Lisa Marie’s Oscar Predictions for December


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

A few thoughts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anywya, these are just my guesses, for better or worse.  To see how my thinking has evolved,  check out my predictions for March and April and May and June and July and August and September and October and November!

Best Picture

Belfast

CODA

Don’t Look Up

Drive My Car

Dune

King Richard

Licorice Pizza

The Power of the Dog

Spider-Man: No Way Home

West Side Story

Best Director

Paul Thomas Anderson for Licorice Pizza

Kenneth Branagh for Belfast

Jane Campion for The Power of the Dog

Ryusuke Hamaguchi for Drive My Car

Denis Villeneueve for Dune

Best Actor

Benedict Cumberbatch in The Power of the Dog

Peter Dinklage in Cyrano

Andrew Gardield for tick….tick….BOOM!

Will Smith in King Richard

Denzel Washington in The Tragedy of MacBeth

Best Actress

Jessica Chastain in The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Lady Gaga in House of Gucci

Alana Haim in Licorice Pizza

Kristen Stewart in Spencer

Rachel Zegler in West Side Story

Best Supporting Actor

Bradley Cooper in Licorice Pizza

Ciaran Hinds in Belfast

Troy Kostur in CODA

Mark Rylance in Don’t Look Up

Kodi Smit-McPhee in The Power of the Dog

Best Supporting Actress

Ariana DeBose in West Side Story

Ann Dowd in Mass

Kirsten Dunst in The Power of the Dog

Aunjanue Ellis in King Richard

Marlee Matlin in CODA

 

Here Are the 2021 Nominations of the Washington D.C. Area Film Critics!


The Washington D.C. Area Film Critics have announced their nominees for the best of 2021!  The winners will be announced tomorrow so that means you have exactly one day to see all the nominees.  GET TO IT!

Best Film
Belfast
The Green Knight
The Power of the Dog
tick, tick…BOOM!
West Side Story

Best Director
Kenneth Branagh – Belfast
Jane Campion – The Power of the Dog
David Lowery – The Green Knight
Steven Spielberg – West Side Story
Denis Villeneuve – Dune

Best Actor
Nicolas Cage – Pig
Benedict Cumberbatch – The Power of the Dog
Andrew Garfield – tick, tick…BOOM!
Will Smith – King Richard
Denzel Washington – The Tragedy of Macbeth

Best Actress
Olivia Colman – The Lost Daughter
Nicole Kidman – Being the Ricardos
Lady Gaga – House of Gucci
Kristen Stewart – Spencer
Tessa Thompson – Passing

Best Supporting Actor
Jamie Dornan – Belfast
Ciarán Hinds – Belfast
Troy Kotsur – CODA
Jesse Plemons – The Power of the Dog
Kodi Smit-McPhee – The Power of the Dog

Best Supporting Actress
Caitríona Balfe – Belfast
Ariana DeBose – West Side Story
Ann Dowd – Mass
Kirsten Dunst – The Power of the Dog
Aunjanue Ellis – King Richard

Best Acting Ensemble
Belfast
The French Dispatch
The Harder They Fall
Mass
The Power of the Dog

Best Youth Performance
Jude Hill – Belfast
Emilia Jones – CODA
Woody Norman – C’mon, C’mon
Saniyya Sidney – King Richard
Rachel Zegler – West Side Story

Best Voice Performance
Awkwafina – Raya and the Last Dragon
Stephanie Beatriz – Encanto
Abbi Jacobson – The Mitchells vs. the Machines
Kelly Marie Tran – Raya and the Last Dragon
Jacob Tremblay – Luca

Best Original Screenplay
Kenneth Branagh – Belfast
Mike Mills – C’mon, C’mon
Zach Baylin – King Richard
Paul Thomas Anderson – Licorice Pizza
Fran Kranz – Mass

Best Adapted Screenplay
Siân Heder – CODA
Jon Spaihts and Denis Villeneuve and Eric Roth – Dune
Jane Campion – The Power of the Dog
Steven Levenson – tick, tick…BOOM!
Tony Kushner – West Side Story

Best Animated Feature
Encanto
Flee
Luca
The Mitchells vs. the Machines
Raya and the Last Dragon

Best Documentary
The First Wave
Flee
The Rescue
Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
Val

Best International/Foreign Language Film
Drive My Car
A Hero
Lamb
Titane
The Worst Person in the World

Best Production Design
Jim Clay, Production Designer; Claire Nia Richards, Set Decorator – Belfast
Patrice Vermette, Production Designer; Richard Roberts and Zsuzsanna Sipos, Set Decorators – Dune
Adam Stockhausen, Production Designer; Rena DeAngelo, Set Decorator – The French Dispatch
Tamara Deverell, Production Designer; Shane Vieau, Set Decorator – Nightmare Alley
Adam Stockhausen, Production Designer; Rena DeAngelo, Set Decorator – West Side Story

Best Cinematography
Haris Zambarloukos – Belfast
Greig Fraser – Dune
Andrew Droz Palermo – The Green Knight
Ari Wegner – The Power of the Dog
Bruno Delbonnel – The Tragedy of Macbeth

Best Editing
Úna Ní Dhonghaíle – Belfast
Joe Walker – Dune
Andrew Weisblum – The French Dispatch
Peter Sciberras – The Power of the Dog
Myron Kerstein & Andrew Weisblum – tick, tick…BOOM!

Best Original Score
Bryce Dessner & Aaron Dessner – Cyrano
Hans Zimmer – Dune
Alexandre Desplat – The French Dispatch
Jonny Greenwood – The Power of the Dog
Jonny Greenwood – Spencer

The National Board of Review Names Licorice Pizza The Best of 2021


The National Board of Review just announced their picks for the best of 2021 and, while many thought they might go with West Side Story or The Power of the Dog, the NBR instead announced that their pick for Best Picture was Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza!

In fact, Power of the Dog went curiously unmentioned by the National Board of Review.  I wouldn’t read too much into that, though.  While the NBR is one of the more prominent of the precursors, they’re also not one of the most reliable.  If the Guilds ignore a film that was considered to be contender, that’s when you might want to start changing your predictions.

Anyway, here are the NBR winners:

Best Film: LICORICE PIZZA
Best Director: Paul Thomas Anderson, LICORICE PIZZA
Best Actor: Will Smith, KING RICHARD
Best Actress: Rachel Zegler, WEST SIDE STORY
Best Supporting Actor: Ciarán Hinds, BELFAST
Best Supporting Actress: Aunjanue Ellis, KING RICHARD
Best Original Screenplay: Asghar Farhadi, A HERO
Best Adapted Screenplay: Joel Coen, THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH
Breakthrough Performance: Alana Haim & Cooper Hoffman, LICORICE PIZZA
Best Directorial Debut: Michael Sarnoski, PIG
Best Animated Feature: ENCANTO
Best Foreign Language Film: A HERO
Best Documentary: SUMMER OF SOUL (…OR, WHEN THE REVOLUTION COULD NOT BE TELEVISED)
​Best Ensemble: THE HARDER THEY FALL
Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography: Bruno Delbonnel, THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH
NBR Freedom of Expression Award: FLEE

Top Films (in alphabetical order)
Belfast
Don’t Look Up
Dune
King Richard
The Last Duel
Nightmare Alley
Red Rocket
The Tragedy of Macbeth
West Side Story

Top 5 Foreign Language Films (in alphabetical order)
Benedetta
Lamb
Lingui, The Sacred Bonds
Titane
The Worst Person in the World

Top 5 Documentaries (in alphabetical order)
Ascension
Attica
Flee
The Rescue
Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain

Top 10 Independent Films (in alphabetical order)
The Card Counter
C’mon C’mon
CODA
The Green Knight
Holler
Jockey
Old Henry
Pig
Shiva Baby
The Souvenir Part II

Lisa Marie’s Oscar Predictions for November


It’s time for my monthly Oscar predictions!  Awards Season is going to begin in just another two days and the Oscar picture has become a lot more clearer.  

Last month, I was ready to write off West Side Story as a contender.  However, following both the film’s recent screening and the death of Stephen Sondheim, it’s now once again very much a contender.  If nothing else, Rita Moreno seems like the clear front runner for Supporting Actress.  This would be her first nomination since she won an Oscar for appearing in the original West Side Story.  Who can resist that narrative?

I’ve also added Licorice Pizza back to my list of nominees.  At first, I thought it sounded too slight to be a contender but the enthusiasm that I’m seeing for the film would seem to indicate that I was incorrect.

As always, keep in mind that I don’t claim to be an expert.  The picture is a bit clearer but I don’t claim to have any inside information or anything like that.  These are just my guesses, for better or worse.  To see how my thinking has evolved,  check out my predictions for March and April and May and June and July and August and September and October!

Best Picture

Being the Ricardos

Belfast

Dune

House of Gucci

King Richard

Licorice Pizza

The Lost Daughter

Nightmare Alley

The Power of the Dog

West Side Story

Best Director

Paul Thomas Anderson for Licorice Pizza

Kenneth Branagh for Belfast

Jane Campion for The Power of the Dog

Guillermo del Toro for Nightmare Alley

Steven Spielberg for West Side Story

Best Actor

Benedict Cumberbatch in The Power of the Dog

Peter Dinklage in Cyrano

Jude Hill in Belfast

Will Smith in King Richard

Denzel Washington in The Tragedy of MacBeth

Best Actress

Lady Gaga in House of Gucci

Jennifer Hudson in Respect

Nicole Kidman in Being the Ricardos

Kristen Stewart in Spencer

Rachel Zegler in West Side Story

Best Supporting Actor

Ben Affleck in The Tender Bar

Bradley Cooper in Licorice Pizza

Ciaran Hinds in Belfast

Jared Leto in House of Gucci

Kodi Smit-McPhee in The Power of the Dog

Best Supporting Actress

Ann Dowd in Mass

Kirsten Dunst in The Power of the Dog

Aunjanue Ellis in King Richard

Marlee Matlin in CODA

Rita Moreno in West Side Story

 

Lisa Marie’s Oscar Predictions for October


It’s time to take a little break from horror so that I may once against do my list of my monthly Oscar predictions!  I guess some people would consider predicting the Oscars to be a scary thing.  Personally, I have fun doing it, even if my predictions often seem to be for naught.  That said, I did manage to predict that Thomas Vinterberg would be nominated for Best Director last year so take that, haters.

Probably the biggest development this month is that I’ve lost all faith in Spielberg’s West Side Story.  It’s just not getting the type of hype that I would expect from a Spielberg Oscar movie.  In fact, it seems like everyone involved is in kind of a hurry to move on.  So, for now, I’m dropping it from my predictions.  While West Side Story goes, Dune has definitely established itself as a probable nominee.  I think the only problem that Dune will have is the possibility of people saying, “We’ll just nominate the sequel instead.”

I’ve also added C’mon C’mon and Passing to my list of Best Picture nominees.  This is almost totally due to their popularity with the Gothams.  If the other critics groups don’t duplicate the love, they’ll probably get dropped from my predictions come January.

As always, keep in mind that I don’t claim to be an expert.  The picture is a bit clearer but I don’t claim to have any inside information or anything like that.  These are just my guesses, for better or worse.  To see how my thinking has evolved,  check out my predictions for March and April and May and June and July and August and September!

Best Picture

Belfast

C’mon C’mon

CODA

Dune

The Lost Daughter

Nightmare Alley

Passing

The Power of the Dog

Spencer

The Tragedy of MacBeth

Best Director

Kenneth Branagh for Belfast

Jane Campion for The Power of the Dog

Maggie Gyllenhaal for The Lost Daughter

Guillermo del Toro for Nightmare Alley

Denis Villeneuve for Dune

Best Actor

Benedict Cumberbatch in The Power of the Dog

Peter Dinklage in Cyrano

Jude Hill in Belfast

Will Smith in King Richard

Denzel Washington in The Tragedy of MacBeth

Best Actress

Jessica Chastain in The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Olivia Colman in The Lost Daughter

Penelope Cruz in Parallel Lives

Frances McDormand in The Tragedy of MacBeth

Kristen Stewart in Spencer

Best Supporting Actor

Willem DaFoe in Nightmare Alley

Jamie Dornan in Belfast

Ciaran Hinds in Belfast

Jason Isaacs in Mass

Kodi Smit-McPhee in The Power of the Dog

Best Supporting Actress

Jessie Buckley in The Lost Daughter

Dame Judi Dench in Belfast

Ann Dowd in Mass

Kirsten Dunst in The Power of the Dog

Marlee Matlin in CODA

Lisa Marie’s Oscar Predictions for September


Well, it’s the time of the month again.

No, not that time!  That time ended two days ago.  I’m talking about the fact that it’s time for me to once again share my monthly Oscar predictions.  Thanks to the festival circuit, we’ve finally gotten some advance word on the big Oscar contenders that will be coming out over the next few months.

Belfast, as of right now, sounds like the prohibitive favorite to win it all.  At first, it seemed like the reaction to The Power of the Dog was a bit mixed but later reactions were almost overwhelmingly positive.  It sounds like the type of film that will be nominated even if it won’t necessarily win.  Maggie Gyllenhaal’s The Lost Daughter is coming on strong, as is Spencer.  For me, the biggest surprise has been the amount of acclaim that Dune has been getting.  I was a bit dismissive of its Oscar chances earlier this year but now it definitely sounds like it will be in the hunt.

West Side Story has been seen by no one but I continue to list it because it’s a Spielberg film and, with all the musicals that are being released this year and which have subsequently struggled with either critics or audiences or both, it still seems the most likely to pick up a nomination.  I’m a little bit skeptical on whether or not Nightmare Alley is going to be an “Oscar picture” but the trailer was nice to look at so I’m giving it the benefit of the doubt.  House of Gucci is three hours long and full of stars so it’s either going to be an Oscar nominee or a complete bomb.

You may notice a lack of predicted nominations for Licorice Pizza. Licorice Pizza is a film that I fully expect to love but the trailer definitely feels a bit more like Inherent Vice than The Phantom Thread.  I still think that the actors could get nominated but the rumor right now is that Bradley Cooper’s role is actually very small.  That’s why I no longer have him listed as a supporting actor nominee.

Again, keep in mind that I’m not an expert.  The picture is a bit clearer but I don’t claim to have any inside information or anything like that.  These are just my guesses, for better or worse.  To see how my thinking has evolved,  check out my predictions for March and April and May and June and July and August!

Best Picture

Belfast

CODA

Dune

House of Gucci

The Lost Daughter

Nightmare Alley

The Power of the Dog

Spencer

The Tragedy of MacBeth

West Side Story

Best Director

Kenneth Branagh for Belfast

Jane Campion for The Power of the Dog

Guillermo del Toro for Nightmare Alley

Steven Spielberg for West Side Story

Denis Villeneuve for Dune

Best Actor

Clifton Collins, Jr. in Jockey

Benedict Cumberbatch in The Power of the Dog

Peter Dinklage in Cyrano

Will Smith in King Richard

Denzel Washington in The Tragedy of MacBeth

Best Actress

Jessica Chastain in The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Olivia Colman in The Lost Daughter

Penelope Cruz in Parallel Lives

Frances McDormand in The Tragedy of MacBeth

Kristen Stewart in Spencer

Best Supporting Actor

David Alvarez in West Side Story

Willem DaFoe in Nightmare Alley

Ciaran Hinds in Belfast

Jason Isaac in Mass

Kodi Smit-McPhee in The Power of the Dog

Best Supporting Actress

Jessie Buckley in The Lost Daughter

Dame Judi Dench in Belfast

Ann Dowd in Mass

Kirsten Dunst in The Power of the Dog

Marlee Matlin in CODA

Film Review: Red Sparrow (dir by Francis Lawrence)


God, this film was a mess.

Red Sparrow is a spy thriller that features a lot of spies but not many thrills.  Jennifer Lawrence plays Dominika Ergova, a Russian ballerina whose career with the Bolshoi is ended when another dancer drops her on stage.  Fortunately, Dominka’s sleazy uncle Ivan (Matthias Schoenaerts) has a new career in mind!  Maybe Dominka could be a sparrow, a spy who seduces the enemy!  Just in case Dominka doesn’t want to spend the rest of her life seducing westerners, Ivan arranges for her to witness a murder and then informs her that she’ll be eliminated as a witness unless she does what he tells her.  This, of course, leads to Dominkia attending State School 4, where she is schooled in the arts of seduction by Matron (Charlotte Rampling).  Upon graduation, Dominka is sent to Budapest, where she falls in love with a CIA agent named Nash (Joel Edgerton) and a lot of predictable spy stuff happens.  Despite all of the sex and violence, it’s just not much fun.

Red Sparrow has all the ingredients to be an enjoyably trashy 90-minute spy flick but instead, it’s a slowly paced, 140-minute slog that just seems to go on forever.  Throughout the film, director Francis Lawrence (no relation to the film’s star) struggles to maintain a steady pace.  Too much time is spent on Dominka’s life before she suffers the injury that should have opened the film.  Meanwhile, the only interesting part of the film — Dominka’s education at State School 4 — goes by far too quickly and, despite the fact that she was giving one of the few interesting performances in Red Sparrow, Charlotte Rampling vanishes from the film early on.  Once Dominkia gets to Budapest, the film really slow down to a crawl.  Joel Edgerton’s a good actor and an even better director but he gives an overly grim and serious performance in Red Sparrow and he and Jennifer Lawrence have next to no romantic chemistry.

(That lack of romantic chemistry petty much dooms the final forty minutes of the film.  It’s easy to imagine a much better version of Red Sparrow in which Bradley Cooper played the role of Nash.  True, that would have been like the 100th time that Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence starred opposite each other but why not?  It worked for William Powell and Myrna Loy.)

As for Jennifer Lawrence, her performance is okay.  It’s not one of her best and there’s a few moments where it seems as if she’s more concerned with maintaining her Russian accent than with what’s actually going on in the scene but, for the most part, it’s a good enough performance.  That said, you do have to wonder how long she can go without having another hit film.  Despite being heavily hyped, Passengers, Mother!, and Red Sparrow all underperformed at the box office.  (In defense of Mother!, it was never going to be a box office hit, regardless of who starred in it.)  As talented as she is, it’s sometimes hard not to feel that, as an actress, Jennifer Lawrence has lost some of the natural spark that took viewers by surprise in Winter’s Bone, launched a whole new genre of dystopian YA adaptations with The Hunger Games, and which previously elevated unlikely films like The House At The End Of The Street.  She was a far more interesting actress before she became J Law.

Here’s hoping that she finally gets another role worthy of her talent!

Scenes I Love: The Phantom of the Opera (Part 3)


Point of No Return

It’s time to finish off my triptych of Scenes I Love from 2004’s film adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera. The first two parts were my favorite solo and chorus scenes from film and now we finish it off with what has to be the top scene (IMO) from the film.

The characters of The Phantom and Christine have always been the focal point of the film. Even with the arrival of the wholesome and (as Lisa Marie would call him) vanilla Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny, the film continues to truly sizzle when it’s all about The Phantom and Christine moving their relationship from ingenue and mentor to unrequited lovers.

It’s the latter which this scene looks to portray through a duet written by The Phantom himself and where he swaps himself into the role of Don Juan. This duet has always been a fan favorite for those who love the musical and many different versions of it have played throughout the years. Yet, they all have one thing in common and that is the heated chemistry between the two characters once the duet begins.

The scene itself begins and comes off pretty much like foreplay between the two characters without having literal sex on the stage. The whole scene is so sexually charged that even those watching the duet who set the trap looked so transfixed that they fail to act. Even Raoul, Christine’s own fiance, finishes the scene with such a look of cuckold expression once he realizes that he could never have such a deep and personal connection that Christine has with The Phantom.

For me, this duet pretty much sums up what the whole is all about.

Scenes I Love: The Phantom of the Opera (Part 2)


Masquerade

Here we have the second of three scenes I love from the 2004 film adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera.

The first scenes was my favorite solo from the film with Emmy Rossum as Christine Daaé performing the solo “Think of Me”. It’s a powerful scene that more than holds it’s own against the other solos in the film. The second favorite scene from this film comes in the beginning of Act II.

“Masquerade” is really the one and only true full cast and chorus production in the film and in the stage musical. While both would have songs and scenes involving multiple characters and a large of background chorus, this one pretty much cements the film’s grandiose and epic visuals.

Director Joel Schumacher may have his detractors and critics, but he definitely nails the grand masquerade ball in the opera house to begin the second half of the film.

Scenes I Love: The Phantom of the Opera (Part 1)


Think of Me

Stage productions, especially musicals, have always drawn me. I think it goes back to my time in my final two years in high school when, on a lark, I decided to join the Drama production as part of my after-school activities. For a teenager whose never really had any experience watching musicals prior to joining one I was surprised as any to have fallen in love with the art when exposed to it.

Musicals range from classic Sondheim-style productions to the Andrew Lloyd Webber rock opera epics right up to the Matt Stone and Trey Parker comedy musicals. I love them all. One musical production that I was literally obsessed with during those late high school years was Andrew Lloyd Webber’s rock opera production of The Phantom of the Opera.

I knew the songs by heart and, even now, I still remember those final years of high school fondly because of this particular musical. So, finding out that they were going to make a film adaptation of the musical had me feeling both excited and hesitant.

How could a stage musical translate to film if they cast more for acting and less for singing?

My trepidation ended up being unfounded once I finally saw the film and was satisfied that all involved were more than up to the task of performing the iconic roles in the musical.

This first of three of my favorite scenes from The Phantom of the Opera comes early in the film as Emmy Rossum’s understudy, Christine Daaé, gets a chance to show just how much she has learned from her mysterious tutor. “Think of Me” is the one of the signature solos in the musical (the other being the Phantom’s own) and Emmy Rossum nails the scene and song. The expression on the skeptical managers in the beginning quickly turns to surprise as does the rest of the cast and crew who never realized they had a genuine ingenue in their midst.

While I will admit that the song and the scene has been pulled off better on stage, Emmy Rossum’s own experience singing as a member of the Metropolitan Opera as a child leading up to being chosen for the role of Christine Daaé more than makes her hold her own against those who came before her.