Last Stand Of The X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019, directed by Simon Kinberg)


Last week, I finally watched Dark Phoenix and I could tell within 15 minutes that it wasn’t going to be good.  From the start, everything about it seemed to be off, particularly compared with other, more recent comic book films.  This is not Logan or Joker.  It’s not even as good as ApocalypseDark Phoenix felt like a comic book film from 2002 that somehow got made and released in 2019.

The latest installment of the X-Men film saga opens in 1992.  The X-Men have been hailed as heroes and it finally looks like like the dreams of Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) are going to come true.  Humans and mutants are going to co-exist.  Unfortunately, all of that progress is undone when Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) connects with a surge of energy and her powers go supernova.  Jean discovers that she was responsible for her mother’s death and her father rejected her as a result.  She also learns Xavier placed a mental block in her mind.  Seriously pissed off, Jean flees to the island of Genosha, which is ruled over by Magneto (Michael Fassbender).  She also accidentally kills Mystique, therefore freeing Jennifer Lawrence from having to appear in any more of these movies.  All the while, a shape-shifting alien named Vuk (a slumming Jessica Chastain) wants to capture Jean’s powers and use them for herself.

This was the second attempt to bring the Dark Phoenix saga to the screen and somehow, it was even more bland and forgettable than X-Men: Last Stand.  The Dark Phoenix saga is one of the greatest comic book storylines of all time but it seems destined to never be the basis of a good movie.  In the comic books, the Dark Phoenix saga was the accumulation of two decades of storytelling.  After being the most forgettable member of the original X-Men, Jean suddenly became the most powerful mutant in the world.  When she sacrificed herself for the good of the universe, it was not only the end of her life but also the end of one of Marvel’s longest-running love stories, as Cyclops could only cradle her body afterwards.  As usual, Marvel later lessened the emotional impact by revealing that the Phoenix wasn’t actually Jean but just an alien force that took on her memories and personality while the real Jean remained in suspended animation at the bottom of Jamaica Bay.  Despite this, the Dark Phoenix saga still remains a prime example of Marvel at its best.

Why, with such great source material and a talented cast, was this latest film version of the Dark Phoenix saga so cumbersome?  No one seemed to care.  Unlike in the comic books, there was no emotional depth to the story of Jean Grey losing herself and becoming the Dark Phoenix.  Instead, every scene felt like it was just there to set up the next CGI-fueled confrontation.   Sophie Turner and Tye Sheridan (who played Cyclops) seemed to barely know each other and the film spent more time on Nicholas Hoult’s Beast mourning for Mystique than on the relationship that should have been at the center of the film.  None of the actors seemed to be invested in the story.  I’ve never seen Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, and James McAvoy look so bored.  The inevitable Magneto scene felt pointless.  The comic books could take a break from Magneto and let other villains have a turn.  The movies have to find an excuse to force him into every story.

It’s been said that the X-Men will be moving into the MCU and will get a whole new reboot.  We’ll probably get a third Dark Phoenix film someday.  I hope this one gets it right.

The Final Trailer for IT: Chapter Two


With the 50th Annual San Diego Comic Con in full swing, Warner Bros. is wasting no time in showcasing their wares. Here we have the final trailer for Andy Muschietti’s IT: Chapter Two. The more I see of this, the more I’m amazed by the casting choices. James Ransome (Eddie) and Bill Hader (Richie) really feel like the perfect matches for their roles so far. Granted, the trailer is just a taste of what we’ll see later on, but I’m hopeful.

IT: Chapter Two finds the members of the Loser’s Club returning to Derry, 27 years after their first encounter with Pennywise the Clown (Bill Skarsgard). Will they be able to get past their fears? Can they recreate the magic they had? Will they avoid the deadlights?

It: Chapter Two, also starring Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Jay Ryan, Andy Bean, and Isaiah Mustafa, opens in theatres on September 6th.

Enjoy!

The Los Angeles Online Film Critics Society Honors The Shape of Water and Hugh Jackman!


The Los Angeles Online Film Critics Society has named their picks for the best of 2017!

Best Picture
“The Shape of Water”

Best Actress
Sally Hawkins – “The Shape of Water”

Best Actor
Gary Oldman – “Darkest Hour”

Best Supporting Actress
Allison Janney – I, Tonya

Best Supporting Actor – TIE
Patrick Stewart – “Logan ”
Michael Stuhlbarg – “Call Me by Your Name”

Best Adapted Screenplay
Aaron Sorkin – “Molly’s Game”

Best Original Screenplay
Jordan Peele – “Get Out”

Best Male Director
Guillermo del Toro – “The Shape of Water”

Best Female Director
Greta Gerwig – “Lady Bird”

Best Animated Film
“Coco”

Best Foreign Film
“The Square”

Best Documentary – TIE
“Jane”
“Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond”

Best Visual Effects
“War for The Planet of the Apes”

Best Cinematography
Roger Deakins, “Blade Runner 2049”

Best Blockbuster
“Wonder Woman”

Best Independent Film
“Lady Bird”

Best First Feature
Jordan Peele, “Get Out”

Best Comedy or Musical
“The Big Sick ”

Best Action/War
“Baby Driver”

Best Sci-Fi/Horror
“Get Out ”

Best Actor or Actress 23 and Under
Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”

Best Stunt Work
“Baby Driver”

Best Score
Alexandre Desplat, “The Shape of Water”

Best Editing
Paul Machliss and Jonathan Amos, “Baby Driver”

Best Visual Effect Performance
Andy Serkis, “War for the Planet of the Apes”

Special Awards 

Trailblazer Award: Jessica Chastain

LAOFCS Achievement Award: Hugh Jackman

Rising From the Flame, The Phoenix Critics Circle Reveals Their Nominations For The Best of 2017!


 

Yesterday, the Phoenix Critics Circle revealed their nominations for the best films and performances of 2017!

Best Picture

  • “Dunkirk”
  • “The Florida Project”
  • “Lady Bird”
  • “The Shape of Water”
  • “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Best Comedy Film

  • “The Big Sick”
  • “The Disaster Artist”
  • “I, Tonya”
  • “Lady Bird”
  • “Logan Lucky”

Best Science Fiction Film

Best Horror Film

Best Mystery or Thriller Film

  • “The Beguiled”
  • “Get Out”
  • “The Killing of a Sacred Deer”
  • “mother!”
  • “Murder on the Orient Express”
  • “The Post”
  • “Split”
  • “Wind River”

Best Animated Film

Best Foreign Language Film

  • “BPM (Beats per Minute)”
  • “In the Fade”
  • Raw”
  • “The Square”
  • “Thelma”

Best Documentary

  • “City of Ghosts”
  • “Jane”
  • “Step”
  • “Whose Streets”

Best Actor

  • Timothée Chalamet, “Call Me by Your Name”
  • Daniel Day-Lewis, “Phantom Thread”
  • James Franco, “The Disaster Artist”
  • Daniel Kaluuya, “Get Out”
  • Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour”
  • Harry Dean Stanton, “Lucky”

Best Actress

  • Jessica Chastain, “Molly’s Game”
  • Sally Hawkins, “The Shape of Water”
  • Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
  • Margot Robbie, “I, Tonya”
  • Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”

Best Supporting Actor

  • Willem Dafoe, “The Florida Project”
  • Armie Hammer, “Call Me By Your Name”
  • Richard Jenkins, “The Shape of Water”
  • Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
  • Michael Stuhlbarg, “Call Me by Your Name”

Best Supporting Actress

  • Mary J. Blige, “Mudbound”
  • Holly Hunter, “The Big Sick”
  • Allison Janney, “I Tonya”
  • Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird”
  • Octavia Spencer, “The Shape of Water”

Best Director

Best Screenplay

  • Greta Gerwig, “Lady Bird”
  • Liz Hannah and Josh Singer, “The Post”
  • Martin McDonagh, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
  • Jordan Peele, “Get Out”
  • Aaron Sorkin, “Molly’s Game”

Best Score

  • Alexandre Desplat, “The Shape of Water”
  • Jonny Greenwood, “Phantom Thread”
  • Benjamin Wallfisch and Hans Zimmer, “Blade Runner 2049”
  • Hans Zimmer, “Dunkirk”

 

Here Are The Nominees From The Women Film Critics Circle!


The Women Film Critics Circle has announced their nominations for the best of 2017!  The winners will be named next week!

BEST MOVIE ABOUT WOMEN

BEST MOVIE BY A WOMAN

  • “Detroit”
  • “First They Killed My Father”
  • “Lady Bird”
  • “Mudbound”

BEST WOMAN STORYTELLER [Screenwriting Award]

  • Greta Gerwig, “Lady Bird”
  • Maggie Greenwald, “Sophie And The Rising Sun”
  • Dee Rees, “Mudbound”
  • Angela Workman, “The Zookeeper’s Wife”

BEST ACTRESS

  • Sally Hawkins, “Maudie”
  • Sally Hawkins, “The Shape Of Water”
  • Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
  • Cynthia Nixon, “A Quiet Passion”

BEST ACTOR

  • Timothée Chalamet, “Call Me By Your Name”
  • Daniel Kaluuya, “Get Out”
  • Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour”
  • Denzel Washington, “Roman J. Israel, Esq.”

BEST YOUNG ACTRESS (Under 21)

  • Seo-Hyun Ahn, “Okja”
  • Mckenna Grace, “Gifted”
  • Brooklynn Prince, “The Florida Project”
  • Millicent Simmonds, “Wonderstruck”

BEST COMEDIC ACTRESS

  • Tiffany Haddish, “Girls Trip”
  • Allison Janney, “I, Tonya”
  • Margo Robbie, “I, Tonya”
  • Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”

BEST FOREIGN FILM BY OR ABOUT WOMEN

  • “A Fantastic Woman”
  • “First They Killed My Father”
  • “In The Fade”
  • “Thelma”

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

  • “Maudie”
  • “The Light Of The Moon”
  • “The Rape Of Recy Taylor”
  • “Wind River”

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

  • “Girls Trip”
  • “Mudbound”
  • “Step”
  • “The Rape Of Recy Taylor”

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

  • “Battle Of The Sexes”
  • “Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story”
  • Mudbound
  • “The Post”

COURAGE IN ACTING [Taking on unconventional roles that radically redefine the images of women on screen]

  • Sally Hawkins, “Maudie”
  • Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
  • Michelle Rodriguez, “The Assignment”
  • Charlize Theron, “Atomic Blonde”

COURAGE IN FILMMAKING

  • Amma Asante, “A United Kingdom”
  • Kathryn Bigelow, “Detroit”
  • Angelina Jolie, “First The Killed My Father”
  • Dee Rees, “Mudbound

THE INVISIBLE WOMAN AWARD [Supporting performance by a woman whose exceptional impact on the film dramatically, socially or historically, has been ignored]

BEST DOCUMENTARY BY OR ABOUT WOMEN

  • “Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story”
  • “Faces Places”
  • “Jane”
  • “Step”

WOMEN’S WORK: BEST ENSEMBLE

BEST FEMALE ACTION HERO

  • “Atomic Blonde”
  • “In The Fade”
  • “The Shape of Water”
  • Wonder Woman

BEST EQUALITY OF THE SEXES

  • “Atomic Blonde”
  • “Battle Of The Sexes”
  • “Professor Marston And The Wonder Women”
  • Wonder Woman

BEST SCREEN COUPLE

BEST ANIMATED FEMALE(S)

  • “Coco”
  • “Loving Vincent”
  • “The Breadwinner”
  • “Window Horses: The Poetic Persian Epiphany of Rosie Ming”

BEST FAMILY FILM

Belatedly, Here Are The Nominations of the North Texas Film Critics!


Two days ago, the North Texas Film Critics Association announced their nominations for the best of 2017!

On twitter, there’s been a lot of speculation as to why the NTFCA totally snubbed Call Me By Your Name in their nominations.  Hilariously, some people — all from out-of-state, of course — are assuming that the NTFCA must be made up of evangelical, right-wingers because it’s a Texas organization.  Seriously, those people have no idea how left-wing most members of the Texas media are.  Texas may be a Republican state but most of our native film critics are somewhere to the left of Bernie Sanders.

Anyway, here are the nominees:

BEST PICTURE
“Baby Driver”
“The Big Sick”
“Dunkirk”
“Get Out”
“The Florida Project”
“Lady Bird”
“Logan”
“The Post”
“The Shape of Water”
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

BEST ACTOR
James Franco, “The Disaster Artist”
Jake Gyllenhaal, “Stronger”
Tom Hanks, “The Post”
Hugh Jackman, “Logan”
Daniel Kaluuya, “Get Out”
James McAvoy, “Split”
Kumail Nanijiani, “The Big Sick”
Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour”
Robert Pattinson, “Good Time”
Jeremy Renner, “Wind River”
Andy Serkis, “War for the Planet of the Apes”

BEST ACTRESS
Jessica Chastain, “Molly’s Game”
Judi Dench, “Victoria & Abdul”
Gal Gadot, “Wonder Woman”
Jennifer Lawrence, “mother!”
Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Brooklynn Prince, “The Florida Project”
Margot Robbie, “I, Tonya”
Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”
Emma Stone, “Battle of the Sexes”
Meryl Streep, “The Post”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Mary J. Blige, “Mudbound”
Holly Hunter, “The Big Sick”
Allison Janney, “I, Tonya”
Nicole Kidman, “The Killing of a Sacred Deer”
Tatiana Maslany, “Stronger”
Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird”
Octavia Spencer, “The Shape of Water”
Tilda Swinton, “Okja”
Kristin Scott Thomas, “Darkest Hour”
Bria Vinaite, “The Florida Project”
Allison Williams, “Get Out”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Steve Carell, “Battle of the Sexes”
Daniel Craig, “Logan Lucky”
Bryan Cranston, “Last Flag Flying”
Willem Dafoe, “The Florida Project”
Idris Elba, “Molly’s Game”
Will Poulter, “Detroit”
Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Ray Romano, “The Big Sick”
Mark Rylance, “Dunkirk”
Patrick Stewart, “Logan”

BEST DIRECTOR
Sean Baker, “The Florida Project”
Guillermo del Toro, “The Shape of Water”
Greta Gerwig, “Lady Bird”
Patty Jenkins, “Wonder Woman”
Christopher Nolan, “Dunkirk”
Jordan Peele, “Get Out”
Steven Spielberg, “The Post”
Aaron Sorkin, “Molly’s Game”
Denis Villeneuve, “Blade Runner 2049”
Joe Wright, “Darkest Hour”

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Thimios Bakatakis, “The Killing of a Sacred Deer”
Roger Deakins, “Blade Runner 2049”
Hoyte Van Hoytema, “Dunkirk”
Matthew Jensen, “Wonder Woman”
Dan Laustsen, “The Shape of Water”
Janusz Kaminski, “The Post”
Michael Seresin, “War for the Planet of the Apes”

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
“First They Killed My Father”
“In the Fade”
“Menashe”
“Raw”
“The Square”

BEST DOCUMENTARY
“Abacus: Small Enough to Jail”
“Chasing Coral”
“City of Ghosts”
“Cries from Syria”
“An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power”
“Jane”
“Step”

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
“The Breadwinner”
“Cars 3”
“Coco”
“Despicable Me 3:
“The LEGO Batman Movie”
“Loving Vincent”

Here Are The Typically Strange Golden Globe Nominations!


“I’ll show you a pair of golden globes!”

Yes, I know, I know.  I say that every year.  I’ll probably say it next year as well.  There’s no joke that I can’t run into the ground.

Anyway, this year’s Golden Globe nominations were announced this morning and they are as strange as always.  I have to admit that I kinda hate the Golden Globes.  At least in my memory, there’s never been a year that the Golden Globes haven’t felt somewhat unsavory.  The general agreement seems to be that the members of the Hollywood Foreign Press will nominate anyone who is willing to come have a drink with them.  And yet, the Golden Globes continue to have such an outsized influence on who actually gets an Oscar nomination.

This year, the biggest shocks were:

  1. The Big Sick getting totally snubbed in every category, despite the fact that the Golden Globes specifically split their awards into Drama and Comedy categories and…
  2. …the totally unexpected strong showing of Ridley Scott’s All The Money In The World.  It picked up nominations for Best Actress (Michelle Williams), Best Director (Ridley Scott), and Best Supporting Actor (Christopher Plummer, who just finished filming his role a little less than a month ago).

So, does this make All The Money In The World a sudden Oscar contender?  Maybe.  But then again, maybe not.  It does make both the film and Plummer a part of the conversation.  If, in a few days from now, Plummer picks up a SAG nomination, he will definitely start to look more like a probable contender.

Anyway, here are the Golden Globe film nominations:

Best Motion Picture – Drama
Call Me By Your Name
Dunkirk
The Post
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy
The Disaster Artist
Get Out
The Greatest Showman
I, Tonya
Lady Bird

Best Motion Picture – Animated
The Boss Baby
The Breadwinner
Coco
Ferdinand
Loving Vincent

Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language
A Fantastic Woman, Chile First They Killed My Father, Cambodia
In the Fade, Germany
Loveless, Russia
The Square, Sweden

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama
Jessica Chastain, Molly’s Game
Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Meryl Streep, The Post
Michelle Williams, All the Money in the World

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama
Timothée Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name
Tom Hanks, The Post
Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread
Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy
Judi Dench, Victoria & Abdul
Helen Mirren, The Leisure Seeker
Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
Emma Stone, Battle of the Sexes

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy
Steve Carell, Battle of the Sexes
Ansel Elgort, Baby Driver
James Franco, The Disaster Artist
Hugh Jackman, The Greatest Showman
Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture:
Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
Armie Hammer, Call Me by Your Name
Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water
Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World
Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture
Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
Hong Chau, Downsizing
Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water
Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird

Best Director – Motion Picture
Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water
Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk”
Ridley Scott, All the Money in the World
Steven Spielberg, The Post

Best Screenplay – Motion Picture
Lady Bird
Molly’s Game
The Post
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Original Score – Motion Picture
Dunkirk
Phantom Thread
The Post
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Original Song – Motion Picture
“Home,” from Ferdinand
“Mighty River,” from Mudbound
“Remember Me” from Coco
“The Star” from The Star
“This is Me,” The Greatest Showman