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.
Mary Queen of Scots
The Miseducation of Cameron Post
A Star is Born
The Women of Marwen
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
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
Viola Davis in Widows
Chloe Grace Moretz in The Miseducation of Cameron Post
Worst Supporting Actress
Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Road Chip and The Wedding Ringer
Rooney Mara, Pan
Michelle Monaghan, Pixels
Julianne Moore, Seventh Son
Amanda Seyfried, Love the Coopers and Pan
I’m a few weeks late in reviewing The Martian, largely because I was on vacation when it was first released. When I finally did see The Martian, it was at the wonderful UEC theater in beautiful Russellville, Arkansas. As opposed to my experience when I saw The Green Inferno, the theater was packed and, throughout the entire movie, it was obvious that the audience absolutely loved what they were seeing on screen. They laughed, they applauded, and it was obvious they had a great time with the movie.
And why not? After the commercial failures of both The Counselor and Exodus, it’s obvious that director Ridley Scott was not going to take any chances with The Martian. There’s not a single scene that is not specifically calculated to keep the viewer as complacently satisfied as possible. Telling the story of how botanist Mark Whatney (Matt Damon) gets stranded on Mars and must figure out a way to survive until he can be rescued, The Martian is such a positive film that its total lack of cynicism almost gets overwhelming. The end result is a film that is a 100 times better than Exodus but never as interesting or challenging as The Counselor.
In fact, as I watched The Martian, I kept thinking about another film about a man stranded out in the middle of nowhere, Into The Wild. The main character in Into The Wild spent his isolation contemplating the meaning of life and finally reaching some sort of spiritual peace before starving to death. Mark Whatney, on the other hand, spends his isolation recording a snarky video diary and listening to classic disco songs.
And, before anyone gets offended or accuses me of being a film snob, allow me to say that I enjoyed The Martian. I thought it was an entertaining movie and I especially loved the soundtrack. But, at the same time, one can enjoy The Martian and still acknowledge that there’s not much going on underneath the crowd-pleasing surface.
Looking back on the film, I find it remarkable just how little we learn about Mark Whatney. We hear at one point that he has a family but we really don’t learn anything about his life on Earth. In a way, he’s a bit like Robert Redford in All Is Lost. Except, of course, Mark Whatney talks. He talks a lot. Fortunately, Mark is played by Matt Damon, who is a great talker. If I think that The Martian is entertaining but also a bit overrated (and I do), I also think that Matt Damon deserves every bit of praise that he’s received for his performance.
Interestingly enough, The Martian not only features Matt Damon’s best performance but it also features Jessica Chastain’s worst. Chastain plays Commander Lewis, who is in charge of the Mars expedition and who take it upon herself to bring Mark Whatney home. And really, this should have been a great role for Jessica Chastain but, for the first time that I can remember, she gives a performance that just isn’t that interesting.
Then again, there’s really only one interesting character in the entire film and that’s Mark Whatney (though I would have liked to learn more about the astronomer played by Donald Glover, who gives an appealingly eccentric performance). This is Matt Damon’s film and it’s best moments are the ones where Mark deals with life on Mars. In fact, there’s a part of me that almost wishes the majority of the NASA scenes had been left on the editing room floor and almost the entire movie had just been Matt Damon on Mars.
In the end, I did enjoy The Martian. It’s a good film that some people are insisting was great. (Of course, a lot of that is because it’s trendy to be into science. Fortunately, Mark Whatney isn’t as much of a pompous blowhard as Neil DeGrasse Tyson, nor is he as creepy as Bill Nye.) Some people are even suggesting that The Martian is the new Oscar front runner and maybe it is. (After all, it’s not like there was much going on below the surface of Birdman either.)
But for me, in the years to come, the main thing I’ll remember about The Martian is the totally kickass soundtrack…
This is the one you’ve been waiting for! There’s a new Fantastic Four movie out, looking to cash in on this cozy crazy comic book fad! It’s been getting terrifyingly terrible reviews and the ravenous reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes have given it a scintillating score of 9%. But don’t let my manic misplaced modifiers put you off, pilgrim! The ancient prophecy is true! Fantastic Four is as boldly bad as everyone says! Not even the merriest members of the Merry Marvel Marching Society will find much to marvel at here!
This is the latest attempt to start a Fantastic Four film franchise. This time Reed Richards (Miles Teller) and Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell) are both unlikely teenagers. Dr. Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey) recruits Reed to help work on a “Quantum Gate” that will transport explorers to the Negative Zone. Instead of being transformed by gamma rays, Reed and his friends become super human as a result of going to Planet Zero and getting splashed by green goo. Reed has the power to stretch. Ben develops a rock-like hide. Dr. Storm’s son, Johnny (Michael B. Jordan), becomes a human torch while his adopted daughter, Sue (Kate Mara), is given the power of invisibility.
It takes over an hour for Reed and friends to become fantastic and, even after they do, there’s no sense of wonder or excitement to Fantastic Four. It’s obvious that a lot of money was spent on special effects but there is not a single scene that can match the power or imagination of a Jack Kirby illustration. Worst of all is what is done to Dr. Doom (Toby Kebbell). One of Marvel’s most complex and iconic characters is reduced to being just another vaguely motivated movie bad guy. Fantastic Four feels like a throwback to the worst comic book movies of the 90s. Nuff said?
This version of Fantastic Four was directed by Josh Trank, who previously directed the excellent Chronicle. Fantastic Four is so joyless and rudimentary in its approach that it feels like the anti-Chronicle. After the initial negative reviews came out, Trank tweeted, “A year ago I had a fantastic version of this. And it would’ve received great reviews. You’ll probably never see it. That’s reality though.” (He later deleted the tweet.) Perhaps studio interference explains why Fantastic Four feels so disjointed. It seems to be missing key scenes. For instance, do you remember all of those cool moments from the trailer? Most of them are not in the actual movie.
If you count the never released Roger Corman-produced 1994 film, this is the fourth attempt to reboot The Fantastic Four. When I was growing up and reading comics, I never really cared about The Fantastic Four. The only time I ever read Fantastic Four was if they were doing a crossover with the X-Men or Spider-man. I knew they were important to the history of the Marvel Universe but they also seemed old-fashioned and almost corny. It’s hard to take seriously a scientific genius who can not come up with a better name than Mr. Fantastic. As characters, the Thing, the Human Torch, the Invisible Woman, and Mr. Fantastic all feel like they still belong in 1961 and maybe that is why all the recent film adaptations of The Fantastic Four have failed. Perhaps the fifth attempt should take a retro approach and set the story in the 1960s.
Perhaps then the flashy, fulsome, and far-out Fantastic Four will get the marvelous movie masterpiece that they deserve!
Ridley Scott, master filmmaker with a talent for visual storytelling, has had an uneven string of films the last decade or so. His last couple of films have either been underwhelming or divisive. One thing that hasn’t failed him has been the look of his films which continue to be great.
His last film, Exodus: Gods and Kings, wasn’t what one would call a great film. One could even say it wasn’t even a decent one. Hopefully, his latest will break his prolonged streak of misses and get him back on the hit column. This film is the adaptation of the Andy Weir best-selling novel, The Martian.
Ridley Scott has Drew Goddard’s screenplay adaptation to work with not to mention a star-studded cast led by Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain (the inclusion of the latter already makes this a must-see for one of the site’s writers). From the first released trailer we seem to be getting a film that brings back memories of Apollo 13 and Cast Away.
The Martian is set for a November 25, 2015 release date.
Last Friday night, my friend Jeff and I went down to the Plano Angelika and saw Danny Boyle’s new film, 127 Hours.
I have to admit that I was a little bit uneasy about seeing this film. First off, it’s a movie based on the true story about a mountain climber who spent 5 days trapped in a narrow canyon. I am intensely claustrophobic, to the extent that I’ve had panic attacks just from finding myself trapped in a crowded grocery store aisle. (Seriously, why does everyone in the world have to go shopping for La Choy Sweet and Sour sauce at the same time I do?) Secondly, the trapped climber eventually escaped by using a dull knife to saw off his right arm. I mean, ewwwwww!
But I knew I had to see the film for three reasons. Number one, it stars James Franco who I’m kinda in love with. Number two, Danny Boyle is one of my favorite directors. And, finally, 127 Hours is probably going to be nominated for best picture. So, I worked up my courage and I tried not to think about the various news reports about audience members passing out while watching the film, and I went to the movie. And I’m glad I did because 127 Hours is one of the best films that I’ve seen in quite some time.
James Franco plays Aron Ralston, a cocky but likable guy who decides to spend the weekend hiking across some place called Blue John Canyon. (Sorry, I’m not really an outdoorsey type of girl.) He tells no one of his plans and the only people who know he’s even at the canyon are two girls that he meets while there. The girls have gotten lost in the canyon and they accept Aron’s help in finding whatever grand archeological thing it is that they’re looking for. (See previous apology.)
I have to be honest here. As I watched these two girls go off with a perfect stranger, a part of me wanted to be all like, “Oh, I would never do something as stupid as go off with some stranger I met out in the middle of nowhere.” But, then again, this isn’t just some stranger. This is James Franco. So, I’ll refrain from passing judgment. I just hope that the girls had their pepper spray with them.
(The two girls, by the way, are played by Kata Mara and Amber Tamblyn. I loved Joan of Arcadia. Can you believe they cancelled it for Ghost Whisperer? Not cool, CBS.)
Anyway, after frolicking in an underground pool, Aron and the girls part company. They invite him to come to a party the next night. They tell him to just look for a big, inflatable Scooby Doo. Aron agrees, walks off, and promptly finds himself trapped in a canyon when a boulder falls on top of him and pins his right arm against the canyon wall. As quickly as that, Aron goes from being a carefree adventurer to literally being a prisoner, isolated and alone. As Franco screams for help, Boyle pulls the camera upward from Aron until eventually he’s a barely noticeable speck surrounded by a barren (and otherwise unpopulated) desert. It’s a moment that you know is coming but it’s still shocking and devastating because it stands in such stark contrast to the film’s first 20 minutes when both Boyle and Franco filled each scene with a sense of constant motion. Suddenly, everything has stopped and we’re as trapped as Aron.
The rest of the film is pretty much a one-man show. We watch as Aron spends the next five days fighting to just survive. He tries to chip away at the rock with a knife (yes, that knife). He talks to his camera, keeping a diary and leaving messages for his family. He fights off hungry ants and tries to conserve his water. He even manages to invent a pretty neat little pulley system to try to move the rock. Finally, he starts to hallucinate, seeing everything from his family disdainfully watching his predicament to a gigantic inflatable Scooby Doo stalking him in the canyon. And finally, of course, he starts to cut off his arm.
He also finds some time to think about the life he led up to the moment he found himself trapped underneath the rock. This is where Boyle really shines because, in the hands of most directors, these scenes probably would have been very maudlin and heavy-handed. However, Boyle presents these scenes in an almost impressionistic style. We see hints of the life that Aron has led but Boyle never comes out and blatantly says that, up until this point, Aron never been willing to truly connect with others. We sees scenes of Aron’s ex-girlfriend breaking up with him but we’re never specifically told what led to her leaving him. And we don’t need to be. Boyle presents us with the evidence and trusts us to draw the correct conclusion.
I am very proud to say that I watched the entire film without once having a panic attack though I did start to feel a little bit light-headed when Aron really started to get into sawing off his arm. At this point, I did end up burying my head in Jeff’s shoulder and watching the scene out of the corner of my eye. At the same time, it’s an oddly exhilarating sequence because we know that the only way Aron will survive is by cutting off his arm and, as a result of Franco’s performance, we really do want Aron to survive.
In retrospect, 127 Hours really is the ultimate guy film in that the film basically celebrates a guy who gets stranded in the desert for five days yet manages to survive without ever once having to ask for directions. However, as a result of the whole experience, he comes to realize he should have been nicer to his ex-girlfriend which means that chicks like me can enjoy the movie as well. My main concern is that the film is such a total guy flick that we might see a sudden epidemic of men amputating their limbs in order to show that they can handle it as well as James Franco did. As we left the theater, I assured Jeff that he didn’t have to chop off his hand just to impress me. Hopefully, he listened.
James Franco is generating a lot of Oscar buzz for his performance here and he should be. Franco is one of those performers who is so pretty that it’s easy to forget that he’s actually a pretty good actor. I thought he deserved a nomination for his performance in Milk. He deserves the Oscar for his performance here.
Along with a best actor nod for Franco, it seems likely that 127 Hours will also pick up nominations for best picture and best director. Interestingly enough, Boyle will probably find himself competing with the man he beat two years ago, David Fincher (previously nominated for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and a probable nominee this year for The Social Network.) This is somehow appropriate as Danny Boyle has consistently proved himself to be the director that David Fincher is supposed to be and, by being a massively hyped film that lives up to all the praise, 127 Hours is the anti-Social Network. While The Social Network uses a “true” story as an excuse to judge and ridicule, 127 Hours uses its true story to celebrate humanity, flaws and all. Whereas Fincher seems to only celebrate film, Boyle celebrates life.