Film Review: Marry Me (dir by Kat Coiro)


In Marry Me, Jennifer Lopez plays Kat Valdez, a superstar who has the number one single in the history of the world with Marry Me, a duet that she performs with her fiancé, Bastian (Maluma).  The plan is for Kat and Bastian to marry onstage, as the climax of one of Kat’s concerts.  For Kat, it will be her third marriage but she’s determined to make it work because, underneath all the glamour and show-biz glitz, Kat is a romantic at heart.  However, right before Kat is due to step out on stage to get married, TMZ reports that Bastian has been cheating on Kat.

Heart-broken, Kat steps out onstage.  She talks about the pain of being betrayed.  In the audience, one man nods along with her.  Kat sees the sympathetic look in the eyes of math teacher Charlie Gilbert (Owen Wilson) and she calls him up on stage.  “Kat,” the minister asks, “Do you take this guy?”  She says “I do.”  Charlie says that he does.  And …. they’re married!

Wait, what?

Now, of course, Charlie really isn’t sure who Kat Valdez is.  He came to the concert with his daughter and his best friend (played by Sarah Silverman) and the only reason that he was holding a sign that read “Marry Me,” was because it was handed to him at the last minute.  Charlie is far more interested in walking his dog, trying to connect with daughter, and coaching his students to victory in the upcoming mathalon.  As they leave the concert, Charlie explains that he just said “yes” because Kat appeared to need someone at that moment and that he certainly doesn’t expect to remain married to Kat.

However, Kat’s management suggests that maybe the two of them should stay married for three months, just for the sake of good publicity….

Wait, what?

Look, I could tell you that Marry Me is a deeply silly film but you probably already guessed that.  You probably guessed that from watching the trailer.  It’s a determinedly old-fashioned film, with the only thing indicating that the film was made after 2014 is the fact that it’s Jimmy Fallon who is shown making jokes about Kat’s marriage instead of Jay Leno.  The plot is not only silly but it’s also extremely predictable.  Do I really need to tell you that Kat is going to be charmed by Charlie’s simple life and that she’s going to end up helping his students prepare for the mathalon?  For that matter, do I have to tell you that Charlie is going to struggle with the feeling that he doesn’t fit in with Kat’s glamorous life style?  You know where this is going.

That said, it’s an amiable film, largely due to the two leads.  Jennifer Lopez is one of the few performers who can come across as being likable and down-to-Earth, even when she’s jumping into a limo and demanding that the driver take her to the airport.  The film also makes good use of Owen Wilson’s goofy charm.  The film’s story may be implausible but, if something that weird ever did happen, it would probably happen to Owen Wilson.  While I would have preferred a film with a bit more of a satirical edge and I think it’s one of those films for which you definitely have to be in the right mood, Marry Me is a likable romantic comedy.

Guilty Pleasure No. 50: Maid in Manhattan (dir by Wayne Wang)


Whenever I see that the 2002 film, Maid in Manhattan, is going to be playing on HBO or Cinemax, I always think to myself, “I can’t understand why everyone hates on this film.  I mean, it’s not that bad.  It may be predictable and silly but it’s kind of sweet and Jennifer Lopez and Matthew McConaughey have a tame but sexy chemistry.”

Of course, then I watch the film and I discover that Maid in Manhattan is not the film where Jennifer Lopez and Matthew McConaughey fall in love.  That’s The Wedding Planner.  Instead, Maid in Manhattan is the one where Jennifer Lopez is a maid who works in a big fancy hotel and who is a single mother to a precocious child who is obsessed with Richard Nixon.  Maid in Manhattan is also the one where Jennifer Lopez falls in love with Ralph Fiennes.  Fiennes plays a candidate for the U.S. Senate.  Everyone is worried that he’ll never make it to Washington if people discover that his girlfriend is a maid.  I think his bigger problem is that he’s a Republican running for the U.S. Senate in New York.  (At least, I assume he’s a Republican because — as we learn from his conversations with Lopez’s son — he certainly seems to know a lot about and be rather sympathetic to Richard Nixon.)

I still like Maid in Manhattan, though perhaps not as sincerely as I like The Wedding Planner.  Some of that is because Maid in Manhattan takes place during the Christmas season and I love a good wintry romance.  Some of it is because this is probably the only mainstream film to feature people discussing the good points of Richard Nixon.  There’s the fact that Jennifer Lopez is always perfectly cast as someone determined to make something out of her life, regardless of whether or not the world supports her or not.  She’s always had the ability to make steely ambition sympathetic and that’s a good ability to have when you’re playing a maid who is determined to get promoted into management.

Finally, there’s the odd romantic pairing of Ralph Fiennes and Jennifer Lopez.  It’s one of those things that shouldn’t work and yet, strangely, it does.  Fiennes always brings a certain off-center, neurotic energy to his performances, which not only explains why he’s played so many villains but also why it’s strange to see him starring in a romantic comedy.  And yet, that odd energy is exactly what Maid in Manhattan needs.  It keeps the viewer on their toes and it makes the surprising discovery that Fiennes and Lopez have romantic chemistry all the more rewarding.

Don’t get me wrong, of course.  This is a deeply silly movie and there’s a lot of less than sparkling dialogue and the plot falls apart if you even start to think about it.  The entire story revolves around mistaken identity, with Fiennes not realizing that Jennifer Lopez is a maid and …. well, it’s all a bit unnecessarily complicated.  The film also takes Fiennes’s political aspirations a bit too seriously.  It’s not quite as bad the whole thing with Matt Damon running for the Senate in The Adjustment Bureau (“Due to his charming concession speech, he will someday be elected President,” — whatever, Beto) but it gets close.

But, still — I love romance and I love New York and the pairing of Jennifer Lopez and Ralph Fiennes in Maid in Manhattan is just too strange (and oddly effective) for me to resist.

Previous Guilty Pleasures

  1. Half-Baked
  2. Save The Last Dance
  3. Every Rose Has Its Thorns
  4. The Jeremy Kyle Show
  5. Invasion USA
  6. The Golden Child
  7. Final Destination 2
  8. Paparazzi
  9. The Principal
  10. The Substitute
  11. Terror In The Family
  12. Pandorum
  13. Lambada
  14. Fear
  15. Cocktail
  16. Keep Off The Grass
  17. Girls, Girls, Girls
  18. Class
  19. Tart
  20. King Kong vs. Godzilla
  21. Hawk the Slayer
  22. Battle Beyond the Stars
  23. Meridian
  24. Walk of Shame
  25. From Justin To Kelly
  26. Project Greenlight
  27. Sex Decoy: Love Stings
  28. Swimfan
  29. On the Line
  30. Wolfen
  31. Hail Caesar!
  32. It’s So Cold In The D
  33. In the Mix
  34. Healed By Grace
  35. Valley of the Dolls
  36. The Legend of Billie Jean
  37. Death Wish
  38. Shipping Wars
  39. Ghost Whisperer
  40. Parking Wars
  41. The Dead Are After Me
  42. Harper’s Island
  43. The Resurrection of Gavin Stone
  44. Paranormal State
  45. Utopia
  46. Bar Rescue
  47. The Powers of Matthew Star
  48. Spiker
  49. Heavenly Bodies

Lisa Marie’s Oscar Predictions For December


Well, here we go!

This is my last set of Oscar predictions for the year.  With the critics groups and some of the guilds having now announced their picks for the best of 2019, the Oscar picture is now a lot more clear.  Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, Parasite, The Irishman, 1917, and Marriage Story all seem to be guaranteed to pick up a nomination.    

I am going to go out on a limb and predict that, despite being ignored at SAG and by the Golden Globes, Uncut Gems will get some nominations as well.  Right now, the film just seems to have momentum on its side.  Realistically, I’m not a 100% convinced that it’ll be nominated, not the way I am with some other films.  It’s divisive film and I’m sure that some people think that rewarding Adam Sandler will just lead to him using his newfound respect to get a theatrical release for the next Grown Ups sequel.  But I’m going to take a chance and go with it.

(Of course, Nightcrawler and Jake Gyllenhaal also had a lot of momentum a few years ago and ended up getting totally shut out of the Oscars.)

Below are my predictions for December.  If you want to see how my thinking has evolved, be sure to check out my predictions for January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, and November!

Best Picture

1917

Bombshell

The Irishman

JoJo Rabbit

Little Women

Marriage Story

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Parasite

Uncut Gems

Best Director

Bong Joon-ho for Parasite

Sam Mendes for 1917

The Safdie Brothers for Uncut Gems

Martin Scorsese for The Irishman

Quentin Tarantino for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Best Actor

Leonardo DiCaprio for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Adam Driver for Marriage Story

Taron Egerton for Rocketman

Joaquin Phoenix for Joker

Adam Sandler for Uncut Gems

Best Actress

Scarlett Johansson for Marriage Story

Luptia Nyong’o for Us

Saoirse Ronan for Little Women

Charlize Theron for Bombshell

Renee Zellweger for Judy

Best Supporting Actor

Willem DaFoe in The Lighthouse

Tom Hanks in A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

Al Pacino for The Irishman

Joe Pesci for The Irishman

Brad Pitt for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Best Supporting Actress

Laura Dern in Marriage Story

Scarlett Johansson in JoJo Rabbit

Jennifer Lopez in Hustlers

Florence Pugh in Little Women

Margot Robbie in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

 

The Oscar nominations will be announced on January 13th!

Happy New Year, everyone!

Oscar, in happier times

The Nevada Film Critics Society Name Marriage Story As The Best of 2019!


Here’s a full list of the winners in Nevada:

Best Film: Marriage Story

Best Director: Noah Baumbach – Marriage Story

Best Actor: Adam Driver – Marriage Story
Best Actress (tie): Scarlett Johansson – Marriage Story & Charlize Theron – Bombshell
Best Supporting Actor: Joe Pesci – The Irishman
Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Lopez – Hustlers

Best Original Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Best Adapted Screenplay: Taika Waititi – Jojo Rabbit

Best Animated Movie: Toy Story 4
Best Documentary: Apollo 11

Best Production Design: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Best Cinematography: 1917
Best Visual Effects: Avengers: Endgame

 

The Dallas-Ft. Worth Film Critics Association Names 1917 As The Best of 2019!


Reunion Tower (picture by Erin Nicole)

Here are the winners in Dallas!

BEST PICTURE

Winner: 1917

Runners-up: MARRIAGE STORY (2); PARASITE (3); THE IRISHMAN (4); ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD (5); JOJO RABBIT (6); LITTLE WOMEN (7); THE FAREWELL (8); THE TWO POPES (9); KNIVES OUT (10)

BEST ACTOR

Winner: Adam Driver, MARRIAGE STORY

Runners-up: Joaquin Phoenix, JOKER (2); Antonio Banderas, PAIN AND GLORY (3); Leonardo DiCaprio, ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD (4); Robert De Niro, THE IRISHMAN (5)

BEST ACTRESS

Winner: Scarlett Johansson, MARRIAGE STORY

Runners-up: Renée Zellweger, JUDY (2); Charlize Theron, BOMBSHELL (3); Saoirse Ronan, LITTLE WOMEN (4); Awkwafina, THE FAREWELL (5, tie); Lupita Nyong’o, US (5, tie)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Winner: Brad Pitt, ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD

Runners-up: Willem Dafoe, THE LIGHTHOUSE (2); Joe Pesci, THE IRISHMAN (3); Al Pacino, THE IRISHMAN (4); Shia LaBeouf, HONEY BOY (5)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Winner: Laura Dern, MARRIAGE STORY

Runners-up: Margot Robbie, BOMBSHELL (2); Florence Pugh, LITTLE WOMEN (3); Jennifer Lopez, HUSTLERS (4); Annette Bening, THE REPORT (5)

BEST DIRECTOR

Winner: Sam Mendes, 1917

Runners-up: Bong Joon-ho, PARASITE (2); Martin Scorsese, THE IRISHMAN (3); Quentin Tarantino, ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD (4); Noah Baumbach, MARRIAGE STORY (5)

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

Winner: PARASITE

Runners-up: PAIN AND GLORY (2); THE FAREWELL (3); LES MISÉRABLES (4); PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE (5)

BEST DOCUMENTARY

Winner: APOLLO 11

Runners-up: ONE CHILD NATION (2); AMERICAN FACTORY (3); HONEYLAND (4); FOR SAMA (5)

BEST ANIMATED FILM

Winner: TOY STORY 4

Runner-up: I LOST MY BODY

BEST SCREENPLAY

Winner: Noah Baumbach, MARRIAGE STORY

Runner-up: Steven Zaillian, THE IRISHMAN

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Winner: Roger Deakins, 1917

Runner-up: Hong Kyung-pyo, PARASITE

BEST MUSICAL SCORE

Winner: Thomas Newman, 1917

Runner-up: Alexandre Desplat, LITTLE WOMEN

RUSSELL SMITH AWARD (best low-budget or cutting-edge independent film)

Winner: THE LIGHTHOUSE

The Oklahoma Film Critics Circle Name Once Upon A Time In Hollywood as the best of 2019!


Here’s a full list of winners from Oklahoma!

Best Picture: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Best Director: Martin Scorsese, The Irishman
Runner-up: Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Best First Feature: Joe Talbot, The Last Black Man in San Francisco
Runner-up: Olivia Wilde, Booksmart

Best Actor: Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems
Runner-up: Adam Driver, Marriage Story

Best Actress: Lupita Nyong’o, Us
Runner-up: Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story

Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers
Runner-up: Laura Dern, Marriage Story

Best Supporting Actor: Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Runner-up: Willem Dafoe, The Lighthouse

Best Ensemble: Knives Out
Runner-up: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Body of Work: Adam Driver, The Report and Marriage Story
Runners-up: Scarlett Johansson, Avengers: Endgame and Marriage Story; Brad Pitt, Ad Astra and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Best Original Screenplay: Knives Out
Runner-up: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Best Adapted Screenplay: The Irishman
Runner-up: Jojo Rabbit

Best Cinematography: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Runner-up: 1917

Best Score: Uncut Gems
Runner-up: Joker

Best Animated Film: Toy Story 4
Runner-up: I Lost My Body

Best Documentary: American Factory
Runner-up: Apollo 11

Best Foreign Language Film: Parasite
Runner-up: The Farewell

Top 10 Films
1. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
2. Knives Out
3. The Irishman
4. Parasite
5. Uncut Gems
6. Jojo Rabbit
7. Marriage Story
8. Little Women
9. Avengers: Endgame
10. Midsommar

Here Are The SAG Nominations!


The SAG nominations were announced this morning.

For those of you keeping track of precursors and using them to shape your own predictions, the SAG nominations are usually a pretty big deal.  It’s rare that every film that gets a best ensemble nomination also gets a best picture nominations.  (In the past, The Big Sick, Trumbo, and Beasts of No Nation all got ensemble noms without also getting a best picture nomination.)  But, at the same time, the SAG is full of Academy members (the Actor’s Division is the largest part of the Academy) so their nominations are definitely a good sign of the way the winds are blowing.

So, a look at the nominations below — very bad news for Adam Sandler.  I have a hard time seeing how he can get an Oscar nomination without also a Golden Globe or SAG nomination.  Good news for Christian Bale, who is rapidly becoming the male Meryl Streep as far as automatic nominations are concerned.  Good news for Bombshell.  Good news for me, because I predicted that the liberals in Hollywood would embrace Bombshell for the same reason that they embraced films like Vice and The Big Short (i,e., “honoring Jay Roach and Adam McKay movies to own the cons”).  Potentially bad news for Kathy Bates, who received a Golden Globe nomination for her performance in Richard Jewell but not one from SAG.  Bad news for 1917, which was totally rejected by the SAG.  Potentially good news for Joker, which may have missed out on Ensemble but still picked up nominations for Joaquin Phoenix and the stunts crew.

Anyway, here are the SAG film nominees:

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role:

Christian Bale (“Ford v Ferrari”)
Leonardo DiCaprio (“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”)
Adam Driver (“Marriage Story”)
Taron Egerton (“Rocketman”)
Joaquin Phoenix (“Joker”)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role:

Cynthia Erivo (“Harriet”)
Scarlett Johansson (“Marriage Story”)
Lupita Nyong’o (“Us”)
Charlize Theron (“Bombshell”)
Renée Zellweger (“Judy”)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role:

Jamie Foxx (“Just Mercy”)
Tom Hanks (“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”)
Al Pacino (“The Irishman”)
Joe Pesci (“The Irishman”)
Brad Pitt (“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role:

Laura Dern (“Marriage Story”)
Scarlett Johansson (“Jojo Rabbit”)
Nicole Kidman (“Bombshell”)
Jennifer Lopez (“Hustlers”)
Margot Robbie (“Bombshell”)

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture:

“Bombshell” (Lionsgate)
“The Irishman” (Netflix)
“Jojo Rabbit” (Fox)
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” (Sony)
“Parasite” (Neon)

Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture:

“Avengers: Endgame”
“Ford v Ferrari”
“The Irishman”
“Joker”
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

The Women Film Critics Circle Honors Portrait of a Lady on Fire!


The Hollywood Foreign Press Association weren’t the only ones making an announcement today!  The Women Film Critics Circle also announced their picks for the best of 2019!

And here they are:

BEST MOVIE ABOUT WOMEN

  • Portrait of a Lady on Fire (dir. Céline Sciamma)
    Runner-up: Little Women (dir. Greta Gerwig)

BEST MOVIE BY A WOMAN

  • Harriet (dir. Kasi Lemmons)
    Runner-up: Portrait of a Lady on Fire (dir. Céline Sciamma)

BEST WOMAN STORYTELLER (Screenwriting Award)

  • Greta Gerwig (Little Women)
    Runner-up: Céline Sciamma (Portrait of a Lady on Fire)

BEST ACTRESS

  • Tie: Cynthia Erivo (Harriet) and Lupita Nyong’o (US)
    Runner-up: Renée Zellweger (Judy)

BEST ACTOR

  • Adam Driver (Marriage Story)
    Runner-up: Joaquin Phoenix (Joker)

BEST FOREIGN FILM BY OR ABOUT WOMEN

  • Portrait of a Lady on Fire (dir. Céline Sciamma)
    Runner-up: Atlantics (dir. Mati Diop)

BEST DOCUMENTARY BY OR ABOUT WOMEN

  • Varda by Agnès (dir. Agnès Varda)
    Runner-ups: Maiden (dir. Alex Holmes) and Honeyland (dir. Tamara Kotevska, Ljubo Stefanov)

BEST EQUALITY OF THE SEXES

  • Marriage Story
    Runner-up: The Aeronauts

BEST ANIMATED FEMALE

  • Anna (Frozen 2)
    Runner-up: Bo Peep (Toy Story 4)

BEST SCREEN COUPLE

  • (TIE) Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Noémie Merlant/Adèle Haenel) and Marriage Story (Scarlett Johansson/Adam Driver)
    Runner-up: Hustlers (Jennifer Lopez/Constance Wu)

ADRIENNE SHELLY AWARD – For a film that most passionately opposes violence against women

  • (TIE) Bombshell (dir. Jay Roach) and The Nightingale (dir. Jennifer Kent)
    Runner-up: Hustlers (dir. Lorene Scafaria)

JOSEPHINE BAKER AWARD – For best expressing the woman of color experience in America

  • Harriet (dir. Kasi Lemmons)
    Runner-up: Queen & Slim (dir. Melina Matsoukas)

KAREN MORLEY AWARD – For best exemplifying a woman’s place in history or society, and a courageous search for identity

  • Harriet (dir. Kasi Lemmons)
    Runner-up: Little Women (dir. Greta Gerwig)

ACTING AND ACTIVISM AWARD
Jane Fonda

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Alfre Woodard