Lisa Marie’s Oscar Predictions For October


Even though Horrorthon has taken up the majority of my time this October, I still have been watching as this year’s Oscar race has developed over the past 29 days.  And that’s a good thing because it’s time for my monthly predictions!

Below, you’ll find my predictions for October!  In order to see how my thinking has evolved over the course of the year, be sure to check out my predictions for February, March, April, May, June, July, August, and September!

Best Picture

Babylon

The Banshees of Inisherin

Elvis

Everything Everywhere All At Once

The Fabelmans

She Says

TAR

Till

Top Gun: Maverick

Women Talking

Best Director

Chinonye Chukwu for Till

Todd Field for TAR

Martin McDonagh for The Banshees of Insherin

Sarah Polley for Women Talking

Steven Spielberg for The Fabelmans

Best Actor

Austin Butler in Elvis

Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick

Colin Farrell in The Banshees of Insherin

Hugh Jackman in The Son

Brendan Fraser in The Whale

Best Actress

Naomi Ackie in I Wanna Dance With Somebody

Cate Blanchett in TAR

Olivia Colman in Empire of Light

Danielle Deadwyler in Till

Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Best Supporting Actor

Brendan Gleeson in The Banshees of Insherin

Tom Hanks in Elvis

Woody Harrelson in Triangle of Sadness

Judd Hirsch in The Fabelmans

Ke Huy Quan in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Best Supporting Actress

Jessie Buckley in Women Talking

Claire Foy in Women Talking

Nina Hoss in Tar

Janelle Monae in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Carey Mulligan in She Says

Lisa Marie’s Oscar Predictions For September


Horrorthon, my favorite time of year, starts tomorrow!  However, before we get lost in the scary season, I want to take one last look at awards season!  It’s time for me to update my Oscar nominations.  Fortunately, thanks to all of the recent festival premieres, the Oscar picture is finally starting to look a little bit clearer.  There’s still a lot of question marks out there and, as always, anything can happen.  But, finally, I can say that there’s more to my predictions that just lucky guesses and wishful thinking.

Below, you’ll find my predictions for September!  In order to see how my thinking has evolved over the course of the year, be sure to check out my predictions for February, March, April, May, June, July, and August.

Best Picture

Babylon

The Banshees of Inisherin

Elvis

Everything Everywhere All At Once

The Fabelmans

The Menu

TAR

Till

Top Gun: Maverick

Women Talking

A few thoughts on the (potential) nominees:

Babylon, I will admit, I’m including because of the trailer and the fact that it’s a Damien Chazelle film about Hollywood.  The Academy likes films about itself and one can argue that after what happened when La La Land was nominated, Chazelle is owed at least a little bit of recognition.  Then again, that same argument could have been made for First Man and we know how that turned out.

As for The Menu, I’ve got that in my surprise nominee slot.  There’s almost always at least one potential nominee that’s considered to be a long shot until the nominations are announced.  Now that we have a set number of ten nominees, the chances that one nominee will be a surprise seems even more certain than before.

Top Gun: Maverick, Elvis, and Everything Everywhere All At Once all came out early in the year but they’ve all achieved the box office success necessary to be remembered.

Till seems like the type of film that the Academy will want to acknowledge, especially with the presidential election right around the corner.

The Banshees of Inisherin, The Fabelmans, TAR, and Women Talking were all acclaimed when they made their festival debuts.  Banshees, in particular, went from being a probable also-ran to a surefire contender based on the length of the standing ovation that it received.

Best Director

Chinonye Chukwu for Till

Todd Field for TAR

Martin McDonagh for The Banshees of Insherin

Sarah Polley for Women Talking

Steven Spielberg for The Fabelmans

Best Actor

Austin Butler in Elvis

Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick

Colin Farrell in The Banshees of Insherin

Ralph Fiennes in The Menu

Brendan Fraser in The Whale

Best Actress

Naomi Ackie in I Wanna Dance With Somebody

Cate Blanchett in TAR

Olivia Colman in Empire of Light

Danielle Deadwyler in Till

Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Best Supporting Actor

Brendan Gleeson in The Banshees of Insherin

Tom Hanks in Elvis

Woody Harrelson in Triangle of Sadness

Judd Hirsch in The Fabelmans

Ke Huy Quan in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Best Supporting Actress

Jessie Buckley in Women Talking

Jamie Lee Curtis in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Sally Field in Spoiler Alert

Frances McDormand in Women Talking

Janelle Monae in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Film Review: Elvis (dir by Baz Luhrmann)


Elvis the movie has much in common with Elvis the entertainer.

Both the movie and the entertainer (who is played, in the film, by Austin Butler) start strong, fall apart at the end, and leave you with a tear in one of your eyes once it’s all over.

Both the movie and the entertainer are big and unapologetically excessive yet also undeniably earnest as well.  Considering the amount of music that appears in the film (from both Elvis Presley and others), it’s significant that the final song played is In The Ghetto, which features Elvis at both his most naïve, his most sincere, and at what some of his critics would call his most offensive.

Both the movie and the entertainer are occasionally shallow but both of them want to be about more than just screaming fans, libidinal desires, and radio-friendly songs.  While Elvis (played by Austin Butler) watches the funeral of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the assassination of Bobby Kennedy and wonders how he should respond, the movie tries to make sense of and find a deeper meaning in the world’s fascination with kitschy Americana.  The movie suggests that Elvis spent much of the 60s on the outside looking in and the same could be said of Australian director Baz Luhrmann and his attempts to observe and capture the contradictions inherent in American culture.  Luhrmann’s kinetic style, which is one of those things that viewers will either love or hate, serves not just to capture the frantic energy of the late 50s and the 60s but it also allows him to remain detached from the world that he’s recreating.  It’s his way of reminding us that, though the story may be about a real person and a real moment in time, it’s still just a movie and, even during the film’s most intimate moments, the audience is still on the outside looking in.  We are the outsiders peeping in on the insiders, watching through a locked window that allows us to observe but not to interact.  This is history as a fever dream.

Finally, both Elvis the movie and Elvis the entertainer face the same dilemma.  What to do about Colonel Tom Parker?  Tom Parker was the former sideshow carny-turned-promoter who took credit for discovering Elvis and who managed his career.  Of course, he wasn’t really a colonel.  His name wasn’t Tom Parker.  And despite his claims to the contrary, he wasn’t born in West Virginia.  No one, not even the film’s version of Elvis, seemed to be sure who Col. Parker really was.  Parker is typically cast as the villain in the story of Elvis’s self-destruction.  He made a lot of money off of Elvis but he also put Elvis is bad movies and trapped him in a Las Vegas residency.  He made sure that Elvis got the pills that he needed to keep performing.

In the film, Parker narrates the story from his deathbed and angrily denounces anyone who would say that he was responsible for Elvis’s death.  When he talks about the gamble he took on Elvis, Parker’s seen staggering through a casino while still wearing a hospital gown.  Parker is played by Tom Hanks, who wears a prosthetic nose and speaks in an almost unintelligible accent.  My first reaction to Hanks’s performance was to think, “Could they not have gotten Christoph Waltz for this role?”  There’s nothing subtle about Hanks’s performance but then again, there’s never been anything subtle about Luhrmann as a filmmaker.  As the film progressed, I started to better appreciate what Luhrmann was doing with the character and I think I even came to understand his motives for casting Hanks.  If Austin Butler’s Elvis is meant to represent the optimism and the hope of America then it makes sense that he would be shadowed by the dark side of kitsch and there’s nothing more kitschy then casting an actor like Tom Hanks as the Devil.  As an actor, Hanks is often casts in roles where he epitomizes old-fashioned integrity.  By casting him as Col. Parker, Luhrmann challenges our expectations of who Tom Hanks can be in much the same way that Elvis challenged expectations of how music could be performed.  This is a film that is fully aware of the irony of Elvis coming to symbolize America while his career was being managed and his image carefully constructed by a man who entered the country illegally and who couldn’t reveal his real name or his real biography.  If Tom Hanks sometimes seems lost in the role of Col. Parker, it helps to remind us that Parker himself was often lost in America.  If Tom Hanks is usually cast as the epitome of American exceptionalism, his casting here reminds us that Col. Parker was a man who achieved the American dream and who came to represent the American nightmare.

In the end, it’s Austin Butler’s performance as Elvis that keeps the movie from spinning out of control.  Even while surrounded by Luhrmann’s stylistic touches and Tom Hanks’s bizarre performance, Austin Butler keeps the film grounded in reality by turning Elvis into a human being, a talented singer who loves his success but who also fears that he’ll never truly be worthy of it.  Butler gives a performance that is full of sexual swagger but which also finds room for the small moments in which Elvis reverts back to being a lost child who feels like he needs someone to look after him.  Interestingly enough, there aren’t many scenes in the film in which Elvis and Col. Parker show much affection toward each other.  Instead, each feels like he needs the other to survive and, to a certain extent, they each resent the other because of that dependence.  Austin Butler’s Elvis is the king when he’s on stage but, when he’s off-stage, he’s just another outsider looking in.  Elvis becomes a symbol of America but the American establishment is only willing to fully accept him after he’s gone.  If nothing else, this role should make a star out of Austin Butler.  Before he played Elvis, Butler was best known for playing murderer Tex Watson is another fever dream of history, Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.  In Elvis, the title character retreats into his hotel room after reading about the murders that Tex Watson, under the direction of Charles Manson, took part in.  As both a film and a character, Elvis understands that society is just as quick to destroy its celebrities as it is to idolize them.

Elvis is a flawed film, make no mistake.  How the viewer reacts to it will largely depend on how much tolerance that viewer has for Luhrmann’s flamboyant style.  At 2 hours and 38 minutes, it feels a bit overlong and, despite all of Luhrmann’s stylistic flourishes, the final fourth of the film is a conventional “rock star in decline” story.  (In one way or another, these flaws are present in almost all of Luhrmann’s films, allowing one to wonder when a flaw ceases to become a flaw and instead becomes a directorial trademark.)  Elvis is undeniably a Baz Luhrmann film but, fortunately, it’s also an Austin Butler film.  It’s a big, sprawling, overwhelming, sometimes annoying and often very moving piece of cultural history.  It’s a work of pure, unapologetic showmanship.  Elvis probably would have lost interest after the first hour but Col. Parker would have loved it.

Lisa Marie’s Early Oscar Predictions For August


It’s that time of the month again!

Here are my Oscar predictions for August.  By the end of September, the picture should be a bit clearer.  Until then, most of the predictions listed below continue to be guesses.

Be sure to check out my predictions for February, March, April, May, June, and July!

Best Picture

Babylon

Elvis

Empire of Light

Everything Everywhere All At Once

The Fabelmans

The Inspection

The Son

TAR

Till

Top Gun: Maverick

Best Director

The Daniels for Everything Everywhere All At Once

Todd Field for TAR

Baz Luhrmann for Elvis

Steven Speilberg for The Fabelmans

Florian Zeller for The Son

Best Actor

Austin Butler in Elvis

Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick

Brendan Fraser in The Whale

Hugh Jackman in The Son

Harry Styles in My Policeman

Best Actress

Cate Blanchett in TAR

Olivia Colman in Empire of Light

Viola Davis in The Woman King

Danielle Deadwyler in Till

Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Best Supporting Actor

Tom Hanks in Elvis

Anthony Hopkins in The Son

David Lynch in The Fabelmans

Tobey Maguire in Babylon

Ke Huy Quan in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Best Supporting Actress

Jamie Lee Curtis in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Laura Dern in The Son

Sally Field in Spoiler Alert

Stephanie Hsu in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Michelle Williams in The Fabelmans

Lisa Marie’s Early Oscar Predictions For July


Little by little, the Oscar race is starting to become just a little bit clearer.  It’s still early, of course.  Really, it’s way too early to say anything for sure.  But it’s also hard to deny that certain films are now much more in the conversation than others.

The biggest development this month was the announcement that Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon will not be released until 2023.  That takes it out of Oscar contention …. for now.  (For those who may have forgotten, it was originally announced, halfway through 2013, that The Wolf of Wall Street would not be ready until sometimes in 2014.  Everyone dutifully updated their Oscar predictions, striking The Wolf of Wall Street from their lists of likely best picture nominees.  Then, at the last minute, Scorsese announced that the film actually would be ready for 2013.  If something similar happens this year, Killers of the Flower Moon will go right back to being a huge contender because it’s Scorsese and he’s one of the best, regardless of what certain Marvel fans would have you believe.)  With Scorsese apparently out, it would now appear that Steven Spielberg is going to be the only member of the old guard with a film in the Oscar race.  Considering that many people believe that Spielberg’s West Side Story was snubbed last year when it only took home one Oscar (out of a total of sever nominations), The Fabelmans seems like it will be a major contender.  Admittedly, my hope that David Lynch will earn an acting nomination for playing John Ford in The Fabelmans may be a longshot but it can not be denied that it would be a cool development.

As for the other contenders, Top Gun: Maverick, Elvis, and Everything Everywhere All At Once all seem poised to ride a combination of critical acclaim and box office success into the Oscar race.  Todd Field has finally returned with TarThe Whale has the potential to be a comeback vehicle for the always likable Brendan Fraser.  She Said, Till, and Women Talking all stand to take advantage of the current political climate.  And Babylon will presumably give Hollywood a chance to celebrate itself.

The Oscar picture is still a bit cloudy but, with so many major festival on the horizon, those clouds should be parting soon.

Be sure to check out my predictions for February, March, April, May, and June!

Best Picture

Babylon

Elvis

Everything Everywhere All At Once

The Fabelmans

She Said

Tar

Till

Top Gun: Maverick

The Whale

Women Talking

Best Director

Damien Chazelle for Babylon

Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (The Daniels) for Everything Everywhere All At Once

Todd Field for Tar

Sarah Polley for Women Talking

Steven Spielberg for The Fabelmans

Best Actor

Austin Butler in Elvis

Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick

Adam Driver in White Noise

Brendan Fraser in The Whale

Harry Styles in My Policeman

Best Actress

Cate Blanchett in Tar

Viola Davis in The Woman King

Ana de Arms in Blonde

Danielle Deadwyler in Till

Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Best Supporting Actor

Tom Hanks in Elvis

Woody Harrelson in Triangle of Sadness

David Lynch in The Fabelmans

Tobey Maguire in Babylon

Ke Huy Quan in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Best Supporting Actress

Jessie Buckley in Women Talking

Patricia Clarkson in She Said

Jamie Lee Curtis in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Sally Field in Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies

Michelle Williams in The Fabelmans

Playing Catch-Up With The Films Of 2019: The Dead Don’t Die (by Jim Jarmusch)


Uh-oh, the dead are rising again.

Seriously, I’ve lost track of how many zombie films I’ve seen over the past ten years.  This last decade was the decade when zombies went mainstream and I have to admit that I have mixed feelings about it.  Zombies have become so overexposed that they’re no longer as scary as they once were.  I mean, there’s even PG-rated zombie movies now!  How the Hell did that happen?  Everyone’s getting in on the act.

There were a brief flurry of excitement when Jim Jarmusch announced that his next film would be a zombie film.  Myself, I was a bit skeptical and the release of a terrible trailer didn’t really help matters.  The fact that the film was full of recognizable names also made me uneasy.  Would this be an actual zombie film or would it just be a bunch of actors slumming in the genre?  The film opened the Cannes Film Festival and received mixed reviews.  By the time it opened in the United States, it seemed as if everyone had forgotten about The Dead Don’t Die.  It was widely chalked up as being one of Jim Jarmusch’s rare misfires, like The Limits of Control.

Last month, I finally watched The Dead Don’t Die and you know what?  It’s a flawed film and yes, there are times when it even becomes an annoying film.  That said, I still kind of liked it.

In The Dead Don’t Die, the Earth’s rotation has been altered, the result of polar fracking.  No one seems to be particularly concerned about it.  Instead, they’re just kind of annoyed by the fact that the sun is now staying up in the sky a bit longer than usual.  Cell phones and watches stop working.  House pets abandon and occasionally attack their owners.  In the rural town of Centerville, the dead rise from their graves and start to eat people.  Whether or not that’s connected to the Earth’s rotation is anyone’s guess.  (I like to think that the whole thing about the Earth’s rotation being altered was Jarmusch’s homage to Night of the Living Dead‘s suggestion that the zombies were the result of space radiation.)

We meet the inhabitant of Centerville.  Zelda (Tilda Swinton) is the enigmatic mortician.  Bobby (Caleb Landry Jones) is the horror movie expert.  Farmer Miller (Steve Buscemi) is the red-hatted farmer who hates everyone.  Zoe (Selena Gomez) is the traveler who is staying at the run-down motel with two friends.  Cliff Robertson (Bill Murray) is the police chief who wants to save everyone but Farmer Miller.  Ronnie (Adam Driver) and Mindy (Chloe Sevigny) are police officers.  They’re all in the middle of a zombie apocalypse but very few of them seem to really be that surprised by any of it.

Throughout the film, we hear Sturgill Simpson singing a wonderful song called The Dead Don’t Die.  Cliff demands to know why the song is always one the radio.  Ronnie replies that it’s the “theme song.”  Ronnie, we discover, has an answer for almost everything.  He explains that he knows what’s going to happen because he’s the only one that “Jim” allowed to read the entire script.  Cliff isn’t happy about that.

That’s the type of film that The Dead Don’t Die is.  It’s an elaborate in-joke, a zombie movie about people who know that they’re in a zombie movie but who are too detached to actually use that information to their advantage.  The script has been written so they have no choice but to do what the script says regardless of whether it makes them happy or not.  It’s a clever conceit, though a bit of a thin one to build a 103-minute movie around.

As I said, the film can occasionally be an endurance test.  Everyone is so deadpan that you actually find yourself getting angry at them.  But, whenever you’re on the verge of giving up, there will be a clever line that will draw you back in or the theme song will start playing again.  Bill Murray and Adam Driver are fun to watch and Driver reminds us that he’s actually a good comedic actor.  (In the year of Marriage Story and Rise of Skywalker, that can be easy to forget.)

It’s a flawed film and definitely not one of Jim Jarmusch’s best.  At the same time, though, The Dead Don’t Die is not as bad as you may have heard.

Playing Catch-up: Yoga Hosers (dir by Kevin Smith)


I have to admit that the main reason I watched Yoga Hosers is because I’m currently in the process of making out my “worst of 2016” list and everyone that I’ve talked to has insisted that Yoga Hosers happens to belong on that list.

Well, for once, I actually happen to agree with other people.  At the risk of losing my contrarian reputation,  Yoga Hosers definitely belongs on any list of the worst films of 2016.

I mean … Look, I get it.

I know that making crappy-looking films with juvenile humor has, in the past, worked out very well for Kevin Smith.  It’s made him an icon.  It’s won him legions of fans.  Some of my best friends love Kevin Smith and his movies.  I, personally, appreciate that he’s a fan of Degrassi.

And I know that there are literally thousands of interviews with Kevin Smith where he talks about the fact that he’s not the world’s greatest visual stylist.  He always pokes fun at the fact that he rarely moves the camera.  He’s open about the fact that he’s better at writing dialogue than filming it.  And I also know that he has regularly encouraged people not to take anything that he does too seriously.

I get all of that.

But here’s the thing … Yoga Hosers is really, really bad.  And Kevin Smith openly admitting that he’s not a very good director doesn’t make Yoga Hosers any less painful to sit through.

It’s actually kind of sad that Yoga Hosers isn’t better.  The film deals with two 15 year-old Canadian convenience store workers.  They’re both named Colleen and they’re best friends.  They’re also very well-played, by Harley Quinn Smith and Lily-Rose Depp.  In fact, they both give such likable performances that it actually makes the film just a little more bearable than it otherwise would have been.  And, hey — Kevin specifically made Yoga Hosers so that his daughter could have a starring role.  That’s more than my Dad ever for me when I was fifteen!

But, God, the movie is just so bad.

And by bad, I mean boring.  It’s not even so bad that it’s good.  It’s just a boring, bad movie.

Of course, If you just heard a rough outline of the film’s plot, you would probably think that Yoga Hosers was destined for cult immortality.  The Colleens are forced to spend a Friday night working at the store and they end up having to fight off a bunch of Nazi bratwursts, all of whom seeking to continue the hateful legacy of a Canadian Nazi played, in painfully unfunny flashbacks, by poor Haley Joel Osment.  Johnny Depp shows up as Guy LaPointe, a “man-hunter” who has a huge mustache and who speaks with a thick accent that’s obviously supposed to be hilarious.

But seriously, it takes forever for those little Nazis to show up. First, you have to deal with about an hour of the Colleens obsessing over their phones and saying “aboot” a lot.  This is one of the slowest films that I’ve ever seen and Kevin Smith is not the type of director to make a joke and then move on after he gets a laugh.  No, instead, he’s going to make a joke and then make it a second time and then keep pounding you over the head with it.  Watching Yoga Hosers is the equivalent of having Kevin Smith in your face for 90 minutes, screaming, “This is funny, right!?  RIGHT!?”

For instance, do you think it’s funny that Canadians say “aboot” and “oot?”  If you do, Yoga Hosers might be for you.  Or it still might not be, because how many times can you laugh at the Colleens saying “aboot?”  After the 10th time, you’ve gotten the joke but rest assured, you’re going to hear it a hundred more times.  Do Canadians ever get tired of Americans demanding that they say “aboot?”  I think I would.  I’m from Texas and I know I get sick of people from up north going crazy whenever I say “y’all.”

I think the main problem with Yoga Hosers is that Kevin Smith apparently didn’t trust his audience to pick up on all of the film’s comedic details.  Hence, the film never makes a joke without then beating us over the head to make sure that we understand that we’ve just heard or seen a joke.  For instance, it’s clever that, in Yoga Hosers, Canadian cereal is called “Pucky Charms.”  I saw one of the Colleens walking around with an open box of Pucky Charms and I smiled and I thought it was a clever little joke.  But it becomes less clever once Smith starts to have other characters specifically point out that Canadian cereal is called “Pucky Charms.”  Then it becomes just another mildly funny joke that quickly gets old.

I love Canada!  And I’m pretty sure Kevin Smith is a nice guy too.  But seriously, Yoga Hosers is the worst.