Lisa Marie’s Early Oscar Predictions for June


2013 oscars

It’s the end of the month and that means that it’s time for me to post my monthly predictions!

What has chanced since I last made my predictions in May?  Though it was acclaimed by critics, the box office failure of In The Heights has probably ended that film’s time as an Oscar contender.  For all the musicals that are coming out this year, only Spielberg’s West Side Story really seems like a good bet to emerge as a major contender.  Dear Evan Hansen was pretty much eliminated from consideration as soon as its trailer dropped.  Tick, Tick …. Boom seems to be destined to be loved by theater kids while being dismissed by everyone else.  I’d love to see Joe Wright and Peter Dinklage nominated but my instincts are telling me that Cyrano will probably not be a huge contender.  In the end, West Side Story seems like the most likely musical nominee.

I’ve been reading up on Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog, which is set to premiere at Venice and then be released via Netflix.  Based on a novel by Thomas Savage, this sounds like the type of film that could potentially be a strong contender, depending on what approach Campion takes the story.  The main character of Phil Burbank is the type of bigger-than-life role that could lead to Oscar glory.  (The closest recent equivalent to Phil would probably be Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood.)  Phil is a sharply intelligent but cruelly manipulative Montana rancher, the type who brags about castrating cattle while quoting Ovid and who goes out of his way to bully anyone who he considers to be effeminate.  Of course, there’s a secret behind all of Phil’s cruelty and how the film handles that secret will have a lot to do with how strongly the film comes on during awards season.  Phil is being played by Benedict Cumberbatch, which is …. interesting casting.  (Personally, I probably would have begged Michael Fassbender to take the role.)  Still, it seems like Phil could be the type of change-of-pace role that, should Cumberbatch’s casting pay off, could lead to Oscar glory.

Coming up in July, we’ve got Cannes and we’ll be getting our first look at contenders like Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch.  Though Cannes is hardly a reliable precursor, the Oscar race should start to become a bit clearer as the festival start up and the contenders — many of which we’ve been waiting to see for over two years — will finally start to be released.  Until then, take all predictions with a grain of salt!

If you’re curious to see how my thinking has developed, check out my predictions for March and April and May.

Best Picture

The French Dispatch

House of Gucci

A Journal for Jordan

Nightmare Alley

Parallel Mothers

Passing

The Power of the Dog

Soggy Bottom

The Tragedy of MacBeth

West Side Story

Best Director

Pedro Almodovar for Parallel Mothers

Paul Thomas Anderson for Soggy Bottom

Jane Campion for The Power of the Dog

Ridley Scott for House of Gucci

Denzel Washington for A Journal For Jordan

Best Actor

Clifton Collins, Jr. in Jockey

Benedict Cumberbatch in The Power of the Dog

Michael B. Jordan in A Journal for Jordan

Will Smith in King Richard

Denzel Washington in The Tragedy of MacBeth

Best Actress

Jessica Chastain in The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Penelope Cruz in Parallel Mothers

Jennifer Hudson in Respect

Nicole Kidman in Being the Ricardos

Tessa Thompson in Passing

Best Supporting Actor

Adam Driver in The Last Duel

Bradley Cooper in Soggy Bottom

Willem DaFoe in Nightmare Alley

Bill Murray in The French Dispatch

Jesse Plemons in The Power of the Dog

Best Supporting Actress

Kirsten Dunst in The Power of the Dog

Vera Farmiga in The Many Saints of Newark

Marlee Matlin in CODA

Frances McDormand in The Tragedy of MacBeth

Ruth Negga in Passing

 

6 Actors Who I Hope Win An Oscar In The Next Ten Years: 2021 Edition


We talk a lot about which performers and directors have been snubbed at Oscar time.  For movie lovers, that’s an important subject.  We all know that great actors like Peter O’Toole, Cary Grant, Albert Finney, and others all went to their grave with several nominations but not a single competitive Oscar to their name.  Just last year, Kirk Douglas died at the age of 103 without having ever won a competitive Oscar. And certainly, over the past few months, the pandemic has made us far more aware of the fact that everyone is going to die someday.  We always talk about how certain actors are overdue for their first Oscar but sometimes we forget that being overdue doesn’t always translate into an eventual win.

With that in mind, here are 6 actors who I sincerely hope will have won their first Oscar by the time 2031 rolls around:

  1. Bill Murray

Bill Murray is not only a beloved cultural icon. He has also, in later yeaes, developed into a really good actor. He was previously nominated for Lost In Translation and he probably should have won. (He lost to Sean Penn, who was good in Mystic River but who would also later receive a second Oscar for Milk so it’s not like Penn would have never won an Oscar if Murray had won in 2004.) There was a lot of talk that Murray would be nominated for On The Rocks and, if not for this year’s extended eligibility window (which allowed Judas and the Black Messiah to compete with 2020 films despite being released in 2021), he probably would have been.

Bill Murray probably would be a popular winner and I know everyone would look forward to seeing what type of speech he would give. Standing in Murray’s way is that he tends to be pretty mercurial when it comes to accepting roles and he often seems to be more content to do brief cameos than to play the lead or even a major supporting character. Still, hopefully, either Sofia Coppola or Wes Anderson will write a perfect role for him in the next few years and Murray will get his shot. (They’ve never worked together but I’ve always felt that Murray and Paul Thomas Anderson would be an interesting combination.) Murray is 70 years old and not getting any younger so let’s get this done.

2. Jesse Plemons

It sometimes seems as if Jesse Plemons has come out of nowhere to suddenly become one of the busiest character actors around. Of course, that isn’t quite true. He started out on television, appearing in Friday Night Lights and Breaking Bad. (He was terrifying in Breaking Bad.) He’s gone on to become a very busy character actor, appearing in everything from Game Night to The Irishman. Over the past few months, he’s appeared in Judas and the Black Messiah and i’m thinking ending things, giving shockingly good performances in both. (Interestingly enough, both roles were the type of characters that Philip Seymour Hoffman used to specialize in playing.) It honestly feels like it’s less a case of whether Plemons will win an Oscar as much as it’s simply a case of when.

3. Oscar Isaac

Oscar Isaac is a perennial on this list. Again, he just seems like one of those actors who is destined to win eventually. Someone just needs to give him the right role.

4. Ben Foster

The fact that Ben Foster has not only never won an Oscar but that he hasn’t even been nominated is somewhat amazing, to be honest. He’s been giving good and unpredictable performances for so long that I think there’s probably a danger of people taking him and his talent for granted. He deserved a nomination for his fascinating villain in 2007’s 3:10 to Yuma. He deserved an Oscar for his turn in 2018’s Leave No Trace.

5. John Goodman

Again, this is another actor who I’m always surprised to be reminded that he has never received an Oscar nomination, despite appearing in important supporting roles in several acclaimed films. Goodman, like the before-mentioned Bill Murray, isn’t getting any younger so someone needs to write this actor an award-winning role and they need to do it now.

6. Michael B Jordan

I almost didn’t include Jordan on this list, just because it seems so obvious that the man is destined to win an Oscar someday. He may get his chance next year with his lead role in Denzel Washington’s Journal for Jordan.

Who would you put on the list? Who would you take off? Have an opinion? Let us know in the comments and have a wonderful Oscar Sunday!

Lisa Reviews An Oscar Nominee: Judas and the Black Messiah (dir by Shaka King)


Judas and the Black Messiah is currently an Oscar nominee for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Original Song, and Best Supporting Actor. (In a move that left quite a few people feeling confused, the Academy nominated both of the film’s leads — LaKeith Stanfield and Daniel Kaluuya — in the supporting category.) In detailing how, in 1969, Black Panther leader Fred Hampton (played by Kaluuya) was assassinated by the FBI and the Chicago police, it tells a true story that should leave any viewer, regardless of political orientation, shaken.

What’s interesting is that, in several Oscar categories, Judas and the Black Messiah will be competing with another fact-based film about 60s activists, Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7. In fact, Hampton briefly appears as a character in The Trial of the Chicago 7 and a key scene involves lawyer William Kunstler and Black Panther Bobby Seale discussing Hampton’s murder. Of course, in Sorkin’s film, the Black Panthers don’t get to say much. They appear in the background of the courtroom a few times and it’s hard not to feel that Sorkin is largely using them as props, as a way to let us know that he and the Chicago 7 are all on “the right side of history.” After the scene in which he learns that Hampton’s been murdered, Bobby Seale basically disappears from the film and the rest of The Trial of the Chicago 7 focuses on seven rich white guys debating whether or not it’s better to be serious while protesting or to try to have fun. I point this out not merely to criticize The Trial of the Chicago 7 but also to illustrate that, though they deal with the same time period and the same themes, Judas and the Black Messiah and The Trial of the Chicago 7 are as different as night and day. Judas and the Black Messiah is an angry and unapologetically political film, one that reveals just how anodyne The Trial of the Chicago 7 actually is. If The Trial of the Chicago 7 is carefully calculated to be a crowd pleaser, Judas and the Black Messiah is about leaving the audience outraged. If The Trial of Chicago 7 is about ultimately assuring the audience that the system works even if it is occasionally corrupted, Judas and the Black Messiah is a call to burn the entire system down.

The film opens with Bill O’Neal (LaKeith Stanfield) getting arrested for both auto theft and impersonation of a federal officer in Chicago. He’s approached by FBI agent Roy Mitchell (Jesse Plemons). Mitchell has an offer for Bill. Mitchell is willing to have the charges dropped if Bill will agree to work undercover for the FBI. Bill accepts Roy’s offer and is assigned to infiltrate the Illinois chapter of the Black Panthers. The chapter is currently led by Fred Hampton, a charismatic revolutionary who has been going around to all of the other activist groups and gangs in Chicago and building a multi-racial coalition, one dedicated to social justice and economic equality. Under the direction of J. Edgar Hoover (Martin Sheen, made up to look as grotesque as possible), the FBI is looking to destroy the Black Panthers from within.

Bill agrees to work for the FBI and infiltrate the Black Panther Party. Soon, he not only wins Hampton’s trust but he also works his way up the ranks until he’s promoted to being head of security. He also grows close to Hampton and starts to respond to Hampton’s message of self-determination. However, Mitchell insists that Bill continue to inform on the Panthers, arguing that the Panthers will kill Bill if they ever discover that he’s working with the FBI and also that Hampton himself is a dangerous radical. (Mitchell brags about how he worked to solve the murder of three civil right workers in Mississippi before then comparing Hampton and the Panthers to the KKK.) With Hampton gathering more followers and Hoover demanding that something be done to “neutralize” him, Bill is ordered to betray the man that many have come to view as being the black messiah.

Daniel Kaluuya gives a mesmerizing performance as Fred Hampton. It’s one thing to play a character who everyone insists is a charismatic leader but it’s another thing to give a performance that convinces the audience that the character is a charismatic leader before anyone else has even said a word about him. Kaluuya strides through the film, playing Hampton as a man who knows that he’s destined to change the world. The scenes where he meets with gang leaders and other activist leaders and recruits them into his Rainbow Coalition could have played like simple agitprop (just imagine if Aaron Sorkin had written or directed them!) but Kaluuya is so convincing that you never have any doubt that people actually would abandon their prejudices and their rivalries to follow him. Unlike the quippy activists at the heart of The Trial of the Chicago 7, Kaluuya-as-Hampton actually discusses what his ideology means and also why the system cannot be depended upon to sort itself out. Kaluuya’s Hamtpon challenges not only the film’s villains but also the complacency of the viewers, something that definitely cannot be said of the characters in Aaron Sorkin’s far more comforting film.

LaKeith Stanfield has a difficult role because Bill is a character who most viewers are going to feel ambiguous about but he does a good job of capturing both Bill’s growing consciousness and his growing desperation as he comes to realize that there’s no way to escape the situation in which he’s found himself. Finally, Jesse Plemons is well-cast as Roy Mitchell, who is alternatively threatening and consoling to Bill. A lesser actor would have played Mitchell as just being a straight-up villain but Plemons plays him as someone who truly does believe that he’s one of the good guys, which makes Mitchell’s actions all the more disturbing.

Judas and the Black Messiah is a powerful and angry film. One need not even agree with every bit of Hampton’s ideology to be outraged by the federal government’s efforts to silence his voice and end his life. Judas and the Black Messiah is not expected to win much on Sunday night and, indeed, by nominated both Kaluuya and Stanfield in the same category, the Academy has created a situation in which the two could potentially split the vote and prevent either one from winning. Still, regardless of what it does or doesn’t win this weekend, Judas and the Black Messiah a film that will probably continue to resonate after many of the other nominees have been forgotten.

Lisa Marie Picks The 30 Top Films of 2020


Well, it’s finally time!  It’s time for me to announce my picks for the best films of 2020.

Before we begin, there is one thing I want to make clear.  Unlike the Academy, I did not extend my eligibility window.  Films like Nomadland, Minari, and The Father (amongst others) will undoubtedly be competing for the Oscar for Best Picture of 2020.  However, as far as I’m concerned, those are all 2021 films.  And I imagine that a few of them will probably appear on my best films of 2021 list.  However, the list below are my picks for the best films of 2020.  You’ll probably agree with some of my picks and disagree with some of the others.  As always, I welcome any and all comments.

Also, be sure to check out my picks for 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019!  Wow, I’ve been doing this for a while!

And now, in descending order, my favorites of 2020!

30. Money Plane (dir by Andrew Lawrence) — Okay, I can sense that you’re already rolling your eyes at my list by seriously, Money Plane is such a cheerfully absurd and self-aware little B-movie that there’s no way I couldn’t include it.  Seriously, how can you not love a film that features Kelsey Grammer always a gangster known as the Rumble?  Basically, as soon as I heard that priceless declaration of “We are going to rob the Money Plane!,” this movie had me under its spell.

29. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (dir by George C. Wolfe) — Though this adaptation of August Wilson’s play never quite escapes its theatrical roots, no one can deny the powerful performances of Viola Davis, Colman Domingo, Glynn Turman, and especially Chadwick Boseman.  Boseman dominates the film from the minute that he makes his first appearance, playing an ambitious, troubled, and undeniably talented trumpeter.  Viola Davis plays Ma Rainey with the self-awareness of someone who knows that the record producers need her more than she needs them.  She has the power and she’s not going to let anyone get away with forgetting it.

28. The Invisible Man (dir by Leigh Wannell) — Before the Academy announced that they would be changing their rules to considers streaming movies, many critics speculated that one of the results of the pandemic would be The Invisible Man winning all of the Oscars.  Though they may have been joking, it was not as outlandish an idea as they seemed to think.  The Invisible Man is a horror film that proves that being a genre film does not mean that film can’t also be a good and thought-provoking work of art.  The Invisible Man breathes new life into a somewhat hokey premise and Elisabeth Moss gives a great performance as a woman stalked by her abusive (and now invisble) ex.  The Invisible Man features one of the best ending scenes of 2020.

27. The Hunt (dir by Craig Zobel) — Delayed due to a manufactured controversy and released to critical bafflement, The Hunt is a clever satire of our hyper-partisan and hyper-polarized society.  The film’s final twist is a clever commentary on social media drama and Hillary Swank steals the show with an unexpected cameo.

26. One Night In Miami (dir by Regina King) — I went back and forth on this one.  Based on a stage play, this film imagines what happened the night that Malcolm X, Jim Brown, Sam Cooke, and Muhammad Ali met in a Miami motel room.  There are a few times that the film is undoubtedly a bit too stagey for its own good and, early on, some of the dialogue is a bit too on the nose.  But the film has a cumulative power and, despite a few uneven moments, it’s ultimately an intriguing look at race, celebrity, and political activism in America.  A good deal of the film’s power is due to the ensemble.  While most of the awards chatter seems to be focused on Leslie Odom, Jr. as Sam Cooke, it’s Aldis Hodge’s Jim Brown who truly anchors the film.

25. Gunpowder Heart (dir by Camila Urrutia) — This raw and angry film from Guatemala was one of the more powerful films to be featured at 2020’s virtual South By Southwest.  In Guatemala City, Maria and her girlfriend Claudia are assaulted by three men.  Maria wants revenge, no mater what.  Claudia, the more cautious of the two, knows that Maria’s plans are going to end in tragedy and disaster but she also knows that there’s nothing she can do to stop her.  Gunpowder Heart isn’t always easy to watch but it’s undeniably powerful.

24. The Shock of the Future (dir by Marc Collin) — Taking place in 1978, this French film follows one day in the life of a composer named Ana (Alma Jodorowsky).  It’s a typical day — Anna wakes up, a friend comes by with the latest albums, Anna tries to compose music, she goes to a party, and she hears the newest music.  It’s a simple but effective celebration of both music and the thrill of having your entire creative life ahead of you.  Alma Jodorowsky is brilliant in the role of Anna.

23. She Dies Tomorrow (dir by Amy Seimetz) — This a disturbing mood piece about a woman who is convinced that she is going to die in a day.  Everyone who she meets also becomes convinced that they’re going to die within 24 hours.  Some of them go out of their way to make sure that it happens while others just wait for death to come.  Is it a mass delusion or is it something else?  The atmospheric film may raise more questions than it answers but it will definitely stick with you.

22. Driveways (dir by Andrew Ahn) — Kathy (Hong Chau) and her young son, Cody (Lucas Jaye), move into the home that was owned by Kathy’s deceased sister.  In his final film appearance, Brian Dennehy plays the gruff but caring neighbor who befriends both Cody and his mother.  This is a low-key but emotionally resonant film, elevated by Dennehy’s heartfelt performance.

21. Figurant (dir by Jan Vejnar) — Clocking in at 14 minutes, this unsettling but powerful French/Czech co-production tells the story of a quiet man (Denis Levant) who follows a group of younger men into a warehouse and who soon finds himself in uniform and on a battlefield.  Or is he?  It’s not an easy question to answer but this intriguing short film will keep you watching, guessing, and thinking.

20. What Did Jack Do? (dir by David Lynch) — David Lynch interrogates a monkey in an expressionistic train station.  The monkey talks about a chicken and sings a song about true love’s flame.  “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the communist party?” Lynch asks.  It’s a brilliant short film and really, it’s the sort of thing that only David Lynch, with his mix of earnestness and eccentricity, could have pulled off.  Technically, this film was made a few years ago but it only got it’s official premiere in 2020, when Netflix released it on Lynch’s birthday.

19. Red, White, and Blue (dir by Steven McQueen) — Steve McQueen’s Small Axe was made up of five short films.  Three of them appear on this list.  There’s been a lot of debate about whether or not the Small Axe films should be considered individual features or if they should be considered a miniseries.  Obviously, I see them as being individual features but, in the end, they’re brilliant and thought-provoking regardless of whether they’re television or film.  Red, White, and Blue takes a nuanced look at institutional racism and features an excellent lead performance from John Boyega.

18. Mr. Jones (dir by Agnieszka Holland) — A film that deserved more attention than it received, Mr. Jones tells the story of Gareth Jones, the Welsh journalist who, in 1933, discovered the truth about the state-sponsored famine that was killing millions in the Ukraine.  Despite his efforts, the press refused to report on what was really happening in the Ukraine and instead, an odious propagandist named Walter Duranty was awarded a Pulitzer prize for writing pro-Stalin stories that were later determined to be full of deliberate lies.  An important and heartfelt film, Mr. Jones features a subtle but effective lead performance from James Norton and a memorable supporting turn from Peter Sarsgaard, who plays Walter Duranty as a smug snake.

17. The Outpost (dir by Rod Lurie) — Based on a true story and directed by Rod Lurie, this film pays tribute to the men who have fought and died in America’s forgotten conflict, the War in Afghanistan.  Well-acted and doggedly unsentimental, The Outpost will literally leave you breathless.

16. Emma (dir by Autumn de Wilde) — The latest adaptation of Jane Austen’s much-adapted novel, Emma has a playful spirit that is lacking in so many other literary adaptations.  It also has a great performance from Anya Taylor-Joy, who makes the character of Emma Woodhouse her own.

15. Never Rarely Sometimes Always (dir by Eliza Hittman) — Two teenagers, Autumn (Sidney Flanigan) and her cousin Skylar (Talia Ryder), travel to New York City from Pennsylvania so that Autumn can get an abortion without having to get her parent’s consent.  Though I’m occasionally a bit skeptic of cinema verite, Never Rarely Sometimes Always makes good use of the style.  Far more than just being a film about abortion, it’s a character study of two people trying to survive in a harsh world.  The scene where the previously withdrawn Autumn is prodded to open up about her past is one of the most powerful of the year.

14. Possessor (dir by Brandon Cronenberg) — Brandon Cronenberg’s disturbing sci-fi/horror hybrid is not an easy film to explain or to even describe.  Questions of identity and betrayal are mixed with grotesque images of body horror and societal neglect.  By the end of the film, you’ll find yourself reconsidering everything that you previously assumed about the movie.  This one sticks with you, even though you may not want it to.  (How’s that for a recommendation?)

13. Horse Girl (dir by Jeff Baena) — This is a film that definitely deserved a bit more attention than it received.  Alison Brie gives a brave and sympathetic performance as someone who believes that she’s a clone who has been abducted by aliens.  Is she suffering from delusions brought on by a combination of loneliness and too much television?  Or is she right?  The film will leave you guessing.  While Brie is at the center of almost every scene, Molly Shannon also gives a good performance as one of Brie’s only friends.

12. Sound of Metal (dir by Darius Marder) — Riz Ahmed plays an occasionally obnoxious drummer who goes deaf.  Worried that Ahemd is going to relapse into drug use, his girlfriend and musical partner (Olivia Cooke) checks him into a rehab center for the deaf.  With the help of a sympathetic but no-nonsense counselor (Paul Raci), Ahmed struggles to come to accept the loss of sound and music from his life.  The three main performances elevate this film, making it one of the year’s best.  In the film’s best moments, we hear the world through Ahmed’s ears and experience what he’s experiencing.

11. Mangrove (dir by Steve McQueen) — The first film in Steve McQueen’s Small Axe anthology tells the story of a true life court case.  Politically charged from beginning to end and leaving no doubt as to what the true stakes were in the case, Mangrove is the film that Trial of The Chicago 7 should have been.

10. Soul (dir by Peter Docter) — The latest from PIXAR made me cry as only a great PIXAR film can.  A music teacher named Joe (voices by Jamie Foxx) falls down a manhole shortly after winning his dream job in a jazz band.  Unwilling to die before performing on stage, Joe finds himself in the Great Before, assigned to teach an unborn soul named 22 (voiced by Tina Fey) what it means to be human …. okay, you know what?  This film has one of those plots that sounds silly if you try to explain it.  What matters is that it’s a heartfelt film that celebrates every minute of life.  Foxx and Fey both do wonderful voice work and the animation is as clever as always.  Plus, there’s a cat!

9. The Vast of Night (dir by Andrew Patterson) — This low-budget film is a wonderfully atmospheric look at what may or may not be an alien invasion taking place in the 1950s.  Featuring wonderfully naturalistic performances and an intelligent storyline, The Vast of Night is a triumph of the independent spirit.  I can’t wait to see what Andrew Patterson does next.

8. Lovers Rock (dir by Steve McQueen) — The 2nd film is Steve MQueen’s Small Axe anthology, Lovers Rock centers on one exhilarating house party.  Though the world outside of this party may be harsh and full of oppression and racism (a group of white teens shout racial slurs at one partygoer when she steps outside of the house), the world inside of the party is one of love, music, and celebration.

7. i’m thinking of ending things (dir by Charlie Kaufman) — A riddle wrapped in an enigma, i’m thinking of ending things features great performance from Jessie Buckley, Jesse Plemons, Toni Collette, and David Thewlis.  What starts out as an awkward drive to visit Plemons’s parents grows increasingly more and more surreal until the audience is left to wonder what is real, what is fantasy, and whether the majority of the film’s characters even exist.  This film plays out like a dream and stays with you long after it end.

6. Palm Springs (dir by Max Barbakow) — Perhaps the ultimate twist on Groundhog Day, Palm Springs is a thought-provoking comedic gem from Lonely Island Classic Pictures.  Andy Samberg, J.K. Simmons, and Cristin Milioti find themselves living the same day over and over again.  Each one reacts to their predicament in a different way.  It’ll make you laugh and then it’ll make you cry.  Revealing too much else about the plot would be a crime.  It’s on Hulu so go watch it.

5. The Assistant (dir by Kitty Green) — This infuriating and ultimately tragic film follows one day in the life of Jane (Julia Garner), a production assistant at a film company.  Though he’s never seen, Jane’s boss is clearly meant to be a fictionalized version of Harvey Weinstein.  Should Jane save her career or try to warn the actress that her boss has clearly set his eyes upon as his next victim?  The scene where the head of HR assures Jane that she needn’t worry about her boss’s behavior because “you’re not his type,” rings all too horribly true.  The Assistant was obviously designed to be a rallying call for #MeToo but sadly, today, it feels more like an obituary.

Bad Education

4. Bad Education (dir by Cory Finley) — All year, I have been lamenting the fact that Bad Education was bought by HBO and not Netflix.  If it had been released on Netflix, it would probably be an Oscar contender and Hugh Jackman would be in the hunt for his first Best Actor Oscar.  Instead, it aired on HBO and it had to settle for limited Emmy recognition.  It’s a shame because this film, which centers on embezzlement at one suburban school, was one of the best of 2020.  At a time when we’re being told not to question authority, Bad Education encourages us to question everything.  Along with being thought-provoking, it’s also occasionally laugh out loud funny.  Jackman is brilliant in the lead role.  Allison Janney is award-worthy as his partner-in-crime.  Ray Romano takes another step in proving that he’s more than just a sitcom actor.  All in all, this was a great movie.

3. First Cow (dir by Kelly Reichardt) — This melancholy tale follows two men who meet in Oregon in the 1820s and who become unlikely business partners.  Unfortunately, being partners means stealing milk from Toby Jones’s cow and thievery was even less appreciated in the 1820s than it is today. Featuring outstanding lead performances from Jon Magaro and Orion Lee, First Cow is a rewarding work of historical fiction.  Kelly Reichardt makes you feel as if you’ve woken up in the 1820s, even as she uses the past to comment upon the present.  This probably isn’t a film for everyone.  Reichardt’s style has always been more about observing than passing judgment.  But for viewers willing to stick with it, this deliberately paced film is a rewarding experience.

Finally, when it comes to the best film of the year, I’ve been going back and forth between two films.  In the end, I have to declare a tie.  In alphabetical order by title, here are the two best films of 2020:

2. The Girl With A Bracelet (dir by Stéphane Demoustier) — This French film is about a teenage girl who is on trial for murdering her best friend.  Whether or not she’s guilty is ultimately less important than why everyone has been so quick to accuse her in the first place.  Featuring an outstanding ensemble and an intelligent script, The Girl With A Bracelet will leave you thinking about …. well, everything.  It can currently be viewed on Prime.

1. Promising Young Woman (dir by Emerald Fennell) — When I first started watching this film, I worried that it might be too stylized to be effective.  But it soon became apparent the director/screenwriter Emerald Fennell and star Carey Mulligan both knew exactly what they needed to do to tell this story.  Mulligan plays a med school drop-out who is seeking her own unique style of revenge against not only the men who raped her best friend in college but also the people who Mulligan feels subsequently let her friend down.  Bo Burnham plays the pediatrician who asks Mulligan out on a date and who appears to be the perfect nice guy, the adorably awkward boyfriend who you you would expect to find in a 90s rom com.  Neither character turns out to be exactly who they initially appeared to be.  Promising Young Woman mixes genres that normally don’t go together, smashing together drama and comedy, and it’s just audacious enough to be one of the best films of the year.

 

 

TSL Looks Back at 2020:

  1. 2020 In Review: The Best of Lifetime (Lisa Marie Bowman)
  2. 12 Good Things I Saw On Television in 2020 (Lisa Marie Bowman)
  3. Lisa Marie’s Top 8 Novels of 2020 (Lisa Marie Bowman)
  4. Lisa Marie’s Top 8 Non-Fiction Books of 2020 (Lisa Marie Bowman)
  5. Lisa Marie’s 20 Favorite Songs of 2020 (Lisa Marie Bowman)
  6. Lisa Marie’s 16 Worst Films of 2020 (Lisa Marie Bowman)
  7. My Top 20 Albums of 2020 (Necromoonyeti)
  8. 25 Best, Worst, and Gems That I Saw In 2020 (Valerie Troutman)
  9. Top 10 Vintage Collections (Ryan C)
  10. Top 10 Contemporary Collections (Ryan C)
  11. Top 10 Original Graphic Novels (Ryan C)
  12. Top 10 Ongoing Series (Ryan C.)
  13. Top 10 Special Mentions (Ryan C.)
  14. Top Ten Single Issues (Ryan C)

The Gothams Honor Nomadland


The Gotham Awards were handed out last night, honoring the best in independent film.  In the past, the Gothams have been awarded at the starts of awards season but this year, they’re happening right in the middle.  It’s a weird awards season but apparently, Nomadland either winning or being a serious contender is the one thing that you can depend upon.  Admittedly, it’s debatable how much of influence the Gothams really have on the Oscars.  Many films that Oscar-eligible are not considered to be Gotham-eligible.  For instance, the big-budgeted, studio-backed blockbusters that are often mentioned as possible Oscar nominees are not Gotham eligible.  There’s a kind of nice justice to that, I think.

That said, every victory helps.  Nomadland has kind of been an obvious Oscar contender for several months now but it never hurts to notch another victory on the wall.

Here’s are the nominees and the winners, with the winners in bold:

Best Feature
The Assistant
First Cow
Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Nomadland
Relic

Best Documentary
76 Days
City Hall
Our Time Machine
A Thousand Cuts (TIE)
Time (TIE)

Best International Feature
Bacurau
Beanpole
Cuties (Mignonnes)
Identifying Features
Martin Eden
Wolfwalkers

Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award
Radha Blank – The Forty-Year-Old Version
Channing Godfrey Peoples – Miss Juneteenth
Alex Thompson – Saint Frances
Carlo Mirabella-Davis – Swallow
Andrew Patterson – The Vast of Night

Best Screenplay
Bad Education – Mike Makowsky
First Cow – Jon Raymond, Kelly Reichardt
The Forty-Year-Old Version – Radha Blank (TIE)
Fourteen – Dan Sallitt (TIE)
The Vast of Night – James Montague, Craig Sanger

Best Actor
Riz Ahmed – Sound of Metal
Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Jude Law – The Nest
John Magaro – First Cow
Jesse Plemons – I’m Thinking of Ending Things

Best Actress
Nicole Beharie – Miss Juneteenth
Jessie Buckley – I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Yuh-Jung Youn – Minari
Carrie Coon – The Nest
Frances McDormand – Nomadland

Breakthrough Actor
Jasmine Batchelor – The Surrogate
Kingsley Ben-Adir – One Night in Miami…
Sidney Flanigan – Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Orion Lee – First Cow
Kelly O’Sullivan – Saint Frances

Breakthrough Series – Long Format (over 40 minutes)
The Great
Immigration Nation
P-Valley
Unorthodox
Watchmen

Breakthrough Series – Short Format (under 40 minutes)
Betty
Dave
I May Destroy You
Taste the Nation
Work in Progress

Keeping in mind that I haven’t seen all of the nominees yet, I guess my favorite winner is Andrew Patterson as Breakthrough Director for The Vast of Night.  The Vast of Night was one of my favorite films last year and I’m very much looking forward to seeing what Patterson does in the future.

Along with these awards, the Gothams also paid special tribute to: Steve McQueen, Ryan Murphy, actors Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman and the ensemble cast of The Trial Of The Chicago 7.  A tip of the hat to Next Best Picture for that information.  I did consider watching the Gothams last night but …. well, The Bachelor was on and then after that, I was really tired.  To be honest, I would probably have watched if the awards had been presented by people dressed up like Batman.  Y’know, Gothams.  Gotham City.  All of that.  Anyway….

Congrats to the winners!

Here Are The Nominees of the 2020 Indiana Film Journalists Assosciation!


Bad Education

The Indiana Film Journalists Association (IJA) has announced their nominees for the best of 2020!  They’ll be announcing the winners on December 21st!

What I like about these nominations is that there’s a lot of them.  2020 may have been a difficult year for many but there were a lot of good films released and it does seem kind of silly (as it does every year) to limit things to some sort of arbitrary number.  Why only nominate 10 films when you could nominate 20 or 30?  Many of the nominees below will appear on my own personal best lists in January.

The other thing that I like about these nominees is that the include films like Bad Education and Mangrove.  There’s some debate as to whether or not these films should be considered Oscar eligible.  I feel that they should be so it’s nice to see that the folks in Indiana agree with me!

Here are the nominees:

BEST FILM
Da 5 Bloods
Another Round
The Assistant
Athlete A
Bad Education
Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution
Dick Johnson is Dead
Emma.
The Father
First Cow
I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Minari
The Nest
Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Nomadland
One Night in Miami
Palm Springs
The Personal History of David Copperfield
Possessor
Promising Young Woman
Small Axe: Mangrove
Song Without a Name
Soul
Sound of Metal
The Trial of the Chicago 7
The Twentieth Century
The Vast of Night

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Onward
Soul
Wolfwalkers

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
76 Days
Another Round
Bacurau
Beanpole
La Dosis
Song Without a Name

BEST DOCUMENTARY
76 Days
All In: The Fight for Democracy
Athlete A
Boys State
Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution
Desert One
Dick Johnson is Dead
Disclosure
John Lewis: Good Trouble
The Last Out
Miss Americana
MLK/FBI
Time
Totally Under Control
Welcome to Chechnya

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Lee Isaac Chung – Minari
Brandon Cronenberg – Possessor
Pete Docter, Mike Jones and Kemp Powers – Soul
Sean Durkin – The Nest
Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman
Kitty Green – The Assistant
Eliza Hittman – Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Tobias Lindholm and Thomas Vinterberg – Another Round
James Montague and Craig W. Sanger – The Vast of Night
Matthew Rankin – The Twentieth Century
Andy Siara – Palm Springs
Aaron Sorkin – The Trial of the Chicago 7
Alice Wu – The Half of It

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller – The Father
Armando Iannucci and Simon Blackwell – The Personal History of David Copperfield
Charlie Kaufman – I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Mike Makowsky – Bad Education
Kemp Powers – One Night in Miami
Jonathan Raymond and Kelly Reichardt – First Cow
Ruben Santiago-Hudson – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Chloé Zhao – Nomadland

BEST DIRECTOR
Lee Isaac Chung – Minari
Brandon Cronenberg – Possessor
Pete Docter – Soul
Sean Durkin – The Nest
Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman
Kitty Green – The Assistant
Eliza Hittman – Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Kirsten Johnson – Dick Johnson is Dead
Charlie Kaufman – I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Regina King – One Night in Miami
Spike Lee – Da 5 Bloods
Melina Léon – Song Without a Name
Steve McQueen – Small Axe: Mangrove
Matthew Rankin – The Twentieth Century
Kelly Reichardt – First Cow
Aaron Sorkin – The Trial of the Chicago 7
George C. Wolfe – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Alice Wu – The Half of It
Chloé Zhao – Nomadland

BEST ACTRESS
Haley Bennett – Swallow
Jessie Buckley – I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Carrie Coon – The Nest
Viola Davis – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Sidney Flanigin – Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Julia Garner – The Assistant
Han Ye-ri – Minari
Leah Lewis – The Half of It
Rachel McAdams – Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
Frances McDormand – Nomadland
Pamela Mendoza – Song Without a Name
Cristin Milioti – Palm Springs
Elisabeth Moss – The Invisible Man
Carey Mulligan – Promising Young Woman
Aubrey Plaza – Black Bear
Margot Robbie – BIrds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)
Anya Taylor-Joy – Emma.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Jane Adams – She Dies Tomorrow
Maria Bakalova – Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Toni Collette – I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Olivia Colman – The Father
Olivia Cooke – Sound of Metal
Allison Janney – Bad Education
Margo Martindale – Blow the Man Down
Talia Ryder – Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Youn Yuh-jung – Minari

BEST ACTOR
Christopher Abbott – Possessor
Ben Affleck – The Way Back
Riz Ahmed – Sound of Metal
Kingsley Ben-Adir – One Night in Miami
Paul Bettany – Uncle Frank
Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Eli Goree – One Night in Miami
Anthony Hopkins – The Father
Hugh Jackman – Bad Education
Jude Law – The Nest
Delroy Lindo – Da 5 Bloods
Mads Mikkelsen – Another Round
Jesse Plemons – I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Eddie Redmayne – The Trial of the Chicago 7
Steven Yeun – Minari

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Chadwick Boseman, Da 5 Bloods
Bo Burnham – Promising Young Woman
Bill Burr – The King of Staten Island
Peter Capaldi – The Personal History of David Copperfield
Colman Domingo – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Aldis Hodge – One Night in Miami
Caleb Landry Jones – The Outpost
Alan Kim – Minari
Frank Langella – The Trial of the Chicago 7
Orion Lee – First Cow
Ewan McGregor – BIrds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)
Bill Murray – On the Rocks
Leslie Odom, Jr. – One Night in Miami
Paul Raci – Sound of Metal
J.K. Simmons – Palm Springs
Dan Stevens – Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
David Strathairn – Nomadland
David Thewlis – I’m Thinking of Ending Things

BEST VOCAL / MOTION CAPTURE PERFORMANCE
Sean Bean – Wolfwalkers
Tina Fey – Soul
Jamie Foxx – Soul
Oliver Platt – I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Donald Ray Pollock – The Devil All the Time
Ben Schwartz – Sonic the Hedgehog

BEST ENSEMBLE ACTING
Da 5 Bloods
Another Round
The Devil All the Time
I’m Thinking of Ending Things
The King of Staten Island
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Minari
One Night in Miami
The Personal History of David Copperfield
She Dies Tomorrow
The Trial of the Chicago 7
Uncle Frank

BEST MUSICAL SCORE
Erick Alexander and Jared Bulmer – The Vast of Night
Terence Blanchard – One Night in Miami
Ludovico Einaudi – Nomadland
Ludwig Göransson – Tenet
Emile Mosseri – Minari
Richard Reed Parry – The Nest
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross – Soul
William Tyler – First Cow
Jay Wadley – I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Isobel Waller-Bridge and David Schweitzer – Emma.
Benjamin Wallfisch – The Invisible Man
Jim Williams – Possessor

BREAKOUT OF THE YEAR
Maria Bakalova (actress) – Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Max Barbakow (director) – Palm Springs
Emerald Fennell (writer / director) – Promising Young Woman
Sidney Flanigin (actress) – Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Alan Kim (actor) – Minari
Orion Lee (actor) – First Cow
Leah Lewis (actress) – The Half of It
Darius Marder (writer / director) – Sound of Metal
Andrew Patterson (director) – The Vast of Night
Tayarisha Poe (writer / director) – Selah and the Spades
Kemp Powers – co-writer / co-director for Soul and writer for One Night in Miami
Matthew Rankin (writer / director) – The Twentieth Century
Andy Siara (writer) – Palm Springs
Autumn de Wilde (director) – Emma.

HOOSIER AWARD
Athlete A
Eliza Hittman, writer / director of Never Rarely Sometimes Always and graduate of Indiana University

ORIGINAL VISION AWARD
After Midnight
Assassin 33 A.D.
Dick Johnson is Dead
I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Possessor
Promising Young Woman
She Dies Tomorrow
The Twentieth Century
The Vast of Night
Vivarium

Mangrove

Belatedly, Here Are The Gotham Award Nominations!


The Gotham nominations were announced on Thursday and I totally missed them!

Seriously, that’s how crazy this year has been.

Anyway, with so much up in the air, it’s probably debatable how much anything can be gleaned about the state of the Oscar race from these nominations.  In fact, even in a normal year, the Gothams aren’t exactly known for being Oscar precursors.  However, they do honor worthy independent films and often, they encourage us to track down films that we may have otherwise missed.

Only film with a budget under $35 million were eligible for a Gotham nomination.  So, don’t look at this list and go, “OH MY GOD, WHERE’S MANK!?  WHERE’S TENENT!?”  They’re not eligible.

Anyway, here are the Gotham nominations:

Best Feature
“The Assistant”
“First Cow”
“Never Rarely Sometimes Always”
“Nomadland”
“Relic”

Best Documentary
“76 Days”
“City Hall”
“Our Time Machine”
“A Thousand Cuts”
“Time”

Best International Feature
“Bacurau”
“Beanpole”
“Cuties (Mignonnes)”
“Identifying Features”
“Martin Eden”
“Wolfwalkers”

Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award
Carlo Mirabella-Davis, “Swallow”
Rhada Blank, “The Forty Year Old Version”
Andrew Patterson, “Vast of Night”
Channing Godfrey Peoples, “Miss Juneteenth”
Alex Thompson, “Saint Frances”

Best Screenplay
“Bad Education,” Mike Makowsky
“First Cow,” Jon Raymond and Kelly Reichardt
“The Forty-Year-Old Version,” Radha Blank
“Fourteen,” Dan Sallitt
“The Vast of Night,” James Montague and Craig Sanger

Best Actor
Riz Ahmed, “Sound of Metal”
Chadwick Boseman, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Jude Law, “The Nest”
John Magaro, “First Cow”
Jesse Plemons, “I’m Thinking of Ending Things”

Best Actress
Nicole Beharie, “Miss Juneteenth”
Jessie Buckley, “I’m Thinking of Ending Things”
Yuh-Jung Youn, “Minari”
Carrie Coon, “The Nest”
Frances McDormand, “Nomadland”

Breakthrough Actor
Sidney Flanigan, “Never Rarely Sometimes Always”
Jasmine Batchelor, “The Surrogate”
Kelly O’Sullivan, “Saint Frances”
Orion Lee, “First Cow”
Kingsley Ben-Adir, “One Night in Miami”

Breakthrough Series – Long Form
“The Great”
“Immigration Nation”
“P-Valley”
“Unorthodox”
“Watchmen”

Breakthrough Series – Short Form
“Betty”
“Dave”
“I May Destroy You”
“Taste the Nation”
“Work in Progress”

The Things You Find On Netflix: El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (dir by Vince Gilligan)


As one might expect from the sequel film to Breaking Bad, the shadow of Walter White hangs over very minute of El Camino.

Physically, Bryan Cranston doesn’t have a large role in El Camino.  Like many of the characters from Breaking Bad, he appears only in a flashback.  Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) spends a good deal of this movie dwelling on the past, perhaps because the only way that he can have a future is by mentally forgiving himself for all the stuff that went on while he was cooking meth with Walter White and, later, for the Nazi bikers who kept him chained up in a cage like an animal.  So, it makes sense that we would see a lot of flashbacks, the majority featuring characters who are no longer alive.  Cranston’s Walter White only appears towards the end of the film, when Jesse remembers the conversation they had at a diner about what Jesse was going to do with the money that they were making.  It’s a bit jarring to see them, largely because Walter still looks like an earnest and frail science teacher while Jesse is still young, loud, and more than a little obnoxious.  It’s quite a contrast to what we know will eventually happen to both characters.

For obvious reasons, Walter White isn’t in much of El Camino but his ghost seems to following Jesse through the entire movie. For that matter, so does the ghost of Tod Alquist (Jesse Plemons).  It’s not just that a good deal of the movie deals with Jesse trying to figure out where Tod hid all of his money.  (Jesse is planning on using the money to hopefully escape New Mexico and start a new life in Alaska.)  It’s also that Jesse has been scarred, both physically and mentally, by the Hellish time that he spent as Tod’s …. well, Tod’s pet.  Tod treated Jesse like a dog, keeping him on a leash, punishing him for being “bad,” and then offering Jesse pizza as a reward whenever Jesse did something right.  To be honest, the flashbacks with Tod take some getting used to, largely because Plemons has obviously aged quite a bit between the finale of Breaking Bad and the shooting of El Camino.  But, still, Plemons is absolutely terrifying as the unfailingly polite but definitely sociopathic Tod.  At one point, Tod casually brings Jesse over to his apartment so that Jesse can help dispose of the body of his cleaning lady.  Tod murdered her because she came across some money that he was hiding in a hollowed-out book.  Tod shrugs as he tells the story of her murder, as if his actions are as commonplace as waking up and going to bed.

Throughout Breaking Bad, Jesse spent most of the series being manipulated by evil men.  What was ironic, of course, was that Jesse was the only one of those men who must people automatically considered to be a criminal.  Everyone thought that Walter was a tragic family man.  Tod was largely anonymous and those who did notice him usually assumed he was just an eccentric weirdo.  Jesse, on the other hand, was the guy who was continually getting hauled in by the police and harassed by the DEA.  He was the one who was viewed as being a danger to society even though he eventually proved himself to be one of the few characters with anything resembling a conscience.  In El Camino, Jesse finally gets a chance to determine his own fate.  Will he embrace the lucrative but soul-destroying greed of Walter and Tod?  Or will he escape and try to make a new life for himself?

El Camino is a visually stunning tour-de-force, anchored by Aaron Paul’s empathetic performance as Jesse.  Jesse is no longer as loud as he may have been in Breaking Bad.  He’s a man haunted by the past and, watching the film, you know, regardless of whether he makes it to Alaska, the scars will never fully heal.  He has the haunted eyes of a man who is never going to be fully okay, regardless of where he ends up.  In fact, if we’re going to be realistic, he probably doesn’t have much of a future ahead of him.  Those ghosts are always going to follow him and, as Robert Forster’s Ed sagely explains it, much of what has happened is due to Jesse’s own poor decisions.

Still, whatever mistakes he’s made in the past, you can’t help but wish the best for Jesse Pinkman.

He’s earned it.

Lisa Reviews An Oscar Nominee: The Post (dir by Steven Spielberg)


So, I finally sat down and watched the 2017 film, The Post.

The Post is something of an odd film.  Imagine if someone made a film about the production of a movie.  And imagine if, instead of focusing on the actors or the members of the crew or even the director, the film was instead about the studio executives sitting back in Hollywood and debating whether or not they should agree to give the director another million dollars to complete the film.  Imagine dramatic scenes of the execs meeting with their accountants to determine whether they can spare an extra million dollars.  Imagine triumphant music swelling in the background as one of the execs announces that they’ll raise the budget but only in return for getting to pick the title of the director’s next film.  The Post is kind of like that.  It’s a film about journalism that’s more concerned with publishers and editors than with actual journalists.

To be honest, The Post‘s deification of the bosses shouldn’t really be that much of a shock.  This is a Steven Spielberg film and a part of Spielberg’s legend has always been that, of all the young, maverick directors who emerged in the 70s, he was always the one who was the most comfortable dealing with the studio execs.  As opposed to directors like Martin Scorsese, Brian DePalma, and Francis Ford Coppola, Spielberg got along with the bosses and they loved him.  While his contemporaries were talking about burning Hollywood down and transforming the culture, Spielberg was happily joining the establishment and reshaping American cinema.  No one can deny that Spielberg is a talented filmmaker.  It’s just that, if anyone was going to make a movie celebrating management, you just know it would be Steven Spielberg.

Taking place in the early 70s, The Post deals with the decision to publish The Pentagon Papers, which were thirty years worth of classified documents dealing with America’s involvement in the Vietnam War.  Since the Pentagon Papers revealed that the government spent several decades lying to the American people about the situation in Vietnam, there’s naturally a lot of pushback from the government.  It all leads to one of those monumental supreme court decisions, the type that usually ends a movie like this.  And while the film does acknowledge that there were journalists involved in breaking the story, it devotes most of its attention to editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) and publisher Katharine Graham (Meryl Streep).

Gasp as Ben and Katharine debate whether to publish the story!

Shudder as Katharine tries to figure out how to keep the Post from going bankrupt.

Watch as Ben Bradlee talks to the legal department!

Thrill as Katharine Graham learns that her family friends, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, weren’t always honest with her!

And listen, I get it.  The Post isn’t as much about Nixon and the Vietnam War as it’s about Trump and the modern-day war on the media.  And yes, we get plenty of scenes of Tom Hanks explaining why freedom of the press is important and the movie ends in typical Spielberg fashion, with triumphant music and all the rest.  But watching The Post, it’s hard not to think about other films that celebrated journalism, films like All The President’s Men and Spotlight.  Both of those films featured scenes of editors supporting their reporters.  In fact, All The President’s Men featured Jason Robards playing the same editor that Tom Hanks plays in The Post.  But Spotlight and All The President’s Men focused on the journalists and the hard work that goes into breaking an important story.  Robards and Spotlight‘s Michael Keaton played editors who were willing to stand up and defend their reporters but, at the same time, those films emphasized that it was the underpaid and underappreciated reporters who were often putting their careers (and sometimes, their lives) on the line to break a story.  Whereas Spotlight and All The President’s Men showed us why journalism is important, The Post is content to merely tell us.

The Post was a famously rushed production.  Shooting started in May of 2017 and was completed in November, all so it could be released in December and receive Oscar consideration.  Production was rushed because Spielberg, Streep, and Hanks all felt that it was important to make a statement about Trump’s treatment of the press.  While I can see their point and I don’t deny that they had noble intentions, a rushed production is still going to lead to a rushed film.  The Post is a sloppy film, full of way too much on-the-nose dialogue and scenes that just seem to be missing Spielberg’s usual visual spark.  It feels less like a feature film and more like a well-made HBO production.  Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep give performances that are all surface.  Streep’s performance is all mannered technique while Hanks occasionally puts his feet up on his desk and furrows his brow.

It gets frustrating because, watching the film, you get the feeling that there’s a great movie to be made about the Pentagon Papers and the struggle to publish them.  I’d love to know what the actual reporters went through to get their hands on the papers.  But The Post is more interested in management than the workers.

All through 2017, The Post was touted as being a sure Oscar front-runner.  When it was released, it received respectful but hardly enthusiastic reviews.  In the end, it only received two nominations — one for best picture and one for Streep.  In a year dominated by Lady Bird, Shape of Water, Get Out, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, The Post turned to be a nonfactor.  For all the hype and expectations, it’s the film that you usually forget whenever you’re trying to remember everything that was nominated last year.

The San Diego Film Critics Name Leave No Trace The Best of 2018!


On Monday, the San Diego Film Critics picked their best of 2018!  Check out their nominees here and the winners below!

Best Picture
LEAVE NO TRACE
Runner-up: GREEN BOOK

Best Director
Debra Granik, LEAVE NO TRACE
Runner-up: Peter Farrelly, GREEN BOOK

Best Actor, Male
Ethan Hawke, FIRST REFORMED
Runner-up: Viggo Mortensen, GREEN BOOK

Best Actor, Female
Glenn Close, THE WIFE
Runner-up: Melissa McCarthy, CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?

Best Supporting Actor, Male (tie)
Richard E. Grant, CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?
Timothée Chalamet, BEAUTIFUL BOY

Best Supporting Actor, Female
Nicole Kidman, BOY ERASED
Runner-up: Nina Arianda, STAN & OLLIE

Body of Work: John C. Reilly, THE SISTERS BROTHERS, RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET, STAN & OLLIE

Best Comedic Performance
Hugh Grant, PADDINGTON 2
Runner-up: Jesse Plemons, GAME NIGHT

Best Original Screenplay
Bo Burnham, EIGHTH GRADE
Runner-up: Nick Vallelonga, Brian Hayes Currie, Peter Farrelly, GREEN BOOK

Best Adapted Screenplay
Armando Iannucci, David Schneider, Ian Martin, Peter Fellows, Fabien Nury, THE DEATH OF STALIN
Runner-up: Joel Edgerton, BOY ERASED

Best Documentary
THREE IDENTICAL STRANGERS
Runner-up: FREE SOLO

Best Animated Film
ISLE OF DOGS
Runner-up: SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE

Best Foreign-Language Film
SHOPLIFTERS
Runner-up: CAPERNAUM

Best Costume Design (tie)
Sandy Powell, THE FAVOURITE
Lindy Hemming, PADDINGTON 2

Best Editing
Jamie Gross, David Egan, GAME NIGHT
Runner-up: Christopher Tellefsen, A QUIET PLACE

Best Cinematography (tie)
Bruno Delbonnel, THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS
Joshua James Richards, THE RIDER

Best Production Design
Fiona Crombie, THE FAVOURITE
Runner-up: John Paul Kelly, STAN & OLLIE

Best Visual Effects
READY PLAYER ONE
Runner-up: CHRISTOPHER ROBIN

Best Use Of Music In A Film
BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE
Runner-up: BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY

Best Ensemble
GAME NIGHT
Runner-up: THE FAVOURITE

Best Breakout Artist
Thomasin McKenzie, LEAVE NO TRACE
Runner-up: Charlie Plummer, LEAN ON PETE