What If Lisa Marie Picked The Oscar Nominees: 2022 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 Marie 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 be. Instead, these are the films that would be nominated if I was solely responsible for deciding the nominees this year. Winners are listed in bold.

It should also go without saying that I’ve only nominated films that I’ve actually seen.  So, if you’re wondering why a certain film wasn’t nominated, it’s always possible that may have not gotten the opportunity to see it yet.  Of course, it’s also possible that I didn’t feel that a certain film was worthy of a nomination, despite what the critics may say.  In the end, my best advice is not to worry too much about it.  I’m not an Academy voter so ultimately, this is all for fun and that’s the spirit in which it should be taken.

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 2021, 2020201920182017201620152014201320122011, and 2010!)

And now, without any further ado:

2022 

Best Picture 

All Quiet on the Western Front 

The Banshees of Inisherin 

Elvis 

Emily the Criminal 

Everything Everywhere All At Once 

The Fabelmans 

Nitram 

TAR 

Top Gun: Maverick 

Vengeance  

Best Director 

Edward Berger for All Quiet on the Western Front  

Todd Field for TAR 

Joseph Kosinski for Top Gun: Maverick 

Baz Luhrmann for Elvis 

Martin McDonagh for The Banshees of Inisherin

BJ Novak for Vengeance 

Best Actor 

Austin Butler in Elvis 

Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick 

Colin Farrell in The Banshees of Inisherin  

Caleb Landry Jones in Nitram 

BJ Novak in Vengeance  

Adam Sandler in Hustle 

Best Actress 

Cate Blanchett in TAR 

Emma Corrin in Lady Chatterley’s Lover  

Annie Hardy in Dashcam 

Mia Goth for Pearl 

Aubrey Plaza in Emily The Criminal 

Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere All At Once 

Best Supporting Actor 

Brendan Gleeson in The Banshees of Inisherin 

Val Kilmer in Top Gun: Maverick 

Anthony LaPaglia in Nitram 

David Lynch in The Fabelmans 

Brad Pitt in Babylon 

Ke Huy Quan in Everything Everywhere All At Once 

Best Supporting Actress 

Kerry Condon in The Banshees of Inisherin 

Essie Davis in Nitram 

Judy Davis in Nitram  

Nina Hoss in TAR  

Nicole Kidman in The Northman 

Michelle Williams in The Fabelmans 

Best Voice Over Performance 

Antonio Banderas in Puss In Boots: The Last Wish 

Jack Black in Apollo 10 ½ 

Steve Carell in Minions: The Rise of Gru 

Mike Judge in Beavis and Butthead Do The Universe 

Ewan McGregor in Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio  

Jenny Slate in Marcel the Shell With Shoes On  

 

Best Adapted Screenplay 

All Quiet On The Western Front 

Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio   

Lady Chatterley’s Lover 

Marcel The Shell With Shoes On 

Operation Mincemeat 

Top Gun: Maverick 

Best Original Screenplay 

Apollo 10 ½

The Banshees of Inisherin 

Emily the Criminal 

Everything Everywhere All At Once 

TAR 

Vengeance 

Best Animated Feature Film 

Apollo 10 ½ 

Beavis and Butthead Do The Universe  

The Bob’s Burgers Movie 

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinoccio  

The House 

Mad God 

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On 

Minions: The Rise of Gru 

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish

Turning Red  

Best Documentary Feature Film 

The Automat 

Bitterbrush

Dreaming Walls: Inside the Chelsea Hotel

Goodnight Oppy 

Is That Black Enough For You? 

My Old School 

Selena Gomez: My Mind And Me 

Send Me 

Three Minutes: A Lengthening 

Wildcat 

 

Best International Feature Film 

All Quiet on the Western Front 

Bardo 

Battle: Freestyle 

The Bombardment 

Dark Glasses

How I Fell In Love With A Gangster 

Into the Wind 

My Best Friend Anne Frank 

Restless 

RRR 

Best Live Action Short Film 

A Little Dead

Forgive Us Our Trespasses 

Best Animated Short Film 

The Flying Sailor

Ice Merchants

The Garbage Man 

Steakhouse 

Best Documentary Short Film 

Elephant Whisperers

Her Majesty’s Queue  

The Martha Mitchell Effect

Nuisance Bear 

The Runner 

Stranger at the Gate 

Best Original Score 

All Quiet On The Western Front 

Babylon 

The Banshees of Inisherin

Don’t Worry, Darling 

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio

Top Gun: Maverick 

 

Best Original Song 

“At the Automat” from The Automat 

“Sunny Side Up Summer” from The Bob’s Burgers Movie 

“Vegas” from Elvis

“Ciao Papa” from Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio  

“Naatu Naatu” from RRR 

“My Mind and Me” From Selena Gomez: My Mind and Me 

“Hold My Hand” From Top Gun: Maverick 

“Carolina” From Where The Crawdads Sing 

“New Body Rhumba” from White Noise 

“A Sky Like I’ve Never Seen” from Wildcat 

Best Overall Use of Music In A Movie 

The Banshees of Inisherin 

Elvis 

TAR   

Father Stu 

Top Gun: Maverick 

Best Sound Editing 

All Quiet On The Western Front 

Avatar: The Way of the Water  

The Bombardment 

Elvis 

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinoccio  

Top Gun Maverick 

Best Sound Mixing 

All Quiet on the Western Front 

The Batman 

Elvis

TAR 

The Northman 

Top Gun Maverick 

Best Production Design 

Babylon

The Batman 

Elvis 

The Fabelmans 

RRR 

See How They Run

Best Casting 

All Quiet on the Western Front 

The Northman 

She Said 

TAR 

Top Gun: Maverick 

Vengeance 

Best Cinematography 

The Banshees of Inisherin 

Bardo   

Elvis 

Everything Everywhere All At Once

RRR 

Top Gun: Maverick 

Best Costume Design 

Babylon 

Death on the Nile 

Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Elvis

The Fabelmans

See How They Run  

Best Film Editing 

All Quiet on the Western Front  

Ambulance 

The Banshees of Inisherin 

Everything Everywhere All At Once   

The Fabelmans 

Top Gun: Maverick 

Best Make-Up and Hairstyling 

Babylon 

Elvis   

The Fabelmans   

The Northman  

Terrifier 2 

Best Stuntwork 

All Quiet On The Western Front

The Batman 

Bullet Train    

Everything Everywhere All At Once 

RRR 

Top Gun: Maverick 

Best Visual Effects 

Avatar: The Way of Water 

Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness 

Mad God 

RRR 

Terrifier 2 

Top Gun: Maverick 

Films Listed By Number of Nominations

15 Nominations — Top Gun: Maverick

11 Nominations — Elvis

10 Nominations — All Quiet On The Western Front, The Banshees of Inisherin

8 Nominations — TAR

7 Nominations — Everything Everywhere All At Once, The Fabelmans

6 Nominations — Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, RRR

5 Nominations — Babylon, Nitram, Vengeance

4 Nominations — The Northman, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish

3 Nominations — Apollo 10 1/2, The Batman, Emily the Criminal, Marcel the Shell With Shoes On

2 Nominations — The Automat, Avatar: The Way of the Water, Bardo, Beavis and Butthead Do The Universe, The Bob’s Burgers Movie, The Bombardment, Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Mad Dog, Minions: The Rise of Gru, See How They Run, Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me, Terrifier 2, Wildcat, X

1 Nomination — A Little Dead, Ambulance, Battle: Freestyle, Bitterbush, Bullet Train, Dascham, Dark Glasses, Death on the Nile, Don’t Worry Darling, Dreaming Walls: Inside the Chelsea Hotel, Elephant Whisperers, Father Stu, The Flying Sailor, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, The Garbage Man, Goodnight Oppy, Her Majesty’s Queue, How I Fell In Love With A Gangster, Hustle, Ice Merchants, Into the Wind, Is That Black Enough For You?, The House, Hustle, The Martha Mitchell Effect, My Friend Anne Frank, My Old School, Nuisance Bear, Operation: Mincemeat, Pearl, Restless, The Runner, Send Me, She Said, Steakhouse, Stranger at the Gates, Three Minutes: A Lengthening, Turning Red, Where The Crawdads Sing, White Noise

Films Listed By Number of Wins:

6 Oscars — Top Gun: Maverick

4 Oscars — All Quiet on the Western Front, Banshees of Inisherin

2 Oscars — Babylon, Elvis, TAR

1 Oscars — A Little Death, Avatar: The Way of the Water, Beavis and Butthead Do The Universe, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, Ice Merchant, Nuisance Bear, Three Minutes: A Lengthening, X 

Will the Academy and I agree?  Probably not!  But we’ll find out for sure in just a few hours!

Lisa Marie’s Final 2022 Oscar Predictions


Well, it’s finally going to happen.  Tomorrow, the Oscar nominations are going to be announced.

And that means that it is time for me to make my final predictions as to which films will be nominated.  Keep in mind that these are not necessarily the films and performances that I would nominate if I had all the power.  (I’ll be posting those later.)  Instead, these are my predictions for what will be nominated on Tuesday morning!  If you want to see how my thinking has evolved over the past few months, check out my predictions for February, March, April, May. June, July, August, September, October, November, and December!

Without any further ado, here are my predictions for the Big Six Categories:

Best Picture:

All Quiet On The Western Front

Avatar: The Way of Water

Babylon

The Banshees of Inisherin

Elvis

Everything Everywhere All At Once

The Fabelmans

Glass Oninon

TAR

Top Gun: Maverick

Best Director

Edward Berger for All Quiet On The Western Front

Joseph Kosinski for Top Gun: Maverick

Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert for Everything Everywhere All At Once

Martin McDonagh for The Banshees of Inisherin

Steven Spielberg for The Fabelmans

Best Actor

Austin Butler in Elvis

Colin Farrell in The Banshees of Inisherin

Brendan Fraser in The Whale

Bill Nighy in Living

Adam Sandler in Hustle

Best Actress

Cate Blanchett in TAR

Viola Davis in The Woman King

Danielle Deadwyler in Till

Andrea Riseborough in To Leslie

Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Best Supporting Actor

Paul Dano in The Fabelmans

Brendan Gleeson in The Banshees of Inisherin

Barry Keoghan in The Banshees of Inisherin

Ke Huy Quan in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Eddie Redmayne in The Good Nurse

Best Supporting Actress

Angela Bassett in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Hong Chau in The Whale

Kerry Condon in The Banshees of Inisherin

Jamie Lee Curtis in Everything Everywhere At Once

Janelle Monae in Glass Onion

We’ll find out how right (or wrong) I am, come tomorrow morning!

Here Are The Sequel-Dominated 2022 Satellite Nominations!


The Satellite nominations were announced on Thursday morning. 

What are the Satellites?  For years, they were like a less important version of the Golden Globes.  However, considering all of the recent controversy that has surrounded that Hollywood Foreign Press and the Golden Globes, it wouldn’t surprise me if, in a few years, the International Press Academy and the Satellites became Hollywood’s new favorite shady precursor group.

Like the Globes, the Satellites hand out awards for both film and television.  Below, you’ll find their film nominations.  If you want to see their TV nominations, Next Best Picture has got you covered.

Here are the Satellite noms for 2022!  To me, perhaps the most interesting thing about the nominations is that many of the biggest contenders — Glass Onion, Top Gun: Maverick, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Avatar: Way of the Water — are sequels.  It’ll be interesting to see if the Academy follows suit.

ACTRESS IN A MOTION PICTURE DRAMA
Jessica Chastain – The Good Nurse (Netflix)
Cate Blanchett – TÁR (Focus Features)
Michelle Williams – The Fabelmans (Universal Pictures)
Danielle Deadwyler – Till (United Artists Releasing)
Vicky Krieps – Corsage (IFC Films)
Viola Davis – The Woman King (TriStar Pictures)

ACTOR IN A MOTION PICTURE DRAMA
Brendan Fraser – The Whale (A24)
Tom Cruise – Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount Pictures)
Gabriel LaBelle – The Fabelmans (Universal Pictures)
Hugh Jackman – The Son (CAA Media Finance)
Bill Nighy – Living (Sony Pictures)
Mark Wahlberg – Father Stu (Columbia Pictures)

ACTRESS IN A MOTION PICTURE, COMEDY OR MUSICAL
Margot Robbie – Babylon (Paramount Pictures)
Michelle Yeoh – Everything Everywhere All At Once (A24)
Janelle Monáe- Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (Netflix)
Emma Thompson – Good Luck to You, Leo Grande (Searchlight Pictures)

ACTOR IN A MOTION PICTURE, COMEDY OR MUSICAL
Collin Farrell – The Banshees Of Inisherin (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Austin Butler – Elvis (Warner Bros.)
Diego Calva – Babylon (Paramount Pictures)
Adam Sandler – Hustle (Netflix)
Ralph Fiennes – The Menu (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Daniel Craig – Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (Netflix)

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Jean Smart – Babylon (Paramount Pictures)
Angela Bassett – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Kerry Condon – The Banshees Of Inisherin (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Dolly de Leon – Triangle Of Sadness (Neon)
Claire Foy – Women Talking (United Artists Releasing)
Jamie Lee Curtis – Everything Everywhere All At Once (A24)

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Eddie Radmayne – The Good Nurse (Netflix)
Ben Whishaw – Women Talking (United Artists Realising)
Paul Dano – The Fabelmans (Universal Pictures)
Brendan Gleeson – The Banshees Of Inisherin (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Ke Huy Quan – Everything Everywhere All At Once (A24)
Jeremy Strong – Armageddon Time (Focus Features)

MOTION PICTURE, DRAMA
Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount Pictures)
Living (Sony Pictures)
The Fabelmans (Universal Pictures)
Till (United Artists Releasing)
Women Talking (United Artists Releasing)
Avatar: The Way Of The Water (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
TÁR (Focus Feature)
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

MOTION PICTURE, COMEDY OR MUSICAL
Triangle Of Sadness (Neon)
Everything Everywhere All At Once (A24)
RRR (Variance Films)
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (Netflix)
The Banshees Of Inisherin (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Elvis (Warner Bros.)

MOTION PICTURE, INTERNATIONAL
Argentina, 1985 (Argentina)
Decision To Leave (Korea)
Holy Spider (Denmark)
Close (Belgium)
War Sailor (Norway)
Corsage (Austria)
Bardo (Mexico)
The Quiet Girl (Ireland)

MOTION PICTURE, ANIMATED OR MIXED MEDIA
Turning Red (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Marcel The Shell With Shoes On (A24)
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (Netflix)
Inu-Oh (GKIDS)
The Bad Guys (DWA)

MOTION PICTURE, DOCUMENTARY
The Territory (National Geographic Documentary Films)
All The Beauty And The Bloodshed (Neon)
Moonage Daydream (Neon)
Fire Of Love (Neon)
Descendant (Netflix)
The Return of Tanya Tucker: Featuring Brandi Carlile (Sony Pictures)
Good Night Oppy (Amazon Prime Video)
All That Breathes (HBO Documentary Films)
Young Plato (Yleisradio)

DIRECTOR
Baz Luhrmann – Elvis (Warner Bros.)
James Cameron – Avatar: The Way Of The Water (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Steven Spielberg – The Fabelmans (Netflix)
Joseph Kosinski – Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount Pictures)
Martin McDonagh – The Banshees Of Inisherin (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Sarah Polley – Women Talking (United Artists Releasing)

SCREENPLAY, ORIGINAL
Daniel Scheinert & Daniel Kwan – Everything Everywhere All At Once (A24)
Tony Kushner & Steven Spielberg – The Fabelmans (Universal Pictures)
Martin McDonagh – The Banshees Of Inisherin (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Ruben Östlund – Triangle Of Sadness (Neon)
Todd Field – TÁR (Focus Features)
Lukas Dhont & Angelo Tijssens – Close (A24)

SCREENPLAY, ADAPTED
Sarah Polley – Women Talking (United Artists Releasing)
Samuel D. Hunter – The Whale (A24)
Rian Johnson – Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (Netflix)
Peter Craig, Ehren Kruger, Justin Marks, Christopher McQuarrie & Eric Warren Singer – Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount Pictures)
Kazuo Ishiguro – Living (Sony Pictures)
Rebecca Lenkiewicz – She Said (Universal Pictures)

ORIGINAL SCORE
Harold Faltermeyer, Lady Gaga, Hans Zimmer, Lorne Balfe – Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount Pictures)
Terence Blanchard – The Woman King (TriStar Pictures)
Justin Hurwitz – Babylon (Paramount Pictures)
John Williams – The Fabelmans (Universal Pictures)
Carter Burwell – The Banshees Of Inisherin (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Hildur Guðnadóttir – Women Talking (United Artists Releasing)

ORIGINAL SONG
“Hold My Hand” – Lady Gaga: Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount Pictures)
“Lift Me Up” – Rihanna: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
“Naatu Naatu” – Kala Bhairava, M.M. Keeravani & Rahul Sipligunj: RRR (Variance Films)
“Vegas” – Doja Cat: Elvis (Warner Bros.)
“Carolina” – Taylor Swift: Where The Crawdads Sing (Columbia Pictures)
“Applause” – Diane Warren: Tell It Like a Woman (Samuel Goldwyn Films)

CINEMATOGRAPHY
Claudio Miranda – Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount Pictures)
Linus Sandgren – Babylon (Paramount Pictures)
Roger Deakins – Empire of Light (Searchlight Pictures)
Ben Davis – The Banshees Of Inisherin (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Russell Carpenter – Avatar: The Way Of The Water (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Mandy Walker – Elvis ( Warner Bros)

FILM EDITING
Eddie Hamilton – Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount Pictures)
Jonathan Redmond, Matt Villa – Elvis (Warner Bros.)
Sarah Broshar, Michael Kahn – The Fabelmans (Universal Pictures)
Paul Rogers – Everything Everywhere All At Once (A24)
Monika Willi – TÁR (Focus Features)
Terilyn A. Shropshire – The Woman King (TriStar Pictures)

SOUND ( Editor / Mixer )
Top Gun: Maverick – Mark Weingarten, James H. Mather, Al Nelson (Paramount Pictures)
Avatar: The Way Of The Water – Christopher Boyes (Supervising Sound Editor / Re-Recording Mixer ), Gwendolyn Yates Whittle Dick Bernstein (Supervising Sound Editors), Gary Summers, Michael Hedges (Re-Recording Mixers), Julian Howarth (Production Sound Mixer) (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Babylon – Steve Morrow, Ai-Ling Lee, Mildred Iatrou Morgan, Andy Nelson (Paramount Pictures)
Elvis – David Lee, Wayne Pashley, Andy Nelson, Michael Keller (Warner Bros.)
The Woman King – Becky Sullivan, Kevin O’Connell, Tony Lamberti, Derek Mansvelt (Sony Pictures)
RRR – Raghunath Kemisetty, Boloy Kumar Doloi, Rahul Karpe (Variance Films)

VISUAL EFFECTS
Top Gun: Maverick – Ryan Tudhope, Scott R. Fisher, Seth Hill, Bryan Litson (Paramount Pictures)
Avatar: The Way Of The Water – Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, Richie Baneham, Dan Barrett (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Babylon – Jay Cooper, Elia Popov, Kevin Martel, Ebrahim Jahromi (Paramount Pictures)
Good Night Oppy – Abishek Nair, Marko Chulev, Steven Nichols (Amazon Prime Video)
The Batman – Dan Lemmon, Russell Earl, Anders Langlands, Dominic Tuohu (Warner Bros)
RRR – V. Srinivas Mohan (Variance Films)

PRODUCTION DESIGN
RRR – Sabu Cyril (Variance Films)
Babylon – Florencia Martin, Anthony Carlino (Paramount Pictures)
Elvis – Catherine Martin, Karen Murphy (Warner Bros.)
Avatar: The Way Of The Water – Dylan Cole, Ben Procter (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
The Fabelmans – Rick Carter (Universal Pictures)
A Love Song – Juliana Barreto Barreto (Bleecker Street Media)

COSTUME DESIGN
Ruth E. Carter – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Mary Zophres – Babylon (Paramount Pictures)
Cathrine Matrin – Elvis (Warner Bros.)
Gersha Phillips – The Woman King (TriStar Pictures)
Sandy Powell – Living (Sony Pictures)
Alexandra Byrne – Empire of Light (Searchlight Pictures)

ENSEMBLE MOTION PICTURE: Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (Netflix)

4 Shots From 4 Films: Special Robert Aldrich Edition


4 Or More Shots From 4 Or More Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

On this date, 104 years ago, Robert Aldrich was born in Cranston, Rhode Island.  The first cousin of New York Governor and Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, Robert Aldrich eschewed business and politics to pursue a career in film.  Though his wonderfully melodramatic films were often undervalued when first released, Aldrich is now seen as one of the most influential filmmakers of all time.  Tarantino loves him.

In honor of Aldrich’s career and legacy, here are….

4 Shots From 4 Robert Aldrich Films

Kiss Me Deadly (1955, dir by Robert Aldrich, DP: Ernest Laszlo)

What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? (1962, dir by Robert Aldrich, DP: Ernest Haller)

The Dirty Dozen (1967, dir by Robert Aldrich, DP: Edward Scaife)

Hustle (1975, dir by Robert Aldrich, DP: Joseph Biroc)

Film Review: Hustle (dir by Jeremiah Zagar)


As I’ve mentioned in the past, there are essentially two Adam Sandlers.

The first Adam Sandler is the comedic actor who, after getting off to a good start with Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore, has appeared in some of the most critically-derided films ever made.  This is the Adam Sandler who has won multiple Razzies for Worst Actor, whose films were often used, in the days before the MCU and DCEU, as an illustration of everything that’s wrong with Hollywood, and who is best known for keeping his friends steadily employed.

The second Adam Sandler is a sad-eyed character actor who has appeared in a string of dramatic and challenging films and who has consistently proven himself to be a sensitive dramatic lead.  The second Adam Sandler plays the same type of characters as the first Adam Sandler but with an added dose of regret.  If the first Adam Sandler specializes in characters with no self-awareness, the second Adam Sandler plays characters who are so self-aware that they’re often paralyzed by ennui.  The second Adam Sandler would probably be a multiple-Oscar nominee if not for the first Adam Sandler.  

If you only knew Adam Sandler from Punch-Drunk Love, Uncut Gems, The Meyerowtiz Stories, and his other dramatic films, you would be totally justified in thinking that he had to be one of our most acclaimed actors.  By that same token, if you only know him from Grown Ups, Jack and Jill, and his other comedies …. well, you would be totally justified in having the opposite opinion.  I think that’s one reason why critics get so much more frustrated with Sandler’s dumb comedies than they do with other comedies.  By the point, we all know how good Sandler can be when he wants to be.

Hustle, Sandler’s latest film, casts Sandler is another dramatic role.  Sandler plays Stanley Sugarman, a middle-aged scout for the Philadelphia 76ers.  Stan spends almost all of his time traveling across Europe, checking out international basketball players who are hoping for a chance to come to America and play in the NBA.  As a result, Stan is frequently away from his wife (Queen Latifah) and he’s missed his daughter’s last few birthdays.  Stan, who was a college basketball star but who never made it into the NBA because of his own dumb decisions, may make a lot of jokes but one need only look at his perpetually downcast eyes to see that Stan is not a happy man.  The only thing that’s really keeping him going is that the owner of the 76ers, Rex Merrick (Robert Duvall), is planning on making Stan an assistant coach.

Unfortunately, the same night that Rex tells Stan that he’s going to be promoted, Rex dies.  Rex’s apparently sociopathic son, Vin (Ben Foster), takes over the organization and announces that Stan will continue as a scout.  (When Stan mentions that he hasn’t shared a birthday with his daughter in his years, Vin smirks.  You know, just in case you needed another excuse to dislike the character.)  Stan heads back to Europe.  In Spain, when his plans to scout a local player don’t work out, Stan stumbles across a pick-up game and discovers a local construction worker named Bo Cruz (Juancho Hernangómez, an actual basketball player who makes a surprisingly assured debut).  Bo is nearly 7 feet tall, he’s got a daughter at home, and he just happens to be a phenomenal basketball player. 

With the help of a Facetime call to Dirk Nowitzki (one of the many former and current basketball players to appear in Hustle), Stan is able to convince Bo that he actually is an NBA scout.  Stan takes Bo back to America but it turns out that 1) Bo has a criminal record that makes the league weary of him and 2) Vin would rather humiliate Stan than give Bo a fair chance.  Driven to quit his job, Stan devotes his time to trying to get Bo ready to enter the NBA draft.  Not only is Stan trying to make Bo’s dreams come true but he’s also trying to find some redemption for his own past mistakes.  And, of course, Stan is also trying to save his career because it’s not like his daughter’s film school is going to be pay for itself!

Basketball is my least favorite sport, largely because I can’t stand the sound of all those squeaky shoes on the court.  And Hustle is a film that was definitely made for basketball fans.  Between all the player cameos and the jokes about Philadelphia sports fan, Hustle has a very specific audience in mind.  That said, Hustle is such a sweet-natured and sincere movie that it can be enjoyed and appreciated even by those of us who aren’t into basketball (or sports in general).  Hustle hits all of the expected sports movie clichés but, wisely, it keeps the focus on Stan and Bo’s friendship.  Neither Stan nor Bo are portrayed as being perfect.  Instead, they’re two men who are trying to do their best, despite both carrying a lot of emotional baggage.  As such, the film becomes less about getting drafted and joining team and more about making peace with both the past and the present.  Sandler and Hernangómez both give heartfelt performances and director Jeremiah Zagar does a good job of framing the action.  This is a film about basketball that was made be people who obviously love basketball but, fortunately, the rest of us can enjoy it too.

Embracing the Melodrama Part II #49: Hustle (dir by Robert Aldrich)


HustleContinuing our journey into the dark Hell of the 1970s, we now take a quick look at the 1975 cop film, Hustle.

Taking place in Los Angeles, Hustle tells the story of several different people who find their lives intertwined in the desperate dance of existence.  (Does that sound overdramatic?  Well, that’s the type of film that this is.)

There’s Leo Sellers (Eddie Albert), a lawyer with bright rosy cheeks and a friendly manner.  You look at Leo and you automatically assume that he must be a nice guy, the type of guy who puts on a fake beard and plays Santa Claus down at the local orphanage.  But actually, Leo is a lawyer for the mob.  He’s gotten rich through crime and his mansion hides all sorts of secrets.  He also has a weakness for violently abusing prostitutes.

Speaking of prostitutes, one of Leo’s favorite is Nicole (Catherine Deneuve), an icy French beauty who survives by holding the world at a distance.  Though Nicole doesn’t like Leo, she has to keep him happy because Leo could easily arrange for her to be deported back to France.

Nicole is also the girlfriend of Phil Gaines (Burt Reynolds), a cynical homicide detective who, like her, tries to keep the world at a distance.  Phil is obsessed with old films and frequently speaks of how much he wishes the real world could be like a movie.  Throughout the film, he talks about eventually moving to Rome.

Phil’s partner is Louis Belgrave (Paul Winfield), who is not quite as cynical as Phil but who is definitely getting there.  Whereas Phil is always talking about how much the world has disappointed him, Louis mostly accepts things without complaint.  He just wants to do his job and go home at the end of the day.

Phil and Louis’s boss is Santoro (Ernest Borgnine, giving a typical Ernest Borgnine performance).  Santoro is not a bad guy but, in order to hold onto his job, he has to keep powerful men like Leo Sellers happy.

Santoro also has to deal with the complaints of people like the Hollingers.  Marty Hollinger (Ben Johnson) is a veteran of the Korean War and handles the world in a gruff and suspicious manner.  Paula (Eileen Brennan) is Marty’s wife and, as a result of his emotional distance, has recently started having an affair.

And then there’s Gloria (Colleen Brennan), Marty and Paula’s daughter.  Gloria ran away from home a while ago and soon found herself working as a stripper, a porn actress, and eventually as a prostitute.  When Gloria is found dead, Phil and Louis get the case.  It’s obvious to them that Gloria committed suicide.  It’s not so obvious to Marty, who is convinced that his daughter was murdered and, disgusted by Phil’s cynical attitude, sets out to investigate the case on his own.

One of the more interesting things about Hustle is that really is no murder mystery.  Despite what Marty believes, Gloria really did commit suicide.  Marty’s insistence that she was murdered has more to do with his guilt over being a bad father than it does with any real evidence.  As Marty investigates his daughter’s life, he is exposed to a sordid world of strip clubs and prostitution.  He discovers that Gloria’s clients included many powerful men and he decides that the last client she saw must have murdered Gloria.

That client is Leo Sellers.  And while Leo may not have murdered Gloria, he is willing to kill Marty to keep his secret life from being exposed.  Phil and Louis are forced to choose between remaining detached or protecting Marty from himself.

And, since this film was made in the 70s, it all ends on a really dark note!

Hustle shows up on Encore occasionally.  It’s a strange film to watch, as it alternates between being a fairly predictable cop film and being a portrait of existential dread.  The movie doesn’t really work; it’s too long, it features some amazingly pretentious dialogue, and Reynolds, Winfield, and Deneuve all seem to be bored with their characters.  Probably the film’s best performance comes from Ben Johnson.  I imagine that has to do with the fact that Johnson is playing the only character who behaves in a fairly consistent way.

And yet, if you’re like me and you’re fascinated with the nonstop fatalism of 70s cinema, Hustle does have some historical value.  It’s one of those films that you watch and you wonder how anyone survived the 1970s!