What If Lisa Picked The Oscar Nominees: 2018 Edition


With the Oscar nominations due to be announced tomorrow, now is the time that the Shattered Lens indulges in a little something called, “What if Lisa had all the power.” Listed below are my personal Oscar nominations. Please note that these are not the films that I necessarily think will be nominated. The fact of the matter is that the many of them will not. Instead, these are the films that would be nominated if I was solely responsible for deciding the nominees this year. Winners are starred and listed in bold.

(You’ll also note that I’ve added four categories, all of which I believe the Academy should adopt — Best Voice-Over Performance, Best Casting, Best Stunt Work, and Best Overall Use Of Music In A Film.)

(Click on the links to see my nominations for 2017201620152014201320122011, and 2010!)

Best Picture

Avengers: Infinity War

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Blindspotting

*Eighth Grade

The Favourite

Leave No Trace

The Other Side of the Wind

Roma

A Simple Favor

Support the Girls

 

Best Director

*Bo Burnham for Eighth Grade

The Coen Brothers for The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Alfonso Cuaron for Roma

Debra Granik for Leave No Trace

Yorgos Lanthimos for The Favourite

Orson Welles for The Other Side of the Wind

 

Best Actor

John Cho in Searching

Jason Clarke in Chappaquiddick

Bradley Cooper in A Star is Born

Daveed Diggs in Blindspotting

*Ethan Hawke in First Reformed

Joaquin Phoenix in You Were Never Really Here

 

Best Actress

Yalitza Aparicio in Roma

Elsie Fisher in Eighth Grade

Lady Gaga in A Star is Born

*Regina Hall in Support the Girls

Anna Kendrick in A Simple Favor

Thomason McKenzie in Leave No Trace

 

Best Supporting Actor

Peter Bogdonavich in The Other Side of the Wind

*Ben Foster in Leave No Trace

Michael B. Jordan in Black Panther

Josh Hamilton in Eighth Grade

Tim Blake Nelson in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Michael Palin in The Death of Stalin

 

Best Supporting Actress

Emily Blunt in A Quiet Place

*Olivia Colman in The Favourite

Zoe Kazan in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Blake Lively in A Simple Favor

Emma Stone in The Favourite

Rachel Weisz in The Favourite

 

Best Voice Over or Motion-Capture Performance

*Josh Brolin in Avengers: Infinity War

Jake Johnson in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Holly Hunter in The Incredibles 2

Shamiek Moore in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

John C. Reilly in Ralph Breaks The Internet

Ben Whishaw in Paddington 2

 

Best Original Screenplay

Blindspotting

The Death of Stalin

*Eighth Grade

The Favourite

Game Night

Support the Girls

 

Best Adapted Screenplay

Avengers: Infinity War

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

If Beale Street Could Talk

Leave No Trace

*A Simple Favor

A Star is Born

 

Best Animated Feature

Early Man

Have A Nice Day

The Incredibles 2

Isle of Dogs

Ralph Breaks the Internet

*Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

 

Best Documentary Feature

Avicii: True Stories

Recovery Boys

Shirkers

They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead

*Three Identical Strangers

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

 

Best Foreign Language Film

Battle

Gun City

Happy as Lazzaro

Have A Nice Day

The Most Assassinated Woman In The World

*Roma

 

Best Casting

Blindspotting

Eighth Grade

Mandy

Mid90s

Roma

*Support the Girls

 

Best Cinematography

Aquaman

Avengers: Infinity Wars

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Black Panther

*Mandy

Roma

Best Costume Design

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

*Black Panther

The Favourite

Lizzie

Mary, Queen of Scots

A Simple Favor

 

Best Film Editing

Avengers: Infinity Wars

Eighth Grade

Mission Impossible: Fallout

*The Other Side of the Wind

Roma

Searching

Best Makeup and Hair Styling

*The Favourite

Lizzie

Mandy

Mary, Queen of Scots

A Simple Favor

Support the Girls

Best Original Score

Avengers: Infinity War

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

The Death of Stalin

If Beale Street Could Talk

*Mandy

The Other Side of the Wind

Best Original Song

*“When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings” from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

“All the Stars” from Black Panther

“Limitless” from Second Act

“I’ll Never Love Again” from A Star is Born

“Is that Alright” from A Star is Born

“Shallow” from A Star is Born

 

Best Overall Use of Music

Bohemian Rhapsody

Eighth Grade

Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again

Mid90s

*A Star is Born

Three Identical Strangers

 

Best Production Design

Avengers: Infinity War

Black Panther

The Commuter

*The Favourite

Mary, Queen of Scots

A Quiet Place

Best Sound Editing

Annihilation

*Avengers: Infinity War

Mission Impossible: Fallout

The Other Side of the Wind

Roma

12 Strong

Best Sound Mixing

Annihilation

Avengers: Infinity War

Mission Impossible: Fallout

The Other Side of the Wind

Roma

*A Star is Born

Best Stuntwork

Avengers: Infinity War

Beirut

Black Panther

*Mission Impossible: Fallout

12 Strong

Upgrade

Best Visual Effects

Annihilation

Ant-Man and the Wasp

Aquaman

*Avengers: Infinity War

Black Panther

First Man

Films Listed By Number of Nominations:

11 Nominations – Avengers: Infinity War

9 Nominations – The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, The Favourite, Roma

8 Nominations – Eighth Grade, A Star is Born

7 Nominations – Black Panther, The Other Side of the Wind

6 Nominations – A Simple Favor

5 Nominations – Leave No Trace, Support the Girls

4 Nominations – Blindspotting, Mandy, Mission Impossible: Fallout

3 Nominations – Annihilation, The Death of Stalin, Mary Queen of Scots, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

2 Nominations – Aquaman, Have A Nice Day, If Beale Street Could Talk, The Incredibles 2, Lizzie, Mid90s, A Quiet Place, Ralph Breaks the Internet, Searching, Three Identical Strangers, 12 Strong

1 Nomination – Ant-Man and the Wasp, Avicii: True Stories, Battle, Beirut, Bohemian Rhapsody, Chappaquiddick, The Commuter, Early Man, First Man, First Reformed, Game Night, Gun City, Happy as Lazzaro, Isle of Dogs, Mamma Mia 2: Here We Go Again, The Most Assassinated Woman In The World, Paddington 2, Recovery Boys, Second Act, Shirkers, They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead, Upgrade, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, You Were Never Really Here

Films Listed By Number of Oscars Won:

3 Oscars – Eighth Grade, The Favourite

2 Oscars – Mandy, A Star is Born, Support the Girls

1 Oscar – The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Black Panther, First Reformed, Leave No Trace, Mission Impossible: Fallout, The Other Side of the Wind, Roma, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Three Identical Strangers

As for the real nominations, they’ll be announced on Tuesday morning!

Here Are The Winners of the 24th Annual Critics Choice Awards!


TSL writer Patrick Smith has referred to The Critics Choice Awards as being his “fifth favorite awards show” and that seems like the perfect description of where they fall in awards season.  People do pay attention to them and, in the past, they’ve been a pretty good precursor as far as the Oscars are concerned.  At the same time, there always seem to be confusion as just who exactly votes for the Critics Choice Awards.

Well, the answer to that question is that the Critics’ Choice Awards are voted on by the Broadcast Film Critics Association and, tonight, they announced their picks on the CW.

It was interesting night — two ties and Christian Bale was named Best Actor twice, which of course meant we had to suffer through his “I’m just an ordinary working bloke!” routine two times too many.  By far, my favorite winner was Amy Adams for Sharp Objects.

(On another note: Taye Diggs was an interesting choice to host.  I thought he did okay but, with his talent, he really should be receiving the awards instead of talking about them.  Someone write a great role for Taye Diggs ASAP!)

Here are tonight’s winners!  (Check out the nominees here!)

Movie

Best Song — Shallow from A Star is Born

Best Young Actor or Actress — Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade

Best Supporting Actor — Mahershala Ali, Green Book

Best Supporting Actress — Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk

Best Sci-Fi or Horror Movie — A Quiet Place

Best Acting Ensemble — The Favourite

Best Action Film — Mission Impossible: Fallout

Best Animated Film — Spider-Man Into The Spider-Verse

Best Foreign Language Film — Roma

Best Original Screenplay — Paul Schrader, First Reformed

Best Adapted Screenplay — Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk

Best Actress In A Comedy — Olivia Colman, The Favourite

Best Actor In A Comedy — Christian Bale, Vice

Best Comedy — Crazy Rich Asians

Best Cinematography — Alfonso Cuaron, Roma

Best Production Design — Hannah Beachler and Jay Hart, Black Panther

Best Editing — Tom Cross, First Man

Best Costume Design — Ruth Carter, Black Panther

Best Hair and Makeup — Vice

Best Visual Effects — Black Panther

Best Original Score — Justin Hurwitz, First Man

Best Director — Alfonso Cuaron, Roma

Best Actress (tie) — Glenn Close, The Wife and Lady Gaga, A Star is Born

Best Actor — Christian Bale, Vice

Best Motion Picture — Roma

Television

Best Supporting Actor (Drama) — Noah Emmerich, The Americans

Best Supporting Actress (Drama) — Thandie Newton, Westworld

Best Supporting Actor (Comedy) — Henry Winkler, Barry

Best Supporting Actress (Comedy) — Alexis Borstein, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Best Supporting Actor (Limited Series or Made-For-TV Movie): Ben Whishaw, A Very English Scandal

Best Supporting Actress (Limited Series or Made-For-TV Movie): Patricia Clarkson, Sharp Objects

Best Movie Made For Television — Jesus Christ Superstar Live In Concert

Best Animated Series — BoJack Horseman

Best Actor (Limited Series or Movie Made-For-TV): Darren Criss, American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace

Best Actress (Limited Series or Movie Made-For-TV): (Tie) Amy Adams, Sharp Objects and Patricia Arquette, Escape at Dannemora

Best Actor (Comedy Series) — Bill Hader, Barry

Best Actress (Comedy Series) — Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Best Actor (Drama Series) — Matthew Rhys, The Americans

Best Actress (Drama Series) — Sandra Oh, Killing Eve

Best Limited Series — American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace

Best TV Drama Series — The Americans

Best TV Comedy Series — The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

 

Here Are The 64th Annual Golden Globe Winners!


Here are the winners of the 64th annual Golden Globes!

(Check out the nominees here.  Needless to say, the film winners have all received a huge boost to their Oscar chances.)

Best Actor (TV Series, Musical or Comedy) — Michael Douglas, The Kominsky Method

Best Animated Feature Film — Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Best Actor (TV Series, Drama) — Richard Madden, Bodyguard

Best TV Series (Drama) — The Americans

Best Supporting Actor (TV Series or Miniseries) — Ben Whishaw, A Very English Scandal

Best Actress (Limited Series or Made-For-TV Movie) — Patricia Arquette, Escape from Dannemora

Best Original Motion Picture Score — Justin Hurwitz, First Man

Best Original Song (Motion Picture) — “Shallow” from A Star is Born

Best Supporting Actress (Motion Picture) — Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk

Best Actress (Drama Series) — Sandra Oh, Killing Eve

Best Supporting Actor (Motion Pictures) — Mahershala Ali, Green Book

Best Screenplay (Motion Picture) — Peter Farrelly, Brian Hayes Currie, and Nick Vallelonga, Green Book

Best Supporting Actress (TV Series or Miniseries) — Patricia Clarkson, Sharp Objects

Best Actor (Musical or Comedy) — Christian Bale, Vice

Best Foreign Language Film — Roma

Best Actor (Limited Series or Made-for-TV movie) — Darren Criss, American Crime Story

Best Director (Motion Picture) — Alfonso Cuaron, Roma

Best Actress (Comedy Series) — Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Best TV Series (Musical or Comedy) — The Kominsky Method

Best TV Limited Series or Movie — American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace

Best Actress (Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical) — Olivia Colman, The Favourite

Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy) — Green Book

Best Actress (Motion Picture Drama) — Glenn Close, The Wife

Best Actor (Motion Picture, Drama) — Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody

Best Motion Picture (Drama) — Bohemian Rhapsody

 

Black Panther Is A Favourite With The Los Angeles Online Film Critics Society


The Los Angeles Online Film Critics Society, which is one of the newer critics groups, announced their nominees for the best of 2018 earlier today!  Not only did they really like The Favourite but — as you might expect from a group of online critics — they also embraced Black Panther.  Which is good because, if Black Panther‘s going to make history as the first comic book movie to score a best picture nomination, it’s going to need the critical precursor support that wasn’t given to Deadpool, Wonder Woman, or Logan.

Here are the nominations!

Best Picture

A Star is Born
Eighth Grade
Black Panther
The Favourite
The Hate U Give
BlacKkKlansman
Green Book
Roma
A Quiet Place
Searching

Best Actor

Rami Malek – Bohemian Rhapsody
Bradley Cooper – A Star is Born
Christian Bale – Vice
Ethan Hawke – First Reformed
Viggo Mortensen – Green Book

Best Actress

Toni Collette – Hereditary
Charlize Theron – Tully
Lady Gaga – A Star is Born
Olivia Colman – The Favourite
Nicole Kidman – Destroyer

Best Supporting Actor

Adam Driver – BlacKkKlansman
Mahershala Ali – Green Book
Russell Hornsby – The Hate U Give
Sam Elliott – A Star is Born
Richard E. Grant – Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Best Supporting Actress

Elizabeth Debicki – Widows
Emma Stone – The Favourite
Rachel Weisz – The Favourite
Regina King – If Beale Street Could Talk
Amy Adams – Vice

Best Adapted Screenplay

Bradley Cooper and Eric Roth – A Star is Born
Spike Lee, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, and Charlie Wachtel – BlacKkKlansman
Barry Jenkins – If Beale Street Could Talk
Audrey Wells – The Hate U Give
Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty – Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Best Original Screenplay

Bryan Woods, Scott Beck, and John Krasinski – A Quiet Place
Bo Burnham – Eighth Grade
Tony McNamara and Deborah Davis – The Favourite
Boots Riley – Sorry to Bother You
Adam McKay – Vice

Best Male Director

Alfonso Cuaron – Roma
Spike Lee – BlacKkKlansman
Yorgos Lanthimos – The Favourite
Bradley Cooper – A Star is Born
Ryan Coogler – Black Panther

Best Female Director

Chloe Zhao – The Rider
Debra Granik – Leave No Trace
Tamara Jenkins – Private Life
Marielle Heller – Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Lynne Ramsay – You Were Never Really Here

Best Animated Film

Incredibles 2
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Isle of Dogs
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Mirai

Best Foreign Film

Burning
Cold War
Roma
Shoplifters
Girl

Best Documentary

Free Solo
Minding the Gap
RBG
Three Identical Strangers
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Best Visual Effects

Ready Player One
Mission Impossible – Fallout
First Man
Black Panther
Avengers: Infinity War

Best Cinematography

Linus Sandgren – First Man
James Laxton – If Beale Street Could Talk
Alfonso Cuarón – Roma
Robbie Ryan – The Favourite
Rachel Morrison – Black Panther

Best Blockbuster

Avengers: Infinity War
Black Panther
Deadpool 2
Mission: Impossible Fallout
Ready Player One

Best Independent Film

Eighth Grade
First Reformed
Sorry to Bother You
Ben Is Back
If Beale Street Could Talk

Best First Feature

Bo Burnham – Eighth Grade
Bradley Cooper – A Star is Born
Ari Aster – Hereditary
Paul Dano – Wildlife
Aneesh Chaganty – Searching

Best Comedy/Musical

Crazy Rich Asians
Game Night
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again!
The Favourite
Bohemian Rhapsody

Best Action Film

Mission: Impossible -Fallout
Black Panther
Avengers: Infinity War
Deadpool 2
Widows

Best Sci-Fi/Horror

A Quiet Place
Annihilation
Halloween
Hereditary
Suspiria

Best Performance by an Actor 23 and Under

Alex Wolff – Hereditary
Lucas Hedges – Boy Erased
Lucas Hedges – Ben Is Back
Noah Jupe – A Quiet Place
Timothée Chalamet – Beautiful Boy

Best Performance by an Actress 23 and Under

Amandla Stenberg – The Hate You Give
Elsie Fisher – Eighth Grade
Millicent Simmonds – A Quiet Place
Milly Shapiro – Hereditary
Thomasin McKenzie- Leave No Trace

Best Breakthrough Performance

Elsie Fisher – Eighth Grade
John David Washington – BlacKkKlansman
Lady Gaga – A Star is Born
Yalitza Aparicio – Roma
Amandla Stenberg – The Hate U Give

Best Cast

Black Panther
The Favourite
BlacKkKlansman
Crazy Rich Asians
Widows

Best Stunt Work

Avengers: Infinity War
Mission: Impossible – Fallout
Black Panther
Deadpool 2
Upgrade

Best Score

Justin Hurwitz – First Man
Nicholas Britell – If Beale Street Could Talk
Alexandre Desplat – Isle of Dogs
Ludwig Göransson- Black Panther
Terence Blanchard – BlacKkKlansman

Best Original Song

All the Stars – Black Panther
Shallow – A Star is Born
Hollywood Ending – Anna and The Apocalypse
Revelation – Boy Erased
Hearts Beat Loud – Hearts Beat Loud

Best Editing

Adam Gough and Alfonso Cuarón – Roma
Nicholas D. Johnson and Will Merrick – Searching
Yorgos Mavropsaridis – The Favourite
Barry Alexander Brown – BlacKkKlansman
Hank Corwin – Vice

Best Visual Effects or Animated Performance

Ben Whishaw – Paddington 2
Jason Liles – Rampage
Josh Brolin – Avengers: Infinity War
Phoebe Waller-Bridge – Solo: A Star Wars Story
Tom Hardy – Venom

 

The Washington D.C. Film Critics Nominate Coogler, Jordan, and The Favourite


Yesterday, the Washington D.C. Film Critics announced their nominees for the best of 2018.  While the big three contenders — Roma, Star is Born, and Green Book — are all present and accounted for, the D.C. Film Critics did take the time to nominate Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan for their work on Black Panther.  They also nominated The Favourite for Best Picture, which isn’t unexpected but The Favourite, like Black Panther, can use all the support it can get to prevent being overshadowed by the big three contenders.

(Before anyone asks what I’m basing my analysis on, allow me to point out that I’m not the first film blogger to pretend to be an Oscar expert and I’m sure I won’t be the last….)

Best Film:
The Favourite
Green Book
If Beale Street Could Talk
Roma
A Star Is Born

Best Director:
Ryan Coogler (Black Panther)
Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born)
Alfonso Cuarón (Roma)
Barry Jenkins (If Beale Street Could Talk)
Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite)

Best Actor:
Christian Bale (Vice)
Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born)
Ethan Hawke (First Reformed)
Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody)
Viggo Mortensen (Green Book)

Best Actress:
Glenn Close (The Wife)
Toni Collette (Hereditary)
Olivia Colman (The Favourite)
Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born)
Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)

Best Supporting Actor:
Mahershala Ali (Green Book)
Timothée Chalamet (Beautiful Boy)
Sam Elliott (A Star Is Born)
Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)
Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther)

Best Supporting Actress:
Cynthia Erivo (Bad Times at the El Royale)
Nicole Kidman (Boy Erased)
Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk)
Emma Stone (The Favourite)
Rachel Weisz (The Favourite)

Best Acting Ensemble:
Black Panther
The Favourite
If Beale Street Could Talk
Vice
Widows

Best Youth Performance:
Elsie Fisher (Eighth Grade)
Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie (Leave No Trace)
Milly Shapiro (Hereditary)
Millicent Simmonds (A Quiet Place)
Amandla Stenberg (The Hate U Give)

Best Voice Performance:
Bryan Cranston (Isle of Dogs)
Holly Hunter (Incredibles 2)
Shameik Moore (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse)
Sarah Silverman (Ralph Breaks the Internet)
Ben Whishaw (Paddington 2)

Best Motion Capture Performance:
Josh Brolin (Avengers: Infinity War)
Tye Sheridan (Ready Player One)
Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Solo: A Star Wars Story)

Best Original Screenplay:
Bo Burnham (Eighth Grade)
Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara (The Favourite)
Paul Schrader (First Reformed)
Nick Vallelonga & Brian Currie & Peter Farrelly (Green Book)
Alfonso Cuarón (Roma)

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Charlie Wachtel & David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott & Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman)
Ryan Coogler & Joe Robert Cole (Black Panther)
Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)
Barry Jenkins (If Beale Street Could Talk)
Eric Roth and Bradley Cooper & Will Fetters (A Star Is Born)

Best Animated Feature:
Incredibles 2
Isle of Dogs
Mirai
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Best Documentary:
Free Solo
RBG
Science Fair
Three Identical Strangers
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Best Foreign Language Film:
Burning
Capernaum
Cold War
Roma
Shoplifters

Best Production Design:
Production Designer: Hannah Beachler; Set Decorator: Jay Hart (Black Panther)
Production Designer: Fiona Crombie; Set Decorator: Alice Felton (The Favourite)
Production Designer: Nathan Crowley; Set Decorator: Kathy Lucas (First Man)
Production Designer: John Myhre; Set Decorator: Gordon Sim (Mary Poppins Returns)
Production Designer: Eugenio Caballero; Set Decorator: Bárbara Enríquez (Roma)

Best Cinematography:
Robbie Ryan, BSC (The Favourite)
Linus Sandgren, FSF (First Man)
James Laxton (If Beale Street Could Talk)
Alfonso Cuarón (Roma)
Matthew Libatique, ASC (A Star Is Born)

Best Editing:
Yorgos Mavropsaridis, ACE (The Favourite)
Tom Cross, ACE (First Man)
Alfonso Cuarón, Adam Gough (Roma)
Jay Cassidy, ACE (A Star Is Born)
Joe Walker, ACE (Widows)

Best Original Score:
Ludwig Göransson (Black Panther)
Justin Hurwitz (First Man)
Nicholas Britell (If Beale Street Could Talk)
Thom Yorke (Suspiria)
Hans Zimmer (Widows)

The Joe Barber Award for Best Portrayal of Washington, DC:
The Front Runner
RBG
Vice

Film Review: Suffragette (dir by Sarah Gavron)


Suffragette_poster

It’s funny (or perhaps not) when you think about it.  I’ve always taken my right to vote (and, in theory at least, have some say over how I’m governed) for granted.  Even before I turned 18 and officially registered, I never had any doubt that, some day, I would be able to vote for President and every other elected office.  (And, even before that, I voted in student council and mock presidential elections.)  Voting is something that I so take for granted that, even when I cast my first official vote in the 2004 Presidential election, it didn’t really mean much to me.  Given the choice between Bush and Kerry, I wrote in the name of Charles Jay, the candidate of the Personal Choice Party.  I knew nothing about Mr. Jay but I had come across his name online and I liked the idea of personal choice and I thought it would make for a funny story to tell all of my friends who were actually taking the election seriously.  (Even back then, I enjoyed annoying people who actually cared.)  Essentially, I threw my vote away and I did it without a second thought.

Of course, what I didn’t understand at that time was that the right to vote was something that many brave women had fought for, gone to prison for, and even died for.  If I had lived before 1920, I would not have had the right to vote and I certainly would not have had the opportunity to so casually toss my vote away.  Women in the U.S. did not win the right to vote until 1920.  But before everyone starts in with the usual “America is so backwards!” crap, consider this.  In Britain, women did not win the right to vote until 1928.  Women could not vote in France until 1944 and Switzerland waited until 1984!  Last year, women in Saudi Arabia voted for the first time.

The struggle of British women to gain equal rights under the law is the subject of the film Suffragette.  Maud Watts (played by Carey Mulligan, my generation’s Audrey Hepburn) is a laundress living in London in 1912.  She spends her day working for little money and for a male boss who, for years, has sexually harassed and abused the women working under him.  Unlike a lot of the women who work at the laundry, Maud has a stable home life.  She is a devoted mother and her husband, Sonny (Ben Whishaw), is supportive.

Or, at least, he seems to be at first.  Things chance once Maud gets involved in the suffragette movement.  It’s not just that her lecherous boss laughs at her for wanting to be treated equally,  That, we expect.  No, what is truly infuriating is to watch how quickly Sonny goes from being a loving husband to a monster, the type who forbids Maud from seeing her own son and then callously puts the boy up for adoption.  Confronted by his wife’s demand to be treated as his equal, Sonny reveals himself to be no better than the casual misogynists that Maud must deal with, on a daily basis, at work.  Raised on a diet of films where men come to their senses and justice (and love) somehow prevails, I kept expecting Sonny to see the error of his ways or for Maud to at least be reunited with her son.  Needless to say, none of that happened.  This is a film that never lets us forget the sacrifice involved in fighting for equal rights.

Instead, having lost everything that previously defined her life, Maud throws herself into the battle for women’s rights.  And, as Suffragette makes clear, that meant a lot more than just winning the right to vote.

It’s an inspiring story and both Carey Mulligan and Helena Bonham-Carter (who plays another suffragette) give powerful performances.  At the same time — and this is something that many critics need to understand and acknowledge — you can love a film for what it has to say while, at the same time, acknowledging that it doesn’t totally work as a piece of cinema.  Suffragette is not a perfect film and reviewing it, I found myself torn between praising the film’s message and criticizing director Sarah Gavron’s frequently uninspired cinematic technique.  (From a strictly cinematic point of view, Suffragette will play better on television than on a big movie screen.)

Perhaps for me, the film’s great weakness was casting Meryl Streep in the role of real-life activist Emmeline Pankhurst.  Ms. Pankhurst was the leader of the Suffragette movement and is an inspiring historical figure.  Unfortunately, as soon as Meryl shows up for her four-minute cameo, it becomes impossible to see her as being anyone other than Meryl Streep, a wealthy white woman who — unlike the real-life Ms. Pankhurst — will never be sent to prison for demanding the right to vote.  When Meryl shows up as Ms. Pankhurst, it takes the viewer out of the historical reality of the film.  You’re no longer watching a group of brave women risking their lives and demanding to be treated equally under the law.  Instead, you’re just watching a Meryl Streep cameo.

Throughout the film, Maud stays in a succession of safe houses and decrepit offices.  She always has a picture of Ms. Pankhurst near her and occasionally, she looks to it for strength and guidance.  However, since the picture of Ms. Pankhurst is really just a picture of Meryl Streep, it again serves to take the viewer out of the film.  Perhaps if Meryl Streep had more screen time, she would be able to get us to think of her as being Ms. Pankhurst but since she’s only onscreen for four minutes, she instead just serves to distract from the film’s message.

(Personally, I would have cast either Emma Thompson and Kristin Scott Thomas in the role of Ms. Pankhurst, two great actresses who would could have portrayed her charisma without being quite as distracting as Meryl Streep.)

As I said earlier, Suffragette is not a perfect film but it does teach an important lesson that needs to be learned, especially by those of us who occasionally take our rights for granted.  It’s a film that reminds us that years ago, brave women fought for everything that we have now and it’s a film that encourages us to keep fighting.  It’s not a perfect film but it’s a film that deserves to be seen.

James Bond Film Review: SPECTRE (dir by Sam Mendes)


Spectre_poster

(SPOILERS)

Three years ago, Arleigh, Leonard, Chris Mead, and I reviewed every single James Bond films up to Skyfall.  Leonard often refers to this as being our Avengers moment and it remains one of my fondest memories of my time here at the Shattered Lens.  It really doesn’t matter who is playing the role or what the villain’s evil plan may be, or whether the individual film was made in the 60s or just last year, the Bond films are a lot of fun.  Some of them are better than others.  Sometimes, you get lucky and you get something like For Your Eyes Only and sometimes you have to settle for Die Another Day.  Ultimately, every Bond film is an event and, in many ways, they are critic proof.  As long we hear the iconic music, as long as Bond gets a few good quips, as long as the villain chuckles while explaining his evil plan, as long as there’s an exciting chase and a big explosion, and as long as there’s a lot of gorgeous clothes to look at and at least one tastefully lit sex scene, most viewers will be happy.

If it’s not broken…

Most viewers will probably be happy with SPECTRE, the latest Bond film.  I saw the film yesterday and, even if it won’t ever make my list of top ten Bond films, I enjoyed it.  Daniel Craig is back as Bond, Christoph Waltz fulfills his destiny by becoming the 9th actor to play the iconic villain Blofeld, Dave Bautista is a properly intimidating henchman, and Lea Seydoux is the strongest Bond girl since Eva Green.  One thing that I especially appreciated about the film is that, in the roles of M, Miss Moneypenny, and Q, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, and Ben Whishaw are actually given an opportunity to get involved in the film’s action and all three of them are a lot of fun to watch.  The film has an absolutely brilliant opening, featuring Bond assassinating a man in Mexico City and destroying a city block in the process.  There’s an exciting chase scene, there’s a few moments of genuine wit, and there’s even one of those patented Bond train journeys, where sex and violence are mixed with intoxicating results.  And yes, the clothes are to die for…

To Die For

To Die For

It’s good and undeniably enjoyable in so many ways and yet somehow, SPECTRE still left me feeling slightly disappointed.  Some of that is because SPECTRE exists in the shadow of Skyfall.  After Skyfall (which I feel should have been one of the films nominated for best picture of 2012), expectation were sky high for SPECTRE.  Those expectations were so high that there was no way that SPECTRE could have hoped to meet them.  (You could argue that Quantum of Solace faced the same problem when it had to follow Casino Royale.)  SPECTRE is no Skyfall but, then again, few films are.

Speaking of high expectations, I think we were all expecting Christoph Waltz to be one of the best Bond villains.  After all, Waltz is a legitimately great actor and he specializes in the type of cheerful arrogance that has epitomized some of Bond’s greatest antagonists.  (One can easily imagine Waltz playing Auric Goldfinger.)  Add to that, Waltz is playing Blofeld, the ultimate Bond bad guy.  As it is, Waltz gives a good performance but SPECTRE‘s Blofeld just isn’t that interesting.  He has a lot more in common with the generic baddie from Quantum of Solace than with Goldfinger or the fascinated Raoul Silva of Skyfall.

As well, it wasn’t just enough for Blofeld to be the leader of a secret organization bent on world domination.  It wasn’t enough that Blofeld was secretly responsible for everything that happened in Casino Royale, Quantum, and Skyfall (which, as much as some critics have complained about this particular plot twist, is actually a clever reference to Blofeld’s shadowy presence in all of Sean Connery’s Bond films).  For some reason, the film’s writers decided it would be a good idea to make him Bond’s jealous stepbrother.  Blofeld’s past relationship to Bond feels incredibly superfluous.  I like to think that I’m pretty good at suspending my disbelief (especially when it comes to a Bond film) but I have to admit that I found myself rolling my eyes while Blofeld talked about how jealous he was when Bond came to live with his family.

We all know it's you, Christoph...

We all know it’s you, Christoph…

(As well, Blofeld’s jealousy was a bit too reminiscent of Raoul Silva’s jealousy of Bond.  It worked in Skyfall because we weren’t expecting a Bond villain to have a vulnerable side and Javier Bardem’s perversely charismatic performance caught the viewers off guard.  In SPECTRE, it just feels like something that should have been eliminated during a rewrite.)

Daniel Craig, of course, is the sixth actor to officially play the role of James Bond.  It’s always interesting to see how each actor interprets the role.  The most successful Bond films are always built around the actor’s individual interpretation.  For instance, it would be difficult to imagine Roger Moore in any of Sean Connery’s Bond films and, at the same time, it would be hard to imagine Sean Connery in The Spy Who Loved Me.  Sean Connery was the Ruthless Bond.  George Lazenby was the Insecure Bond.  Roger Moore was the Bemused Bond.  Timothy Dalton was the Boring Bond.  Pierce Brosnan was the Suave Bond.  Depending on which one of his films you see, Daniel Craig is either the Professional Bond or the Whiny Bond.  SPECTRE continues the pattern that we’ve seen in the previous Craig films of presenting a James Bond who is struggling to balance his humanity with his job.  When it works, like in Skyfall, it’s riveting.  When it doesn’t work, like in Quantum of Solace, it runs the risk of getting rather tedious.  SPECTRE finds Craig in between those two extremes.  It’s an uneven performance.  Craig and Seydoux have great chemistry and the scenes where Craig interacts with Fiennes, Harris, and Whishaw are fun to watch.  But there are other scenes where Daniel Craig just comes across like he’s bored with the whole thing.  Craig’s Bond has spent four films trying to figure out how he feels about his job.  If Craig returns for a fifth film (and, as of right now, that seems to be a big if), he will hopefully have finally gotten over it.

(That said, SPECTRE was definitely written for Craig’s bond.  At the end of the film — SPOILER, obviously — Bond has the choice between executing a man in cold blood or allowing the authorities to arrest him.  Craig allows the man to be arrested.  Connery would have put a bullet in his head and then smirked about it.)

He totally would...

He totally would…

And if it seems that I’m being critical of SPECTRE — well, I am.  It’s one of the more uneven films in the Bond franchise, one that especially suffers when compared to some of the other spy films (Kingsman, MI: Rogue Nation) released this year.  But, at the same time, SPECTRE does deliver the basics of what we expect from a Bond film.  It’s entertaining and it has its fun moments.  It’s no Skyfall but at least it’s better than Quantum of Solace.

Incidentally, I want to be Lea Seydoux when I grow up...

Incidentally, I want to be Lea Seydoux when I grow up…

Other Bond Reviews on TSL:

  1. Casino Royale (TV version)
  2. Dr. No
  3. From Russia With Love
  4. Goldfinger
  5. Thunderball
  6. You Only Live Twice
  7. Casino Royale (excessive version)
  8. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
  9. Diamonds Are Forever
  10. Lisa’s Review of Live and Let Die
  11. Arleigh’s Review of Live and Let Die
  12. The Man With The Golden Gun
  13. The Spy Who Loved Me
  14. Moonraker
  15. For Your Eyes Only
  16. Octopussy
  17. Never Say Never Again
  18. A View To A Kill
  19. The Living Daylights
  20. Licence to Kill
  21. Goldeneye
  22. Tomorrow Never Dies
  23. The World Is Not Enough
  24. Die Another Day
  25. Casino Royale (Craig version)
  26. Quantum of Solace
  27. Skyfall