The Things You Find On Netflix: The Laundromat (dir by Steven Soderbergh)


To say that Meryl Streep gives a bad performance in The Laundromat actually does a disservice to your average, run-of-the-mill bad performance.

Meryl Streep instead gives an absolutely terrible performance in The Laundromat, playing not one, not two, but three characters.  One of the characters is Ellen Martin, a middle-class widow from Michigan whose attempts to collect a fair settlement after the death of her husband provides a portal in the world of shady con men and corrupt financial institutions.  One of the characters is a secret, which means that Meryl wears a lot of make-up and frumpy clothes.  That said, from the minute the character appeared on screen, I went, “Oh, there’s Meryl again.”  Then, in her third role, Meryl plays herself, demanding campaign finance reform and striking a Statue of Liberty pose while holding a hairbrush instead of a torch.

Really, it’s the type of horrendous performance that could only be delivered by a truly great actress.  (If Meryl Streep is the modern Norma Shearer, this is her Romeo and Juliet.)  Watching Meryl Streep play the role of Ellen, It occurred to me that Meryl is one of those actresses who is incapable of being authentic but who can certainly act the Hell out of pretending to be authentic.  You never forget that Meryl Streep is acting and that’s one reason why her best performances are usually the ones where she’s playing theatrical characters, whether they’re politicians like Margaret Thatcher, celebrities like Julia Child, or the Witch in Into the Woods.  But when you cast Meryl as someone who is basically supposed to be a member of the “common people,” it just doesn’t work.  Laura Dern, Laurie Metcalf, Allison Janney, even Annette Bening probably could have done a decent job playing Ellen Martin but Meryl is just too Meryl.  As for her other two performances in The Laundromat, they don’t work because one is meant to be a joke on the audience and the other is just a retread of her standard “I’m just a middle class woman from New Jersey and I love the little people” awards show speech.

Of course, The Laundromat itself is a remarkably bad film.  Again, it takes a lot of talent to make a film this bad.  Watching the film, I found myself wondering why, at this point in his celebrated career, Steven Soderbergh would decide to become a second-rate Adam McKay, especially when McKay himself is just a third-rate Jean-Luc Godard?  The film is structured so that, while Ellen is obsessing on why she’s getting screwed over by the insurance companies, we’re also treated to scenes of Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas talking directly to the camera and explaining to use why the poor are always going to get screwed over by the rich.  That’s probably true but the film gets so heavy-handed in its execution that the resulting migraine is going to be due less to outrage and more due to the sledgehammer that Soderbergh takes to your head.

Along with Ellen’s story, we also get to see several other stories featuring people and their money.  Jeffrey Wright is a crooked accountant who has two families.  And then there’s an African businessman who bribes his wife and daughter with shares in a non-existent company and then we take a trip to China, where we learn about cyanide and organ harvesting. And yes, I get it.  It shows how a crime committed in China is ultimately felt by a widow living in Michigan.  But one can’t help but wish that Soderbergh had just focuses on one story, instead of trying to imitate the worst moments of The Big Short.

Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas are technically playing the film’s villains but they’re both so charming that The Laundromat at times seems like more of a recruiting film for aspiring money launderers than anything else.  (To continue the Adam McKay comparison, it’s a bit like how Vice actually left audiences feeling sympathy for Dick Cheney as opposed to writing petitions to send to The Hague.)  It desperately wants to leave us outraged but Soderbegh gets so caught up in his own cutesy storytelling techniques that it just leaves us feeling somewhat annoyed.  Watching the film, one gets the feeling that the perfect directors for The Laundromat would have been the Coen Brothers, who are capable of outrage but whose detached style would have kept them from bludgeoning the audience with it.  Soderbergh is too angry to be effective.

As I said, there’s a lot of talented people involved in The Laundromat.  It’s full of people who have done great work in the past and who will do great work in the future.  As for The Laundromat, it’s a legitimate contender for the biggest disappointment of the year.

Weekly Trailer Round-Up: Alita: Battle Angel, Mid 90s, Love Gilda, Final Score, Hunter Killer, Iron Fist


Welcome to this week’s trailer round-up!

What do you get when you combine a script co-written by James Cameron with the direction of Robert Rodriguez?  We’ll find out when Alita: Battle Angel is released into theaters on December 21st!

A24’s latest period piece, Mid90s, will be released into theaters on October 19th.  This film is the directorial debut of Jonah Hill and, judging from the trailer, his film has got the 90s down.

SNL comedienne Gilda Radner gets a much deserved tribute in Love, Gilda.  This documentary will be in theaters on September 21st.

Judging from the trailer, Final Score looks like it might be the best action film of 1992.  It’s Die Hard in a stadium.  The Eurotrash villains take 35,000 football hooligans hostage but everyone’s too much into the match to notice.  At first, I thought this trailer had to be a parody.

Speaking of things that seem like parodies but are actually meant to be taken seriously, Hunter Killer is a real movie starring two real Oscar winners.  Keep an eye out for Gary Oldman and Common in theaters on October 26th.

Finally, proving that not even bad reviews can keep a Marvel hero down, Netflix’s Iron Fist returns for a second season on September 7th.

 

 

 

Here Are Your 2017 Oscar Winners!


Here are the winners of the 90th annual Academy Awards!

Best Picture — The Shape of Water

Best Director — Guillermo Del Toro for The Shape Of Water

Best Actor — Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

Best Actress — Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Supporting Actor — Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Supporting Actress — Allison Janney, I, Tonya

Best Original Screenplay– Jordan Peele, Get Out

Best Adapted Screenplay — James Ivory, Call Me By Your Name

Best Animated Feature — Coco

Best Production Design — The Shape of Water

Best Cinematography — Blade Runner 2049

Best Costume Design — Phantom Thread

Best Film Editing — Dunkirk

Best Hair and Makeup — Darkest Hour

Best Sound Mixing — Dunkirk

Best Sound Editing — Dunkirk

Best Visual Effects — Blade Runner 2049

Best Original Score — The Shape of Water

Best Original Song — “Remember Me” from Coco

Best Foreign Language Film — A Fantastic Woman

Best Documentary Feature — Icarus

Best Animated Short — Dear Basketball

Best Live Action Short — The Silent Child

Best Documentary Short — Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405

Lisa’s Final 2017 Oscar Predictions


Since the Oscars are tomorrow, I guess now would be the time for me to make my final guesses as to what will win!  So, without further ado:

Best Picture — Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Director — Guillermo Del Toro, The Shape of Water

Best Actor — Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

Best Actress — Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Supporting Actor — Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Supporting Actress — Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird

Best Original Screenplay — Get Out

Best Adapted Screenplay — Call Me By Your Name

Best Animated Feature — Coco

Best Production Design — The Shape of Water

Best Cinematography — Mudbound

Best Costume Design — Phantom Thread

Best Film Editing — Dunkirk

Best Makeup and Hairstyling — Wonder

Best Sound Mixing — Dunkirk

Best Sound Editing — Dunkirk

Best Visual Effects — War For The Planet of the Apes

Best Original Score — Phantom Thread

Best Original Song — “Remember Me” from Coco

Best Documentary Feature — Icarus

Best Foreign Language Film — The Square

Best Animated Short — Negative Space

Best Live Action Short — DeKalb Elementary

Best Documentary Short — Heroin(e)

 

Here Are The 90th Oscar Nominations!


You know that I’ve had a busy Tuesday when I’m only now getting around to posting the 90th Annual Oscar nominations!

Here they are.  Nominees in bold appear on both the Academy’s list and my list of the films that I would have nominated if I was the one solely in charge!

Best Picture:

Call Me By Your Name,

Darkest Hour,

Dunkirk,

Get Out,

Lady Bird,

Phantom Thread,

The Post,

The Shape of Water

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

Best Director

Paul Thomas Anderson for Phantom Thread

Guillermo Del Toro for The Shape of Water

Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird

Christopher Nolan for Dunkirk

Jordan Peele for Get Out

Best Actor

Timothee Chalamet in Call Me By Your Name

Daniel Day-Lewis in Phantom Thread

Daniel Kaluuya in Get Out

Gary Oldman in Darkest Hour

Denzel Washington in Roman Israel Esq.

Best Actress

Sally Hawkins in Shape of Water

Frances McDormand in Three Billoards Outside Ebbing Missouri

Margot Robbie in I, Tonya

Saoirse Ronan in Lady Bird

Meryl Streep in The Post

(At this point, I got tired of typing out all of the nominees myself and I did a cut and paste from the list of nominees posted at Awards Watch.  Please thank Awards Watch by visiting their wonderful site.)

Actor in a Supporting Role

WILLEM DAFOE
The Florida Project
WOODY HARRELSON
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
RICHARD JENKINS
The Shape of Water
CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER
All the Money in the World
SAM ROCKWELL
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

Actress in a Supporting Role

MARY J. BLIGE
Mudbound

ALLISON JANNEY
I, Tonya
LESLEY MANVILLE
Phantom Thread
LAURIE METCALF
Lady Bird
OCTAVIA SPENCER
The Shape of Water

Writing (Original Screenplay)

THE BIG SICK
Written by Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani
GET OUT
Written by Jordan Peele
LADY BIRD
Written by Greta Gerwig
THE SHAPE OF WATER
Screenplay by Guillermo del Toro & Vanessa Taylor; Story by Guillermo del Toro
THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI
Written by Martin McDonagh

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
Screenplay by James Ivory
THE DISASTER ARTIST
Screenplay by Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber
LOGAN
Screenplay by Scott Frank & James Mangold and Michael Green; Story by James Mangold
MOLLY’S GAME
Written for the screen by Aaron Sorkin
MUDBOUND
Screenplay by Virgil Williams and Dee Rees

Animated Feature Film

THE BOSS BABY
Tom McGrath and Ramsey Naito
THE BREADWINNER
Nora Twomey and Anthony Leo
COCO
Lee Unkrich and Darla K. Anderson
FERDINAND
Carlos Saldanha
LOVING VINCENT
Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman and Ivan Mactaggart

Foreign Language Film

A FANTASTIC WOMAN
Chile
THE INSULT
Lebanon
LOVELESS
Russia
ON BODY AND SOUL
Hungary
THE SQUARE
Sweden

Documentary Feature

ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL
Steve James, Mark Mitten and Julie Goldman
FACES PLACES
Agnès Varda, JR and Rosalie Varda
ICARUS
Bryan Fogel and Dan Cogan
LAST MEN IN ALEPPO
Feras Fayyad, Kareem Abeed and Søren Steen Jespersen
STRONG ISLAND
Yance Ford and Joslyn Barnes

Documentary (Short Subject)

EDITH+EDDIE
Laura Checkoway and Thomas Lee Wright
HEAVEN IS A TRAFFIC JAM ON THE 405
Frank Stiefel
HEROIN(E)
Elaine McMillion Sheldon and Kerrin Sheldon
KNIFE SKILLS
Thomas Lennon
TRAFFIC STOP
Kate Davis and David Heilbroner

Music (Original Score)

DUNKIRK
Hans Zimmer
PHANTOM THREAD
Jonny Greenwood
THE SHAPE OF WATER
Alexandre Desplat
STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI
John Williams
THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI
Carter Burwell

Music (Original Song)

MIGHTY RIVER
from Mudbound; Music and Lyric by Mary J. Blige, Raphael Saadiq and Taura Stinson
MYSTERY OF LOVE
from Call Me by Your Name; Music and Lyric by Sufjan Stevens
REMEMBER ME
from Coco; Music and Lyric by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
STAND UP FOR SOMETHING
from Marshall; Music by Diane Warren; Lyric by Lonnie R. Lynn and Diane Warren
THIS IS ME
from The Greatest Showman; Music and Lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul

Film Editing

BABY DRIVER
Paul Machliss and Jonathan Amos
DUNKIRK
Lee Smith
I, TONYA
Tatiana S. Riegel
THE SHAPE OF WATER
Sidney Wolinsky
THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI
Jon Gregory

Cinematography

BLADE RUNNER 2049
Roger A. Deakins
DARKEST HOUR
Bruno Delbonnel
DUNKIRK
Hoyte van Hoytema
MUDBOUND
Rachel Morrison
THE SHAPE OF WATER
Dan Laustsen

Production Design

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
Production Design: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
BLADE RUNNER 2049
Production Design: Dennis Gassner; Set Decoration: Alessandra Querzola
DARKEST HOUR
Production Design: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
DUNKIRK
Production Design: Nathan Crowley; Set Decoration: Gary Fettis
THE SHAPE OF WATER
Production Design: Paul Denham Austerberry; Set Decoration: Shane Vieau and Jeff Melvin

Costume Design

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
Jacqueline Durran
DARKEST HOUR
Jacqueline Durran
PHANTOM THREAD
Mark Bridges
THE SHAPE OF WATER
Luis Sequeira
VICTORIA & ABDUL
Consolata Boyle

Makeup and Hairstyling
DARKEST HOUR
Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski and Lucy Sibbick
VICTORIA & ABDUL
Daniel Phillips and Lou Sheppard
WONDER
Arjen Tuiten

Sound Mixing

BABY DRIVER
Julian Slater, Tim Cavagin and Mary H. Ellis
BLADE RUNNER 2049
Ron Bartlett, Doug Hemphill and Mac Ruth
DUNKIRK
Mark Weingarten, Gregg Landaker and Gary A. Rizzo
THE SHAPE OF WATER
Christian Cooke, Brad Zoern and Glen Gauthier
STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI
David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Stuart Wilson

Sound Editing

BABY DRIVER
Julian Slater
BLADE RUNNER 2049
Mark Mangini and Theo Green
DUNKIRK
Richard King and Alex Gibson
THE SHAPE OF WATER
Nathan Robitaille and Nelson Ferreira
STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI
Matthew Wood and Ren Klyce

Visual Effects

BLADE RUNNER 2049
John Nelson, Gerd Nefzer, Paul Lambert and Richard R. Hoover
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2
Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Jonathan Fawkner and Dan Sudick
KONG: SKULL ISLAND
Stephen Rosenbaum, Jeff White, Scott Benza and Mike Meinardus
STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI
Ben Morris, Mike Mulholland, Neal Scanlan and Chris Corbould
WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES
Joe Letteri, Daniel Barrett, Dan Lemmon and Joel Whist

Short Film (Animated)

DEAR BASKETBALL
Glen Keane and Kobe Bryant
GARDEN PARTY
Victor Caire and Gabriel Grapperon
LOU
Dave Mullins and Dana Murray
NEGATIVE SPACE
Max Porter and Ru Kuwahata
REVOLTING RHYMES
Jakob Schuh and Jan Lachauer

Short Film (Live Action)
DEKALB ELEMENTARY
Reed Van Dyk
THE ELEVEN O’CLOCK
Derin Seale and Josh Lawson
MY NEPHEW EMMETT
Kevin Wilson, Jr.
THE SILENT CHILD
Chris Overton and Rachel Shenton
WATU WOTE/ALL OF US
Katja Benrath and Tobias Rosen

Congratulations to all the nominees!

Here’s What Won At The Golden Globes!


Check out the nominations here and the winners below!

Best Picture (Drama) — Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Picture (Comedy) — Lady Bird

Best Director — Guillermo Del Toro, The Shape of Water

Best Screenplay — Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

Best Actor (Drama) — Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

Best Actor (Comedy) — James Franco, The Disaster Artist

Best Actress (Drama) — Frances McDormand, Three Billboard Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Actress (Comedy) — Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird

Best Supporting Actor — Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Supporting Actress — Allison Janney, I, Tonya

Best Animated Feature Film — Coco

Best Foreign Language Film — In the Fade

Best Original Song — “The Is Me” from The Greatest Showman

Best Original Score — Alexandre Desplat, The Shape of Water

 

Lisa’s Oscar Predictions For December!


With awards season now in full swing, I’m a lot more confident when it comes to making my Oscar predictions.  While I don’t know if it’s possible to guess with one hundred per cent accuracy, I would say that I’m 99.9% sure that these predictions are going to line up with January’s nominations.

If I’m wrong … well, keep it to yourself.

Be sure to check out my earlier predictions for November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, and January.

Best Picture

Call Me By Your Name

The Disaster Artist

Dunkirk

The Florida Project

Get Out

Lady Bird

The Post

The Shape of Water

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

Best Director

Guillermo Del Toro for The Shape Of Water

Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird

Christopher Nolan for Dunkirk

Jordan Peele for Get Out

Steven Spielberg for The Post

Best Actor

Timothee Chalamet in Call Me By Your Name

Daniel Day-Lewis in Phantom Thread

James Franco in The Disaster Artist

Daniel Kaluuya in Get Out

Gary Oldman in Darkest Hour

Best Actress

Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water

Frances McDormand in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Margot Robbie in I, Tonya

Saoirse Ronan in Lady Bird

Meryl Streep in The Post

Best Supporting Actor

Willem DaFoe in The Florida Project

Woody Harrelson in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Christopher Plummer in All The Money In The World

Sam Rockwell in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Michael Stuhlbarg in Call Me By Your Name

Best Supporting Actress

Mary J. Blige in Mudbound

Tiffany Haddish in Girls Trip

Holly Hunter in The Big Sick

Allison Janney in I, Tonya

Laurie Metcalf in Lady Bird

In case you’re wondering which sites I use to keep informed about the developments in the Oscar race, my two favorites are Awards Circuit and Awards Watch.  Both of them are more than worth a visit and are run by people who have a much better track record than I do, as far as predicting these things is concerned!