I’m quite sure that a huge number of people have seen Mel Gibson’s second film as director which won him two Oscars: for Best Director and Best Film. While his career has seen it’s major up’s and down’s, he still has done some great work behind the camera as a director.
Now, what does this all mean to this new Netflix Original film coming out this year called Outlaw King? The answer is not much other than both film share a particular historical character in the Scottish king Robert the Bruce. In Gibson’s film he’s a supporting character whose motivations could be seen as very pragmatic and bordering on the villainous.
Outlaw King, by Scottish director David MacKenzie (who directed the great Hell or High Water), will tell the story of the legendary Scottish king Robert the Bruce who won Scotland’s independence from England where William Wallace ultimately failed to do.
I am going on a hunch that Outlaw King will treat Robert the Bruce in a more sympathetic light than how Gibson’s film portrayed him. This time around we have Chris Pine in the role of Robert the Bruce.
As seen in the trailer, it looks like Netflix’s several billion dollar spending spree has come not just luring prominent filmmakers and producers to the streaming site but also allow them the resources to make a film as lush and beautiful as any made under the remaining big studios.
Let’s hope Outlaw King is more on the level of Mudbound and less like Bright.
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.)
Tom Cross,La La Land BEST ART DIRECTION:
Austin Gorg, La La Land BEST COSTUME DESIGN:
Madeline Fontaine, Jackie BEST MAKE-UP:
Bill Corso, Deadpool BEST VISUAL EFFECTS: Arrival(tie) Doctor Strange BEST ORIGINAL SCORE:
Justin Hurwitz, La La Land BEST SONG:
Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, “Audition (Fools Who Dream),” La La Land (tie)
Lin-Manuel Miranda, “How Far I’ll Go,” Moana BEST ANIMATED FILM: Kubo and the Two Strings(dir. Travis Knight) (tie) Zootopia (dir. Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Jared Bush) BEST DOCUMENTARY: OJ: Made in America(dir. Ezra Edelman) BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: The Handmaiden (dir. Chan-wook Park), (South Korea) (tie) Neruda (dir. Pablo Larrain), (Chile) BEST HAWAII FILM: Moana(dir. Ron Clements, Don Hall, John Musker and Chris Williams) BEST NEW FILMMAKER:
Dan Trachtenberg, 10 Cloverfield Lane BEST FIRST FILM: 10 Cloverfield Lane (dir. Dan Trachtenberg) BEST OVERLOOKED FILM: Hell or High Water (dir. David Mackenzie) BEST SCI-FI/HORROR FILM: Arrival(dir. Denis Villeneuve) BEST STUNTS: The Magnificent Seven BEST VOCAL/MOTION CAPTURE PERFORMANCE:
Charlize Theron/ Kubo and the Two Strings WORST FILM OF THE YEAR: Fifty Shades of Black (tie) Zoolander 2
The Texas-set film Hell or High Water features four excellent lead performances. There’s Chris Pine and Ben Foster, playing brothers and robbing banks. And then there’s Jeff Bridges and Gil Birmingham, as the two Texas Rangers who are attempting to hunt the brothers down.
But for me, my favorite character was the waitress who, during the latter half of the film, serves lunch to the two Texas Rangers. When Bridges asks her how she’s doing, she replies, “Hot and not in the good way.” When the two Rangers start to order their food, she stops them and tells them that everyone who comes in the diner orders the same thing except for one “asshole from New York” who tried to order a trout. “We ain’t got no goddamn trout!” It’s a short scene but it’s one of my favorites because, if you’ve ever spent any time in West Texas, you know that this scene is probably the most realistic in the entire film.
My second favorite character was a banker teller played by the great Dale Dickey. When the Rangers ask her if the men who robbed her bank were black, she replies, “Their skin or their souls?” You just have to hear the way that she delivers it. In theory, that should be an awkward line but Dale Dickey makes it sound totally natural.
In fact, everything about Hell or High Water seems totally natural. For a film about bank robbers, it’s actually a deceptively low-key film, one that is as memorable for its quiet moments as its shoot outs. When the violence does come, it’s all the more jarring because the movie has spent so much time focusing on the tranquil stillness of the West Texas landscape.
(That said, I should point out that the film was actually shot in New Mexico. But, quite frankly, New Mexico is pretty much just West Texas with more Democrats.)
Hell or High Water is a film that’s all about the little details. The film opens with a bank robbery and, as the camera gracefully circles the bank, we catch a glimpse of graffiti announcing that the artist did 4 tours in Iraq and that “bailouts (are) for banks, not for me.” At its heart, Hell or HighWater is about the many people who have been left out of this so-called “economic recovery,” in which we’re all supposed to have such faith despite having seen little evidence of its existence. While the rich get richer, the struggle of the people in Hell or High Water is ignored by everyone but them. And so, the people do what they can to survive. For some, that means robbing banks. For others — like a wonderfully snarky group of witnesses in a diner — that means refusing to admit that they saw anything happen. If you want to see a realistic portrait of economic uncertainty and populist revoltuon, don’t waste your time with the cutesy bullshit and bourgeois Marxism of The Big Short. Watch Hell or High Water.
Of course, not everyone is willing to turn a blind eye to the bank robbing brothers. Hell or High Water is not just about economic anxiety. It’s also about the unique struggle of being a bank robber in a part of the country where literally everyone has a gun. (During one robbery, Pine asks an old customer if he has a gun on him. “Damn right I got a gun on me!” the old man snaps back.) As opposed to so many other films, Hell or High Water gets West Texas right.
(It’s probably not a coincidence that we’re told the brothers robbed a bank in Archer City, the home of legendary Texas writer, Larry McMurtry.)
As for the film’s cast, Jeff Bridges and Ben Foster get the two “showiest” roles. Jeff Bridges plays a Texas Ranger who is only a few days away from retirement and who enjoys needling his partner. (One of the main delights of the film is the comedic interaction between Bridges and Gil Birmingham.) Ben Foster is the more reckless of the two brothers, an ex-con who declares that everyone is his enemy but, at the same time, shows himself to be willing to do anything to protect his brother. Both Bridges and Foster give excellent performances and Foster, in particular, reminds us that he’s one of the most exciting actors working today.
And yet, for me, the true anchor of the film is Chris Pine. Chris Pine, of course, is best known for starring in the last three Star Trek films. And while he was always an adequate lead in those films and he gave a wonderfully self-aware performance in Into The Woods, none of his past films prepared me for just how good a job he does in Hell or High Water. Pine gives a quiet and rather subtle performance and, when we first see him, we automatically assume that he’s been dragged into the criminal life by his more flamboyant brother. But as the film progresses, we start to realize that there’s more to both the character and to Chris Pine as an actor. By the end of the film, we’re forced to reconsider everything that we previously assumed about everyone.
Speaking of end of the film — let’s just say that Hell or High Water has one of the best final scenes of 2016. Like the film itself, it’s deceptively low-key but it leaves you reeling.
It took me a while to see Hell or High Water but I’m glad I did. Come Hell or high water, you should see it too.
Annette Bening — 20th Century Women
Kate Beckinsale — Love & Friendship
Ruth Negga — Loving
Natalie Portman — Jackie
Emma Stone — La La Land
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Viola Davis — Fences
Greta Gerwig — 20th Century Women
Naomie Harris — Moonlight
Nicole Kidman — Lion
Michelle Williams — Manchester by the Sea
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Damien Chazelle — La La Land
Barry Jenkins — Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan — Manchester by the Sea
Mike Mills — 20th Century Women
Taylor Sheridan — Hell or High Water
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Tom Ford — Nocturnal Animals
Eric Heisserer — Arrival
Seo-kyeong Jeong and Chan-wook Park — The Handmaiden
Whit Stillman — Love & Friendship
Taika Waititi — Hunt for the Wilderpeople
KEN HANKE MEMORIAL TAR HEEL AWARD
(To an artist or film with a special connection to North Carolina.)
Jeff Nichols Starving the Beast
Best Non-English-Language Film
Elle – Paul Verhoeven, France
Fire At Sea – Gianfranco Rossi, Italy The Handmaiden – Chan-Wook Park, South Korea
Julieta – Pedro Almodovar. Spain
Toni Erdmann – Maren Ede, Germany
EDA FEMALE FOCUS AWARDS
These awards honor WOMEN only
Best Woman Director Andrea Arnold – American Honey Ava DuVernay -13TH
Rebecca Miller – Maggie’s Plan
Mira Nair – Queen of Katwe
Kelly Reichardt – Certain Women
Best Woman Screenwriter Andrea Arnold – American Honey
Rebecca Miller – Maggie’s Plan Kelly Reichardt – Certain Women
Lorene Scafaria – The Meddler
Laura Terruso – Hello, My Name is Doris
Best Breakthrough Performance Sasha Lane – American Honey
Janelle Monáe – Moonlight and Hidden Figures
Madina Nalwanga – Queen of Katwe Ruth Negga – Loving
Outstanding Achievement by A Woman in The Film Industry Ava DuVernay – For 13TH and raising awareness about the need for diversity and gender equality in Hollywood
Anne Hubbell and Amy Hobby for establishing Tangerine Entertainment’s Juice Fund to support female filmmakers
Mynette Louie, President of Gamechanger Films, which finances narrative films directed by women
April Reign for creating and mobilizing the #OscarsSoWhite campaign
EDA SPECIAL MENTION AWARDS
Actress Defying Age and Ageism Annette Bening – 20th Century Women
Viola Davis – Fences
Sally Field – Hello, My Name is Doris Isabelle Huppert – Elle and Things to Come
Helen Mirren – Eye in the Sky
Actress Most in Need Of A New Agent Jennifer Aniston – Mother’s Day and Office Christmas Party
Melissa McCarthy – The Boss and Ghostbusters
Margot Robbie – Suicide Squad and Tarzan
Julia Roberts – Mother’s Day
Shailene Woodley – Divergent Series
AWFJ Hall of Shame Award Sharon Maguire and Renee Zellweger for Bridget Jones’s Baby
Nicholas Winding Refn and Elle Fanning for The Neon Demon
David Ayer and Margot Robbie for Suicide Squad
David E. Talbert and Mo’Nique for Almost Christmas
The San Diego Film Critics Society announced their picks for the best of 2016 earlier today and guess what? They did not give best picture to Moonlight. They did not give best picture to La La Land (though it did come in second in the voting). They didn’t even give best picture to Manchester By The Sea.
No — San Deigo gave best picture to Hell or High Water!