Some thoughts on the Golden Globe Nominations


Well, it happens every year.

The precursor season always starts with some unexpected winners and you start to think that maybe some of the year’s best indie films might be able to get some Oscar love.  This season, for instance, I was excited to see the attention being given to Eighth Grade and, to a lesser extent, First Reformed.  I was also excited to see that A Quiet Place and Black Panther were being remembered.

“Oh my God!” I thought, “Even if we already know that either Green Book or A Star is Born are going to win everything this year, the Oscar nominations could still be interesting!”

And then, as they do every year, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association had to come along and basically fuck everything up.  For some reason, the HFPA have become one of the biggest of the precursor awards.  Getting nominated for a Golden Globe is considered to be a major step for any Oscar contender.  Getting ignored by the Golden Globes is enough to knock a previously strong contender out of the contest.  Why is this?  I’m not sure.  The HFPA is a notorious bunch of star fuckers and it’s pretty much an open secret that almost anyone can buy a Golden Globe nomination if they’ve got enough money.  But, for some reason, the annually mediocre Golden Globe nominations carry a lot of weight in Hollywood.

Anyway, this year’s nominations pretty much ignored all of the cool indie films that have come out this year.  Elsie Fisher was nominated for Best Actress but otherwise, Eighth Grade was ignored.  First Reformed was nominated for nothing.  Hereditary was nominated for nothing.  I am happy to see that Black Panther was nominated.  That’s a step in the right direction in that film’s quest to be the first comic book movie to be nominated for best picture.

I guess what really bugs me is that Vice — a film that I have no desire to see — received the most nominations and is now definitely an Oscar contender.  I’ve been told that Vice is even more smug and shallow than The Big Short.  And now, I guess I have to see it.  AGONY!

Anyway, here are the nominees.  (Below are the film nominees.  For the TV nominees, click here.)

Best Motion Picture – Drama
Black Panther
BlacKkKlansman
Bohemian Rhapsody
If Beale Streat Could Talk
A Star Is Born

Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical
Crazy Rich Asians
The Favourite
Green Book
Mary Poppins Returns
Vice

Best Director
Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born)
Alfonso Cuaron (Roma)
Peter Farrelly (Green Book)
Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman)
Adam McKay (Vice)

Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama
Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born)
Willem Dafoe (At Eternity’s Gate)
Lucas Hedges (Boy Erased)
Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody)
John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman)

Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama
Glenn Close (The Wife)
Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born)
Nicole Kidman (Destroyer)
Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)
Rosamund Pike (A Private War)

Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical
Christian Bale (Vice)
Lin-Manuel Miranda (Mary Poppins Returns)
Viggo Mortensen (Green Book)
Robert Redford (The Old Man & the Gun)
John C. Reilly (Stan & Ollie)

Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical
Emily Blunt (Mary Poppins Returns)
Olivia Colman (The Favourite)
Elsie Fisher (Eighth Grade)
Charlize Theron (Tully)
Constance Wu (Crazy Rich Asians)

Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
Mahershala Ali (Green Book)
Timothée Chalamet (Beautiful Boy)
Adam Driver (BlacKkKlansman)
Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)
Sam Rockwell (Vice)

Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
Amy Adams (Vice)
Claire Foy (First Man)
Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk)
Emma Stone (The Favourite)
Rachel Weisz (The Favourite)

Best Screenplay
Alfonso Cuaron (Roma)
Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara (The Favourite)
Barry Jenkins (If Beale Street Could Talk)
Adam McKay (Vice)
Peter Farrelly, Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie (Green Book)

Best Score
Marco Beltrami (A Quiet Place)
Alexandre Desplat (Isle of Dogs)
Ludwig Göransson (Black Panther)
Justin Hurwitz (First Man)
Marc Shaiman (Mary Poppins Returns)

Best Original Song
“All the Stars” (Black Panther)
“Girl in the Movies” (Dumplin’)
“Requiem For A Private War” (A Private War)
“Revelation’ (Boy Erased)
“Shallow” (A Star Is Born)

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

Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language
Capernaum (Lebanon)
Girl (Belgium)
Never Look Away (Germany)
Roma (Mexico)
Shoplifters (Japan)

 

Here Are The 2018 Satellite Nominations!


Awards season has just begun, which means that it’s time for the International Press Academy to announce their nominees for the 23rd Satellite Awards.  If you’ve never heard of the Satellite Awards, they’re like the Golden Globes, just with even less credibility.  For instance, the Satellite people are the one who nominated The Wolf of Wall Street for best picture, despite having not seen the film.

That said, the Satellite nominations are good way to gauge which films are currently getting awards buzz.  Let’s put it like this: getting a Satellite nomination is not going to automatically translate into Oscar recognition.  But it doesn’t hurt.

Below are the film nominations.  (In the interest of space, I’m only posting the film nominations.  If you want to see which tv shows picked up nominations, click here.)

Film

Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama
Major, Independent or International

  • Yalitza Aparicio, “Roma”
  • Glenn Close, “The Wife”
  • Viola Davis, “Widows”
  • Nicole Kidman, “Destroyer”
  • Melissa McCarthy, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
  • Rosamund Pike, “Private War”

Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama
Major, Independent or International

  • Willem Dafoe, “At Eternity’s Gate”
  • Ben Foster, “ Leave No Trace”
  • Ryan Gosling, “First Man
  • Ethan Hawke, “First Reformed”
  • Lucas Hedges, “Boy Erased”
  • Robert Redford, “The Old Man & the Gun”

Actress in Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical
Major, Independent or International

  • Emily Blunt, “Mary Poppins Returns”
  • Olivia Colman, “The Favourite”
  • Trine Dyrholm “Nico, 1988″
  • Elsie Fisher, “Eighth Grade”
  • Lady Gaga, “A Star is Born”
  • Constance Wu, “Crazy Rich Asians”

Actor in Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical
Major, Independent or International

  • Bradley Cooper, “A Star is Born”
  • Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody”
  • Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Mary Poppins Returns”
  • Viggo Mortensen, “Green Book”
  • Nick Robinson, “Love, Simon
  • John David Washington, “BlacKkKlansman”

Actress in a Supporting Role
Major, Independent, Comedy & Musical or International

  • Claire Foy, “First Man
  • Nicole Kidman, “Boy Erased”
  • Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
  • Margot Robbie, “Mary Queen of Scots”
  • Emma Stone, “The Favourite”
  • Rachel Weisz, “The Favourite”

Actor in a Supporting Role
Major, Independent, Comedy & Musical or International

  • Mahershala Ali, “Green Book”
  • Timothée Chalamet, “Beautiful Boy”
  • Russell Crowe, “Boy Erased”
  • Adam Driver, “BlacKkKlansman”
  • Sam Elliott, “A Star is Born”
  • Richard Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

Motion Picture, Drama
Major

  • Black Panther,” Walt Disney
  • First Man,” Universal
  • “Hereditary,” A24
  • “If Beale Street Could Talk,” Annapurna Pictures
  • “Mary Queen of Scots,” Focus Features
  • “Widows,”  Twentieth Century Fox

Motion Picture, Independent

  • “BlacKkKlansman,” Focus Features
  • “Eighth Grade,” A24
  • “First Reformed,” A24
  • “Leave No Trace,” Bleecker Street Media
  • “Private Life,” Netflix
  • “A Private War,” Aviron Pictures

Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical
Major, Independent or International

  • “Crazy Richard Asians,” Warner Bros.
  • “The Favourite,” Fox Searchlight Pictures
  • “Green Book,” Universal Pictures
  • “Mary Poppins Returns,” Walt Disney
  • “Nico, 1988,” Magnolia Pictures
  • “A Star is Born,” Warner Bros.

Motion Picture, International Film

  • “The Cakemaker,” Israel
  • “Cold War,” Poland
  • “The Guilty,” Denmark
  • “I Am Not A Witch,” United Kingdom
  • “Roma,” Mexico
  • “Shoplifters,” Japan

Motion Picture, Animated or Mixed Media

  • “Incredibles 2,” Walt Disney
  • “Isle of Dogs,” Fox Searchlight Pictures
  • “Liz and the Blue Bird,” Eleven Arts
  • “Mirai,” GKIDS Films
  • “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” Walt Disney
  • “Ruben Brandt, Collector,” Sony Pictures Classics

Motion Picture, Documentary

  • “Crime + Punishment,” Hulu
  • “Free Solo,” National Geographic
  • “Minding the Gap,” Hulu
  • “RBG,” Magnolia Pictures
  • “Three Identical Strangers,”  Focus Features
  • “Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” Focus Features

Director

  • Bradley Cooper, “A Star is Born”
  • Alfonso Cuaron, “Roma”
  • Peter Farrelly, “Green Book”
  • Barry Jenkins, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
  • Yorgos Lanthimos, “The Favourite”
  • Spike Lee, “BlacKkKlansman”

Screenplay, Original

  • Bo Burnham, “Eighth Grade”
  • Alfonso Cuaron, “Roma”
  • Deborah Davis & Tony McNamara, “The Favourite”
  • John Krasinski, Scott Beck, Bryan Woods, “A Quiet Place
  • Paul Schrader, “First Reformed”
  • Nick Vallelonga, Brian Hayes Currie & Peter Farrelly, “Green Book”

Screenplay, Adapted

  • Bradley Cooper, Eric Roth, “A Star is Born”
  • Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini, “Leave No Trace”
  • Nicole Holofcener, Jeff Whitty, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
  • Barry Jenkins, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
  • Armando Iannucci, David Schneider, Ian Martin, Peter Fellows, “The Death of Stalin”
  • Spike Lee, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Wilmott, Charlie Wachtel, “BlacKkKlansman”

Original Score

  • Thomas Ades, “Colette”
  • Terence Blanchard, “BlacKkKlansman”
  • Nicholas Britell, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
  • Alexandre Desplat, “The Sisters Brothers”
  • Justin Hurwitz, “First Man”
  • Hans Zimmer, “Widows”

Original Song

  • “All The Stars” from “Black Panther”
  • “Can You Imagine That?” from “Mary Poppins Returns”
  • “Requiem for a Private War” from “A Private War”
  • “Revelation” from “Boy Erased”
  • “Shallow” from “A Star is Born”
  • “Strawberries & Cigarettes” from “Love, Simon

Cinematography

  • Alfonso Cuaron, “Roma”
  • James Laxton, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
  • Matthew Libatique, “A Star is Born”
  • Robbie Ryan, “The Favourite”
  • Rachel Morrison, “Black Panther
  • Lukasz Zal, “Cold War”

Visual Effects

  •   “Avengers: Infinity War,” Walt Disney
  •   “Black Panther,” Walt Disney
  •   “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,” Warner Bros.
  •   “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” Universal
  •   “Rampage,” Warner Bros.
  •   “Ready Player One,” Warner Bros.

Film Editing

  • Barry Alexander Brown, “BlacKkKlansman”
  • Jay Cassidy, “A Star is Born”
  • Tom Cross, “First Man
  • Alfonso Cuaron, “Roma”
  • Joi McMillon, Nat Sanders, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
  • Joe Walker, “Widows”

Sound (Editing and Mixing)

  • Black Panther,” Walt Disney
  • First Man,” Universal
  • “Mary Poppins Returns,” Walt Disney
  • A Quiet Place,” Paramount
  • “Roma,”  Netflix
  • “A Star Is Born,” Warner Bros.

Art Direction and Production Design

  • Black Panther,” Walt Disney
  • “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,”  Warner Bros.
  • “The Favourite,” Fox Searchlight
  • First Man,” Universal
  • “Mary Poppins Returns,” Walt Disney
  • “Roma,” Magnolia Pictures

Costume Design

  • Colleen Atwood, “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald”
  • Erin Benach, “A Star is Born”
  • Alexandra Byrne, “Mary Queen of Scots”
  • Ruth E. Carter, “Black Panther
  • Andrea Flesch, “Colette”
  • Sandy Powell, “The Favourite”

 

 

Horror Film Review: A Quiet Place (dir by John Krasinski)


As a film viewer, I am sometimes guilty of taking sound for granted.

That was the first thought that I had while watching A Quiet Place, a horror film that came out earlier this year.  The film takes place in the near future, after the Earth has been invaded by aliens who track their prey by sound.  Lee Abbott (John Krasinski, who also directed), his wife Evelyn (Emily Blunt), and their children (including Millicent Simmonds) have learned that the only way to survive is to do everything in silence.  They communicate with sign lanague.  They walk carefully, knowing that even the sound of a footstep could lead to doom.

If ever the old cliché about echoing silence was true, it’s true while watching A Quiet Place.  Because Krasinski starts the film by showing us what happens when one forgets to be silent around the aliens, we know what will happen if Lee or his children make the slightest amount of noise and what’s interesting is that those of us watching find ourselves not making any noise as well.  Krasinski, Blunt, and Simmonds give such effective performances that you’re drawn into their story.  You don’t want them to get killed by the invaders so you make sure to remain quiet yourself.

That doesn’t mean that A Quiet Place is a silent film, of course.  Since Lee spends the majority of the film in the woods with his children, there’s the occasional sounds of nature.  And towards the end of the film, when someone finally speaks, it’s jarring both because we’ve gotten used to the silence and because we know what’s going to happen next.

My second thought while watching A Quiet Place was “Who knew John Krasinski was capable of this?”  I’ve always liked Krasinski as an actor but his previous films as a director leaned a bit towards the pretentious side.  There was nothing about his previous films that suggested Krasinski had it in him to direct one of the most creative and tension-filled horror movies of the year.  Krasinski proves himself to be an unexpected master of suspense.

But it’s more than horror that makes A Quiet Place effective.  A Quiet Place is a film about family.  Despite the circumstances, Lee and Evelyn have managed to create a safe household for their children.  It may be a silent household but it’s also a loving household and, with Evelyn being pregnant, it’s about to get bigger.  Blunt and Krasinski are married in real life and their chemistry is evident every time that they exchange a glance.  The film celebrates not only the love of family but the sacrifices that parents make for their children.  It’s probably the most pro-family of the year.

A Quiet Place is a short and efficient film.  At a time when the average film usually clocks over two hours, A Quiet Place is only 90 minutes long but it achieves so much in those 90 minutes!  A Quiet Place is a powerful movie, one that will make you appreciate both families and the noise that they make.

Here’s The Trailer for Mary Poppins Returns!


Mary Poppins has returned…

And this time, she’s out for VENGEANCE!

No, not really.  Judging from the trailer that just dropped today, Mary Poppins Returns appears to be a throw back to the type of films that Disney was known for before they became associated with Star Wars and the MCU.  Emily Blunt takes over the role of Mary Poppins, who returns so that she can continue to raise the Banks children.

This is the type of film that’s either going to be amazingly charming or incredibly unbearable.  I’m going to hope for charming.  Director Rob Marshall has got an uneven record.  On the one hand, he did great work when he directed Chicago and Into the Woods.  On the other hand, he also directed Nine.

By the way, this is the only movie that Meryl Streep has got scheduled for release this year.  So, if she’s going to get her annual Oscar nomination, it will be for playing Topsy, who is described as being an “eccentric cousin.”  Aren’t all cousins eccentric?

Anyway, here’s the trailer!

Horror Film Review: The Wolfman (dir by Joe Johnston)


I have to admit that I’m always a little bit surprised to discover how many people really don’t like the 2010 film, The Wolfman.

I mean, I’ll be the first to admit that it may not have been the greatest film ever made but the amount of negative feelings that this film has managed to generate over the years seems, to me, to be a bit out of proportion.  Essentially, it’s just a silly film about a werewolf.

Yes, it is a remake of The Wolf Man and we’re all honor-bound to dislike remakes but, if we’re going to be absolutely honest, the original Wolf Man was sometimes pretty silly too.  If anything, the original’s success is largely due to the heartfelt work of Claude Rains in the role of the Wolf Man’s father.  Yes, the original Wolf Man is a classic but remaking it is not exactly sacrilege.

In the remake, Benicio Del Toro takes over the role of Larry Talbot, who is reimagined as a Shakespearean actor who has a history of mental instability.  Del Toro is not exactly convincing as an Englishman, though the same could be said of Lon Chaney, Jr.  However, nobody broods with quite the panache of Benicio Del Toro and that’s what was needed for the remake’s version of Larry Talbot.  If Lon Chaney, Jr. played Larry as being a dumb lug, Del Toro plays Larry as being a tortured artist.

Anthony Hopkins takes over the old Claude Rains role.  Just as it’s difficult to imagine Del Toro as being English, it’s next to impossible to imagine him sharing any DNA with Anthony Hopkins.  And yet, I’m really glad that Hopkins was cast in the role.  Of course, in the remake, the character of John Talbot has been totally reimagined.  He’s now something of a bitter and sarcastic alcoholic, a negligent father who always seem to be amused at some mean-spirited joke that only he can understand.  I imagine that if I asked Hopkins, he’d say that he did this role for the money but there’s nothing wrong with that.  Some of Hopkins’s best performances have been the ones that he subsequently claimed to have done only for the money.  Freed from any obligation to give a nuanced or subtle performance, Hopkins goes totally over-the-top and it’s actually a lot of fun to watch.  In The Wolfman, Hopkins turns the delivery of bitter bon mots and erduite insults into an art form.

Watching the film’s first half, we all know what’s going to happen.  Gypsies are going to show up in the woods near Talbot Hall and paranoid villagers are going to blame them for everything that happens.  Larry is going to get bitten by a werewolf and transform every night when the moon is full.  Larry is going to fall in love with Gwen (Emily Blunt) but, for her own protection, will try to send her away.  An arrogant but clever inspector, Francis Abberline (Hugo Weaving, playing a version of the real-life detective who inspired the role played by Johnny Depp in From Hell), is going to arrive from London to investigate all the recent deaths…

About halfway through, The Wolfman takes a totally unexpected turn.  I won’t spoil it here, just in case you haven’t seen the movie.  I know a lot of people don’t care much for the big twist but I happened to love it.  Yes, it doesn’t necessarily make a lot of sense and it’s all a bit overdone but so what?  It’s exactly the type of weird twist that a movie like this needs.  It all leads to a final confrontation, one that is as exuberantly silly as the original’s conclusion was somber and tragic.

The key to enjoying The Wolfman is to accept it for what it is, an occasionally dumb and definitely not-to-be-taken-seriously movie that features some appropriately atmospheric cinematography, gorgeously gothic production design, and some very talented actors.  (I especially enjoyed Weaving’s performance as Abberline.)  A classic it may not be, but it’s still a fun little movie if you’re in the right mood for it.

Never Nominated: 16 Actresses Who Were Never Nominated For An Oscar


The late actress Deborah Kerr was nominated for six Oscars over the course of her distinguished career.  She never won and, in fact, she currently holds the record for the most Best Actress nominations without a victory.

But, at least, Deborah Kerr was nominated!

The 16 actresses below have never been nominated for an Oscar, despite some excellent and compelling performances.  10 of them still have a chance to be nominated.  Sadly, 6 of them are no longer with us.

  1. Emily Blunt

Emily Blunt came close this year.  She received a SAG nomination for her performance in Girl On The Train and some of the critics groups also honored her work.  However, when the Oscar nominations were announced, Meryl Streep was nominated for a film nobody saw and Emily Blunt was nowhere to be seen.  This year, she’s in good company, as neither Amy Adams nor Annette Bening picked up expected nominations either.  Personally, I didn’t care much for Girl on the Train.  I would have much rather seen Blunt nominated for Looper, Sicario, or even Edge of Tomorrow.  Blunt will be nominated eventually.

2. Dale Dickey

You may not know Dale Dickey’s name but you’d recognize her if you saw her.  She usually plays characters who are strong, outspoken, and occasionally a little scary.  You never want to get on the bad side of someone played by Dale Dickey.  To date, Dickey’s most award-worthy role was in Winter’s Bone.  She also had a memorable (if small) role in Hell or High Water, playing the bank teller who, when asked if the men who robbed her were black, replies, “Their skin or their souls?”

Melancholia

3. Kirsten Dunst

As a result of Bring It On, Dunst is often thought of as being the ideal cheerleader.  But, by far, her most award-worthy turn was in a film that was about as different from Bring It On as possible, Melancholia.  Dunst was just twelve when she was first mentioned, for her performance in Interview With A Vampire, as a potential nominee.  She was also very good in Marie Antoinette and the overlooked Crazy/Beautiful.  Dunst fell off the radar for a while but she’s been quietly making a comeback.

4. Greta Gerwig

Greta Gerwig is my spirit animal.  She deserved a nomination for Francis Ha and for Damsels in Distress before that.  She’ll be nominated some day.

5. Rebecca Hall

Rebecca Hall received some Oscar buzz last year for Christine.  I haven’t seen Christine but I think that her performances in 2008’s Vicky Christina Barcelona and especially 2010’s Please Give were criminally overlooked.

6. Katharine Isabelle

Though Isabelle is best known for Ginger Snaps, I think she deserved a nomination for last year’s underrated 88.  One of the best actresses working today, Isabelle will hopefully get a role worthy of her talents.

Film Review Under the Skin

7. Scarlett Johansson

It’s a bit of a shock that Scarlett Johansson has yet to be nominated.  Her work in Lost in Translation was just as important to that film’s success as Bill Murray’s.  And her performance in Under the Skin remains one of the bravest pieces of acting to ever be put on screen.

8. Ashley Judd

Unfortunately, Ashley Judd now seems to be more concerned with political activism than acting.  It’s been a while since she’s appeared in a really great role (and no, the Divergent movies don’t count).  Judd’s best work came in the 90s, when she gave award-worthy performances in Ruby in Paradise, Heat, and especially Normal Life.

9. Kelly MacDonald

Scottish actress Kelly MacDonald doesn’t make enough movies but it’s still hard not to feel that she’s been overlooked by the Academy.  Not only did she hold her own in Trainspotting but her performance in No County For Old Men provided that otherwise cold film with a much-needed heart.

Kristen Stewart

10. Kristen Stewart

Kristen Stewart managed to survive the Twilight films and has emerged as a consistently interesting actress.  Her work in Clouds of Sils Maria won her a Ceasar but was overlooked by the Academy.  Before that, Stewart did excellent work in Into the Wild, Adventureland, Still Alice and Welcome to the Rileys.

Sadly, these six unnominated actresses are no longer with us:

  1. Rita Hayworth

That the wonderful Rita Hayworth was never nominated — not even for Gilda — is nothing less than mind-blowing.

2. Myrna Loy

Myrna Loy was an actress who was such a natural that she made it look easy.  Perhaps that’s why she wasn’t even nominated for The Thin Man.

Marilyn

3. Marilyn Monroe

Perhaps one of the most tragic actresses in the history of Hollywood, Monroe was never nominated despite giving some of the most iconic performances in film history.  I would even make the case that she deserved a nomination for her tiny cameo in All About Eve.

4. Maureen O’Hara

Despite great performances in classic films like The Quiet Man and Miracle on 34th Street, Maureen O’Hara was never nominated for the Oscar she deserved.

detour1

5. Ann Savage

You may not recognize the name but if you’ve ever seen Detour, you know Ann Savage.  Savage largely appeared in low-budget noirs and she always gave performances that were just as fierce as her last name.

Edie!

Edie!

6. Edie Sedgwick

Sadly, Edie never got a chance to play a truly award-worthy role.  Actually, since almost all of her films were underground Andy Warhol movies, it’s debatable whether she ever played a role at all.  During the 1960s, as one of the top models in New York (a so-called “youthquaker”), Edie was best known for being herself.  But, whenever I see Edie in an old Warhol film like Vinyl or even in something like Ciao! Manhattan, I see what a great actress she could have been if she’d only been given the chance.

Edie Sedgwick (1943 -- 1971)

Edie Sedgwick (1943 — 1971)

Playing Catch-Up With The Films of 2016: Alice Through The Looking Glass, Gods of Egypt, The Huntsman: Winter’s War, Me Before You, Mother’s Day, Risen


Here are six mini-reviews of six films that I saw in 2016!

Alice Through The Looking Glass (dir by James Bobin)

In a word — BORING!

Personally, I’ve always thought that, as a work of literature, Through The Looking Glass is actually superior to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.  That’s largely because Through The Looking Glass is a lot darker than Wonderland and the satire is a lot more fierce.  You wouldn’t know that from watching the latest film adaptation, though.  Alice Through The Looking Glass doesn’t really seem to care much about the source material.  Instead, it’s all about making money and if that means ignoring everything that made the story a classic and instead turning it into a rip-off of every other recent blockbuster, so be it.  At times, I wondered if I was watching a film based on Lewis Carroll or a film based on Suicide Squad.  Well, regardless, the whole enterprise is way too cynical to really enjoy.

(On the plus side, the CGI is fairly well-done.  If you listen, you’ll hear the voice of Alan Rickman.)

Gods of Egypt (dir by Alex Proyas)

I don’t even know where to begin when it comes to describing the plot of Gods of Egypt.  This was one of the most confusing films that I’ve ever seen but then again, I’m also not exactly an expert when it comes to Egyptian mythology.  As far as I could tell, it was about Egyptian Gods fighting some sort of war with each other but I was never quite sure who was who or why they were fighting or anything else.  My ADHD went crazy while I was watching Gods of Egypt.  There were so much plot and so many superfluous distractions that I couldn’t really concentrate on what the Hell was actually going on.

But you know what?  With all that in mind, Gods of Egypt is still not as bad as you’ve heard.  It’s a big and ludicrous film but ultimately, it’s so big and so ludicrous that it becomes oddly charming.  Director Alex Proyas had a definite vision in mind when he made this film and that alone makes Gods of Egypt better than some of the other films that I’m reviewing in this post.

Is Gods of Egypt so bad that its good?  I wouldn’t necessarily say that.  Instead, I would say that it’s so ludicrous that it’s unexpectedly watchable.

The Huntsman: Winter’s War (dir by Cedric Nicolas-Troyan)

Bleh.  Who cares?  I mean, I hate to put it like that but The Huntsman: Winter’s War felt pretty much like every other wannabe blockbuster that was released in April of last year.  Big battles, big cast, big visuals, big production but the movie itself was way too predictable to be interesting.

Did we really need a follow-up to Snow White and The Huntsman?  Judging by this film, we did not.

Me Before You (dir by Thea Sharrock)

Me Before You was assisted suicide propaganda, disguised as a Nicolas Sparks-style love story.  Emilia Clarke is hired to serve as a caregiver to a paralyzed and bitter former banker played by Sam Claflin.  At first they hate each other but then they love each other but it may be too late because Claflin is determined to end his life in Switzerland.  Trying to change his mind, Clarke tries to prove to him that it’s a big beautiful world out there.  Claflin appreciates the effort but it turns out that he really, really wants to die.  It helps, of course, that Switzerland is a really beautiful and romantic country.  I mean, if you’re going to end your life, Switzerland is the place to do it.  Take that, Sea of Trees.

Anyway, Me Before You makes its points with all the subtlety and nuance of a sledge-hammer that’s been borrowed from the Final Exit Network.  It doesn’t help that Clarke and Claflin have next to no chemistry.  Even without all the propaganda, Me Before You would have been forgettable.  The propaganda just pushes the movie over the line that separates mediocre from terrible.

Mother’s Day (dir by Garry Marshall)

Y’know, the only reason that I’ve put off writing about how much I hated this film is because Garry Marshall died shortly after it was released and I read so many tweets and interviews from people talking about what a nice and sincere guy he was that I actually started to feel guilty for hating his final movie.

But seriously, Mother’s Day was really bad.  This was the third of Marshall’s holiday films.  All three of them were ensemble pieces that ascribed a ludicrous amount of importance to one particular holiday.  None of them were any good, largely because they all felt like cynical cash-ins.  If you didn’t see Valentine’s Day, you hated love.  If you didn’t see New Year’s Eve, you didn’t care about the future of the world.  And if you didn’t see Mother’s Day … well, let’s just not go there, okay?

Mother’s Day takes place in Atlanta and it deals with a group of people who are all either mothers or dealing with a mother.  The ensemble is made up of familiar faces — Jennifer Aniston, Julia Roberts, Kate Hudson, and others! — but nobody really seems to be making much of an effort to act.  Instead, they simple show up, recite a few lines in whatever their trademark style may be, and then cash their paycheck.  The whole thing feels so incredibly manipulative and shallow and fake that it leaves you wondering if maybe all future holidays should be canceled.

I know Garry Marshall was a great guy but seriously, Mother’s Day is just the worst.

(For a far better movie about Mother’s Day, check out the 2010 film starring Rebecca De Mornay.)

Risen (dir by Kevin Reynolds)

As far as recent Biblical films go, Risen is not that bad.  It takes place shortly after the Crucifixion and stars Joseph Fiennes as a Roman centurion who is assigned to discover why the body of Jesus has disappeared from its tomb.  You can probably guess what happens next.  The film may be a little bit heavy-handed but the Roman Empire is convincingly recreated, Joseph Fiennes gives a pretty good performance, and Kevin Reynolds keeps the action moving quickly.  As a faith-based film that never becomes preachy, Risen is far superior to something like God’s Not Dead 2.