out of the mood. This is also another one of those films where the characters randomly switch from being ludicrously stupid to unnaturally intelligent from scene-to-scene. The killer, for instance, is diabolically clever until the film’s final moments, at which point the murderer suddenly gets very talky and very easily fooled.

Cutting Class is occasionally interesting as a time capsule. It’s from 1989, after all. And it’s interesting to see Brad Pitt playing the type of character one would more likely expect to see on a very special episode of Saved By The Bell. Otherwise, this one is fairly forgettable.

Book Review: Encyclopedia of Urban Legends by Jan Harold Bruvard

Don’t you just love that cover?

The cover is based on the urban legend about the driver who stops at a gas station.  Usually, the driver is already nervous due to having heard a report about an escaped murderer or a missing mental patient.  When a frantic stranger approaches the car, the driver panics and drives off.  What the driver didn’t realize was that the stranger was trying to warn her that the killer was in the back seat of her car.

How about the one about the girl and the boy making out in the car when they hear a report that a killer with a hook for a hand is in the area?  I’ve heard several variations of that one but the thing they all have in common is that they never end well for the couple.  The underlying message, of course, is that the couple was punished for giving into temptation but, in all honesty, most people who hear the story are going to care more about the hook than the subtext.

It’s kind of like the story of the girl who thinks that a killer is trying to enter her dorm room so she locks the door, just to discover, in the safety of the morning hours, that the person pounding on the door was actually her now dead roommate.  Aren’t you glad you didn’t answer the door? is written in blood on the outside of the door.  That story gave me nightmares the first time that I heard it, even if memories of it didn’t exactly keep me from going out at night.  Actually, being scared made me even more determined to go out.  I wasn’t going to let an imaginary killer tell me what to do!

All of those stories and many more are included in Jan Harold Brunvand’s Encyclopedia of Urban Legends.  Many of the urban legends included in here are frightening.  A few of them are a little bit ridiculous, especially the ones that were obviously dreamt up as a way to scare kids straight in the 60s.  (We’ve all heard about the stoned babysitter and the microwave, right?)  Some of them are funny.  Some of them are embarrassing.  Some, I’ve actually heard repeated as fact by many different people.  The book not only details various urban legends but it also has entries about the cultural and historical roots of those legends.  (Satanic Panic, for instance, gets an entry all of its own.)  It also takes a look at the urban legends of various nations, examining how several different cultures can adopt the same story and make it uniquely their own.  Jan Harold Brunvand is one of the world’s leading authorities on folklore and urban legends.  His encyclopedia is both entertaining to read and rather thought-provoking as it examines the roots of some of the oldest urban legends around.  As well, in the introduction, he takes some time to write about how much he disliked the film Urban Legend.  You have to respect that.

Encyclopedia of Urban Legends is a great reference book.  It’s one of my favorites.  For the aspiring horror writer, it’s treasure trove of research and inspiration.  And did I mention how much I love the cover?

Marvel releases the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever trailer!

With November just a few weeks away, we now have the full trailer for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. With the full trailer, it looks like we’re focusing more on the clash between Namor’s people and the Wakandans. We also get a glimpse of Riri Williams Ironheart in the process, along with a better look at the new Black Panther.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever premieres in theatres November 11.

Moon, Review by Case Wright, Happy Horrorthon! *Some Spoilers*

Happy Horrorthon! My midterms are done; so, I have this brief window to be analytical that doesn’t involve Petroleum, Carbon, A piston, or some sort of torque. This film is the kind of horror film that I like that dares to be political. Duncan explores the hidden cost and ineffectiveness of best intentions. You have an intractable problem, but is the solution actually helping and are the people advocating it trustworthy? Moon presents the problem: Global Warming. The solution that is marketed and sold to the world is fusion by strip mining the Moon and sending the fuel back to earth. There are scenes where we see scars on the moon from the strip mining. Are we creating a new problem? Is the solution a net wash? Is the solution financing an evil regime? Why is environmentalism immune to cynicism? The exploitation of an unlimited labor? Have corporations done anything ever to warrant even our limited trust? These are the questions that Duncan forces us to confront with horror.

I know that this sounds ham-fisted, but the political statements are brilliantly subtle. This is not a right-wing political film either; on the contrary, it’s about presenting the moral imperative of considering unintended consequences as we push to solve real problems.

My eyes rolled so hard at the opening though when a corporate ad from Lunar, the mining company, pushed their “Green Energy” solution that I almost turned it off because the last thing I needed post-midterms was someone scolding me for 97 minutes. However, the opening was visually stunning; so, I hung with the film. Also, it starred Sam Rockwell and he’s awesome. This was the directorial debut of Duncan Jones who is immediately identified as David Bowie’s son, but you don’t need to confirm that with Wiki because he looks just like his Dad.

We are in a future where fossil fuels are thing of the past and fusion via strip mining the moon is providing the world with a New Eden; at least, that’s what the totally trustworthy corporation is telling us in it’s slick ad.

(Now, if you want to really end ALL fossil fuels, the solution is to perfect Tesla Coils and wirelessly transmit electricity this would obviate the need for batteries and would power the world constantly. Horrorthon is not just for great commentary; it’s for learning! )

The film is a one-man/two man show….huh…just wait. Sam Bell is a moon worker on a three year contact, maintaining the moon harvesters as they strip mine this essential rock that keeps our axis stable. In this future, the job of astronaut is less Neil Armstrong and more horrible non-union factory job. Sam is dirty, breaking down, beginning to hallucinate, and bored to tears. The live-link to planet earth has not functioned since his arrival and he’s surrounded by nearly completed hobbies like whittling towns from his memories. We are forced to see the horror of a human being in profound loneliness and hopelessness for our needs.

The next plot point has Sam checkinng on a malfunctioning harvester; however, he has a vision of his daughter and he crashes. We see him pass out as he’s being buried alive. Sam wakes to his only companion- a robot with Kevin Spacey’s voice. Important note is that this film was from 2009. Sam’s suspicious that there might be something outside of the ship and the robot appears to be able to talk live with the evil corporate leaders from earth. Sam is determined to investigate outside the ship. After a brief sabotage, Sam is able to investigate the moon harvester. He discovers a busted up copy of himself.

He’s confronted with Lunar’s answer to the high cost of unions, labor complaints, and pay: you don’t negotiate with employees, you grow them. If things go really wrong like two clones meet, you send in goons to kill them, and wake up new disposable people. What’s is so painful is that the corporation gave the clone’s a 3 year lifespan; so, we watch Sam Bell Prime disintegrate slowly in scene after scene, including one where he spits out a molar… yeeeeech. While we see the human toll, we also see the moon missing huge chunks of itself as result of the mining. So, we are committing this horrible evil, but is this clean energy just creating a new and unintended problem? We are so desperate to not think things through that we greenlight an idea to destroy our own moon and credulously accept corporate talking points.

This film was thoughtful and painful. Duncan Jones forces us to think take some time and… THINK. What are we doing? Maybe doing something just to do something isn’t the answer? We are confronted what we don’t want to consider: how did this sausage end up in this package? I’m not seeing any pollution; therefore, it’s not happening. Our society is less owl and more ostrich every day.

Happy Horrorthon!