Film Review: To Die For (dir by Gus Van Sant)


The 1995 satire, To Die For, is a very clever film about some seriously stupid people.

Of course, you could debate whether or not Suzanne Stone-Maretto (Nicole Kidman) is actually dumb or not.  Suzanne may not know much about anything that isn’t on TV but she does have a natural understanding for what makes a good story.  She knows exactly the type of story that the public wants to hear and she does a good job of faking all of the right emotions.  As she proves throughout the course of the film, she’s also very good at convincing people to do stuff.  Whether it’s convincing the local television station to put her on the air as a weather person or convincing two teenagers to murder her husband, Suzanne always seems to get what she wants.

Of course, what Suzanne really wants is to be a celebrity.  She wants to be a star.  As she explains it, that’s the greatest thing about America.  Anyone can become a star if they just try hard enough and find the right angle.  If the film were made today, Suzanne would be a social media junkie.  Since the movie was made in 1995, she has to settle for talk shows and murder.

So maybe Suzanne isn’t that dumb but her husband, Larry (Matt Dillon) …. well, if we’re going to be honest, Larry’s more naive than dumb.  He’s the favored son of a big Italian family and it’s obviously never occurred to him that a woman would possibly want something more than just a husband and a lot of children.  He thinks it’s cute that Suzanne’s on TV but he’s also fully convinced that she’s going to eventually settle down and focus on starting a family.  It never occurs to him that his wife would be willing to sacrifice him on her way to stardom.

Of course, if you really want to talk about dumb, just check out the teenagers who Suzanne recruits to kill her husband.  They’ve been appearing in a documentary that Suzanne’s been shooting.  The documentary’s title is “Teens Speak Out,” which is something of an ironic title since none of the teens that Suzanne interviews really has anything to say.  Lydia (Allison Folland) is just happy that the “glamorous” Suzanne is pretending to care about her.  Russell (Casey Affleck) is the type of grinning perv who drops a pen just so he can try to get a peek up Suzanne’s skirt while he’s on the floor retrieving it.  And then there’s Jimmy (Joaquin Phoenix), with his flat voice and his blank stare.  Jimmy is briefly Suzanne’s lover before he ends up in prison for murdering her husband.  It doesn’t take much to convince Jimmy to commit murder, either.  Apparently, all you have to do is dance to Lynard Skynard while it’s raining outside.  Media interviews with Lydia, Jimmy, Suzanne, and Larry’s sister (Ileana Douglas) are sprinkled throughout the film and Jimmy continues to insist that he will always love Suzanne.

As for Suzanne, she’s got stardom to worry about….

Though the subject matter is a bit familiar and the film, made before the age of Twitter and Instagram, is a bit dated, To Die For‘s satire still carries a powerful bite.  One need only watch A&E or the Crime and Investigation network to see that Suzanne was absolutely correct when she decided that killing her husband would make her a star.  If To Die For were made today, you could easily imagine Suzanne leveraging her infamy into an appearance on Dancing With The Stars and maybe Celebrity Big Brother.  At the very least. she could get her own house hunting show on HGTV.  Delivering her often sociopathic dialogue with a perky smile and a positive attitude, Nicole Kidman is absolutely chilling as Suzanne.  Meanwhile, Joaquin Phoenix’s blank stare will continue to haunt you long after the film ends.

And speaking of endings, To Die For has a great one.  You’ll never hear Season of the Witch the same way again!

Lisa’s way, way, way, way, way too early Oscar predictions for January


Attempting, in January, to predict what will be nominated for an Oscar next year is a largely pointless exercise but it’s one that I do every year.  What can I say?  I like the Oscars.  I like rituals.  And I like making lists.

But seriously, don’t take these predictions too seriously.  For the most part, they’re based on wild guesses and familiar names.  For instance, The Irishman is listed because it’s a Scorsese film but that didn’t really help out Silence.  Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is listed because it’s a Tarantino film.  Tom Hanks is listed because …. well, he’s Tom Hanks.  Late Night and The Report are listed because of the excitement they generated at Sundance but Sundance hype doesn’t always last for a full 12 months.  I’d love to see Amy Adams finally win an Oscar for The Woman In The Window but, to be honest, I couldn’t visualize anyone other than Naomi Watts in the lead role when I read the novel.

At this time last year, no one had heard of Green Book.  Bohemian Rhapsody looked like it might just end up going straight to HBO.  No one suspected Black Panther would be the first comic book movie to be nominated for best picture.  Richard E. Grant was on no one’s radar and anyone who says they thought Roma and The Favourite would be the most nominated films of the year is a damn liar.  It’s too early to make any sort of real guess about what will be nominated next year.

However, it’s never too early to make some cray, wild guesses!

Here are my way, way, way, way, way too early Oscar predictions for January.  Some day, perhaps tomorrow, we’ll look back at these predictions and laugh.  And then I’ll cry because it’s never fun when people laugh at you….


Best Picture

A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

Call of the Wild

The Irishman

Late Night

Little Women

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

The Report

Toy Story 4

Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

The Woman in the Window

Best Director

Nisha Ganatra for Late Night

Greta Gerwig for Little Women

Martin Scorsese for The Irishman

Quentin Tarantino for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Joe Wright for The Woman In The Window

Best Actor

Robert De Niro in The Irishman

Leonardo DiCaprio in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Tom Hanks in A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

Joaquin Phoenix in Joker

Brad Pitt in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Best Actress

Amy Adams in The Woman In The Window

Annette Bening in The Report

Cate Blanchett in Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

Saoirse Ronan in Little Women

Emma Thompson in Late Night

Best Supporting Actor

Harrison Ford in Call of the Wild

Damon Herriman in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Sir Ian McKellen in Cats

Al Pacino in The Irishman

Wyatt Russell in The Woman In The Window

Best Supporting Actress

Dame Judi Dench in Cats

Laura Dern in Little Women

Nicole Kidman in The Goldfinch

Anna Paquin in The Irishman

Margot Robbie in Once Upon A Time in Hollywood

What If Lisa Picked The Oscar Nominees: 2018 Edition


With the Oscar nominations due to be announced tomorrow, now is the time that the Shattered Lens indulges in a little something called, “What if Lisa had all the power.” Listed below are my personal Oscar nominations. Please note that these are not the films that I necessarily think will be nominated. The fact of the matter is that the many of them will not. Instead, these are the films that would be nominated if I was solely responsible for deciding the nominees this year. Winners are starred and listed in bold.

(You’ll also note that I’ve added four categories, all of which I believe the Academy should adopt — Best Voice-Over Performance, Best Casting, Best Stunt Work, and Best Overall Use Of Music In A Film.)

(Click on the links to see my nominations for 2017201620152014201320122011, and 2010!)

Best Picture

Avengers: Infinity War

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Blindspotting

*Eighth Grade

The Favourite

Leave No Trace

The Other Side of the Wind

Roma

A Simple Favor

Support the Girls

 

Best Director

*Bo Burnham for Eighth Grade

The Coen Brothers for The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Alfonso Cuaron for Roma

Debra Granik for Leave No Trace

Yorgos Lanthimos for The Favourite

Orson Welles for The Other Side of the Wind

 

Best Actor

John Cho in Searching

Jason Clarke in Chappaquiddick

Bradley Cooper in A Star is Born

Daveed Diggs in Blindspotting

*Ethan Hawke in First Reformed

Joaquin Phoenix in You Were Never Really Here

 

Best Actress

Yalitza Aparicio in Roma

Elsie Fisher in Eighth Grade

Lady Gaga in A Star is Born

*Regina Hall in Support the Girls

Anna Kendrick in A Simple Favor

Thomason McKenzie in Leave No Trace

 

Best Supporting Actor

Peter Bogdonavich in The Other Side of the Wind

*Ben Foster in Leave No Trace

Michael B. Jordan in Black Panther

Josh Hamilton in Eighth Grade

Tim Blake Nelson in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Michael Palin in The Death of Stalin

 

Best Supporting Actress

Emily Blunt in A Quiet Place

*Olivia Colman in The Favourite

Zoe Kazan in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Blake Lively in A Simple Favor

Emma Stone in The Favourite

Rachel Weisz in The Favourite

 

Best Voice Over or Motion-Capture Performance

*Josh Brolin in Avengers: Infinity War

Jake Johnson in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Holly Hunter in The Incredibles 2

Shamiek Moore in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

John C. Reilly in Ralph Breaks The Internet

Ben Whishaw in Paddington 2

 

Best Original Screenplay

Blindspotting

The Death of Stalin

*Eighth Grade

The Favourite

Game Night

Support the Girls

 

Best Adapted Screenplay

Avengers: Infinity War

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

If Beale Street Could Talk

Leave No Trace

*A Simple Favor

A Star is Born

 

Best Animated Feature

Early Man

Have A Nice Day

The Incredibles 2

Isle of Dogs

Ralph Breaks the Internet

*Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

 

Best Documentary Feature

Avicii: True Stories

Recovery Boys

Shirkers

They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead

*Three Identical Strangers

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

 

Best Foreign Language Film

Battle

Gun City

Happy as Lazzaro

Have A Nice Day

The Most Assassinated Woman In The World

*Roma

 

Best Casting

Blindspotting

Eighth Grade

Mandy

Mid90s

Roma

*Support the Girls

 

Best Cinematography

Aquaman

Avengers: Infinity Wars

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Black Panther

*Mandy

Roma

Best Costume Design

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

*Black Panther

The Favourite

Lizzie

Mary, Queen of Scots

A Simple Favor

 

Best Film Editing

Avengers: Infinity Wars

Eighth Grade

Mission Impossible: Fallout

*The Other Side of the Wind

Roma

Searching

Best Makeup and Hair Styling

*The Favourite

Lizzie

Mandy

Mary, Queen of Scots

A Simple Favor

Support the Girls

Best Original Score

Avengers: Infinity War

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

The Death of Stalin

If Beale Street Could Talk

*Mandy

The Other Side of the Wind

Best Original Song

*“When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings” from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

“All the Stars” from Black Panther

“Limitless” from Second Act

“I’ll Never Love Again” from A Star is Born

“Is that Alright” from A Star is Born

“Shallow” from A Star is Born

 

Best Overall Use of Music

Bohemian Rhapsody

Eighth Grade

Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again

Mid90s

*A Star is Born

Three Identical Strangers

 

Best Production Design

Avengers: Infinity War

Black Panther

The Commuter

*The Favourite

Mary, Queen of Scots

A Quiet Place

Best Sound Editing

Annihilation

*Avengers: Infinity War

Mission Impossible: Fallout

The Other Side of the Wind

Roma

12 Strong

Best Sound Mixing

Annihilation

Avengers: Infinity War

Mission Impossible: Fallout

The Other Side of the Wind

Roma

*A Star is Born

Best Stuntwork

Avengers: Infinity War

Beirut

Black Panther

*Mission Impossible: Fallout

12 Strong

Upgrade

Best Visual Effects

Annihilation

Ant-Man and the Wasp

Aquaman

*Avengers: Infinity War

Black Panther

First Man

Films Listed By Number of Nominations:

11 Nominations – Avengers: Infinity War

9 Nominations – The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, The Favourite, Roma

8 Nominations – Eighth Grade, A Star is Born

7 Nominations – Black Panther, The Other Side of the Wind

6 Nominations – A Simple Favor

5 Nominations – Leave No Trace, Support the Girls

4 Nominations – Blindspotting, Mandy, Mission Impossible: Fallout

3 Nominations – Annihilation, The Death of Stalin, Mary Queen of Scots, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

2 Nominations – Aquaman, Have A Nice Day, If Beale Street Could Talk, The Incredibles 2, Lizzie, Mid90s, A Quiet Place, Ralph Breaks the Internet, Searching, Three Identical Strangers, 12 Strong

1 Nomination – Ant-Man and the Wasp, Avicii: True Stories, Battle, Beirut, Bohemian Rhapsody, Chappaquiddick, The Commuter, Early Man, First Man, First Reformed, Game Night, Gun City, Happy as Lazzaro, Isle of Dogs, Mamma Mia 2: Here We Go Again, The Most Assassinated Woman In The World, Paddington 2, Recovery Boys, Second Act, Shirkers, They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead, Upgrade, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, You Were Never Really Here

Films Listed By Number of Oscars Won:

3 Oscars – Eighth Grade, The Favourite

2 Oscars – Mandy, A Star is Born, Support the Girls

1 Oscar – The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Black Panther, First Reformed, Leave No Trace, Mission Impossible: Fallout, The Other Side of the Wind, Roma, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Three Identical Strangers

As for the real nominations, they’ll be announced on Tuesday morning!

Here Are The Chicago Film Critics Association Nominations For 2018!


On Friday, the Chicago Film Critics Association announced their nominations for the best of 2018!  The winners will be announced on Saturday night.

Here are the nominees!

BEST PICTURE
The Favourite
First Reformed
Hereditary
Roma
A Star is Born

BEST DIRECTOR
Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born
Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite
Lynne Ramsay, You Were Never Really Here
Paul Schrader, First Reformed

BEST ACTOR
Christian Bale, Vice
Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born
Ethan Hawke, First Reformed
Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
Joaquin Phoenix, You Were Never Really Here

BEST ACTRESS
Yalitza Aparicio, Roma
Toni Collette, Hereditary
Lady Gaga, A Star is Born
Regina Hall, Support the Girls
Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Mahershala Ali, Green Book
Timothee Chalamet, Beautiful Boy
Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther
Steven Yeun, Burning

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Elizabeth Debicki, Widows
Zoe Kazan, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
Rachel Weisz, The Favourite

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
BlacKkKlansman by Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott & Spike Lee
Can You Ever Forgive Me? by Nicole Holofcener & Jeff Whitty
The Death of Stalin by Armando Iannucci, David Schneider & Ian Martin
If Beale Street Could Talk by Barry Jenkins
A Star is Born by Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper & Will Fetters

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Eighth Grade by Bo Burnham
The Favourite by Deborah Davis & Tony McNamara
First Reformed by Paul Schrader
Roma by Alfonso Cuaron
Vice by Adam McKay

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Incredibles 2
Isle of Dogs
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Ruben Brandt: Collector
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Free Solo
Minding the Gap
RBG
Three Identical Strangers
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Burning
Capernaum
Cold War
Roma
Shoplifters

BEST ART DIRECTION
Annihilation
Black Panther
The Favourite
Paddington 2
Roma

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Cold War – Lukasz Zal
The Favourite – Robbie Ryan
First Man – Linus Sandgren
If Beale Street Could Talk – James Laxton
Roma – Alfonso Cuaron

BEST EDITING
First Man
The Other Side of the Wind
Roma
Widows
You Were Never Really Here

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
First Man – Justin Hurwitz
If Beale Street Could Talk – Nicholas Britell
Mandy – Johan Johannson
Suspiria – Thom Yorke
You Were Never Really Here – Jonny Greenwood

BEST USE OF VISUAL EFFECTS
Annihilation
Black Panther
First Man
Mission: Impossible – Fallout
Paddington 2

MOST PROMISING FILMMAKER
Ari Aster, Hereditary
Bo Burnham, Eighth Grade
Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born
Bing Liu, Minding the Gap
Boots Riley, Sorry to Bother You

MOST PROMISING PERFORMER
Yalitza Aparicio, Roma
Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade
Lady Gaga, A Star is Born
Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie, Leave No Trace
John David Washington, BlacKkKlansman & Monsters and Men

Weekly Trailer Round-Up: Joker, Stan & Ollie, Ralph Breaks The Internet, The Oath, Solis, The Haunting of Hill House, The Twilight Zone


Despite the success of Wonder Woman, DC Entertainment has still struggled when it comes to crafting a compelling cinematic universe.  The upcoming Joker is not an official part of the DCEU but that could change if the film is a success.  An origin story, Joker features Joaquin Phoenix taking on the role of the clown prince of crime.  Though it will be over a year before we see the final results, director Todd Phillips has released a teaser, showing us Phoenix in his Joker makeup.

In Stan & Ollie, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy finally get the biopic treatment, with John C. Reilly in the role of Hardy and Steve Coogan as Laurel.

Along with playing Oliver Hardy, John C. Reilly will also be returning to the role of Ralph in Ralph Breaks The Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2.  The mayhem continues on November 2nd.

In The Oath, all Americans are required to sign a loyalty oath the day after Thanksgiving.  A new red band trailer for this dark comedy was released this week.

In Solis, Steven Ogg plays an astronaut who is trapped on a spacecraft that is on a collision course with the sun.  That’s not a good place to be.

Just in time for Halloween, Netflix will be reimagining The Haunting of Hill House as a ten-episode television series.  The show drops on October 12th.

Finally, The Twilight Zone is returning once again, this time under the direction of Jordan Peele.  The CBS All Access show will premiere in 2019.

Other trailers that were released this week:

Lisa’s Way Too Early Oscar Predictions for January!


How early can one predict the Oscars?

Well, it depends on how you look at it.  You can predict the Oscars at any time during the year.  However, predicting them correctly is next to impossible before October.  That said, I’m going to give it a shot!

Now, to be clear, this is not an attempt to predict who and what will be nominated later this month.  Instead, these are my predictions for what will be nominated next year at this time!  I’ll be updating my predictions every month of this year.

So, with all that in mind, here are my way too early predictions for what will be nominated in January of 2019!  As of right now, these predictions are a collection of instinct and random guesses.  For all we know, some of these films might not even get released in 2018.  In all probability, we’ll look back at this list in December and laugh.

 

Best Picture

Chappaquiddick

First Man

Lizzie

Mary Queen of Scots

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Mortal Engines

A Star is Born

Widows

Wildfire

The Women of Marwen

 

Best Director

Desiree Akhavon for The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Damien Chazelle for First Man

Paul Dano for Wildfire

Steve McQueen for Widows

Robert Zemeckis for The Women of Marwen

 

Best Actor

Steve Carell in The Women of Marwen

Jason Clarke in Chappaquiddick

Ryan Gosling in First Man

Jake Gyllenhaal in Wildfire

Joaquin Phoenx in Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot

 

Best Actress

Viola Davis in Widows

Chloe Grace Moretz in The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Carey Mulligan in Wildfire

Saoirse Ronan in Mary Queen of Scots

Chloe Sevigny in Lizzie

 

Best Supporting Actor

Jeff Daniels in The Catcher Was A Spy

Bruce Dern in Chappaquiddick

Sam Elliott in A Star is Born

Robert Duvall in Widows

Hugo Weaving in Mortal Engines

 

Best Supporting Actress

Elizabeth Debicki in Widows

Claire Foy in First Man

Leslie Mann in The Women of Marwen

Kate Mara in Chappaquiddick

Kristen Stewart in Lizzie

 

Lisa’s Early Oscar Predictions for June


Hi there!

Well, it’s time for me to make my monthly Oscar predictions!  Though my predictions are no longer “too early,” they are still definitely early.  Most of these predictions are based on a combination of wild speculation and wishful thinking.

For instance, do I really think that Wonder Woman will be an Oscar contender?

Well, I think it could be.  I’d like it if it was.  If really pressed, I’ll say that I think it has a better chance of being nominated than Logan does.  And, as you’ll remember, I had Logan listed as a best picture nominee back in March.

I guess what I’m saying is that these predictions should always be taken with a grain of salt.  To be honest, right now, the only precursor that we have is Cannes and Cannes is notoriously unreliable when it comes to being used as a tool to predict what will actually be nominated.

Anyway, these predictions will probably be good for a laugh or two next February.  Be sure to check out my previous predictions for January, February, March, April, and May!

Best Picture

The Beguiled

Blade Runner 2049

Call Me By Your Name

Darkest Hour

Detroit

The Disaster Artist

Dunkirk

Goodbye, Christopher Robin

Mudbound

Wonder Woman

Best Director

Sofia Coppola for The Beguiled

Simon Curtis for Goodbye, Christopher Robin

Christopher Nolan for Dunkirk

Dee Rees for Mudbound

Joe Wright for Darkest Hour

Best Actor

Chadwick Boseman in Marshall

Hugh Jackman in The Greatest Showman

Gary Oldman in Darkest Hour

Robert Pattinson in Good Time

Joaquin Phoenix in You Were Never Really Here

Best Actress

Judi Dench in Victoria and Abdul

Kirsten Dunst in Woodshock

Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman

Carey Mulligan in Mudbound

Michelle Pfieffer in Where Is Kyra?

Best Supporting Actor

Steve Carell in Battle of the Sexes

James Franco in The Disaster Artist

Woody Harrelson in The Glass Castle

Jason Mitchell in Mudbound

Adam Sandler in The Meyerowitz Stories

Best Supporting Actress

Melissa Leo in Novitiate

Julianne Moore in Wonderstruck

Margot Robbie in Goodbye, Christopher Robin

Kristin Scott Thomas in Darkest Hour

Naomi Watts in The Glass Castle