The San Francisco Film Critics Have A Favourite


On Friday, the San Francisco Film Critics Circle announced their nominations for the best of 2018!  Leading the way with 9 nominations: The Favourite!

Winner will be announced on Sunday, December 9th.  Here are the nominations:

Best Picture

“BlacKkKlansman”
“The Favourite”
“First Reformed”
“If Beale Street Could Talk”
“Roma”

Best Director

Alfonso Cuarón, “Roma”
Barry Jenkins, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
Spike Lee, “BlacKkKlansman”
Yorgos Lanthimos, “The Favourite”
Paul Schrader, “First Reformed”

Best Actor

Christian Bale, “Vice”
Willem Dafoe, “At Eternity’s Gate”
Ethan Hawke, “First Reformed”
Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody”
Viggo Mortensen, “Green Book”

Best Actress

Yalitza Aparicio, “Roma”
Toni Collette, “Hereditary”
Olivia Colman, “The Favourite”
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”
Adam Driver, “BlacKkKlansman”
Richard E. Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther”
Russell Hornsby, “The Hate U Give”

Best Supporting Actress

Amy Adams, “Vice”
Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
Thomasin McKenzie, “Leave No Trace”
Emma Stone, “The Favourite”
Rachel Weisz, “The Favourite”

Best Screenplay, Original

Bo Burnham, “Eighth Grade”
Alfonso Cuarón, “Roma”
Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara, “The Favourite”
Adam McKay, “Vice”
Paul Schrader, “First Reformed”

Best Screenplay, Adapted

Ryan Coogler, Joe Robert Cole, “Black Panther”
Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini, “Leave No Trace”
Nicole Holofcener, Jeff Whitty, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
Barry Jenkins, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee, “BlacKkKlansman”

Best Cinematography

Alfonso Cuaron, “Roma”
James Laxton, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
Robbie Ryan, “The Favourite”
Linus Sandgren, “First Man”
Lukasz Zal, “Cold War”

Best Original Score

Terence Blanchard, “BlacKkKlansman”
Nicholas Britell, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
Alexandre Desplat, “Isle of Dogs”
Ludwig Göransson, “Black Panther”
Justin Hurwitz, “First Man”

Best Production Design

Hannah Beachler, “Black Panther”
Eugenio Caballero, “Roma”
Fiona Crombie, “The Favourite”
Nathan Crowley, “First Man”
Mark Friedberg, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
Paul Harrod, Adam Stockhausen, “Isle of Dogs”

Best Film Editing

Tom Cross, “First Man”
Yorgos Mavropsaridis, “The Favourite”
Eddie Hamilton, “Mission: Impossible – Fallout”
Bob Murawski, Orson Welles, “The Other Side of the Wind”
Alfonso Cuarón, Adam Gough, “Roma”

Best Animated Feature

“Incredibles 2”
“Isle of Dogs”
“Mirai”
“Ralph Breaks the Internet”
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”

Best Foreign Language Film

“Burning”
“Cold War”
“Let the Sunshine In”
“Roma”
“Shoplifters”

Best Documentary

“Free Solo”
“Minding the Gap”
“Shirkers”
“Three Identical Strangers”
“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”

The Circle also announced the three finalists for their annual Special Citation Award for under appreciated independent films:

  • “Chained for Life,” Aaron Schimberg’s playfully penetrating satire about onscreen representations of disability
  • “The Endless,” a genre-bending story of emotionally estranged brothers starring and directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead
  • “Madeline’s Madeline,” Josephine Decker’s fluid collision of dream, reality and performance starring powerhouse newcomer Helena Howard

The Washington D.C. Film Critics Nominate Coogler, Jordan, and The Favourite


Yesterday, the Washington D.C. Film Critics announced their nominees for the best of 2018.  While the big three contenders — Roma, Star is Born, and Green Book — are all present and accounted for, the D.C. Film Critics did take the time to nominate Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan for their work on Black Panther.  They also nominated The Favourite for Best Picture, which isn’t unexpected but The Favourite, like Black Panther, can use all the support it can get to prevent being overshadowed by the big three contenders.

(Before anyone asks what I’m basing my analysis on, allow me to point out that I’m not the first film blogger to pretend to be an Oscar expert and I’m sure I won’t be the last….)

Best Film:
The Favourite
Green Book
If Beale Street Could Talk
Roma
A Star Is Born

Best Director:
Ryan Coogler (Black Panther)
Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born)
Alfonso Cuarón (Roma)
Barry Jenkins (If Beale Street Could Talk)
Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite)

Best Actor:
Christian Bale (Vice)
Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born)
Ethan Hawke (First Reformed)
Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody)
Viggo Mortensen (Green Book)

Best Actress:
Glenn Close (The Wife)
Toni Collette (Hereditary)
Olivia Colman (The Favourite)
Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born)
Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)

Best Supporting Actor:
Mahershala Ali (Green Book)
Timothée Chalamet (Beautiful Boy)
Sam Elliott (A Star Is Born)
Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)
Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther)

Best Supporting Actress:
Cynthia Erivo (Bad Times at the El Royale)
Nicole Kidman (Boy Erased)
Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk)
Emma Stone (The Favourite)
Rachel Weisz (The Favourite)

Best Acting Ensemble:
Black Panther
The Favourite
If Beale Street Could Talk
Vice
Widows

Best Youth Performance:
Elsie Fisher (Eighth Grade)
Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie (Leave No Trace)
Milly Shapiro (Hereditary)
Millicent Simmonds (A Quiet Place)
Amandla Stenberg (The Hate U Give)

Best Voice Performance:
Bryan Cranston (Isle of Dogs)
Holly Hunter (Incredibles 2)
Shameik Moore (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse)
Sarah Silverman (Ralph Breaks the Internet)
Ben Whishaw (Paddington 2)

Best Motion Capture Performance:
Josh Brolin (Avengers: Infinity War)
Tye Sheridan (Ready Player One)
Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Solo: A Star Wars Story)

Best Original Screenplay:
Bo Burnham (Eighth Grade)
Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara (The Favourite)
Paul Schrader (First Reformed)
Nick Vallelonga & Brian Currie & Peter Farrelly (Green Book)
Alfonso Cuarón (Roma)

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Charlie Wachtel & David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott & Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman)
Ryan Coogler & Joe Robert Cole (Black Panther)
Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)
Barry Jenkins (If Beale Street Could Talk)
Eric Roth and Bradley Cooper & Will Fetters (A Star Is Born)

Best Animated Feature:
Incredibles 2
Isle of Dogs
Mirai
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Best Documentary:
Free Solo
RBG
Science Fair
Three Identical Strangers
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Best Foreign Language Film:
Burning
Capernaum
Cold War
Roma
Shoplifters

Best Production Design:
Production Designer: Hannah Beachler; Set Decorator: Jay Hart (Black Panther)
Production Designer: Fiona Crombie; Set Decorator: Alice Felton (The Favourite)
Production Designer: Nathan Crowley; Set Decorator: Kathy Lucas (First Man)
Production Designer: John Myhre; Set Decorator: Gordon Sim (Mary Poppins Returns)
Production Designer: Eugenio Caballero; Set Decorator: Bárbara Enríquez (Roma)

Best Cinematography:
Robbie Ryan, BSC (The Favourite)
Linus Sandgren, FSF (First Man)
James Laxton (If Beale Street Could Talk)
Alfonso Cuarón (Roma)
Matthew Libatique, ASC (A Star Is Born)

Best Editing:
Yorgos Mavropsaridis, ACE (The Favourite)
Tom Cross, ACE (First Man)
Alfonso Cuarón, Adam Gough (Roma)
Jay Cassidy, ACE (A Star Is Born)
Joe Walker, ACE (Widows)

Best Original Score:
Ludwig Göransson (Black Panther)
Justin Hurwitz (First Man)
Nicholas Britell (If Beale Street Could Talk)
Thom Yorke (Suspiria)
Hans Zimmer (Widows)

The Joe Barber Award for Best Portrayal of Washington, DC:
The Front Runner
RBG
Vice

“Black Panther” : Hail To The King


Let’s be honest — as was the case with last year’s Wonder Woman (in fact probably to an even greater degree), Black Panther was a cultural phenomenon before it was even released, and in future it will be examined as such. As something more than a movie. As something that resonated within, and reverberated throughout, the zeitgeist. Its trajectory in that regard is largely unwritten to this point, but can be predicted with a fair amount of certainty : near-universal praise will come first, followed by the inevitable backlash, followed by an almost apologetic, “ya know, maybe we were too hard on this thing that we loved at first” sort of acceptance. If we could just skip all that, and take it as a given, it would save us all a lot of time and effort — but it’s on the way, so tune in or out of all that as you see fit. My concerns here are considerably more prosaic : to talk about the movie as what it began “life” as, to wit — “just” a movie.

For what it’s worth (which may not be much), I’m tempted to agree, to an extent, with those who are pointing out that simply seeing this flick is in no way an act of “resistance” in and of itself : after all, if the fact that the first thing that runs in theaters before the film starts is a commercial for Lexus cars featuring Chadwick Boseman in full Panther gear isn’t enough to clue you in to the reality that, at the end of the day, this is much more about profits than it is about politics, then the product placement within the film itself should do the job — and at the end of the day, one of the largest corporations in the world, founded by noted racist Walt Disney, is still the one making all the money off it. If, then, shelling out ten or fifteen bucks to watch Black Panther is an inherently defiant or dissident act (and I’m not saying it is), then it’s a highly commodified and co-opted one.

All that being said, when a film is released out into the world, particularly a film with as much fanfare attached to it as this one, there are gonna be ripples that emanate out from it — and among the millions of kids, in particular, who watch this flick, the seeds of an interest in African culture are sure to be sown, and the more they follow the metaphorical stalks that grow and flower from those seeds, the more they’ll discover things like historical resistance to colonialism, exploitation, capitalism, and the like. So while Black Panther may not be a radical (or even a particularly political) work in and of itself, it may inspire some radicalism in the future — one can only hope, at any rate.

But that’s pure speculation at this point, so let’s talk about what we know for certain.

One thing anyone who follows this site, or my work anywhere else, absolutely knows is that I’m no fan of Marvel Studios product in general. Unlike, apparently, most people, I find the overwhelming majority of Marvel flicks to be hopelessly redundant, formulaic, lowest-common denominator fare directed in a flat and lifeless “house style” with no particular visual flair, no particularly standout performances, no particular vision to do anything but get audiences keyed up for the next one. They exist as a self-perpetuating celluloid organism, one with no distinct personality but a lot of business sense and promotional muscle. This has been going on for so long, and with so much box office success, that I went into flick essentially expecting more of the same — sure, I knew it had a predominantly-black cast, and was set in Africa (albeit in a fictitious country), but that doesn’t mean that director Ryan Coogler was going to break the mold in any appreciable way. Hell, it doesn’t even mean that he would be allowed to do so. Happily, my pessimism was turned on its ear almost from word the word “go” here.

Black Panther looks different, feels different, because it is different. Coogler and co-screenwriter Joe Robert Cole certainly capture the dynamism, the energy, the Afro-futurism that has been a part of King T’Challa’s backstory since Jack Kirby created the character and his world (nope, we don’t lay any credit at Stan Lee’s feet around these parts, but I’m not getting into the “whys and wherefores” of that right now because, shit, I don’t have all night), but advance it all considerably, absorbing the extra layers added onto the mythos by the likes of Don McGrregor, Billy Graham, Christopher Priest, Reginald Hudlin, and Ta-Nehisi Coates over the years, and coming out with something uniquely suited to cinema and very much of the “now.” There’s a hard-driving and kinetic sense of energy to this film that the so-called “MCU” has been missing since it inception, and if you’re among the small number of those who agree with my assessment that most of these flicks play out more like two-hour TV episodes than proper movies, you can relax : this is as bold, brash, and big as it gets. This is blockbuster fare not only in name, but in execution, with visual effects that amaze, sets that inspire awe, cinematography that commands attention, action that sizzles, a script that charges forward, and music that slicks that trajectory along. This is arresting cinema that doesn’t even give you the option to leave your seat.

But what of the acting, you ask? It ranges from good to great, and thankfully the great includes the key players : Chadwick Boseman is regal yet human, fallible, relatable in the film’s central role: Forest Whitaker embodies aged wisdom tinged with regret as high priest Zuri; Michael B. Jordan is the first truly formidable villain, crucially one with a compelling backstory and some entirely valid philosophical viewpoints, as Killmonger; Martin Freeman not only reprises, but considerably expands, his already-extant “MCU” role of CIA agent Everett K. Ross with heart, humor, and brains; Sterling K. Brown makes the most of limited but significant screen time as T’Challa’s late uncle, N’Jobu; Andy Serkis — as a human this time! — chews up the screen with dangerous charm as Ulysses Klaue (or “Klaw,” as the comics would have it). These guys are all tops, really. And yet —

It is the women that carry this film. Whether we’re talking about Lupita Nyong’o as T’Challa’s love interest Nakia, a determined, fiercely independent, and soulful force that isn’t just her partner’s “equal,” but his conscience; Danai Gurira as General Okoye, head warrioress of the Dora Milaje, who embodies martial discipline and loyalty with the controlled fury of a hurricane ready to strike at any moment; Angela Basset as Queen Mother Ramonda, a living embodiment of grace, stature, and tradition; or Letitia Wright as younger sister Shuri, part “Q” to T’Challa’s “Bond,” part grounding and humanizing influence, part Moon Girl-style intellectual prodigy — as in life, it is the women that both make this movie’s men what they are, while also being complete and fully-realized in and of themselves. African history is far less patriarchal than is commonly believed, and in Wakanda that proud matriarchal lineage is exemplified, modernized, magnified — and honored.

Most films reflect the moment. Others define the moment. Black Panther goes one further by creating the moment. It’s as near to flawless as big-budget blockbusters get and eschews the too-common-flaw that movies made on this scale have of dumbing things down to appeal to the masses. Coogler and company instead trust those same masses to be intelligent enough to meet them on their level, and to respond to being talked “up,” rather than “down,” to. By believing that the world was not just ready, but eager, for something that goes far beyond mere spectacle — something that challenges the intellect while speaking to the heart — they have woken what could very well be a sleeping giant.

Now, let’s just keep our fingers crossed they’ve spurred that giant to do something more than simply go out and buy luxury cars.