Lisa Marie’s Oscar Predictions For May (For What They’re Worth)


Are we even going to have an Oscar ceremony next year?

Who knows?  I hope we do because I think that it would provide some sort of normalcy.  Even if everyone chooses not to watch it, at least they’ll have that choice.  (People tend to forget how important, psychologically and emotionally, it is for people to have a choice.  All of these cheery “We’re all in it together” commercials don’t mean shit if people are feeling imprisoned.)  Up until this week, I was pretty confident that we would because COVID-19 was in decline and restrictions were being lifted and things seemed like they were heading in the right direction.  (Or, at least, that’s the way it seemed in my part of the world.  I know that some people disagreed with my assessment.)  Now, we’re in the middle of nation-wide rioting and a divisive presidential election so who knows what’s going to happen with the rest of this year.  Will theaters even want to risk reopening before 2021?  Will they be able to?  The Academy has said that streaming films will qualify this year but how many studios want to release all of their big productions VOD?

I’m going to continue to make my monthly Oscar predictions, though.  My reasons are pretty selfish: making them helps to keep me centered.  I’m a compulsive scheduler and keeping that schedule (which is really what I’m doing with these monthly predictions) helps me deal with my ADD.

So, with that in mind, here are my Oscar predictions.  Take them with a grain of salt.  And be sure to check out my previous predictions for January, February, March, and April!

Best Picture

Ammonite

The Father

Hillbilly Elegy

Minari

News of the World

Nomadland

Respect

Soul

The Trial of Chicago 7

West Side Story

Best Director

Paul Greengrass for News of the World

Ron Howard for Hillbilly Elegy

Francis Lee for Ammonite

Steven Spielberg for West Side Story

Chloe Zhao for Nomadland

Best Actor

Matt Damon in Stillwater

Tom Hanks in News of the World

Anthony Hopkins in The Father

Bill Murray in On The Rocks

Gary Oldman in Mank

Best Actress

Jennifer Hudson in Respect

Angelina Jolie in Those Who Wish Me Dead

Sofia Loren in The Life Ahead

Frances McDormand in Nomadland

Kate Winslet in Ammonite

Best Supporting Actor

David Alvarez in West Side Story

Tom Burke in Mank

Delroy Lindo in Da 5 Bloods

Forest Whitaker in Respect

Steven Yeun in Minari

Best Supporting Actress

Abigail Breslin in Stillwater

Glen Close in Hillbilly Elegy

Olivia Colman in The Father

Saoirse Ronan in Ammonite

Helena Zengel in News of the World

That’s it for this month!  Hopefully, next month will bring a bit more clarity.

 

Lisa Marie’s Possibly Pointless Oscar Predictions For March


I’ve been going back and forth on whether or not I should even bother to continue my monthly Oscar predictions.  With the current Coronavirus pandemic, it’s not unreasonable to wonder if there will even be an Oscar ceremony next year.  Many completed films have been taken off the schedule so that they can be released at a time when people aren’t scared to leave their house.  Meanwhile, production on several other films — some of them expected to be Oscar contenders — has been suspended.  New films are continuing to premiere on the streaming services but the Academy has always insisted that films also play in a theater if they want to contend for an Oscar.  That’s going to be difficult with the majority of the country’s theaters currently being closed.

Unlike a lot of people, I’m not necessarily apocalyptic or even that pessimistic in my outlook.  I think that, one way or another, we will eventually be able to leave our homes again and that at least some of the movie theaters will reopen.  So, I think that we will be able to have some sort of Oscar ceremony.  For that reason, I’m going to make my predictions for March but, needless to say, take all of these with an even bigger grain of salt than usual.

If you’re curious to see what my Oscar thinking was in the months before the world went crazy, check out my predictions for January and February!

(I’ve tried to take the fact that the Coronavirus led to the suspension of many ongoing productions while making out my list below.  As far as I know, filming wrapped on all of the films listed below before the outbreak.)

Best Picture

Ammonite

Annette

Hillbilly Elegy

The Father

Minari

News of the World

Nomadland

On the Rocks

Tenet

West Side Story

Best Director

Isaac Lee Chung for Minari

Paul Greengrass for News of the World

Christopher Nolan for Tenet

Steven Spielberg for West Side Story

Florian Zeller for The Father

Best Actor

Tom Hanks in News of the World

Anthony Hopkins in The Father

Bill Murray in On the Rocks

Gary Oldman in Mank

Will Smith in King Richard

Best Actress

Amy Adams in Hillbilly Elegy

Clare Dunne in Herself

Jennifer Hudson in Respect

Frances McDormand in Nomadland

Kate Winslet in Ammonite

Best Supporting Actor

Tom Burke in Mank

Richard E. Grant in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

Mark Rylance in The Trial of the Chicago 7

Forest Whitaker in Respect

Steve Yeun in Minari

Best Supporting Actress

Abigail Breslin in Stillwater

Glenn Close in Hillybilly Elegy

Vera Farmiga in The Many Saints of Newark

Saoirse Ronan in Ammonite

Helena Zengel in News of the World

 

Music Video of the Day: You Suck by Abigail Breslin (2014, dir by ????)


You tell ’em, Abigail!

I like to think that this song was directed at whoever it was who convinced her to appear in New Year’s Eve.

I’m happy to say that no one in my life sucks right now.  In fact, I’m about to go on a two week vacation with my favorite person in the whole wide world.  Fear not, though.  I may be gone but I have a lot of posts written out and scheduled to publish until I get back.  So, I’ll be on vacation and yet, I’ll still be posting reviews.  I often think about this because it’s actually a pretty common occurrence for me to write out a review and then schedule it to publish way later in the year.  So, if — God Forbid — I were to die over the next two weeks, I would still be posting reviews all the way through 2021.  It would be like my ghost telling you what movies to see …. FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE!  That’s kind of neat.

Anyway, enjoy!

Lisa’s Way, Way, Way, Way, Way, Way, Way Too Early Oscar Predictions For February


It’s a fool’s errand to try to predict next year’s Oscars nominees this early but we’re all about taking risks here at the Shattered Lens.  So, with that in mind, here is my latest set of monthly predictions.

If you look over these names, you’ll see a lot of familiar ones.  That’s because it’s early in the year and familiarity is really the only thing that a lot of these unreleased films have going for them.  Some of the films mentioned below were hits at Sundance.  From what I’ve read, I really do think Minari could be a contender because, along with being loved by critics, it sounds like it’s very much of the current cultural moment.

But the important thing to remember is that, last year at this time, no one expected Joker to become the film of the year.  No one had even heard of Parasite.  Most people were still predicting the Oscars would be dominated by Harriet.  So, my point is — take this stuff with several grains of salt.

To be honest, I think a lot depends on how the presidential election goes.  If Trump is reelected, I think you’ll see the Academy voting for angry, political films, if just as a way to get back at Trump and the people who voted for him.  (Think about the otherwise baffling love that was previously shown to a movie like Vice.)  The Trial of the Chicago 7 sounds incredibly tedious to me but I could imagine people voting for it and thinking to themselves, “This is so going to piss off the Republicans.”  If Trump is defeated, I imagine the Academy will be a bit more upbeat in their selections.

If you want to see how my thinking has evolved, check out my predictions for January here!    (It’s only been a month so my thinking hasn’t really evolved at all.  Still, we could always use the clicks.)

Best Picture

Dune

Happiest Season

Hillybilly Elegy

Ironbark

Minari

News of the World

Respect

Stillwater

The Trial of the Chicago 7

West Side Story

Best Director

Isaac Lee Chung for Minari

Paul Greengrass for News of the World

Ron Howard for Hillybilly Elegy

Steven Spielberg for West Side Story

Denis Villeneuve for Dune

Best Actor

Benedict Cumberbatch in Ironbark

Matt Damon in Stillwater

Tom Hanks in News of the World

Anthony Hopkins in The Father

Will Smith in King Richard

Best Actress

Amy Adams in Hillbilly Elegy

Olivia Colman in The Father

Clare Dunne in Herself

Jennifer Hudson in Respect

Angelina Jolie in Those Who Wish Me Dead

Best Supporting Actor

Bo Hopkins in Hillbilly Elegy

Merab Ninidze in Ironbark

Mark Rylance in The Trial of the Chicago 7

Forest Whitaker in Respect

Steven Yeun in Minari

Best Supporting Actress

Abigail Breslin in Stillwater

Glenn Close in Hillybilly Elegy

Vera Farmiga in The Many Saints of Newark

Mary Steenburgen in Happiest Season

Helena Zengel in News of the World

“Going All Kanye On You”: New Year’s Eve (dir by Garry Marshall)


“New Year’s Eve is the worst, people who don’t drink or party all year suddenly going all Kanye on you.”

That line was delivered by Ashton Kutcher in the 2011 film, New Year’s Eve.  Seven years ago, when the film was first released, I thought it was an awkward line, partially because Ashton Kutcher sounded like he was drowning in self-loathing when he said it and partially because the sudden reference to Kanye West felt like something that would be considered clever by 60-something screenwriter who had just spent a few hours scanning twitter to see “what the kids are into nowadays.”

(Of course, hearing the line in 2018 was an even stranger experience.  People who don’t drink or party all year suddenly going all Kanye on you?  So, they’re putting on red MAGA caps and spending New Year’s Eve tweeting about prison reform?  True, that’s the way a lot of people celebrated in my part of the world but I’m not sure how exactly that would play out in Times Square.)

In New Year’s Eve, Kutcher plays a character named Randy.  Randy is a comic book artist, which means that he’s snarky and cynical and doesn’t really see the point of celebrating anything.  Fortunately, he gets trapped in an elevator with Elise (Lea Michele) and, with her help, he comes to learn that New Year’s Eve is not the worst.  Instead, it’s the most important holiday ever created and, if you don’t think so, you’re worse than the devil.

Fortunately, Hillary Swank is present to make sure that we all get the point.  Swank plays Claire Morgan, who is in charge of making sure that the ball drops at exactly the right moment at Times Square and who gets a monologue where she explains that the purpose of the ball is to make you think about both the past and the future.  As she explains it, the world comes together one night a year, all so everyone can watch that ball drop.  Apparently, if the ball doesn’t drop, the new year doesn’t actually start and everyone is trapped in a timeless limbo, kind of like Iron Man at the end of Avengers: Infinity War.

Of course, there’s more going on in New Year’s Eve than just Randy taking Kanye’s name in vain and Claire refusing the accept that Times Square is not the center of the universe.  There’s also an old man (Robert De Niro) who wants to time his death so he passes right at the start of the new year.  Sarah Jessica Parker plays the mother of frustrated teenager Abigail Breslin and gets to make a “girls gone wild” joke.  (A Kanye reference and a girls gone wild joke in the same film?  It’s like a pop culture tsunami!)  Michelle Pfeiffer tries to accomplish all of her new year’s resolutions with the help of Zac Efron.  Halle Berry worries about her husband (Common) , who is serving overseas.  Josh Duhamel searches for a woman who once told him that his heart was more important than his business.  Seth Meyers and Jessica Biel compete with Til Schweiger and Sarah Paulson to see who can be the family of the first child born in the new year.  Jon Bon Jovi thinks about the woman that he nearly married and Katherine Heigl wonders if she’s ever going to have a career again.  In other words, New Year’s Eve is an ensemble piece, one in which a bunch of slumming Oscar winners and overachieving TV actors step into small roles.  It leads to some odd pairings.  De Niro, for instance, shares scenes with Alyssa Milano while Sofia Vergara and Ludacris are both relegated to playing sidekicks.  Michael Bloomberg, New York’s then-mayor and general threat to civil liberties everywhere, also shows up, playing himself with the type of smarminess that already has many people dreading the prospect of his 2020 presidential campaign.  This is one of those films where everyone has a familiar face but no one makes much of an impression.

New Year’s Eve was directed by the late Garry Marshall and it’s the second film in his so-called holiday trilogy, sitting right between Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.  By most accounts, Garry Marshall was a nice guy and popular in the industry, which perhaps explains why so many familiar faces were willing to sign up to appear in New Year’s Eve.  Though the film is ruthlessly mediocre, it’s actually the best of the holiday trilogy.  For all the schmaltz and forced sentiment, one gets the feeling that the film actually is sincere in its belief in the importance of that ball dropping in Times Square.

I remember that, when New Year’s Eve was first released, a lot of people joked that Marshall was going to make an ensemble romantic comedy about every single holiday, all with the hope that at least one of them would eventually become a television perennial in the style of It’s A Wonderful Life or The Ten Commandments.  Interestingly, that’s exactly what happened with New Year’s Eve.  Yesterday, E! aired New Year’s Eve three times, back-to-back!  For better or worse, this film is probably going to outlive us all, ensuring that, in the far future, viewers will spend New Year’s Eve asking themselves, “What’s a kanye?”

Film Review: Maggie (dir by Henry Hobson)


Maggie_(film)_POSTERMaggie is a terrific and sad film about a father who finds himself helpless as his teenage daughter slowly dies.  It’s a thoughtful and heart-rendering film and it’s one of the best of the year so far.  Unfortunately, you wouldn’t necessarily know that from looking at some of the reviews.

Of course, there’s nothing new about a good film getting bad reviews.  I’m actually surprised that anyone even bothers with reviewers anymore, considering just how often they get things wrong.  There are any number of reasons why good films get dismissed.  Some movies are genuinely ahead of their time.  Some critics prefer to judge based on genre than by what they actually see on screen.  Occasionally, a critic feels obligated to like or dislike a movie based on the politics or culture of the moment.  The fact of the matter is that most film critics like to feel important and the easiest way to feel important is to hop onto a bandwagon with all of the other critics.

So, what’s the excuse as far as Maggie is concerned?  Why does Maggie, one of the best films of the year so far, only have a rating of 51% on rotten tomatoes?  In Maggie‘s case, it’s a combination of genre (Maggie is a zombie film and there’s a lot of critics who still feel guilty over liking The Walking Dead) and star.  Maggie has been promoted as being an Arnold Schwarzenegger film, even though his role is essentially a supporting one.  The majority of critics have been willing to admit that Schwarzenegger gives a good performance but they always have to qualify the praise.  As a result, you have critics at both Hitflix and the A.V. Club writing that Schwarzenegger’s performance works because his character is designed to take advantage of Schwarzenegger’s limitations as an actor, as if all good performances aren’t, to some degree, the result of good casting.  In order to make up for praising Schwarzenegger (who is not only an action star but a Republican as well, which is a combination that many reviewers — especially those who work exclusively online — will never be able to see beyond), many critics undoubtedly feel obligated to be overly critical of Maggie.

(What does that 51% mean anyway?  That Maggie is 51% good?)

Maggie_1

As for the film itself, it tells a simple story, one to which a lot of people will undoubtedly relate.  As the film opens, we learn that the zombie apocalypse has already begun.  The world has been hit by a virus.  The infection spreads slowly, forcing the victims and their loved ones to watch as the infected are gradually transformed into mindless and cannibalistic zombies.  However, the U.S. government has reacted with swift and ruthless efficiency.  Martial law has been imposed.  The infected are allowed to say with family up until the disease enters its final stages.  At that point, they’re taken into quarantine and are euthanized.  Though we never actually see a quarantine center, we hear enough about it to know that there is nothing humane about it.  (Indeed, one reason why Maggie is so effective is because we know that the real-life government would probably be even less humane than the film’s government.)  Society has contained the plague but it’s done so at the cost of its own humanity.

College student Maggie (Abigail Breslin) has been infected.  She was bitten by  a zombie and, as a result, she now has a grotesque black wound on her arm.  As the virus moves through her body, her eyes grow opaque.  Her veins blacken.  When she breaks a now dead finger, she reacts by chopping it off with a kitchen knife.  As there is no cure, all Maggie can do now is wait until she is sent to quarantine.

Her father, a farmer named Wade (Schwarzenegger), brings Maggie back to his farm with him so that he can take care of her during her final days.  Wade knows what quarantine is like and he has no intention of forcing his daughter to go through that.  With government doctors and police officers constantly and, in some cases, forcefully demanding the he give her up, Wade protects Maggie as best he can.  He sleeps with a rifle at his side, knowing that eventually he’s going to have to use it on his own daughter.

And I’m crying again.  Between this review and the one I did for Terms of Endearment, my face is going to be a mascara-smeared mess.

arnie-crying-e1427327024932

Maggie is a low-key and thoughtful film, a meditation on life, love, family, and death.  Though the film does feature Schwarzenegger fighting zombies, most of the action happens off-screen.  Instead, we just see the haunting aftermath.  Schwarzenegger doesn’t deliver any one liners in this film and the film deliberately plays down his action hero past.  He’s still got the huge body and the muscles but, in Maggie, they’re not intimidating.  Instead, they’re evidence that Wade has spent his life working the land and they actually emphasize just how helpless Wade is in the face of Maggie’s disease.  Director Henry Hobson makes good use of Schwarzenegger’s heavily-lined and weather-beaten face.  His sad and suspicious eyes communicate everything that we need to know.  When he cries, you don’t consider that you’ve never seen him cry before.  Instead, the moment captures you because the tears and the emotions behind them are real.

Breslin

But really, the film ultimately belongs to Abigail Breslin.  It’s appropriate that the film is named after her character because the film really is her story.  Maggie is about how she deals with knowing that she’s going to die and how she searches for meaning in her final days.  It’s a good and heartfelt performance, one that reminded me of Brigitte LaHaie’s poignant work in Jean Rollin’s Night of the Hunted.

So, ignore the critics.

Ignore that stupid 51% on Rotten Tomatoes.

See Maggie.

Arnold-Schwarzenegger-in-Maggie

 

Arnold Schwarzenegger Will Win An Oscar In 2016…


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Okay, probably not.

But still, the former governor of California has been getting some unexpectedly good buzz for his performance in the upcoming film zombie film Maggie.  In a role that reportedly emphasizes honest emotion over crowd-pleasing action, Schwarzenegger plays a small-town farmer whose daughter (Abigail Breslin) has been infected with a zombie virus.  The trailer, which was released today, seems to hint that Maggie is going to be a bit more thoughtful than your average Arnold Schwarzenegger zombie film.

Maggie is scheduled to be released on May 8th and, hopefully, it won’t be too overshadowed by the 2nd weekend of Avengers: Age of Ultron.